The situation of the displaced from Chenalho is a matter of life or death


December 12, 1997

To the people of Mexico:
To the people and governments of the world:

Brothers:

The CCRI-CG of the EZLN informs the national and international public opinion about the current situation of thousands of Zapatista Indians persecuted, murdered and evicted from their land in the county of San Pedro de Chenalho, Chiapas.

FIRST. More than 6 thousand people displaced by war are the result of the attacks of the paramilitary bands and the state police, both directed by the state government, with the federal government's blessing.

Only in the community of Xcumumal there are more than 3 thousand 500 Indigenous refugees. They are totally isolated, since they remain surrounded by the white guards and policemen from the state public security corps.

The Chenalho Zapatistas are living in the open and are suffering from, besides the lack of housing, clothes and food, illnesses which have already reached epidemic proportions.

SECOND.- The state and federal governments and the Institutional Revolutionary Party, far from stopping their wave of aggressions, are trying to avoid solving the main problem of Chenalho, which is the eradication of their paramilitary groups and the return of the displaced people to their communities. While it pretends to establish a dialogue, Chiapanecan PRI followers are undertaking the plunder and destruction of the evicted's property. Coffee, cattle, clothes, and domestic utensils are being distributed among the paramilitary as the bounty of a war which, up until now, has only seen shooting coming from one of the sides, that of the government and its political party.

With this attitude, the PRI shows its true face: That of the enemy of the Indian peoples and one of the executors of the total extermination policy that, coming from the federal government, is being carried out against the Zapatistas.

THIRD.- These past few days, the national and international press has shown to Mexico and the world the grave situation the Zapatista Indigenous population of Chenalho suffers. What was seen through the media is only a small sample of the gigantic show of intolerance and criminal actions with which the Revolutionary Institutional Party and the state and federal governments pretend to humble the Zapatista rebeliousness.

FOURTH.- The undeniable fact that Zapatista Indians are being murdered and persecuted, without responding to the aggressions, has generated a public opinion unfavorable to the Mexican government. In order to swim against this unfavorable current, the state and federal governments, and their paramilitary groups, plan to physically attack the Vatican's representative, Justo Mullor, during his visit to Chiapas.

FIFTH.- The paramilitary and governmental plan is to present these murder attempts as if they were being carried out by EZLN commandos, and for that purpose they are equipping their hired assassins with EZLN uniforms and badges.

The recent "appearances" of armed groups, supposedly Zapatista, in the county seat of Las Margaritas and in other places of the Chiapanecan geography, are nothing but planned provocations to prepare the following stage.

Faced with this state of affairs we say that, like from the start of the dialogue, the Zapatista troops remain in their mountain barracks and that they are not and have not undertaken any offensive movements or any movements outside of their positions.

SIXTH.- Besides implicating the EZLN in the projected aggression (which could escalate into an attempted murder) against the Papal Nuncio, the government is trying to make the public forget about the attack "Peace and Justice" perpetrated against Bishops Samuel Ruiz and Raul Vera, on November 4, 1997, and distract world attention from the news the case of the thousands of Indians displaced in Chenalho by the PRI bands has recently awakened.

SEVENTH.- Instead of keeping on concocting complicated plots, as a pretext to fully use the military option, the federal government should put a stop to its paramilitary groups, allow the thousand of people displaced by war in the entire Chiapas territory to return to their communities and keep without delay its word, given in San Andres Sakam'chen of the Poor.

That is the way to contribute to the dialogue, and peace could then stop being a rhetorical figure in the Zedillista discourse.

EIGTH.- The EZLN calls upon the national and international civil society not to be fooled by the Mexican government war games and to demand the end of the Indigenous peoples extermination and the enforcement of the San Andres Agreements.

The EZLN makes an urgent call to the national and international civil society to come to the help of our brothers from Chenalho.

The current situation is dramatic, it's a life or death situation for thousands or rebel Indians who still believe that their struggle is not against other Indians, but against the system which condemns them to death and oblivion.

democracy!
liberty!
justice!

From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast.
For the Clandestine Indian Revolutionary Committee
-General Command of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation.
Insurgent Subcommander Marcos
Mexico, December of 1997.


Translated by Monique J. Lemaitre.   "La Jornada", December 15, 1997   PARAMILITARY GROUPS WOULD HEAD THE ATTEMPTED ASSASSINATION, STATES THE "SUBCOMMANDER". THE SITUATION OF THE DISPLACED FROM CHENALHO IS " A MATTER OF LIFE OR DEATH". ALERT. HE ASKS SOCIETY'S URGENT HUMANITARIAN HELP FOR THE INDIANS.

To the Mexico page