Posted by rdom on February 27, 1998 at 11:17:35:
MEXICO CITY, Feb 26 (AFP) - A 67-year-old Roman Catholic priest
from France who has worked with Chiapas Indians for 32 years was
expelled for carrying out political activities, the Mexican interior
Michel Henry Jean Chanteau, priest in the Chiapas village of
Chenalho where a massacre of 45 Indians occurred in December, was
seen being escorted Thursday by immigration officials to an Air
France jetliner that took off for Paris.
"This is one more violation of individual and human rights and a
direct aggression on the diocese and the Chiapas mediation" process,
said Bishop Samuel Ruiz, who heads the National Mediation Committee
seeking peace between the government and the rebel Zapatista
National Liberation Army in the impoverished southern state.
Father Chanteau, Ruiz said, "wasn't harming anybody. He'd been
living in his diocese for 32 years and at 67 and wanted to die in
Chanteau is the latest of several foreigners expelled from
Mexico this year for participating in political activities that are
declared off-limits to visitors.
This is part of a government crackdown on "foreign interference
in domestic affairs," as the National Migration Institute explained
in a statement a week ago.
The crackdown is part of a new government strategy to deal with
the simmering Chiapas conflict.
A justice ministry statement said Chanteau had "said in public
that the Acteal massacre -- in his township of Chenalho -- was
planned by the government to destroy the Zapatistas' support
The statement was referring to the December massacre of 45
Tzotzil Indians in Acteal. The massacre is still under
The statement said the priest admitted having been in contact
for three years with a Zapatista representative in Chenalho.
Felipe Toussaint, a church representative from San Cristobal,
also in Chiapas, said immigration authorities kept Chanteau
"incommunicado all day" after his arrest and refused to tell church
authorities were he was being detained.
Toussaint also said the government for years had refused to
acknowlege Chanteau's right as a priest to travel and reside in
A statement from a Catholic group called Fray Bartolome de las
Casas said Chanteau's expulsion coincides with hearings by the
Interamerican Human Rights Committee on the expulsion of three other
religious leaders from San Cristobal in June 1995.
The National Network of Human Rights Organizations, in another
statement, accused Mexico of "carrying out a hysterical policy
typical of authoritarian governments," which rather than helping
settle things in Chiapas "is making the peace dialogue more
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