Foreigners taken to Mexico City; Two photographers Beaten by police

SAN CRISTOBAL DE LAS CASAS, Mexico (AP) — Authorities escorted 12 foreigners — including three Americans — to Mexico City on Sunday, a day after they were arrested in a raid on a southern Mexican town sympathetic to area rebels.
At the airport in the Chiapas state capital of Tuxtla Gutierrez, police transporting the prisoners used the butts of their rifles to beat two news photographers taking pictures of the departure.
Associated Press photographer Pascual Gorriz Marcos, 27, of Spain, suffered a gash to the head, and Agence France Presse photographer Oriana Gonzalez Elicabe, 25, of Argentina, was bruised.
Both left with their film and equipment, which Gorriz Marcos said authorities had tried to confiscate.
Dario Chacon Montejo, watch commander on duty at the Chiapas State Public Security Police in the state capital, said he had no information about the airport incident, but would investigate.
The foreigners were arrested Saturday when 750 Mexican police and soldiers raided Taniperlas, near the Guatemalan border and about 100 miles east of San Cristobal del Las Casas. Initial reports said 11 were arrested, but immigration authorities later said it was 12.
It was not clear whether the foreigners would be deported. They included three American men, three Spaniards, two Canadians, two Belgians and a German. The nationality of the 12th was not available.
A statement issued Saturday night by the Interior Secretariat, which oversees immigration and other matters of internal security, said it was investigating the foreigners’ status in Mexico and “will act in strict accordance to the law and with full respect of human rights.”
Immigration officials in Chiapas broadly interpret a constitutional ban on foreign interference in politics and have deported foreigners for attending rebel-sponsored events or otherwise participating in Mexican politics.
Eight Mexican citizens also were arrested Saturday and numerous Indian villagers were evicted from buildings in Taniperlas, where leftist Zapatista rebels had set up a parallel town council on Friday.
The government considers such autonomous municipalities illegal and provocative, and has raided several towns to break them up.
Such rebel-backed councils often use traditional Indian means of decision-making, such as consensus, and operate outside the officially recognized government structure.
The government and rebels have been involved in peace talks since shortly after the Zapatistas’ brief armed uprising in January 1994. Negotiations, however, have been stalled since August 1996 because of differences over a previously negotiated accord on Indian rights.