SEPTEMBER 2007 CHIAPAS / ZAPATISTA NEWS SUMMARY

[Dear Friends:  As several of us leave for Chiapas and Sonora, It seems urgent to call attention to the worsening situation in the Zapatista communities. The Zapatistas’  recent communiqué suspending their tour through central and southern Mexico reveals the seriousness of the threat.  We will present a Report Back on our trip to Chiapas and to the Indigenous Encuentro in Sonora on December 5 at La Peña Cultural Center in Berkeley.  We plan to film and hope to have a video for the Report Back.  Our offices will be closed from October 2 until October 16 while we are traveling.]

1.  EPR Blows Up More Gas Pipelines On Monday, September 10, 6 explosions at ten pipelines disrupted oil and gas supplies, forced thousands from their homes and caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damage to Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex), Mexico’s state-owned oil monopoly, as well as to other businesses. No one was injured. The Popular Revolutionary Army (EPR) issued a communiqué taking responsibility for the bombings and demanding that 2 of its detained/disappeared members be presented alive. It was the second such attack in two months and the EPR said it planned more until all its demands are met. In addition to the presentation of its members alive, the EPR includes among its demands the decriminalization of popular social struggles, and dismantling of government-affiliated paramilitary groups.  The EPR blames Oaxaca Governor Ulises Ruiz for the disappearances. 

2.  Army Enters Chiapas Community to Search for EPR Guerrillas - At the end of August (8/29), the Tzotzil Maya community, 28 de Junio, in Venustiano Carranza municipality, was occupied by Mexican Army troops, who arrived in two trucks and four armed personnel carriers. Establishing checkpoints at the entrances to the community, the troops then spread out through the streets and surrounding fields, questioning residents about the alleged presence of Popular Revolutionary Army (EPR) guerrillas. Helicopters conducted flyovers, searching for a supposed EPR training camp. Residents of 28 de Junio are members of OCEZ-Casa del Pueblo and, to the best of our knowledge, have no connection to the Zapatistas.

3.  Opddic Members Attack Zapatistas in Bolom Ajaw - On September 11, 50 members of the Organization for the Defense of Indigenous and Campesino Rights (Opddic) attacked 9 Zapatista support bases, including two children, from the community of Bolom Ajaw.  The Zapatistas were struck with machetes, beaten with clubs and shot at.  Three Zapatistas were captured and brutally beaten with the side of machetes and clubs on the head and the body.  All three sustained serious injuries. They were released and taken to a clinic for medical treatment after members of the Good Government Junta in Morelia arrived on the scene and negotiated their release. Bolom Ajaw community is adjacent to the Agua Azul Cascades, a popular Chiapas tourist attraction, and the state and federal governments want the land to further develop ecotourism. Not only were the police and state government representative planning to take the three injured Zapatistas to jail before the Junta intervened, the government issued a false press release about the incident and photos were published by at least one Chiapas newspaper of EZLN insurgents from 1994, as if they were photos of the current Bolom Ajaw incident. Reminiscent of the days of Albores Guillén! 

4.  Numerous Zapatista Communities Threatened - A recent report from the Center of Political Analysis and Social and Economic Research (CAPISE) reveals how widespread the pressures are against Zapatista communities.  According to an article in La Jornada, CAPISE lists 13 communities at high risk: two sections of ejido Mukulum y eight villages of Agua Azul, Chilón municipality; Ranchería El Nance, Altamirano;  24 de Diciembre community, Las Margaritas municipality; San Juan del Río, San Alfredo, Casa Blanca, Miguel Hidalgo, 20 de febrero, Nuevo Rosario,  within the region of La Garrucha, and Nueva Revolución and San Patricio, Caracol of Roberto Barrios. Five of those communities at high risk are in our sister municipality of San Manuel: San Juan del Río, Miguel Hidalgo, San Alfredo, Casa Blanca and 20 de Febrero!  We are also aware of other communities at risk in addition to those mentioned.  The situation seems to worsen by the day as the pressure increases by paramilitary groups acting as the shock troops for economic interests.  Their goal is to take away the land recuperated by the Zapatistas in 1994, thereby effectively crippling many autonomous municipalities.

