Paramilitary Offensive Continues

[translated by irlandesa: 3 articles 1) update: another murder of a Zapatista in Olga Isabel Autonomous Municipality by paramilitaries and 2 & 3) Articles by La Jornada’s Hermann Bellinghausen on the paramilitary offensive]

Brothers and sisters:

Our New Olga Isabel Autonomous Municipality in Rebellion is denouncing the incidents of violence which are being carried out by paramilitaries from Reforma K’an Akil, in the official municipality of Chilón.

This paramilitary group assassinated a compañero of ours on August 25.  We have not as yet been able to recover the compañero’s body, because the paramilitaries have said that if we go there, they will fire on us again.

On the night of August 26, high powered gunfire was heard again.

When compañero Antonio was shot, his wife was there, and she saw him die.  She escaped, in the midst of the gunfire.  The compañero was shot 300 meters from his village of K’an Akil, which is close to the place called Reforma K’an Akil, where paramilitaries have been living since 1994.

We are greatly concerned, because the paramilitaries will not allow us to go in and recover the body of our compañero, and they have stated that want they want is to stop the development of our Autonomous Municipality, and, in order to accomplish this, they are going to end up killing us one by one.

They have said, in addition, that, if we do not abandon the Autonomous Municipality, they are going to kidnap us and force us to give them a large amount of money.  

What they want is for us to abandon our struggle and our organization, but we know that these paramilitary people are being paid to do all of this, and they have started with assassinations.

We have already denounced this paramilitary group, Los Aguilares, because they have persecuted us, they have threatened us, and now they have gone as far as shootings.  In that way they are trying to get us to respond, because they have said that is what they want us to do.

The paramilitary group Los Aguilares are feared by many people, and they are directed by Señor Sebastián Aguilar, who has been a member of the Mexican federal Army and who has relatives who are soldiers, and he receives weapons from them.  

A few days prior to the assassination of our compañero Antonio Mejía, they kidnapped a compañero of ours, who was interrogated and forced to pay a quantity of money.  They released him when he agreed to no longer belong to our Autonomous Municipality.  When this compañero was being interrogated, they asked him about compañero Antonio Mejía.  They said they were going to disappear him.  

We are holding this paramilitary group responsible for the assassination of our compañero, but we are also holding the Federal and State Governments responsible, since we have on past occasions denounced harassment by these paramilitaries, and they are aware of the existence of this paramilitary group and of their actions.

Our Autonomous Municipality is organizing itself in order to find the means of recovering the compañero’s body.  We are not going to allow these violent incidents to continue taking place, nor will we allow them to remain unpunished.

We are calling on Civil Society engaged in Human Rights to help us in this fight for justice.


Olga Isabel Autonomous Municipality

Paramilitaries Execute Two Zapatistas

Hermann Bellinghausen, correspondent

San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas.
August 26.

Two campesinos, EZLN support bases, were shot to death yesterday morning in the Amaytik ranch by PRI paramilitaries from that community and neighboring Peña Limonar, a few kilometers from Cintalapa, an Army base of operations.

This afternoon, Ricardo Flores Magón Autonomous Municipal authorities denounced that PRIs and paramilitaries from the Amaytik ranch killed Lorenzo Martínez Espinosa, of the Nueva Esperanza Ejido and spokesperson for the autonomous council, and Jacinto Hernández Gutiérrez, autonomous agent for the ranch.

The autonomistas added that Lorenzo Martínez Espinosa’s body “disappeared last night, with no knowledge of who removed it and where they took it in order to conceal the crime, which was organized by PRI paramilitaries from the Peña Limonar area who are operating in this cañada, as we have previously denounced.  We demand that they immediately return our compañero’s body to us,” the rebel council said.

“We are holding the bad government directly responsible for these incidents which have taken place.  And, because of all of this, we are calling on national and international civil society to mobilize to demand that the bad government stop the killings and to investigate, to see that justice is done, those who are truly guilty of the assassination of our compañeros.”

