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Zapatista News Summary For February 2017

 

Zapatista News:

The main Zapatista news for February is the issuing of more communiqués, or translations of communiqués issued previously, and information about dates for forthcoming events. The need for an independent indigenous candidate, and a parallel independent indigenous government, remain subjects for profound discussion.

 

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1.“The Cat-Dog and the Apocalypse,” a talk by Sup Galeano from December, with a section by the Cat-Dog, is translated in early February. “Zapatista Alchemy” Is released at in translation at the beginning of February as more of the Sup Moisés and Sup Galeano talks and communiqués from the gathering “The Zapatistas and ConSciences for Humanity” keep being published, and translations come out.“Zapatista Alchemy” is a talk about science by Sup Galeano delivered at the beginning of January and includes philosophy, the Cat-Dog’s notebook and a comment on Artificial Intelligence versus Zapatista Intelligence.

 

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2.What Comes Next? Two extremely important communiqués are read on January 3rd, and translated in February. These are “What’s Next? I Then And Now,” by Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés, and “What’s next? II The urgent and the important,” by Subcomandante Insurgente Galeano. They tell stories and asks scientific questions, how did it used to be and how is it now? In terms of the the arts and science in the days of clandestinity and in the present time, how hugely things have changed, from when “Do not die” was the only order that they were to follow, and “if it wasn’t possible to do so in this world, then we would make another world, a bigger one, a better one, one where all the possible worlds fit, the ones that already exist and the ones we still haven’t imagined but that can already be found in the arts and sciences.” The little girl, Zapatista Defence, realises that the biggest problem we face is ‘patriarchiality’.

 

 

3.An important communiqué: “The Walls Above, The Cracks Below (And to the Left)” by Subcomandantes Moises and Galeano is released on February 14th’ “the day of our dead”, “We always resist.” Walls above, cracks below, capitalism, immigration. The EZLN convoke a “global campaign for organization and global resistance in the face of the aggressiveness of big money and its respective overseers on the planet, to resist and rebel against persecutions, detentions, and deportations…. Every human being has the right to a free and dignified existence in the place that they deem best, and has the right to fight to stay there.” They call on groups to offer solidarity to each other, creating solidarity committees to help those who are deported, and they propose their forthcoming calendar for the year ahead.

Like many of the communiqués this one contains the words of both SCI Moisés and SCI Galeano, which are factual, humorous and also give insight into the advances in the communities.

 

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4. Zapatista Calendar 2017: The EZLN invite all of the Sixth and anyone who is interested to the seminar of critical reflection, “THE WALLS OF CAPITAL, THE CRACKS OF THE LEFT,” to be celebrated April 12-15, 2017, at the CIDECI-UniTierra facilities in San Cristóbal de Las Casas. Many speakers have already confirmed their participation. More details are to follow.

They also convoke all artists for the second edition of “CompArte for Humanity” with the theme: “Against Capital and its Walls: All of the Arts” to be celebrated around the world and in cyberspace. The “real” part will take place between July 23-29, 2017, in the caracol of Oventik and at the CIDECI-UniTierra. The virtual edition will be August 1-12, 2017, on the web. More details soon. They also ask that people be on the lookout for the activities to be convoked by the National Indigenous Congress as part of its process of formation of the Indigenous Council of Government.

Finally, they convoke the scientists of the world to the second edition of “ConCiencias for Humanity” with the theme: “The Sciences Against the Wall,” to be celebrated December 26-30, 2017, at CIDECI-UniTierra, San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico and in cyberspace.

“That is not all. It is necessary to resist, it is necessary to rebel, it is necessary to struggle, it is necessary to get organized.” They advise people to remain alert to all EZLN activities.

 

5. On 4th February the CNI and EZLN: issue a joint communiqué in solidarity with the Raramuri (Tarahumara) people, denouncing the 2 recent murders of indigenous Rarámuri defenders of Native territory in Chihuahua, making a total of 18 homicides since 1973, four in the last year. The CNI and EZLN issue an urgent call to action to protect the safety and integrity of members of the Choreachi community following the murder of indigenous leader Juan Ontiveros Ramos, 15 days after the murder of Isidro Baldenegro, another indigenous leader from the same municipality.

 

 

Other Chiapas News

 

1.Indigenous gather: The Pueblo Creyente are supporting the National Indigenous Congress (CNI) decision to form an autonomous parallel government. And North American representatives attend an indigenous summit in Puebla. “Trump’s “xenophobic and aggressive policy against Mexico” has placed the Native peoples of the United States and Mexico on alert. They declared that: “there will be no wall!””

 

 

2. Roberto Paciencia Cruz: The working group No Estamos Todxsand the Centre for Human Rights Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas AC, reiterate their concern regarding the risk to the freedom of Roberto Paciencia, a recently released political prisoner, indigenous Tsotsil and adherent to the Sexta. An appeal is being made against his acquittal.

 

 

3. The Adherents of the Sixth Declaration from the ejido San Sebastián Bachajón release a communiqué to commemorate six years since the government’s attempt to evict them from their territory. They also appeal for one of their prisoners, Santiago Moreno Perez.

 

 

4. The community Cinco de Marzo celebrate 23 years of autonomy. Indigenous Tseltal, Tsotsil And Chol Mayans from The 5 De Marzo Neighbourhood In San Cristobal, say: “We’ve Decided: That’s Enough!” The Cinco de Marzo neighbourhood, in the southern half of San Cristobal de Las Casas in Chiapas, is deemed “recovered land”, after the area was squatted during the 1994 uprising.

 

5. Ejido Tila: On February 6, Tila Ejido published a communiqué denouncing: “a group of inhabitants of the Cantioc community annex organized by members of the green party and the city council attempted to kidnap the President of the Ejidal Commissariat.

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Zapatista News Summary For January 2017 

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Zapatista News

1. CNI and ConCiencias: With the second phase of the Fifth National Indigenous Congress finishing on January 1st at Oventic, and the Gathering “the Zapatistas and ConCiencias (ConSciences) for Humanity,” coming to an end on January 4th at Cideci, the news for January tends to be dominated by the outcome of these two events, especially the decision to set up an indigenous council for government (CGI) in whose name an indigenous woman will run as a candidate for president in 2018. A great deal of analysis and discussion takes place, with inevitable misunderstandings and opposition.

2. Closing words: The closing words of the 5th CNI are given by SCI Moises on 1st January, 2017. He speaks of the need for their project, “Today, the conditions of the Mexican people in the countryside and in the city are worse than they were 23 years ago. Poverty, desperation, death, and destruction are not only wrought on the people who originally populated this land. Now, misfortune finds everyone.” Therefore “The National Indigenous Congress has decided to fight to heal our land and our skies, and has decided to do it through civil and peaceful means.” Everyone can join together in this struggle. “Now is the time of all people, from the countryside and the city,” to struggle together for peace and justice and to create an autonomous parallel government for the country. The CGI will be formally constituted on May 18th.

3. Declaration of the Fifth National Indigenous Congress: Also on 1st January, with a joint statement from the CNI and the EZLN “And The Earth Trembled! A Report from the Epicentre”, the Declaration of the 5th CNI is released from Oventic. It announces the decision:

“WE AGREE to name an Indigenous Governing Council with men and women representatives from each one of the peoples, tribes, and nations that make up the CNI. This council proposes to govern this country. It will have an indigenous woman from the CNI as its spokesperson, which is to say a woman who has indigenous blood and who knows her culture, and this indigenous woman spokesperson from the CNI will be an independent candidate for the presidency of Mexico in the 2018 elections.” 1stJanuary was, of course, the 23rd anniversary of the Zapatista uprising, which is symbolized in their new strategy.

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4. The Zapatistas and ConSciences for Humanity: This well-attended event brings together scientists and adherents to the Sexta from many parts of the world, along with 200 Zapatiata support bases who will take their new learning back to their communities, after debating over a period of ten days. Moises says at the beginning “We don’t conceive knowledge as a symbol of social status or a measure of intelligence (…) We don’t want to go to the university, we want the university to be erected in our communities, to be taught and to learn together with our people.”

They are looking for “science for life.” Reflections by Sup Galeano, spoken at the event, are made available, such as this one for scientists; alsoavailable are accounts by people who attended.

5. “Joint Pronouncement From The CNI And The EZLN For The Freedom Of Our Mapuche Sister Machi Francisca Lincolao Huircapan” On 6th January, the CNI and EZLN issue a joint communique demanding freedom for the woman healer, religious leader and Mapuche political prisoner in Chile. This is part of the repression committed by the Chilean government against the indigenous Mapuche people. 60 year-old Francisca Linconao’s state of health is very weak following a hunger strike. She is “on a hunger strike to demand the justice that the bad government of Chile has denied her by keeping her imprisoned for the crime of continuing to defend the natural resources, sacred places, and cultural rights of her people.”

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Other

1.Anniversaries in Chiapas: January 25th, 2017 marks the 6th anniversary of the death of the belovedJtatik Samuel, Bishop Samuel Ruiz Garcia, in San Cristobal de las Casas, and the 25thanniversary of the foundation of El Pueblo Creyente (the Believing People). During that time they have been walking towards the construction of alternatives, denouncing the projects of death. A big march is held by the Pueblo Creyente. 5,000 people walk in procession to the cathedral in San Cristobal for a mass in memory of Bishop Samuel, seeking to construct their own autonomy. The occasion also marks 25 years since the creation of the Area of Women.

2.Activist murdered: Isidro Baldenegro López, a subsistence farmer and leader of the Tarahumara (Raramuri) community in the Sierra Madre mountain area is shot dead for his resistance to illegal logging and deforestation in the northern region. His father was previously assassinated for the same reason. At least 122 activists were murdered in Latin America in 2015 while trying to protect natural resources from environmentally destructive mega-projects such as dams, mines, tourist resorts and logging, according to research by the NGO Global Witness. In all, 2015 was the deadliest year on record for environmental activists globally with at least 185 killed.

 3. Atenco – more attempts to impose the airport: On 21st January members of the FPDT and inhabitants of the eastern shore of Lake Texcoco share with representatives of the United Nations their experience of human rights violations. The very next day crews of workers with two bulldozers enter the ejido of Atenco to carry out the construction of the highway Pirámides-Texcoco. With the protection of a military tank and federal police, the companies again violate the definitive suspension awarded against this project that is part of the new airport of Mexico City. The ejidatarios demand the removal of the machinery. Members of the FPDT continue to block the highway from Texcoco-Lechería to denounce the dispossession of more than 500 hectares of their cultivated lands.

4. Monsanto struggles to impose GM corn in Mexico: A Mexican court upholds a late 2013 ruling which had temporarily halted even pilot plots of GMO corn following a legal challenge over its effects on the environment. While Mexico is self-sufficient in white corn used to make the country’s staple tortillas, it depends on imports of mostly GMO yellow corn from the United States for its livestock. Several years ago, Monsanto submitted two applications for the commercial planting of GMO corn in Mexico. Progress with these has been very slow.

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Zapatista News Summary For December, 2016

 

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Zapatista and CNI News

 

1. The Convocation to the Second phase of the Fifth National Indigenous Congress is issued jointly by the CNI and EZLN on 26th November. During the first phase in October the CNI and EZLN had “agreed to remain in permanent assembly while carrying out a consultation in all of our geographies on the resolutions reached… with respect to the formation of an Indigenous Governing Council, to be represented by an indigenous woman who is a CNI delegate who will run for the Mexican presidency in the electoral process of 2018.” The convocation is a call to the second phase which will be held on December 29, 30, and 31, 2016, and January 1, 2017, in the Zapatista Caracolof Oventik and will have “decisive capacity” in regard to the agreements proposed. The results will be announced in a plenary session at Oventic on 1st January.

 

 2. EZLN communiqué, 2nd December: The CNI and EZLN issue a joint communiqué, ‘Despite aggressions, the consultation continues,’ to highlight the fact that the consultation continues, despite aggressions being carried out against them, for example in Santa Maria Ostula, in Tixtla, Guerrero, against the Sioux people at the heart of the originary peoples of the CNI at Standing Rock, at Chanti Ollin, and against those fighting dams in Oaxaca. They denounce the attacks and harassment, “The fears of the powerful, the extractive companies, the military, and the narco-paramilitaries are so great that our consultation is being attacked and harassed in the places where our peoples are meeting to discuss and decide the steps to take as the CNI,” but they assure that their permanent assembly and community consultations will continue.

 

 3. Modevite supports the Consultation: Members of the Movement in Defence of Land and Territory arrive on pilgrimage in San Cristobal de Las Casas, where they agree to consult their communities about the EZLN proposal, believing it is necessary now for the indigenous people to unite to demand self-determination over their territory and construct community governments. “We all share the same objective.”

 

 4. An update is released on the Encuentro (Gathering) “the Zapatistas and ConSciences for Humanity:” on 15th December. The event is to be held at Cideci from December 25th to January 4th. 82 members of the scientific community, from 12 countries, have registered to participate, working in a very wide variety of areas. 200 Zapatista bases of support will attend as students, but there will also be general sessions, information sessions, and workshops, and many people will attend as listeners/observers. Scientists and attendees may register on December 25, 2016. Activities will begin on December 26, and will conclude on January 4, 2017. There will be an intermission on December 31, 2016 and January 1, 2017. [From 29th to 31st December, the Second Phase of the Fifth National Indigenous Congress will also take place behind closed doors at CIDECI to report, discuss and evaluate the results of the internal consultation which are to be reported on January 1st in the Caracol of Oventic.]

 

5. Programme for the Gathering ‘the Zapatistas and ConSciences for Humanity:’ The detailed programme is released on 24th The Gathering and the meeting of the Indigenous National Congress will both take place separately at CIDECI-Unitierra, the University of the Earth in San Cristobal de las Casas. The majority of the talks in the Gathering are to be given by national and international scientists, but there will also be participation from Subcomandantes Moisés and Galeano. Registration begins on December 25th, and the gathering concludes on January 4th.

 

 6. Opening of Gathering ‘the Zapatistas and ConSciences for Humanity:’ The opening speech is given by Subcomandante Insurgente Moises on 26th December, giving the words of the general command of the EZLN on behalf of the women, men, children and old ones of the Zapatistas. “For us as Zapatista men and women, today begins our long walk in search of others with whom we think we share the great responsibility to defend and save the world we live in – with the art of artists, the science of scientists, and the originary peoples alongside those below from across the entire world.” “No one is going to bring us salvation,” he says. “It is up to us. Begin to dream and you will see that we can only fight capitalism with good scientific science, the art of the artist, and the guardians of mother nature together with those below from across the world…The construction of a new world is in our hands.”

 

 7. The decision: On 1st January, 2017, the 23rd anniversary of the Zapatista uprising, more than 3,000 delegates from the CNI gather to join the EZLN, along with Zapatista support bases and adherents to the Sexta, at Oventic to hear the result of the consultation which has taken place in all the 525 communities of the CNI. 430 communities have said yes, and 80 are still consulting, many of these are currently experiencing violence. The historic announcement is made that the CNI are going to create an Indigenous Council of Government (CIG) to function as a parallel government for the country, whose spokesperson will be an indigenous woman who will run as a candidate in the presidential elections of 2018. The name of the candidate will be announced in May 2017. This resolution was approved by the CNI on 30th and 31st December 2016 in the presence of over 1000 delegates from 43 peoples, nations and tribes indigenous to the country.

