Support Committee

LAND CONFLICTS with ORCAO SPREAD (Jan., 2002)

The first reported dispute between the Regional Association of Ocosingo Coffee Growers (ORCAO) and EZLN bases of support erupted in Cuxuljá, autonomous municipality (county) of Moises Gandhi. Not only does that dispute continue to simmer, additional land disputes between ORCAO and Zapatista civilian communities have arisen. Here is just one example.

On January 15 [2002], a clash occurred in New Town Javier López, autonomous county of Francisco Gomez. It fit into what is becoming an all too familiar pattern: a former cattle ranch, abandoned by its owner after the January 1, 1994 Zapatista uprising, reclaimed and settled by the Zapatistas and close to the city of Ocosingo.

This is the story a Javier Lopez community representative told to La Jornada: "At nine o'clock at night those of the ORCAO arrived. 70 of them, it was dark. They came specifically to fight. They were carrying stones, clubs, chains, machetes and slingshots. We defended ourselves. They beat one companero badly, they broke his mouth with stones. Another companero was taken to the Ocosingo jail, they wanted to take him to Cerro Hueco [far away in the state capital]. On the way to jail, they were beating him. The police were not beating him and let him go in the morning."

Authorities of Javier Lopez state that ORCAO deliberately organized 12 men to join their organization with promises of land titles and productive products from the government. These 12 men had a dispute with authorities in Javier Lopez over the unauthorized cutting of wood from the community s land to sell for profit. Some of them no longer lived in Javier Lopez.

Authorities from the autonomous council of Francisco Gomez reported that the ORCAO leader was with the attackers and that the autonomous authorities detained 3 people. La Jornada reported that the community remains on a 24-hour guard.