1. La Garrucha Denounces Planned Eviction of Casa Blanca - On March 3, the  Good Government Junta in La Garrucha denounced a plan by members of ARIC and the Organization for the Defense of Indigenous and Campesino Rights (Opddic) to evict Zapatista support bases from the land known as Casa Blanca in the autonomous Zapatista municipality of San Manuel. Despite its name, the Opddic is referred to by the Zapatistas as a paramilitary group. The eviction was supposed to happen between March 5 and March 20. Nothing happened. Ever since the violence last September, the Zapatitas have maintained a rotating guard of its support bases to protect the property, considered "recuperated land" by the Zapatistas of San Manuel. This is the Chiapas Support Committee's partner municipality and we were actually there during part of the time period in question. San Manuel's compañeros seemed to have the situation under control.

2.  Killers Return to Rancheria Amaytik - The Zapatista Good Government Junta in La Garrucha issued a denunciation on March 18 concerning Rancheria Amaytik, located in Ricardo Flores Magon autonomous municipality. They denounced that on March 8 Opddic members cut off the water supply to all Zapatistas living there and began to construct houses for Opddic members who murdered 2 members of the Zapatista autonomous council in August 2002. The Zapatistas kicked the murderers out of Amaytik after the killings. Now, on March 15, the killers apparently returned to Amaytik to live, accompanied by some 200 other Opddic members. They began threatening eviction. This is a very dangerous situation. The Opddic members are armed.   

3. Federal Agents Detain Mitziton Other Campaign Adherent - On Tuesday evening, March 23, Chiapas Support Committee members heard about a detention in Mitziton, but there were no details. The next day we were at the Fray Bartolome de las Casas Human Rights Center for a briefing and learned that agents from the Federal Agency of Investigation (AFI, in Spanish) detained Manuel Díaz Heredia (see, February News Summary) based on an old and false accusation. They took him to El Amate prison. In response, the Other Campaign members in Mitziton took 2 state police and three state employees hostage and put up a roadblock on the Pan American Highway adjacent to their community. There were apparently some negotiations going on with the government. We later learned that Diaz Heredia was released the next day (March 25) and that the Other Campaign members removed the roadblock and released the hostages. One of the pro-government local newspapers referred to it as a "narco roadblock."

4. Jotola: Beatings, Kidnappings and Robbery - On March 13, three Tzeltal youths were attacked on the highway near a military checkpoint by a former policeman. They were badly beaten and allege that soldiers joined in the beating. It appears that there is also an Army outpost there. Jotola is next to San Sebastian Bachajon and the region of the Agua Azul Cascades. The entire area is coveted for future tourism. The community asked the Army for reparations for physical injuries the youths suffered and the Army refused to pay. Next, on March 24, members of the Opddic kidnapped a 13-year old boy for several hours. Later, they kidnapped an 18-year old youth. Both young men escaped, but that same evening the Opddic members surrounded the home of professor Ricardo Sánchez Luna and Rosa Díaz Gómez and then kidnapped them. They looted Doña Rosa's store and stole money and belongings. They released Doña Rosa and the others around 2 o'clock in the morning with only minor injuries. All those kidnapped belong to the Other Campaign. The Opddic aggressors, or at least some of them, come from the Monte Libano area in the Canyons east of Ocosingo where they have criminal histories.

5.  Reforma Publishes Counterinsurgency Information - Reforma, a conservative daily newspaper in Mexico, published "information," allegedly acquired from an EZLN "deserter." This information included a photo, allegedly of Subcomandante Marcos without a ski mask, but actually of someone else from a solidarity group in Italy. One allegation included in the report is the old standby that the EZLN receives money from the Basque separatist group ETA, high on the US terrorist list. I read some of the "deserter's" information on a Chiapas blog and much of it is simply public information which the EZLN itself has released. Regardless of the accuracy/inaccuracy or absurdity of the info, Reforma is providing red meat to feed the counterinsurgency campaign now underway in Chiapas.

In Other Parts of Mexico...

1. US Consulate Employee Murdered in Ciudad Juarez - In what may prove to be an event with very big political implications, a US Consulate employee, her husband and the husband of another consulate employee were assassinated in Ciudad Juarez, state of Chihuahua, Mexico, on March 13. The US Consulate employee was a US citizen, as was her husband. The husband apparently worked for the the El Paso sheriff. The other murdered man was a Mexican citizen and a local policeman. His Mexican wife is employed by the US consulate in Juarez. The FBI, DEA, ICE and ATF took over the investigation. The US State Department authorized families of diplomats to leave 6 consulates in northern Mexico due to a lack of public safety. The 6 are: Tijuana, Nogales, Ciudad Juarez, Nuevo Laredo, Monterrey and Matamoros.

Out of control violence was reported in Northern Mexico while the CSC delegation was in Chiapas. The contrast to what we experienced was dramatic! The newspaper reports say that an estimated 45,000 Mexican Armed Forces are battling drug traffickers and organized crime in Northern Mexico, while Chiapas NGOs say that an estimated 50,000 troops are assigned to the part of Chiapas where there are no drugs, just autonomous communities that prohibit drugs!
Compiled monthly by the Chiapas Support Committee.

The primary sources for our information are: La Jornada, Enlace Zapatista and the Fray Bartolome de las Casas Human Rights Center (Frayba).

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Chiapas Support Committee/Comité de Apoyo a Chiapas
P.O. Box  3421, Oakland, CA  94609
Tel: (510) 654-9587