Mexico: The planning and execution of a paramilitary attack

Autor(a): Hermann Bellinghausen/La Jornada Fecha: 6:27pm Viernes 23 Agosto 2002

The Quexil crossroads attack, step by step. Names and weapons listed.
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Originally published in Spanish by La Jornada
Translated by irlandesa

La Jornada
Thursday, August 22, 2002.

PRI Groups and Officials Planned Attack on Zapatista
Bases in Ocosingo

Hermann Bellinghausen, correspondent

San Manuel Autonomous Municipality, Chiapas.
August 21.

Some 200 PRI members or sympathizers from the Organization for the Defense
of Indigenous and Campesino Rights (OPDIC) left their communities on
Sunday night for the purpose of attacking EZLN support bases in Nuevo
Jerusalén and the Quexil crossroads. Various statements confirm that the
PRIs left their houses armed with machetes and firearms for the purpose of
“getting rid of” the zapatista checkpoints in the above noted locations.

The mobilization had a 'front”: the Organizations of the Selva Front
(FOS), an all-purpose PRI body which acts whenever it is necessary. That
group summoned PRI activists in the Ocosingo cañadas for an event in the
central park of the municipal seat on the 19th, purportedly 'against the
Plan Puebla-Panama (PPP)” and in order to formulate government demands.
Everything indicates that Deputy Pedro Chulín Jiménez, the leader of
OPDIC, who is allied with PRI Mayor Omar Burguete, disguised the attack on
the zapatistas as an FOS political mobilization.

As in Macondo, there were 'coincidences” here. The PRD Coalition of
Autonomous Organizations of Ocosingo (COAO) had been organizing a
mobilization against the PPP for some time. It was the COAO itself which
warned, starting last week, that OPDIC was going to attack the zapatistas
on Monday morning. In addition, the COAO also feared a provocation by the
PRIs against their people.

'We knew from three in the morning that they were already coming. The
compañeros from the Ricardo Flores Magón municipality had warned us,” the
president of the San Manuel Autonomous Council told La Jornada. 'The
compañeros from Flores Magón withdrew when the convoy of PRIs passed by,
so there weren't any problems there.”

When they saw that they weren't getting the fight they were looking for,
the OPDIC people stopped in another zapatista community, San Pedro, a
little before dawn. They went into the house of a village authority and
attempted to catch him. They were unsuccessful, and they continued on
their way to Ocosingo. When they reached Nuevo Guadalupe, at the Quexil
crossroads, the caravan of at least 24 vehicles, including a microbus,
took up a long stretch of the road after six in the morning.

The representative of the San Manuel Autonomous Municipality explained
that 'they grabbed one person in his house, they caused damage, they
kicked the children. The women from Nuevo Guadalupe left to stop the
vehicles, which had already had four compañeros whom they had kidnapped,
but three had managed to escape (although one of them, Marcos Méndez, with
a gunshot wound to the abdomen which perforated his liver).

'The shootout had already started, but only with their 22 caliber weapons,
even though they were carrying R-15 and other rifles. They also attacked
with rocks and machetes. They had brought the rocks with them in the
trucks. The microbus that belongs to Domingo Gutiérrez also came, and he
himself began shooting from the cabin. It was the signal for the others to
also open fire.”

The representative from the San Manuel Autonomous Municipality continued:
'There were five or six wounded on each side, only there were more than
200 of them, and the compas had ten men and 12 women. Then the PRIs calmed
down, and they wanted to leave. They were in such a hurry that their
vehicles crashed into each other, and some of them broke down.”

The attackers' confusion lasted for more than 30 minutes. 'They tried to
pull the vehicles with ropes, and they couldn't. Until they found chains,
and that's how they left.”

At that point, Florentino Pérez Guzmán's truck, from Las Tazas cañada —
'that went to get people from Santo Tomás, a paramilitary center since
1996” — had already joined this PRI convoy, which had come from Montes
Azules and the Agua Azul (Taniperla) cañada. Also joining up there were
armed groups from San Jacinto and other PRI communities in the latter

On the same day, in Las Tazas, there were unusual federal troop movements.
They tried to enter the zapatista community of La Unión, and in Tacitas
they 'scattered” in the mountain, 'we don't know what their pretext was”,
said the San Manuel representative. 'They are coordinating with the
paramilitaries,” he added.

