Some strange events in Colombia

You can read on ZNet about how the Colombian invasion of Venezuela just got a bit closer, thanks to a pronouncement by the Colombian senate. I wrote a year ago that this would be a disaster for Colombia, but of course Colombia’s not calling the shots here — the US is. And since when did the US care if a course of action would be disastrous for Colombia before embarking on it?

In other Colombia news, El Tiempo reported on April 14 that the head of a murderous gang of sicarios (assassins who work for paramilitaries or drug traffickers) was captured in a Colombian Army Officers’ Club. This gangster, called Jaime Londono, was captured with 20 cellular phones, 2 guns, 4 cars, and the equivalent of $10 000 USD. A retired military officer was detained with him, and another man. The gang is responsible for about 140 killings according to authorities.

Anyone wonder what he was doing there?

There’s more.

A report to the Colombian Ministry of Defense in March, according to El Tiempo, reported the shocking news that the police are linked to the paramilitaries extensively in various regions, including Cauca, Valle, Putumayo, Narino, Casanare, Meta, Guaviare, Bucaramanga…

And there is still more. Two police officers, killed in ‘fighting with guerrillas’ in Guaitarilla, had cocaine in their car. I need to look into this more — and will report once I’ve sorted it out.

Trouble in Chiapas

The Zapatistas in the Altos region of Chiapas report problems with the local municipality that have gotten violent, with 35 people being wounded — 18 by firearms and 17 with rocks, sticks, and machetes. The conflict is between the Zapatista autonomous municipality of Los Altos and the nearby municipality of Zinacantan, which is controlled by Mexico’s ‘left’ political party, the Party of the Democratic Revolution, or PRD. 109 families have been displaced by this violence against the Zapatistas, directed, according to them, by the municipal president and the municipal police.

The Zapatista response has been first this communique following the investigation (included below in its entirety), but they promise to investigate further. It is a risky situation and it might be part of a strategy by the establishment to try to escalate the conflict with the Zapatistas, as they have done repeatedly over the years.

Originally published in Spanish by the Rebel Zapatista Autonomous
Translated by irlandesa

Two Statements from the Corazón Céntrico de los Zapatistas Delante del Mundo
Good Government Junta


Corazón Céntrico de los Zapatistas Delante del Mundo Good Government Junta

Snail Tzobombail Yu’un Lekil J’amteletik
Tao’lol Yo’on Zapatista Ta Stukil Sat Yelob Sjunul Balumil.
Los Altos Region of Chiapas, Mexico.

April 15, 2004.

To National and International Civil Society
To the National and International Press

Sisters and brothers:

After calmly investigating the situation, this Good Government Junta is apprising you of the following:

1. – The Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) has joined in with the war which the bad government is waging against the zapatista Indian peoples. Through its municipal presidents and caciques who are affiliated with their party, the PRD has moved from making threats against our compañeros and compañeras to attacks with firearms. The good of the people does not matter to the PRD. They only want to hold positions in order to make money, and that is why they make friends with the caciques and paramilitaries, in order to exploit the people, just like the PRI and the PAN. The only difference is that the PRDs appear in videos.

2. – The PRD are saying that it is a social, not a political, problem, but that is not true. It is obvious that it is a political problem. It is a problem between those who, like the PRD, see politics as merely a business and whoare willing to commit crimes in order to win and those who truly seek the recognition of Mexican indigenous rights and culture.

3. – It is not a problem of just the Zinacantán PRD, but of the entire national PRD. For some months now the national press has been reporting the human rights violations in Zinacantán, with the cutting off of the water and the threats. The state and national PRD did not say anything, and they continued to support the bad governments and the caciques in their party. The PRD only do something if they have to fix things when a video appears on television or if there are elections, but the people do not, in reality, matter to them.

4. – The work of the Good Government Juntas is not to make money, to engage in business or to violate human rights, but to seek resolution through dialogue when there are problems between zapatistas and non-zapatistas and between the autonomous and the governmental municipalities.

5. – That is why, following the path of respectful dialogue, the Good Government Junta of Los Altos of Chiapas went to great effort, from the inception of the problem, to seek a civil and peaceful agreement with the official authorities of the chiapaneco municipality of Zinacantán. However, the PRD Municipal President of Zinacantán, the first councilperson, the commander of the Municipal Police, the leader of the PRD and members of the Democratic Revolutionary Party refused to reach an agreement, and they continued to harass our compañeros and compañeras, violating their human rights by leaving them without water and threatening them. All of this was because the zapatistas did not want to be part of the PRD’s scams and thefts. The bad PRD governments just laughed every time the Good Government Junta invited them to engage in dialogue.