5.  EZLN Suspends Other Campaign Tour - Just 6 days after it issued a schedule for the 2nd Stage Other Campaign tour during October, November and December, the EZLN posted a September 22 communiqué on its Enlace Zapatista website suspending the tour.  The September 22 communiqué is surprising, not only for the sudden change in plans, but also because it “legitimizes” the EPR’s political-military campaign for the lives of its disappeared/detained guerrilla leaders. When the EZLN travels through territory where other revolutionary armed groups have a presence, it customarily asks them to call a truce so as not to endanger the EZLN delegation with a political-military action.  The September 22 communiqué says that the EZLN cannot ask the EPR to declare a truce and suspend its just and legitimate demands. It fears that the government could mount an attack and blame the EPR.  However, the obvious reason for the suspension of the tour is the rapidly deteriorating situation faced by Zapatista communities: the evictions, paramilitary attacks, invasions, persecution and threats. The September 22 communiqué says that the EZLN delegates will remain in Chiapas during the time originally scheduled for the tour and carry out peaceful actions in defense of the Zapatista communities. An EZLN delegation will, however, travel to Vícam, Sonora for the continental Indigenous Encuentro (See next news Item).

6.  Continental Indigenous Encuentro - The continental Indigenous Encuentro is just weeks away (October 11-14).  It will take place on Yaqui territory in Vícam, Sonora, Mexico. Preparatory meetings have also been announced and all non-indigenous adherents to the Sixth Declaration have been invited to participate as Observers (without voice or vote). This will be a very important gathering! You can sign up to attend the Encuentro on the Enlace Zapatista blog:  <http://enlacezapatista.ezln.org.mx> For more  information about the Indigenous Encuentro, visit the web site at  <http://www.encuentroindigena.org>

7.   Montes Azules Detainees Safe in La Realidad  - The 33 indigenous people who were evicted from the Montes Azules on August 18 and housed in a La Trinitaria bordello, 
were first moved to an Ocosingo warehouse and, finally, sent to La Realidad where the Good Government Junta agreed to provide shelter for them. The six men who had been taken to prison have been released and the four who are Zapatistas are also headed for La Realidad. 

8.  San Andrés Autonomous Council Receives Death Threats - The Good Government Junta located in Oventik denounced death threats made against specific members of the autonomous municipal council of San Andrés Sakamch’en de los Pobres (officials know as San Andrés Larráinzar) on the evening of September 22.  The death threat are written and attributed to two allegedly paramilitary groups: “Opddic Roja” and a “young group.” 

9.  Comandantes Leave Chiapas for Indigenous Encuentro - According to a brief report in La Jornada, Marcos and 8 other commanders left San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas on September 27 for Mexico City.  From there, they will head for Sonora to participate in the continental Indigenous Encuentro (October 11-14).  Rumor has it that 2
little girls, daughters of comandantas, will travel with the delegation.

10.  Want an autograph of Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos? -  One is being auctioned off by our friends in New Zealand to raise funds for Zapatista health care projects.  See:   http://cgi.ebay.com/Zapatista-Subcomandante-Insurgente-Marcos-autograph_W0QQitemZ270170893601QQihZ017QQcategoryZ14430QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem
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Compiled by Mary Ann Tenuto Sánchez for the Chiapas Support Committee
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The Chiapas Support Committee is a grass roots all-volunteer human rights organization in Oakland, California.  We work with indigenous and campesino organizations in Mexico.  We have an hermanamiento (partnership) with San Manuel autonomous Zapatista municipality.  In the Bay Area we provide public information about Chiapas through public events,  our newsletter, Chiapas Update,  our listserv and web site.  We organize delegations to Chiapas and also recruit and certify human rights observers and volunteers.  We participate in the Other Campaign and the International Campaign in Northern California.  Our contact information is below!
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