AS WE GO TO PRESS: SECOND FRONT OR RED HERRING IN GUERRERO?

On Friday, June 28th, about a hundred masked, uniformed self-proclaimed guerrillas marched out of the jungle near Aguas Blancas, Guerrero, and interrupted a memorial commemoration being conducted by the PRD and the Frente Amplio para la Construccion del Movimiento de Liberacion (Extensive Front for the Construction of a Liberation Movement): FAC-MLN, a civil resistance organization.

Calling themselves the Ejercito Popular Revolucionario (Popular Revolutionary Army): EPR, they were by one account the best uniformed and best armed guerrilleros so far: new green uniforms with insignia, and carrying AK47 and AR16 assault weapons.

June 28th is the anniversary of the Aguas Blancas ambush, in which members of the State Motorized Police of Guerrero murdered 17 unarmed campesinos on their way to a rally. The rally to which the executed campesinos were going, was called to demonstrate peasant opposition to a sweetheart deal between the government of Guerrero and Boise Cascade, allowing the US based multinational lumber giant to clearcut up to a million acres of virgin forest. (See “Treasure of the Costa Grande” by John Ross, July/Aug Sierra Magazine) The sponsoring organization was the OCSS (Organization of Peasants from the Southern Mountains).

On Saturday, June 29th, “hundreds” of Mexican army troups and Policia Judicial Federal (Federal Judicial Police: the dreaded Federales) were dispatched to the area to root out the EPR. The PRD, the OCSS and the FAC-MLN were quick to disclaim any knowledge, affiliation, or tolerance for the masked attendees. It was reported that rain (this is the monsoon season), combined with the effects of Hurricane Boris, was hampering the government’s efforts.

On Sunday, as many as 3,000 troops and police were said to have been brought into the southern mountains from the area around the state capital, Chilpancingo, where there are said to be as many as 7,500 billeted. During one sweep, an army patrol arrested twelve green-uniformed, ak-47 toting desperados, who turned out to be “madrinas” (protected ones) of the state judicial police, later identified by local citizens as one of many officially protected gangs of thugs terrorizing civilian populations in the highlands. When asked to comment, the head of the state police in the area said that he was amazed: it was, to his knowledge, the first time the 40th brigade (the unit that made the arrest) had ever bothered leaving their barracks.

Meanwhile, Efrain Zuniga Galeana, the PRI-ista mayor of Coyuca de Benitez, one of the two main centers of trade in the region, accused Binigno Guzman, the head of the OCSS and a highly popular peasant leader, of being in league with the EPR: a sure sign that the government would like to use the EPR as an excuse to silence Guzman and crush the OCSS.

Many questions remain, including who — if anyone (some are wondering if the EPR was just a one-day production) — the EPR are, why no-one ever heard of them before Friday, and how the Army managed to get on the scene so quickly.

A LIST OF RECOMMENDED SITES FOR NEWS ON MEXICO

Since leaving the Old Country on May 15, I have had some opportunities to browse the Net, looking for news sources on Mexico. While the following URL’s and email destinations are not by any means a definitive list, they do represent a decent starting place. As always, it’s buyer beware: everyone has some axe to grind. Nonetheless, we all have to start somewhere…

One warning: sites change rapidly, and today’s url may well be tomorrow’s dead end; and many sites which contain good material are not browse-able once you get there. The best, and often most frustrating way to do it is to do “keyword” searches in a good search engine.

ALTA VISTA and EXCITE are two wonderful search engines, especially for finding names, authors, subjects, whomever. I particularly like AltaVista, but others find Excite exciting.

TRACE.COM at http://www.trace-sc.com/ is a business-oriented website based in Mexico City. They feature up-to-date exchange rates, bolsa reports, and business news; travel-related and real-estate related services; and some commentary. There are some good political sources as well: check out the MEXICO.INDEX feature.

IGC.APC.ORG (http://www.igc.apc.org) is the umbrella network for Peacenet, Pastors For Peace ( email p4p@igc.apc.org), and other progressive organizations. Check out the NACLA magazine at www.igc.apc.org/nacla/ and the Zapatista newsgroup at (email) moonlight@igc.apc.org They also offer reasonably priced commerical internet connection services.

LANETA.APC.ORG is the Mexican equivalent of IGC. A lot of what you see on Laneta is also available on igc, but not all, so check it out. http://www.laneta.apc.org/

CHIAPAS-L is a prolific newsgroup site at the Autonomous National University of Mexico. To get signed up, email listproc@listas.unam.mx

UTEXAS follows Mexican developments. E mail to: majordomo@eco.utexas.edu Articles posted to the Web can be found by searching from key words at: http://www.utexas.edu/search/ut/

SPIN.COM is definitely into commercial growth, but nonetheless has some good material available. http://www.spin.com/mx/

PACIFIC NEWS SERVICE is a general news provider; however they often carry Mexico articles. They are at: http://www.pacificnews.org.jinn/ Check out their archives for good background stuff.