The autonomistas stated that, with this criminal ambush, “the bad government, along with their paramilitaries, are carrying out their death threats against our peoples who are in dignified resistance.

“Despite all these threats and assassinations, our peoples shall continue resisting and fighting for Democracy, Liberty and Justice.”

The State Prosecutor’s Office Version

The State Prosecutor’s Office [PGJE] reported on the incidents last night with an essentially different version of the events.  According to the official communiqué, it was an “inter-family fight, which took place in the Amaitic [sic] community, in the municipality of Ocosingo, where a male person lost his life and seven others were wounded.”  Based on this, the Prosecutor’s Office announced that an investigation would be opened.  According to the first ministerial proceedings, the PGJE stated that the incident took place owing to the fact that a few days ago Manuel Gutiérrez Hernández had “abducted Juana Hernández Cruz, and, according to uses and customs, the boyfriend should have paid 5000 pesos as a dowry and provided liquor and food to the fiancée’s family.  However, Manuel Hernández refused to comply with the community’s traditions, which started a fight between the two families.”

This version by the PGJE, which was still being maintained today by official sources in the chiapaneco government, was met with a deluge of unconfirmed rumors and information about alleged confrontations between campesinos in the northern region of the Selva Lacandona.

Meanwhile, the Fray Pedro de la Nada Human Rights Committee [CDHFPLN], in Ocosingo, reported significant Army movements at the barracks of the military region located in the Toniná predio.

The same civil organization informed that “tension has increased to such a degree in the area that, according to information the Department of Indian Peoples (SEPI) provided to the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Center, there was a subsequent confrontation on Monday morning in the Arroyo Granizo ejido, which is on the border of the Ricardo Flores Magón Autonomous Municipality, close to the military detachment at Cintalapa.”  Neither this confrontation, nor other alleged ones, have been confirmed as of tonight, since it would appear that they did not take place.

Nonetheless, the CDHFPLN itself documented that “a military convoy of more than 30 vehicles, among them several artillery and tanks, left this Monday morning from the 39th military region facilities, in Ocosingo, headed towards the cañadas, passing by the Quexil crossroads, where zapatista support bases from 3 Autonomous Municipalities are maintaining a checkpoint in order to prevent trafficking in alcohol, precious woods and stolen cars, and where more than 200 PRIs from OPDIC attacked them last week with rocks, clubs, machetes and guns.”

According to the CDHFPLN, “in contrast with the tension that is now present in the communities in the cañadas, calm and tranquility seem to be prevailing among residents in the municipal seat of Ocosingo.  However, for the second time this week, the municipal police were working without their brand new uniforms which make them look like soldiers in action [camouflage].  Like last week, when state Deputy Pedro Chulín gathered together the PRIs from OPDIC who attacked the zapatistas at Quexil, the police were in civilian clothing today.”

The human rights committee believes that the rumors of possible actions by paramilitary groups against the communities bordering Montes Azules would appear to be materializing, and the risk of more violence is increasing dangerously.  Consequently, and in the name of various civil organizations, it stated:

“The human rights centers are urging the federal government to distance itself from armed PRI and/or paramilitary groups which are operating in the region;  the Supreme Court of Justice to present its ruling on the constitutional objections presented against the Indigenous Law which was irresponsibly approved by the Deputies and Senators;  and the Legislative branch to promote the urgent reform of said Law in order to incorporate the San Andrés Accords, which were signed by the federal government and the Zapatista Army of National Liberation.”

Human rights civil organizations from San Cristóbal de las Casas, Ocosingo and Chilón mobilized at least three observation brigades this afternoon to the area where yesterday’s assassinations took place.

Tonight, thousands of Mexican Army soldiers who entered in the direction of Palenque, Monte Líbano and Montes Azules had practically taken over the roads, and they were constantly patrolling the autonomous communities in the region.

Hundreds of Army Troops Enter Ocosingo Cañadas

Hermann Bellinghausen, correspondent

San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas
August 26.

