Mexico: Israel training Chiapas police?

Israel’s embassy in Mexico City denied reports in the Mexican media that Israeli military advisors are training police in the southern state of Chiapas. Early last month, Chiapas’ Secretary of Security and Civil Protection, Jorge Lu铆s Abarca, announced that he had met with Yaron Yugman of the Israeli Defense Ministry to discuss the program. This supposed meeting was widely reported in respected newspapers such as El Universal and Excelsior, but Israeli officials in Mexico City contacted by Fox News Latino denied knowledge of the meeting, calling the news reports “nonsense” and “completely wrong.” Said Yael Hashaviet, deputy chief of mission at the Israeli embassy: “I don鈥檛 know whether to laugh or to cry. This never happened and this will never happen.” 

Fox News called the denial “puzzling,” given that Mexico has been purchasing military equipment from Israel since the ’70s, including planes, helicopters and patrol boats as well as small arms. The have been reports before of an Israeli military presence in Chiapas, and Israeli advisors have been contracted by governments elsewhere in Latin America.

Paramilitarism re-emerges at Chenalh贸
New conflicts are reported from the Chiapas municipality of Chenalh贸, where paramilitary veterans who were held responsible for the 1997 Acteal massacre but released from prison by Mexico’s Supreme Court of Justice have now been implicated in a land seizure at the hamlet of Colonia Puebla. “The release of the paramilitaries has sent a signal to those groups (never dismantled), or to some of those that have been their members, that they can act without punishment, attacking those who don鈥檛 give in to their will. This could be the case with the Colonia Puebla, birthplace of one of the recently released paramilitaries, originally pointed to as the leader of the group which committed the Acteal massacre,” said the Fray Bartolom茅 de Las Casas Human Rights Center (FRAYBA).

The parish priest at Colonia Puebla, Manuel P茅rez G贸mez, said some 140 men armed with machetes and chainsaws had taken over the land where a chapel was being built. Colonia Puebla was the primary seat of the paramilitary group that carried out the 1997 massacre. Its followers were Presbyterian converts, and the targeted group, Las Abejas peasant organization, was Catholic pacifist. P茅rez G贸mez said that Presbyterian pastor Agust铆n Cruz G贸mez had blessed the weapons used in the 1997 attack, that left 45 unarmed campesinos dead, and warned: “It seems that the tragic happenings of 1997 that culminated in the Acteal massacre are being repeated.” (La Jornada, June 11, in English at Dorset Chiapas Solidarity)