The Preparations for the Attack

In a communiqué sent to journalist Miguel Angel Granados Chapa's radio
program, the Fray Pedro de la Nada Human Rights Center, of Ocosingo,
reconstructed the preparations for the attack, according to direct sources
from the PRI communities themselves. On the night of Sunday, the 19th,
about 150 PRI members from El Calvario, San Caralampio, Agua Azul and
Perla de Acapulco (Deputy Chulín Jiménez' bases, who is from Taniperla)
gathered together.

Between 12:30 AM and 2:30 AM, they held a meeting in the PRI office. To
the horror of their wives, the men loaded 12 vehicles with rocks and clubs
and picked up their weapons 'to get the zapatistas out of Nuevo
Jerusalén.” They left for Monte Líbano, where two more vehicles were
waiting for them with people from El Censo and Monte Líbano. Later on,
they were joined there by another 10 or 12 vehicles from Santo Domingo,
where paramilitaries from Cintalapa, San Jerónimo Tulijá, Peña Limonar,
Sibal and San Antonio Escobar had gathered together.

And where did the three contingents meet? At the Army barracks in Monte
Líbano. Women from that community and residents of neighboring Plácido
Flores testified later that the purpose of the gathering of PRIs was to
get rid of the zapatistas who had been preventing the passage of stolen
vehicles, alcohol, wood and natural resources since last May (It is worth
noting that these illegal PRI businesses have been flourishing, unchecked,
in the area for quite some time).

The president of the San Manuel council said today: 'We are not going to
get rid of the checkpoint. We are defending the territory and nature.” And
he argued: 'Alcohol has already caused many deaths. In San Jacinto (Las
Tazas cañada) people have died from accidents and through violence. Some
drowned, drunk, in a cayuco. Others have fallen into the river. And, like
in Santo Tomás, many of them start fights. They have rifles. Liquor is
very dangerous for the communities here.”

He stated that 'many PRI men and women agree that there should not be any
liquor, but Omar Burguete and Pedro Chulín are in the business, they want
to have alcohol in the communities.”

Paramilitaries Identified

According to abundant evidence, the indigenous of the cañadas have stated
that, in addition to local Deputy Pedro Chulín Jiménez, the organizers and
instigators of the incidents are the municipal president, Omar Burguete
(who was coordinating the Monday attack in the communities of the Santo
Domingo cañada) and Guadalupe Cruz, of Ach'lum Monte Líbano (who is Pedro
Chulín's operative in the communities of the Agua Azul cañada).

In a public document, the San Manuel authorities today identified the
paramilitaries organized in Ach'lum Monte Líbano, as well as those public
officials who “head” them. The latter are, according to the denuncia by
the autonomistas: Pedro Chulín Jiménez (PRI deputy), Flavio Noé Díaz Soto
(first councilperson), Guadalupe Cruz Gómez (council spokesperson), Ezaud
Gutiérrez Riley (legal advisor) and David Ramos Hernández.

They additionally accused some 40 persons of belonging to the paramilitary
group and listed the kind of weapons they possess: Daniel Cruz Martínez
(security council), 45 caliber; Emilio Sánchez Pérez (commissioner), R-15
and 410 sawed-off shotgun; Gonzalo Cruz Vázquez (auxiliary agent); Serapio
Cruz Hernández, sawed-off shotgun and 45 caliber pistol; Francisco Jiménez
Pérez, 32 caliber pistol; Candelario Cruz Martínez, R-15 and M-1;
Guadalupe Aguilar Hernández, R-15; Enrique Cruz Díaz, M-1; Abraham Méndez
Sánchez, 22 caliber rifle; Manuel Cruz Ramírez, R-15; Manuel Cruz Gómez,
22 caliber rifle; Andrés Cruz Ramírez, R-15 and M-1; Alberto Cruz Cruz,
M-1; Candelario Cruz Gómez, 38 caliber pistol; Alejandro Maldonado
Martínez, 22 caliber rifle; Emilio Cruz Cruz, M-1; Eliseo Cruz Pérez, 22
caliber rifle and pistols; Manuel Pérez López, R-15 and Angel Aguilar
López, 45 caliber pistol, among others.

The COAO, meeting in Ocosingo yesterday, demanded the withdrawal of the
Army from the communities and the dismantling of paramilitary groups, as
well as rejecting the expulsion of villages from the Montes Azules
reserve. The threat of dislocation by the federal government — said this
campesino coalition — “lends itself to the transnationals' filthy game of
looting our wealth, which they are not going to achieve, because our
peoples are going to defend themselves to the logical conclusion.”

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