Zapatista Communities Evicted For ‘Ecotourism’ Centres

Darren Hill mail at
Fri Feb 5 01:54:11 GMT 2010

Zapatistas denounce the eviction and destruction of an indigenous
community and accuse the government of aiming to set up ecotourism

'Reforestation' is the pretext used by the authorities to perform the
operation against the EZLN support bases.

Hermann Bellinghausen, La Jornada Sunday 31 January 2010, p. 7, originally
published in Spanish.

San Cristobal de las Casas, Jan 30. The Good Government Council (JBG) 'the
way ahead' (el camino del futuro), based in the Caracol of La Garrucha, on
Friday denounced the eviction and destruction of the indigenous community
of Laguna San Pedro, in the autonomous municipality of Ricardo Flores
Magon, which took place on 22nd January. The government's explicit
intention is to "reforest" the area and establish private ecotourism
centres in the Montes Azules, within the area of the biosphere reserve.

While they were burning the houses of the indigenous people, the JBG
relates, the Zapatistas were forced to board official helicopters to be
transferred to the city of Palenque, where they endured "hunger and cold"
in a hostel until they received attention from independent civil

As has happened before, the raid was preceded by an opportune
"application" on behalf of the Lacandon authorities based in Lacanjá
Chansayab, the legal owners of six hundred thousand hectares of the
forest, who are habitually pressing for the expulsion of the inhabitants
of Montes Azules.

Before the eviction, forces sent by "the bad federal and state (PRD)
Government of Juan Sabines Guerrero, and the municipal president of
Ocosingo, (PAN), Carlos Leonel Solórzano, conducted an operation using
federal police, accompanied by officials of the Federal Procurator of the
Environment (Profepa)" who with four helicopters flew over the village of
Laguna San Pedro "to terrify the population", said the JBG.

They state that state and federal police, army troops, government
officials, cameramen and journalists participated in the action. Once
arrived, the officials "talked with the men and women while the police
took the opportunity to burn the houses of the Zapatista support bases".

How is it possible that "the bad government speaks of dialogue while their
police and army burned the belongings of the compas," questions the JBG
from the Caracol of 'Resistance towards a new dawn' (Resistencia hacia un
nuevo amanecer). "How is it possible that the bad government evicts
indigenous people of Chiapas and Mexico while occupying their land for the
construction of ecotourism centres for the use of people from other

It should be mentioned that, after the eviction, the state government
announced that in coming days they were going to evict the population of
six more villages, including 6 de Octubre, another Zapatista community, as
well as Nuevo San Gregorio, Rancheria Corozal and Salvador Allende, among
others. They will join el Suspiro, Buen Samaratino, Nuevo Salvador Allende
and the aforementioned Laguna San Pedro, which the government call San
Pedro Guanil.

The former PAN governor of Yucatan, Patricio Patron Laviada, head of
Profepa, visited Chiapas in recent days and agreed to these actions with
the Secretary of Government of the state, Noe Castanon Leon, who on
Tuesday, 26th published the agreement to "reforest" and establish an
ecotourism centre within the Montes Azules biosphere reserve, presumably
to be undertaken by settlers from Nueva Palestina, secondary members of
the so-called "Lacandon community" and unpunished perpetrators of the
massacre at Viejo Velasco Suarez in 2006, also in Montes Azules.

The "ecotourism development" is part of the investment projects of the
businessman Moises Saba, who died weeks ago in a helicopter crash outside
Mexico City. Another project of his was the production of biodiesel on a
thousand hectares of rainforest. It appears that his projects are going
ahead, at least through the agency of the state and federal government.
According to Castanon Leon, they will promote the "sustainable uses" of
natural resources with projects of "community development" (for the
Lacandon and their partners), "environmental education and tourist
circuits of the Mayan route (la ruta maya)".

The JBG accuses the government of "lying and cheating, while Indian homes
burn," while the newspapers talk about the relocation of the Zapatistas of
Laguna San Pedro, they have their homes destroyed, their cooperative store
looted, and suffered the loss of their fruit trees, corn, beans, clothing
and tools of work. The material damage amounted to 585 thousand pesos, in
addition to the loss of their land, which, as the Zapatistas usually say,
is priceless.

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