File spoon-archives/marxism-international.archive/marxism-international_1997/97-04-21.135, message 1

Date: Fri, 18 Apr 1997 19:21:19 -0600 (CST)
Subject: M-I: E;(COPICONH) Special Urgent ! Bulletin #6, Apr 5 (fwd)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 10 Apr 1997 20:24:33 -0500 (CDT)
From: Chiapas95 <>
Subject: E;(COPICONH) Special Urgent ! Bulletin #6, Apr 5

This posting has been forwarded to you as a service of
Accion Zapatista de Austin.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sat, 5 Apr 1997 19:43:51 -0800
From: Peter Rashkin <>


I am forwarding this important report from Chiapas. The author must remain
anonymous for now.

                Peter Rashkin

Comite Provisional Internacionalista Contra el Neoliberalism y por La Humanidad
(COPICONH) 4/4/97   
Special Urgent !  Bulletin #6

The following are two articles concerning the increasing incursions and
provocation of all the Federal, State, and local forces whose obvious
interests is the elimination of the Zapatista communities and Army.  Here we
try to provide an analytical summary of the dirty war strategy. 

Mexican Military enters Roberto Barrios in North of Chiapas
=09The community of Roberto Barrios, 32 kilometers from Palenque in the north
of Chiapas, is home to one of the five Aguascalientes community centers, and
has, over the last few years, been a very strong center of Zapatista
support. I was there in January and February of 1997, working on the
installation of a potable water system, and again in March, and in the space
of these few months, a noticeable increase in tension and decrease in the
security of the community has been evident.
=09Roberto Barrios lies along the banks of a river, and across this river,
some few hundred meters from the entrance to the community, is an encampment
of the Mexican federal army. In order to enter or leave the community, one
must pass through the military base.  The community is divided between
Zapatista supporters and Priistas; according to what members of the
community told me, among the Priistas there are members of the paramilitary
group "los chinchulines", who are receiving military training in the federal
army encampment. According to the compa=F1eros, many Priistas regularly pass
over to the army base for military training, and receive as well, gifts of
rice and beans in exchange for their support.
=09During the time of my stay in January and February, two members of the
Zapatista organization in Roberto Barrios received written death threats,
notes apparently written in good grammar and good handwriting, causing
community leaders to believe that authorities in the military base had
something to do with it. Around the same time, confrontations were occurring
in nearby communities of El Bosque, Aguas Blancas and Sabanilla, and
refugees from some of these communities made their way to Roberto Barrios.
At the same time there were internal conflicts in the community regarding
the fact that the government arrived to install a water system one week
after our team had arrived to install a similar system. In other words,
there were two systems being installed at once, forcing members of the
community to decide to which one they would lend support. This is typical of
government intervention in the communities -- arriving to increase tension
rather than support peaceful resolutions.
=09In the month of March, just after the lynching and arrest of two Jesuit
priests in nearby Palenque, and PRI protests outside of the parish there in
which the angry government supporters shouted "Murdering priests out of
Palenque!", I arrived in Roberto Barrios for a few days. Immediately upon my
arrival I noticed that tension had increased dramatically. I was told that
the government water project was nearly completed, and though it was not
going to bring water to the houses of the Zapatistas, but only to the
Priistas, a number of Zapatistas were working on the project, they told me,
because "they didn't want trouble".
=09This was cause for some tension. But, besides this, the people in charge in
the community told me that, for about a week, the army had been crossing the
river, fully armed and entering the community every day. During the first
occurrence of this, a group of women washing clothes in the river formed a
human chain before the river bank, and the soldiers turned back. But they
continued coming, day after day, crossing the river and crossing back, as if
simply to scare the community. I was also told that the soldiers had been
firing their rifles into the river.  And that the community felt helpless to
do anything. Presumably these events continue to this day, and, for fear of
reprisal, the community remains quiet, suffering these acts of terror in
silence as the war of low intensity slowly evolves into a war of high intensity.

4/3/ 1997


On March 14 a Seguridad Publica Helicopter shot at unarmed villagers from
San Pedro part of the El Bosque Municipality in the Highlands of Chiapas who
were blocking the road to prevent the passage of an Army truck which was
intending to transport 6 Zapatista Sympathizers.  Two minutes after the
shooting started 4 unarmed Zapatista sympathizers were dead and 5 were injured.

