State police arrested six indigenous Mexicans on May 17 in connection with the killing on May 2 of an activist in La Realidad, a village in the official municipality of Las Margaritas in the southeastern state of Chiapas. La Realidad is one of a number of indigenous communities that supporters of the rebel Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) have considered autonomous municipalities since December 1994. The victim, José Luis Solís López ("Galeano"), taught at a "little school" (escuelita) that since last year has provided international activists with an introduction to the Zapatistas' experiment with autonomous communities. Another 15 EZLN supporters were wounded in the May 2 violence, and a school and a clinic were destroyed.
The EZLN charges that its unarmed supporters were ambushed by members of the "Historic" faction of the Independent Central of Agrarian Workers and Campesinos (CIOAC) and supporters of the center-right National Action Party (PAN) and the small centrist Ecological Green Party of Mexico (PVEM). The attackers were "paramilitaries directed by Mexico's institutional and governmental parties," according to the EZLN. One of the six men arrested on May 17 is Carmelino Rodríguez Jiménez, described in press reports as a CIOAC spokesperson and the La Realidad municipal agent–presumably the agent at La Realidad for the official municipality, Las Margaritas. The Chiapas state government is headed by a member of the PVEM, Gov. Manuel Velasco Coello. The party is widely viewed as a front for the powerful centrist Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), and Velasco is the only PVEM member ever elected to govern a Mexican state. At a May 14 press conference, CIOAC general secretary Federico Ovalle Vaquera denied that his group's members were paramilitaries and called for a thorough investigation of the killing.
The EZLN has mobilized to protest Solís López's killing, suspending other activities and scheduling a demonstration in the central Chiapas city of San Cristóbal de las Casas for May 18. Unions planned a protest for the same day in Greece, while activists and politicians in Italy, Argentina and Chile issued statements condemning the attack on Zapatista supporters. In the US a large group of intellectuals, artists and organizations–including Noam Chomsky, Junot Diaz, Rebel Diaz, Angela Davis, and many others—issued a statement calling for actions May 18-24 to support the Zapatistas. "Given the experience of the 1997 massacre [of 45 Zapatista supporters] at Acteal, we are concerned about the mounting paramilitary activity against Zapatista bases of support," they wrote. "It is clear that if we do not take action now, the current situation in Chiapas may also lead to an even more tragic end." Information on planned events is available at AnAttackonUsAll.org. (Upside Down World, May 14; La Jornada, Mexico, May 15, May 15, May 17, May 17)
From Weekly News Update on the Americas, May 18.