6. – Seeking at all times to avoid a violent confrontation, on February 12 the Good Government Junta of Los Altos of Chiapas and the zapatistas mobilized in order to bring water to our compañeros. After that it continued to insist on reaching an agreement through dialogue, but the PRD authorities continued to refuse, and they kept up with their threats.

7. – On April 10 of this year more than 4000 EZLN support bases organized a peaceful mobilization in order to deliver 45,000 liters of water to the zapatista families who had been affected, and we demonstrated peacefully in the municipal seat of Zinacantán.

8. – At that point, the PRDs began bothering the zapatistas and displaying pistols. In order to avoid a problem, the event was concluded, and we began withdrawing. It was not possible, however, because the Municipal Police had blocked the road with their patrol cars and with rocks and logs. As we were making our way, we were attacked with firearms, rocks and sticks. There are photographs and videos which show what took place.

9. – As a result of the attack, 35 compañeros were wounded, 18 by firearms and 17 by rocks, sticks and machetes. Two compañeros are still in serious condition. The names of the injured are:

By firearms:

1. – Isidro Ruiz Díaz, with a gunshot wound to the chest.
2. – Guadalupe Díaz Hernández, wounded in the back, legs and hands from a shotgun.
3. – Francisco Javier Cruz Díaz, with a gunshot wound to the left chest.
4. – Lorenzo Pérez Díaz, with pneumothorax injuries due to gunshot wounds.
5. – José Pérez Pérez, with a gunshot wound to the left knee.
6. – Daniel Ruiz Cura, with a gunshot wound to the left thigh and a fractured femur.
7. – Abelardo Gutiérrez Árias, with a gunshot wound to the right leg.
8. – Rulfo Gutiérrez Díaz, with a gunshot wound to the leg.
9. – Hermenejildo Hernández Nuñez, injured by a gunshot wound to the left cheek.
10. – Mario Sánchez Hernández, with a gunshot wound to the left ear.
11. – Carmelo González Sánchez, with a gunshot wound to the left ear.
12. – Pascuala Santiz Pérez, with a gunshot wound to the thigh.
13. – Felipe Hernández Pérez, with injuries from blows and a bullet in the leg.
14. – José Antonio Ruiz Gómez, with blows and gunshot wounds in the right arm.
15. – Vicente Ruiz Hernández, with blows and an injury from gunshot wound in the left shoulder.
16. – Rufino Hernández López, with blows and gunshot wounds.
17. – Lorenzo Pérez Gómez, with a gunshot wound to the right arm.
18. – Rufino Hernández López, with gunshot wounds to the gluteus which exited through the muscle.
19. – José Manuel Gómez Espinoza, with various machete wounds and a gunshot to the head.

From rocks, sticks and machetes:

1. – Modesto Hernández Jiménez, with multiple blows to the head and the ear,
from rocks.
2. – Juan Díaz Díaz, with multiple blows from cement blocks and rocks.
3. – Maximilano Bautista Díaz, with multiple blows from rocks and a fracture
of the left forearm.
4. – Miguel Núñez Ruiz, with blows to the back from rocks.
5. – Hilario Cruz, with blows to the left arm from rocks and sticks.
6. – Edmundo Díaz Gómez, with blows to the forehead.
7. – Victorio Ruiz Jiménez, with injuries to the leg from rocks.
8. – Lorenzo Méndez Ruiz, with injuries to the forehead from rocks.
9. – Manuel Ruiz Gómez, with injuries to the head from rocks.
10. – Hernesto Díaz Díaz, with injuries to the head from rocks.
11. – Arnulfo López Gómez, with cuts to the head and multiple blows.
12. – Mariano López Pérez, with injuries to the head, back, forehead and
leg, from rocks and sticks.
13. – Marcos Pérez Hernández, with injuries to the face and left shoulder
from rocks and sticks.
14. – José Díaz Hernández, with blows to the face and thorax from rocks.
15. – Amparo Alvarez, Solis, with blows to the head and face from rocks.
16. – Martha Martínez López, with blows to the arm and head from rocks.

Several vehicles belonging to the zapatistas were also damaged.

10. – Out of fear of being attacked again, zapatista support bases from the communities of Jechbó, Elambo Alto and Elambo Bajo moved out. There are 109 families (a total of 484 persons, men, women, children and old ones) who are unable to return to their communities of origin. There homes were looted and destroyed by the PRDs, the water tanks were destroyed and they stole from the stores.

