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Zapatistas Attacked by Paramilitaries

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  • Dan Clore
    News & Views for Anarchists & Activists: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/smygo Asheville Global Report Zapatistas, supporters attacked by paramilitaries Compiled
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 25, 2004
      News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:

      Asheville Global Report
      Zapatistas, supporters attacked by paramilitaries
      Compiled by najwa

      Apr. 21 (AGR) -- In a show of solidarity with the families
      of Zinacantan, Chiapas, about 4,000 Zapatistas and
      supporters held a nonviolent march through the town of
      Jech’vo on April 10th. The Zapatistas, bringing 45 thousand
      liters of drinking water for the people of Jech’vo, were
      well received by the families of the small town who have
      been on the receiving end of police violence and
      paramilitary repression for the past months.

      Another nameless group, however, greeted the Zapatista march
      with rocks, sticks, firecrackers, and gunshots. Backed by
      the local police, the members of this violent group are
      alleged to be members of a paramilitary presence that has
      been on the rise again in the Mexican state of Chiapas. The
      results of this attack were dozens of injured marchers, many
      from gunshot wounds, and at least two gravely injured.
      Lorenzo Perez, 33 years old, suffered a perforated thorax,
      and another, still unidentified, received a bullet wound to
      the head.

      Although many Zapatistas were carrying machetes on their
      belts, when they chose to respond to the violent attack,
      they did so with the rocks that were thrown at them by their
      attackers. The attackers then blocked the road with felled
      trees and proceeded to run for shelter in their homes and in
      the mountains.

      The Zapatistas had gathered in the area to bring water and
      show support for hundreds of Zapatista supporters. Since
      last December, the government supporters of the surrounding
      communities, with the support of the municipal government,
      have suspended the supply of water to all of the Zapatista
      families. Since then, the threats and harassment have been
      constant, and the mayor has dedicated himself to downplaying
      the issues.

      Worry spread among the Zapatistas in charge of security when
      they saw that some 20 individuals from Paste had posted
      themselves in the road and begun to construct an enormous
      barricade with rocks that had been piled by the roadside for
      some unfinished construction project. The Zapatista rebels,
      a majority wearing black ski masks, congregated at the side
      of one house that was 100 meters from the barricade and
      stood watching incredulously.

      The government supporters, some in a state of inebriation,
      grew from 20 to about a hundred. Two municipal patrols, both
      pick-up trucks, had remained on the outskirts of Jech’vo
      after 2 o’clock, during the Zapatista meeting and the
      delivery of water supplies to the affected communities.
      Before concluding the meeting, the police moved back some
      few hundred meters and posted themselves behind the
      government supporters that were putting the road blockade in

      Around 4:30, as the Zapatistas decided to conclude their
      demonstration early to avoid problems, the municipal police
      decided to intervene, doing so by stationing both vehicles
      on the road behind the barricade, and thus joining the blockade.

      At 4:40 the Zapatistas began running towards the blockade,
      whose authors had stationed themselves in the hills and in
      neighboring houses, from where they rained down rocks on the
      Zapatista sympathizers, who had begun to remove the rocks
      and the police vehicles from the road. While the Zapatista
      sympathizers advanced along the road, the aggressors fired
      two shots in the air and then launched large fireworks
      against them.

      The patrol vehicles were rolled over into a ditch and
      progressively destroyed with pieces of wood and rocks by the
      Zapatistas. In just a few minutes the road was cleared and
      the close to 150 buses and trucks that were transporting the
      indigenous rebels could pass through, although at this point
      the majority was walking in front and to the sides of the

      The Zapatistas also threw rocks at their aggressors and at
      the roofs of a few houses. Along the mountainsides between
      Jech’vo and Paste, groups of government supporters had
      concealed themselves and threatened the marchers. At that
      point the Zapatistas spread out through the hillsides to
      surround the ambushers.

      The caravan of vehicles and indigenous proceeded slowly.
      Around 5:20, when the last Zapatistas were leaving Jech’vo,
      shots began to be fired against them. Many dove for the
      ground behind the vehicles, while others continued moving
      forward, now running.

      After finding that large trees had been felled across the
      road and chopped into smaller pieces with axes and saws, the
      front of the caravan reached Nachig, sometime after 5:30.
      From the back of the column began to arrive, first, news of
      the attack, and then the injured who, as it goes without
      saying, came at the end. One by one, lying in the beds of
      four trucks, bleeding and completely surrounded by their
      compañeros, they came out of the mountains of Zinacantan.

      On the highway exiting Zinacantan, the state authorities
      were directing traffic. The traffic was of such magnitude
      that no way around it was possible. The authorities filmed
      everyone in the Zapatista cars. The government supporters
      continued shouting at the Zapatistas and making fun of the
      wounded. For the hundreds of Zapatistas no hostility seemed
      to exist. They dedicated themselves to getting the injured
      out of Nachig and leaving in complete order.

      The Zapatistas reported 35 injuries, 18 by firearm and 17 by
      rocks, sticks, and machetes. Two of the injured are still in
      critical condition.

      Eight injuries are also reported from among the aggressors,
      all with contusions--none of which were serious. They were
      driven by municipal authorities to the private clinic
      Ornelas, in San Cristobal de Las Casas. All are inhabitants
      of Paste.

      That night, the Mexican Red Cross, diffused a list of 17
      injured persons, adding to those mentioned here three other

      The government supporters from Jech’vo and Paste corralled
      the Zapatista families of Jech’vo into one house and have
      destroyed the other homes. It is reported that they are
      armed and that they fear a massacre. 109 families, a total
      of 484 people, have fled their homes to take refuge in San
      Cristobal de las Casas and the surrounding mountains,
      joining thousands of other displaced Zapatista supporters.

      Sources from the Red Cross indicated that there were two
      Zapatistas dead (Mariano Gomez Lopez, 18 years old, and Juan
      Jose Hernandez Ruiz, 25 years old), and other gravely
      injured persons, who would be tended to in the medical
      clinic at the Oventic caracol. This version of the events
      has not been confirmed.

      In response to the April 10th attacks, the Good Government
      Board of the indigenous rebels released a fourteen-point
      response. The response states that the increased attacks on
      Zapatista supporters is "a problem between those who, like
      the PRD (the ruling government party), only see the
      political as a business and are willing to commit crimes to
      win, and those who truely seek the recognition of the rights
      and culture of the indigenous in Mexico."

      The Good Government Board report listed the names of 46
      "principal aggressors" and asked that the local governments
      hold the attackers responsible for their actions and hold
      back their would-be aggressors. They have vowed to continue
      researching the corruption of the local governments and
      their use of violence to repress dissent.

      Sources: La Jornada, Indymedia, Enlace Civil

      Dan Clore

      Now available: _The Unspeakable and Others_
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