Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Counterinsurgency operations against indigenous communities in resistance intensify

Fray Bartolome de Las Casas
Human Rights Center

San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas on June 11, 2008
Press Release 13

Counterinsurgency operations against indigenous communities in resistance intensify
  • Military and police accompanied by civilians enter indigenous communities in Chiapas and Guerrero.
  • Aggressions against residents and persecution of members of dissident social organizations during the incursions are reported
Since the beginning of this year, this Human Rights Center has received denunciations of military and police incursions in various communities in Chiapas and Guerrero in a logic of counterinsurgency owed to the fact that said operations operate in a manner of mixed military and police forces along with civilian actors from the same communities, establishing deployment tactics in the territories inhabited by a civilian population organized around just social demands. The testimonies of the assaulted residents are clear and permit the documentation of the harassment of the civilian population, by means of unlawful entry into properties, physical and verbal aggressions, as well as videotaping and photographing of people and places in the assaulted communities.

The establishment of the Mexican army's operations attempt to be justified under the pretext of “detecting Marijuana fields, Arms, and Clandestine Landing strips.” However, the already numerous documented raids allow us to see the heightened counterinsurgency plan by means of the discrediting of the communities and organizations in the public opinion with the objective of “earning the civilian population's support of the government”, moreover, establishing a climate of psychological harassment by means of territorial deployment and reconnaissance, which permits them to also observe the response of the civilian population to such operations.

It should be emphasized that these military incursions are attended by various federal, state, and local actors such as: the Federal Agency of Investigations (AFI in its Spanish initials), Federal and State Public Ministries, the State Preventive Police (PEP in its Spanish initials), and Civilian Residents from the region.

We believe that the series of events are not isolated incidents and that they correspond to a logic of offensives against indigenous populations, particularly those who are in resistance. Those which this Human Rights Center has received information about are the following:
  • Sunday, April 27, 2008, before sunrise, according to direct testimony from the inhabitants of the Community of Cruztón, Venustiano Carranza municipality, Chiapas, a police operation was carried out by approximately 500 police, who were guided by seven armed civilians from the Teopisca municipality and from the Ejido Nuevo Leon in the Venustiano Carranza municipality; seemingly to execute arrest warrants against Cruztón residents.
  • May 19 and 20, members of the Mexican Army accompanied by various police forces entered the community of San Jeronimo Tulija in the official municipality of Chilon and the autonomous rebel Zapatista municipality of Ricardo Flores Magon, where the residents witnessed the unlawful entry of three residences.
    The military operation was made up of a convoy of at least 11 vehicles, among which was documented the presence of forces from the 18th Infantry Battalion of the Mexican Army, the State Preventive Police (PEP), and the Federal Agency of Investigations (AFI), all of them guided by a resident of the community. It's worth emphasizing that it was evident that the tactical movement was set up in order to surround Zapatista community installations where meeting places and health assistance were located, and also directed at the location of the Zapatista autonomous authorities of said community.
  • May 22 in the 28 de Junio and San José, Venustiano Carranza municipality, members of the Emiliano Zapata Peasant Organization-Carranza Region (OCEZ-RC in its Spanish initials) denounced the presence and installation of Mexican Army checkpoints in the neighborhoods of these communities.
    The information we received reports that that day in the morning members of the armed forces began to patrol in 11 communities where the OCEZ-RC has a presence, which are: Santa Rufina Las Perlas, 28 de junio, Nuevo San José La Grandeza, San José La Grandeza 3ra Ampliación, Guadalupe La Cuchilla, Mesa El Porvernir, Las Delicias, El Puerto, Nuevo Paraíso, Laguna Verde, San Caralampio Chavín.
  • On May 23 the residents of the Cruz Palenque, Usipá, Retorno Miguel Alemán y Nuevo Limar communities, in the Tila municipality, expressed their concern about the possible armed incursion of the Mexican Army because in the afternoon they discovered that the Mexican Army began to install intermittent checkpoints in the zone taking positions that altered the population.
  • On May 23 the residents of the Carrizal and Río Florido communities, in the Ocosingo municipality, reported low flybys by the Mexican Armed Forces and on the 26th of the same month, flybys happened again in these communities and also in the Chalam del Carmen community. In these three communities there are members of the OCEZ-FNLS organization.
  • On May 27 in the neighborhoods of the ejido “Nuevo Chamizal,” in the Ocosingo municipality, the presence of members of the Mexican Army, agents from the Federal Attorney General's Office (PGR in its Spanish initials), from the State Preventive Police (PEP), and civilians were reported, supposedly in order to destroy marijuana fields in Zapatista territory. However, the information received by this Center reports that there are no EZLN members in the zone of the raid.
  • On the same May 27, an article published in La Jornada the next day reported the eviction of the towns El Semental and Nuevo Salvador Allende, located in the Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve. It was reported that the Federal Attorney General's Office for Environmental Protection (Profepa in its Spanish abbreviation) participated in the operation, supported by the Federal Police, the Federal Attorney General's Office (PGR), and members of the Mexican Army. They justified the operation in the name of the Zero Tolerance for Clandestine Tree-felling program.
  • On May 29 residents of the El Carrizal community, Ocosingo municipality, reported this Center that a convoy comprised of 9 federal army buses and 3 State Preventive Police (PEP) trucks, accompanied also by Ocosingo municipal police, tried to enter said community. However, upon noticing it, women from the Emiliano Zapata Peasant Organization (OCEZ) of the National Front of Struggle for Socialism (FNLS in its Spanish initials) formed a human circle that impeded their passage. Rio florido, Chuina
    Members of the army justified themselves saying that they were on their way to lands in the neighboring municipality of Oxchuc, where they had supposedly located marijuana fields, insisting that the operation was accompanied by members of the Public Ministry, the Ocosingo City Council, and personnel from the State Human Rights Commission (CEDH in its Spanish initials). However, none of these agreed to identify themselves to the population.
  • On June 4 the “El Camino del Futuro” Good Government Council headquartered in the La Garrucha caracol, Ocosingo, denounced the incursion of a military convoy that was accompanied by municipal police, state public security, and the Federal Agency of Investigation (AFI) in the La Garracha, Rancho Alegre (known as Chapuyil), Hermenegildo Galeana, San Alejandro.
    In this action, qualified as a provocation against the EZLN, soldiers assigned to the Tonina, Patiwitz, and San Quintin barracks. However, after the rebuff of the military incursion, members of the Mexican Army warned that they would return in 15 days in order to enter the communities which resisted this time.
    This military incursion, simultaneously carried out in different communities on the perimeter of caracol III “Resistencia Hacia un Nuevo Amanecer,” appears to be particularly serious given that it puts peace in serious peril owed to the fact that it is a provocation of the Mexican government towards the EZLN, with whom it supposedly maintains a ceasefire in which it was agreed to not carry out military actions against said insurgent organization, being that the La Garrucha community is the headquarters of the “El Camino del futuro” Good Government Council, as well as an emblematic space for the Zapatista struggle. Therefor we assure again that said military operations are framed in the Counterinsurgency Plan.
On the other hand it is important to observe and pay attention to the denunciations that various organizations and communities in Guerrero State have made to denounce the incursion of the Mexican Army under patterns of action similar to those which we've recorded in Chiapas.

