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[Nettime-bold] [Fwd: En;Jornada/Becerril;Military Camps in Chiapas now 300,Apr 24]

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Date: Mon, 24 Apr 2000 11:28:41 -0400
From: irlandesa <irlandesa@compuserve.com>
Subject: More on increased militarization in Chiapas
Sender: irlandesa <irlandesa@compuserve.com>
To: chiapas-n <chiapas-n@burn.ucsd.edu>

Originally published in Spanish by La Jornada
Translated by irlandesa

La Jornada
Sunday, April 23, 2000.

The Government Closes Military Circle Around EZLN

        Since 1997, Military Positions have Increased From 197 to 300

Andrea Becerril/I.

Systematically, unceasingly, the federal government has been closing the
police-military circle around the Zapatista Army of National Liberation
(EZLN).  If, in 1997, three years after the appearance of the rebel group,
there were 197 military positions - including bases, barracks, camps and
checkpoints - there are now 300 places on the chiapaneco map with soldiers
present, some of them encamped within the indigenous communities
themselves, invading schools and plots, cutting down the forest wealth of
the Selva Lacandona.

Far removed from the government talk about peace, the military occupation
of indigenous lands is advancing.  Tragedies like Acteal, in December of
1997, have served as an excuse for officials to increase their military
forces.  And so, following the killing in Chenalho', in the region of Los
Altos, 20 Mexican Army camps were established.  And, in August of last
year, its repositioning was focused on the Selva, since, following the
incidents in the community of Amador Herna'ndez, another 30 camps were set
up in the Montes Azules area.

Added to the incredible San Quinti'n military base - established in the
middle of the Selva Lacandona, in contrast with the poverty of neighboring
communities - is a new training camp for the Mexican Army and Air Force, in
the municipality of Maravilla Tenejapa, to one side of Las Margaritas and
beneath Ocosingo, on the approach to La Realidad.

The project will soon be getting underway, since last March a decree by
President Ernesto Zedillo had already been published in the Official Diary
of the Federation, in which 30 hectares of common use by ejiditarios were
expropriated in Maravilla Tenejapa - who were offered an average payment of
2000 pesos per hectare - in order to build a military fort.

In addition to the militarization of Chiapas, there is also a strong police
presence, with another 300 positions having been established by state
Public Security police, federal and local Judicial Police, Road Police and
Immigration, bodies which are working jointly with the Army.

Statements by Researchers and NGOs

This was the scene found by legislators and members of civil society, who
carried out a visit last weekend to three places in the conflict zone.  "We
are truly concerned after what we saw, by the statements and information we
received from researchers and non-governmental organizations who have been
following the conflict up close, such as the Fray Bartolome' de Las Casas
Human Rights Center, Global Exchange and the Center for Economic and
Political Research of Community Action (CIEPAC)," commented PRD Senator
Carlos Paya'n Velver.

They emphasized that 600 military and police positions have been
concentrated in areas of EZLN influence, in addition to paramilitary groups
"who continue acting jointly, in a coordinated manner, and who continue to
go unpunished, as can be corroborated in the Taniperla ejido, and which
could provoke new outbreaks of violence, similar to Acteal."

The legislator reiterated how they confirmed that soldiers are taking on
police and immigration tasks, acting in coordination with the many security
bodies who are harassing the indigenous population.

Paya'n warned that it is "low intensity warfare" aimed at doing away with
the zapatistas, being systematically waged by the federal government.  In
agreement with the evaluation by the legislator, who is a member of the
Cocopa, were Senator Mario Saucedo and Deputies Gilberto Lo'pez y Rivas,
Samuel Lara Villa and Fabiola Gallegos, who participated in the visit to
Amador Herna'ndez, Acteal and Taniperla, along with academics Luis Gonza'lez
Souza and Fatima Ferna'ndez, journalist Carlos Fazio, ceramist Hugo
Vela'zquez and Gustavo Castro, of CIEPAC.

Strike;  Advance and No Withdrawal

Castro, along with One'simo Hidalgo, is the author of the book The Strategy
of War in Chiapas, an investigation based on public denunciations and
documents from the historic archive of the National Intermediation
Commission (Conai), covering February 12, 1994 to November 28, 1998, when
its president, Bishop Samuel Ruiz, decided to dissolve it.

Gustavo Castro notes that it is an evaluation of the situation, based on
the experiences of one of the actors in the conflict which erupted in
January of 1994:  for "the voice of those without voice, the indigenous and
campesinos themselves," who are suffering the military and police presence
and attacks by paramilitaries on a daily basis.

In an interview, the researcher stressed that the military repositioning in
Chiapas has, in a dual manner, been accompanied by the "government's
purported peace proposals."  That, he added has been the tactic used by
officials since the signing of the San Andre's Accords.  The most recent
example of this was in August of 1999, when there were demonstrations by
various sectors of society rejecting the military incursion into this
Tzeltal community in the Selva Lacandona.

"They strike, they put the Army in, they advance, but they never withdraw,
as happened in Amador Herna'ndez, where the military detachment remained,
and, in addition, they set up more camps throughout the entire Montes
Azules region," added Castro.  He emphasized that, simultaneously, in
September, the Department of Government released the Open Letter to the
EZLN, which was widely published as a new peace proposal.

Nonetheless [the letter] "did not even mention the issues of the Army and
the paramilitaries," the Fray Bartolome' de Las Casas Human Rights Center
stresses in a report presented last April to the UN Human Rights
Commission.  In the document, the Center emphasized that the Mexican
government remains "deaf and blind" to recommendations made by the United
Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, as well as to
her recommendation that militarization in Chiapas be reduced as a sign of
good faith, given that, in 1999, the Mexican Army made new advances into
indigenous communities in the Selva Lacandona.

The prelude to that - notes the Center, which has its headquarters in San
Cristo'bal de Las Casas - was the incursion into the Nazareth ejido, also in
Ocosingo, on June 4, 1999.  During the operation, carried out in order to
set up a camp in the patio of the community's school, 700 Army, Public
Security and PGR troops participated.  "The soldiers demanded that ejido
authorities sign a document in which they expressed their agreement with
the soldiers' presence, but the indigenous did not accept it."

Afterwards, from June 4 to 10, incursions were made into the communities of
El Censo, San Jose' Betania and Francisco Villa, all of them in the
municipality of Ocosingo, and into Santa Luci'a, La Trinidad and Rosario Rio
Blanco, in Las Margaritas.  "The serious moment of the confrontations
provoked by the military advance was the establishment of an army camp on
the ejidal lands of Amador Herna'ndez, one of the entrance points to the
Montes Azules biosphere reserve," the Fray Bartolome' notes in their report
to the UN.  It also reports on several denunciations made by indigenous
concerning attacks they experienced at the hands of the soldiers.

Meanwhile, in Amador Herna'ndez the resistance movement continues against
the presence of the soldiers, who are still there, eight months later. 
They are not the only ones being threatened by that "low intensity war," as
Senator Paya'n described it, or that "war strategy," in the words of CIEPAC

In addition to the 600 police and military positions which are trying to
close the pincers around the EZLN, 32 communities located around the Montes
Azules reserve - 12 of them members of the ARIC-Independent - were notified
by an interdepartmental commission, in which Government, Semarnap and
others participated, that they must remove themselves from that region,
Gustavo Castro revealed.

Their relocation is being proposed, with negligible indemnification, and
with the excuse that they are damaging the environment.  Some with PRI
affiliations have already accepted it, the rest have not, but, in reality,
"it's obvious that what they're trying to do is to isolate the EZLN so they
can close the military siege," noted Senator Paya'n Velver. 

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