APRIL  2008 CHIAPAS / ZAPATISTA NEWS SUMMARY

1.  One Hunger Strike Ends - The hunger strike that began in February at the El Amate prison and spread to two more Chiapas prisons  and one in Tabasco,  finally ended on April 5, at the request of Bishop Emeritus Samuel Ruiz Garcia.  Bishop Ruiz asked them to end their protest for “humanitarian” reasons so that there would not be irreversible damage to their bodies.  The hunger strikers in the Los Llanos prison in San Cristobal and those in Tabasco also ended their protest on April 5.   30 of those on the hunger strike or partial fast were released, while 17 of those involved remain in prison.

2.  Another Hunger Strike Begins, and is Interrupted - Angel Concepcion Perez Gutierrez and Francisco Perez Vazquez, Zapatista prisoners in Tacotalpa, Tabasco, began a hunger strike on April 21 in spite of their poor health. Both are diabetic and one suffers from an infection. Reports indicate that they have not received medical treatment for their illnesses.  Supporters began a sit-in and protest outside the jail. After only three days on the hunger strike, Angel and Francisco were suddenly whisked away from Tabasco by jet and taken to a hospital in Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas, for a “medical evaluation.” The following day, they were taken to the state prison in Yajalon, in northern Chiapas. Both men are from Chiapas.  The transfer ended their hunger strike and leaves their legal situation hanging. The governor of Chiapas has reportedly committed to freeing the 2 men, but that must be arranged with the government of Tabasco.

3. Former Hunger Strikers Badly Beaten - Seven members of the Voice of los Llanos, adherents to the Other Campaign, who remain in the San Cristobal prison, were attacked by a gang of prisoners connected to the prison director and severely beaten. Some reports indicate that they were not given medical attention. According to an unofficial report published in La Jornada, the attackers have been transferred to another prison.

4. Severe Repression Against Indigenous in Guerrero - On April 17, 5 members of the Organization of Me´phaá Indigenous People (OPIM, its initials in Spanish) were detained at an Army checkpoint and later accused of murder and put in prison. This occurred in the state of Guerrero, Ayutla municipality, where the Revolutionary Army of the Insurgent People (ERPI) is believed to operate. The state and federal governments believe that the zone’s residents are ERPI’s bases of support. Therefore, military patrols and checkpoints have dramatically increased in that region during the last few months. OPIM is an adherent to the Other Campaign. The men are accused of murdering a paramilitary from their village, El Camalote. Those arrested say they did not commit the crime and denounce that they were tortured in an attempt to make them confess to a crime they did not commit.

5. Two Triqui Women Murdered - Teresa Bautista Merino and Felicitas Martinez Sanchez were shot to death while driving to a meeting in Oaxaca.  Three others in the car were injured, including a 3 year-old child. The two indigenous Triqui women, ages 24 and 20 respectively, were hosts on San Juan Copala’s community radio station, La Voz que Rompe el Silencio (The Voice that Breaks the Silence), which broadcast in both Spanish and Triqui. San Juan Copala is an autonomous municipality, an adherent to the Other Campaign and a participant in the APPO.

6. PRI and PAN Want to Privatize Pemex -  The PAN and the PRI introduced legislation to permit the contracting out (privatizing) of various aspects of the oil exploration and extraction processes. They call it an “energy reform” package. Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) is Mexico’s government-owned oil company and Mexico is the 6th largest producer of crude oil in the world. It is the 3rd largest supplier of oil to the United States. The legislation proposes to allow foreign corporations rights to contract for a piece of the action (and the profit). Oil revenues are Mexico’s largest source of national income. The Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) and its PT allies protested with 24-hour “sit-ins” in both houses of Congress to block action on the legislation. They demanded a national referendum or debate. There were protests throughout the country led by Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO), who “lost” the 2006 presidential election to Felipe Calderón of the PAN.  The PAN has finally agreed to a national debate on the issue between May and August. 

 

7. EPR Asks for a Intermediary Commission - In a communique dated April 24, the Popular Revolutionary Army (EPR, its initials in Spanish) again asked for the presentation with life of its two disappeared members, Edmundo Reyes Amaya and Gabriel Alberto Cruz Sanchez. It indicated that it has information that the government still has them and requested that Bishop Emeritus Samuel Ruiz, Carlos Montemayor, Miguel Angel Granados Chapa, Gilberto Lopez y Rivas and the National Front Against Repression serve as intermediaries to dialogue with the government to obtain justice.  All responded favorably. Then, on April 26, some Oaxacan officials were detained and taken to Mexico City for questioning about the disappearance. At the intermediary commission’s request, the EPR has now declared a temporary truce. As of April 30, the Mexican government’s Interior Minister had taken the position that it does not want to meet  with the intermediaries, but in direct talks with the EPR on certain conditions. 

8.  Chiapas Police Burst into Zapatista Village - On Sunday, April 27, around 5:00 a.m., approximately 500 Chiapas police kicked in doors and broke into houses in Cruzton, a Zapatista community in Venustiano Carranza Municipality. They detained 6 men, took them away to an undisclosed location and released them without charges later in the day. There are allegations that the police stole money and jewelry during the “raid.”  Apparently, civilians in white shirts with red machetes led the police to the men who were detained. Conflict in Cruzton is over a land dispute. 
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Compiled monthly by  the Chiapas Support Committee