With all eyes elsewhere, it seems authorities in Mexico’s southern state of Chiapas, scene of the ongoing Zapatista rebellion, are taking the opportunity to repossess lands occupied the rebels. Recognition of the “agrarian reform” carried out by adherents of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) has been essential to keeping the peace (however precariously) in the 12 years since the rebellion began. This Aug. 3 communique from one of the Good Government Juntas or caracoles, the Zapatistas’ regional coordinating bodies, comes to us via Chiapas95:
Caracol That Speaks For All
Roberto Barrios, Chiapas, Mexico
Junta of Good Government Nueva Semilla Que Va a Producir (New Seed Which Shall Bring Forth)
To the national and international civil society
To the national and international press
To the human rights organizations
The Junta of Good Government denounces energetically the incidents which occurred today, August the 3rd, in the village Chol de Tumbala, Rebel Zapatista Autonomous Municipality El Trabajo.
At 10:30 A.M. the federal judge of Playas Catazaja went from house to house, threatening the compañer@s [of the] EZLN support bases to remove their things and leave their houses in ten minutes, since the agrarian documents had been delivered, that accredited the property of the land. He assured [he was] in possession of a federal eviction order.
At 11:30 in the morning three cars of the [state] Public Security arrived, with three cars of the [Palenque] municipal police and three large vehicles with elements of the Public Security, municipal police and persons in civilian dress. In total the
eviction was carried out by more than 260 persons. They burned down and demolished 30 houses with machine saws and with the help of two tractors. After that they continued the burning and destruction of the entire village, burning and destroying clothes, dishes and kitchen utensils.
During the eviction the compañeros [of the] EZLN support bases Juan Jimenez Vazquez, Bartolo Arcos Mendoza and Mateo Sanchez Montejo were arrested. These three compañeros were wearing their ski-masks, taking the licence plate numbers of the cars, when they were apprehended and insulted by agents of the public security who took off their ski-masks. They loaded them in a particular light van, where they struck them with truncheons, laid them on the floor and threatened them with violation [rape] during the ride to the general office of the public security in Palenque. Before arriving in Palenque they forced them to put their ski-masks back on. In the general offices of the public security they were forced to sign a document stating that they had left their community voluntarily. They were released today at 5:00 P.M.
In the community the aggressors took all the properties of compañer@s. During these incidents the public security agents and the municipal police asked about the presence of cameras and demanded that they be handed over.
The village Chol de Tumbala that was evicted today is situated on liberated land. EZLN support bases from different communities settled in the predio [investor-owned estate] named Carlos Salinas, with a surface of 532 hectares. The compañer@s [of the] support bases occupied this land on September 9th, 1999. The previous proprietors are:
Eduardo Moyte Goyado
Rafael Cross Sanchez
Filiberto [no surname given]
Since the day of taking possession, the compañer@as [of the] EZLN support bases have signed the documents with the name of Chol de Tumbala, which is in use today for geographical localization. [Meaning, presumably, that state authorities have recognized Zapatista expropriation of the lands.] The public paperwork is administered by the representative of the village, Gregorio Alvarez Cruz, who is today imprisoned in the prison of Playas de Catazaja. Among others, he is accused of robbery and kidnapping, while in truth his job is to administer the land documents.
The Junta of Good Government denounce these atcs which our EZLN support bases have to suffer, because their human rights are violated to the extreme. During the burning and destruction of the houses, the properties of the villagers were taken to the trucks of the Public Security. The fruit trees were also knocked down, [including] the orange, coconut, lemon, avocado and banana trees, and the houses [barns?] next to the animals in the courtyard were burned.
The rest they took with them, robbing the husked maize. These properties are the daily food of our support bases and were destroyed and robbed by criminal hands, leaving our children, women, men, and old ones without shelter and the food needed for the daily life that we have to bear. In the practice of our autonomy we are brutally struck and captured for defending our houses.
We hold the former proprietors Eduardo Moyte Goyado, Rafael Cruz Sanchez and Filiberto, the State Public Security, the municipal police, and the federal judge of Playas de Catazaja, Ernesto Hernandez Ruiz responsible for these acts. We also hold the municipal president of Palenque, Alfredo Salgado Strap, the governor of the State of Chiapas Pablo Salazar Mendiguchia and the Mexican president, Vicente Fox Quesada, responsible.
JUNTA DE BUEN GOBIERNO
NUEVA SEMILLA QUE VA A PRODUCIR