Illegal Detentions, Threats and More Soldiers


July 30, 1999, Chiapas

To the People of Mexico
To the Peoples of the World
To Human Rights Organizations

Brothers and Sisters

We are raising our voices in order to continue denouncing the lie of the government and the silent war to which this Autonomous Municipality has been condemned, as have all the dignified and rebel communities who are struggling in Chiapas and in Mexico for democracy, liberty and justice.

What we are going to denounce is directly related to the campaign of war and extermination that has been waged against the 110 communities of Ricardo Flores Magon, which we have already fully explained in our communique of July 5 (published on 7/9/99 in La Jornada), and you should look at that in order to see the broader context.

What concerns us most today is the situation of several communities in the Border region, where the government is trying to arbitrarily - and by force - establish the new free municipality of Lacandona. This is part of the illegal governor of Chiapas, Albores Guillen's famous redistricting plan. Far from resolving historical demands, it is planned as a counterinsurgency strategy in order to cause division and to justify violence, harassment and repression against our support bases and independent organizations.

We understood this problem from the beginning, because our struggle is also against the forgetting and for our history, our memory as indigenous peoples. In that history injustice is seen, and exploitation, looting, suffering, and the dignity that gives strong reason to our demands, to our struggle.

In 1982 and 1983 the people created the communities of Ojo de Agua Tzotzil, Doctor Velasco Suarez II (or Old Velasco); Mariscal, Nuevo Tumbala, Nueva Jerusalen, San Jacinto Lacanja Tzeltal, Flor de Cacao and others. They had been violently dislocated from their old towns through the official decree creating what is now the Montes Azules biological reserve. During those times, the government did not care that the people were already there, and had been working their land for years. They created a useless project, benefiting who knows who, because it is clear it was not the indigenous. And, for that, the army and the police violently dislocated them, especially by convincing and offering things to other communities who had agreed to be relocated. Since these communities decided to organize themselves and to defend their rights, they were met with violence - as is the custom here - the custom of the government and of the powerful.

Residents of Nueva Palestina and Lacanja Chanzayat, along with the Lacandons, came into the communities, burning houses, killing animals, and stealing grinders, machetes, poultry, seeds, everything. In this way they forced the people to leave their communities and to relocate to where they today have their towns. And, with double the work and double the suffering in their hearts, they raised their dignity once again, their hope, their sustenance. They took root in the land once more. There was a relocation agreement in 1984 with the then governor of Chiapas, Absalon Castellanos. Meanwhile, the communities of Palestina and Lacanja Chanzayat were compensated with 163 hectares, and the Montes Azules Reserve was decreed to be the patrimony of the Lacandons. The latter are made up of a few families. The neoliberal policies, the constitutional reforms to Article 27 and the low intensity warfare seek to open old wounds and to raise our interests.

Today they are once more seeking to violently dislocate these communities. The changes to Article 27 cancelled them once, these communities were officially awarded the lands. The government's neglect never followed up on their demands. The war of counterinsurgency is seeking to create division and internal conflicts in order to justify the entrance of the army and the police, in order to militarize, to weaken the rebel will, to assassinate, to persecute and to incarcerate the support bases.

The neoliberal policies are leading speculators to look to the looting of natural resources. They offer monies to the PRI's, lands and promises to enable them to leave the poverty they are in, although they have to lend themselves to their games and to confront their indigenous campesino brothers, in order to have what is theirs by right: a dignified life.

Today, they want to dislocate these communities once again. The problems became worse after the success of the National Consulta. To the point that, on May 3 of this year, 50 PRI's from Palestina and Lacanja went into Viejo Velasco armed with sticks, machetes and pistols, in order to threaten the people there, so that they would leave and they could occupy those lands. They threatened to bring soldiers and judicial police in order to remove them. This threat was carried out on May 11, when 50 soldiers, 20 Public Security police and 60 PRI's surrounded the community for several hours, for more than 13 hours. Because of this, many families went to the mountain for several days, without cover or food. Since then, they have been receiving threats continuously.

On Wednesday, July 21, at 6 in the morning, several support base persons from Viejo Velasco left their community, heading towards the Palenque-Marques de Comillas international highway, in order to sell xate. There they were detained by a grey Chevrolet pick-up truck. In the truck were 8 policemen from Palestina and Carlos Lopez Diaz and Ricardo Lopez Sanchez, who signalled them to halt and who pointed out 3 companeros, who were immediately shoved and pushed and taken prisoner and tied up tightly. The detained companeros are Jeus Lopez Hidalgo, Pedro Gomez Aguilar and Pedro Lopez Hernandez.

From there they were taken to Nueva Palestina and turned over to Public Security, which has been posted there for a few months now. They were held prisoner there until Sunday, the 25th, in a jail filled with the prisoners' excrement, urine and garbage, where they could not even sit or sleep. They were not given water or food until Saturday afternoon, a plate of beans, which they ate in the midst of the excrement and the garbage in the jail, that was more of a latrine.

Carlos Lopez and Ricardo Lopez left the Viejo Velasco community in 1998, since there had been problems with their behavior. On April 9 they had tried to kill 3 children. On April 10, they burned their own house down, on April 15, they shot 2 people in their field, and on April 25 - along with a group of 16 other persons - they set fire to 16 mahogany and cedar thickets that the community had planted. Because of this, they left and fled to the community of Busilja. Twenty days later they tried to return to the community, but they would no longer let them in. They then began accusing the support bases of the damage.

