FEBRUARY 2008 CHIAPAS / ZAPATISTA NEWS SUMMARY

1.  The Arrest and Torture of the 2 Eliseos - On February 1, Eliseo Silvano Jimenez and his son, Eliseo Silvano Espinosa, were detained by state highway police and two unknown armed men, beaten, taken to a jail in Palenque and tortured for up to nine hours. The son was shot in the foot. After being tortured, they were forced to put on ski masks and hold weapons while photos were taken. Both men are Zapatista support bases from the Betel Yochip community, located between the tourist areas of Agua Azul and Misol-ha on the Ocosingo-Palenque highway. They were falsely charged with assaulting an ADO passenger bus. The International Civil Commission of Human Rights Observation (CCIODH, its initials in Spanish) was visiting Chiapas during the 1st week in February and became involved in the case, along with the Fray Bartolome Human Rights Center, Bishops Ruiz and Vera, NGOs and other local rights centers.  One week later, a judge released the two Eliseos, thanks to the efforts of the Good Government Junta in Morelia, the bishops and the human rights organizations, all of which confirmed and denounced the torture. Both men have filed complaints alleging torture with the  judge and are receiving medical attention. Involvement by the Organization for the Defense of Indigenous and Campesino Rights (Opddic) is being investigated. Betel Yochip is dominated by the Opddic, allegedly a paramilitary group. Opddic members are in the majority there. The Opddic leader in Betel Yochip is the brother of the police commander of the police involved in this incident. 

2.  Seven Opddic Members Released from Prison - Also on February 1, seven Opddic members were released from El Amate prison in Chiapas, including its leader, Carlos Moreno Hernandez, and Pedro Chulin Jimenez, its founder and principal advisor. They had been in prison since last March, accused of aggravated robbery and assault stemming from an incident in Ocosingo during March 2007 when they attacked two photojournalists.

3.  UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Visits Mexico - The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, visited  Mexico during the first part of February. Arbour stated:  “In Mexico the theme of impunity is the greatest challenge that one must confront and overthrow.  The case of the femicides is worrisome, where the justice system does not protect women.” The High Commissioner met with more than 100 civilian, social and human rights organizations. The themes discussed were: the rape of women in San Salvador Atenco at the hands of police; the anti globalization protesters repressed in Jalisco; the violence in Oaxaca; the situation in Tamaulipas due to the intense presence of soldiers; Pasta de Conchos in Coahuila, and Chiapas, as well as those disappeared during the dirty war.  Arbour also addressed the judicial “reform” proposed by president Felipe Calderon and apparently about to be passed by the Mexican Congress, saying: “it is violative of human rights because it elevates to a constitutional level the holding of people without charges, permits warrantless searches and creates a subsystem of exception for people accused of belonging to organized crime.”  The proposed “reform” is similar to the US Patriot Act. 

 

4.  Police Abuse During Raid on Car Theft Ring - A news item in the January 31 edition of La Jornada referred to a government raid on an auto theft ring at the San Isidro Ranch, San Andres Larrainzar municipality.  13 alleged criminals were detained. Several days later the Good Government Junta located in Oventic denounced that several Zapatistas were also detained in Magdalena La Paz autonomous municipality during that raid and taken to San Cristobal de las Casas. The Zapatistas were released through the intervention of Fray Bartolome Human Rights Center. One of the men detained also had his car impounded despite all of his papers being in order. Both physical and psychological abuses were reported. 

5.  Anti NAFTA Leader Arrested and Tortured -   On February 5, Felipe Hernandez Yuena was arrested by state authorities, charged with the crimes of rioting, rebellion and inciting violence. These charges arose from an anti NAFTA mobilization in the state capital on January 31.  Hernandez Yuena is one of the leaders of the anti NAFTA movement and was a speaker at the mobilization. He was released the next day showing signs of torture. He stated that he was tortured and then asked if he had anything to do with the Revolutionary Popular Army (EPR, its initials in Spanish), or if the EPR had anything to do with the January 31 anti NAFTA mobilization. Hernandez Yuena is a math teacher from Venustiano Carranza and has filed a criminal complaint against the responsible authorities. The Fray Bartolome Human Rights Center assisted both Hernández Yuena and his 6 year old son, who was also detained with his father, with filing the complaint.

6.  Perez Esquivel Files Complaint Against Opddic Members - Adolfo Perez Esquivel, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize and international president of Servicio, Paz y Justicia en América Latina (Serpaj-AL) filed a criminal complaint against five residents of the Agua Azul ejido who are members of the Opddic paramilitary group in that ejido. The complaint asked that an incident which occurred last December 30 be investigated, responsibility assigned and those responsible punished. Perez Esquivel was in Bolon Ajaw with an observation commission and the Center of Political Analysis and Social and Economic Investigation (CAPISE).  According to an article in La Jornada on February 9, the 5 accused threatened one of the women observers and brandished a pistol while the other paramilitaries let the air out of the tires of the observers’ vehicle. The delay in filing was caused by the difficulty of identifying the names of those accused and the process of editing the videotape made of the incident.  

7.  Bolon Ajaw On Alert and Threatened - On February 21, 5 state police entered Bolón Ajaw community, fired their weapons and beat two Zapatista women before leaving. They were accompanied by a reporter. Allegedly, in a paid newspaper ad, the government started the rumor that the reporter was really a Cisen (sort of like the FBI) agent,that the international observers “commanded” the Zapatistas and that the Zapatistas beat up the police. The Junta in Morelia said the reporter was civilian and no police were beaten. La Jornada visited Bolon Ajaw on February 25 and found the community besieged by helicopter flyovers at a low altitude and constant threats by its Opddic neighbors in the Agua Azul ejido. The access trail to Bolon Ajaw is blocked by wire and a ladder is required to climb over the wire fence. 

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Compiled monthly by  the Chiapas Support Committee

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