Several witnesses of the incident have testified that the person ordering
the murder of the  4 Zapatistas was the State Attorney General, Jorge
Enrique Hernandez.  El Bosque the seat of the municipality has been a strong
Zapatista Community, however San Pedro Nichtalucum, one of the communities,
was known as a majority PRI community. 

Several days before the murders, members from the PRD of San Pedro demanded
to know where and how federal proceeds directed to the community were being
spent.  This is one of many communities that has parallel PRI and PRD
governments where the government only recognizes the PRI governments.  The
PRD-Zapatista sympathetic forces proceeded to arrest several PRI official
and took over the municipality offices.  The PRI forces then came in with
the intentions of taking back the offices and in turn arrested 12 PRD members. 

This is all the authorities needed for the State Security forces to
intervene.  The State Security forces came in and arrested Zapatista
sympathizers.  It is now thought that the State Attorney General was heard
shouting from a helicopter the orders to shoot several PRD forces that were
blocking the road.  One of the persons shot was 80 year old Miguel Gomez
Hernandez, who was still alive when he was intentionally run over by one of
the State Security Trucks.  Immediately after that shooting  the helicopter
maneuvered up and down the road, shooting randomly at anyone on it. 

74 Zapatista Families Numbering 346 Men, Women and Children Thrown Out of
Their Homes
Emboldened by the support from the State Security forces, the PRI members of
San Pedro proceeded to attack and ransack all of the homes of the 74
families.  The Zapatista sympathizer families were forced to leave their
homes and are now camping in a nearby location.  Our human rights delegation
visited several of these homes and witnessed a state inspection commission
call out the hundreds of missing items which had been stolen.  The
terrorized representatives were very happy to see outside people who could
get the truth to the outside world. 

24 Zapatista Sympathizers Acussed of the Murder of Their Friends and Family
Members and Ambushing State Police Forces.
Simultaneously 24 Zapatista sympathizer leaders were arrested for the murder
of their friends and relatives and transported to Cerro Hueco, where they
are presently held without bail.  

On March 31, I and a delegation of three Chicano students from Cal State
Northridge visited the prisoners to get their testimonies.  The 24 prisoners
>from El Bosque have now been added to the more than sixty political
prisoners from la Zona Norte of Chiapas, where PRD-Zapatista sympathizer
leaders have been systematically arrested during the last two years.  The
prisoners told us of beatings and torture that they had been subjected to,
which included the use of plastic bags to bring the prisoner near
suffocation, the "tehuacanazo," which is the use of agitated carbonated
water infused through the nose, and the "ca=F1a," which is the insertion of
sugar cane splinters underneath the finger nails.  "At the moment that they
arrest us they beat us profusely and then we are applied one, two or
sometimes all three methods of torture so that we can sign a blank
confession," said Artemio, leader of the Voz de Cerro Hueco, an organization
of political prisoners, some of them held for over 27 months. 

On Tuesday April 2, I traveled to the area with a delegation from the US,
headed by Lydia Brazon, Director of the Humanitarian Law Project, which
included Chicana-Mexicana actress, Marisol Padilla, a film crew headed by
Director Ben Eichert and San Diego Teacher and Teacher Union leader Peter
Brown, who is also heading up a project to construct a High School in
Oventic.  This delegation was part of a major delegation which included the
Press and representatives of Human Rights Center Fray Bartolome de Las Casas
and members of the CONAI which is the mediation organization headed up by
Bishop Samuel Ruiz.            .

When we arrived at San Pedro for first hand observation of the ransacked
homes and to talk and visit with the displaced families whose members
numbered 346, the first thing we literally bumped into was the 57th
Battalion of the Mexican Army, which had already established a base in the

A Definite Pattern Emerges

The northern area, Roberto Barrios and now El Bosque all show definite
patterns and tendency of a dirty war carried out against the indigenous
people of Chiapas in General and the Zapatista Communities in particular.
First of all, the government militarized the general area.  Typically,
foreign  priests and nuns are singled out as Zapatista sympathizers and are
expelled from the country. 

With the means of communicating to the outside world unplugged, the terrain
is now ready for the next step; the organizing of the local caciques and the
training of their forces into Chinchulines (PRI Shock Troops) or their
recruitment to the notorious Paz y Justicia (which should really be called
Ni Paz Ni Justicia).   Indigenous youths unemployed or working for
indigenous wages are offered relatively lucrative bribes to participate in
vigilante groups and are trained by the closest Army base.  The main job of
the Chinchulines and Paz y Justicia is to be a Commando Counterrevolutionary
force to terrorize the Zapatista families until the families are forced to
leave.  The Chinchulines and Paz y Justicia typically join forces where ever
Guardias Blancas exits.  Guardias Blancas, which were formed in the 1920 for
the purposes of repelling any effort to execute agrarian reform are mainly
troops of the White Cattle Ranchers and land owners of Chiapas.  

