Search and seizure on the road to La Realidad

Press Bulletin

On May 4, at approximately 9 PM, at the military checkpoint in Vicente Guerrero, municipality of Las Margaritas, a van from the Non-Governmental Organization Enlace Civil A.C. was detained for more than two hours by soldiers. They aggressively searched the three occupants' belongings, threatening the driver and stealing some of the papers being taken to La Realidad.

The soldiers (more than ten), after advising the occupants that they were "enforcing the Federal Firearms and Explosives Law," proceeded to search the girl's backpack, where they found a diary with a zapatista girl's face on the cover. This made the soldiers furious, and they accused the passengers of "taking things to Marcos."

They did the same thing with the other passenger, a dentist, and they read out loud all the notes in the notebook he was carrying. "That's not a weapon or an explosive," the dentist told the soldiers, "and you don't have the right to do that, I'm going to denounce it." But the soldiers continued reading, and one of them replied: "Make the denuncia, there's no problem, there's a lot of denuncias. So? We're still here..."

Things were worse for the driver, Juan Herna'ndez: they pulled him out of the van, insulting and yanking him around and took him some distance away from the van towards the military barracks. They took his knapsack away from him in which he was carrying some letters, and they stole a diskette from his shirt pocket. Other soldiers, meanwhile, were opening packages and envelopes that were in the van, stealing three books and six letters, on which one of the soldiers jotted down "Marcos," while the other was telling the driver: "You see, now, the things you're taking are for Marcos, look, it says so here." Meanwhile they were frightening him, saying: "Who's going to get them? Tacho, Moise's or Subcomandante Marcos?"

Then the Second Captain F. Morales A. asked him: Who is that gasoline for? The driver replied, it's mine. "Lie! It's for Subcomandante Marcos and so it's going to stay here," and he ordered the gasoline to be taken out of the van.

After minutely searching all the cargo (food) in the van and appropriating whatever they thought "was for Marcos," they told the driver: Beat it. But the driver told them he could not go until they returned the things they were missing. They then began jerking him around roughly and taking him once again towards the barracks. At that point Second Sergeant T. Andrade told his soldiers: "Is everything prepared now?" This sentence intimidated the driver, who asked them even more strongly to let him go. After this they let him go, without giving him the things the soldiers had taken possession of.

On May 10, those involved returned to the checkpoint in order to demand that they give back what they had stolen from them. The Second Captain, who refused to identify himself, but whose uniform said "F. Morales A." said: "What things? We didn't keep anything, that's not true. All right, prove it, how did we mistreat you? Then prove it." And he added: "Anyway, the se~or himself (referring to the driver) said he wasn't missing anything before he left."

In the face of clear provocation and threats by members of the federal Army against members of social and non-governmental organizations who are carrying out humanitarian work in the indigenous communities, the very places the federal Army is unconstitutionally laying siege to, we are holding federal Army commanders responsible, as well as civilian state and federal officials, for any attack against members of Enlace Civil A.C. or against those persons who are working peacefully in solidarity among the chiapaneco indigenous communities.

Rosario Ibarra de Piedra Eureka Committee

Statement by the Dentist

"I, Francisco Go'mez Velarde, declare:

That, on May 4, 2000, I was heading towards the community of San Jose' del Rio in order to lend my services as a dentist. As is known, we had to pass by some military checkpoints. As we were passing through the checkpoint at Vicente Guerrero they detained us, and the soldiers began bombarding us with questions which I did not think they should be doing. They asked for names, place of residence, date of birth, etc. My personal things were in the back of the van, as were those belonging to a girl who was traveling with us.

Then they began searching the van, they opened the girl's backpack and they went through it completely. They found a diary that had pictures of zapatista women, and they read through it in its entirety. They took us out of the van, they made me show them my things. I did not allow their hands in my knapsack, so I took the things out. They immediately got upset and went straight to searching, inside the van now. I was carrying a portfolio there with personal things, my diary. The soldiers, abusing their powers, opened it and took the liberty of reading all of it.

I became angry and tried to take it away from them, arguing that they should not be searching my papers and notebooks, but rather for weapons and explosives. But no, they said papers could also be weapons. I tried again to take my diary back, and I was unable to do so. I threatened to denounce the incidents, and they said to me, mockingly, and laughing: "Do it. It doesn't matter, there's already many denuncias and look, here we are."

In addition to that, for the entire time we were there, for more than an hour and a half, they were bombarding us with questions: where we were going, what we were going to be doing, where we lived, who we worked for, if we were married, etc.

I am denouncing that I was assaulted by these soldiers who read my diary, my agenda, my notes. I am denouncing that these soldiers took my photograph: what did they want it for?"

Date: Fri, 12 May 2000 17:46:13 -0400 Originally published in Spanish by the FZLN ________________________ Translated by irlandesa

To the Mexico page