On December 22, 1997, 45 Tzotzil men, women and children, were massacred in the village of Aj'teal, Chiapas. The massacre began when members of paramilitary forces entered a church were the victims were praying and opened fire. Many were shot at point-blank range and many were apparently hacked to death in nearby rivers and canyons. Only nine of the victims were men. On friday, December 26, Mexico's Federal Public Prosecutor, Jorge Madrazo, said the deaths of the Tzotzil Indian victims were the result of a family feud over power that had raged for years in the area. Patria Jimenez Flores, federal deputy for the left-wing Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) denounced the official explanation saying, "The government is calling it a confrontation between communities. It's not a confrontation, it's a massacre." The official explanation does not explain the huge military build-up after the killings, or why the murderers were using army-issued AK-47s and were dressed in blue uniforms. A total of 39 people have been arrested in connection with the massacre but the Mexican authorities have focused their investigation on the small-town mayor Jacinto Arias Cruz, accused of instigating the crime. "He (Arias) previously had threatened the group that was attacked, he had threatened them with death," said Deputy Attorney General Jose Luis Ramos. Arias has admitted in open court to supplying the weapons but denied giving orders to shoot. He was jailed and removed from office. Opposition parties want the resignation of Interior Minister Emilio Chuayffet and Chiapas Gov. Julio Cesar Ruiz. Both are accused of ignoring repeated warnings of trouble even as the killings got under way. The government, fending off calls calls for the state governor and the federal interior minister to resign, has sharply stepped up its military presence in Chiapas in an effort to assure peace. Zapatista leader, Subcomandante Marcos, issueda comunique warning that the Mexican military was preparing to attack. "The federal army has manifestly reinforced its garrisons...particularly in those around La Realidad. While the government talks, the army is preparing its next blow." In the first few days of the new year, the Mexican army conducted a weekend operation in the heart of Zapatista guerrilla territory. Army helicopters and warplanes buzzed overhead on Saturday, while roadblocks were set up around La Realidad. The Zapatistas accused the army late on Saturday of mounting an operation designed to close in on their leader Subcomandante Marcos. The army said that it was simply looking for illegal firearms and accused the Zapatistas of a disinformation campaign in league with the local Roman Catholic church. The army withdrew on Sunday surrounded by accusations of harassment and torture against the Indigenous population. The weekend incursion was believed to be the deepest the army has penetrated into La Realidad since its withdrawal following a 1995 partial peace accord.
DEMONSTRATE AND RESIST
Demonstration Sunday, January 11 at 12 noon, 24th St. and Mission BART
Vigil beginning Monday, January 5 in front of the Mexican Consulate, Market at Powell
Call the General Consulate of Mexico in San Francisco: Mr. Cesar Lajud, Consul of Mexico: (415) 392-6576 or 392-8311 FAX: (415) 392-3233
JOIN US TO DEMAND:
*self-determination and self-government for the indigenous communities of Mexico
*an end to US military aid to Mexico
*an independent investigation into the Dec. 22 massacre
*the guaranteed safe return of the 4500 displaced people in Chenalho
*the disbanding of paramilitary groups throughout Chiapas
*the withdrawal of the Mexican army from Chiapas
--Demonstration sponsored by the Dec. 22 Coalition to Protest the Massacres in Chiapas, (415) 550-1101. Vigil hotline: call (415) 273-5881. For more info, call Comite Emiliano Zapata, (510) 654-9587--
Manifestación Domingo 11 de Enero,
12PM, al Estacion del BART Mission y 24th
Vigilia empieza 5 de Enero al Consulado Mexicano (calle Market con Powell)
Llame al Consulado de México en San Francisco:
Sr. César Lajud, Cónsul de México: (415) 392-6576 y 392-8311. FAX (415) 392-3233
*alto a la ayuda militar de los Estados Unidos al gobierno de México.
*la creación de una Comisión Independiente para identificar y castigar a los responsables.
*el regreso de los 4500 desplazados en la región de Chenalho con plenas garantías de seguridad
*desmantelamiento de todos los grupos paramilitares que operan con el apoyo del gobierno estatal.
*retiro inmediato del Ejercito Federal de todo el Estado de Chiapas.
*que el gobierno federal cumpla su palabra en los acuerdos firmados de San Andrés en 1996 y reconozca el derecho de auto-gobierno de las comunidades Indígenas.
--Manifestación patrocinado por la Coalición de Dic.22 en Protesta por la Masacre en Chiapas, (415) 550-1101. Vigilia información: (415) 273-5881. Para más información, llame al Comité Emiliano Zapata, (510) 654-9587--