Warning of possable attack on Polho

Message from the International Commission of the FZLN
(translated from the Spanish by PC93)

Mexico, D.F., 6th of May of 1998
From: the International Commission of the Zapatista Front of National Liberation
To: the collectives, committees, political parties and social organizations in solidarity with the indigenous communities of Chiapas.

Esteemed compaÒeros:

We again direct ourselves to you to keep you informed as to the prevalent situation in the State of Chiapas. After the aggressions that the Mexican government realized in the autonomous municipalities "Ricardo Flores Magon" and "Tierra y Libertad", the 11th of April and the 1st of May, respectively, yesterday they have threatened to continue this policy of war, including in their plans the 38 autonomous municipalities, within those that of Polho.

It is important to remember that Polho has converted into a place of reception for refugees of war, including some of those who were already refugees in Acteal before the massacre of the past 22nd of December.

The situation of the communities of refugees is in truth difficult simultaneously with their practically heroic attitude. From September of 1996 and for the most part after the massacre of Acteal, the rebel autonomous municipality of Polho (originally a population of 700 persons) has received more than 10 thousand compaÒeros originating from tens of communities that have been harassed or openly attacked by the priist paramilitary groups, groups, these last days which count with the support of the public security police of Chiapas and with the federal army.

Polho, like 37 municipalities more in los Altos and the Chiapan Jungle, is a municipality governed by elected consent in conformation with the traditions of the indigenous towns; forms part of the constitutional process of autonomous municipalities in the regions of zapatista influence. To all of them, the government refuses to recognize them and many times openly confronts them with the municipal priist governments, like has been the case of the municipalities of Polho and Chenalho, the first autonomous and the second priist. More recently, the policy of government has been to attack them directly with the police and the army, pretending to finish with the autonomous governments by the way of repression.

The municipality of Polho has provided spaces for the refugees which remains distributed in 11 encampments in the environs of the center of the community; they are encampments which lack practically everything: the potable water is scarce or frankly non-existent; they live in improvised hovels, with sticks and plastic; they survive with the national and international humanitarian aid that Polho receives and distributes within the 11 encampments. This humanitarian aid has approached Polho from hundreds of Mexican citizens and foreigners during these last months.

To attack with police and soldiers this indigenous conglomerate would represent a bloodbath of unpredictable proportions; and would represent, overall, an enormous leap in the repressive escalation of the Mexican government against the Pueblo Indians of southeast Mexico.

To attack Polho with the xenophobic pretext of expulsing the international volunteers who have helped (the little that they can) with the survival of thousands of indigenous would represent an act that no lover of peace in the world should permit.

To attack Polho or any other of the autonomous municipalities of Chiapas brings us dangerously close to scenarios like those lived in Acteal this past December.

We consider it our elemental obligation to come before the international community concerning this danger, and we are awaiting from the world a firm stance that will stop the Mexican government.

To the international solidarity today we demand more than ever that you multiply your efforts of mobilization and of public expression to make known to the Mexican government that the world repudiates its warring attitude; to the European solidarity in particular, we ask that you pressure your governments and your parliaments to stop the process of ratification of the commercial agreements with Mexico, every time the situation of deterioration of human rights in our country continues aggravated and the ratification of which agreements would only represent a policyal endorsement, like the Mexican, that is the responsible principal for said aggravation.

Let us all defend, in all the world, Polho and the autonomous municipalities in rebellion!

We remit in continuation the most recent communication of the autonomous municipalities in rebellion of the State of Chiapas.

The International Commission of the Zapatista Front of National Liberation.

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