Attack on Ocosingo
August 19, 2002
On Monday of this week a large and well-planned paramilitary attack
occurred against Zapatista supporters in the canyons of Ocosingo.
Two men are in an Altamirano hospital in serious condition with
gunshot wound. Again, there was an unsuccessful attempt to kidnap
a Zapatista civilian authority. One young man (age 17) was taken away,
tortured, beaten and turned over to the Ocosingo police. He has since
Organizations in San Cristobal civil society are calling for international
support; such as letters to Salazar or Fox protesting the rise of para-
military groups in Chiapas and the impunity they are granted. Human rights
observers are also requested.
Originally published in Spanish by Enlace Civil, A.C.
Translated by irlandesa
From: Enlace Civil, A.C. firstname.lastname@example.org
Date: Monday, August 19 2002 21:13:10 -0500
San Manuel Autonomous Municipality
To the National and International Press
To National and International Public Opinion
To Human Rights Organizations
Today, August 19, 2002, at 6:30 in the morning, 22 vehicles (trucks, microbuses and Nissan vans) which were coming from Taniperla, Monte Líbano, Perla Acapulco and Peña Limonar, stopped in the village of Nuevo Guadalupe, at the Quexil crossroads, where there is a checkpoint set up by zapatista bases in order to control trafficking in lumber, alcohol and stolen vehicles.
A few days previously, the compañeros at this checkpoint had stopped a truck loaded with precious woods that was heading towards Ocosingo.
The people who arrived in the 22 vehicles began throwing rocks at the
sign at the Quexil crossroads, which has a picture of Zapata and Sub
Marcos and which indicates that it is a Rebel Autonomous Municipality.
There is also a sign which proclaims that trafficking in alcohol,
precious woods and stolen vehicles is prohibited. One of the persons,
who is the leader of the paramilitary group, got out of one of the
vehicles and headed towards zapatista authority compañero, Marcos
Mendez Sanchez, where, with help from several paramilitaries, Marcos Méndez was detained. Two other support base compañeros, Felipe Gómez Sánchez and Rigoberto Sánchez, were also detained by the paramilitaries. Two other support base compañeros were able to escape, and they went to ask for help from other compañeros. They returned after a while, and they tried to talk with the paramilitaries, in order to see if they could sort out the problem which had brought them there. Their response was to begin throwing rocks that they were already carrying in the trucks which had arrived at the crossroads in the morning, and they began loading the wood which had been requisitioned for the zapatista checkpoint a few days earlier. In addition to attacking with rocks, the paramilitaries began attacking with machetes and firing pistols and rifles.
The three compañeros had already been put in a truck to be taken away. Two of them were able to get out and escape, but Rigoberto Sánchez Gómez was unable to get out, and he was taken away to an unknown destination. Marcos Méndez Sánchez, who had been able to get out of the truck, received a gunshot wound in the stomach with a 22 caliber weapon, and he is in serious condition. Compañero Felipe Gómez Sánchez received two gunshots, one in his back and one in his shoulder, and he is in serious condition. Juan Méndez Sánchez was shot in the back while trying to help his compañeros. Francisco Méndez Vázquez was shot in the foot and hit in the head with several rocks.
Two support base compañeros managed to take a machete away from a paramilitary leader, who received several blows to the head and knee.
This leader managed to escape when another paramilitary came to help
him with a pistol in his hand. The paramilitaries entered the house of
compañero Marcos Méndez Sánchez, and they robbed him of various
belongings. They hit an elderly zapatista compañero, and they also
kicked Marcos Méndez' daughter, Irma Méndez Gómez, who is 11 years old. Several trucks tried to run over zapatista support base women who were defending their compañeros when they were being attacked. Moments later, all the paramilitary attackers fled in their trucks and vehicles, headed towards Ocosingo, where they are currently positioned in the central park.
A few hours later, this Autonomous Municipality was able to verify
that compañero Rigoberto Sánchez Gómez had been taken to the city of Ocosingo. During the trip, they stopped at the San Miguel ranchería.
The compañero's eyes were blindfolded, and he was struck on several
occasions. They threatened to burn him alive with gasoline. They
took off his shoes. Afterwards, they took him to the State Prosecutor's
Office, in Ocosingo, where he was interrogated. Then he was
transferred to the public jail, and there his belt and 20 pesos which he was carrying in his wallet were taken away from him. Afterwards, they
took him back to the Prosecutor's Office, where his photograph was taken.
We know - through compañeros who were at the Prosecutor's Office at the time they were interrogating our compañero Rigoberto Sánchez Gómez - that also present in the Prosecutor's Office were Juan José Gómez, Isidro Gómez Encino, Luis Carrea Guajardo, Pedro Chulín (OPDIC) and Omar Burguete, the municipal president of Ocosingo. The latter two then went to San Cristóbal de las Casas, presumably to meet with the governor of the state, Pablo Salazar Mendiguchía.
This Autonomous Municipality denounces that these two hundred people who arrived at the Quexil crossroads belong to the OPDIC organization. That organization is carrying out attacks in different Autonomous Municipalities. We are holding the state government responsible, because the leaders of this paramilitary group are quite well known, with some of them, like Pedro Chulín, holding public office.
The federal and state governments want to continue to provoke
confrontations and to weaken the resistance of the Autonomous
Municipalities in resistance. They are presenting these attacks as
disputes over land or conflicts between indigenous, but it is the
federal and state authorities who are directly helping these
We declare that we shall continue in rebellion against the bad
government, and we are calling on national and international civil
society to remain alert for other possible attacks against the
Autonomous Municipalities, in order to mobilize in support of our just
DEMOCRACY, LIBERTY AND JUSTICE WITH DIGNITY.