Jesus Ramirez Cuevas
Special for La Jornada
At the entrance to the Taniperla canada, a written warning can be seen: "The selva belongs to us: Mendoza Group of the Mexican Army." Next to it there is a picture painted of a tiger with a helmet.
A military helicopter set down in the Nueva Esperanza community a few days ago. The soldiers warned the indigenous who live there: "Get out of the selva, look for another place to live, because the Army is going to go into the Montes Azules reserve," noted Manuel Lopez, human rights promoter in this region. "We know the government wants to dislocate us, but we are never going to leave the land that belongs to us," the residents responded, according to the activist.
Another resident from Las Canadas region reported: "Many people are coming to La Garrucha [seat of the Francisco Gomez Autonomous Municipality] which is why the Army wants to come in."
Military troops, meanwhile, were continuing to assemble this afternoon at the barracks established at the entrance to that town.
The new military and police operations seem to be heading towards the Montes Azules, heart of the Selva Lacandona, geographic rear guard of the guerrillas. According to the Fray Lorenzo de la Nada Human Rights Center, the objective would be "to close the military encirclement of the zapatista positions, and to make the towns that are supporting the armed group move out of the selva."
During a trip through the Taniperla canada, La Jornada was able to confirm that soldiers and police had made incursions into, or carried out operations, in the towns of San Jose, El Censo and Taniperla. Zapatista representatives from Zapotal, which belongs to the Ricardo FLores Magon Autonomous Municipality, also mentioned attacks against the communities of Nazareth and Francisco Villa.
Rumors are circulating that other incursions are being planned into Guanal, Dolores Hidalgo, Zapotal and San Jeronimo, and that, if the military operations continue, there could be confrontations between zapatistas and soldiers.
Zapatista representatives from various communities of the River Perla and San Miguel canadas denied that they are blockading or maintaining checkpoints on the roads. "There is normal traffic, it's not true that we're preventing it, those are the excuses the government is using in order to attack the towns that are supporting the EZLN struggle."
In various communities of the Autonomous Municipalities visited by La Jornada, such as Francisco Gomez, San Manuel and Ricardo Flores Magon, zapatistas denied the existence of these checkpoints.
This Sunday, some 100 soldiers entered the ejido of San Jose, in the Amador Hernandez region. They deployed throughout the town and searched several houses, while the campesinos, zapatista sympathizers, withdrew to nearby mountains in order to avoid a confrontation.
"They were there for several hours and they returned in the afternoon to El Calvario, where they have a military camp with 300 troops. We don't want them here, we don't know what's going to happen if they come back, because we're not going to leave," noted Jose Raul, zapatista representative interviewed in Zapotal, a community that is a three-hour walk from San Jose.
The ejidal commissioner of Zapotal, a member of the Independent-ARIC, noted: "Despite the rumors that the army also wants to enter our town, we will not abandon our homes. We are going to resist, because we don't want the soldiers setting up here. We reached an agreement in Assembly with the entire community that, if they enter, we are going to resist peacefully."
The Army made an incursion into Francisco Villa several days ago and has been patrolling the town of Las Tazas: the EZLN has a strong presence in both towns. Located in the Amador Hernandez region, San Jose is a community surrounded by the military camp of El Calvario on one side, and by San Caralampio on the other. In the Taniperla canada, there are military camps in Monte Libano and Taniperla.
The Patihuitz and La Soledad canadas have military camps in San Quintin, La Soledad, La Sultana and La Garrucha. In the region of Las Tazas, there are three camps. Every 20 kilometers there is a barracks and several Army control points.
Originally published in Spanish by La Jornada _________________________ Translated by irlandesa La Jornada Tuesday, June 8, 1999.