Chiapas: “antecedents” to Red Alert

The Fray Bartolom茅 de Las Casas Human Rights Center in Chiapas (Centro FrayBa) offers this June 21 list of “antecedents” to the “red alert” declared by the Zapatista Army two days ago:

1.- Military movements:

For the past two months we have registered movements of the Mexican army, in what constitutes the greatest military movement since the retreat from the seven
positions demanded by the EZLN in 2001:

– El Calvario (early May), in Perla Canyon, influence zone of the paramilitary Revolutionary Anti-zapatista Movement, today identified with the new name Organization for the Defense of Campesino and Indigenous Rights (OPDDIC).

– Bochil and El Escopetazo en Ixtapa (aproximately May 4). Bochil is the closest to the zone where the military antinarcotics operations occurred (Pueblo Nuevo, Tapilula y Ray贸n).

-Los Chorros (May 11), seat of the paramilitaries in the municipality of Chenalh贸, in the Highland Zone, responsible for the massacre of Acteal.

-Xoyep (June 6), also in Chenalh贸, in the conflict zone, where there are two encampments of displaced Zapatistas, victims of the paramilitaries.

– Suchiate y Huixtla (announced June 17) in the state of Chiapas but outside the conflict zone.

Given the evident lack of information on the part of the public authorities, these movements can only be read as a military logic: a tactical repositioning in an active campaign of war; that is to say, the army is not retreating, it is reactivating.

2.- Declarations of SEDENA [Secretariat of National Defense], June 20.

In response to the declaration from SEDENA to have destroyed marijuana fields in three municipalities within the EZLN’s influence area, we can state that while it is possible that there are Zapatista support bases in Tapilula, Ray贸n and Pueblo Nuevo, this would be a minority presence of minimal influence. The correlation of political and social forces in the zone respondes to other actors, which have a greater presence and relevance.

We are concerned that functionaries like Luis Ernesto Derbez, Secretary of Foreign Relations, and some communications media, intend to relate the narcotrafficking component to the conflict in Chiapas; this is a distortion, and much more if it is used to justify an escalation of violence. The communique from SEDENA, given the absence of explanations or declarations from the Secretary of Gobernacion [Interior], is tendencious and dangerous.

3.- Other recent developments:

1.- The reactivation of the Mexican army coincides with the freezing of the bank account of Enlace Civil [NGO that works with the Zapatista communities] and comments in the media by functionaries of BBV-Bancomer of possible 篓money laundering篓 by the organization.

2.- For the moment, the web page of the Zapatista Front [the EZLN’s civil counterpart] appears debilitated, and according to local reports, in San Crist贸bal there are telephones “that are down”.

3. – Reactivation of paramilitary harassment, particularly by Paz y Justicia, which last week caused the displacement of 15 families of the comunity of “Andr茅s Quintana Roo”, in the municipality of Sabanilla. We also have information of ever more frequent meetings of Paz y Justicia in the Northern Zone of the state.

Given these developments, this Human Rights Center demands of President Fox:

1.- Immediately cessation of military movements of the Mexican army and reactivation the political channels.

2.- Public and transparetn information that explains the advance of the Mexican army.

To the parties to the conflict:

Absolute respect of International Humanitarian Law, particularly the protection of the lives and physical integrity of the civil population.

To the communications media and national and international civil society:

To the communications media: follow the developments in Chiapas closely in the following days and avoid speculation, adhering to information known to come from the actors themselves. To civil society: organize initiatives that support de-escalation and impede the advance of an escalation of violence.

Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Bartolom茅 de Las Casas A.C.
San Crist贸bal de las Casas, Chiapas. M茅xico

(Translation by WW4 REPORT)

NOTE: The Zapatista Front website appears to be working as of this posting.