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Mexico Deports 3 More From Chiapas

April 15, 1998

MEXICO CITY (AP) _ Three Norwegian citizens detained at a rebel road blockade in southern Mexico were deported Wednesday, two days after 12 other foreigners were expelled in a police crackdown on rebel activities.

Immigration authorities claimed the three Norwegians participated in the road block set up Tuesday by 100 Indian villagers near the town of San Miguel Yalchiptic in the troubled southern state of Chiapas.

The villagers piled up stones, posts and tree trunks on a rural road to protest increased army patrols and police raid on another Chiapas town, where a maverick local government was set up last week by supporters of leftist Zapatista rebels.

Authorities identified the three Norwegians as Kaja Langeland, Nora Langeland and Espen Lauritzen. A fourth Norwegian, Norian Vibeken, apparently escaped by running into the nearby woods.

The Norwegians reportedly came to Chiapas to act as observers in the 4-year-old conflict between the rebels and government.

Mexican law prohibits foreigners from becoming involved in domestic politics.

Since the rebel uprising, Mexican authorities have broadly interpreted that ban to include foreigners who attend rebel-sponsored events or who state opinions about local politics.

More than 200 foreigners have been deported from Chiapas in the last two years, with over two dozen expelled so far this year.

Prior to their deportation, the three told Norwegian diplomatic personnel in Mexico that they were only observing the protest when police arrived Tuesday.

``They said they were present, but had no active participation,″ said Norwegian Ambassador Kristen Christensen.

A half-dozen Mexican police and immigration authorities escorted the three onto a commercial flight bound for Newark, New Jersey.

They were apparently not connected with local human-rights groups and held tourist visas, which were still valid when they were detained.

Chiapas’ top state officials resigned following the Dec. 22 massacre of 45 Indian villagers by a pro-government paramilitary group in the hamlet of Acteal.

The substitute state governor who took office earlier this year, Roberto Albores Guillen, has vowed to crack down on road blockades and other protests.

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