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<nettime> 'Integral war of attrition' in the rebel zone of Chiapas
Ricardo Dominguez on Wed, 28 Jan 2004 12:52:58 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> 'Integral war of attrition' in the rebel zone of Chiapas

"Integral war of attrition" in the rebel zone of Chiapas 

Hermann Bellinghausen 
La Jornada, Wednesday, January 21. 2004 

San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, 20th of January.  Just as the low
intensity war (GBI) advances without truce in the rebel territories, so do
the studies and the interpretations on this form of covert war, that
officially "does not exist",  but is part of the daily life of thousands
of indigenous communities in Chiapas.

In these days the concept of the integral war of attrition (GID - "Guerra
Integral de Desgaste") is generalized among activists and human rights
defenders, since in their opinion it is a better description of what is
happening in the specific case of the Chiapas conflict. A small manual of
the Network of Communitarian Human Rights Defenders, of recent and modest
edition, endorsed by several centers and human rights committees working
in the state, defines "integral war" as a war "employing military,
political, economic, psychological, propagandistic, social and cultural
elements, and attempting to affect all aspects of life".

This definition is completed with " attrition", whose "long term objective
is to wear out the civil support base population, to make them abandon
their struggle". The concept is only an update of the original
classification in the military manuals of irregular warfare, those of the
U.S. Pentagon as well as of the Federal Army.

Traditionally described as low, medium and high intensity warfare since
the Vietnam War and throughout the unfortunate Central American
revolutions, the GBI has consisted of a strategy "not basing on
confrontations and shots - although they can be included -  but on many
diverse elements. Its motto is ' to leave the fish without water'. The
'fish' is the guerrilla, and the 'water' the civil support base
population".  (The Low Intensity War or Integral War of Attrition,
 booklet of the Network of Communitarian Defenders, San Cristo'bal de las
Casas, 2003).

"What are the aims of the GID in Chiapas?", the mentioned manual
questions:  "To eliminate the support for the EZLN and to prevent the
development of the autonomy of the organized communities". It is based on
the central objectives of the GID (or GBI). First, "to break the
organization of the civil support base population. This is called
'breaking the social structure'.  In other words, dividing the
communities".  And second, to diminish "the political cost for the
government and the Army;  thus the consequences suffered by the population
in this war are hidden from the national and international public

"Does a GID strategy exist in Chiapas?", the little manual asks, directed
to civil observers and the human rights defenders in the communities, and
the answer is affirmative. "the civil population has an important place in
this strategy, and the control and the harassment, including
military-paramilitary actions,  espionage and counterinsurgency, and
judicial and propagandistic means" are directed against them.

The militarization "affects the life of the communities", while the
paramilitarization ("employed where the GBI has been applied") consists of
"arming and training civil groups to attack the civil population". The
paramilitary groups "serve to carry out the 'dirty work', such as
assassinating, threatening and controlling the civil population, and to
preserve the image of the Army, although it is well documented that it
forms, trains, finances, arms and protects paramilitary groups".

The paramilitarization, so the mentioned manual continues, "serves at the
same time to legitimize the presence of the Federal Army, arguing that the
indigenous are killing each other, and the Army is here to prevent this,
as was maintained when the Acteal massacre occured".

Contrary to the usual claims of the governmental versions, both federal
and local, this manual affirms that the projects or "aids" of the
government are used to destroy the social structure. "the government uses
public resources to divide the communities with 'aids'.  Even worse, in
many cases the municipal governments are in charge of channeling public
resources for the paramilitary groups.  The best example in this regard is
the group Peace and Justice, operating in the Northern Zone".

In order to illustrate the "contrainsurgency" use of certain public
investments, a denuncia of the zapatista Junta of Good Government (JBG) of
los Altos is mentioned, referring to the autonomous municipality 16 de
Febrero (Simojovel) some time last year. The autonomous authorities
announced, that in the communities San Antonio Nuevo Leo'n, Zacato'n Santa
Teresa, Guadalupe Tepeyac and Ejido San Andre's Duraznal "the population
is forced to receive government supports and to sign documents without
knowing what they are. If they do not accept supports and do not sign,
(the campesinos) are harassed and threatened by the PRIistas with the loss
of their lands and expulsion from the community".

As additional information, the manual mentions that "by the end of 1998
the number of the displaced in Chiapas reached 21,000, the majority in the
Northern Zone and los Altos".  In 2004 almost 10,000 people remain in
exile in the mentioned territories.

In order to describe the propaganda utilized by the GID, the manual quotes
a paragraph from the already classic book "The Third Link"  (Editorial
Joaquin Mortiz, Mexico, 1996), by Carlos Fazio: "the systematic
concealment of reality is one of the characteristics of the psychologic
warfare, that attempts to impose the official truth by distorting or
falsifying facts, or inventing others.  This official 'history' prevails
through an intense and very aggressive propagandistic deployment, backed
by the weight of the highest official positions".

The new human rights manual finally offers a methodology to confront the
GID by means of reports and denuncias that are impeccable and convey all
denounced facts as the voice of the affected communities.

* * *

(trans. Dana Aldea) 

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