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Dozens of indigenous Chiapans flee from paramilitary aggression

Hermann Bellinghausen | 27.09.2012 09:01 | Repression | Social Struggles | Zapatista | Liverpool | World

** The situation in La Dignidad autonomous municipality is grave: Frayba
** The firing of shots forced EZLN supporters to take refuge in other communities
Hermann Bellinghausen

Dozens of indigenous Chiapans flee from paramilitary aggression

Around one hundred indigenous support bases of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) from Comandante Abel and Unión Hidalgo communities, La Dignidad autonomous municipality, in Chiapas, are taking refuge in other communities. The Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Center (Frayba) considers the situation “grave.”

As the Good Government Junta (JBG) of Roberto Barrios denounced last September 8, 73 people from Comandante Abel were displaced by shots from a paramilitary group, linked to what is known as Desarrollo, Paz y Justicia (Development, Peace and Justice), and with the PRI. From September 6 to 19, the number of aggressors rose from 55 to 150, and they have constructed a camp 500 metres from the community. Other Zapatista families have had to abandon Unión Hidalgo, in Sabanilla.

An observation brigade formed by Other Campaign civil organisations and collectives visited the zone to meet with the displaced, and released a comprehensive report. It was able to verify several bullet impact holes in the autonomous school and the cooperative stores, “as well as the digging of foundation trenches 200 metres from the village.” According to the refugees, they have identified AR-15 weapons. During the night, the entrenched aggressors pointed their weapons at them.

Two days before starting their attacks, the paramilitaries met in San Patricio with the officials Eduardo Montoya, Maximiliano Narváez and Noé Castañón León, the latter being the (state) Interior Minister, and agents from Public Security, the report says. Armed individuals in military clothing arrived afterwards. Less that 30 residents remain in the community. Half of the 147 hectares of the village are “occupied” by the invaders. Some women escaped towards the river. “The children went into the woods and mountains without knowing where they were going. The shots came from very close by, buzzing above us, touching the wall of the house,” the women said. One explained: “I was serving customers in the shop; suddenly shots were let loose and the compañeras scattered. We went three days without eating or drinking.” Another relates: “the compañeras hid under rocks and trees; we had two compañeras disappeared. They appeared three days later in San Marcos.”

Since September 16, the state Public Security has had a control (post) at the entrance, which seems to be for protecting the invaders. On September 18, the police fired shots.

The paramilitaries have occupied the autonomous health clinic (casa de salud). “They want to evict the support bases; many cornfields have been invaded. Animals and pastures are being laid waste, the paramilitaries cut the wire fences, and destroy the crops.” They place responsibility on the government: “It is their policy of war and attrition to make us surrender. We will not stop our struggle and we are not going to give up.”

In San Marcos autonomous community, the observers found those displaced from Comandante Abel in “precarious conditions.” Four women are pregnant and there is a “fear of spontaneous abortions.” One of the women who went missing after the attack says: “they chased us with bullets, and when we arrived in this place we were already sick. We did not follow the path, but went through the canyon. I felt like there was a jaguar after me, I was lost and terrified, I felt as if I was no longer in the world.” Now the health promoters and midwives of San Marcos are looking after them.

In Zaquitel Ojo de Agua, there are another twelve people, displaced from Unión Hidalgo, where some young people remain to care for the chickens, pigs and turkeys, without being able to leave. They are threatened by members of the PRI, who hide to shoot at them. Through a loudspeaker the paramilitaries are announcing, “day and night, that they are going to ‘eat’ us, because we are outlaws, we are beyond the reach of justice and the law,” they say. “If the paramilitaries do not succeed in taking over Comandante Abel community, they say that they are going to massacre us.” Members of the Junta declared in their turn: “the government buys people, and then persuades them to take our land.”

Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
En español:

Hermann Bellinghausen
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