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Intense Military Movement in Conflict Zone

Elio Henriquez
Date Published: 
January 01, 0001

from La Jornada

The withdrawal of four military camps of the Mexican Army in the municipalities of Chenalho', Bochil and Ixtapa, signifies "no modification of their military strategy" in the so called conflict zone of Chiapas, affirmed the Centre for Political Analysis and Social and Economic Investigation (CAPISE).

In a report titled "The Olive Green Occupation", the organisation relates that the federal Army holds at present 111 positions in the territory of Chiapas, most of them in the Highlands (los Altos), the Selva and the North of the state; as a consequence the indigenous peoples "suffer an alarming military occupation".

In a press conference on the release of the report, CAPISE director Ernesto Ledezma, said that the general red alert declared by the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) last Monday, generated a great national and international mobilization, but also an intense military movement in the conflict zone.

As he explained, the day before a joint brigade of CAPISE and the International Service for Peace visited the military detachment located in the community of Patihuitz, Ocosingo. At their arrival "the prolonged sound of a whistle was heard repeatedly, at which the soldiers ran to their equipment, and two of them threw themselves to the ground and aimed their rifles at the group".

The members of the centre declared, that in view of the announcement of the EZLN not to prepare military actions, the Mexican State "will have to demonstrate, whether now, at the end of their six years term of office, they are capable to understand the example of integrity and humility that the indigenous people of Chiapas have shown once more. They also explained that now, "the ball is being passed to the civil society".

The organization affirmed, that the communique of the National Defense Department (SEDENA), claiming the destruction of 44 marijuana plantations in municipalities under zapatista influence, has been "both dangerous as well as blown out of proportion".

They reminded that the armed forces has destroyed drugs in the same region on previous occasions without making this public. This time however the militaries "not only took care to publicize it in a communique, three of four days after the actions", but in a time of Red Alert they also "added the sentence 'in the influence zone of the insurgent group calling itself EZLN'".

As CAPISE also commented, during a visit to the area in which the drugs were destroyed, two days ago, they had been informed by the inhabitants, that the armed forces realized monthly operations there, in particular in Rinco'n Chamula, Rayo'n and Tapilula.

The report asserts for an instance, that in Pueblo Nuevo - one of the municipalities referred to by the SEDENA - "not one of the 85 townships are of zapatista affiliation."

Everything indicated, so the report, that the addition to the military communique about the operation "seeks to justify in an absurd manner, should the situation arise, an armed confrontation with the EZLN, in times of a Red Alert".

The organization detailed, that out of the 111 military camps maintained by the Mexican Army in Chiapas, 59 were located on ejido land, and 45 had been expropriated in favour of the SEDENA.

They reiterated that the withdrawal of the military camps of Los Chorros and Xo'yep (Chenalho'), the municipal capital of Bochil and the ranch El Calvario, in Ixtapa, "is meaningless in military terms", since the strategy of the Army towards the armed conflict remained unchanged. "Their military tactics remain intact".

As part of the investigations realized in the recent weeks by members of the centre, CAPISE informed that in the military camp located in the community San Caralampio, municipality of Ocosingo, the soldiers paid "500 pesos for an indigenous virgin or a young indigenous woman (between 14 and 16 years)".

(tr. Dana)