Systematic attacks and forced displacement. Violence against Zapatistas intensifies.
Written by Carlos Ogaz
“Where is the peace that Peña Nieto speaks so much of? Is this the peace that Manuel Velasco talks about? And yes, if this, what they are doing to the Zapatista support base compañeros, happened to the Municipal President of Ocosingo, Octavio Albores, would he believe that this is peace? They should think if they want peace. Because they are responsible for everything that may happen or will happen.”
Authorities of the Good Government Junta of La Garrucha
In recent months there has been an escalation of violence on the part of paramilitary groups – disguised as social organizations – against the support bases of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (BAEZLN). In May there was the murder of José Luis Solís López in Caracol I La Realidad, and the destruction of the autonomous school and clinic by the Independent Central of Agricultural Workers and Campesinos – Historical (CIOAC-H). From 25 July until now, members of the Regional Organization of Autonomous Coffee Growers of Ocosingo (ORCAO) have been constantly threatening, harassing with firearms and attacking the BAEZLN of the Autonomous Municipality of San Manuel, part of Caracol III La Garrucha.
The acts of harassment and threats of displacement in the Autonomous Municipality began on 25 July; however, in a communique dated August 14, 2014 and signed by the autonomous authorities of the Caracol of La Garrucha, they say that "we did not want to make it public, due to the sharing (exchange) being held in the Caracol of La Realidad from 4 to 9 August, so as not to interfere with the great sharing between the original peoples of this country." At this meeting Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés told the free media what had happened to the Support Bases of San Manuel:
"What happened there is that the government party supporters, together with the government who organises them to displace us, who want to enter the reclaimed land, came to harass … They came on the 25th, from a village called Pojcol … The land they went to is communal land of the Autonomous Municipality … Then they arrived, they took their positions. They were waiting to see what they would do to them, to get them out, which was not done. Then (July 30) what they did was they sprayed everything … and then they took cattle which the compañeros had there, so they could eat the pasture and they died … again they returned (August 1) at 2 in the morning, about 100 metres away they surrounded the village and started shooting. And then what the compañeros did was to take out the children and women, and the compañeros stayed there, to see if they really would go in. It was a measure in case they were so serious that they would kill … The next night they returned and went in once again. They killed animals as well, but they not only killed them, they also stole them, because they took away the meat, and another of the animals which they could not take down, they left injured."
On August 1, through press bulletin No. 22, the Fray Bartolome de las Casas Human Rights Centre (Frayba) documented the forced displacement of 32 Support Bases from the community of Egipto, belonging to the Caracol of La Garrucha, "The incidents occurred….. when a group of armed people from the Ejido Pojcol, Municipality of Chilón, entered the land for collective work…. and fired gunshots", immediately after, members of the paramilitary organization headed for the autonomous community, so the support bases, in order to avoid attack and confrontation, were forcibly displaced. "On 2nd August, at 0:30 am, walking throughout the night until they came to another Zapatista village."
The attacks against the BAEZLN are executed systematically; there is, without doubt, coordination between ORCAO and CIOAC-H, since the signs demanding justice for compañero Galeano (and which identify Peña Nieto And Manuel Velasco as the main orchestrators of these new attacks) have been burned, in this way demonstrating that the response organised, along with the support of national and international civil society, against the attacks on the Zapatistas, infuriate "the supreme paramilitary chiefs."
The Centre for Human Rights founded by Bishop Samuel Ruíz, in the urgent action issued on August 7, recounts further provocations, and death threats against those who day by day sustain the Zapatista project. On August 6, about 15 armed men, on board trucks coming from the "direction of Pojcol," entered the land for collective work of the Autonomous Municipality of San Manuel; they cut down trees, took away the wood and fired in to the air. When the paramilitaries were leaving the collective land, "as they passed the house of a BAEZLN they fired five shots. At 14:51 pm, while crossing the community of Kexil, they fired two shots at the roof of the home of a BAEZLN of that community. The trucks continued towards the ejido Pojcol."
On August 13, 2014, by agreement of the Zone of the JBG of La Garrucha, the Nuevo Poblado [new community] “San Jacinto" was founded in collective land in the Municipality of San Manuel; it was made up of nine Zapatista families, they built nine houses (in one of them there was a grocery store); The next day, a group of 18 people armed with shotguns and .22 calibre weapons, from the community of Pojcol, municipality of Chilón, surrounded the field for collective work and began shooting into the air for 40 minutes. According to testimonies of people who slept there that night, which were collected by Frayba, the attackers shouted "these weapons we use are from the government", "these lands are ours and do not belong to those fucking Zapatistas,” and gave the support bases 6 hours to leave the area.
Meanwhile, the Good Government Junta of La Garrucha denounced that during these same incidents, the 18 people from Pojcol "fired guns of different calibres, the bullets went in to the walls of the houses, on to the roofs of the houses, and the compañeros were sleeping there and at this time the compañeros had to be withdrawn in the early hours of the morning to seek shelter in another Zapatista village, leaving everything, they just took what they were wearing."
This series of incidents only represents a small example of the recent escalation of violence, which has been implemented by paramilitary groups such as ORCAO and CIOAC-H, with the backing of the local, state and federal governments, against the Zapatistas. They are acts of attrition aimed at undermining the resistance, with the aim of provoking violent responses on the part of the BAEZLN, in order to have an armed pretext, making use of a false discourse around the conflict, calling it "inter-community", with the intention of concealing the true counterinsurgency war in Chiapas.
Brigada a La Garrucha