(en) Zapatista News May 23 - June 2

mark_c (mark_c@geocities.com)
Thu, 05 Jun 1997 17:05:27 +0000

A AA AAAA The A-Infos News Service AA AA AA AA INFOSINFOSINFOS http://www.tao.ca/ainfos/ AAAA AAAA AAAAA AAAAA

Zapatista News Summary for May 23 - June 2, 1997: =

Pri=EDstas attack EZLN supporters in Chenalho COCOPA calls for "urgent" meeting to discuss =

increasing violence in the north of Chiapas Bishop Ruiz: "positive signs" soon to come in =

favor of peace in Chiapas ILO criticizes Mexico for failure to enact San =

Andres Accords

also at http://www.peak.org/~joshua/fzln/news.html


PRI Militants Attack EZLN Supporters in Chenalho

On Saturday, May 24th, the community of Union =

Yeshemel (municipality of San Pedro Chenalho) =

became the site of still more violence carried out =

against civilian Zapatistas and supporters of the =

PRD opposition party in the north of Chiapas. =

According to Domingo Perez, representative of the =

Autonomous Municipal Council of Chenalho (the =

parallel government formed in opposition to the =

PRI-controlled municipality), the problems began on =

May 18th with the kidnappings in Yeshemel of three =

Tzotziles from Puebla, all sympathizers of the =

EZLN, by order of the Jacinto Arias Cruz, the =

municipal president aligned with the PRI. =

On May 24th, a commission of 16 members of the =

parallel autonomous government entered Yeshemel in =

order to open a dialogue with the authorities so as =

to obtain the release of their three companeros, =

who had supposedly been detained for failure to pay =

75 pesos each toward the opening of a new road =

through the community. When they arrived at the =

outskirts of Yeshemel, however, they were met by =

approximately 500 pri=EDstas, who opened fire on them =

with weapons of different calibres, resulting in =

two of their group wounded, one dead (the professor =

Cristobal Perez Medio), and two others disappeared. =

The story given by the pri=EDstas in Yeshemel, as =

usual, differs greatly from the version of events =

given by the members of the Autonmous Municipal =

Council. The PRI militants insist that what took =

place was a full gun battle between armed troops of =

the EZLN and the PRI supporters in the community, =

which lasted at least 5 hours and left several =

Zapatista combatants dead or wounded. Local PRI =

authorities, however, denied reports that anyone =

was killed during the violence, although the body =

of Professor Perez Medio has still not been found, =

either alive or dead. =

Union Yeshemel is now nothing more than a ghost =

town, as civilians on both sides have fled in fear =

of the possibility of more violence. 350 Tzotziles =

from Yeshemel who sympathize with the EZLN or the =

PRD were forced to abandon their homes immediately =

following the attack, and approximately 2000 =

pri=EDstas have also left Yeshemel and the =

neighboring community of Poconichim, and taken =

refuge two kilometers away in Puebla--now protected =

by at least 70 members of the state Public Security =

forces--apparently in fear of retribution on the =

part of the Zapatistas. =

Attempts at starting a dialogue between the PRI and =

the civilian Zapatistas in order to resolve the =

tension in Chenalho have so far been unsuccessful. =

A first meeting between the Autonomous Municipal =

Council and representatives of the PRI-sponsored =

municipal government was originally planned for May =

31st, but was delayed over arguments about the =

negotiating site. The PRI insists that the talks be =

held in Union Yeshemel, whereas representatives of =