 

 8. On 2nd January, the EZLN and CNI issue a joint statement: “And the Earth Trembled! A Report from the Epicentre,” announcing the decision to create a new indigenous council for government and to run an indigenous woman for president, and elaborating on the new proposal and its implications. “This is the time of the originary peoples, the time for us to replant and rebuild ourselves. It is time to go on the offensive and this is the agreement that we have laid out for how to do so.” “We say that the earth indeed has trembled, and we along with her, and that we intend to shake the conscience of the entire nation, and that, in fact, we intend for indignation, resistance and rebellion to be present as an option on the electoral ballots of 2018.” “Our resistances and rebellions constitute the power of below. We don’t offer empty promises or actions, but rather real processes for radical transformation where everyone participates and which are tangible in the diverse and enormous indigenous geographies of this nation.”

https://dorsetchiapassolidarity.wordpress.com/2017/01/05/ezlncni-and-the-earth-trembled-a-report-from-the-epicentre/

Other News

 

1. Critical Thought in the Face of the Capitalist Hydra, Volume 1: This book, the first volume of a selection of the words and contributions given at the seminar held in May 2016, consists of the words of the Zapatistas themselves, bases of support as well as commanders. It is now available in English, in the US and the UK.

 

2. The Week Of Worldwide Action In Solidarity With The Ejidatarios Of San Sebastián Bachajón: is held from 4thTo 10th December. Actions including demonstrations, talks, exhibitions, pronouncements, discussions and the screening and production of videos take place in Canada, England, Spain, Mexico, Germany, Peru, United States, Uruguay and Italy. The compas from Bachajon send a video message in support of the campaign. Pronouncements are made by Raul Zibechi, Gustavo Esteva, Hugo Blanco, the Manchester Zapatista Collective, John Gibler, Ya Basta from Milan, the CGT and adherents to the Sexta from Barcelona, Sylvia Marcos and Jean Robert, and Malú Huacuja del Toro. A demonstration is held at the American Consulate in New York. Further information is available on the Bachajon website.

 

 3. First anniversary of autonomy in Tila; ejidatarios from Tila, adherents to La Sexta, celebrate the first anniversary of taking their autonomy, while stressing the harassment and intimidation they still suffer. The first anniversary of their taking over the Town Hall is 16th December 2016.

 

 

The new step has been described as “the greatest Zapatista challenge of the last 23 years” and the analysis has hardly started. There are currently 6 communiqués waiting to be translated. There will therefore be more to follow……..

 

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Zapatista News Summary For November 2016

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A. Zapatista and CNI News

1. Santa Maria Ostula: The EZLN and CNI issue a joint communique in solidarity with the indigenous community of Santa Maria Ostula in Michoacan which is resisting the fabrication of criminal charges against those who struggle to defend their land and territory.

2. The fifth Indigenous National Congress (CNI) is meanwhile conducting a consultation with all its communities as to whether the fifth CNI will name an indigenous government council whose word will be materialised by an indigenous woman who will be an independent candidate, in the names of the CNI and EZLN, in the 2018 elections for the president of Mexico. This decision is a response to “the corporate globalisation which affects all of us.”

3. ‘It is not the Decision of One Person’ is the title of a communique, signed by Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés, released on 16th November in response to criticism and misunderstanding of the EZLN’s proposal, without waiting to see what transpires. He explains that they are waiting for the decision of the CNI, which is a collective and that the proposal will lay bare the sexism and racism inherent in the electoral process.

4. 33rd Anniversary. 17th November marks the 33rd anniversary of the foundation of the Forces of National Liberation (FLN,) seed of the EZLN.

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5. A Story to Try to Understand: Also on November 17th, Subcomandante Galeano releases a very long communique of explanation, giving further details about the proposal for consultation with the peoples of the CNI about naming an indigenous council and an indigenous woman candidate for the presidential elections in 2018. He clarifies that the CNI will make the decision, that the EZLN will not be supplying the candidate, nor do they seek to take power. What matters is not who wins, but that “their daring would make the whole political system vibrate.”

6. The Convocation for the Second Phase of the Fifth National Indigenous Congress is released next, on 26th November, giving the dates and timetable of the events to be held in the caracol of Oventik. “It is urgent to struggle, to take serious steps and go on the offensive alongside the peoples of the countryside and the city, indigenous and nonindigenous, to construct a new nation from below.” The congress will decide on the proposal made and the next steps to be taken.

 

B. Other

1. Displaced families from Banavil, Tenejapa, return to their lands to remember their dead daughters for the Day of the Dead.

2. Melel Xojobal hold a demonstration in San Cristobal to highlight the fact that In Chiapas, one in every 10 children between the ages of one and four dies from preventable gastrointestinal diseases.

3. Residents Of The Lacandon Jungle Reject The Presence Of Environmental Police: Thousands of Mayan residents of the Lacandon Jungle, along with social organisations, local authorities and indigenous communities declare their opposition to the Mexican government’s policies of militarisation. They are particularly opposed to the recent formation of the Environmental Police, backing hydroelectric projects and expansion of African palm plantations. “The real intention behind the formation of the Environmental Police is “to put biodiversity, medicinal plants, water and other natural resources of the area into private hands.”

4. Viejo Velasco. On 13th November the tenth anniversary of the Viejo Velasco massacre is commemorated. The case remains unpunished.

5. Indigenous hold a 12-Day Pilgrimage against Mega-Projects in Chiapas. On 15th November, more than 1000 indigenous people embark on a 15 day pilgrimage through 11 municipalities denouncing and protesting the megaprojects which threaten their lands and life. The Movement in Defence of Life and Territory (Modevite) called for this pilgrimage, which “shows the so-called ‘green government’ how to care for the earth.”

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6. San Sebastián Bachajón: The Tseltal ejidatarios, adherents to the Sixth, from San Sebastián Bachajón, denounce acts of deception, harassment, violence and intimidation made against them by the officialist ejidal commissioner and his supporters in order to get control of the toll-booth to the Agua Azul waterfalls. Community leader and human rights activist Domingo Pérez Alvaro is detained for 3 hours and savagely beaten. In response to this aggression, an international coalition of writers, thinkers, intellectuals and solidarity activists convoke a week of worldwide action in solidarity with the ejidatarios of San Sebastián Bachajón, from 4th to 10th December 2016. 10th December is International Human Rights Day.

7. Roberto Paciencia Cruz. On 24th November, the indigenous Tsotsil prisoner is freed after 3 years and 4 months of unjust imprisonment. “This was another case of the racist and classist state justice system for which being poor and indigenous is a crime sufficient to be incarcerated. But also, it is an example of how prison can be another trench of struggle, where one can continue the work of those who have struggled before, and set an example for those that continue struggling for their freedom.”

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Zapatista News Summary For October 2016

 

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1. Fifth Indigenous National Congress: Marking 20 years since the launch of the Indigenous National Congress, the CNI and EZLN hold the Fifth Congress at Cideci in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, from October 9-14, 2016. It is attended by 500 delegates of the CNI, and the EZLN’s military commanders, to analyse the national political situation and organise for what is to come. They speak of and list the mega-projects that threaten the original peoples in their regions, denounce the dispossession, discrimination and repression they face daily, share their experience of struggle and resistance, and assert the need to implement an action plan to be prepared “to face what is coming.” Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés speaks in the name of the EZLN, calling for organisation and unity. His inauguration speech can be read here.

 

2. The day of Indigenous Resistance in Oventic: On October 12th, delegates from 32 indigenous peoples, nations and tribes organized in the CNI arrive at the Caracol of Oventic to celebrate the 20th anniversary of “joyful resistance and rebellion” of the CNI. A large number of Zapatistas come from the five zones of rebel territory and over a hundred adherents to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle also attend. The delegates walk between hundreds of Zapatistas formed in two rows on both sides of the road leading from the entrance to the caracol to the ballcourt, following a formation of militia marching with their usual impeccable organization. The celebration is held on the ballcourt, beginning with the words of Comandante David, of Maribel Cervantes from the CNI and of Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés, continuing with a cultural event attended by Zapatista artists, musicians and poets from the five caracoles, and ending with a demonstration of the discipline and organization of the militia troops.

 

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3. The proposal: The proposal for discussion that is put forward by the Fifth Congress is based on the statement“Our struggle is not for power … we will call on indigenous peoples and civil society to organize ourselves to stop this destruction.” They convoke “the awakening of a great force,” because “it is the time of the peoples, so that the centres of the earth will tremble.”

On October 13, the 500 delegates of the National Indigenous Congress (CNI) reach complete consensus on the proposal presented by the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) at the opening of the fifth Congress three days earlier: the Fifth CNI will appoint an indigenous council of government which will collectively enter the 2018 Mexican presidential race with its word materialised by an indigenous woman, a delegate of the CNI, as an independent candidate on behalf of the CNI and EZLN. The Fifth Congress is now in permanent assembly while the delegates return to their communities and hold consultations to decide to either approve or reject this proposal. “We confirm that our fight is not for power, we do not seek it; rather we call all of the original peoples and civil society to organize to detain this destruction, to strengthen our resistances and rebellions, that is to say in the defence of the life of each person, family, collective, community, or neighbourhood. To construct peace and justice, reconnecting ourselves from below,” stated the CNI and EZLN in the important communiqué released at the closure of the assembly, “May the Earth Tremble at its Core.”

Not surprisingly, there has been a great deal of discussion, debate, criticism and misunderstanding arising from the proposal. An excellent article by Luis Hernández Navarro analyses previous electoral involvement of the CNI and EZLN. Sup Galeano responds to all the confusion in his usual style, in his communiqué “Questions Without Answers, Answers Without Questions, Councils and Counsel.”

 

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4. CNI and EZLN support the dignified resistance of the Yaqui tribe: A communiqué is released on 24thOctober from the EZLN and CNI in solidarity with the Yaqui tribe, following confrontations over the Northwest gas pipeline on 21st October in Lomas de Bácum. The defenders have set up a camp to prevent the construction of the pipeline; the clash reportedly lasted three hours and ultimately left one dead and eight injured.

 

5. Calendar for Fifth congress of CNI and the gathering “Zapatistas and ConSciences for Humanity.”: At the end of October, Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés and Subcomandante Insurgente Galeano send out a calendar for these forthcoming events:

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As the CNI is now consulting with the originary peoples, barrios, tribes, and nations throughout Mexico on the proposal made during the first phase of the Fifth Congress, the permanent assembly of the CNI will be reinstated on December 29, 2016, at Cideci-Unitierra in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas. The CNI will hold roundtable sessions on December 30 and 31 and during these sessions, or before then if the CNI so chooses, the results of the consultation will be made known. On January 1, 2017, a plenary assembly will take place in Oventic, Chiapas, Mexico, and any agreements necessary will be made there. The CNI ask for solidarity donations to be made to cover the costs of travel to this meeting. Support can be offered here:  info@congresonacionalindigena.org.

The presentations about the exact and natural Sciences and the work sessions of the National Indigenous Congress will take place simultaneously. The Gathering “Zapatistas and ConSciences for Humanity” will be celebrated from December 25, 2016 to January 4, 2017, also at Cideci, with an intermission on December 31, 2016 and January 1, 2017. Register to attend at this email: conCIENCIAS@ezln.org.mx

The calendar is followed by a long section from the diaries of the Cat-Dog.

 

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Zapatista News Summary For September 2016 

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A. Zapatistas and CNI

1. CNI and EZLN announce Fifth Indigenous National Congress: The CNI and EZLN announce in a communiqué that the Fifth Indigenous National Congress will be held at Cideci in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, from October 9-14, 2016. Theannouncement also includes the programme of events, and information about how to register. October marks the 20th anniversary of “uninterrupted work” by the CNI.

 

2. One House, Other Worlds: In a communiqué released in the middle of the month, Subcomandantes Moises and Galeano, on behalf of the Zapatistas “invite you to participate in the festivals ‘CompArteand ConCienciasfor Humanity’,” in order to build “a house so big that it holds not one but many worlds.”

 

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3. Alternative grito given in Palenque: Before the mayor could give his grito (Cry of Independence,) in Palenque on September 16th, to celebrate Mexican Independence Day, hundreds of masked Zapatista supporters took over the zócalo, used a ladder to reach the balcony where the grito would have been given, and gave a cry against the state and capitalism instead. Meanwhile the governor of Chiapas Manuel Velasco Coello had to give his grito in Tapachula, because the zócalo in Tuxtla was full of striking teachers.

 

4. CNI and EZLN: War and Resistance Dispatch #44: The EZLN and CNI release a joint communiqué, before the second anniversary of the disappearance of the 43 students from Ayotzinapa on September 26th, in support of the Ayotzinapa struggle for truth and justice. It is a very powerful document, scathingly critical of the Mexican government, which they say “rewards those responsible for lying and trying to distort the truth even more, and it pursues and incarcerates those who seek truth and justice.” In it, the two organisations also jointly state their support for the Indigenous struggle based at Standing Rock against the Dakota Access oil pipeline (No DAPL.)

 

B. Chiapas News:

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1. San Sebastián Bachajón: The ejidatarios, adherents to the Sixth Declaration from San Sebastián Bachajón, issue a communiquéon 15th December, announcing that their dignified struggle continues, and sending their support to the teachers, to “our Chol compañeros and compañeras from the Ejido Tila,” and “to all the communities and people in Mexico and the world who are in resistance. They also demand the release of their prisoners. One of these, Esteban Gómez Jiménez, sends a letter calling for his freedom. He says he is innocent, his crimes were fabricated, and “they imprison me for organising and for defending Mother Earth.” On 21st September the ejidatarios report a phone call from him informing them that he has been attacked, beaten and harassed in prison. At the same time, Santiago Moreno Pérez, imprisoned in Playas de Catazajá, calls for solidarity and demands his freedom. He explains that he is sick and in pain.

On 26th September, the ejidatarios release a communiqué in support of Ayotzinapa. They say they are holding a peaceful action on the highway between Ocosingo and Palenque. Following this, they release a message denouncing police presence in their territory and the takeover of their headquarters on 23rd September. “This act further demonstrates the desire to drive us from this land and shows that the ejidal commissioner is a servant of the bad government, which works to destroy the autonomy of the community San Sebastián Bachajón.” On 30th September, the ejidatarios send another urgent message, warning that a communiqué issued by the officialist [government-supporting] commissioner of San Sebastian Bachajon, just published on the website of Chiapas Denuncia Pública [Frayba] does not represent the thinking and the struggle of the ejidatarios of La Sexta Bachajon. They have been misrepresented.

 

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2. Ejido Tila:  In the autonomous municipality of the Ejido Tila, gunmen attempt to assassinate Manuel Martínez Pérez, a local organizer from PUDEE (Peoples United for the Defence of Electrical Energy) from the community of Masoja Shucja, firing 11 rounds through the window of his home.In a statement released on September 7, the ejidatariosof Tila denounce that two siblings (a man aged 20, and a woman aged 19), whose grandparents are originally from Tila ejido, were attacked and killed with machetes and the young woman raped on August 27. They denounce drug dealing and alcohol, and say this is another attempt to destabilise their autonomy.

