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[Nettime-bold] Siege in the Selva

Originally published in Spanish by La Jornada
Translated by irlandesa

La Jornada
Saturday, April 15, 2000.

Razing Trees, Overflights, Siege...

        New Military Blockade in Amador Herna'ndez

Hermann Bellinghausen, correspondent.
Amador Herna'ndez, Chiapas.
April 14.

Yesterday the federal Army blocked, for the entire morning,
the road that joins this community with San Quinti'n.  It is
the first time this has happened in the exactly eight months
since this military camp was set up here.  Since then,
the stain of destruction brought by the military facilities
has not stopped spreading.  "They keep shooting and
destroying the trees," Roberto reports, while we go
around the camp in question, between the barbed wire
fences that surround the heliport and the federal
Army position.

"They've brought in more troops.  And there are some
who speak English and look like gringos," Roberto adds.

At the entrances to the coveted Montes Azules
biosphere reserve, the soldiers have penetrated "by a road
they made, some 600 meters inside the Selva," it is said.

Threats of Dislocation

One of Roberto's four companions, also wearing a
ski-mask, tells how "they prevented a compa~ero
from passing by, who had his load on a mule, and he
had to go back around the mountain in order to
reach the community" a few hours ago.

When La Jornada visited the site of the blockade,
it had already been lifted.  Nonetheless, one could
observe the increase in the area of ejidal
land being occupied de facto by the federal troops.

While these "occupations" - swift, easily accomplished
and so threatening to campesinos living in the reserve -
in Montes Azules do not seem to bother the Semarnap,
helicopters have begun continuous overflights above
the communities.

Since April 10, several times a day the roofs of
Pichucalco, Nuevo Pichucalco, Guanal, Amador
Herna'ndez, Plan de Guadalupe and other Tzeltal
villages, are shuddering from extremely low flights
by the aircraft.

Threats of dislocation against those communities
have increased.  They have even been visited
by judicial police and members of the Federal Preventive
Police, informing them personally as to what
might happen to them.  EZLN support bases, as
well as members of ARIC-Independent - who together
represent all the Indians in this region - have, over
the last few days,  denounced the uncertain conditions
they are being subjected to.

"They are just frightening the children with
their helicopters," Roberto says.

"We're Looking For the EZLN"

The protest sit-in by EZLN support bases - in
order to contain the soldiers' advance - has now
completed eight months.  Every day, since
August 12, 1999, two hundred indigenous,
men and women, children, adults and old ones,
stand guard and demonstrate against the military
camp.  They march, shout slogans, send messages,
sing, display banners.  In response, as is known,
opera is turned up to full volume.  Roberto doesn't call this
music now, but, simply, "interference."

In the same precarious conditions, accompanied
at times by civil society, the indigenous stay up all
night, exposed to the elements, in rotation. They come
from innumerable communities and ranches in the Emiliano Zapata
Autonomous Municipality and from the surrounding
autonomous municipalities.

According to Roberto's story, the federal Army
penetrates further every day into the biosphere
reserve and onto ejidal lands.  They are interfering
with the farmworkers' roads and bridges.  A few days
ago the farmworkers took down a pedestrian bridge
over the Perla River, since the soldiers were
trying to occupy it.

In addition, the pond that belongs to a "ranchito"
a kilometer from the camp is "taken over" daily
by a squad, that goes there to "take baths."

Two days ago campesinos ran into a
detachment of armed soldiers on a mountain road.
"One of them, I didn't see his rank," Roberto says, "told
us they were looking for the EZLN.  That they
wanted to find them."

And he adds:  "They had gone out to provoke a

The Selva, Under Siege

Following the appearance of military de'tente
around chiapaneco cities, the military harassment
in the interior of the Selva and the mountains is more
tense and serious now.  The agitation and anxiety
of zapatista civilians on guard in the Selva is
obvious.  While out there in civilization it would
seem that nothing is going on, here the situation
is worrisome.

Seen from the air, the Ca~adas demonstrate
the rapid proliferation of highways in all directions,
like an advance guard for military positions.
In a few months the military roads around
the communities in resistance constitute a
network of overwhelming "peripheral rings."  In
a few months the Army has advanced more than
the indigenous did in 30 years of

In the military camp of Amador Herna'ndez,
this correspondent could see numerous soldiers
with hatchets and machetes (some with one in each hand),
"working" the wood they have brought from the forests.

A high tower, bulwarked by sand bags, rises
up alongside the trees, controlling the space
between the Montes Azules and the fields.
One of the two heliports is very active, Roberto
notes, "bringing down more troops" from the aircraft.
The other has had a change of role.  The circle of
about 150 meters in diameter, which was cut
down to serve as a landing strip, today has two
cement latrines planted right in the center, with
seats and lids for toilets, and without any walls.
In this way the users can have panoramic
excretory sessions, which, in addition to being
original, is also symbolic.

The streams look cloudy and contaminated,
and the fecal odor extends around them, in
spite of the eloquent sanitary facility.  "They
are contaminating everything," Roberto comments.

The federal Army's control of access to
the Selva now also includes commercial air routes.
This morning a soldier, in civilian dress, who said
he was an envoy of the Military Region, tried to
prevent the light aircraft in which this correspondent
was travelling to Amador Herna'ndez from taking
off in Comita'n.  He said we were not able to l
eave without his superiors being notified.

The flight was watched over by the military
bases in Guadalupe Tepeyac, San Quinti'n and,
for the first time, in Amador Herna'ndez, whose
air controllers demanded, the same as they
had in Comita'n, that this journalist identify

The Other Robert

Masked by Governor Roberto Albores'
good will trips (who the day before yesterday
distributed 1,000,600 Procampo pesos in
the communities of Las Margaritas and Ocosingo,
and who even dressed up in Tojolabal clothing in
the Gonza'lez de Leo'n ejido), the military
occupation of the Selva Lacandona seems
to be heading towards a critical point. Perhaps
taking advantage of the fact that, given the heat
of election fever, no one is looking in that

Saying goodbye to La Jornada, Roberto
(not Albores) and his companions, surrounded
by the very alert families of the zapatista sit-in who were
drinking posol and eating stale tostadas, insisted
that I write two words in my notebook.  After
eight months of resistance, it said "we will
continue to resist."

"Write it like that," he insisted.
"That is what we are saying."

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