the parallel autonomous government insist that they =

should take place in a more "neutral" location. =

After both sides had finally agreed to meet in the =

community of Yabeteclum on June 2nd, the talks were =

once again postponed due to the fact that the mayor =

of Chenalho, Jaacinto Arias Cruz, never arrived. =

Meanwhile, in the neigboring municipality of =

Pantelho, where 85 EZLN sympathizers were driven =

out of their homes in Las Limas Chitanucum on May =

19th by supporters of the PRI, a series of =

agreements have been reached between the two sides =

in conflict. After an urgent meeting on June 1st to =

discuss the situation, the mayor of Pantelho, Ad=E1n =

S=E1nchez, agreed to pay damages to the Zapatistas =

and PRD supporters for the nine houses which were =

burned to the ground by PRI militants during the =

attack, as well as to "forgive" the =

Zapatistas/perredistas for not having participated =

in the "obligatory" 120 days of work toward opening =

up a new road in the community, which, as in the =

case of Chenalho, was cited as the original cause =

for the pri=EDsta attack on May 19th. The displaced =

families, who are expected to return shortly to =

their community, agreed in turn to not file =

criminal charges against the local government for =

the destruction of their properties. =




The legislative Commission on Concordance and =

Pacification (COCOPA) last week solicited an urgent =

meeting with the government's chief negotiator for =

Chiapas, Pedro Joaqu=EDn Coldwell, in order to =

discuss the "worrisome" intensification of violence =

in the north of the state. =

According to PRD deputy and COCOPA member Cesar =

Ch=E1vez, the recent violence in Chenalho and the =

failure to set up any negotiating tables to deal =

with the increasing violence in the region, =

represent a "negative response" of interim governor =

Julio Cesar Ruiz Ferro to the requests of the =

COCOPA to work toward a "social truce" between the =

conflicting sides in Chiapas. =

The concerns of the COCOPA come amid increasing =

tensions across the north of Chiapas. In the last =

two weeks, militants of the PRI have attacked EZLN =

sympathizers in the municipalities of Pantelho and =

Chenalho, resulting in at least one person dead, =

several wounded, and hundreds of families displaced =

from their homes. =

In the town of Venustiano Carranza, meanwhile, =

inhabitants affiliated with the Casa del Pueblo and =

the Emiliano Zapata Campesino Organization (OCEZ) =

denounced the presence of four new detachments of =

public security forces in the community, who =

supposedly arrived in support of the PRI-sponsored =

paramilitary groups operating in the area. =

According to the Casa del Pueblo, no opposition =

group has been able to carry out public meetings in =

the municipality recently due to the intimidation =

of the security forces. =

Word has also leaked out in the press that the =

paramilitary group Los Chinchulines, relatively =

inactive for much of the last year, is being =

reorganized in the municipality of Chilon under the =

leadership of Miguel Hern=E1ndez ("El Sapo"), a local =

government official and PRI militant. Los =

Chinchulines had been severely weakened by the =

deaths of four of their leaders in Bachajon in May =

of 1996, and by the subsequent arrests of 30 of =

their members last year, following strong =

international pressure to take action against the =

group. The official municipal government of Chilon- -under the control of PRD militants and supporters =

