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.,000ILIki Sea Horse IK ItL I I c 1 \\ I IC,I1C\(1 I I 111′,11 prig 111111 10 rak . \( ‘N .11///,,sphcrc Pet s Welcome jaw ter AI I \( 1I I l \\ I I 11 \\HI\( 1/1\( \(Oa/ lIt 1 III s 1\(110,’ 1\\ /um / pas matter,” said Miguel Escobar, press attach at the office of the Mexican Consulates in Los Angeles. The attack on Rodriguez is not the first upon foreign activists who have traveled to Chiapas to support the Zapatistas. In July of 1994, European and U.S. observers, traveling with members of the San Cristobal human rights group CONPAZ, were assaulted less than a mile from the Altamirano military checkpoint by armed men wearing Zapatista-style ski-masks and what were described, in press accounts, as “shiny army boots.” Rodriguez’ attackers also wore ski-masks and boots. In March of this year, following the military takeover of the Zapatistas’ Lacandon jungle base areas, a caravan organized by the Minneapolis-based Pastors for Peace was attacked and robbed by armed and skimasked men in the municipality of Ocosingo. A report by the religious group makes note that the caravan was repeatedly stopped by Mexican Army troops and asked for its itinerary. “It is nearly impossible to imagine that the terrorist attack could have been carried out without this information. This implies that elements of the military and the police cooperated with the terrorists,” concludes the report. Similar attacks by copycat “Zapatistas” are common in Chiapas, but not much reported when they do not involve non-Mexicans. State police officials do not accuse the EZLN of such assaults and the masked assailants are never caught, which to many suggests that they receive protection from government authorities. According to the national daily La Jor nada, there are forty thousand troops in southeastern Chiapas, one for every three civilian residents. The EZLN and its supporters charge the Mexican military with carrying out a campaign of low-intensity warfare by terrorizing and surveiling Zapatista communities. Suspicions that Rodriguez’ attackers may have been members of the militaryCecilia herself says she does not have enough evidence to make such an allegationare heightened by the testimony of three Tzeltal Indian women who have repeatedly charged that they were raped by troops at the Altamirano checkpoint, on June 4, 1994. The military has refused to allow civil authorities to pursue an investigation of the charges. This past October 4, three women working with a vaccination team were gang-raped near San Andres Larrainzar, the site of the Zap atista-government peace talks. The three nurses remain hospitalized. “Mujeres de San Cristobal,” a local women’s advocacy group, has recorded fifty rapes in the eighteen months since the military poured into the region to combat the Zapatistas. Few of the rapes have been investigated .by municipal or state authorities. CECILIA RODRIGUEZ is a long-time Chicana labor organizer and founder of “Mujer Obrera,” which fights ex ploitation in El Paso garment sweatshops. After being chosen by Subcomandante Marcos to head Zapatista solidarity efforts in the United States, she founded NCDM, which has served as a valuable international link among the Zapatistas, peace ac tivists and Zapatista support groups. The Commission has pioneered the use of the Internet to translate and disseminate communiqus written by Subcomandante Marcos and other Zapatista leaders. “You already know how things are in Chiapas, right? Shut up thenshut up, do you understand? Or you know what will happen to you,” one of her attackers shouted at Cecilia Rodriguez. “I will not ‘shut up,” I will not stop my travel to Chiapas or my work as a representative of the Zapatistas. This has not traumatized me to the point of paralysis,” Rodriguez told the nearly press-less press conference in Los Angeles. “I will follow the example of thousands of Mexican men and women who continue to work for a true democracy, in spite of the dangers to themselves and their loved ones…”0 1423 llth Street 41 0 Port Aransas, TX 7837;i ‘ Sc” a fin Rc ,,cr -villi\( 11’, of o i riliV …ear .001:% A %, w ar %vi a ir Nom “I will not ‘shut up.'” I will follow the example of thousands of Mexican men and women who continue to work for a true democracy.” “Dialogue,” from page 2. the unscrupulous dealings of people wishing to become rich is a crime that must be stopped. This is a crisis for the entire nation. If developers would have included basic amenities such as roads, sewage systems and water, then perhaps Third-World diseases would not be threatening Texas. There has not been a conscious understanding of the conditions of the colonias by the general public, and in fact, Attorney General Dan Morales and his Colonias Strike Force had to work against people that should have been supporting their efforts. Ms. Ivins’ column clearly demonstrates this. It’s too bad that Ivins and others have chosen to throw cheap shots at a person who is only trying to better a very dismal situation. On March 10 and 11 of this year, I accompanied the Attorney General and his staff to El Paso on a border tour. I saw the deplorable conditions and I saw how people responded to the Attorney General and his staff. He and his staff understand the culture and can speak the language, and I am proud of the work that Dan Morales is doing. Ms. Ivins and others need to understand that it doesn’t matter when someone begins their work for an effort; it matters what they can accomplish. Dan Morales through litigation and HB 1001 is working to improve conditions in the colonias by taking the burden off the taxpayers and putting it back into the laps of immoral developers. If Ron Coleman has been working to help improve the conditions of the colonias for twenty-five years, then why have conditions steadily decreased and the number of colonias steadily increased? Now, if Ron Coleman and his cohorts are, as “60 Minutes” suggested, in bed with the colonia developers, then Ms. Ivins’ column is titled correctly. The truth is, when the whole colonias story is told and the covers are pulled back, other officials will be found in the beds of corrupt developers. Rebeca Maria Barrera Austin THE TEXAS OBSERVER 17