On May 22, approximately 100 Mexican Army troops surrounded or entered the communitites of Laguna Verde, 28 de Junio, Guadalupe la Cuchilla and San José la Grandeza, members of the Emiliano Zapata Campesino Organization – Venustiano Carranza Region (OCEZ-RC Organización Campesina Emiliano Zapata – Región Venustiano Carranza) and set up road blocks along the access roads to the communities.
Days earlier, members of the OCEZ-RC joined a group of some 600 campesinos in a trip to the Chiapas state capital, Tuxtla Gutiérrez, demanding land rights, the central cause behind their movement.The day of the military incursion, the majority of the residents of 28 de Junio were not present in the community when the army arrived as they were in meetings in the near by municipal seat, Venustiano Carranza.In addition the operation took place within 24 hours after the team of international observers who were posted in 28 de Junio had left.All of these facts point to a calculated military operation on the part of the Mexican Army.
This is not the first case of a military incursion in the area. On August 28, 2007, a similar operation was carried out in the same communities and resulted in the installation of international observers from the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Center (FrayBa, Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Bartolomé de las Casas). The army has long accused the communities of being armed and having a connection to the Revolutionary Popular Army (EPR, Ejercito Popular Revolucionario, known for its recent attacks on petroleum installations in several states in Mexico) the result of which has been the use of military incursions in the communities in search of weapons.
In addition to military incursions, these communities have experienced other forms of harassment among others the displacement of the community of Santa Runfina Las Perlas in early August of 2007 and the killing of two day laborers from the community of Laguna Verde later that year in December.
On May 25, SIPAZ conducted various interviews with member of the affected OCEZ-RC communities. To view the interviews (in Spanish) click here.
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