ricardo dominguez on 13 Aug 2000 01:35:15 -0000

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[Nettime-bold] Fw: En;Jornada,Chiapas elections and the "dark past",Aug 09


INTRO:  Mexican human rights activists are expressing concern about the
situation in the southern state of Chiapas, where violence has flared ahead
of local elections on August 20th.  VOA's Michael Drudge has details from
Mexico City.

TEXT:  Fears of violence and voter intimidation have led Mexican human
rights advocates to launch an appeal for international support in the
run-up to the August 20th elections for Chiapas state governor.

The Mexican Commission for the Defense and Promotion of Human Rights is
calling on the United Nations and the Organization of American States to
join non-government groups in monitoring the situation in Chiapas.

The co-director of the commission is Paulina Vega Gonzalez.


Ms. Vega Gonzalez says the current conditions in Chiapas could jeopardize
the transparency and peaceful conduct of the elections.

She mentioned the actions of a paramilitary group, which recently expelled
about 90 residents and seized control of the Chiapan village of El Paraiso.
Several houses were burned.

The expelled villagers are sympathizers of the Zapatista National
Liberation Army, a rebel group that surfaced six years ago to fight for
Indian rights.

Hundreds of army troops and federal agents descended on El Paraiso
Wednesday in a raid against the paramilitary group. However, no arrests
were made and only one weapon was seized. Villagers said the paramilitaries
fled when they heard the approaching army helicopters.

Human rights investigators say the paramilitary groups are aligned with
wealthy ranchers and the Chiapas branch of the Institutional Revolutionary
Party, known as the PRI (pron: PREE).

The ruling PRI is facing tough competition in its quest to retain control
of the Chiapas governorship.  Polls show challenger Pedro Salazar with a
commanding lead over the PRI's candidate, Sami David.  (SIGNED)


10-Aug-2000 16:18 PM EDT (10-Aug-2000 2018 UTC)