  • In August 2007 the Human Rights Center of La Montana “Tlachinollan” denounced that members of the Mexican Army, presumed agents from the Federal Agency of Investigation (AFI) and from the Ministerial Investigative Police (PIM), remained active in the Nahual indigenous communities of Temalacatzingo and Tlaquilcingo, in the La Montana region, warning the population that they would carry out searches of their houses.
    On August 11, 2007, ten PIM vehicles entered Tlaquilcingo, and on August 15 some one hundred soldiers erected a checkpoint very close to Temalacatzingo; afterwards, at approximately 1 am, they arrived at the community in their vehicles and, without consulting the community authorities, established a camp on the edge of the town, within the territory of Community Goods. They remained there for three days, searching and interrogating the neighbors at a checkpoint that they established in the route that connects Temalacatzingo with Ixcamilpa.
  • On April 28, 2008, the Regional Coordinating Council of Community Authorities (CRAC in its Spanish initials) demanded that the Mexican Army, the Federal Agency of Investigations (AFI), and the Ministerial Investigative Police (PIM) leave the communities that requested the departure of the Army and the police that set up checkpoints at the entrances of El Limon, El Camalote, Te Cruz, Lomotepec, and Barranca de Guadalupe, in Ayutla weeks ago.
    In this respect, various regional commanders of the Community Police (in la Costa Chica and Montaña, Guerrero) announced that they would also support members of the Me'phaa communities and closely watch the moves of the Army and the AFI. Both forces have also carried out operations in Colombia de Guadalupe, Malinaltepec municipality, in search of supposed kidnappers.
    Throughout 2008, the denunciations regarding military incursions in the Sierra in Guerrero have been constant. The climate of polarization in the southeast regions of the country resembles past decades where the persecution of organizations and communities in resistance was exacerbated to the point of provoking confrontations in order to reactivate the unresolved internal armed conflict.
This Human Rights Center expresses its concern for the clear intensification of the Counterinsurgency Plan against indigenous communities, particularly in those where members of peasant and indigenous organizations who are organized around just demands have a presence. The above puts social stability, respect of Human Rights, and communities in serious danger.

As a Human Rights Center we remind the Mexican government that Democracy requires full respect for Human Rights in general and in this case the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples, and not what is happening how, where paying attention to the peoples' demands means the implementation of military operations that tend to destroy the will to demand social justice.
As has been demonstrated since 1994, the mobilization of civil society has been a fundamental component in defense of the communities faced with attempted military incursions. For this reason we make a call to be alert during this worsening of the Counterinsurgency Plan against organized indigenous communities.

Translated by Kristin Bricker
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