Mexican army searches for EPR guerillas in Chiapas

On Aug. 29, the Tzotzil Maya community of Ejido 28 de Junio in the municipality of Venustiano Carranza, Chiapas, was occupied by troops of the Mexican federal army, who arrived in two trucks and four armed personnel carriers. Establishing checkpoints at the entrances to the community, the troops then spread out through the streets and surrounding fields, questioning residents about the supposed presence of Popular Revolutionary Army (EPR) guerillas. Helicopters conducted overflights, searching for a supposed EPR training camp.

The soldiers especially asked residents about the activities and whereabouts José Manuel “Chema” Hernández Martínez, founder of the local peasant land-rights group OCEZ-Casa del Pueblo (Emiliano Zapata Campesino Organization-House of the People). Chema later told a reporter: “In 1978 we initiated the struggle for the recuperation of 5,000 hectares that was in the hands of the landlords. We want them to recognize our rights as comuneros, but they continue to persecute us, they harass us to get us to abandon the struggle, and I was accused of belonging to the PROCUP [Clandestine Revolutionary Workers Party-Union of the People]. Now they accuse me and my compañero Ricardo Magdaleno of being directors of the EPR. We say to them, yes, we struggle, but always by peaceful means, blocking roads, occupying predios [collective lands], installing plantones [protest vigils], never by armed means.” (Expreso Chiapas, Aug. 29)

After the army incursion, hundreds of followers of the “Socialist Front for National Liberation”* held marches and plantones in the state capital Tuxtla, as well as in the towns of Tapachula, San Cristóbal, Palenque and Comitán. A communique read at the actions stated that President Felipe Calderón “has opted to instate militarization and fascism in response to the popular repudiation against him.” It accused the president of trying to establish a “military dictatorship.” (La Jornada, Aug. 31)

*Possibly the National Front of Struggle for Socialism (FNLS)

See our last posts on the Mexico, the guerilla movement and the struggle in Chiapas.