Chiapas rebel communities: government “seeks provocation”

The government of center-right Mexican president Felipe Calderon Hinojosa is “seeking a provocation” among indigenous communities in the southeastern state of Chiapas, according to the 17 de Noviembre autonomous municipality, one of the communities supporting the rebel Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN). With the participation of federal soldiers, indigenous youths are being recruited into paramilitary groups, the community charged in a communique in the middle of March. The government is “organizing groups to attack…[s]o that if there’s a confrontation, it will have an opportunity to bring in the army and apply, as it says, a state of law.”

Pro-EZLN communities charge that the government is encouraging the paramilitary groups by using the official agrarian reform program to offer them lands that rebel communities seized from ranchers in the 1994 EZLN uprising. The communities say they have been harassed by a paramilitary group called the Organization for the Defense of Indigenous and Campesino Rights (OPDDIC), which has reportedly kidnapped and beaten Zapatista community members, stolen supplies from autonomous schools, cut electricity to Zapatista communities, cut down corn fields and destroyed honey collection facilities. Recently the government recognized a new ejido (rural cooperative), Mukulum Bachajon, next to the pro-EZLN autonomous municipality of Olga Isabel; OPDDIC has recruited the leaders of the new ejido. (La Jornada, March 16; Mexico Solidarity Network Weekly News and Analysis, March 19)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, April 1

See our last posts on Mexico, the Zapatistas and the Chiapas paramilitary crisis.