 

3. San Francisco, Teopisca:  Organised families from the community of San Francisco, in the municipality of Teopisca, adherents to the Sixth Declaration, denouncea blockade of the exit road from their reclaimed land of San Francisco, put in place against their community by militants belonging to the Green Party, the ruling party in the Chiapas. They say their land has been invaded by shock groups.

 

4. Oxchuc rejects the restoration of the mayor: The 115 Tzeltal communities in the Oxchuc region who recently kicked out their elected officials, in particular the mayor, Maria Gloria, and decided to return to indigenous forms of governance, mobilise to oppose the reimposition of these officials following a federal court ruling.

 

5. roberto-pacienciaPrisoners: On 24th September 24, as part of International Prisoners Day, Roberto Paciencia Cruz, who has still not been sentenced after three years of imprisonment, calls forsupport for all those unjustly imprisoned. Earlier he has denounced that he was deniedvisitors. Alejandro Diaz Santiz, the indigenous Tsotsil prisoner held for seventeen years, now in the CEFERESO No. 15, Villa de Comatitlan, also reiterates his demand for freedom and confirms his innocence.

 

6. Maximiliano is found alive: In a joint statement published on September 2, the Fray Bartolome de Las Casas Centre for Human Rights, Meso-American Voices and the La 72 Shelter for Migrants, report that the young man Maximiliano Gordillo Martinez, who has been missing since May 7 when he was stopped at a checkpoint of the National Migration Institute (INM) in Tabasco, has reappeared alive.

 

7. Teachers’ strike: This is now over in Chiapas, after the federal government promised to honour the 11 points it had offered verbally. The occupation encampments have been taken down and the teachers have returned to the classrooms. The teachers in Chiapas held out the longest, with great public support, and gained the most concessions. On September 19, teachers of Sections 7 and 40 of the National Union of Education Workers (SNTE) in Chiapas began the 2016-2017 school year after four months of work stoppage to demand the repeal of the education reform bill, passed in 2013. Section 22 in Oaxaca had done the same since September 7.

 

C. Other News.

 

1. For more news: on Ayotzinapa, the teachers’ strike, independence, political prisoners etc, please see:https://fallingintoincandescence.com/2016/10/01/insumision-it-was-the-state/

 

2. 13925236_10154399648091085_2488033852233749480_nWixarika: Over 1,000 Indigenous Wixarika people, also known as Huicholes, reclaim a section of their ancestral land from ranchers in the western state of Nayarit on 22nd September, enforcing a court decision upholding Wixarika rights to the land. This long story is mentioned by the EZLN and CNI. The enforcement targets a 184-hectare plot in the Nayarit community of Huajimic, a relatively small tract of the Wixarika’s total land claim of some 10,000 hectares of territory that the group argues is under “irregular possession.” Ranchers obtained titles to the land in the early 1990s, but courts have ruled in the Wixarika’s favour on 13 out of a total of 47 land claims, the remainder of which remain pending.

 

3. Atenco: International opposition to the new airport for Mexico City continues, with a day of action on 1st October. In Tocuila an 89-year-old and his 56-year-old son are attacked and beaten in their home by armed men due to their opposition to the construction of the new international airport and their refusal to sell their lands for that purpose.

 

Posted by Dorset Chiapas Solidarity

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Zapatista News Summary For August 2016 

 

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A. Zapatista News

1. CompArte: On Saturday 30 July The Festival “CompArte for Humanity” finishes in CIDECI-Unitierra, with great joy, celebration, colours and flavours. Having been celebrated at Oventic on 29th July, in August it moves to the other caracoles. CompArte brings a great deal of happiness and positivity: “Without doubt this week of art and sharing was full of life, hope and creativity, wherever we are, we can feel it, and it touches our hearts and thoughts.” The festival aims a to highlight the role that creativity, imagination and art has historically played in revolutionary movements, “perhaps it could be the Arts that remind humanity that people not only kill and destroy, impose and dominate, humiliate and doom to oblivion, but can also create, liberate, and remember.” The day in Oventic is celebrated in a photo-essay and an article.

 

2. Opening words: The opening words of Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés at CompArte in Oventic are published, slating the lack of justice, speaking of how we need to organise, and telling some of the true story of the massacre in San Juan Chamula.

 

3. Closing words: The closing comments made by Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés to mark the conclusion of the Zapatistas’ contribution to the CompArte, in the Caracol of Oventic, on July 29, 2016, are also published, under the title “The Art That Is Neither Seen Nor Heard.” Speaking of their support for the teachers, he says: “We Zapatista men and women don’t ask for anyone to come and struggle for us. Each person must struggle, and we should mutually support one another, but that support cannot replace each person’s struggle. Whoever struggles has the right to decide the direction of their path and with whom they walk that path.” He concludes; “We Zapatistas think that now more than ever, we need ART, ORIGINARY PEOPLES, AND SCIENTISTS in order to give birth to a new world.”

 

4. CompArte in the other caracoles:

 

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The festival is also celebrated in La Realidad, 3rdAugust, La Garrucha, 6thAugust, Morelia, 9th August, where the celebrations, opened by Comandanta Esther, include the celebration of the 13th anniversary of the birth of the Zapatista caracoles and the Juntas de Buen Gobierno, and finally, Roberto Barrios, on 12th August where it closes. During this time, the Zapatistas share their path from the 1970s to the present with us through theatre, poetry, music, paintings, and photos. At the conclusion of CompArte, Subcomandante Moisés states “22 years later we [EZLN] are showing that we don’t want to use these weapons, that it isn’t necessary. We are demonstrating that there is [another] way to achieve freedom, justice and democracy; that it isn’t necessary to kill.”

 

5. 20th anniversary of CNI:

 

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In a joint convocation, the National Indigenous Congress (CNI) and the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) announce the forthcoming celebration of the 20th anniversary of the CNI, to be held from 9 to 14 October in the premises of CIDECI- Unitierra, the Indigenous Integrated Training Centre in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas. They say that this Fifth National Indigenous Congress will be a space of unity, reflection and organization to continue “promoting the integral reconstitution of our peoples and the construction of a society into which all the cultures, all the colours, all the peoples who are Mexico will fit.” Given the adverse context of violence in our country, the CNI calls on the authorities and direct representatives of the peoples, nations, tribes, neighbourhoods, communities and indigenous organizations to meet together and, with the love and ancestral commitment to the mother, join the resistance, autonomy and rebellion “which shine in every one of the indigenous peoples”, spinning the threads of new worlds from the very bottom, walking towards collective, autonomous and rebellious hope.

 

6. Books II and III of Critical Thoughtversus the Capitalist Hydra have been for sale in Spanish in Mexico for several months. Gilberto Lopez y Rivas reviews vol II in two articles for La Jornada.

 

 

B. Other Chiapas News

 

1. 3rd anniversary of the founding of the community Primero de Agosto:

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The members of this community remain displaced as they celebrate the third anniversary of the founding of their community. The 17 Tojolabal families were displaced on August 23, 2014, by an armed group from the Independent Central of Agricultural Workers and Campesinos – Historical (CIOAC-H).

 

2. Attack on Ejido Tila: In a communiqué issued on 3rd August, the autonomous Chol community of Ejido Tila denounces an incursion into its territory by Marines. They were photographing and taking notes, but fled when people started to gather. The National Indigenous Congress (CNI) also denounces this harassment. This month the Ejido Tila reaches its 82nd anniversary.

 

3. The Movement for the Defence of Mother Earth and Territory: The Movement holds a march and rally in the municipality of Pijijiapan, rejecting the establishment of toxic mining schemes, dams, wind farms, monoculture, biofuels, GM, REDD projects, predatory oil and gas schemes, and against any extractive mineral projects.

 

4. Roberto Paciencia Cruz, marks three years in prison: On 7th August, Roberto Paciencia Cruz has been incarceratedin CERESO 5 in San Cristóbal de Las Casas for three years for a crime didn’t commit. Sociologist Aida Cipriano writes:“The prisons of Chiapas are full of indigenous, who, for lack of knowing how to read and express themselves, have been prisoners for years, because the first thing the authorities care about is to lock them up, then they just have to leave the file in the rubbish and keep them there for life. In Chiapas, when the governor isn’t covering up or causing dispossession, extrajudicial executions, persecution, torture or fabricated crimes against the indigenous, he is covering up any violation of human rights of the prisoners.” On 27th August Roberto denounces that his visitoe have been turned away and denied permission to see him. He also calls for the liberation of fellow prisoner Alejandro Díaz Sántiz, who repeats his call for freedom.

 

5. Risk to life of Patricia del Carmen Paniagua Gomez, prisoner and victim of torture: On August 16, 2016, Frayba reports that it has requested precautionary measures from the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights for Patricia del Carmen Paniagua Gomez, a woman prisoner since April 2014, whose life is in danger after the torture she was subjected to when arrested. The inadequate and insufficient medical care by the prison authorities, “represents an imminent threat to Patricia’s life and physical and psychological integrity.”

 

6. Shock group threatens to invade the lands of adherents to the Sixth in San Francisco, Teopisca:

 

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Seven arrest warrants have been issued against members of the group in defence of land and territory, members of Semilla Digna and adherents to the Sixth Declaration of the EZLN, despite their being protected by an amparo (injunction). A shock group has visited their reclaimed lands showing false documents of ownership, and threatening to displace them.

 

7. Community of Cruztón denounces invasion of its territory and aggression: The adherents to the Sixth Declaration, and members of Semilla Digna from the municipality of Venustiano Carranza denounce a group from Guadalupe Victoria who are invading and attempting to privatise their ‘holy field’ where the community leave flowers for their dead. The invading group are blocking the path to this holy field, and a member of the Cruztόn community is beaten and taken hostage by the attacking group from Guadalupe Victoria.

 

8. The community of Cinco de Marzo denounce intimidation and plunder:

 

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Members of this community, adherents to the Sixth in San Cristobal de Las Casas, say they are being threatened with having their lands dispossessed and privatised by the government, the Federal Electricity Commission, and some other people from the same community. They recuperated their land 22 years ago in 1994. The residents are now being threatened with eviction if they do not pay a large amount of money.

 

9. Oxchuc expels political parties: Following disputes over the mayoral elections in the municipality of Oxchuc, and after a long period of preparation, 105 indigenous communities from the municipality jointly decide to expel the political parties and elected officials from their lands and return to electing their authorities according to the indigenous practice of usos y costumbres. However, despite this decision, on 1st September the electoral tribunal orders the return of the previously-expelled mayor, María Gloria Sánchez.

 

10. The Pueblo Creyente of Simojovel convoke people to a megamarch in support of the teachers. On 22nd August, the Pueblo Creyente from Simojovel join another huge march in solidarity with the CNTE in Tuxtla, on the supposed day of the return to classes. Las Abejas offer their support to this march.

 

11. Disappearance of Maximiliano Martinez Gordillo: Frayba, Mesoamerican Voices, the La 72 hostel and Maximiliano’s parents hold several press conferences to draw attention to the forcible disappearance “at the hands of immigration agents”last May of Maximiliano Martinez Gordillo, who would now be aged 19. In May, he left his home in the municipality of Socoltenango to go to Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo in search of work. During the journey, he was arrested and he has not been seen since.

 

 

C. Other

 

1. Atenco and the airport:

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Well-known environmentalists Vandana Shiva and Sebastiao Pinheiro visit Atenco on August 13th, and tour their lands with members of the FPDT. Vandana Shiva calls on people to join the movement against the NAICM which she says will lead to a shortage of drinking water. Although it was announced on July 27 that the highway being built for the new international airport for Mexico City had been definitively suspended, crews and machinery begin operating again on 16th August in Tocuila. The people drive the crews off their land but they return escorted by a “shock group” who on August 19th tear down and burn the encampment in Tocuila. The camp is reconstructed and reoccupied.

 

2. The teachers’ strike: There is an excellent summary of the current situation here.

 

https://dorsetchiapassolidarity.wordpress.com/2016/09/02/zapatista-news-summary-for-august-2016/

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Zapatista News Summary For July 2016

 

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A. Zapatista News And CompArte Festival

“For us Zapatistas, the arts are the hope of humanity…. And in the most difficult moments, when disillusionment and impotence are at a peak, the Arts are the only thing capable of celebrating humanity.”

“If the machine imposes a perverse logic in which every tragedy numbs rather than enrages, perhaps it could be the Arts that remind humanity that people not only kill and destroy, impose and dominate, humiliate and doom to oblivion, but can also create, liberate, and remember.” 

On 4th July, a communiqué entitled “Lessons from June” is released, signed by Subcomandantes Moisés and Galeano and with a note from the Cat-Dog. The EZLN reiterate their support for the teachers’ struggle, and thank the teachers in rebellion and the people who support them for the free public seminar in resistance they have given during the month of June, which has resulted in more and more people joining their fight. It is necessary to concentrate all energies on this struggle. “This is the time of the teachers in resistance. It is necessary and urgent to be with them.”

Therefore, they say, the EZLN has reached a difficult decision: they have decided to “suspend our participation in the CompArte festival, in Oventic as well as in CIDECI ….” and to “donate all of the money and food we have saved for our transportation to and from Oventic and CIDECI and for provisions while we are there to the teachers in resistance.” They report that 1,127 artists from every corner of Mexico, and 318 artists from other countries have registered for the festival, and ask for their understanding.

This message is interpreted by some of the registered participants as saying that the entire festival has been cancelled, so another communiqué, “the CompArte Festival And Solidarity,” follows two days later, to clarify: “We didn’t say that the festival itself was suspended. We merely indicated that we as Zapatistas would not be able to contribute.” A list follows of the states of Mexico and countries of the world that the artists registered to participate come from, and all the different artistic activities to be shared.

The Zapatistas also “want to let you know what our artistic contribution was going to be like,” and include a video of a choreographed dance called Resistance. From the 5 caracoles, 1,819 artists and 1,566 listener-observers were due to participate, a total of 3,385 men, women, children, and elders, Zapatista bases of support.

Viveres_EZ-CNTE_ComitAn_2The total cost of food and supplies put together for this participation came to 290,000 Mexican pesos (approximately £11,700.) “The money came from the work of the production collectives across the communities, regions, and zones, as well as from the MAREZ [Zapatista Autonomous Municipalities in Rebellion] and the Good Government Councils.” Each caracol has gathered together supplies equivalent to what they would have used, and delivers this as material support to the teachers in resistance on the 8th, 9th and 10th July, in a wonderfully symbolic act of solidarity.

“Chiapas is beautiful. And now even more so with the teachers’ resistance flourishing in the streets, roads, highways, and communities.”

Their question “Should CompArte happen? That question is for all of you,” is answered very quickly, as the compas from CIDECI-Unitierra announce that “the CompArte Festival is on.” “We want to inform you that we are continuing preparations to celebrate this sharing-exchange from July 23 through July 30. Our CIDECI-Unitierra community will keep its doors open to receive all of the persons, communities, and collectives that have felt in their hearts this call to come share experiences of art, struggle, and resistance.”

