Posted by rdom on January 02, 1998 at 11:17:44:
Mexican rebel leader Subcommander Marcos says the army is planning to attack
Zapatista rebels in the southeast state of Chiapas.
In a statement issued from his stronghold in the Lacandon
jungle in Mexico's southeast, the shadowy guerrilla leader said
soldiers themselves said they were preparing for an assault.
``Here soldiers insist that they are waiting from one moment
to the next for the order to attack,'' Marcos said in the
communique, issued on the eve of the fourth anniversary of the
Zapatistas' 1994 rebellion against the Mexican state.
``The barracks are increasing their numbers and the roads
are full of military roadblocks,'' he said. ``It's a question of
days, the most cautious ones say. Of hours, say the most
The Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) has hidden out
in the Chiapas mountains surrounded by a military cordon since
its 1994 violent uprising in defense of indigenous rights.
The charismatic pipe-smoking Marcos, never seen in public
without a ski-mask over his face, has waged a war of words with
The Ministry of Defense increased the number of troops in
Chiapas after the Dec. 22 massacre by paramilitary gunmen of 45
Tzotzil Indians in Chenalho municipality, a strong Zapatista
Some 5,000 reinforcements were rushed from Yucatan and
Campeche states, adding to 30,000 troops officials say were
already in Chiapas.
They occupied schools in hundreds of villages across the
region. Last week's massacre sharply increased tension in the
region, prompting thousands of Indians to flee their homes.
Both San Cristobal and villages in the mountains have been
rife with rumors that the killings might draw the EZLN into a
clash with the military.
Authorities say that the soldiers' role following the
bloodbath is to protect Indian communities, search for illegal
arms and provide medical care to isolated villages.
But Marcos said the army's true role was more sinister.
``The federal army has manifestly reinforced its garrisons
... particularly in those around La Realidad,'' he said. The
Zapatistas' jungle stronghold is in La Realidad region in the
east of this impoverished Mexican state.
``While the government talks, the army is preparing its
next blow,'' he said.
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