The Zapatista community of Oventic is located just beyond San Andres
Larrainzar (about 60km from San Cristobal). One of the most important aguascalientes
is located within this community - and the murals on the buildings located
in this aguascalientes are know worldwide.
The international peace camp, presently located in one of the posadas
within the area of the aguascalientes, provides space for a continuous presence
of observers. During a recent stay at this peace camp (January 1998) I was
among internationals from Germany, France, Mexico, Italy, Uruguay, Spain,
and the U.S. We were students, taxi drivers, doctors, teachers, and a grandmother
from Mexico City. Within days the make up of the peace camp changes in both
number and country of origin but at all times those staying at the camp
are attentive to the movement of the military in the area. During our ride
to Oventic from San Cristobal we had to pass through one very large and
heavily armed military check point to enter the area (passports checked,
questions asked...), though the military did not enter the community of
Oventic while we were there (they had entered a few weeks ago causing everyone
The Mexican government is presently involved in a strategy which seeks
to empty the peace camps of all internationals. Using the immigration office
the government is selectively deporting human rights workers and other internationals,
stating that the activity of "observing" in the Zapatista communities
is not allowed with a tourist visa - tourists can only observe in areas
such as the market in San Cristobal, or the ruins at Palenque, etc. In the
eyes of the Mexican government if you care about human rights, justice,
indigenous issues, or the impact of neoliberal economic policies then you
are the enemy of the state.
The deportations are meant to intimidate those presently in the region and those who may plan to travel to Chiapas. We must not be so intimidated - the government can not deport 100s or 1,000s of people. We must react with greater, not lesser numbers.
If the peace camps were to no longer exist the paramilitaries and the military would exercise an even greater degree of impunity throughout the region. Death threats and massacres would be the norm.
NOTE: Those individuals who wish to be observers at a Peace Camp should contact either of these two groups which are located in San Cristobal:
Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Bartolomé de las Casas (Fray Bartolome Center for Human Rights) Calle Francisco Leon # 46, Telephone: 83548 [Those who can remain at a camp for at least two weeks contact this organization first.]
Enlace Civil Telephone: 82104 [If you will only be able to stay at a Peace Camp for a short period of time contact this organization.]
ALSO: Information on Oventic School Project