Land Conflict with ORCAO in Patria Nueva

Patria Nueva
1 de Enero Autonomous Municipality

To the National and International Press
To Public Opinion

We, the residents of the 1 de Enero Autonomous Municipality, are denouncing those incidents which have taken place between March 27 and April 4.

On Wednesday, March 27, members of ORCAO held a meeting at 6 PM. The day after the meeting, Thursday, March 28, at 9:00 AM, first two young people from the Autonomous Municipality were detained, and later two other men from the municipality. The four were tied up and accused of having cut down 1000 meters of wire fencing which enclosed a pasture belonging to that organization (ORCAO). There were cattle in that field that had been received in December of 2001 through an INI Regional Fund program, provided by Nicolas Lopez, a former ORCAO member.

On that same day, shots were heard being fired into the air close to the community of Patria Nueva.

That same Thursday, 20 rural police officers arrived in the village of Patria Nueva from the community of Ucumiljá, prepared to detain the authorities of this municipality, accusing them of being the ones who had authorized the pasture fencing to be cut down. In response to protest from the town - and even from some members of ORCAO who disagreed with their taking the authorities - the rural police withdrew. The autonomous authorities decided to go themselves to the community of Ucumiljá in order to resolve the problem of the detainees. They came to an agreement with ORCAO members from that community to investigate the incidents, since members of the Autonomous Municipality had not cut down any fencing, and they had been unjustly accused. That same afternoon the four detainees - along with another who had been subsequently detained - were freed, after having been tied up for more than 10 hours.

On Friday, March 29, members of ORCAO filed a complaint at the Public Minister's office in Ocosingo, who then went to the site of the pasture. On Saturday, March 30, that complaint was published in El Cuarto Poder newspaper, accusing the zapatista bases of having cut down the fencing.

On the night of Sunday, April 1, a young person from the Autonomous Municipality was detained by members of ORCAO, also accused of having broken the pasture fencing.

On Tuesday, April 3, an authority from the Autonomous Municipality was jailed on the same charge. Both of them are being held in the community of Sibacá.

After 48 hours of their having been arbitrarily and unjustly detained, we, the members of the 1 de Enero Autonomous Municipality, are demanding that they be liberated, since no member of the Autonomous Municipality has committed any crime. In response to the ORCAO's unwillingness to release the detainees, today, Thursday, April 4, two authorities who were responsible for these arbitrary detentions were detained, in order to secure the release of the two young people from the Autonomous Municipality.

We, the people of this Autonomous Municipality, believe that all of these incidents are a trap, devised by the members of ORCAO themselves, for the purpose of provoking problems with the Autonomous Municipality, so that they can then take over the municipality's lands.

The 1 de Enero Autonomous Municipality is in a state of tension, since there are rumors that ORCAO members are going to arm themselves with machetes and try to enter the Autonomous Municipality.

The residents of this municipality are denouncing the arbitrary detentions of members of the municipality by ORCAO, and we are holding that organization responsible for any attack against the Autonomous Municipality and its residents.

At this moment, 8:00 PM on April 4, there are three persons seriously wounded, and a confrontation is taking place between ORCAO and zapatista bases in the community of Patria Nueva, for which we are holding the state government responsible for having supported the ORCAO's actions.



Originally published in Spanish by Enlace Civil, A.C. *********************************** Translated by irlandesa   From: Enlace Civil, A.C. Date: Thursday, April 4, 2002 22:39:23 -0600

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