CHIAPAS: No Weapons Allowed

September 1, 2001
CHIAPAS: No Weapons Allowed

Three CPTers maintained a prayerful presence around a single candle for six
hours on Friday, August 24 outside the glass walls of a convention hall
where members of Las Abejas (the Bees) and representatives of the municipal
government of Chenalho met to negotiate an "Agreement of Mutual
Respect." The "Agreement," meant to pave the way for the return of 333
Abejas to their home communities set for Tuesday, August 28, prohibits the
possession of firearms within the communities.

Four years ago more than 10,000 indigenous people, including some 2500
members of the pacifist Christian group Las Abejas, were displaced from
their homes by paramilitary violence in the municipality (county) of
Chenalho alone. The refugees have been reluctant to return home because the
paramilitary forces, mostly allied with the PRI political party and
supported by previous state and federal government administrations, remain

Local government authorities deny the existence of weapons in the villages
of Chenalho county and insist that conditions are safe for the refugees to
come back to their home communities.

About 70 men and women representing Las Abejas signed the 17-point
agreement along with the Municipal President (Mayor) of Chenalho and all
but six of the village-level government authorities who didn't show up to
the meeting. Those six are supposed to sign on Monday.

In a conversation following the signing ceremony, several Abejas leaders
thanked CPTers for their presence and said, "We have a lot of experience
with broken promises. We hope and pray that this time the authorities will
keep their word."