The Subcomandantes respond on 13th July with “For La Maestra, With Affection”. They include “two videos dedicated to women below and to the left, and especially to the maestras in struggle.” These are both choreographed dances, “the Dance of the Rights of Women,” and “Las Musiqueras.”

A second communiqué follows on the 17th: “The Geography? Oventik. The Calendar? July 29, 2016,” inviting everyone to come to Oventic on 29th July to participate in a condensed presentation of the artistic works the Zapatistas had prepared for the festival, as a mark of admiration and respect for all the artists who have committed to participating in CompArte.

“We want them to know of our conviction that in the dark hours of the present and the dark hours to come, their work and creativity will be required to find the path that we, humanity as a whole, want, need, and deserve…. We as Zapatistas think that it is wonderful that there are artists who know how to bring forth, from the depths of the darkest calendar, a light for humanity.”

13781928_1032900840078664_7589481646360594812_nThe first welcoming ceremony to the CompArte festival takes place on 19th July with an event at the camp and roadblock of the people and the teachers which had been blocking the exit to the highway to Tuxtla Gutierrez in San Cristobal de Las Casas for over a month. Local artists and spectators arrive, both from Mexico and other parts of the world. 19 pieces of poetry, music, acrobatics and theatre are presented as well as two projections of indigenous resistance, in the Cauca (Colombia) and the Kurdish revolution. On the 20th the camp is violently attacked and evicted, but participants regroup and it is restored.

On 21st July, the EZLN, in the names of Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés and Subcomandante Insurgente Galeano, publish an “Open Letter On The Aggressions Against The People’s Movement In San Cristóbal De Las Casas, Chiapas,” addressed to the governor of Chiapas, following this attack on the people’s resistance encampment. The attackers were masked in an attempt to identify them as Zapatistas, but as the letter points out, the locals knew otherwise. “If you destroy their camps they’ll build them back up. Time and time again.”

 

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The main festival gets underway on the 23rd July at the Indigenous Centre for Integral Training-University of the Earth, Chiapas (CIDECI-Unitierra), based in San Cristobal de Las Casas, offering a wide variety of artistic performances, with more people attending every day.

On 26th July, “the EZLN Confirms And Extends Its Participation In CompArte is released. This communiqué confirms the invitation to Oventic for 29th July, with performances from indigenous artists from Los Altos, and adds that a Zapatista delegation will attend CompArte on 30th July at Cideci as listener-viewers. In addition, performances by Zapatista artists will take place at the other Zapatista caracoles as follows: La Realidad, 3rd August, La Garrucha, 6th August, Morelia, 9thAugust, including celebration of the 13th anniversary of the birth of the Zapatista caracoles and the Juntas de Buen Gobierno, and finally, Roberto Barrios, on 12thAugust.

On 29th July, CompArte moves to Oventic for the day, where the Zapatistas share their struggle and creative resistance through many forms of music, dance, theatre, painting and poetry. The dancing is often to live music, which varies from ska and hip-hop to rancheros and corridos. There is a photo-essay of the event in Spanishhere.

Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés gives the opening and closing words. At the inauguration his words are full of power and emotion. The Zapatistas are deeply hurt by the paid media who have misrepresented the recent events in Chamula.

“We know perfectly that the paid media says that in Chamula the municipal president from the Verde Ecologista (PVEM) was killed. Because this is the party of the overseer Velasco the paid media are there crying and lamenting what happened, but they say nothing of the rest of the dead. They say nothing of those who later died in their homes or of those whose dead or dying bodies were taken away by their families. For the government and the press those deaths don’t matter. There were actually dozens of dead, not just five corrupt officials.”

His speech reinforces the theme, seen in many of the performances and works of art, of the long history of oppression and resistance, from the time of colonisation to the present day. He speaks of the lack of justice for indigenous people throughout history.

“Better for us to organize ourselves to build a new house, that is a new society. No one is going to fight for us. Just like for us Zapatistas, no one came here and struggled for us. In other words, we had to give our lives because we want more than just our lives.”

In his closing speech, Moisés invites all attendees to go to the rest of the caracoles over the coming days to enjoy the work of “thousands of artists.” His message focuses on talking about the meaning of art for the Zapatistas, the art of solidarity and the art of organization to make that solidarity possible.

 

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B. Other events in Chiapas

July 2016 was a very intense month in Chiapas, and this news summary can only give an overview of some of what took place, and provide more detail of important happenings already mentioned.

 

1. Increasing indigenous and popular support for teachers’ struggle: It is clear that, especially in the south of Mexico, a region with a high indigenous population and levels of poverty, the teachers’ struggle against the education reform has become a peoples’ struggle against all the neoliberal reforms. As well as support from the Zapatistas, more and more groups in Chiapas, such as Las Abejas, Xi’Nich, Pudee, Banavil, Bachajόn and Semilla Digna, are making pronouncements, thus broadening and strengthening the struggle.

 

yuun4-995x4982. Pueblo Creyente continue their series of pilgrimages: On 1stJuly people from more than 15 parishes from the south-eastern region of the diocese of San Cristobal de Las Casas march on their third pilgrimagein Tuxtla Gutierrez to show their support for the teachers’ movement. Then, on July 18, about 30,000 members of the Pueblo Creyente, representing 52 parishes from throughout the state, hold a pilgrimage together with thousands of teachers in Tuxtla Gutierrez demanding that the government discuss in “public dialogue” not only the education reform, but also the so-called structural reforms that they have been promoting. They also deliver food supplies to the teachers in Tuxtla. At this huge march concerns are expressed that the federal government might negotiate and then betray its word, as it already did with the EZLN after the agreements from the dialogues in San Andrés in 1996.

 

3. Ejido san Sebastian Bachajón supports teachers: On 4th July members of the ejido San Sebastian Bachajón, adherents to the Sixth Declaration, issue a communiqué in support of the teachers. A second communiqué on 21st July reports that they have just delivered material supplies to the teachers in resistance after a drive of more than six hours.

 

4. Attack on the encampment and blockade on the road between San Cristobal de Las Casas and Tuxtla Gutierrez: This roadblock has grown and become organised as a popular assembly, gathering up to 3,500 demonstrators at any one time, including teachers and parents from impoverished neighbourhoods, medical students, indigenous associations and grassroots movements. It is the only roadblock that remains, by decision of the assembly, after the others are dismantled.

A violent attack occurs on this roadblock and encampment/occupation on 20th July, when, accompanied by state and municipal police, armed and masked members of the Green Party (PVEM) from the indigenous municipality of San Juan Chamula are driven to the blockade, where the police provide cover and watch while the paramilitaries attack and burn the tarpaulins and tents of the encampment, setting them on fire and destroying them with machetes. According to La Jornada, the attack is perpetrated by several dozen people who are officials of San Juan Chamula, and also involves over a hundred indigenous men from San Cristóbal, led by their mayor. The men from Chamula are led by the mayor of San Juan Chamula, Domingo López González. There are no deaths, though one teacher is shot in the shoulder by a paramilitary, and another participant is run over. The total number of injured has not been released, and there are also attacks on the press.

In response, teachers and supporters regroup in the city centre of San Cristóbal, taking over the old city hall They then march back to the site of the roadblock and build it up once again. The restored blockade consists of several hundred people. It remains until 29thJuly, when it is taken down.

Several communities in the municipality of Chamula release a statement condemning the attack and expressing their support for the teachers. Tellingly, The Zapatistas issue a warning in their 21st July communiqué: “And some unsolicited advice: don’t play with fire in Chamula. The unrest and division you are inciting in that town with your stupidities could provoke an internal conflict of such terror and destruction that you wouldn’t be able to quash it with social network bots or paid “news” articles or the little money Manuel…Velasco… has left in the state treasury.”

 

5. Massacre in San Juan Chamula:

localidad-chiapaneca-habitantes-presidencia-resguardada_MILIMA20160724_0017_8San Juan Chamula is a very large Tsotsil municipality near to San Cristóbal, frequently visited by tourists who go mainly to view its famous traditional customs. It forms a group of communities deeply divided by religion, by political party affiliation, by local power factions and as a result of the tourist income and of visits by evangelical missionary organisations over many years. A group of Green Party (PVEM) supporters from Chamula, described as “paramilitaries” and led by the mayor, were among those who attacked the teachers’ blockade on 20th July.

On 23rd July, a group of individuals affiliated with the PRI go to the town hall demanding that the mayor, who as previously stated is affiliated with the PVEM, pay them the money he owed them which had been given for public works and for their craft work, and which had been withheld from them. The mayor refused to do so at that time and the PVEM supporters, along with the mayor and his bodyguards, opened fire on the people in the town square; a very long shoot-out commenced in the centre of the town. In the end, “dozens of people” are killed, although only five of these are named, including the mayor and another town hall worker. The total number of dead has not been revealed as families claimed the bodies and took them away privately. Some estimates suggest as many as twenty were killed by gunfire and machete. There were also a substantial number of injured. Subcomandante Moisés at Oventic is scathing about the coverage of the massacre by the ‘paid media’: “for the government and journalists these deaths don’t matter.”

The Zapatistas and alternative media sources hold Manuel Velasco Coello, governor of Chiapas, responsible for these events, blaming his administration for encouraging and fomenting conflicts. The governor recently declared in a campaign event that whichever party won Chamula would win the governorship of Chiapas.

In the words of Subcomandante Moisés at Oventic: “We do not care if they are not Zapatistas in the village of Chamula. They are our brothers. They are indigenous and those who were killed in the village of San Juan Chamula are part of our indigenous people, of our original race.”

The mayor of Chamula, Domingo López González, used to campaign with the PRI, but was elected as a candidate for the PVEM last year. Chamula had been PRI-controlled for 80 years until López González assumed office as mayor for the PVEM in October 2015. There have been an increasing number of clashes between supporters of political parties, primarily the PRI and the PVEM, in Chiapas communities this year. For example, another conflict between the PRI and PVEM led to the deaths of two people and the displacement of 81 in ejido or colonia Puebla, Chenalhó, on 26th May. It is easy for political parties to manipulate and foster internal divisions, and this has been one of the factors leading to indigenous communities organising to construct their own autonomy, banning political parties and returning to making decisions using their own community assemblies, according to customary practices, and following the Zapatista example.

 

 

C. The Teachers’ Strike:

This small monthly summary of the Zapatista/Chiapas news cannot attempt to encompass all the struggles underway in Mexico at the moment, merely to provide some indicators which can be followed up further.

The teachers have now been on strike for 2.5 months. Since the massacre in Nochixtlan, Oaxaca, on June 19th, there has been an increase in direct actions, marches, material support and expressions of solidarity.

As examples of this, Section 22 of the CNTE in Oaxaca calls for a gathering of teachers and indigenous leaders to “build a peoples’ agenda against structural reforms,” based on discussions and agreements reached in community assemblies, and an Indigenous Peoples Caravan travels from Oaxaca to Mexico City from 17th to 19th July.

Meanwhile CNTE leaders hold ongoing talks with the government, so far without progress. Government officials have shown no willingness to negotiate the reforms which have so far led to the dismissal of nearly 10,000 people.

 

On the subject of the Zapatistas, readers may be interested in this article, re-printed from Counterpunch:https://dorsetchiapassolidarity.wordpress.com/2016/07/30/resurgent-mexico/

It should be noted that at the time of publication of this news summary, the closing words of Subcomandante Moises in Oventic were not available in any language.

 

https://dorsetchiapassolidarity.wordpress.com/2016/08/01/zapatista-news-summary-for-july-2016/

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Zapatista News Summary June 2016

 

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A. EZLN and CNI

 

1.CompARTE for Humanity: Adherents to the Sexta continue to organise events in advance of the festival, which is to be held from 17th to 30th July, first in Oventic and then in Cideci. It is noticeable that there is a general increase in the number of activities and statements promoting different art forms as a means of resistance and struggle.

 

2. Notes on the War: On 17th June, the EZLN release Notes on the War against the Teachers in Resistance (The Hour of the Police 3) taken from the notebook of the cat-dog. The government is losing the media war about the education reform in Chiapas, the communiqué says, and goes on to discuss how the resistance movement is growing. Foreseeing what is to come next for the teachers, it continues: “They have beaten them, gassed them, imprisoned them, threatened them, fired them unjustly, slandered them, and declared a de facto state-of-siege in Mexico City. What’s next? Will they disappear them? Will they murder them? Seriously? The ‘education’ reform will be born upon the blood and bodies of the teachers?”

 

3. From Within the Storm: On 20th June, a joint communiqué, “From Within the Storm,” is released from the National Indigenous Congress and the EZLN on “the cowardly police attack against the National Coordinating Committee of Education Workers and the indigenous community of Nochixtlán, Oaxaca.” In this, the peoples, nations and tribes of the CNI and the EZLN “say to the dignified teachers that they are not alone, that we know that reason and truth are on their side, that the collective dignity from which they speak their resistance is unbreakable, and that this the principal weapon of those of us below.” They demand an end to the repression and call for solidarity in the face of the storm that is upon all of us.

 

4. More from the cat-dog: On 23rd June, the EZLN release The Hour of the Police 4, from the Cat-Dog’s spoiler notebook. This short excerpt is about Aurelio Nuño, Minister of Public Education, who has refused to negotiate. “All memory of you will disappear.”

 

 B. Chiapas

 

1. Bersaín Hernández Zavala: The sad death in a car accident is announced of the teacher, social activist and adherent to the EZLN’s Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle, Bersaín Hernández Zavala, who founded the Autonomous Regional Council of the Coastal Zone of Chiapas in September 2006. This Council covered the municipalities of Tonalá, Pijijiapan and Mapastepec. A movingfarewell and memorial is held on 3rd June, at the secondary school, where he taught in Tonalá, in honour of his important work. He is remembered for his contribution to the construction of a culture of peace.

 

2. The Pueblo Creyente of Simojovel: declare their full and active support for the teachers in resistance, and call for a pilgrimage on 8th June in Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas, against the repression and the so-called reforms, calling on the government to stop the violence, on the police to protect and not to repress, and on the teachers to continue to struggle peacefully. Thousands of indigenous peoples from the municipalities of Simojovel, El Bosque, Huitiupán, Amatán and Pueblo Nuevo Solistahuacán came down from the highlands for this pilgrimage, led by Father Marcelo Pérez Pérez. Further pilgrimages follow.

 

3. Las Abejas of Acteal open a collection for the 81 people, from 14 families, members of their organisation, who were displacedfrom their homes by the shooting and violence in Colonia Puebla, Chenalho, on 26th May. The displaced people are currently living in the headquarters of Las Abejas, and were previously displaced in August 2013. During their monthly commemoration of the fallen, the group denounce the repression and the context of violence towards the indigenous peoples, seen for example in the increase in mineral exploitation (mining.) On 22nd June they say “”The governments of Chiapas and Mexico have never had the mentality to establish peace. They only encourage violence and defend their own interests and those of their bosses who want to impose structural reforms.” These reforms, they add, are only to privatise education, and all the national resources.

