ricardo dominguez on Thu, 15 Apr 1999 18:54:37 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> We Will Resist the Military Pressure Peacefully: Chols of Jolnixtie

Translated by irlandesa

La Jornada
April 14, 1999.

We Will Resist the Military Pressure Peacefully:
Chols of Jolnixtie

Hermann Bellinghausen, correspondent.
Jolnixtie, Chiapas.
April 13, 1999.

The residents of this community confirmed today that the
federal army had made two incursions on the 10th and 11th,
carrying out interrogations and searches, without warrants,
using the excuse of lost pistols.

The community as a whole attests to the innocence
of the five youths, accused of having stolen those weapons.
Through their representatives, members of the community
itself state that it was a "provocation" by the
Mexican Army, stationed on the outskirts of the town.
This is keeping the choleros of Jolnixtie in a state
of suspense.

The usual anxiety and isolation in which the zapatistas
towns in the northern zone live has intensified over the
last few days.  The military "provocations" in this
municipality of Tila, in Sabanilla, leave no doubts.
 The chols say they are willing to resist peacefully.
But they are also fearful of experiencing violent attacks.
 They say they want peace, but also that they are going
to remain there.  "We are not going to leave now,"
they say.


The military and paramilitary encirclement and pressure
over the northern zone of Chiapas cause the communities
to say "ya basta" with an urgency that comes from today,
not from five or five hundred years ago.  The
encirclement suffocates them, as if they were alone.
"They are provoking us," an older man accuses, from
behind his tight fitting, blue ski-mask, a
representative of the EZLN support bases in this
isolated region of the lands beneath Tila, chol territory
for more than a thousand years.

"It would be better if they were to withdraw.  What
benefits do the soldiers bring us?  What they do to
us is threaten us," another man with a
covered face says, also older, almost elderly.
But he adds with certainty:

 "We do not have fear.  The people are organized here.
We are not going to give up.  Ya basta.  We are Mexicans
and we have that right to live in

In few of the threatened communities of the indigenous
lands of Chiapas is the alarm so palpable.  So urgent.
Over the last few days the federal army has been threatening
the residents of Jolnixtie as never before.  It has
made two incursions into the community, and the
surveillance on the outskirts is continuing.  On one
side of the road there is a check-point,
and, on the other, a community dominated
by the Peace and Justice paramilitary group.
And then another Mexican Army post.  And so, with guns
pointing at them between the high mountains where the
chiapaneco sierra abruptly ends, Jolnixtie is an enclosed
town, but ready to struggle.

Six men, youths and old men, without stating their names,
Present themselves as "representatives of the EZLN support bases,
" and they give their statements in front of a group of journalists
and human rights observers, almost ceremonially.  Hundreds of
persons around them back them up, outside the cabin where the
interview is being conducted.  The spokespersosns do not need
to identify themselves, because they are speaking for everyone.

"We are the witnesses," the man in the blue ski-mask says,
and he gestures behind him, referring to the hundreds of
indigenous who are listening attentively.  All the women
and all the men of the town.

Another time this man had said they did not remember
how long they had been living on these lands.  His memory
of the community has been lost in the grandparents of his
great-grandfather, who still live here.  And he makes a
definitive declaration as to the worth of his words and

"These are the truths, the realities.  We are not going to
lie, because we are the witnesses, those who are seeing."

The six men take turns speaking, as if they were one
single voice, with different generational tones.
Two old, two mature, two youths.

One of the latter says, in his turn:  "We want them to
not provoke us.  We want peace, but peace that is just.
Instead of that, they're going to
provoke us.  Our people are very upset that the federal
army is coming to do what they shouldn't be doing."

They are not thinking about going to the mountains now.
Even if the soldiers come again, they will not go away.
Nonetheless, their encirclement is such that it has been
several days since any of the farmworkers have gone to
work the fields.  They are not "incidents."  The
situation is critical.

Recital of the Events

Everything took place around the celebration of
Emiliano Zapata.  One of the young representatives
relates that, on April 9, "before the fiesta, a
taxi arrived in the community at about 11 at night
and parked in the atrium."  In a community as remote
and excluded as Jolnixtie, this is very

"The taxi dropped off two people from the army, one
civilian and another in uniform.  We were still awake.
They waited half an hour.  We realized it
was something odd.  They weren't going to talk to us.
They didn't talk to anyone," the recital continued.

