March 1, 1999
Chiapas, Mexico: Light into the darkness

Saturday, February 27, four CPTers traveling to the municipality of Chenalho
were stopped at the checkpoints as usual. At each checkpoint, the CPTers
initiated a small prayer service for peace, lighting candles as a symbol of
bringing "light into the darkness." The soldiers and immigration officers
were invited to join the circle of prayer, and several of them did so.

The action followed a new misinformation campaign initiated by the Mexican
government on February 20 that targeted "outsiders" in the municipality of
Chenalho. This is the time for harvesting coffee in this area, and
progressive Mexican nationals had been recruited to accompany displaced
indigenous people as they harvested coffee from their fields. The government
claimed that the tensions in Chenalho stemmed from "outsiders" ( those
accompanying the indigenous farmers) training the Zapatistas, and that
foreigners were fomenting "violent destabilization."

The team had planned to visit the autonomous community of Polho, situated near
Chenalho, that Friday, but after consulting various people in San Cristobal,
they wondered whether foreigners traveling to that area might feed into the
government hype and serve as an excuse for a military incursion into one of
the communities. In the end, after talking to people who had traveled from
the Chenalho municipality on Friday night without incident, the four CPTers
went ahead with their travel plans, deciding to be very open about what they
were doing and to confront the government propaganda designed to prevent
Mexican national and international workers from traveling in the area.

Members of the team remaining behind in San Cristobal joined in an ecumenical
prayer service for peace on Saturday and shared about CPT's attempts to "bring
light into the darkness."