Authorities, Working Through an Alleged Paramilitary Group, Plan to "Relocate" the
Inhabitants; Civil Groups Called to Boycott Tourism of the Agua Azul Falls
By Hermann Bellinghausen
December 13, 2007
In view of the tension created by the aggressions of Institutional Revolutionary
Party (PRI)-affiliated armed groups against the Zapatista community Bolom Ajaw in
the region of the Agua Azul river, which has been used for decades as a resort and
tourist center, civil organizations and members of the Other Campaign in Chiapas
have installed an observation camp in the threatened community.
The Center for Political Analysis and Social and Economic Investigations (CAPISE)
has called on international civil society and organizations to address their
ministries or Departments of tourism and the travel agencies in their countries, to
"inform them about the incidents at the Agua Azul waterfall and to carry out a
campaign with the demand: No visits to the Agua Azul Cascades, until the aggressions
and eviction threats against the families of the community Bolom Ajaw have stopped!"
The call proposes that organizations in Mexico and other countries that heed the
call send protest letters to President Felipe Calderón, tourism minister Rodolfo
Elizondo Torres and the government secretary Francisco Ramírez Acuña.
CAPISE also calls for public demonstrations "against the aggressions to which the
inhabitants of Bolom Ajaw and the Zapatista communities are subjected, to visit
Mexican travel agencies and inform them about the incidents in Agua Azul," and to
invite them to not send tourists to the waterfall.
"In view of the serious situation to which the Zapatista families are subjected, in
the context of total impunity with which the OPDDIC members of the Ejido Agua Azul
are operating," a special "Land and Territory Observation Brigade" (BEOTT in its
Spanish initials) departed to Bolom Ajaw on November 28, to "offer assistance to the
women, men, children and the elderly of the community Bolom Ajaw."
On the same day Chiapas governor Juan Sabines Guerrero requested the Office of the
General Attorney of the Republic (PGR) to investigate the denunciations against the
OPDDIC in Bolom Ajaw and the Ejido Agua Azul. Nevertheless, on November 29 in the
afternoon, an armed group of OPDDIC members fired repeatedly on the Zapatista
community, from a distance of 200 and 150 meters. The shots were fired mainly with
large caliber weapons, as reported by the Good Government Junta of Morelia and later
confirmed by the BEOTT.
On the morning of November 30 a blue-and-white helicopter of the state Public
Security agency circled for 15 minutes over the community Bolom Ajaw and its
The community has identified more than 20 persons from Agua Azul who have
participated in the recent shootings against the unarmed population of Bolom Ajaw.
Among them are Jerónimo Urbina López and Juan Urbina López, Jeremías López
Hernández, Salomón Moreno Estrada, Miguel Silvano Hernández, Juan García, Marcos
López Moreno, Manuel, Santiago and Adolfo Cruz López.
The "agrarian dispute" (according to all indications artificially instigated) lodged
by the OPDDIC on the Agua Azul river against Bolom Ajaw concerns the lands recovered
by Zapatista support bases, which previously to the rebellion of 1994 belonged to a
private estate. The belligerence of the OPDDIC comes along with pressure from the
National Commission of Protected Natural Areas, the Secretariat of Government of
Chiapas, the Palenque Public Prosecutor's Office and tourism officials - together
constituting, if one takes a good look, a contradictory salad of interests.
Are these PRI-affiliated campesinos wishing to extend their fields, federal agencies
trying to "conserve" an area until now well-preserved and almost untouched, or
entrepreneurial and governmental interests seeking to expand the tourism "supply" in
these places of great beauty, where waterfalls and forests are still waiting to be
exploited by consumerism and services?
In any case, as repeatedly indicated, the federal, state and municipal authorities
which have intervened in certain moments of the presumed conflict have expressed to
the inhabitants of Bolom Ajaw directly, and on some occasions to the CAPISE, their
interest to "relocate" the Zapatista grassroots communities - that is, to displace
Until now, the instrument to achieve this has been the OPDDIC, considered a
paramilitary group in several indigenous regions in the Lacandon Jungle and the
northern zone, where it is also assaulting and threatening Zapatista communities in
the autonomous municipalities San Manuel, Francisco Gómez, Olga Isabel, 17 de
Noviembre, La Paz and Ricardo Flores Magón. In addition, under the same name of
OPDDIC, at the end of September an alleged paramilitary group released death threats
against the autonomous council of San Andrés Sakamch'én de los Pobres, in Los Altos.
Published in La Jornada in Spanish, December 6, 2007