"The taxi went over to the store that Peace and Justice
has close by, and it stayed there.  In complete darkness,
there were no lights."

Finally, the passengers from the taxi left.  "We realized
they were from the army, we realized they had gone
straight towards their barracks," the
young man says, before deferring the word to the
next man:  "We were upset that they came into the
community without permission."

One of the older men, of obvious authority, relates
the events of the 10th. He explains, with disarming simplicity,
why they were celebrating Zapata:  "We remember that
person because he fought for the poor.  We feel his death
very deeply, that is why we held the celebration."

And he tells:  "We were celebrating a fiesta with the
people of the communities of this seat.  We had to
inaugurate a clinic.  A couple of hours where the
people could enjoy themselves.  We were continuing the
fiesta in the Church atrium.  We were commemorating
the 80 years of Emiliano Zapata."

There was a "program," with poems and songs, and
the dance followed.

"Without our knowing what was going to happen.
The lights went out.  We didn't know they had been
cut out there at the entrance.  At about 12 the
federal army movements began in their La Libertad
camp, the second section.  Two army trucks came
and they went straight to the house of the deputy,
Manuel (PRD federal Deputy Manuel Perez Garcia
is from this community, and
he lives here effectively).

"They went into Manuel's house.  The army men
brought a list of five of our young persons, they
were blaming them for having disarmed a soldier.  They
said it was 50 meters from their operations base.
That the youngsters had gone there to take his weapons.
That's where we realized it was a

The entire community - through their presence 
attests today to their innocence:  Samuel Hernandez Garcia,
Sebastian Hernandez Martinez, Carolino
Hernandez Martinez, Jose Mayo Garcia Perez and
Zacarias Perez Martinez, the
five accused of the alleged theft of weapons.

The soldiers withdrew to the outskirts of the town,
on the other side of the bridge, and they set up a check-point.
The first ones to go by were the musicians who played at
the fiesta.  They searched everything, the horns, their clothing.

The next incursion by the federal army was on the 11th.
One of the young representatives again speaks:  "It was dawn.
The soldiers surrounded the entire community.  They were
still napping and everything, and the people
got up.  The Army came, they wanted to go into the
houses, they came straight in.  They came to search here,"
and he points out this room, which appears to be a meeting room.

"We asked if they had brought search warrants for the houses,
and they said they had them at the barracks and they hadn't
brought them.  We asked them what they were looking for.
And they answered 'they told us they were selling bread and
 we came to buy some.'  They wanted to go into the houses.
 But we didn't let them."

The young man, in a clear indigenous accent, became
indignant:  "We put them out on the highway.  The people
 got mad.   We had to throw them out, the lieutenant colonel
and all of them, so that the people wouldn't get
alarmed."  And then he said:  "We want the army to not
be outside the community anymore, that they take their crap
and go.  The indigenous are the ones who govern. They live,
eat and drink here, and they say ya basta.
They know.  They choose what has to be done."

The old man in the blue ski-mask intervenes:  "The thing
about the attack against their weapons is a lie.  Anyway,
they're changing their story.  The lieutenant colonel who
came at 6 in the morning said that the soldier who
had lost his weapons had them taken away here, close
to the community.  Then when he saw his intention of
changing the lie.  These are the problems
that are causing us pain.  We are the witnesses.
We are Mexican chiapaneco indigenous.  When
Albores took over he said that Mexico needs a state of
law.  Where is it?"

In his tight ski-mask, like a sock, he looks like a
talking mask:  "The zapatista companeros want there
to be calm, for there to be work so that
they can take care of their children."  And he warns
the reporters:

"The soldiers aren't here because of you.  As soon
as you're gone, they're going to come back."

And one of the youngest adds:  "We want, after giving
voice now, for the soldiers to stop bothering us," before
giving a surprising definition of the testimony being
given by these chol spokespersons of the deep Mexico
(as Guillermo Bonfil says):  "We are seeing ourselves,
that we ourselves are the witnesses to what we are seeing."

Or, that they are witnessing that they are witnesses.

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