As Subcommander Marcos and other Zapatista leaders tour Mexico, their home turf in the southern state of Chiapas remains torn by ongoing low-level violent conflcts.
Last month, the Good Government Junta El Camino del Futuro, one of the regional Zapatista coordinating bodies, issued a statement warning of an escalating conflict with the rival campesino groups ORCAO and ARIC-Oficial (both linked to the PRI political machine), accusing the groups’ followers of invading the lands of the Zapatista community Rosario, autonomous municipality Francisco Gomez. On Jan. 17, the invaders broke the windows of the community’s church, burned the home of a Zapatista supporter, and took him hostage overnight. He was released only after being forced to sign a statement pledging to cede his lands. In a horseback raid on the 18th, the invaders attempted to steal Rosario’s maize crop. (Camino del Futuro communique, Jan. 18)
On Jan. 29, Angel Hidalgo Espinosa, a leader of the Emiliano Zapata Campesino Organization (OCEZ) was convicted in the 2002 slayings of eight peasants near Venustiano Carranza, and sentenced to 37 years in prison. The eight peasants belonged to a rival group, the Fray Bartolome Alliance. Hidalgo Espinosa’s detention since 2003 has sparked protests by thousands of local peasants who support him. The Fray Bartolome Alliance accuses the OCEZ of trying to seize land and of having links to the Popular Revolutionary Army (EPR) guerrilla organization. OCEZ leader Bartolome Perez denies his group was responsible for the 2001 massacre, and says it has no ties with the guerrillas. The Fray Bartolome Alliance, in turn, is accused of operating a paramilitary group that opposed the OCEZ and Zapatista rebels. (AP, Jan. 29)
In other Chiapas unrest, campesinos at the village of El Rosario, in northern Reforma municipality, blocked access to oil well Juzpi 101, demanding that the state company Pemex indemnify the community for environmental damage to its lands. (APRO, Feb. 1)
Lt. Col. Moises is the EZLN’s military commander in Marcos’ absence, and also heads an Intergalactic Commission, a clearinghouse for correspondence with Zapatista supporters around the world, with an eye towards hosting a new global activist summit in Chiapas. (EZLN Intergalactic Commission communique, Jan. 30)
All sources online at Chiapas95
See our last post on the Zapatista struggle.