The following day the Zapatistas occupied and blocked the main road from San Cristobel to Palenque, but were removed and arrested by 500 state and federal police, then taken to the police station in Palenque. The State Attorney has said crimes such as murder, bodily harm, false imprisonment and an attack on the road network are being investigated - one priista was killed and two injured in the clash at the tollbooth. Trying to justify the mass arrests the authorities falsely claimed the Zapatistas had blocked the road leading to the tourist resort and that 17 tourists were being held hostage.
The Zapatistas had been expressing increasing concern about the intentions of the priistas and the Partido Verde (Green party) to develop the Agua Azul waterfalls and its surroundings with the funding of foreign multinationals into a mass tourism complex contrary to their own attempts to preserve the natural beauty of the area. On January 26th the Zapatistas had warned about an eviction of the tollbooth. Workers at the Fray Bartoleme de las Casas (Frayba) human rights centre in San Cristobel have also been documenting attempts by the priistas to invade the land occupied by Zapatistas since 2002 at Bolon Ajaw near the waterfalls.
Here is a translation of the statement issued by the members of the Other Campaign from San Sebastian Bachajon on February 4th:
'We publicly condemn the state government of Juan Sabines together with his collaborators in the bad government, and the following for organising the violent takeover of the Agua Azul tollbooth with the support of a 100 police from different security branches of the bad government - Francisco Guzman Jimenez, Carmen Aguilar Gomez, Juan Alvaro Moreno, Manuel Jiminez Moreno, Juan Jimenez Garcia, Miguel Ruiz Hernandez, Jesus Ruiz Hernandez, Manuel Deara Gomez, Sebastian Ruiz Alvaro, Melchorio Perez Moreno. Two years ago the organisation recovered the tollbooth as the government had seized control of it with a view to enrichment from multinational ecotourism investment and is now doing the same again after putting people in prison.
On February 3rd 121 members of the Other Campaign were violently arrested accused of various crimes in keeping with the ideology of Noe Castanon Leon, Juan Sabines' Secretary of State, to again violate human rights to claim control of the tollbooth.
These are those most responsible for what has happened, and there are currently two missing whose whereabouts we don't know. As an organisation we demand the immediate release of our comrades as we aren't criminals, those mentioned above are.
We are an organisation struggling and searching for a better world hoping to continue living in peace and tranquility to protect the natural resources of mother earth which have been handed down to us. We are an organisation with the dignity to show the government that we are not alone, we request the solidarity of national and international organisations in seeking the release of our comrades, detained for defending their land, its resources and autonomy.'
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