11. – The principal authors of this cowardly attack are:

Martín Sánchez Hernández, Municipal President
Mateo Pérez Sánchez, First Councilperson
José López González, Chief of the Municipal Police.
José Pérez Conde, leader of the Zinacantán PRD.

12. – We are waiting for justice to be done and for the punishment of those who attacked our peaceful zapatista demonstration and of those who have been harassing and attacking the zapatistas of Zinacantán for the last few months. Instead of making stupid statements, like those made by the Secretary of the State Government of Chiapas, the authorities should detain the aggressors.

13. – The Good Government Junta of Los Altos of Chiapas will move forward with the investigation in order to learn the names of those who, along with the PRD President of Zinacantán, the Municipal Police and the PRD, attacked the EZLN support bases. If justice is not served, the Good Government Junta of Los Altos of Chiapas will forward the results of the investigation to the Comandancia General of the EZLN, accusing the attackers of being paramilitaries who attacked the zapatista peoples.

14. – The Good Government Junta of Los Altos of Chiapas is calling on national and international civil society to mobilize, in demand of the punishment of the attackers and of the conditions for the return of the displaced to their communities, and in repudiation of those who make politics a criminal business.


From the Resistance and Rebellion for Humanity Caracol II. Corazón Céntrico de los Zapatistas Delante Del Mundo Good Government Junta of Los Altos of Chiapas. Oventik, Chiapas. Mexico.

April of 2004.

[Embossed seal stating: Corazón Céntrico de los Zapatistas Delante del Mundo Good Government Junta, Oventic, San Andrés Sackamch’en de los Pobres Municipality, Chiapas”]

[Four signatures of members of the Good Government Junta]

Caracol: Resistance and Rebellion for Humanity, Ta Tzikel Vocolil Xchiuc Jtoybail Sventa Slekilal Sjunul Balumil.

San Andrés Sakamch’en de los Pobres, San Juan de la Libertad, San Pedro Polhó, Santa Catarina, Magdalena de la Paz, 16 de Febrero, San Juan Apóstol, Cancuc.



Corazón Céntrico de los Zapatistas Delante del Mundo Good Government Junta

Snail Tzobombail Yu’un Lekil J’amteletik
Tao’lol Yo’on Zapatista Ta Stukil Sat Yelob Sjunul Balumil

Investigation of the Good Government Junta,
Corazón Céntrico de los Zapatistas Delante del Mundo,
Caracol 2.

Oventic, Municipality of San Andrés Sakamch’en de los Pobres,

Concerning the Attack on EZLN Support Bases

April of 2004.

To the People of Mexico and of the World
To National and International Civil Society
To the National and International Press

Sisters and Brothers All

This Good Government Junta is informing you that the war which has been
planned by the bad governments along with their local caciques like the Municipal Presidents and their paramilitaries is continuing to grow. Their threats and their attacks against the communities in resistance and their autonomous authorities are increasing. As a very clear example of this:

We have the communities of Jechbó, Elambo Alto and Elambo Bajo, in the municipality of Zinacantán, where they cut off the water supply in December of 2003.

They cut the water hose, took away the well and tank they had in the community, and the problem has continued to worsen at the present time. The zapatista bases continue without the right to have their water, because the PRD municipal official, his municipal agents and his local caciques are not allowing the zapatista bases to collect water. Nor are they allowing anyone to store water for those families. Their only crime is that of being zapatistas, of fighting for their rights, of being in resistance, of not taking handouts from the bad government and of not belonging to any political party.

The Good Government Junta of Caracol 2 sent a letter to the Municipal President of that municipality, telling him to resolve the problem in a proper manner and to give the zapatista support bases the right to water, but that Municipal President did not respond positively.

That is why the Good Government Junta sent, on February 12, a commission of the Autonomous Municipalities of Los Altos of Chiapas in order to carry thousands of liters of water to those families who had been affected. They also old the communities and their Municipal President to not take the right to water away from the zapatista bases of that municipality, that they should not cause trouble among the very brothers of the community, and that they should have respect despite their differences of ideas, of organization, of party or of the religion they have. If there is a problem, it can be resolved properly, without reaching the point of confrontations among brothers of the same municipality.

Why did they kill Rantisi?

A friend recently asked in the ZNet forum system for some answers about why Israel killed Abd-el-Aziz al-Rantisi, and Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. I didn’t have anything profound to say, unfortunately. I suspect the most useful answer is that they killed him because they could. When the US-Israel gets a chance to kill, it will. That’s a fairly safe assumption to go on.