Hundreds of Army troops entered the cañadas of the Selva Lacandona today, in the direction of Palenque in the extreme north of the Selva.  Dozens of trucks transported contingents of armed and equipped soldiers.  Tanks and artillery vehicles were also mobilized, which have dispersed in several directions inside the Ocosingo cañadas in the Autonomous Municipalities of Ricardo Flores Magón, San Manuel and Francisco Gómez.

Creating a sudden climate of tension and fear, which has been being prepared throughout the previous week, the Army entered the cañadas in pursuit of rumors.  At the present time, the reasons for this large deployment are unknown.  Meanwhile, state judicial officials have had a body ‘disappeared,’ and their investigations are yielding disappointing results.

The Fray Pedro Lorenzo de la Nada Human Rights Committee told La Jornada tonight that “this is the first mobilization of such great magnitude since President Vicente Fox announced the withdrawal of the military from the camps at Amador Hernández, La Garrucha, Guadalupe Tepeyac, Cuxuljá, Roberto Barrios, Oventic and La Realidad in December of 2000, when he took office.”

Since 1995 there has not, however, been any withdrawal of troops from the conflict zone.

Reports from the Autonomous Municipalities which surround the city of Ocosingo, as well as various reports from civil observation groups, confirm that the Army operation began yesterday at 5 PM, when the first ten trucks arrived with troops from the 39th Military Region general barracks.  At 6 PM, 20 more vehicles.  An hour later, 30.  Forty arrived at 8 PM, and fifteen more at 9 PM.

Added to these are the troops which are already in the military barracks at the Toniná predio, one of the largest in Chiapas, and the barracks for the 39th Army Military Region.  Over recent days, there has been a visible increase in the troops’ activity inside the barracks.

This Army which gathered together in Toniná was carrying out combat practice between 8PM and 10 PM.  The soldiers did not sleep all light long, as they were constantly shouting slogans and every so often starting the engines of their vehicles.

At 5 AM today, the first 10 vehicles left Toniná, headed towards the city of Ocosingo.  At 7 AM, another twenty, as well as 42 towards Monte Líbano and Taniperla.  There were artillery vehicles, and they were preceded by tanks.

According to the San Manuel Autonomous Municipality, civilians were also traveling in these trucks.  It was thought that they were OPDIC paramilitaries who had remained in Ocosingo since the 19th, when their leader and PRI Deputy Pedro Chulín Jimenez, had gathered them together.

The San Manuel municipality today denounced that deputy Chulín Jiménez was one of the persons who opened fire on the EZLN support bases last Monday, during the paramilitary attack at the Quexil crossroads.  According to autonomous authorities, about 300 federal Army trucks, tanks and assault vehicles were gathered at Toniná last night.

At 5 PM today, even more trucks carrying troops left in the direction of Monte Líbano.

In addition, the Primero de Enero Autonomous Municipality reported the mobilization today of a long and intermittent convoy of 2000 soldiers heading towards Palenque on the international highway.

There were also significant army movements, of unspecified number, all along the border highway which runs along the north of the Montes Azules on the Tabasco and Guatemala international borders.

From the city of Ocosingo, the CDHFPLN confirmed that hundreds of Army troops were seen arriving at the Ocosingo military region on Sunday night.  “They were seen leaving their barracks since this Monday morning, and they were subsequently seen already dispersed in different points in the cañadas:  4 trucks full of armed troops close to the Nuevo Morelia ejido (at the entrance to the Patihuitz cañada, where the Francisco Gómez Autonomous Municipality is located);  approximately 10 vehicles, some artillery and with a tank in front, in the Agua Dulce ranch (between the rebel municipalities San Manuel and Ricardo Flores Magón); approximately 10 vehicles patrolling between the Monte Líbano crossroads and the military detachment at El Ocotalito, also with tanks and artillery vehicles.  The Army was also seen moving, heading towards the community of Taniperla and towards Peña Limonar.”

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