 

4. Ejido Tila: Ejidatarios from the newly autonomous community of Tila denounce how “the expelled town council is still looking tofinish us off and return to bad government.” For example, “a member of the municipal police cut an ejidatario with a razor,” and supplies of fuel for the ambulance at Tila have been cut. “Also the threats continue and the town council gave money to the caciques to pay thugs to kill our authorities and destroy our self-government. But here we continue resisting and slowly building our autonomy and the self-government of the ejido.” On 12th June they further announce that they have completed 70 metres of drainage by hand.

 

5. Prisoners: Ejidatarios from San Sebastián Bachajon demand the release of the Tseltal Santiago Moreno Pérez from the prison at Playas de Catazaja. They say he is not receiving medical attention for various diseases resulting from the conditions of his detention over the last seven years. The Tsotsil prisoner Alejandro Díaz Santiz denounces the mistreatment of prisoners through threats and abuse of power by the prison guards, as well as verbal and physical humiliation at the federal prison No. 15, Villa Comaltitlán, Tapachula. In Cereso No 5, the Tsotsil prisoner Roberto Paciencia Cruz begins a short hunger strike in solidarity with the teachers. Roberto also writes a letter of solidarity to Alejandro, to break his isolation.

 

6. The Lacandon Gap: Ejidatarios from the Ocosingo area, members of ARIC (not adherents to the Sexta), gathered at Ejido Candelaria, announce their complete rejection of the proposal to delimit the Lacandon Gap, a fight that has gone on for 40 years, because “the delimitation of the Lacandon Gap is about transnational companies that want to take possession of the land to exploit its valuable natural resources, found in the depths of the Lacandon zone and the Montes Azules biosphere.” “The Government does not intend to regularise this land; rather its main objective is to delimit the gap, in order to expropriate the Lacandon zone.”

 

7. San Isidro Los Laureles: The organised group of San Isidro los Laureles and communities in the municipality of Venustiano Carranza, Chiapas, adherents to the Sixth Declaration, known as Semilla Digna, release a communiqué informing that, during their eviction from their recuperated land, their houses and cornfields were destroyed. The 50 to 60 hectares of maize they had planted, which was almost ready to harvest, has been cut by the attackers and fed to their cattle, leaving 60 families without food. They announce their intention to return and recover their lands and territory.

 

8. San Francisco Teopisca: The organised group of adherents to the Sexta from the ranchería San Francisco, in the municipality of Teopisca, denounce, on 13th June, that the police are searching for seven of their members as a result of arrest warrants which were issued against them last August. This is part of an attempt to seize and sell their recuperated land, “El Desengaño,” by a shock group led by two local caciques.

 

9. Forced disappearance of Maximiliano Gordillo Martinez: On 13th June, one month and six days since the forceddisappearance of Maximiliano Gordillo Martinez, aged 18, his relatives, representatives of his community parish of Socoltenango, along with members of “La 72” Refuge Home for Migrants, Mesoamerican Voices, Action with Migrant Peoples and the Fray Bartolome de Las Casas Centre for Human Rights, call a press conference to denounce the negligence of the authorities in this case. Maximiliano was travelling in search of work because of the poverty of his family, when he was wrongfully detained as a migrant at a checkpoint in the state of Tabasco; since then he has disappeared.

 

10. Banavil: The families forcibly displaced from Banavil report that Alonso Lopez Ramirez was arrested on 9th June, on the charges of homicide and wounding. He is one of those responsible for the aggression of December 4, 2011, that caused the forced displacement of 13 people and the disappearance of Alonso López Luna. The displaced families demand that Alonso Lopez Ramirez is not allowed to go free, that the seven other outstanding arrest warrants in this case are implemented and that a search is conducted to find the disappeared Alonso López Luna, because Lopez Ramirez knows what happened to him.

 

11. An example of autonomous justice: In a communiqué dated 14th June, ejidatarios of San Sebastian Bachajon report that after a group of around 10 people assaulted and killed a young campesino on the road on the night of 12th June, the Ch’ol and Tseltal communities of the region, “decided to organize ourselves autonomously and mobilised around 800 men to track and capture the criminal gang.” The operation was carried out by fifteen communities from different municipalities, among them the municipality of Bachajón, “knowing that there will be no justice from the state due to the complicity of the police forces with the bad government and organised crime.” The aim was “to prevent the bad government from utilizing these types of situations, with the help of the mass media, and presenting them to civil society as the result of a prevailing insecurity and division among indigenous peoples, advocating police and military intervention in territories that are the focus of government interests.” The “organized intervention of the Ch’ol and Tseltal communities to detain the criminals,” was conducted “using our customs and traditional practices and the ways and modes of community policing.”

 

12. Minerva Guadalupe Pérez Torres: 20th June 2016 marks the twentieth anniversary of the forced disappearance of the indigenous Ch’ol Minerva Guadalupe, who was arrested at a checkpoint of the paramilitary group Desarrollo Paz y Justicia (Development Peace and Justice) in the municipality of Tila. This case, says Frayba, “falls within the systematic pattern of forced disappearances, extrajudicial executions and forced displacement in the Northern region of Chiapas, which was part of the counterinsurgency strategy operated by the Mexican State.” The call for justice continues.

 

13. Second and third pilgrimages called: Father Marcelo Pérez Pérez from Simojovel announces that the base ecclesiastical communities from the parishes of San Fernando de Guadalupe, Salto de Agua, San Mateo, Tila, Santo Domingo de Guzmán, Palenque and the diocese of San Cristóbal de las Casas, along with the Pueblo Creyente of Simojovel, will hold a pilgrimage on 20th June in support of the teachers of Chiapas in Tuxtla Gutiérrez. They have to do this because their march of 8th June fell on deaf ears, he says, and to show their support for the teachers and to repudiate the violent acts that occurred in Nochixtlán, Oaxaca. “With such events we cannot remain on the sidelines, as a church we will always be on the side of the oppressed and we will raise our prophetic voice.” Father Marcelo also extends an invitation to a mega-pilgrimage in support of the teachers on 1st July with around thirteen parishes from the diocese of San Cristobal participating.

 

14. Healthworkers strike in Chiapas: In Chiapas, more than 2,000 workers of Health Jurisdiction Number II, which covers 18 municipalities in the Highlands of Chiapas, declare a strike on 7th June to demand equipment and medicine for patients as well as social benefits:  they have neither medicines nor equipment to tend to the patients. Thousands of health workers march in San Cristobal de Las Casas on June 14th, requesting that their demands be addressed and siding against the Health Reform Bill and in support of the teachers. They began a sit-in in the city on that date. On June 22nd, the health sector called for a national strike against the new Universal Health System, a proposal of President Enrique Peña Nieto, whose first phase came into effect the previous week.

 

C. Other

 

1. Campaign in Defence of Mother Earth: The first national video message from the National Campaign in Defence of Mother Earth and Territory is released online as part of the campaign’s overall goal to connect different urban and rural grassroots struggles in Mexico who make their priority the defence of territory, natural resources and the rights of indigenous peoples. In this message artists, poets and intellectuals amplify the voice of the more than 97 peoples who are resisting the imposition of megaprojects in their territories. “Without land and territory, life is not possible.”

 

2. Tata Juan Chávez Alonso: is remembered on the fourth anniversary of his death. “Corn is our blood, corn is our life, corn is our child, the corn boy and girl. It is the young person, the young corn, it is the sister and the brother corn, it is the father and the mother corn, it is the grandmother and grandfather corn. We are the people of corn who like all humanity are all the colours of the earth, because we were born in the land of all the colours that we are. Corn is represented in each of the colours of the world.”

 

3. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) explains that it is facing a serious funding crisis which could result in the loss of 40% of its personnel by the end of July, and would have a devastating impact on its work. The IAHCR is the main recourse for indigenous groups facing violations of their rights and the impacts of its loss would be very severe. The organisation is essential for the scrutiny of press freedom, political violence and indigenous rights.

 

4. World Poetry Gathering of Indigenous Peoples: It is announced that nearly a hundred poets from different native peoples of the five continents will meet in Mexico in October 2016 as part of the first World Poetry Gathering of Indigenous Peoples: Voices of Colours for the Mother Earth, an event that aims to be a cry of warning about the environmental crisis on the planet. The festival, which will be presented in different pre-Hispanic archaeological sites in Mexico, will be adapted to the nature of ancestral cultures, where poetry plays a key role in oral culture which is used to transmit knowledge and traditions.

 

5. GM soya in Campeche: Beekeepers, Mayan communities and environmentalists warn of the possible planting of transgenic soybeans in Campeche despite the suspension of this activity decreed by the Supreme Court of Justice. They demand that the law enforcement authorities ensure that businesses and private producers comply with the ruling, and warn that they will initiate citizen monitoring in high-risk areas in Campeche and denounce any cases found.

 

6. Shocking new report from Amnesty International: Torture is widespread in Mexico’s “war on drugs”, but the impact on women has been largely ignored or downplayed. This report analyses the stories of 100 women who have reported torture and other forms of violence during arrest and interrogation by police and armed forces.

 

D. The Teachers’ Strike

 

The Mexican government’s neoliberal education “reform” represents the privatisation of education, the removal of workers’ rights, the weakening and even criminalisation of trade unions and the virtual exclusion of poor and indigenous regions from the educational system. The teachers have been on strike since 15th May. Huge protests continue despite violent clashes, police brutality and arrests. The arrests of the CNTE leaders along with a dozen other teachers led to mass demonstrations across Mexico, particularly in the states of Chiapas, Oaxaca, Guerrero and Michoacan – the poorest states with the largest indigenous population.

On 19th June violent repression by the Peña Nieto government and a brutal attack lasting over four hours on demonstrators at a roadblock in the southern state of Oaxaca resulted in the killing of at least 12 people, including nine people in the town (population 15,000) of Nochixtlan. See the report by John Ackerman here and an article about the teachers movement in Oaxaca here. Following this attack, residents of Nochixtlán are living in a virtual state of terror. The massacre has sparked a local and global condemnation against state repression in Mexico.

There are also great fears of further acts of repression and indiscriminate violence by the state, in an atmosphere of impunity, and there are many calls for dialogue.

You can sign an urgent action humanitarian alert issued by civil society in Oaxaca following the armed attack by the state on the civilian population here.

 

Massive support for the teachers

Thousands of local and international social organizations and grassroots movements have endorsed the teachers’ cause.

More than 200,000 doctors and nurses joined the teachers in a 24-hour strike against Peña Nieto’s administration attempts to privatize the federal social security and health systems, and students at major Mexican universities boycotted classes to mark the massacre and to oppose the ongoing efforts by the government to increase costs of higher education.

Generalized roadblocks against the education reform are set up throughout Chiapas, in Tuxtla, San Cristobal, Comitan, Ocosingo, Oxchuc, Ixtapa, and Suchiapa, and a succession of indigenous and cultural groups are joining the marches. On 29th June, more than eighteen roads in Chiapas were reported as having been blocked for three days, and by 30th June, twenty in the state of Oaxaca. The mobilisations continue, because no agreements have been reached through negotiation. Osorio Chong is talking about removing the roadblocks by force. However, on 30th July, Mexican authorities agreed to pay reparations for the dead in Nochixtlan.

Indigenous groups have come out very strongly in support of the teachers, notably the Pueblo Creyente of Simojovel, Las Abejas from Acteal, the Mixe from highland Oaxaca, who are carrying out massive mobilisations, and, of course, the Zapatistas, along with the Indigenous National Congress.

***

Finally, a summary of the situation from the Manchester Zapatista Collective:

Teachers in different parts of the world are fighting against what neoliberal governments are doing to education: governments abandon education for the most marginalized sectors of societies, they privatize education for everyone else, they remove critical thinking from
curricula and turn education into their own tool for forming compliant and obedient servants of the existing system. We’re seeing it in Britain, in the U.S., and in Mexico. Dispossession is not only about land; it is also about knowledge which should be there for everyone. As
Gustavo Esteva puts it, ‘the teachers’ territory is the classroom.’

In Mexico teachers have been striking in the Mexican state of Oaxaca. This last weekend (18/19 June) the police cracked down on them; as far as we know nine people have been killed and over 100 injured. This is an extension of the crack-down on teachers and teacher training students in Guerrero, another part of Mexico, which led to the enforced disappearance of 43 students from Ayotzinapa two years ago.

Here is an interview with Gustavo Esteva, who has been with the Sixth, on the reasons for the actions of the teachers in Oaxaca, on the abandoning of education by the government, and on the links between education and the struggle for land and territory:
http://www.democracynow.org/2016/6/22/struggling_for_our_lives_gustavo_esteva

 

Dorset Chiapas Solidarity

 

https://dorsetchiapassolidarity.wordpress.com/2016/07/01/zapatista-news-summary-june-2016/

 

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Zapatista News Summary May 2016

 

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A. EZLN and CNI

1. Galeano: 2nd May marks the second anniversary of the attack on the Caracol of La Realidad in which the teacher Galeano was murdered, before being reborn as Subcomandante Galeano, and one year since the homage to him.

 

2. CNI and EZLN denounce repression in Chablekal, Yucatan: In a joint communiqué, the EZLN and CNI condemn an attack on 3rd May by police who beat and use tear gas against the Maya residents of Chablekal, Yucatan, who are trying to prevent the eviction of an elderly couple. Seven people are arrested but freed after intense protests. The police intrusion is seen to be “violent and disproportionate.” The inhabitants of the community are being attacked for defending “what remains of their territory from the theft and displacement they have suffered over the last few years on behalf of speculators and new landowners.”

 

3. CNI and EZLN issue a joint communique on aggression against Álvaro Obregón, Oaxaca: The EZLN and CNI denounce an attack made on 14th May on the Binizza people of Álvaro Obregón, Juchitán, Oaxaca, who are struggling against a wind energy project being imposed on their territory. The police and bodyguards of the PAN-PRD candidate Gloria Sánchez López fire gunshots at members of the community, injuring six people who are attending an assembly.  One municipal police officer is killed after the community police intervene to defend the community members under attack, leading to fears of an attempt by the government to crush the entire autonomous project.

 

4. Zapatista Autonomous Justice: An important new book is published in Spanish, Zapatista autonomous justice: Tzeltal jungle zone,by Doctor Paulina Fernández Christlieb.

 

5. The books Critical Thought against the Capitalist Hydra: Volumes II and III of Critical Thought against the Capitalist Hydraare published in Mexico and are presented at various events. They represent the rest of the contributions made at the seminar/seedbed of the same name which was held in May 2015, and are published in the order the presentations were made. Volume I is now being translated into English, French, Italian, German and Greek.

 

6. ‘Comparte for Humanity’ Festival: Various preparatory events are being held for this festival, in towns and cities in Mexico, and in Barcelona (where it will be held on 29th and 30th July). The EZLN’s words are “We are hoping that the compas of the Sixth in Mexico and in the world understand what you might call the subliminal message of the convocation, and organize activities—in their own geographies and in accordance with their own calendars—either before, during, or after the festivals/gatherings convoked by the Zapatistas.”

