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rdom: Consolidation of Military Infrastructure in Chiapas


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Date: Thu, 24 Jun 1999 11:26:46 -0400
From: ricardo dominguez <rdom@thing.net>
Subject: Consolidation of Military Infrastructure in Chiapas


La Jornada
Tuesday, June 22, 1999.

Consolidation of Military Infrastructure in Chiapas
Landing Strips, Barracks and New Roads
are Changing the Face of the Selva

Hermann Bellinghausen, correspondent
San Quintin, Chiapas
June 21, 1999.

It is called, without euphemism, Airport Avenue.  It is
a large asphalt runway, in the middle of this immensity
of Selva and paths that, where they do exist, are made
of mud.  It is the indelible tattoo of a military occupation
that has come to stay.  The air base of San Quintin, as the
campesinos say the soldiers say, could, at any time, receive
large warplanes, but now it is being used only for supplies
for the barracks and the population's commercial flights.

The face of San Quintin has been profoundly changed
in the course of just a few years.  Now there is electricity,
dozens of businesses selling products that were, until recently,
unheard of in the Selva, shops, restaurants, cantinas and brothels.
There are also residential units, clinics, schools and numerous
brick buildings.  On all sides, progress reads Pepsi, on the
newly painted walls.

All along the asphalt runway, and a few kilometers
from the Montes Azules biosphere reserve, a long
line of businesses extends, a kind of rustic 'shopping mall,'
attended by tzeltal campesinos for the thousands of
soldiers who live in the community and are the ones
consuming.

At the far end of the airport, towards the community of
Emiliano Zapata and the Miramar Lake, the Army has
built an urban zone, made up of offices, dozens of residential
buildings and sports and military facilities.  A brick wall
hundreds of meters long separates the runway from the military
complex.

The military presence is total.  A large nursery, covered
with hundreds of  square meters of black canvas, guarantees
immediate provisions for the troops.  Not far away, t
he brand-new bridge that crosses the Jatate River
allows direct access, by land, to the Army barracks
in Guadalupe Tepeyac, passing through La Realidad.
Meanwhile, the road (still made of dirt) joins Ocosingo
with Las Margaritas, tracing a large "U" through the
heart of the conflict zone.

Here the roads, the bridges and the services have
arrived for the military facilities.  The material benefits
that manage to reach the communities are
subsidiary, secondary.  Electricity - which
the towns of the Canada are now receiving
- was installed for the San Quintin barracks
and for the camps along the route.

The 'boom' is unequal, certainly.  In service to the
soldiers, the population of San Quintin is living
better, in material terms, than that of La Garrucha or
El Prado, a community in resistance.  Even towns like
Betania, primarily Independent-ARIC (or, that is, not
in rebellion), are trailing behind the visible 'profits' in
PRI localities such as Balboa and San Quintin.  Or in
those places where there are people from diverse
organizations such as Patihuitz, La Soledad and
Romulo Calzada, that are divided (and that will
continue to be so, as long as the Army is occupying
them).

The Failed Paramilitarization

In contrast to other regions in Chiapas, the paramilitary
strategy has not managed to be consolidated in the
Canadas of Ocosingo.  Although there has been talk
of the Ant-Zapatista Indigenous Revolutionary Movement
 (MIRA) for two years, many still deny that it exists.

Nonethless, since the leader of the ARIC, Lazaro Hernandez,
left the deputy seat he gained for the PRI, there has been
an increase in attacks by pro-government civilians against
 campesinos from the Autonomous Municipalities.

Following the 'operations,' such as the one in Taniperla,
or the more recent one in La Trinidad, it has become
clear that counterinsurgency within the tzeltal communities
has its limits.  In general, the indigenous do not appear to
be willing to kill each other, and, if the mechanics of
the denunciations have been persistent, the real effects are few.

That explains, on the one hand, that the only real advance
against the rebel towns depends on the deployment of the
Army, and, on the other, that the state government persist
in its publicity campaign concerning the 'desertions,' all
equally confusing and improbable.  The most recent, dated
June 8, was announced just yesterday:  30 campesinos from
Suschila, in Ocosingo, stated they had left the EZLN,  are,
and say they are, in fact, from the ARIC-Union of Unions,
with an uninspired line of argument.  The 'deserters' say 
in an act of agreement that did not seem to be written
for them, but rather by their enemies:

"We analyze that we have been very deceived during the 23
years of struggle in the Quip-Tic Lecuptesel organization,
and (in the)  course of a few years the regions aligned themselves
changing their name.  Aric-Union of Unions was when the
clandestine organization of a guerrilla nucleus
emerged, and came to form the EZLN, the ARIC and
the EZLN were recruiting more people for the defeat
of the government;  before the armed conflict the
ARIC-Union of Unions in our state was very divided
from the EZLN, that is when the January 1, 1994
conflict arose.  It was months later, when Deputy Lazaro
Hernandez Vazquez launched his candidacy for
president of the ARIC, that the ARIC Union of
Union divided into two parts...another organization
was formed, the ARIC-Independent Democratic, and
so they have been deceiving us even to the point of
allying with the PRD party, to naming our municipal
council, having marches, blocking roads, sit-ins,
takeovers of offices, strikes and suffering in the streets, etc..."

"And this long experience we have suffered through;
 we were also born into the struggle and we were
members of the EZLN, we were also FMM (Mexican
Militia Forces), and we are still members of the ARIC
Independent and Democratic, but during this long experience
of suffering and of hunger we have not been the beneficiary
of any support for our struggle;  the organizational bases
are very unknown and marginalized, those that end up
benefiting are the authorities of the organization, with
two-story houses in the city, with cars, with ranches,
with a good bank deposit, with two or three women, etc."

As far as one is able to determine, these EZLN 'deserters"
are not zapatistas, and they are, in reality, complaining
about the PRI's and about the ARIC.  These would, in
any case, be the only beneficiaries of two-story
houses, cars, ranches, bank accounts and two or
three women.

This confusion does not prevent government press
offices from publicizing the matter as a
"new zapatista desertion."

More theater, or less, the only institutional presence
that matters in Las Canadas is that of the Army.
And it is, simply, the best war machinery deployed
anywhere in the nation.

Translated by irlandesa