of the EZLN--has called on the inhabitants of the =

region to "remain attentive" to possible military =

attacks on the part of the Chinchulines, which they =

worry may be carried out in revenge for the deaths =

of their leaders thirteen months ago. =

In related news, with regards to the indigenous =

political prisoners being held in the Cerro Hueco =

state prison, the state government announced this =

week that it was dropping all charges against the =

24 Zapatista prisoners arrested during the police =

occupation of San Pedro Nixtalucum last March 14th. =

Their release had previously been agreed upon in a =

mutual non-aggression pact signed by the two sides =

in San Pedro, but was since delayed by the =

government even after the 358 displaced Zapatistas =

from that community had returned to their homes. No =

progress has been made, however, in attempts to =

open a new dialogue between representatives of =

displaced Chol families from the north of Chiapas, =

now in their second month of protests outside the =

government palace in Tuxtla Gutierrez, and state =

government representatives. Despite promises by the =

government to resolve the majority of their =

demands--including the release of 60 indigenous =

political prisoners still being held in the Cerro =

Hueco state prison--none of their demands have so =

far been attended to. On the contrary, one of the =

Chol delegates was wounded from an attack last week =

by unknown assailants as he approached the =

government palace; and the Cerro Hueco prisoners =

are now being held virtually incommunicado. =

Sebastian V=E1zquez Jimenez, one of the Chol =

representatives, commented to the press on May 26th =

that "during 32 days we have maintained a permanent =

presence here at the entrance to the palace, and =

during that time the government has shown once =

again that it is racist and full of lies." =

"We no longer trust the authorities", he added, =

"and we are growing tired of so many lies and =

falsities whose only purpose is to fertilize the =

counterinsurgency implanted here by the federal =

government". =



Samuel Ruiz, bishop of San Cristobal de las Casas =

and president of the National Mediating Commission =

(CONAI), commented to the press last week that "in =

coming days" there will be "concrete signs" given =

by the government delegation toward a resumption of =

the suspended dialogue in San Andres between the =

federal government and the EZLN. =

The comments of Bishop Ruiz came on May 30th, two =

days after a private meeting was held between Ruiz =

and the Mexican Interior Minister, Emilio =

Chuayffet. Ruiz said there will soon be "signals =

which indicate that not only are there words of =

goodwill, but rather a true wish to untangle the =

situation" before federal elections on July 6th. =

While Bishop Ruiz refused to mention exactly what =

these "signals" would consist of, he said they =

might be the resolution of "some of the conditions" =

layed out by the EZLN last August for a resumption =

of negotiations, "or they could consist of =

something else, I don't know because there are =

various entry points for something like this to =

happen". He then added, "I don't know exactly who =

will be taking the decisions, but they will be made =

on behalf of the State, a manifestation that is not =

only verbal but one of concrete signals". =

Members of the Commission on Concordance and =

Pacification (COCOPA), however, when asked about =

the declarations of Bishop Ruiz--signalling that =

the government is truly interested in a resumption =

of negotiations with the EZLN before the elections- -were more skeptical. "It is a scenario which is =

not right around the corner", said COCOPA member =

Cesar Ch=E1vez. Ch=E1vez added he was not hopeful for a =

resumption of the dialogue anytime soon, since the =

COCOPA has had no contact with the EZLN in almost =

six months, and the federal government appeared =

more worried about the upcoming elections than =

about peace in Chiapas.

For his part, the COCOPA's "president-in-turn", =

Oscar Gonz=E1lez Yanez, signalled that the only way =

out of the current situation is for the government =

delegation to present an "integral proposal" for =

resolving the 10-month old crisis in the dialogue, =

with elements which would include social =

development programs for Chiapas, the return of the =

Mexican Army to its barracks, and the modification =

of the national Constitution in accordance with the =

San Andres Accords on Indigenous Rights and =

Culture. Gonz=E1lez Yanez also urged Chiapas interim =

governor Julio Cesar Ruiz Ferro to release the =

indigenous prisoners being held in the Cerro Hueco =

prison, as a way of opening up the possibility for =

a resumption of negotiations between the EZLN and =

the federal government. =

Meanwhile, senator Pablo Salazar Mendiguch=EDa, also =

of the COCOPA, responded to criticisms directed =

toward the legislative body last week about the =

supposedly "stagnating" work of the COCOPA. Salazar =

insisted that the COCOPA does not have the =

faculties to coerce either the EZLN or the federal =

government back to the negotiating table: "We are =

not living in an ideal situation", he said, "and no =

one is satisfied, not the COCOPA, not the CONAI, =

nor anyone else. But we are doing the best that we =

can." =



The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has =

sharply criticized the Mexican government for its =

failure to implement the San Andres Accords on =

Indigenous Rights and Culture, and insists that =

Mexico--as a signatory nation of Convention 169 =

regarding Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in =

Independent Countries--now owes the ILO an =

explanation. This was the pronouncement made by the =

director of the ILO's Latin America office, Ian =

Chambers, during a presentation at the =

International Seminar on Indigenous Rights, held =

last week in Mexico City. =

"Mexico has been harshly criticized by the =

International Labour Organisation this past year, =

specifically with regards to Chiapas", said =

Chambers. He added that "the San Andres Accords =

correspond in both form and substance to that layed =

out in Convention 169. That is, they are issues =

discussed and negotiated between the government and =

the indigenous peoples; there was a consultation, =

negotiations toward solutions, and now there still =

remains the implementation." The ILO representative =

further insisted that if the government doesn't =

intend to implement the accords, then it must =

explain why. =

Convention 169 of the ILO--signed by Mexico, =

ironically, under the adminstration of Carlos =

Salinas--was used as a basis for the drafting of =

the San Andres Accords on Indigenous Rights and =

Culture, especially in the Convention's recognition =

of autonomy as "the constitutional guarantee of the =

[indigenous] peoples and their communities to =

exercise their right to free determination in the =

territories which they currently occupy". =


Primary sources for all news articles: La Jornada, =

Proceso, El Financiero, and La Cronica. =

The primary responsibility for the content of this =

news page lies with its author, Joshua Paulson, and =

not necessarily with a commission, civil committee, =

or other dependency of the Zapatista Front of =

National Liberation. =

Comments: joshua@peak.org

-- =

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