My apologies to Glen and Ellen - I've been in transit and out of touch. I'm just now catching up on email. The situation sounds horrible. I'll post this and keep reading my mail. I'm in Palenque now and will got to Ocosingo this week to see where thingfs stand.
29 January 2003
Using pedestrian trail access Rancho Esmeralda has continued to function for almost
50 days since the Zapatistas of the community Nuevo Jerusalen began blocking the
ranch's access road and denying entry to tourists. Last night members of the
community attacked owner, Glen Wersch, on his return trip from town to drop off the
evening staff. They pelleted his vehicle with rocks, breaking window glass, and
tried to stop his vehicle although they failed to do this. The Zapatistas have now
put a lock on the illegal gate across the road and are denying access to everyone,
including the ranch owners and staff. Today the Zapatistas took one of Rancho
Esmeralda's staff members, Ernesto Cruz, hostage for over six hours. When they
released him he had been beaten. He has been attended to at the ranch by members of
the Cruz Roja. The Zapatistas have sent messages to the ranch owners demanding that
they leave, taking nothing with them. If they attempt to leave in their vehicles
the Zapatistas have said that they will burn them. They have threatened to hang the
ranch foreman, Valentin Perez, if they get ahold of him. The Zapatistas of Nuevo
Jerusalen have demanded a statement of capitulation from the owners by 1PM tomorrow.
The ranch owners have been in contact again with local and state officials. Owner
Ellen Jones lodged a "denuncia" this evening with the Ministerio Publico. However,
state officials will not issue an order so that the police can enter Rancho
Esmeralda and provide protection.