Friday, May 23, 2008

Army, Police carry out "routine" invasion of San Jerónimo Tulija, Chiapas

The Mexican Army, Chiapas State Police, and the Federal Agency of Investigation (AFI) invaded the community of San Jerónimo Tulija without cause on May 19 and May 20, bursting into homes without warrants, assaulting at least one Zapatista and her baby, and taking photos of the community.

The operation began on May 19 at 11am with a military helicopter fly-by. At 3pm, eleven Army and AFI vehicles filled with approximately 300 agents entered the community. A neighbor from the community, Narciso Morales Gutiérrez, accompanied the operation, showing agents where Zapatista Autonomous Council authorities (community-level Zapatista representatives) lived and who they were. Morales is said to be part of an Infantry Battalion stationed in Cancun.

Without giving any reason for the invasion and without presenting warrants, agents entered three homes, two belonging to Zapatistas and one to a PRI family (members of the Institutional Revolution Party).

In the Zapatista home, an AFI agent grabbed a 21-year-old woman by the neck while she held her 2-year-old baby in her arms. Other agents looked on and shouted, "Kill her already!"

When members of the Fray Bartolome de las Casas Human Rights Center (Frayba) visited San Jerónimo Tulija to document the invasion, they briefly interviewed an agent who identified
himself as Captain Loyola. Captain Loyola told Frayba that the police and military presence was due to "routine reconnaissance." Captain Loyola's superiors promptly terminated the interview, ordering him to say nothing and stay away from Frayba observers.

When journalists questioned the Chiapas state attorney general about the invasion, he stated that the raid was an anti-drug and -arms operation. No drugs or illegal arms were recovered during the raid.

The invasion came just days after the US House of Representatives passed Plan Mexico, which will provide US training and equipment to the Mexican military and police, supposedly for the "war on drugs." The Senate passed the same bill a few days after the invasion. Critics have argued that the "war on drugs" will continue to be used as a pretext for the Mexican government to invade and abuse communities in resistance.

The army, police, and AFI cleared out of San Jerónimo Tulija on May 20, but the community, which belongs to the Zapatista caracol of La Garrucha, remains on alert.

Photos courtesy of the Fray Bartolome de las Casas Human Rights Center.


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