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Threats to Zapatista centre Roberto Barrios - update

Edinburgh-Chiapas Solidarity Group | 28.08.2003 16:32 | Repression | Social Struggles | Zapatista

The Zapatista centre of Roberto Barrios is still under threat of attack and eviction by paramilitaries backed by the PRI party local government authorites. On 24 August a delegation from six different organisations from "civil society" travelled to Roberto Barrios in Chiapas,Mexico. They reported a tense calm – the support could have caused the paramilitaries to back off – but a real threat remains, and international support is important.

The Zapatistas Here we are and here we will be
The Zapatistas Here we are and here we will be

Earlier, on 21 August, gun shots were fired into the Roberto Barrios “Caracol” where the Zapatistas are constructing a building for the new local “committee of good government”.

Business and government plans for a tourist development at the nearby Bascan River waterfalls are connected to this harassment of the Zapatisa community. The Zapatistas oppose this development, which will not benefit local indigenous people. A recent Zapatista communiqué declared that the Plan Puebla Panama would not be permitted in Zapatista territory.

The network of the community defenders for human rights (Red de Defensores Comunitarios por los Derechos Humanos) of the zone Salto de Agua-Palenque denounced that at midnight on 21 August "the Paramilitaries of the Ejido Roberto Barrios, district Palenque, lead by Francisco Gómez Pérez, gathered to plan the eviction of the Zapatista population of the same community ".

Reportedly, the paramilitaries receive the support of the district government and follow its commands, under the PRI leader Alfredo Cruz Guzmán. The same day, 21 August, the paramilitaries fired 3 volleys of shots on the houses where the indigenous people in the support bases of the EZLN, who are constructing the facilities for the Caracol, spend the night.

The anti Zapatista forces also set up roadblocks, preventing free access to Roberto Barrios, though latest reports are that these have now been dismantled.

The tensions in this “Northern Zone” of Chiapas have increased, since the Zapatistas inaugurated the new regional "Council of good government" on 9 August. On 19 August, the Zapatista Council of good government in Roberto Barrios denounced several threatening manoeuvres and acts of harassment by the Mexican Federal Army in the period 7-14 August.

The Council of the good government of the region "Semilla que va a producir" declared:" all these actions of provocation by the paramilitäries have the aim of destabilizing the autonomous organization of the communities.”

Tension is increasing in many areas of Mexico as the date approaches for the September summit of the World Trade Organisation in Cancun.

See for regular updates in Spanish and English.

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