Because of this: The three detainees were not informed of the reason for their detention until the afternoon the Municipal Agent appeared with Carlos and Ricardo, along with a Public Security commander. There, Carlos began the accusations, saying they had stolen zapatista clothing from his house, and then they had burned it. That they were carrying weapons, that they had tied him up, that they had taken 60 zontes of maize, that they had stolen chickens in Nueva Tila, that they had stolen 14 dozen boards, and other equally false things, since we have already said what Carlos and Ricardo had done.

That day the Agent and the Commander agreed that they would pay 17,000 pesos for the damages and 3000 pesos in a fine in order to obtain their release. Thursday morning, others arrived - some of those who had burned the mahogany trees and shot people - and they brought more false charges, raising the amount to 30,000 pesos. The Commander and the Agent kept telling them: "If you bring us 30,000 pesos, hermanitos, we'll release you, if not, we'll take you to the jail at Playas de Catazaja."

On Friday at 6 PM, they decided to release Pedro Lopez Hernandez, who is 75 years old, so that he could go and look for the money, saying: "If you run away, we'll take them to Playas, and they won't get out of there." It was raining very hard, and it was already late, and Pedro asked for a little money to go in a car, and they insulted him for a long time and they gave him 5 pesos, which was not enough for the fare. He was walking from there while they followed him, and, up to this moment, he remains disappeared. He never reached Viejo Velasco. We do not know if they took him elsewhere or if they plan to kill him.

Saturday at noontime relatives arrived looking for him, and they immediately asked them for money, and they refused since everything is false and they threatened to put them in the latrine-jail as well. They said that 72 hours had already passed, why had they not taken them to Playas as they said? It is because they only want the money, and they know they are going to release them because they are absolute lies. And the families left.

On the afternoon of Saturday, the 24th, the PRI's got together and drew up a document in which they made the detainees accept the fine, and in which the residents of Viejo Velasco committed themselves to taking away their lands in 8 days, this Saturday, the 31st.

On Sunday, weary now from the punishment of excrement, without water and food, and with the threats, they found themselves forced to sign the document. They also told them that if they did not sign the document they were going to kill them or throw them in the water. Because of that, they signed it. When they returned to Viejo Velasco, they were told about old Pedrito, and they began the search for him, but they have not found him. This Wednesday, the 28th, his relatives went to Palestina in order to ask about him, and they made them sign the act of dislocation.

This is part of what they are fabricating in order to dislocate these peoples from their lands, to strike at the support bases, at the Autonomous Municipality, and to lie about the EZLN to civil society, with whom we have not compromised peace.

The militarization has intensified over the last few days around these communities. On July 22, more than 70 8-ton trucks entered, as well as close to 5000 federal army troops, who set up more than 15 camps all along this highway for the purpose of re-foresting. In reality, we can see that they have come in in order to reinforce the militarization and the forced redistricting process, in which Palestina will be the seat of the free municipality of Lacandona. They are also helping these processes of violation and harassment against our support bases, intensifying the war of silence and forgetting against us.

The patrols between Sival-Cintalapa-Santo Domingo and Granizo have begun again. A new checkpoint was set up in El Paraiso, where our companeros were detained, and the existing ones were reinforced in Crucero Palestina, Frontera Corozal and Boca Lacantun.

There is no reforestation going on, this is a front, they put patrols in the mountain and they are setting up clandestine camps in the mountain. For example, on the 24th a patrol of 20 soldiers entered by the Francisco Villa road, and they have not been seen leaving by any road up to this point. They usually leave by Lacanja Tzeltal, and they have not left through there.

They also set up a new barracks close to the Cintalapa ejido on the 23rd of July. They are causing much fear and bothering the people, in addition to harassing and persecuting the support bases there. They are setting up checkpoints all through that area, searching people, asking questions, looking for radios, going into the fields to search the campesinos, stealing corn, plaintain and cane, frightening the people. They go out and bathe with the prostitutes in the spring and they are filling it with soap and plastic bags. When they are patrolling the rivers, they approach the women and yell obscenities at that them. These kinds of operations were denounced more fully in our communique of July 5. Please take a look at it.

Since these 5000 soldiers entered, they have been concealing themselves along the roads, and they will suddenly jump out into the road in order to scare the people with their G3 machine guns and search everything they have, they even take their shoes off.

Yesterday, July 29, we saw some 50 trucks with soldiers leaving, but they did not all leave. We calculate that at least 1500 more remain in the clandestine camps they installed in the mountain, at the new checkpoint at Paraiso and in the new barracks at Cintalapa. This barracks is added to those already established in Crucero Cintalapa, Crucero Palestina, Boca Lacantun, Crucero Corozal, Yashilan, Ocotalito, Montelibano, Taniperla, San Caralampio, Calvario and Frontera Corizal, set up on the lands of this Autonomous Municipality in Rebellion.

We calculate that there are more than 4000 federal soldiers in this Autonomous land, as well as 100 Public Security police stationed in Taniperla and Nueva Palestina. Today, more than 50 cars with soldiers entered. We still do not know how many.

This, then, is the war they are waging against us, against the most small, against the always forgotten and exploited, but with the will to continue forward, to struggle for a future that we will make ours, to defend the dream of our autonomy.

We are asking you to mobilize and to report this, in order to unmask the bad government and to stop this unjust war to which we have been condemned for being dignified and for demanding liberty, justice, democracy!

Signed,

The Autonomous Council of the Ricardo Flores Magon Autonomous Municipality in Rebellion


Originally published in Spanish by Enlace Civil A.C. <enlacecivil@laneta.apc.org> ____________________________ Translated by irlandesa   Date: Monday, August 2, 1999 15:04:05 -0500 From: fzln <floresu@spin.com.mx>

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