The festival will take place from 17th to 22nd July in the Caracol of Oventik, when only Zapatista bases of support will participate, and then from 23rd to 30th July, 2016, in CIDECI, San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, when all registered artists will be able participate. Attendance is open for listeners and viewers for both parts, but requires registration. Entry is free. Registration closes on 15th June.

 

7. “May, between authoritarianism and resistance”: On 30th May, the EZLN issue a communiqué about the teachers’ movement, signed by Subcomandantes Moisés and Galeano, putting an end to various pieces of apocryphal information that have been circulating. The communiqué makes clear that the EZLN fully supports the teachers in their fight against the education reform, and asserts that with the repression and the refusal to dialogue and negotiate, the government is violating the law and the constitution, while the teachers are “in resistance and rebellion.” There is a good summary in English about the teachers’ resistancehere.

 

B. Chiapas

 

1. Droughts: According to the National Water Commission (Conagua), rainfall in Chiapas during April was 19% down compared with figures for the previous twenty years. At least 40 municipalities in Chiapas are seriously affected, and the impact on food production is a matter of great concern. In the indigenous municipalities of the highland region of Chiapas this drought is affecting the supply of drinking water, and has led to the drying up of rivers and wells.

 

2. Collective work in the Ejido Tila: Chol ejidatarios of Tila announce how they are moving forward in their newly established autonomy, and the collective work they are doing as agreed in their assembly, such as cleaning up the town, recuperating public spaces, acting against drugs, and other work for the community such as maintaining the water and sanitary systems. 26th May is the festival of the Lord of Tila, and they say they are well prepared for the arrival of many pilgrims.

 

3. Meeting in Chicoasen: A declaration is issued, the Declaration by Original Peoples, Organisations and Communities in Defence of Mother Earth and our Territory, following a meeting held in Chicoasen in April. All megaprojects for the building of mines or dams are rejected, and the withdrawal of arrest warrants against the residents of Chicoasen demanded. The ejidatarios of Chicoasen are in struggle against the building of a second dam in their territory.

 

4. Members of CIOAC take possession of Tojolabal indigenous lands: Residents of the Ejido Guadalupe Victoria, municipality of Altamirano, denounce the invasion of their lands by 15 people who abandoned the community voluntarily after the 1994 uprising, led by caciques from the PRI, saying they are there under orders from the government. Sixteen years after abandoning their land, these former community members applied to the land court in Comitan to get the land back. The ejidatarios say that the invaders are supported by members of CIOAC and by the government, and that they threaten to attack them when they go to the city. They issue a “demand that the government does not support those ex-ejidatarios so as to avoid confrontation.”

 

5. The Pueblo Creyente of Simojovel give thanks for water and face serious attack: In a ceremony held on 3rd May, the Pueblo Creyente of Simojovel bless and pray at their springs, giving thanks for the sacred gift of water. They pledge to plant trees to protect the springs. Then on 4th May an urgent communiqué is issued following an armed attack on the town of Simojovel by up to 150 paramilitaries and members of the PRI who throw tear gas, molotovs, stones and rockets in the streets and the central park, which are thronged with people. This is condemned as a direct attack on the population, aimed to spread terror, and as a threat to the parish council and priest, permitted with impunity by the government. They reveal that two similar attacks happened during the previous month.

 

6. Authorities do not allow the displaced of Banavil to return: The displaced families from Banavil, Tenejapa, hold the ejidal authorities of their community responsible for their physical safety, after the authorities circulate a video saying they will not permit the displaced people to return to Banavil. The displaced Tseltales repeat once again that the government of Velasco Coello has been “deaf and blind” to their situation of forced displacement and the forced disappearance of their father, and call for justice.

 

7. Recuperation and attacks in Bachajón: On 5th May, ejidatarios, adherents to the Sexta, from San Sebastián Bachajón denounce in a communiqué that political party members have taken over the tollbooth and impeded the officially elected ejidal commissioner’s access to the ejido. At the same time, they announce that they have recuperated some hectares of land belonging to them in the San Juan region, in the municipality of Chilon. On 8th May, they denounce an attack on a community member and his family in Xanil by the leader of a group of paramilitaries and his two sons who also serve as state police. Three policemen are detained by the ejidatarios until those responsible are punished. At the same time the Bachajón prisoners thank everyone who supported them on Political Prisoners’ Day.

 

8. Seventeen years of unjust imprisonment: On 11th May, Alejandro Díaz Santiz completes seventeen years of unjust imprisonment for a crime he did not commit. That is the equivalent of half his life. “His only crime was to be poor and indigenous.” Alejandro spends the day fasting.

 

9. Cruztón celebrates and then denounces: On 5th May, the community of Cruztón in the municipality of Venustiano Carranza in the highlands of Chiapas, an adherent to the Sexta and a member of the CNI and of the group Semilla Digna, celebrates the ninth anniversary of the recuperation of 249 hectares of its lands. A few days later, a member of the organization is detained and tortured by the group Nuevo Guadalupe Victoria in the community of the same name in a long-standing dispute over the road to a burial ground (panteón.)

 

10. Unresolved conflict among Las Abejas of Acteal: In October 2014, a small group, the Consejo Pacifista Sembradores de la Paz (Pacifist Council of Sowers of Peace,) split from the main Civil Society Organisation Las Abejas, which was founded in 1992. Recently the newly separated group has been claiming to be the main organization in Acteal, and attempting to discredit both the original Las Abejas, and the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Centre (Frayba.) This has caused a lot of confusion, and apress conference is called to attempt to clarify the situation. Hermann writes an article explaining what has happened in more detail.

 

11. Attack on San Isidro los Laureles: The Tsotsil community of San Isidro los Laureles, adherent to the Sexta and member of Semilla Digna and the CNI, recuperated 165 hectares of its land, known as El Refugio, in the municipality of Venustiano Carranza last December. On 12th May, the community was raided by 40 trucks of police and paramilitaries who invaded the community and opened fire. They then ransacked homes, burned possessions and destroyed crops. The “white guards” were led by local caciques who claim the land as theirs. The community was displaced, because the attackers were “shooting to kill.” The 60 families have regrouped on nearby land. They have lost 70 hectares of corn which have been harvested and stolen by the attackers. Among those sending messages of solidarity are the community of Candelaria el Alto, and the CGT who highlight the recent increase in acts of government repression against the peoples in movement. Candelaria el Alto itself receives threats after offering its solidarity.

 

12. Expansion of CIOAC in Chiapas: The paramilitary-style group Central Independiente de Obreros Agrícolas y Campesinos (CIOAC), an organisation closely linked to the Chiapas government, has been growing in power and “expanding its actions and its tentacles in Chiapas.” When the above eviction (item 11) was taking place, CIOAC were holding, with impunity, a roadblock in the state capital Tuxtla Gutiérrez. It needs to be understood that certain municipalities in Chiapas are in a state of almost permanent conflict among caciques and their supporters as to who holds power, and an increasing number of paramilitary-style attacks are happening and scarcely being reported.

 

13. Zinacantán Mobilizes Against Water Privatization: On 15th May, the Pueblo Creyente of Zinacantan declare an alert against water privatisation. They say the municipality plans to tax water use. A pilgrimage in thanks for water is held to the main spring to denounce this.

 

14. Chicomuselo communities denounce mining companies in their territory: Residents of several communities in Chicomuselo, who remain alert to the risks of mining exploration in the region, arrest four people on 17th May who say they are promoting a mining project in the Ejido Grecia. The communities denounce that the mining companies continue to divide the communities by offering money to set up projects in the region, leading to great social and environmental damage.

 

15. Primero de Agosto: The people of this community have now experienced one year and three months in forced displacement, without any justice for the aggression perpetrated by CIOAC. They express their solidarity with the peoples of Simojovel and Banavil.

 

16. Conflict in Chenalho: A violent conflict has been going on in the municipality of Chenalho over the election of a woman as mayor last year. For the last two months a faction has been trying to force her out of office. After they kidnapped two state Congressmen on 25th May, she was forced to resign. A fight between supporters of the two candidates from the community of Ejido Puebla resulted in the death from gunshot wounds of a fourteen-year-old girl and an elderly man. Several others have been seriously injured, and houses burned. Two people are disappeared, and 257 people (80 families) are displaced from ejido Puebla – 80% of the population. The Diocese of San Cristobal de Las Casas has denounced the serious situation of social division that exists in the municipality of Chenalhó along with an uncontrolled use of weapons that could lead to even more violent events, and has offered mediation.

 

17. Dams: Information published in La Jornada and other publications last month stated that work had started on building the Boca del Cerro dam on the Usumacinta river. Activists have since visited the site and confirmed that no work is yet underway, and that the communities are strongly opposed to any work taking place on the river. If built, this dam would be an environmental catastrophe.

 

18. Water: Coca-Cola are now digging their third well near their plant in San Cristobal de Las Casas. More than 5,000 people living in the vicinity already have no water supply and have to buy their water.

 

C. Other

 

1. San Salvador Atenco, the struggle continues: The Peoples’ Front in Defence of the Land (FPDT) from Atenco and members of the surrounding communities, members of the Fire of Dignified Resistance, who are all threatened with losing their lands to the new Mexico City airport, are much in the news this month. 3rd and 4th May mark the tenth anniversary of Mayo Rojo (Red May) and theterrible attack and brutal repression unleashed on the town of San Salvador Atenco by now-president Enrique Peña Nieto in 2006. Two days of marches, concerts and activities mark the continuation of the struggle. The members then return to fighting and blocking theconstruction of a new road to the airport, by planting trees and removing construction materials along with other actions. Among the risks posed, the new airport threatens the water supply for Mexico City and surrounding areas.

On 23rd May, the FPDT declare themselves on maximum alert. They denounce that workers from the airport group have illegally entered the territory of Nexquipayac, escorted by more than 200 members of the federal, marine, state and municipal police, with the intention of marking out the perimeter fence of the airport. This violates their court-ordered injunction (amparo.) “These illegal incursions are acts of provocation that the government is mounting to stir up the people and thus justify the repression against the communities and members of the FPDT. The utilization of workers for the airport who come from our own peoples is being used as a tactic to divide the people and make us fight amongst each other.” Similar incursions continue to take place in the variouscommunities affected. On 29th May, the Fire of Dignified Resistance hosts the First Popular Encounter against the Eruviel Law.

 

2. Mining: Me’phaa Indigenous communities in the state of Guerrero, accompanied by their advisers from the Tlachinollan Human Rights Centre, have urged the Supreme Court to set a legal precedent and declare the 1992 mining act unconstitutional, arguing that it violates international treaties that Mexico has signed and ratified.

 

3. Kidnappings increase: During the current administration of Enrique Peña Nieto (from December 2012 to April 2016), kidnappings increased by 19 percent, according to a monthly report by the civil organization Stop Kidnapping. During this period, an average of six people a day have been kidnapped, and that is just the ones we know about.

 

4. Disappeared Activists: The Committee of Relatives of Disappeared Detainees denounces that the Mexican state security forces have disappeared 83 political activists — among them students and human rights defenders — since President Enrique Peña Nieto took office in December 2012.

 

5. The teachers’ struggle: Huge demonstrations and battles with police are ongoing in many parts of the country, especially in Mexico City, Oaxaca, Guerrero, Michoacan and Chiapas, with the levels of repression increasing. Running street fights are occurring in Tuxtla and San Cristobal, with many parents coming out on the side of the teachers in their opposition to the education reforms as support for the strike continues to grow. In Chiapas, teachers’ marches on 19th and 25th May are attacked by police firing tear gas and rubber bullets from the ground and from helicopters. The government has frozen the union’s bank account, and says it has firedmore than 3,000 striking teachers from the CNTE union, whose strike started on 15th May. The president refuses to negotiate. Various apocryphal statements attributed to the Zapatistas and photos of non-existent demonstrations are circulated, until, on 30thMay, a communiqué signed by Subcomandantes Moises and Galeano is published on the Enlace Zapatista website, entitled “May, between authoritarianism and resistance.” Civil human rights organisations have condemned the use of violence and called for an end to the harassment, repression and criminalisation of the teachers’ movement. They call on the international community to show solidarity and condemn the human rights violations committed by the Mexican state.

 

6. Human Rights crisis: The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) reveals that it is going through a severe financial crisis that will have serious consequences on its ability to fulfil its mandate and carry out its basic functions. In 2015, the IACHR received 1,164 complaints from its 35 member-states, 849 of which involved Mexico, constituting 73 percent of all complaints. Mexico has 32 human rights organizations at the local level and one national human rights commission, which means that although the Mexican government spends more than US$200 million every year to address human rights, it is the country with most complaints for human rights violations filed before the IACHR, which the IACHR say reveals a deep mistrust of Mexico’s human rights institutions. The human rights situation in Mexico has come under heavy scrutiny, with many international organizations lambasting the Mexican government for allowing impunity to reign.

 

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Zapatista News Summary For April 2016

 

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In Chiapas 

1. Judgement about the tourist highway: The Tsotsil communities of Los Llanos and San José el Porvenir in Los Altos de Chiapas reveal publicly that on January 18th 2016 they were granted anamparo (order for legal protection) against the San Cristóbal de Las Casas-Palenque highway, which the government has been trying to impose on them since November 2013. In the sentence the judge orders the cancellation of the outlines of the construction project, or any other programme, for the highway between the municipalities of San Cristobal and Huixtan, in particular on the lands of the two communities. The communities call for the cancellation of the entire project.

 

2. Great pilgrimage in defence of Mother Earth. A pilgrimage of more than 200 kilometres in defence of Mother Earth and in memory of the still unpunished and unresolved Viejo Velasco massacre of 13th November, 2006, takes place from 3rd to 10th April 2016, in the Northern region of Chiapas, with indigenous Chol, Tseltal, Tsotsil and Zoque participants. The pilgrimage, starts in the community of Arroyo Granizo and finishes in Oxchuc. The pilgrims denounce the lack of justice for the Viejo Velasco massacre and denounce the dispossession caused by megaprojects; it is made clear that the pilgrimage is intended to set a precedent for the defence of and struggle for the Mother Earth, which is seriously threatened by megaprojects already planned in this zone, which will directly affect many communities. Such is the case of the hydroelectric dam at Boca del Cerro which will affect at least 30 communities in the vicinity of the Usumacinta river. These communities have not been consulted or taken in to account in any way.

 

3. The displaced of Banavil: On 4th April, Frayba denounces the unjustified delay in dealing with the case of the displaced families of Banavil, Tenejapa, and the fact that the authorities of the Chiapas government are protecting the perpetrators. The displaced families issue a communiqué and join the National Campaign in Defence of Mother Earth and Territory.

 

4. Risk in Simojovel: On 7th April, Frayba again expresses concerns about the continuing imminent risk to community human rights defenders in Simojovel, especially Father Marcelo Pérez Pérez and members of the Simojovel parish council and the Pueblo Creyente.

 

5. Primero de Agosto: The displaced families from Primero de Agosto denounce in a communiquéthat on 7th and 8th April, members of CIOAC-Histórica from Miguel Hidalgo started to enclose with barbed wire part of the lands of Primero de Agosto. The cioaquistas were carrying firearms and machetes and wearing the “yellow caps of the PRD.”

