James Dumaine (James_Dumaine@babylon.montreal.qc.ca)
13 Dec 1997 04:43:57 GMT

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:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:Forwarded message:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-: SOLIDARITY WITH THOSE DISPLACED BY PARAMILITARY VIOLENCE Translated by ML.


President of Mexico: Ernesto Zedillo: webadmon@op.presidencia.gob.mx Palacio Nacional Mexico D.F. Fax 525-2772376

Lic. Julio Cesar Ruiz Ferro Governor of Chiapas Palacio de Gobierno Av. Central y Primero Ote, Col Centro 29009 Tuxla Gutierrez Chiapas Tel. y Fax. 961-20917

Lic. Yesmin Lima Adam - President of the Chiapas Human Rights State Commission - Argentina 455, Col. El Retiro 29040-Tuxla Gutierrez Chiapas Tel. 961-40632/40674

Mireille Roccatti Velazquez - President of the National Human Rights Commission- CNDH - Periferico Sur 3464 Col.San Jeronimo Lidice 10200 Mexico DF. Tel. 6310040 Free :(011-52-5) 0180000869 E-mail: cndh@laneta.apc.org


Political violence, unleashed against the rebel villages has claimed new victims these past few days. There are some 4 thousand 500 Indians who have had to abandon their communities, 500 of them took refuge in the mountains, out in the open, with their wives, children, and elderly people. The rebel mayor of Chenalho explains that the people have no food or clothing, that many are ill and without medicine. We are facing an emergency. One more farmer died after an armed attack by a paramilitary group against the community of Yaxjemel, 70 Km. from San Cristobal de las Casas in the Highlands of Chiapas. "The murder took place when the PRI attackers arrived from Puebla and together with public security policemen attacked and killed my brother Jose", reported Alfredo Gomez Guzman. The women are now not only the victims of these inhuman attacks, the bullets are also aimed at them. Two Tzotzil Indian women, one 40 years old and the other 16 were murdered last week in the Municipality of Chenalho, when they were trying to take refuge in the mountains. In Yaxjemel, Gomez Guzman reports, "The PRI followers beat and raped 3 women. They beat another man and arrested three others, which they eventually freed after charging them with a thousand pesos fine. All the Zapatista houses were destroyed," Gomez Guzman said. The State authorities have not confirmed these facts. During the last week the violent death of ten Indians has been reported in the region. Most of them were members of the support bases of the EZLN. The inhabitants of six communities reported "the attack of armed PRI followers and policemen who ransacked and burned 50 Zapatista houses. The State Attorney general's office has confirmed at least 5 of the deaths and 12 burnt houses during violent attacks perpetrated by 40 masked men. "It is a strategy to provoke and undermine the Zapatistas. They attack our people in the villages and our compa~eros haven't responded in order to avoid a confrontation noone knows where it would lead", the rebel mayor declared. This region of rugged geography and diverse climates is rich in coffee production. The local inhabitants' economy is dependent on the production of this aromatic bean which, this year, enjoys a good price in the international market. Part of the paramilitary groups' strategy is set in the de-capitalization of the farmers who support the rebel government. Two days after the attack to Pechiquil and Tzajalukum, the PRI supporters and the policemen got hold of the coffee the Zapatistas had just picked. The same thing has happened in about 12 communities during the last weeks. "They have robbed Jose Perez Hernandez of 430 Kg. of coffee. A three ton truck left the village full of coffee sacks from the whole village," said Luis Perez in an interview. "The PRI followers are even picking coffee in our coffee groves. They are using the money they get from it to buy arms to finish us off. They can kill me with a bullet bought with the sale of the coffee they stole from me." adds Jose Luis, who, together with his family hasn't returned to his home in four days, with a knot in his throat. His wife and children together with his neighbours hold their tears and hide their hunger in the heart of the mountain.


