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SPECIAL REPORT: Mexican troops suppress Indian town during President Bush visit

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  • Djehuti Sundaka
    SPECIAL REPORT: Mexican troops suppress Indian town Two killed, others disappeared, during President Bush visit Posted: January 20, 2004 - 3:46pm EST by: Jim
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 21, 2004
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      SPECIAL REPORT: Mexican troops suppress Indian town
      Two killed, others disappeared, during President Bush visit

      Posted: January 20, 2004 - 3:46pm EST
      by: Jim Adams / Associate Editor / Indian Country Today

      TLALNEPANTLA, Mexico — Hours after President Bush held a summit meeting
      in Monterrey several hundred miles north, Mexican troops stormed this
      indigenous village in the state of Morelos over the night of Jan. 14,
      leaving at least two dead and scores missing, according to on-the-scene
      reports reaching Indian Country Today.

      This agricultural township of about 3000 people had just inaugurated an
      autonomous municipal council Jan. 11, rejecting the results of a
      state-sponsored election last year. According to the report reaching
      Indian Country Today, the council was modeled on the autonomous local
      governments of the Zapatista indigenous movement in Chiapas, which was
      just celebrating its tenth anniversary.

      According to an eyewitness from the United States, who filmed some of
      the events, starting at 1 a.m. Jan. 14: "Riot police stormed the town,
      killing at least two and sending hundreds of campesinos running for
      cover. I saw helicopters hunting campesinos in the hillsides. It is a
      disaster."

      The witness, whose identity is being withheld by this newspaper pending
      further communication, said the attack followed warnings from the state
      government against establishment of the autonomous council. After
      repeated threats from the government to dismantle the autonomous
      government in Tlalnepantla, Governor Sergio Estrada Cajigal ordered
      nearly 1500 riot police at 1 a.m., armed with assault rifles, to evict
      the autonomous government from Tlalnepantla.

      "Snipers and police gunmen filled the air with bullets, beat women and
      men over 80 years of age, and left two dead, many wounded and scores of
      people disappeared and as of yet unaccounted for. Illegal searches were
      conducted in dozens of houses in the town."

      A spokesman for the federal government in Mexico City said that the
      incident was in charge of the state government of Morelos and that he
      would be unable to provide information. He did confirm, however, that
      the police in the raid were state and not federal. Morelos State, the
      smallest in the country, is currently controlled by the PAN, the
      conservative party led by Mexican President Vicente Fox.

      According to the dispatch, establishment of the council and its
      suppression followed an electoral dispute last July. "Like thousands of
      indigenous communities in Mexico, and according to ancient custom," said
      the report, Tlalnepantla "has always elected its leaders in an open town
      council consisting of the entire adult population." In last July's
      elections, this way of selecting authorities was rejected by the Mexican
      electoral commission. The candidate who officially won at the polls was
      not selected by the full town assembly.

      The winning candidate, with less than 10 percent of the electorate's
      vote, is an unpopular political boss who has been accused of corruption
      in other political offices he has held. A majority of the population of
      Tlalnepantla subsequently called for an annulment of the electoral
      results and legal recognition of its ancient form of selecting leaders,
      but the Morelos state government ignored their plea.

      After months of discussion within the town, and in full accordance with
      the legal guarantees of the Mexican constitution, the people of
      Tlalnepantla declared themselves "autonomous" in the same way that EZLN
      [Zapatistia Army of National Liberation] affiliated indigenous
      communities in Chiapas have done. Tlalnepantla's declaration of autonomy
      came just as communities across Mexico and the world were celebrating
      the ten year anniversary of the uprising in Chiapas.

      The town is 17 miles away from the historic center of Cuernavaca, where
      many foreign students attend language classes. It is said to be an
      important producer of the edible nopal cactus, an important staple of
      the Mexican diet, and also grows peaches and sugar cane.

      But no further information about the situation was available over the
      holiday weekend. A duty officer at the U.S. State Department said no one
      was available on the Martin Luther King national holiday who would be
      aware of the events, and it appears not to have been reported in any
      major U. S. newspapers.

      This article can be found at http://IndianCountry.com/?1074631684
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