For example, on April 16, a 17-year old Palestinian child was shot dead by the Israeli Army in Beitunia, near Ramallah in the West Bank. It was a protest against the wall. Apparently there was rock throwing at the protest, sufficient reason to kill a child.

On April 18, De’yaa Abdul Karim Abu Eid died in a hospital in East Jerusalem. He was 23. He was shot in the chest by an Israeli soldier — you guessed it — protesting the wall in Biddu. He was 400 meters (that’s a quarter of a mile) from the nearest soldier. That means, just for clarification, that it wasn’t crossfire. It was assassination.

The point of pointing out these killings is just to remind readers that probably most of the killing that Israel does in the Occupied Palestinian Territories is just flat out murder of plain civilians, without even a pretense having a mafia-like logic behind it like that against Rantisi.

Israel kills Rantisi

Israel and the US are competing for the most shocking atrocity, and are managing to keep up with one another quite well. Israel killed Hamas’s leader, Rantisi, today. Remember that when they killed Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, they promised that they would kill everyone, and named specific people including Rantisi, Nasirallah in Lebanon, Arafat…

Not much else to be said, though it is in the fitness of things to mention that like most of these killings, the Israelis killed more than just the person they intended to illegally assassinate, but also his son, his bodyguard, and an unknown number of civilians (the early reports are that people were wounded).

Irony, anyone?

Okay, so what is the textbook, classic example everyone thinks of first when they think of a US-sponsored coup in Latin America to install a murderous dictatorial regime?

Hint: Castro told Chavez not to become the assassinated President of this country on the phone during the April 2002 coup in Venezuela.

Hint #2: Kissinger said, about this country: “I don’t see why we have to sit back and let a country go communist just because of the irresponsibility of its own people.”

Answer? The same country that is sending more troops to help the US with its post-coup occupation of Haiti, of course!

Yes, it’s true. Chile, the country that suffered so brutally under Pinochet’s dictatorship, is now sending soldiers to occupy Haiti, or so said Chile’s ambassador to Haiti Marcel Young, today. There are over 300 Chilean troops in Haiti, along with US Marines, Canadians, and French soldiers.

(On the hints: Castro apparently told Chavez ‘No seas un Allende’, or ‘Don’t become another Allende’: Salvador Allende was the president who was murdered during the 1973 coup in Chile — on 9/11, as I’m sure most people reading this blog know. The Kissinger quote comes via Noam Chomsky, of course, so I’m sure most have read that one as well!)

Bush and Sharon agree on Palestinians’ fate!

That ought to come as a shocker. It seems that Bush has endorsed Sharon’s plans for the unilateral destruction — oops, I meant starvation — oops, I meant withdrawal — of Gaza. He has also said that Palestinian refugees ought to forget about the right of return, and he has said nothing about the settlements on the West Bank. Or the bombings. Or the starvation. Or the closures. But then, how could he, when he’s applying these very techniques in Iraq?

Speaking of Iraq, what’s this I see? A new headline that ‘fighting flares up again in Fallujah’?

Now, class, what does it mean when the passive voice is used? It means that friends of ours (or us, ourselves) are killing people. Of course, that headline is doubly dishonest because the assumption is that there was a period before the ‘flareup’ when there wasn’t fighting going on in Fallujah — a lie.

The first line of the AP story has a bit more of an honest description of what’s going on: “US warplanes strafed gunmen in Fallujah…”

Democracy takes root in Haiti

Check out this press release from Latortue, Haiti’s new democratically-paramilitary-coup-installed leader who is presiding over a major massacre and occupation right now. It comes from his meeting with Powell and is published (where else?) on the State Department’s website.

“The third thing we discussed is the democratic process and how it is going on in Haiti today. I was happy that last night, I was the first to sign, with the political parties, the civil society groups, a convention, an agreement, in how this process should go on, go forward.”

“Secretary Powell is the first person to whom I explained this, because we just signed this last night. And I spoke to him, too, right after Easter, we will be setting up the Provisional Electoral Council, right after Easter. One of the things we assured the Secretary of State is that whether you were a former official, a minister, a secretary, in the present government, you will not be allowed to participate in the political process coming up.”