The Seguridad Publica works in conjunction with the Army and then defends,
protects and absolves the terrorists' troops of any crime they might commitOn the other hand, any controversy which may result from any of these
provocatory forces become excuses to  kill or jail, beat and torture the
community leadership and hold them without bail and without a fair trail.

When and where elections are held, they become useful tools of contention,
division and provocation.  Most of the community follows the indigenous
tradition of convening a township assembly and elect their leadership
openly, but their elections are not recognized.  The PRI hold elections in
which many times only a PRI minority participate, but it is these elections
that the State Government recognizes.  Both Governments are set up, but
money from the State Government are sent to the PRI local government. 

During the last three years, any one of these structures of division and
oppression can cause a defensive reaction from the pro-Zapatista-PRD forcesAny sign of resistance is then quickly squelched by the Seguridad Publica
and the violent incident that normally ensues is used as the excuse for the
Army to bring an encampment next to or into the community.  In this
systematic manner, the Army together with State and local authority and
anti-zapatista forces divide the Zapatista community base and move their way
into the jungle to surround the solid campamentos which hold the Zapatista

The most insidious part of this whole plan is that the effectiveness of all
of these crimes and gross human rights violations depends largely on the
amount of racism that still exists on a global scale and on the slanted
media coverage.  This critical mass of racism allows for this "Stealth War"
to fly under the global human rights screen undetected.  The government
media creation of a "war between indigenous people" is essential not to
alert investors and carry out an invisible slaughter of indigenous people.
This long term hushed gradual dirty war strategy has been absolutely
critical to not provoke the fear of investors and the destabilization of the

The World Calls For An End To The Dirty War

In a letter to La Jornada, organizers of the Intergalactic Conference for
Humanity and Against Neoliberalism  call for an immediate end to this dirty
war.  I will here paraphrase  their 6 demands: 

1) That the Mexican government stop its tactics of provocations and that it
commit itself to peaceful dialogue solutions...

2) That all charges against the political prisoners of Cerro Hueco be
dropped and that all political prisoners be freed...

3) That the government honor without modification its signature of the
Agreements of San Andres signed on February the 16, 1997.

4) That the State Police, Army, the Guardias Blancas, the Chinchulines and
Paz and Justicia forces leave their occupied areas....

5) The Mexican Government end this Dirty War being carried out in Chiapas,
Guerrero, Oaxaca and throughout....

6) That international national human rights individuals and organizations be
given  free and safe passage through the Northern Zone and in other
conflicted areas of  Chiapas.

The following are the words of Comandante Moises concerning the dirty war.
As he came into the meeting room he was visibly worried and upset:

"For the last three days the Army has be operating maneuvers, some of them
less than one kilometer from here.  Comandante David cannot be here with you
because he is out looking into some of this.  It would be good if you told
the world what is happening. Since January we are under much
this moment there are no signs of peace and all the signs of war.  We don't
want war and we will resist provocations and are trying to avoid any
situation where we have to defend ourselves and our families. We as
Indigenous and Zapatistas never lie, we always say the truth...We have
always said that the Mexican government is coward.  Why doesn't the Mexican
Government tell the world the truth?  Why doesn't the government tell the
World that what it really wants is to kill all the indigenous people of this
country.....Why doesn't it tell the world that they are patrolling this
close to keep us from planting our corn.  We only have ten more days in this
season to plant our corn and we can't go out because we need to be vigilant
and be ready  to do what we have to do to defend ourselves.  We will have
less food this year than last year which was already very bad.  We all
understand this and we are strong in our beliefs and we appreciate your
presence and solidarity.  You come from far to see us  and we get stronger
>from your solidarity.  When you demonstrate in front of the Mexican
Consulates we hear about it, and when you bring caravans of food, clothes
and medicines we appreciate it and all of this helps us to keep strong."
Peter Rashkin <>

     PO Box 3008         
     Long Beach, CA 90803               
Read THE DAGGER on line at

LAST UPDATED: December 1996  
LINKS UPDATED: 1/5/97                  

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