It is clear that the Mexican government is using deportation as a strategy
to empty Chiapas of Internationals. They have selectively targeted organizers,
long term observers and clergy as target "examples." They have
done this with the intent to intimidate those presently in Chiapas and those
who plan to travel to the region. We must not allow this strategy to succeed.
The risk of actual deportation is small...the consequences to those living
in the autonomous communities if we do not go to Chiapas as observers would
The necessary counter strategy to the deportations is to make sure that more, not less, internationals enter Chiapas as observers. And we must respond quickly. When the government recognizes that we can not be so intimidated then they will have to end this practice of deportations. By using the deportations they have run the risk of greater international scrutiny and condemnation; this is a risk they currently seem willing to take in order to achieve their goal of eliminating observers from the region, but if the deportations are used by us to rally even greater support behind the struggle in Chiapas then they fail on both fronts.
Consider the consequences if we do not respond more actively through our presence in the region. Death threats and murders by the paramilitaries will certainly increase, the army will make even more violent incursions into the autonomous communities, acts of clear provocation to war, and the government will be able to manufacture a steady stream of lies to justify their behavior. Our presence is critical to place in check the impunity of the of the paramilitaries and the propaganda of the state.
Remember that the Mexican government's official statements to the international press just after the uprising in January of 1994 was to characterize the Zapatistas as "Cubans" or "foreigners," in an attempt to discredit the legitimate cause of the Zapatistas and make the outside world feel that the army was justified in wiping them out. It was the international attention and the Zapatista's creative and active use of the internet that quickly showed that the government was generating lies. And once again, more recently, the Mexican government, in response to the brutal massacre in Acteal on 22 December 1997, stated that what had occurred there was merely a result of family differences. International observers quickly spoke out and the investigation reveals the direct involvement of PRI party officials at the highest levels. If these lies were not challenged by the international community, if there had not been prior delegations of international observers in the region reporting back to their organizations in Europe and the U.S. regarding the increasing tension and violence in the area brought on by the right-wing paramilitaries then quite possibly the Mexican government could have controlled the story.