That’s why, I suppose, people like Oriel Jean, who worked for Aristide, is now sitting in a cell in Miami (thank the Canadian authorities for that one, as for many illegal actions and atrocities in this coup). Jean is being investigated for ‘drug charges’. But, of course, if you want to know how the drug trade really works, you should check out Al McCoy’s ‘Politics of Heroin’, Cockburn & St. Clari’s ‘Whiteout’, or, on Haiti, this piece from Paul DeRienzo.

Sadr, dead or alive?

Talk about a ‘feeler’. So various outlets are saying that the US is vowing to capture or kill Moqtada as-Sadr. Someone even used the famous ‘dead or alive’ phrase, last used for Osama bin Laden. I’m a little surprised. I would have thought they would have wanted to build him up into another famous Arab villain and make the ‘fiery cleric’s’ face known all over the country, stoking the racism that has played such a useful role in US war plans all over the world for a little longer.

It’s another page out of the Israeli handbook. I’m sure you’ve all read Fisk’s latest:

It seems that as long as you say “war on terror”, you are safe from all criticism. For not a single American journalist has investigated the links between the Israeli army’s “rules of engagement” – so blithely handed over to US forces on Sharon’s orders – and the behaviour of the US military in Iraq. The destruction of houses of “suspects”, the wholesale detention of thousands of Iraqis without trial, the cordoning off of “hostile” villages with razor wire, the bombardment of civilian areas by Apache helicopter gunships and tanks on the hunt for “terrorists” are all part of the Israeli military lexicon.

In besieging cities – when they were taking casualties or the number of civilians killed was becoming too shameful to sustain – the Israeli army would call a “unilateral suspension of offensive operations”. They did this 11 times after they surrounded Beirut in 1982. And yesterday, the American army declared a “unilateral suspension of offensive operations” around Fallujah.

Not a word on this mysterious parallel by America’s reporters, no questions about the even more mysterious use of identical language. And in the coming days, we shall – perhaps – find out how many of the estimated 300 dead of Fallujah were Sunni gunmen and how many were women and children. Following Israel’s rules is going to lead the Americans into the same disaster those rules have led the Israelis.

The media will, of course, go along with anything the US does, and racism will help those who want to to swallow it. But in Iraq, I wonder what the message will be, given that they took Saddam (Murder, Inc.) alive (even gave him a free dental exam), and are planning to blow Moqtada as-Sadr up?

Some Shady Arms Dealings

Some stuff that came through a little while ago. There is a trial in process of a fellow called Montesinos. He’s your friendly neighbourhood arms dealer, with a long resume of CIA work, as well as work for the notorious Peruvian democrat Alberto Fujimori. Obviously his work with the CIA involved providing weapons to illegal armed groups with the purpose of destroying social movements in Latin America.

The odd thing is, however, that he’s on trial in Peru right now for an arms deal — selling 10,000 AK-47 rifles to FARC — the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.

Why would someone with a CIA resume sell weapons to FARC? That’s actually the basis of his plea for innocence: “I never sell to the left,” he’s said. As for the CIA, they say the matter is before the courts. One thing is for sure: this is not the whole story.

In other shady dealings:

Israel is apparently trying to figure out how helicopters sent to it from the United States (for the purpose of attacking more or less helpless Palestinian civilians) ended up in Colombia (where they are presumably being used for the purpose of attacking more or less helpless Colombian peasants). Canadians: make sure you read to the end of the article — there was a Canadian corporation involved. Somehow, there always is…

Haiti inconsistencies

In a previous post, I lamented the concept of the ‘Anti-Aristide, Anti-Occupation’ left. My principal argument was that Aristide was really besides the point. He was not the target of the coup: it was the Haitian people, the democratic process, and the population itself that was. But I’ve recently thought of something else.

If the ‘anti-Aristide, anti-occupation’ people were willing to condone a paramilitary terror campaign that slaughtered hundreds of people in order to get rid of Aristide, and are now willing to countenance those very paramilitaries in power, selling what little of the country there is to multinationals at a more rapid rate than before, will they be supporting and/or participating in armed struggle against the US Marines and Canadian soldiers? It seems to me that to be consistent, they would have to.

Meanwhile, an Amnesty International delegation has made a report, having just returned from Haiti. Here is an excerpt on what’s going on, confirming Fenton’s recent report:

“Amnesty International has also received recent reports of killings and kidnappings of persons belonging to pro-Aristide grassroots organizations in poor neighbourhoods of Port-au-Prince. Among those allegedly responsible were several escaped prisoners who had been jailed for rapes and other common crimes. These men have reportedly been working together with the Haitian police and MIF forces to identify people associated with the Lavalas regime. “