Source: Voice of America

>Originally published in Spanish by La Jornada
>Translated by irlandesa
>La Jornada
>Wednesday, August 9, 2000.
>It's In the Air:  Many People Are Voting For Opposition in Chiapas
>        The Crisis of PRIismo In the Countryside Comes To Light
>        In This Climate Paramilitaries Really Do Exist
>Hermann Bellinghausen, correspondent.
>San Cristo'bal de Las Casas, Chiapas.
>August 8.
>A nervousness is running through Chiapas:  that of a party which could be
>losing power here as well.  The series of events and slander campaigns
>confirm it.  It's in the air, many people in the street are proclaiming
>that they will be voting for the opposition.  And, in the countryside, the
>traditional pool for the 'green vote,' the pilgrimage by the national CEN
>leader, Heladio Rami'rez, was not enough to cover up a real crisis in
>PRIismo during these times of the interim government of the interim.  There
>is speculation in official circles over a new interim, in case the
>electoral waters become even more agitated.  An interim that would fall,
>supposedly, to a member of the 'tricolor' party.  A new senator, for
>example.  This was the climate in which the proclamation by paramilitaries
>took place as forces which really do exist.
>The wing of Peace and Justice which debuted in Yajalo'n two weeks before
>state elections - expelling an entire community, by the name of Tierra y
>Libertad, firing shots from R-15s and M-2s - is the same one which, two
>days previously, had occupied the mayor's office, also in Yajalo'n, refused
>to recognize Governor Roberto Albores Guille'n and declared a paramilitary
>"autonomous municipality" which lasted for 24 hours (the same ones which
>got the state government to sit down to negotiate an extremely convenient
>financial package with the group headed by Marcos Albino Torres).
>Nonetheless, in their recent armed attack against zapatista campesinos from
>Tierra y Libertad, they were wearing combat uniforms and they were using
>weapons for the exclusive use of the army.
>This wing, identified with former Deputy Samuel Sa'nchez, was expelled by
>the Peace and Justice assembly - a PRI group which operates in the northern
>region of the state.  They were accused of being, precisely,
>paramilitaries.  They generally mobilize in Tila especially, but now they
>have come down to take refuge in Yajalo'n, and they don't have a bad
> two defiant public appearances in one month.  The first appealed to the
>state government.  The second, directed against the PRD and EZLN support
>bases, was an attempt to create a radically new situation.
>As is well known, it is not the first time this organization has carried
>out violent attacks against the communities in resistance.  Their members
>have been carrying out ambushes along the roads - which they, in fact,
>control - in Tila, Sabanilla and Salto de Agua, laying siege to and
>dislocating villages, at the cost of many lives, since 1995.  But on August
>3 they waited for the media, and the leader, Mario Cruz, claimed
>responsibility for the action.  The armed civilians posed for photographs,
>and they sent an implicit message to the Special Prosecutor for Crimes
>Committed by Probably Armed Civilian Groups, of the PGR:  they are not
>probable, but proven.
>In response, PRD federal Deputy Manuel Pe'rez said that "the PGR's special
>group for fighting armed civilian groups should act immediately and arrest
>the paramilitaries who violently dislocated dozens of Chol families in the
>community of Tierra y Libertad last Thursday."
>The predio in dispute has a typical history.  The leader of the attack
>himself, Mario Cruz, described it clearly:  the lands, the property of
>Rodolfo Domi'nguez, were acquired by the state government, which gave them
>to PRIs through a trust in 1997, despite the fact that they were already
>inhabited by the ones who have been expelled today.  The history of Chiapas
>is marked by these kinds of procedures to divide and confront campesinos.
>"We burned five houses," Cruz said, at the same time denying that there had
>been any injuries among those expelled.  Despite the fact that Elmar
>Herna'ndez Cruz, at least, had been shot in the left hand and  dozens of
>persons had been beaten up.
>In the case of Tierra y Libertad, ten miles from the municipal seat of
>Yajalo'n, the state police, the Public Ministry and legal investigators
>all reacted with unusual calm and slowness.  The state Attorney General,
>Eduardo Montoya Lie'vano, expressed doubt concerning the authenticity of
>photographs and the statements by the paramilitary group.  He even
>suggested, as usual, that the action might have been perpetrated by
>The chiapaneco Attorney General's personal style of accusation should not
>be underestimated.  Despite the fact that the PGR demonstrated a PRI
>group's guilt in the killing of police officers in El Bosque this June, the
>PGJE [state Attorney General's Office] insisted on incriminating and
>imprisoning a zapatista indigenous from Union Progreso, after having
>planted marijuana in Bochil in order to be able to detain him with the
>entirety of the law.  Salvador Lo'pez Gonza'lez is currently paying for the
>Attorney General's hunches in the Cerro Hueco jail.
>PRI Offensive
>Coinciding with the attack on Tierra y Libertad (in the area previously
>known as El Parai'so), Roberto Madrazo, the governor of Tabasco, was making
>a swing - also in the northern region of Chiapas - in support of PRI
>candidate Sami David David.
>The combativeness of the PRI has to do with the adverse electoral climate
>which exists in Chiapas now, where polls are showing that opponent Pablo
>Salazar Mendiguchi'a has a quite wide lead.
>The strange attack on Sami David in Soyalo', during the same time period,
>has triggered a fierce wave of statements against the candidate of the
>Alliance for Chiapas - nominated by the PAN, the PRD and various other
>parties, local and national.  Virulent slander, feelings running high and
>Procampo and Progresa bills to cover characterize the pre-election climate
>in PRI areas.
>In what would appear to be a criticism of the Albores regime (in any case,
>there is no other), the PRI candidate said yesterday:  "My proposal is to
>overcome the dark past forever and to build a new normalcy in political
>work which will strengthen democratic life."
>The nervousness - which has been the PRI constant since July 2 - takes on
>different forms according to who is expressing it.  In a state where there
>are 280,000 women affiliated with Progresa - who are being very well looked
>after - vote buying is open, unpunished and still official.  The
>considerable irregularities during the recent elections (which inexplicably
>passed unnoticed by the IFE as well as by observers who went to Chiapas in
>order to "safeguard" the elections) could be repeated on Sunday, the 20th.
>Social investment and the media continue to be in the hands of the old
>regime.  Judicial bodies and police forces, as well.  The latest incidents
>leave no room for doubt.
>The PRI defections in Los Altos - which have reached several thousand in
>the pro-government bastions of San Juan Chamula and Chenalho' - tenaciously
>covered up - may perhaps have no weight in the polls (fundamentally urban),
>but they do in the 'tricolor' state of mind.  And they will, presumably,
>have an influence at the voting booth.
>Showing off his scabs and bruises - but not the fainting and confusion
>experienced in Soyalo' - the PRI standard-bearer is now being exhibited as
>the victim of barbarism, although he is painted as being "firm and sure" in
>all the day's news articles.  Not a few people are calling for intervention
>by the federal army and the Department of Government in order to "control"
>Salazar Mendiguchi'a's purported followers.  While at the same time they
>ignore Peace and Justice's scenographic operation which left several
>wounded and a people thrown to the mountain.
>In the Chiapas of the "dark past" - alluded to by Sami David - it has been
>well known that the lives of the indigenous are worth less than any other
>class of persons.  The disparity between the current scandals confirms the
>persistence of that darkness.
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