LA JORNADA is on the internet at: http://serpiente.dgsca.unam.mx/Jornada/1996/ Unfortunately, only the front- and back- page news gets a play, along with sports, opinion columns, and editorials/cartoons. What’s missing is all the very revealing “page 20” kinds of stuff, but — when I’m home — that’s what you have me for…

GEMINI, at http://www.oneworld.org/gemini/ is a general news service, and carries among others articles by John Ross. If you want to read a real investigative reporter who has been there and put his behind on the line, pick up on John Ross, one of my personal heroes. John Ross is found all over the place, starting with:

THE BAY GUARDIAN at http://www.sfbayguardian.com an excellent source of central american news.

GUILLERMO GOMEZ PENA, featured elsewhere in this newsletter, has a web site at: http://riceinfo.rice.edu/projects/cybervato/

UWATERLOO in Canada is an excellent site for thoughtful articles on contemporary Mexico. Try the Mexico Archive at: http://daisy.uwaterloo.ca:80/~alopez-o/

AMIGO INTERACTIVE is a good place to swap stories, ask for travel advice, and meet famous people like Karl Franz and Stan Gotlieb. at: http://www.mexonline.com/

BURN, the Anarchist network, contains mucho about Mexico. BURN can be found at: http://burn.ucsd.edu/

MORE GLOSSARY ITEMS:

Please add the following items to the glossary file I sent you last time.

FIDEL VELAZQUEZ: the Jessie Helms of the Mexican labor movement. He heads the largest and most powerful union in Latin America. Having been humiliated by the wildcat demos by dissident union members on Labor Day, and the prolonged and crippling teachers’ march on Mexico City in May, Fidel is an embarrassment to everyone.

JAVIER ELORRIAGA BERDEGUE’: A journalist and film-maker, Elorriaga was arrested in 1995 along with a peasant Zapatista leader named Sebastian Entzin. They were charged with treason, sedition, and other political crimes. After languishing in the Chiapas state prison for over a year, Elorriaga was sentenced to 13 years in prison (Entzin to 9). As far as anyone could tell, his only “crime” was to have filmed the documentary “A Gathering In The Jungle” (sic?), about the international meeting the Zapatistas convoked in 1994. After the EZLN threatened to boycott the talks, and the head of the commission overseeing the talks resigned, both calling the sham trial a “provocation”, the sentences were set aside.

SUBCOMANDANTE MARCOS: A poet, philosopher, media manipulator, and spokesperson for the Clandestine Central Committee of the communities in rebellion in Chiapas. Thought by many to be a mestizo Jesuit turned revolutionary theorist from the a northern state. Communicates to the world by modem and fax while carrying an “old fashioned” rifle. Marcos is not the “leader” of the EZLN. The Central Committee has made that clear on those occasions when it has “disappeared” him for a while to let the “Marcos cult” chill out. Nonetheless, he is clearly a person of significance in the Zapatistas.

AMADO AVENDANO: The publisher of “Tiempo de Chiapas”, a news magazine whose antigovernment stance has earned it destroyed presses, burned files and damaged offices. Currently under house arrest in San Cristobal de las Casas, Avendano ran for governor of Chiapas as the PRD candidate, and in spite of an assassination attempt which killed others in his entourage and severely injured a close associate, is believed to have won — except of course the ballot boxes were rigged… For several months in 1995, Avandano lived in the Lacandon rain forest with the Zapatistas, as head of a “government in rebellion”.

THE NEW WORLD BORDER: A TOUR THROUGH THE MIND OF GUILLERMO GOMEZ-PENA: While in San Francisco in May, we had a chance to attend a performance/lecture by Guillermo. Consisting mostly of readings from his new book, “The New World Border”, published by City Lights and retailing for $16.95, it was a constant stream of entertaining, incisive, humorous insights into the way that borders – and the whole notion of nation-states – contribute to our disfunctional societies. Opining that we need a new vocabulary to talk about the phenomena of disborderation that is occuring in spite of all the efforts of our “leaders”, he offers a glossary of borderismos, among which are:

borderi’gena: A citizen of the great border region of the Americas, o sea, you and I and all the pinche raza we know.

chicanadians: Second generation Mexicans living in Canada and/or children of Mexican and Canadian parents living in the U.S. Please do not confuse this term with “can-aliens”, which refer to any undocumented Canadian, inside or outside of Canada.

ganga: From the English word “gang”, a term used by police departments in the US to describe all people of color under 18.

Put this book on your gifts list (right after “Letters From Mexico”).