Chiapas requests army presence for elections; EZLN suspend national tour

State authorities in Chiapas have requested that federal army troops be deployed to assure security in the upcoming elections in the conflicted southern Mexican state. Elections are to be held in two weeks for local authorities in 118 municipalities and for 40 state deputies. The state government says ten municipalities are “zones of alert” due to a “climate of tension.” (Mirada Sur, Chiapas, Sept. 24) In response, the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) issued a communique Sept. 22 charging that the state government, under the control of the center-left Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), is “attacking the poor and needy, and courting and benefiting the rich and powerful.” (Mirada Sur, Sept. 25) The EZLN denied rumors that it is supporting candidates from any party in the elections. (Heraldo de Chiapas, Sept. 19) However, the rebels pledged not to interfere with the elections in their zones of control. (Cuarto Poder, Chiapas, Sept. 23)

Fear continues to grow of a planned mass eviction of Zapatista communities from contested lands in the Chiapas rainforest by followers of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). The EZLN Good Government Junta “Hacia La Esperanza” at “Autonomous Municipality” San Pedro de Michoacán told reporter Hermann Bellinghausen of the national daily La Jornada that followers of the Union of Ejidos of the Selva (UES), a PRI-aligned group, in nearby Nuevo Gracias a Dios are “buying high powered weapons” in preparation for an assault against the Zapatistas. “It looks like some have even sold lands to buy their weapons. And they pass them right in front of the soldiers there at the crossroads,” to bring into their settlement. (La Jornada. Sept. 21 via Narco News)

The EZLN’s Sixth Commission has announced it will suspend the planned second phase of the “Other Campaign,” a national tour by Zapatista leaders, in light of the local threat. “In its place, we will carry out civil and peaceful actions in defense of the Zapatista communities,” the statement read. (EZLN communique, Sept. 22)

In a statement of their own, the Maya pacifist organization Las Abejas—targeted in the Acteal massacre of 1997—said that paramilitary activity in Chiapas has actually seen a resurgence since the PRD government took power last year. “The well-known Low-Intensity War against the pueblos that struggle against the neoliberal system has not gone away with the PRIista ex-governors,” the statement said. (Mirada Sur, Sept. 24 via Chiapas IMC)

Bishop Emeritus of the Chiapas Highlands, Don Samuel Ruiz GarcĂ­a, who won acclaim for brokering the peace dialogue with the EZLN in the ’90s, said “In Chiapas, repression is being offered, not dialogue… A massacre like that at Acteal could be repeated at any moment.” (Mirada Sur, Sept. 27)

Meanwhile, Zapatista supporters joined with followers of the PRD and even PRI to protest PRD municipal authorities at PantelhĂł, who are building a drainage system they charge pollutes local water sources. (La Jornada via CDN, Sept. 21; La Jornada, Sept. 20) Infrastructure issues are particularly critical following Hurricane Felix. Mexican federal authorities declared an emergency in 118 Chiapas municipalities in the wake of the disaster. (El Universal, Sept. 4)

On Sept. 20, André Aubry, a former priest and anthropologist of French origin who had been an official advisor to the EZLN and local leader of the Other Campaign, was killed in a car accident at the age of 80. He was traveling on the raod between Tuxtla Gutiérrez and San Cristóbal de las Casas. (El Universal, Sept. 21)

See our last posts on Mexico and Chiapas and the Zapatistas.

  1. Subcommander Marcos heads for Sonora
    Subcommander Marcos and eight Zapatista comandantes, including David and Zebedeo, left Chiapas Sept. 27 for Mexico City, en route to Sonora, where they will participate in the Encuentro of the Peoples of America, a summit on indigenous rights to be held at the Yaqui village of Vicam Oct. 11-14. Two children—the daughters of comandantas—also joined the delegation. (La Jornada, Sept. 28)

  2. Zapatista caravan detained at army roadblock
    Mexico’s National Network Against Repression reports via the independent news agency APIA that on Oct. 4, the van of the EZLN’s Sixth Commission, in which Delegate Zero (Subcommander Marcos) was traveling, was detained at a military roadblock in Mazatlán, Sinaloa. The van was eventually allowed to continue to the Indigenous Encuentro in Sonora, but this constituted the first time the military has detained the Subcommander in his travels across Mexico since the Other Campaign was launched two years ago.

  3. Yaqui authorities deny cancellation of Zapatista Encuentro
    The “traditional authorities” of Vicam issued a statement Oct. 3 denying rumors that the Indigenous Encuentro has been cancelled, and denouncing a black propaganda campaign (“campaña negra”) by “groups of economic power who have designs on our natural resources, and have with lies and tricks caused some authorities to issue a document with intentions to disparage and discredit this event.” This is a reference to a statement of Sept. 30, also signed by Vicam’s “traditional authorities,” stating that the “traditional government has not had any contact with those intending to hold an international meeting within our territory,” and that “there does not exist at this moment an authorization on our part for this meeting to be convened; on the contrary, we oppose [it] categorically…” (La Jornada, Oct. 5)

    The statement is online at the website of the Indigenous Encuentro.