** Frayba demands that the government sanction those responsible and respect autonomy
** They have been resisting attacks, dispossession of lands and death threats from officialist groups for three years
By: Hermann Bellinghausen
San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, December 26, 2013
EZLN support bases in the community of San Marcos Avilés, municipality of Chilón, denounced aggressions, dispossession from lands and threats from officialist (pro-government) groups since 15th December : “We have been patient, we have endured and resisted all the bad things that the party members of this community have done to us. Our patience has run out and today we say ‘¡ya basta!’ (Enough!) The time has come to defend ourselves whatever the cost, whatever may happen and in any way possible.”
The indigenous warn: “We are no longer going to allow them to disrespect us and deny us the right to live in our own community. Starting now, we hold the three levels of official government responsible for everything that may happen, for not having paid attention to the issue.”
The Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Centre (Frayba) has received reports from the international civil observation brigades about “the continuation of harassment, aggressions, death threats and forced displacements” against the Zapatistas of the community. And it points out that the governmental authorities, instead of fulfilling their obligation “to guarantee the integrity and personal security of the inhabitants and look for a solution to the conflict, as of this day their only response has been to administer the conflict.”
Frayba recalls that: “for three years the Good Government Junta of Oventic and the Zapatistas bases in San Marcos Avilés have resisted the group described as Partidista [political party supporters], which has carried out actions against education and the project of Zapatista autonomy under cover of Chilón officials and the state government.”
Frayba reports that on 11th December, “at 6:30 in the morning, Juan Pérez Cruz and his wife María Elena Cruz, both PRI members, entered the coffee field of a Zapatista, stealing the fruit from 200 coffee bushes.” At 8:00 that same evening, from the house of Pérez Cruz, which is 50 metres from the camp of the civilian observation brigade which stays in the community, “a shot was heard, intended to intimidate the Zapatista bases.” On 12th December, at 6 am, Pérez Cruz arrived at the house of a Zapatista and said to him, literally: “I came to advise you that your coffee field no longer belongs to you, now it’s mine because you don’t pay the property tax, don’t go back to your coffee field and your milpa, because I am going to kill you there with a machete.” On the 14th, another shot was fired from Pérez Cruz’ house.
Afterwards, the civilian observers informed Frayba that: “the party members continue with aggressions against other Zapatista bases, consisting of robbing their milpas and workplaces.” The organisation expresses concern about the grave situation and demands that the state government “controls those who act with impunity in the community, sanctions those responsible for the aggressions, death threats, robberies, dispossession and displacement, and ensures respect for the EZLN support bases’ exercise of the right to autonomy, freedom of thought and expression, and right to property and possession of lands to work.”
The problem dates from September 9, 2010, when 170 indigenous of all ages, the Zapatistas of the ejido, were violently displaced by 30 people from the PRI, PRD and the Green Ecologist Party of Mexico, “who entered with sticks, machetes and firearms” into their homes. The incidents occurred after the construction of the autonomous primary school in the ejido. That day, “so as not to respond to the aggression,” the Zapatistas took refuge in the woods and mountain for 33 days.
La Jornada, Friday, December 27, 2013
English translation by the Chiapas Support Committee for the International Zapatista Translation Service