Anaheim gang helps send aid to Chiapas
CHARITIES: The clothing, food and medical supplies are headed for impoverished Indians.

The Orange County Register

   ANAHEIM-The noonday sun caused sweat to bead up on the tattoos covering Raymond Campos' back and shoulders Wednesday.

   The leader of the West Side Anaheim gang led a half-dozen of his homeboys in loading 2 1/2 tons of donated food, medical supplies and children's clothing hound for Indians in the Mexican state of Chiapas.
   Since late last year, Salevar, a community nonprofit group Campos helped found, and the Chiapas Human Rights Council of Orange County have collected supplies for the relatives of 45 people killed in a December 1997 massacre. The victims, mostly women and children, were sympathizers of the Zapatista National Liberation Army attacked by gunmen associated with the ruling party of Mexico.
   "When I tell my homies about what happened, they sort of get their eyes open and realize that we are blessed 'caused we have it so easy compared to the (people) there who have to struggle every day just to survive." he said.
   Campos, 34, said the volunteer drive is and effort "to have these guys understand that they need to get involved in the world, that there is more to life than drivebys and drugs,"
   The supplies included baby formula, children's and men's winter clothing, blankets, food and medical supplies needed by Chiaps residents, among the poorest in Mexico.
   Hundreds of boxes of goods were collected in Santa Ana and Anaheim. Donations came from Chicano student groups, Mexican residents and groups such as the Irvine Valley College political club, said Serefino Garcia, the council's executive director.
   By Wednesday afternoon, the supplies had been loaded onto two converted buses, part of a nationwide caravan organized by Pastors for Peace. The convoy left later in the day.

O.C. activists mobilize to help rebels

RELIEF:  Local volunteers will take supplies to war-torn Chiapas.

The Orange County Register

   The tons of donated food, medical supplies, powdered baby formula, blankets and men's and infants' clothing are packed in hundreds of boxes and ready to go.
    In just under three months, the Chiapas Human Rights Council of Orange County, a 70-strong group of volunteers, has collected supplies to distribute next month to Indians of war-torn Chiapas in the mountains of southern Mexico.
   The relief effort, which will leave Orange County on April 19, "is aimed at showing that we will not stand by while people are exterminated by the repressive government of Mexico, " says Serefino Garcia of Anaheim, the council's volunteer executive director.
   "This is not a 'Mexican' issue," says Judith Serafini, the council's communications director. "Many of the donations of food and support have come from Anglos, people whose politics you would not normally associate with aiding liberation armies. But how can you not be touched and want to do something when you hear that women and children attending Mass are indiscriminately mowed down?"
   Serafini, office manager at the University of California, Irvine, internal-audit department, was referring to the killing of 45 people, mostly women and children, in the Chiapas village of Acteal in December. Gunmen associated with the ruling party, known by the initials PRI, have been charged in the massacre.
   Donations filling several large trucks have come from a wide-ranging group, Serafini said.
   " Some have been Mexican (citizens) from the region who want to help their fellow citizens, as well as Mexican-American groups, and Anglos like the Irvine Valley College political club," she said. "Had the (Acteal massacre) occurred 20 years ago, I am sure the Mexican government would have covered it up, but with 21st century communications technology that is available, they have not been able to, and the word has gone out."
   With a constant stream of communiqués issued via the Internet, support groups in California and around the world have sprung up to funnet supplies and funds to the indigenous groups fighting against official and unofficial arms of the Mexican government.
   The Zapatista National Liberation Army, named after revolutionary hero and Indian activist Emiliano Zapata, sprang out of the mountains of the troubled, impoverished Chiapas state in 1994. Since then, solidarity groups have worked to expose what they term the Mexican government's repression of the Zapatistas.
   " People need to know what is going on there. The indigenous people are being massacred by the government," says Garcia, who works to promote Chicano studies programs in Orange County high schools, colleges and universities. "This is not just about Mexican human rights being violated, it is a humanitarian issue that everyone should be concerned with."