 

6. San Isidro Los Laureles: On 9th April, adherents to the Sexta, members of Semilla Digna and the Indigenous National Congress (CNI) from San Isidro Los Laureles, in the municipality of Venustiano Carranza, denounce acts of intimidation in the form of a helicopter overflight with cameras, followed by the firing of gunshots from a vehicle in their community, and call for solidarity with their struggle.

 

7. The National Campaign in Defence of Mother Earth and Territory: is launched on 10th April, the 97th anniversary of the assassination of Emiliano Zapata. The objective is for everyone to unite in defence of the Mother Earth. Caravans from Chiapas, Oaxaca, Guerrero, Puebla, Veracruz and Tlaxcala converge in Mexico City for this launch. The campaign is made up of 179 organizations, collectives and associations. It aims to denounce dispossession and share struggles for the defence of Mother Earth, to denounce the corporations profiting from dispossession and to show alternative ways of life.

 

8. Fourth Forum of Resistances and Alternatives of the Peoples of the Northern Zone of Chiapas: During this forum more than 300 people from more than 60 communities from seven municipalities in the Northern and Jungle regions of Chiapas and from the Petén Front against Dams in Guatemala come together. They reject the construction of the bi-national Boca del Cerro hydroelectric dam on the Usumacinta river, which will lead to the invasion and dispossession of their territories. Work has already started on this dam, the first of five such dams planned for this river, which forms the border between the two countries.

 

9. Ejido Tila: Ejidatarios from Tila hold a march on 10th April in memory of Emiliano Zapata, and to celebrate the realisation of their ejidal autonomy and free self-determination since the expulsion of the municipal authorities last December. On 13th April a group of around a hundred people come to the ejido in six lorries, led by caciques (political chiefs) from the area, intending to provoke aconfrontation, to give the government an excuse for repression. This leads to a very tense situation. The group are expelled, and return a second time.

 

10. Declaration from EZLN and CNI: On 12th April the EZLN and CNI issue a Joint Declaration on “the cowardly betrayal of the Indigenous Ñatho community of San Francisco Xochicuautla in order to implement the highway project Toluca Naucalpan,” as well as on the assault on community police in Ostula. They call upon all peoples, organizations, and individuals in solidarity to be attentive and to heed the call made by the community of Xochicuautla. The CNI declares itself on maximum alert. Statements in support of Xochicuautla are also issued by Las Abejas and by the ejidatarios of Bachajόnand Tila.

 

11. Las Abejas of Acteal call a press conference to denounce the usurpation of their name, stamp and logo by a different group from Acteal, Consejo Pacifista Sembradores de La Paz, who are spreading false information and want to take over the physical and symbolic spaces of Las Abejas in Acteal, House of Memory and Hope. In another communiqué a few days later, they offer solidarity to ‪‎Xochicuautla, Bachajón and Primero de Agosto, and denounce megaprojects and the destruction of Mother Earth.

 

12. International Political Prisoners’ Day is marked in Chiapas by events in support of political prisoners in Mexico and the world, including a press conference for Alejandro Díaz Santis from Solidarity with the Voice of El Amate. The release is called for of Santiago Moreno Perez, Emilio Jimenez Gomez and Esteban Gomez Jimenez, prisoners from the Ejido San Sebastián Bachajón, which issues a communiqué in their support.

 

13. A gathering is held in the Ejido Chicoasen (where they are struggling against a dam) from 12th to 15th April, for the Non-violent Transformation of Conflict in Defence of our Territory, attended by representatives of communities in Chiapas affected by dams, mines, gas pipelines, and other megaprojects. They issue a pronouncement denouncing these megaprojects and demanding the cancellation of projects which affect life and damage the mother earth and calling on communities not to allow transnational companies to enter their lands.

 

14: Third anniversary of the assassination of Juan Vázquez Guzmán. The community spokesperson from the Ejido San Sebastián Bachajón was killed by six gunshots in the doorway of his home on 24th April, 2013. He was killed for defending his people’s land and territory from dispossession by the government and transnationals in order to build a luxury tourist development.  The third commemoration of his death is held at his family home, all in solidarity are invited to attend or contribute, and letters are received and read aloud from Mexico, North and South America and fromEurope.

 

15. Repression of teachers: The National Coordinating Body of Education Workers (CNTE), called a national day of mobilization on 15th April against the federal government’s plan to privatize and standardize public education. In San Cristóbal de las Casas there were running street battles after federal police attacked the demonstrators with tear gas and beatings. Similar repression also occurred in the state capital of Tuxtla Gutiérrez, involving tear gas fired from helicopters. At least 24 people were arrested and tortured. In response to this state brutality, on 22nd April, 100,000 teachers marched in Tuxtla in a peaceful and orderly demonstration. Frayba denounces the repression, torture and arbitrary arrests of teachers along with the “generalised violence implemented by the Mexican state.”

 

16. Poverty figures: An Oxfam report shows that despite the investment of 40 million dollars since 1995, poverty in Chiapas is increasing. Since the Zapatista rebellion, Chiapas has received the most funding of any state to combat poverty, yet still remains the poorest state in Mexico. A study by INEGIshows that in the state of Chiapas 43.8% (754,000) of children live in extreme multi-dimensional poverty.

 

17. Interview with Sub Moíses: An interview with Subcomandante Moíses, spokesperson of the EZLN, by Ukrainian journalist Oleg Yasinsky, with the group Chto Delat from St Petersburg, Russia, is released on YouTube.

 

18. 3 major rivers have dried up in the state of Chiapas. The State Director of Civil Protection Luis Manuel Garcia tells Reforma that 40 Chiapan municipalities have been affected, of which four are experiencing extreme drought. “All of the biggest rivers in the coastal area of Chiapas have been practically dried up. The wells from which water for the population is extracted are eight metres below their normal level.” In light of the extreme circumstances, Garcia says they will send a petition to the federal government requesting that they issue a state of emergency decree for three of Chiapas’ municipalities in order to get financial resources from the National Disaster Fund.

 

Other

1. Caravan against the drug war visits Chiapas. The Caravan for Peace, Life and Justice departs from Honduras on 28th March and travels to New York City for the special session on drugs of the General Assembly of the United Nations on 19th April. It crosses the border with Guatemala on 6th April and visits San Cristobal on 7th April where there is a meeting with movements and organisations dealing with issues such as migration and the defence of land and territory. It moves on to Mexico City. The Caravan is a broad initiative of families of victims of human rights violations, civil society organizations and social movements from different nations, which call for a “halt to the war on drugs.”

 

2. Major disturbances in indigenous territories to allow the entrance of megaprojects

a) San Francisco Xochicuautla: This Otomi-Ñatho community, in the municipality of Lerma, Mexico State, has been resisting the construction of the Toluca-Naucalpan highway and won the definitive suspension of a presidential decree to expropriate almost 38 hectares of its lands. In spite of this, on April 11th, between 700 and 1,000 state police forcibly enter the community, in order to permit the entrance of bulldozers from the construction company Autovan-Teya, a subsidiary of Grupo Higa. They demolish the camp of Peace and Dignified Resistance and a number of houses which are on the planned highway route, beating and evicting people. There is a huge response to this attack, and the state suspends construction and offers damages on 13th The new National Campaign in Defence of Mother Earth and Territory is one of many organisations to respond. At the same time as this attack the community police of the autonomous Nahua community of Ostula in Michoacán are ambushed, and one person is killed.

 

b) San Salvador Atenco: On 12th April, the Peoples Front in Defence of the Land (FPDT) from Atenco report the forced entrance of an army tank into the communally owned lands of Atenco, Mexico State, escorting a group of workers “from a private company that carried out studies for the construction of the new airport. This was all done illegally and intimidating the inhabitants who had met on becoming aware of the incursion. Nevertheless, we managed to expel them pacifically.” The people of Atenco are continuing to prevent work on building the road from taking place, blocking the road and removing construction materials.

 

In response to this attack, and that on Xochicuautla, Jose Antonio Lara Duque, general director of the Zeferino Ladrillero Human Rights Centre states: “We believe that, given the facts, the local government is trying to justify the Eruviel Law. That is to say, to provoke the peoples who have been defending their land, territory and natural resources. If anybody falls into [the trap of] provocation, it would legitimize the use of lethal force to control the people who are defending themselves.”

 

3. Special Economic Zones: On 14th April, the Senate passes the Federal Law for Special Economic Zones (SEZ.) The law establishes preferential conditions for national and foreign private companies, to whom it gives concessions for 40 years, renewable for 40 more, and tax and customs exemptions for eight years. In effect, the law plans the expropriation of all territories required to establish investment projects, which will be administered by businessmen, who will be able to operate their own surveillance and security companies. The law has been condemned for being designed only to benefit the rich. One of the five zones is Puerto Chiapas, designed to facilitate exports to Asia.

 

4. The major issue of dams:

After recent news from Brazil and Honduras, dams are, like mining becoming a major international issue which cannot be ignored. Please read some of the links given in this news summary. The forthcoming dams on the River Usumacinta will soon become a major issue for anyone who cares about the Zapatistas and the communities of Chiapas. The threat goes far beyond the 60 communities which are already being affected. We strongly urge people to start mobilising now, before it is too late.

Dorset Chiapas Solidarity has received the following message from Chiapas: “The situation with these dams is urgent… if they are allowed to be built it means the destruction of Chiapas as we know it completely and the end to movements and to indigenous culture.”

 

The information below comes from Telesur:

According to researchers, some 200,000 people have been displaced by the construction of dams across Mexico, while advocacy groups warn that the country’s new water law will only continue to make the situation worse. Many of Mexico’s 4,462 dams registered in official records are located on land belonging to indigenous and campesino communities, which are not only located near main water sources but also vulnerable to exploitation, and the communities rely heavily on river resources. Over 660 of the dams are considered to be large.

Some of the largest mass displacements took place in the early 1980s, with tens of thousands of people pushed off their land for large dam projects. Thousands more have been forcibly displaced by new construction since then. Even when families are not forced from their homes, hydroelectric projects impact the entire social fabric of a community, as well as compromising food production and local public health.

Resistance against dam projects also takes a heavy toll. Since 2005, over 40 activists fighting to defend rivers have been killed in Mexico, Central America and Colombia, according to GeoComunes.Among those killed in connection with dam projects in the past decade, at least eight were killed in Mexico and 13 in Guatemala.

Also, with this year’s drastic droughts having a grave effect on the hydroelectric dams on which countries such as Venezuela and Colombia depend for their electricity, dams would not seem a sensible source of future energy supplies. Meteorological predictions from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warn that extreme weather events such as prolonged droughts are likely to steadily increase.

 

Other sources of news

Boca en Boca has not been produced this month

Followers of Movement for Justice in El Barrio may like to read their latest news: http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/35625-participatory-democracy-drives-anti-gentrification-movement-in-new-york-s-el-barrio

We draw your attention to this report on the deteriorating social situation in some communities in the northern, highland and border regions:https://dorsetchiapassolidarity.wordpress.com/2016/04/20/narco-zetas-and-paramilitaries-the-new-reality-in-chiapas/

We recommend this summary of all the news from Mexico, produced for It’s Going Down:https://fallingintoincandescence.com/2016/04/17/insumision-the-state-responds-with-force/  This is the fourth edition of this report, which hopefully will be printed regularly.

Thank you.

 

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Zapatista News Summary For March 2016

 

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In Chiapas

1. Alejandro Díaz Santiz, imprisoned for being indigenous: In a letter, more than 70 organisations from more than 10 countries demand the freedom of Alejandro Díaz Santiz, a Tsotsil indigenous man aged 35, who has been imprisoned since 1999 for a murder he did not commit. He was tortured and had no access to a translator or a legal defence. He is now in a maximum security prison in Tapachula, which is designed for federal prisoners (he is not a federal prisoner,) at a great distance from his family and friends, despite promises of his release.

 

2. Father Marcelo Pérez receives more death threats: Felipe Arizmendi Esquivel, bishop of the diocese of San Cristóbal de las Casas, confirms that he has asked for urgent precautionary measures to be taken to protect the life of Father Marcelo Pérez Pérez, parish priest from Simojovel, who has received numerous death threats and attacks.

 

3. Cinco de Marzo: The autonomous Chol, Tzotzil and Tzeltal community of Cinco de Marzo in San Cristóbal de las Casas makes apronouncement marking the celebration of 22 years in resistance since they recuperated their lands following the Zapatista uprising. They are now struggling against high electricity tariffs – they currently have no electricity – against having their water cut off, and against government “assistance” programmes. “The bad government has tried to disrupt and divide us through their programs of ‘support’ and projects that supposedly ‘benefit the community.’ The only thing that has occurred is the intent to divide us from our other compañerxs.In spite of this, the bad government has failed to defeat us. On the contrary, all of this has strengthened us be more united and organized in our resistance and struggle for autonomy.”

 

4. Disappearance of human rights defender: Front Line Defenders, an organisation which works to protect human rights defenders, denounces the disappearance of human rights defender Fidencio Gómez Sántiz from Altamirano, last seen on 5th March, 2016. He is a member of Frente Nacional de Lucha por el Socialismo – FNLS(National Front for the Fight for Socialism), a grassroots movement established in 2006, which is not an adherent to the Sexta.  The case is believed to be one of enforced disappearance, and Front Line Defenders believes that his disappearance is directly linked to his peaceful and legitimate human rights work.

 

5. Movement holds second assembly: ‘The Movement in Defence of Land and Territory and for the participation and recognition of women in decision-making’ holds its second assembly on 6th and 7th March in Cideci, and sharesits proposals for struggle and its pronouncement against extractivism.

 

6. International Women’s Day, 8th March:Many events take place in Chiapas. Frayba publishes a statement against systematic violence against women and femicide, and emphasises the right of women to life, personal integrity and security, access to justice, and to have a life free from violence. Many groups of organised women issue statements, or hold marches and meetings, including Las Abejas de Acteal, Women for the Defence of Land and Territory, and the women of Simojovel via the Pueblo Creyente.

 

7. Gustavo Castro Soto held in Honduras, concerns for his life: Indigenous peoples and communities and groups and organisations throughout Chiapas make statements condemning the brutal murder on 3rd March of the indigenous Lenca environmental defender Berta Cáceres, founder and leader of the organisation Copinh in Honduras, and in support of the Mexican and long-term Chiapas resident Gustavo Castro Soto. The director of Otros Mundos A.C./Friends of the Earth Mexico is a sociologist, a writer and an organizer for environmental and economic justice, and was the sole witness to Berta’s murder, when he was also wounded. Castro is subsequently detained in Honduras by local authorities, and treated like a criminal, leading to serious concerns for his wellbeing. Guarantees are demanded for Castro’s safety and his immediate return home. On 31st March the prohibition on his leaving the country is lifted, and on 1st April Gustavo Castro returns to Mexico.

 

8. 15th anniversary of the March of the Colour of the Earth: 11th March 2016 marks the 15th anniversary of the March of the Colour of the Earth reaching Mexico City, when hundreds of thousands of people came out on to the streets to welcome the arrival of representatives of the EZLN and of most of the indigenous peoples of Mexico, who had come to demand the implementation of the San Andres Accords. The subsequent betrayal marks the beginning of the construction of autonomy among many indigenous peoples.

