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Montemayor: There Is an Imminent Risk of Violence

Blanche Petrich
Date Published: 
January 01, 0001

from La Jornada
[ Translation by: Chiapas Support Committee ]

The writer Carlos Montemayor said that the EZLN’s “red alert” is a warning about the “imminent explosion of violence” in a zone of Chiapas where, in the five years of the Fox government tensions have accumulated and the structures of paramilitary groups remain intact. They (the paramilitary groups) continue under the protection of the state and federal governments and the Mexican Army.

In an interview with La Jornada he emphasized that this alert, only the third which it has put out in eleven (11) years, “denudes of ski masks the concealed policy of aggression of the paramilitaries in Chiapas, behind which the state and federal governments and the Army are hidden. It is an important political message, not only military or tactical.”

In no way, he points out, can the intention of a unilateral aggression by the EZLN be read into this text. “To the contrary, he adds, what are announced are previous plans which they will be deploying as defensive actions before the degree of violence that institutional forces may eventually deploy.”

The author of important novels about insurgency in Mexico (War in Paradise, Weapons of Dawn, Secret Reports), Montemayor warned, at the same time, about the “evident artificiality” of the bulletin from the National Defense Ministry, which yesterday reported about the finding of marijuana plants in zones under Zapatista control in Los Altos of Chiapas (the Highlands). “The sewing of plants in territories which it plans to attack,” he pointed out,” he pointed out, has been part of the counterinsurgency manuals of the armed forces for a long time.

He defined the Zapatista comunicado as a “multiple political message,” which begins with the “15 minutes” that the candidate Vicente Fox destined to the solution of the conflict in Chiapas and which “were converted into five years of construction of a wave of dangerous pressure.”

Warning about the danger of a violent explosion soon, latent since years ago because of the presence of paramilitaries “encouraged, armed, trained and protected by the federal armed forces,” does not equal an announcement of unilateral warlike actions by the EZLN, he insisted. He recognized that in that text they announce “future actions” by this force of which they remove of responsibility all civilian collaborators, but, he analyzes, “it is a defensive strategy regarding offensive strategies that they must resist.”

He considered that the central part of the “red alert” is in the warning that the structures of the Caracoles and the Good Government Juntas will not be dismantled, rather that they are going to work in a clandestine and hidden manner. “In other words: they will become politically stronger, they will become better established, they will be in the medium term more indestructible.” He added that by marking that course for the project which he classified as the “political and judicial heart of the proposals of Zapatismo,” the EZLN conferred on its document “a highest political value.”

Before the danger of a new stage of instability in Chiapas, Montemayor proposed that “the social reaction which requires a warning like that ought to be not only of absolute opposition to the military and paramilitary violence, but a reevaluation of the pacifist, judicial and social essence of the Juntas.”

Q: The comandancia of the EZLN foresees governmental actions and asks for respect for civilians who remain at the front of their communities. Are there indications of attacks by the government?

Ans: There are too many tensions in the zone: displacements, water conflicts, conflicts over land, kidnappings, which are leaving a wake of growing tension. The lack of information makes us believe that there is stability. The red alert is looking at the facts which we have refused to see, to follow, to track and to attend to.

“It is not possible to believe that the paramilitaries have continued amassing weapons and training for nothing. It is part of a strategy in movement. The apparent abandonment of military camps leaves a territory without obstacles, ‘free’ for paramilitary action. This already happened: Acteal.”

Q: The Zapatista Army’s declaration coincides with a bulletin from Defense which denounces the existence of marijuana plants in Zapatista zones. Is it accidental or the construction of an argument of narco-guerrilla which could justify an armed offensive?

Ans: In documents discussed within the Army’s breast between October and December of 1994, which are presented in the final part of my novel, Secret Reports, these types of actions are proposed as counterinsurgency strategies. A fistful of coke and marijuana can not only be planted in the streets or in a residence. It can also be planted in a territory that it wants to attack.