From Milenio, Nov. 20, via Chiapas95 (our translation):
For the first time in more than three centuries, some 300 Lacandones have fled their communities for fear of new confrontations with residents of Viejo Velasco, who sympathize with the Zapatista National Liberation Army, according to the director of Na Bolom Cultural Association, Jorge Vecellio.
The Lacandones Kayum Yuk Naash and Mariano Lagum Chambor, who in the past 36 hours arrived with more than 60 women and children, said that in the communities of Lakanja Chanza Yab, Naja, Metzabok, San Javier and Barrio Betel, the people are fleeing for fear of being attacked. The majority of the people are seeking refuge in San Cristobal de las Casas, Benemerito de las Americas, Villahermosa and Tenosique, they told Milenio.
“We are concerned about the threats and fear for our lives, the people are in panic, and for this reason they are fleeing,” said the Lacandones during the interview on the premises of the Na Bolom cultural center.
– What is the situation in the Lacandon community?
“We don’t know, the people are fleeing, we have not been able to commnicate by telephone, we think more people are leaving, but we don’t know where they are. The situation is tense, worrying.”
– Are there patrols?
“Yes, the state police are patrolling, but this guarantees nothing.”
Oblivious to the drama, some 15 children play in the principal courtyeard of the Na Bolom association.
“We are struggling for the land, the land is dying, mother earth is crying,” says in a hushed voice, Kayum Yuk Naash, a Lacandon of 70 years, who asserted that Zapatista sympathizers want to take their lands.
The representative of Na Bolom, Jorge Vecellio, said: “You don’t know if there are more displaced or if in the following hours they will continue arriving in search of refuge. What worries us is that at the moment we don’t have clothes or shelter [for the displaced]; we also need medicine for colds and diarrhea.”
-Have the authorities come?
“No, by no means. They should attend to this grave situation. The people require aid.
Meanwhile, agents of state government “intelligence” are seeking more Lacandones in churches, shelters and economical guest-houses where the indigenous presumably could have taken refuge.
For its part, the representative of UNICEF in Mexico, Olivier Degreef, spoke with the Lacandones he found sheltering in Na Bolom to analize the possibility that his agency could aid the displaced children in this conflict, especially in the area of education.
The displacement began after the armed confrontation in which three residents of Viejo Velasco and members of the Lacandon community died last Monday in the dawn hours.