Posted by AFSC San Diego on January 11, 1998 at 15:02:10:
In Reply to: Worldwide Chiaps Protest Statics--2.0 posted by rdom on January 11, 1998 at 15:00:06:
EMERGENCY DELEGATION FOR PEACE IN CHIAPAS
Friday, January 9, 1998
San Cristobal de las Casas
Report on visit to Mayan communities of Acteal, Polho and Oventic, Chiapas,
January 8-9, 1998.
* CRITICAL NEED FOR HUMANITARIAN AID AND INTERNATIONAL OBSERVERS
* URGENT CALL TO SAVE LIFE OF MANUEL RUIZ PALOMA, DISAPPEARED 1/3/98
* DEMAND A NEW CEASE FIRE ON JANUARY 12 -- ANNIVERSARY OF FIRST CEASE
* PRESENTATION AT THE ANGEL DE LA INDEPENDENCIA, MEXICO CITY,
SUNDAY, JANUARY 11, 12:00 NOON
On Thursday, January 8, and Friday, January 9, 1998, the Emergency
Delegation for Peace in Chiapas visited several Mayan communities, in an
investigation of the escalating crisis in this southeastern Mexican state.
There they observed firsthand the dismal living conditions of
refugees displaced from their communities, and witnessed with alarm the
intense military activity throughout the Chiapan highlands.
"There is an immediate and critical need for both humanitarian aid and
international observers in the Chiapas highlands," emphasized delegation
leader Peter Brown.
On Thursday, January 8, the Emergency Delegation for Peace in Chiapas
visited the villages of Acteal and Polho. According to delegation members,
humanitarian aid from Mexico City including food and clothing has been
successfully received in Polho and has been sent on to Acteal.
"People are eating," reported Brown. "But money is urgently needed for the
construction of temporary wood housing for the refugees. Entire families
are living under pieces of plastic sheeting."
In the village of Acteal, members of the delegation stood silently with
lighted candles beside the burial site of the 45 men, women and children
gunned down by paramilitary troops in the December 22nd massacre.
In the community of Polho, according to Brown, children have been unable to
attend school because their schoolhouse is full of refugees from surrounding
In many other communities, the schoolhouses have been commandeered as
barracks for military troops. The delegation learned that the Army has now
entered the communities of Moises Ghandy, Sibacja,
El Prado, Pacayal, Uk'umilja, Santo Domingo, and Latzbilja.
According to a communique signed by Commandante David on January 8, the
military is steadily pushing into the mountains toward the positions of the
EZLN. Delegation members observed many military checkpoints as they
traveled between communities, and affirm that the military seems to be
advancing on all fronts.
On Friday, January 9, the Emergency Delegation for Peace in Chiapas visited
Oventic Aguascalientes II, site of the Secundaria (Middle School) being
constructed by international volunteers. They found that community members
have returned to Oventic from the mountains, after being forced out by
threat of military attack earlier this month. However, they also learned
that the hospital in Oventic has been closed for the past two days due to
the intense military pressure throughout the Chiapan highlands
On the morning of December 9, delegation members met with several U.S.
citizens who were captured by the Mexican military when it moved into the
area where they were staying, and were finally released only after community
members organized in their defense. A full report on this
incident will follow.
The delegation also learned that Manuel Ruiz Paloma, a member of the
Zapatista support base community of Yabteclum, was disappeared last
Saturday, January 3 and is still missing. They issued an urgent call to
save this man's life by demanding information on his safety. More
details will follow soon.
Also on Friday, January 9, the Emergency Delegation for Peace in Chiapas met
with the Municipal Autonomous Authority of San Andres Sakamch'en de los
Pobres/Larrainzar, site of the 1995 Peace Accords. "The Municipal Authority
is very concerned about the increasing military pressure in the area,"
reported Brown. "We saw judicial police walking the streets with high
"The emergency delegation is extremely alarmed by the intense military
activity we witnessed firsthand in the communities we visited," emphasized
Brown. "We call for a new cease-fire, to begin on January 12, 1998 -- the
anniversary of the first cease-fire in 1994."
Members of the Emergency Delegation for Peace in Chiapas will make a
presentation of their findings at the Angel de la Independencia in Mexico
City at 12 noon on Sunday, January 11.
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