Hundreds of Tzotzil men, women and children are hidden in the mountains, suffering from the cold and humidity of the Highlands of Chiapas. They were forced to abandon their villages fearing new paramilitary attacks. Protected from the continuous rain with color plastic ponchos scattered among the coffee trees, the Tzotzil rebel support bases suffer from a lack of food, clothing and medicine. "They burned our houses and stole everything", is the story one hears over and over again from Yaxiemel to Tabtekum, to Tzanembolon,Los Chorros, Chimix, La Esperanza, Yibeljoj, Pechiquil, Tzajalukum, Bojoveltik, Aurora Chica and Canolal. In a mountain area, near the community of Acteal, amongst coffee groves and large trees appear dozens of children, women and men. They have been living for two months in the midst of the trees and the endless mud. "We were displaced from the community of La Esperanza, on Septemeber 21. We left and are now borrowing some space here. Until now we had nothing to eat. They just gave us some tostadas. People already want to die because of the hunger. We did have a house, but it is now destroyed and burnt. Some "compas" have stores but they robbed all the merchandise. That's why we left. And here we are, borrowing space," says Manuel Lopez while carrying his eight month old baby in his arms. The women pile up behind with their children between their legs or hanging from their breasts. A little old lady covers her face with a white huipil embroidered in red, the traditional dress of this village. The sobs make the women's breasts convulse. The barefeet children, holding to the women's skirts cough, some cry. The older women begin to talk. Little by little all the women speak at once in tzotzil. A lytany of lamentations. They don't care that the journalists don't understand them. Their tone of voice, their yearning looks, their hands opening and closing signaling the void. We have nothing, now, nothing for our children. That's what the women say in this sad collective tale. They say that they have lost everything. They talk and talk and exorcise their motherly sufferings. A man who listens to them covers his eyes in order to cry. One can hear the word "PRIista". Finally a man translates: "they left Pechiquil on the 20th [of September] fearing the bullets, then they arrived here. They left all their belongings behind, plows, materials and machetes. They stole their horses and the animals they had. And they ate everything as well. The women cry because all their belongings were left behind inside their homes. They cut their corn and picked their coffee. They had to leave their work." "We don't know why the President gave the order and sent the armed men. Just like in Jibeljoj he sent 27 boxes of AK47s (goat horns). That's why people are afraid, because we are unarmed, that's why they left yesterday and before yesterday. they came all the way here", explains Joaquin Santiz Lopez, from Pechiquil. Veronica Perez is a Tzotzil girl of 10. She begins to speak in her language while her fingers play nervously, almost trembling, with her colored beads necklace. She got her little brothers out of La Esperanza on September 21. "They started shooting in La Esperanza and her mother wasn't there only her dad. She left carrying her brothers, and then they started shooting, she went and hid, they shot some more, they were looking for the little girl. she says that she is suffering now, that she has no corn or tortillas or anything to eat now." Marcela Jimenez left Tzajalucum and at night she walked through the mountain and a snake bit her. "Other ladies and children are sick. We have no corn or beans to give them, we have none left", says the teacher Sebastian Perez from Acteal, the community which is trying to help the refugees. The rebel mayors of Chenalho,San Andres Sacamchen of the Poor,and San Juan de la Libertad, condemned the violence unleashed in the regions of the Highlands, the North, South, and Rain Forest (Selva)regions "promoted by the Federal and State governments through the PRI mayors, the white guards and the members of the Public Security". The autonomous town councils demanded from the Federal Government the implementation of the accords on Indigenous matters signed with the EZLN on February 1996. They also demanded the removal of the PRI town council president of Chenalho, Jacinto Perez Cruz, whom they hold responsible for arming the white guards. "We want no more bloodshed among Indian brothers " they said. There are thousands of people who have abandoned their communities fleeing into the mountains, and some to other communities. If the attacks against the displaced people continue there will be nowhere else to run to. They are suffering from hunger, and are without shelter and with only the clothes they are wearing. They are only fleeing from violence, from being massacred and from the persecution of the white guards", the rebel communique points out. "We demand that the government of the state abstains from violence and looks for a solution by means of a dialogue in which it commits itself to withdraw its public security forces, to pay for the dammages done, to disarm the white guards and to ensure the return of the dispalced members of the PRD, PRI, civil society and EZLN support base members to their home communities. "We want no more bloodshed among poor farmer brothers", says the document signed by the rebel municipalities. During the attack to Tzajalakum, the attackers lost two identification cards, they were from the PRI, one of them belongs to Manuel Gomez Ruiz, who lives in Acteal.



AT THE AGUASCALIENTES OF ROBERTO BARRIOS, THE DISPLACED MEMBERS OF THE COMMUNITY OF AGUA BLANCA, IN THE NORTHERN PART OF THE STATE HOPE TO BE ABLE TO RETURN TO THEIR LANDS AFTER 8 MONTHS OF WANDERING. They are planning to establish a parallel community in order to be able to till the land and get some food. The case of the Chol population of Agua Blanca is one of many similar cases of entire communities who are suffering hardships and despoiling for the sole reason of not belonging to the official political party and of demanding a better life.

ENLACE CIVIL calle Ignacio Allende 4 San Crist=F3bal de Las Casas 29200 Chiapas-MEXICO Tel y fax: 52-967-82104 Direcci=F3n electr=F3nica: enlacecivil@laneta.apc.org

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