Gonzalo Egremy, Fredy Martin Perez and Oscar Gutierrez, Correspondents.
MOZINTLA, Chiapas. - Troops of the Mexican Army and agents of the Secretary of State, the Attorney General of the Republic and of the state government confirmed the presence of armed rebel groups and training camps for subversives in this region of the Sierra Madre of Chiapas, for which they agreed to set up military-police bases to bring about the withdrawal or dismantling of the guerilla cells. In Tuxtla Gutierrez, the opposition parties in the local Congress described the announcement of the police alert in Chiapas as another provocation against peace in the region, and warned of risks of greater social destabilization.
Consequently, a short time after the attorney Eduardo Montoya Lievano orchestrated the reinforcement of the police in the state, in anticipation of possible violence by radical groups of the EZLN after December 20, the factions of the PAN and the PRD asked the president of the high commission of the state Congress, Carlos Mario Culebro Velasco, to summon the official to appear before the Congress.
Meanwhile soldiers of various military units of the central region of the country are being mobilized and transported to the conflict zone in anticipation of supposed attacks by paramilitaries.
Non military sources announced that hundreds of members of the Army arrived a short time ago in Chiapas at the military air base of Copalar, in the municipality of Comitan and la Trinitaria, considered the strategic points of quick access to zapatista territory where the EZLN makes its camps.
In spite of the mobilization, the seventh military region in Chiapas is maintaining a steely secrecy about the military incursion in the region.
For his part, the state Justice Attorney, Eduardo Montoya Lievano, believes that there is no "evidence" that guerilla groups are building up to violent action against the civilian population, in the coming days.
Meanwhile the state government representative in the frontier zone, Francisco Torres, agreed that there is "fear and uncertainty" among the inhabitants of the conflict zone.
For their part, indigenous people and campesinos in settlements in the Lacandona jungle reported that in the last few days, day and night, overflights by helicopters and planes of the Mexican Air Force have increased .
The rebel presence in the zone of Motozintla, are factions of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) who have broadened their circle of influence in the Sierra Madre, adjoining the coast, where they have established training and recruiting camps of militias in various communities.
According to reports of the Center of Investigation and National Security (CISEN) of the State Department and the PGR, the cells of the rebel groups are armed with assault weapons (AR-15), shotguns, and 22 caliber rifles. In addition they are established in places difficult to access, where they are trained in handling weapons, guerilla warfare, and study ideological and revolutionary struggle.
"One cell of the rebel group held a position for more than a week adjoining two haciendas, and with high powered weapons kept watch on the roads and exits and entrances of the farms" one of the official sources recalled, remembering November 17 three years ago when Cristobal Garcia Gordillo and Albino Castro Reyes, were arrested by chance, transporting an arsenal in two bundles of jute.
On the detection of the so-called "insurgent revolutionary" groups, troops of the Mexican Army, federal police and state public security established the 'Mixed Operations Bases (BOM).
These have military police control posts and patrols on roads which run from the ecological reserve of El Triunfo to the common land (Ejido) Belisario Dominguez, and from this municipality to Siltepec, El Porvenir, La Grandeza and Bejucal de Ocampo.
In the 'counterinsurgency' work, it was said, some 500 federal and state police and heavily armed soldiers participate deployed in 'Pick up' trucks and heavyweight lorries. "We will be on the alert for any eventuality, we don't want any kind of surprise and of course it is all to guarantee the security, peace, and a state of law".
In Tuxtla Gutierrez the PRD faction made an appeal to President Ernesto Zedillo and the governor Roberto Albores Guillen, to "stop rumourmongering" and respect the extension of the truce which exists with the EZLN.
Agustin Gomez Patisthan, indigenous tzeltal representative, from the region of Las Canadas, said that the assertions against the Zapatista Army hurled by the state justice attorney, Eduardo Montoya Lievano, only lead to greater social instability.
He described as absurd the present attempt to militarize and create a state of emergency in Chiapas, when they still haven't even made any responses to the accords of San Andres Larrainzar.
In the same vein, the PRD legislator, Juan Jose Ulloa Flores alluded to the fact that the increase of the military-police patrols follows a strategy of the secretary of State, Diodoro Carrasco Altamirano, of establishing fear and electoral terror on the eve of 2000 "comparable to that which Salinas de Gortari set up in the middle of 1994".
The PRI legislator, Antonio Diaz Lopez indicated that in his electoral district, which takes in the municipalities of Tenejapa, San Juan Cancuc, San Cristobal de las Casas and Chealho, "things are calm", though he admitted that conflicts existed, but these are of a socio-political nature which result in a few demonstrations "considered normal".
Nevertheless, the government representative of the frontier zone, Francisco Torres Vera, said that he had received reports of inhabitants of the zone under EZLN influenced, suggesting that its adherents "might try" to upset order and social harmony in the next few days.
The inhabitants of the zapatista zone requested support from the state and federal police to " attend to any violent incident", Torres Vera asserted.
The PRI mayor of Las Margaritas, Martin Leon Suarez revealed that in the last four days "constant rumours" have been heard which indicate that EZLN sympathizers might try to take over the town hall; but declared that "nothing had been confirmed", so that the staff of the city council "are keeping tabs on the communities to confirm the threats".
The state Justice attorney, Eduardo Montoya Lievano, announced that police and Army patrols will be set up all through the district, which does not mean, he said, an increase in the militarization.
La Jornada Dec. 16 1999 ____________________________ (Translated by Warwick Fry)