MAY  2008 CHIAPAS / ZAPATISTA NEWS SUMMARY

1.  Army and Police Enter San Jeronimo Tulija - On May 19, Mexican Army troops, together with Federal Agency of Investigation agents and state Preventative Police, entered the San Jeronimo Tulija ejido in the official municipality of Chilon ( autonomous municipality of Ricardo Flores Magon) in the Lacandon Jungle. They entered in a convoy while a helicopter flew overhead.  There were 11 trucks with 300 members of the different security forces involved.  According to the Zapatista Good Government Junta in La Garrucha, troops surrounded the neighborhood where Zapatista support bases live, and then entered 3 houses, two Zapatista houses and one PRI, without search warrants. In one of the Zapatista homes, the troops threatened a young woman’s life while she was holding her baby. The convoy left without detaining anyone, but hung around on the outskirts of town until the next day.  State officials explained the incursion by saying that the federal Military Region in Tenosique, Tabasco, requested support from the Chiapas state police for an operation to search for weapons and drugs.

2.  Police-Military Incursions into Other Chiapas Communities - During the month of May, Mexican Army soldiers entered into at least three Chiapas regions in addition to San Jeronimo Tulija:  at least 4 communities in Tila Municipality in the Northern Zone; Venustiano Carranza Municipality in the central part of the state; and Ocosingo Municipality in the Jungle.  This is happening all over Mexico as part of the “war against drugs.”  Several Mexican cities (Culiacan, Sinaloa and Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua) are occupied by federal Army soldiers and federal police and violence is escalating dramatically. Every day the Mexican press reports a rising death toll and shoot outs between security forces and people allegedly belonging to drug cartels

3.  “Plan Mexico” in the U.S. Congress - Alarmed by the rising violence in Mexico, (portrayed as the result of turf wars between different drug cartels) each house of the United States Congress passed a different version of president Bush’s Merida Initiative, dubbed “Plan Mexico” because of its similarity to the failed Plan Colombia. The plan is to give Mexico millions of dollars in equipment to fight drug trafficking. The Senate version attached conditions that would require Mexico to correct some of its most egregious violations of constitutional guarantees and human rights. (The judge of whether these corrections are made would be the State Department.) The two differing versions must now be reconciled before a final version is sent to President Bush.  

4.  Retaliation Against El Amate Political Prisoners - On May 27, around 2:30 am, 8 prisoners were removed from the El Amate prison, taken to an undisclosed location, beaten, and then transferred to 7 different state prisons. This move was supposedly made to prevent a 24-hour fast by political prisoners belonging to The Voice of El Amate and the Zapatista Group.  They planned to begin a 24-hour fast that same day (May 27) to protest the fact that the government promised to review their cases for possible release and it has not done so.  In fact, no progress has been made on any of the cases of the 17 remaining Chiapas political prisoners. That includes Angel Concepcion Perez Gutierrez and Francisco Perez Vazquez, Zapatista prisoners in Yajalon, Chiapas.  In a surprising move, the same 8 prisoners who were removed from El Amate on the 27th, were returned there two days later!

5.   PRI Members Dispute Lands in Morelia -  On Thursday, May 22, fighting broke out between PRI members and Zapatistas in Ejido Morelia after PRI members cut the electricity and water to several Zapatista homes. There were numerous injuries. Zapatistas say that they are under constant attack from the PRI members, who dispute lands used by the Zapatistas, including the land where the Caracol is located.  The state government stepped in and paid the PRI members 500,000 pesos for the disputed lands as a way to restore peace to Morelia. After the deal was made, the Zapatistas turned the light back on. 

6.  Oventik Denounces Caciques of Zinacantan - This month, the Zapatista Good Government Junta in Oventik denounced the cut off of water to several Zapatista families in Sok’on community and also the kidnapping of a Zapatista from the community of Elambo Alto.  The Junta assigns responsibility in both cases to the PRD authorities and members in Zinacantan municipality and, in the second case, the Chactoj caciques (political/economic bosses).  In the second case a Zapatista was kidnapped and forced to sign a paper promising to pay a fine because he was working outside the community of Chactoj and, therefore, did not live there for 8 months and did not pay contributions to the education committee while he was gone.
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Compiled monthly by  the Chiapas Support Committee
The primary sources for our information are: La Jornada, Enlace Zapatista and Fray Bartolome de las Casas Human Rights Center

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News Summaries from previous months are posted on our web page: 
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