15,000 displaced and Red Cross Leaving Chiapas?

San Cristo’bal de Las Casas, Chiapas – The massive exile of indigenous, primarily EZLN support bases or sympathizers, is still unresolved. Nevertheless, the state government speaks of progress in “reconciliation,” and the International Committee of the Red Cross is preparing its withdrawal from Chiapas – it is said at the request of the federal government – under the assumption that its assistance is no longer necessary.

San Cristo’bal de Las Casas, Chiapas – The massive exile of indigenous, primarily EZLN support bases or sympathizers, is still unresolved. Nevertheless, the state government speaks of progress in “reconciliation,” and the International Committee of the Red Cross is preparing its withdrawal from Chiapas – it is said at the request of the federal government – under the assumption that its assistance is no longer necessary.

Or that they no longer need the shield of the Red Cross, or food and medical attention, let alone support for recovering their lands. Illusions aside,
the 7000 displaced in Polho’, Acteal, Xo’yep. Tzajalchen. Nuevo Yibeljoj and San Cristo’bal de Las Casas – who have up until now been being assisted by that distinguished institution – will watch it leaving as if their circumstances of emergency and precariousness had been resolved. And all the evidence demonstrates that it has not been.

Four thousand displaced in the Northern region, according to a recent census by the Fray Bartolome’ de las Casas Human Rights Center, from fifty communities, remain in their places of refuge.

The most recently displaced are missing from these accounts, since pro-zapatista families in Uzilucum (Chenalho’) and Ri’o Salina Cruz (Marque’s de Comillas) are continuing to be displaced. Those newly displaced by paramilitary violence are living in the most precarious conditions. In Tzabalho’, 40 persons expelled from Uzilucum have been living without homes
since February of this year. They are not receiving services from the Red Cross, from Ca’ritas, nor from the federal government. Dozens of families from Ri’o Salina Cruz are living in hiding along the border with Guatemala.

Justice is Still Unserved

A group from Las Abejas who will attempt a return are voicing the decision of those families
displaced from Yaxemel, Puebla, Los Chorros and Chuctic. They are going on their own and at their own risk, since the paramilitaries who expelled them are still there, the same as ever, threatening.

Hundreds of families are living almost in the open, and they are carrying with them the recent memory of their dead and disappeared through paramilitary violence. In their study, Displaced
Population in Chiapas, 1999, Gustavo Castro and One’simo Hidalgo calculated that the displaced total more than 21,000. Of these, 98% are “against the regime” and they are pro-zapatistas or PRDs.

The Fray Bartolome’ de las Casas Human Rights Center has confirmed, in a yet unpublished partial census, the existence of 2500 families, almost 12,000 people completely uprooted. A source from that Center commented to this correspondent that “they could reach 15,000,” admitting that their census did not take in all the camps of chiapaneco internal exile.

The new state government has attempted a reconciliation commission, with minimal results. The CDHFBC, as well as the Network of Community Defenders, state that the displaced reject “reconciliation without justice.” They want us to be satisfied with pigs and chicks, say the displaced of Jolnixtie’ (Tila).

The government is offering economic programs and reconciliation tables which do not include reparation for damages (if not indemnification), disarmament of paramilitaries and the capture of those guilty of dozens of deaths. According to the Network, the only thing the tables seem to be doing is resolving Peace and Justice’s legal processes. “They end up being agents for the paramilitaries,” related a source from the Network. In addition, “the conditions attached to the benefits offend the victims.”

The War’s Expelled

Eat crap, at the end of the day, it’s maize also, was the response by the municipal president of Villa Corzo to 13 Tzeltal and Tzotzil families
expelled from Nuevo Centro Cimarro’n when they went to ask him for help for their survival. This took place when – expelled by armed PRIs in November of 1998 – the indigenous began their exile in the seat of that municipality, in the Central region of Chiapas.

“They had us put in a room. We ate there, we went to the bathroom there. We couldn’t tolerate that situation,” one of them said. In June of this year, therefore, they moved to Las Piedritas ranch, near Villaflores. Under 4 X 4 meter plastic tarps, they have to huddle together, shoulder to shoulder, in order to keep from getting wet when it rains.

The persecution against them began because they accompanied the 1111 zapatistas who marched to Mexico City three years ago. As a preliminary reprisal, municipal authorities took away their places in the Villa Corzo market. PRIs from Cimarro’n grabbed their lands, homes and animals.

Today they are the poorest of the Chiapas displaced (if such a category has any meaning). They have one single table knife, for everyone, a few plates, the clothes they have on. It is almost a miracle when they eat tostadas and beans.

When can those from the Progreso Ejido (Salto de Agua), Vicente Guerrero (Las Margaritas) or Taniperla (Ocosingo) return to their homes? When will the paramilitaries of Chenalho’, Tila, Sabanilla, Palenque, Ocosingo, be investigated and disarmed? For thousands of indigenous expelled from their places of origin, change has not come. “Without justice there will be no
peace,” say those from Nueva Revolucio’n in Tila (one of the places of refuge most threatened by paramilitaries). Although they are not officially called so, they are the displaced of the war being unleashed against the Indians of Chiapas.

[ also see related items:

New Government Means Increased Militarization in Chiapas – http://www.theexperiment.org/articles.php?news_id=1457

EZLN 101: Subcomandante Marcos Speaks to the Cybernauts – http://www.theexperiment.org/articles.php?news_id=1131

Zapatistas In Cyberspace, A Guide To Analyses and Resources – http://www.theexperiment.org/articles.php?news_id=517 ]

Author: Hermann Bellinghausen (Translated by irlandesa)

News Service: La Jornada – August 11, 2001

URL: http://www.eco.utexas.edu/faculty/Cleaver/chiapas95.html