Internecine violence in the militant campesino movement escalates in Las Cañadas, the canyonlands on the edge of the Lacandon Selva, the Chiapas rainforest which is the primary support base of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN). From the Mexican news agency APRO, June 13, via Chiapas95 (our translation):
A new conflict between the Zapatista support bases and campesino organizations is growing in Las Cañadas of the Lacandon Selva.
In the community of El Carrizal, munipality of Ocosingo, a confrontation between indigenous Zapatistas and followers of the Emiliano Zapata Campesino Organization-Casa del Pueblo (OCEZ-CdP), accused of having relations with the Popular Revolutionary Army (EPR), has reached the point of residents being threatened with firearms and having their crops destroyed.
The Fray Bartolome de Las Casas Human Rights Center (Frayba) announced a petition by the Zapatistas of the zone to bring the situation to public attention.
According to Frayba, Zapatista supporters of El Carrizal arrived at their offices to denounce aggressions by members of OCEZ-Casa del Pueblo, who, in turn, accused EZLN sympathizers of paramilitary activities.
“The researchers of this Center can verify the destruction of cornfields and attacks on the cattle of the Zapatista bases. According to the information obtained June 5, four members of the OCEZ-CdP, with 16- and 410-caliber weapons in hand and firing in the air, threatened Zapatista bases and damaged their crops,” denounced the Frayba.
The statement said the Zapatistas have suffered aggressions from followers of OCEZ-CdP since 1997, when the houses of residents who do not follow the organization were burned.
The Zapatistas explained to the Frayba activists that on various occassions they had sought dialogue with the OCEZ followers in El Carrizal; including “on three occassions the Good Government Junta of Caracol de Morelia has invited the representative of the organization, Ramiro Santiz Lopez, to arrive at an agreement to avoid more aggressions, but he didn’t respond to any of the invitations. The last was in February of the present year, and the aggressions persist.”
The Zapatistas of El Carrizal told Frayba that the OCEZ-CdP has publicly accused members of the Zapatista base of being paramilitaries, “signifying that they are completely out of touch with reality…”
Frayba is greatly concerned by the aggressions between campesino organizations in the context of pre-electoral tensions… It has issued a call to the leaders of OCEZ-CdP to intervene with the members of their organization in El Carrizal, to put an end to the aggressions and find channels of dialogue to arrive at a means of coexistence between members of different organizations in the community.