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<nettime> Paramilitary group claims attack on Chiapas village,Aug 06

Date: Sun, 06 Aug 2000 17:43:18 -0400
To: chiapas-l@tierra.ucsd.edu
From: Cupcaketoo <cupcaketoo@mindspring.com>

Leader of paramilitary group claims responsibility for attack on Mexican

August 5, 2000 Web posted at: 10:07 PM EDT (0207 GMT) 

PARAISO, Mexico (AP) -- Standing among farmers armed with machetes and
shotguns, the apparent leader of a paramilitary group claimed
responsibility for attacking this village in Chiapas state. 

Ironically called Peace and Justice, the group told the Associated Press
late Friday night it burned down a half a dozen homes a day earlier to
force out Zapatista rebel supporters whom they claim have invaded their
lands in this village. 

Meanwhile -- on a nearby hillside overlooking the coffee farm where the
assailants spoke -- some 90 men, women and children remained in hiding,
sleeping on the damp ground after being violently forced from Paraiso,
which means Paradise. 

Rains have fallen daily. Some of the children remain barely clothed and
with little food. But the families said they are too scared to return. 

The incident marks the latest skirmishes reported in the troubled southern
Mexican state leading up to the August 20 elections for state governor. 

The elections are seen as crucial to resolving the armed conflict that has
plagued Chiapas since Zapatista rebels rose up against the government on
January 1, 1994, demanding greater democracy and rights for the indigenous

The conflict has been halted by a cease-fire since mid-January 1994, but
there have been repeated clashes between pro- and anti-Zapatista forces,
sometimes over disputed lands such as in Thursday's attack. 

Mario Cruz said he ordered the attack after officials refused to evict
rebel supporters, whom he contends invaded his group's lands in October
1997. Cruz's paramilitary group supports the ruling Institutional
Revolutionary Party, or PRI. His group has been accused of numerous human
rights violations by opposition groups. 

"The authorities did not want to execute an order to evict them from lands
that belong to us, therefore we kicked them out ourselves," Cruz said. 

And the leader, with a pistol in a cloth holster on his hip, said the
rebel supporters won't be welcome back. 

"We can't let them return because we want to live in peace," Cruz said. 

But Carlos Mendez, 40, said he hasn't been at peace since the attack. The
self-described rebel supporter hasn't seen his wife, father or children
since they fled into the hills after men toting assault rifles barged into
the community of shacks Thursday morning and started shooting. 

"The bullets zoomed past the heads of children and elderly," Mendez said. 

Another disturbance broke out Friday during the PRI party's campaign stop
in Soyalo, 50 miles, northeast of San Cristobal de las Casas. 

The PRI's candidate for Chiapas governor, Sami David, was hit in the face
with a piece of metal during a disturbance caused by presumed supporters
of opposition candidate Pablo Salazar. Eleven others were also injured in
the melee. 

The PRI is fighting to keep its traditionally tight hold on Chiapas state
after its stunning defeat in Mexico's presidential elections July 2,
ending its 71-year reign. 

Copyright 2000 The Associated Press

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