But going behind the backs of the law, the National Security investigators turned over a series of lists to the National Immigration Institute, with the names of all of the foreigners who came from Europe and the United States to participate in the forum. And with these lists in hand, and with the Gestapo in their hearts, the hounds went to all the inns and hotels in San Cristobal -- except those where they are already had helpers to do their little work -- looking for the visitors in order to throw them out of this "lawful country" as Emilio Krieger described Mexico on Thursday in this newspaper.
The "We will expel the tourists" campaign includes scenes like the following: A couple of Europeans were eating in the cafeteria, El Faisan, and half way through the soup, they are suddenly being filmed by a video camera held by someone in civilian clothing, who, completely at ease, filmed them from head to toe before leaving, unconcerned.
This took place on Wednesday. Thursday night, at the door of the offices of Immigration in San Cristobal, men under the cover of fog and cold unloaded field tents and sleeping bags for the 50 new inspectors who arrived on the 6 o'clock afternoon flight to Tuxtla Gutierrez. Their mission? To set up Immigration posts on the roads to the Highlands--in particular, practically at the entrance to the Aguascalientes in Oventic-- as well as on the paths of the Jungle that go to the Aguascalientes in La Garrucha, the Morelia collective farm and La Realidad.
Gestapo, Mexican style---Another scene. At the collective farm Gabino Vazquez, where the road to La Realidad begins, a Mexican journalist with a foreign last name was besieged by three Immigration officials who surrounded her car at night, and pointed a flashlight beam at her eyes, while asking her questions that sounded like they were straight out of the movie, Costa Gavras. The woman in question was lucky. The opposite was the case of Karry Apple, a United States cameraman, who has filmed in Chiapas for years but who had a similar experience.
Karry, like dozens of tourists, was detained in a checkpoint at the edge of the Jungle. They issued him a citation that required him to go to the offices of Marco Antonio Rodriguez, the representative of Immigration in San Cristobal, and when the photographer went to this office, he was treated as a criminal. For example, they asked him if he knew a series of Mexican citizens "accused of sympathizing" with the EZLN--a new crime, surely, in this "lawful country"--and after verbally mistreating him, they ordered him to leave Mexico in five days.
What his persecutors did not know is that Apple had connections. And the following day Attorney Rodriguez received telephone calls from three Congressional representatives from the United States, who all let loose with some questions:
Medicines behind bars --- Several weeks ago, a load of medicines arrived from Mexico which were destined for the indigenous people in the Jungle. Amongst the load was an abundant supply of Glucantine, a medicine that helps to cure the sores from Leshmaniasis. Although all of the products that make up this medicine are registered and patented, the package remains hostage in the Customs offices, because according to the National Security experts the aforementioned Glucantine contains an ingredient that is used to make explosives! It probably is --the village idiot told me--some lethal substance that penetrates the injuries of the elderly and the children, and produces a detonation that annihilates the microscopic bugs that eat the skin and the subcutaneous tissues until the flesh falls off in pieces.
According to a document gotten by the village idiot, in the jungle there are approximately 15,000 children who have not received the basic course of vaccinations, despite the official reports from the Secretary of Health which say that their programs in Chiapas have had a 100% completion rate. The danger, adds the document, is that in the coming months an epidemic of measles could break out, or that "tosferina" jump across the Guatemala border, where it is causing havoc, and "producing irreparable damages amongst the children in the conflict zone".
While the health bureaucrats strain their necks to publish these false statistics, the Secretary of Governance is launching this campaign against foreigners, the goal of which is to isolate even more the Zapatista communities, deprive them of any healthcare aid which comes from abroad, and prepare for the military offensive which was on the point of starting up at the end of December, but which was held in check, in part at least, by the international solidarity which set up their providential camps in the jungle and in Oventic.
Aguascalientes in Europe--Much will have to be done to fight the foreign policy efforts of Emilio Chuayffet, which are dedicated to preventing the supposed "local conflict in four municipalities" from becoming an international problem for the government. To limit the influence of the Zapatistas in Europe, the government up to now has been able to count on the collaboration of the majority of the foreign correspondents, who intone with their eyes closed the chants that the Communication office of Los Pinos issues regularly regarding Chiapas. It is enough to simply compare the opinions of columnists such as Jorge Fernandez Menendez in El Financiero with those of Bertrand de la Grange in Le Monde.
But despite the complicity of the international press with the experiment of the neoliberals in Mexico, the influence of the EZLN in Europe has been demonstrated in various ways. In Barcelona, for example, the "Garnatxa Community House"--a building taken over in the neighborhood of Sants--has been transformed by its residents into the first Aguascalientes on the other side of the Atlantic, and there, it also will be, like in the Aguascalientes in the Jungle, a place of meeting amongst the cultures of the world and a "Center of Zapatista Resistance".
The dusk of Proceso --- Barcelona is one of the points in Europe where large numbers of sympathizers have been collected by the insurgents of the Southeast. In October a group of Spanish journalists bought an old printer and sent it by boat to Veracruz, as a gift so that Amado Avendano could finally replace the antique printer of Tiempo, "the newspaper that informs and orients", but has stopped coming out for economic reasons.
And can you guess? says the village idiot to me. The machinery is detained in Customs because its irons could be, no we aren't going to say melted and made into bullets, but rather used to let loose something worse: words.
Of the four publications that the EZLN selected, in January 1994, to publish its first communiques, Tiempo is the first to drown in the misery. Of the three remaining ones, El Financiero has had to reduce its staff of journalists and employees, and Proceso has drastically reduced its circulation, because during the year 1995, its sales fell from almost 300, 000 to 90,000 each week.
Foreigners Harassed by Immigration Officials, with information taken from COCOPA by National Security Agents The Foreign Policy of Chuayffet For Carlos Monsivais La Jornada January 13, 1996 (translated by Chris Ames, National Center for Democracy, Liberty and Justice)