 

9. Dams and Rivers: The International Day against Dams and for the Defence of Rivers is marked in Chiapas on 14th March. A conference of “dissemination and protest” is held and a declaration is released saying that “Dams are mega projects that destroy life, through the dispossession of territories. Dams are imposed, as in the case of Chicoasén II, and communities are not consulted before they carry out these projects of death”. Sin Embargoestimates that 200,000 people in Mexico have been displaced by dams, and over 300 hydroelectric schemes are planned for Honduras alone. Las Abejas undertake an action to mark this day.

 

10. More communiqués from the EZLN. Two more communiqués are released, from Subcomandantes Moisés and Galeano, updating information on the forthcoming festivals of arts and sciences, and including excerpts from the diary of the cat-dog.

On 14th March, in about “CompArte for Humanity,” we are told that so far 99 participants from Mexico, and 30 from many other countries have registered to participate, from a wide range of artistic activities, along with 26 attendees. It is hoped that festivals and gatherings will be organised in many other parts of the world. Questions are answered.

On 16th March, there follows news on how plans are going for the Encounter “The Zapatistas and the ConSciences for Humanity” – 50 applications have been received from ten different scientific disciplines. The Cat-Dog tells a story about a football match and International Women’s Day.

 

11. Other Zapatista news: The first reprint of the Zapatista book “Critical thought against the Capitalist Hydra” is released in Mexico. Journalists warn of further offensives against the Zapatistas.

 

12. Ejido Tila strengthens its autonomy: Members of the Ch’ol community of Ejido Tila are consolidating their autonomy since they expelled the local government on 16th December, in particular using their community assembly to organize their own security and that of the thousands of families of visitors, many of them pilgrims, who attend the annual festivities of el Señor de Tila.

 

13. Simojovel pilgrimage: 21st March is the first anniversary of the Great Pilgrimage from Simojovel to Tuxtla. The Pueblo Creyente of Simojovel hold a march to mark this date, defining their objective as to be able to live in peace. The Tzotzil indigenous reject a proposal for dialogue made by the brothers and political caciques (chieftains) Juan and Ramiro Gomez Dominguez, and say they do not intend to have any rapprochement with those who have organized to kill Father Marcelo Pérez Pérez and to harass and threaten members of their religious organization. They denounce the existence of an armed group known as Los Diablos (The Devils) in Pueblo Nuevo Solistahuacan, who have killed three members of the same family and caused the displacement of a further 14 people. They also denounce kidnapping, the firing of shots, threats and intimidation.

 

14. Las Abejas de Acteal: In their monthly communiqué, on 22nd March, Las Abejas de Acteal denounce impunity and the criminalisation of those in struggle, and that the Mexican president makes reforms which do not benefit the Mexican people. According to their statement, the defence of the life of the people and of nature now seems to be a crime. “All those who rise to defend and protest their rights find just one response from the government: repression, murder and imprisonment.

 

15. Indigenous leader murdered: On 24th March, Juan Carlos Jimenez Velasco, leader of the Independent Confederation of Organizations of Civil Association (CIO-AC) and member of the National Coordination of Education Workers (CNTE), is found dead in San Cristobal de Las Casas. According to a CNTE report, the 35-year-old teacher was murdered by a group of hooded persons while in his vehicle.  Jiménez was involved in defending 50 families who had been evicted by landowners in a San Cristóbal neighbourhood.

 

16. Pilgrimage in Northern Chiapas: It is announced that a pilgrimage will take place in the northern zone of Chiapas from 3rd to 10th April, in defence of Mother Earth and to mark the tenth anniversary of the Viejo Velasco massacre. It will start at the community of Arroyo Granizo and finish in Oxchuc. Pilgrims will honour the memory of the dead, and march for peace with justice and dignity.

 

17. Fear of eviction attempt in Altamira La Providencia: Frayba issues an Urgent Action about the imminent risk that on 28thMarch there will be an operation involving at least 500 members of the federal and state police to evict and displace 306 people including 109 children and 5 disabled persons, from Altamira La Providencia, Hin the municipality of Huixtla. The threatened families are Mam indigenous campesinos who have been living there, on land they have reclaimed, for 23 years. Frayba warn of the risk of the use of excessive and disproportionate force and the violation of rights during the eviction, which is on the order of the Agrarian Court.

 

Other

 

1. Communiqué from the CNI: On 24th February, the Indigenous National Congress issues a declaration on dispossession, repression, disdain and exploitation in each of the corners of the indigenous geography, pronouncing against territorial dispossession and the projects death, repudiating the re-articulation of paramilitary groups, in support of political prisoners and against impunity.

 

2. There are 9,000 indigenous prisoners: At least 9,000 Indigenous people are imprisoned in Mexico, and most of them are innocent, according to the head of the National Commission for the Development of Indigenous Peoples. That is 1,000 more than last year. 96 percent of them are men imprisoned for minor offences. Most of them did not have a “proper legal process,” including a bilingual defence to understand what their charges were. Human rights agencies have denounced the arbitrary detention and conviction of innocent Indigenous people in Mexico on absurd charges.

 

3. Murder in Honduras: On 3rd March, 2016, Berta Cáceres, an indigenous Lenca woman from Honduras, organiser, defender ofrivers, opponent of hydroelectric dams such as Agua Zarca and recipient of the Goldman Prize, who founded and ran the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), isassassinated in her home in La Esperanza. Before her assassination, Caceres had received repeated death threats and had been issued precautionary measures by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights which mandated Honduran authorities to protect her.

On 15th March Nelson García, another activist in COPINH, is shot dead in his home. On the same day Mauricio Alegría, from the peasant organisation Via Campesina, is shot near his office, but survives. This means that in the space of 2 weeks, 4 activists have been shot, 2 of whom are dead. Sign the Friends of the Earth petition here.

 

4. Femicides: Figures released for International Women’s Day show that since Enrique Peña Nieto became President, 6,488 women have been murdered in Mexico, an average of 6 women every day. 1,117 of these are under 19 years old.

 

5. Xochicuautla achieves suspension of highway: After a decade of struggle for the conservation of the natural wealth of their territory, the community of San Francisco Xochicuautla, Mexico State, obtains the definitive suspension of the construction of the Toluca-Naucalpan highway that threatens their forest. Following ten years of various strategies, political and legal, the suspension opposes the presidential decree of 2015 for the expropriation of 37 hectares of the ejido for the construction of the highway. This does not, however, mean that the work on the highway has stopped.

 

6. Nestora is free! Nestora Salgado is released from prison on 18th March 2016, after charges against her are dismissed. A Mexican-born U.S. citizen, she was arrested in August 2013 on charges of kidnapping and engaging in organized crime, after returning to her hometown of Olinala in the violence-ridden state of Guerrero to organize a community police force, and to take a stand against drug cartels and state complicity in violence. Nestora vows to fight for the release of other political prisoners and launches the Campaign for the Freedom of the Political Prisoners of the Community Police of Guerrero, in which nine prisoners are named. She calls for international mobilizations and actions on April 10, the anniversary of the assassination of Emiliano Zapata, to demand freedom for Mexico’s political prisoners.

 

7. Ley Atenco: The Peoples’ Front in Defence of the Land (FPDT) from San Salvador Atenco, along with othergroups making up the group Fire of Dignified Resistance, release a communique condemning the so-called “Atenco Law” which approves the police use of firearms during gatherings and demonstrations which turn violent. The new law allows the use of live ammunition against assemblies, meetings or protests, punishes police who don’t fire when ordered, and absolves the police of any criminal or civil punishments for excessive use of force, limiting their culpability to “administrative sanction.” It therefore “violates the right to freedom of expression and to free social protest.”

 

8. No drinking water: On World Water Day, 22nd March, it is revealed that in Mexico only 14 percent of the population has quality potable water 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Forty-eight percent of the population do not receive water even once a day. This data was obtained through a study conducted for the National Water Commission (CONAGUA). According to the UN, at least one thousand eight hundred million people drink contaminated water every day.

 

9. Impunity for Tlatlaya case: A Mexican military court acquits six of the seven soldiers charged over the 2014 killing of 22 suspects in a grain warehouse in Tlatlaya; up to 15 of these were executed after they surrendered. The ruling by a closed military court “consolidates impunity in one of the most serious violations of the right to life in recent history”, human rights groups said in a statement.

 

10. Poverty has worsened in Chiapas. A report entitled “Inequality and Social Exclusion in Chiapas, a Long Term View,” by institutions including the Autonomous University of Chiapas and Oxfam Mexico is presented. It shows that state of Chiapas has received nearly US $60 billion through poverty alleviation programs during the last 24 years, yet poverty is worse, and the state has the highest levels of inequality and poverty in the country. 86% of its population is considered to be below the food poverty line, according to Coneval, while 21% of women and 13.5% of men cannot read or write.

 

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Zapatista News Summary For February 2016

 

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A: THE PAPAL VISIT

1. Visit of Pope Francis. The Pope comes to Chiapas as part of his visit to Mexico, in a visit charged with anticipation, especially among groups such as thePueblo Creyente, because of the focus on the indigenous peoples and the Pope’s commitment to the Theology of Liberation, walking beside the poor peoples of the earth.

Every group in struggle seems to write a letter, issue a statement or make a film, trying to gain the Pope’s attention, but also to promote their particular struggle. Among others, 30 indigenous communities from Michoacan release a statement demanding Pope Francis apologize for the genocide committed with the complicity of the Catholic Church against their people during the Spanish invasion of the Americas in the sixteenth century, and for the fact that for over 500 years, the original people of the Americas have been ransacked, robbed, murdered, exploited, discriminated and persecuted.

On celebrating mass before thousands of indigenous people in San Cristobal, Pope Francis announces the decree formally authorising the performance of liturgical ceremonies in indigenous languages, and asks the indigenous population for forgiveness (pardon) for the exclusion they have suffered for more than 500 years. In a hugelysymbolic act, he kneels to pray silently at the tomb of jTatik Bishop Samuel Ruíz.

2. Latin American Encuentro with the encyclical Laudato Si, in Defence of Territory, Lands and Forests. As a consequence of the papal visit, over 120 people from indigenous nations and organizations gather in San Cristóbal de Las Casas on 13th and 14th February to discuss Pope Francis’ second encyclical, Laudato Si, together with theologians and with campesino, human rights, and environmental groups from 17 countries. Along with theencyclical, participants present and discuss their struggles and the threats to their lands, forests, water, and territories, and the urgent need for action by the peoples from below and to the left in the radical defence of Mother Earth against plundering and destruction.

Frayba is one of the organisers of the encuentro: “On behalf of the Frayba team we embrace you and give you a warm and cordial welcome to the land where rebellion and resistance continue to be sown through self-determination and autonomy, in the face of the threat from the neo-liberal system which is responsible for dispossessing, exploiting and exterminating the peoples of the world.”

3. Camp in the Plaza. By 12th February, hundreds of people are camped out in the Plaza de la Resistencia next to the cathedral in San Cristobal de las Casas, preparatory to the papal visit. They include ex-prisoners, and victims of forced displacement and paramilitary attacks. In the bitter cold, the situation is denounced as a humanitarian emergency. Their attackers enjoy impunity and government support, the displaced people demand a return to their homes, freedom for prisoners and an end to extrajudicial executions. Meanwhile in the mountains Las Abejas issue a welcome to Pope Francis, who they say comes to defend and bring peace and justice to the people of Mexico; they are fasting and praying for peace. The groups all withdraw from the Plaza before the papal visit.

 

B: FORCED DISPLACEMENT

4. Figures for forced displacement. Figures show that currently more than 200,000 people in Mexico are living in forced displacement through violence. Of these, over 30,000 are in Chiapas, where many poor people have been forced by militants from the PRI to leave their lands and way of life because they will not accept government “aid” programmes. This figure is equivalent to 5,320 families, according to Somos el Medio.

5. The displaced of Shulvó. On 3rd February, displaced indigenous Tsotsil people from the community of Shulvó, Zinacantán, in the autonomous municipality Vicente Guerrero, adherents to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle, set up an indefinite sit-in (plantón) and encampment in the north of the Plaza beside the cathedral in San Cristóbal. They denounce that they are being criminalised for being supporters of the EZLN, and demand conditions for the return home of the 47 people from 9 families who were displaced from Shulvó on 9th December, 2015, the punishment of those responsible, and reparation for the damages incurred. The attack was led by Manuel Martínez Jiménez, municipal president of Zinacantán, in a joint operation by the CFE and PRI paramilitaries in the area. The PRI members responsible for the displacement are insisting each family pay a fine of 100,000 pesos if they intend to return to their community. The inhabitants of Shulvó denounce harassment and monitoring of their encampment, and anticipate eviction from the plaza before the Pope’s visit on 15th February. They withdraw their encampment, and on February 28th a table of dialogue is held in the community, with mediation from Fray Gonzalo Ituarte. A statement in their support is issued by the autonomous municipality of Vicente Guerrero.

6. Primero de Agosto. A Press Conference held at the offices of Frayba marks a year of forced displacement, on 2rd February, for the Tojolabal community of Primero de Agosto, and demands a resolution of the case, return and justice for the displaced people, and punishment for crimes committed by the ejidatarios, members of Cioac-H, from Miguel Hidalgo. Tragically María Fernanda Méndez Pérez, born prematurely in the temporary encampment last October, dies on 7thFebruary at the age of four months, as a result of the conditions of vulnerability resulting from the displacement, government neglect and medical negligence. The community denounce that the Hospital de la Mujer in Comitán refused to transfer the baby to the Paediatric Hospital in Tuxtla.

7. One year since the death of Antonia López Méndez from Banavil. On 21st February, the first anniversary of the death of another child victim of forced displacement, the Tseltal Antonia López Méndez from Banavil, who died at the age of eleven without adequate medical attention, is marked by the displaced families. They return temporarily to their community of Banavil, accompanied by a solidarity caravan, to remember her, according to their custom as original peoples. They offer their solidarity to the displaced families of Primero de Agosto.

8.More attacks in Los Chimalapas. Another attack on two communities is reported. As mentioned in the EZLN communique, campesinos from the border with Guatemala and elsewhere are being displaced and sent to this region. “Do you know that there are frequently conflicts in Los Chimalapas, land problems, between Oaxacan and Chiapan campesinos? Well, those are going to increase. The federal and state governments are using that place as a relocation site for those who are kicked off their lands. This is what governmental populismdoes: it doesn’t resolve problems, what it does is make them bigger and then transfer them to other geographies so that they explode on other calendars.” Tension continues, made worse by the fact that mining companies are exploring and prospecting in the region.

 

C: THE SAN ANDRES ACCORDS

9. The San Andres Accords: 20 years later. 16th February 2016 marks twenty years since the signing of the San Andres Accords by the federal government and the EZLN, following five months of negotiations and dialogue about indigenous rights and culture in the Tsotsil municipality of San Andres Larrainzar, renamed San Andres Sakam’chen de los Pobres by the Zapatistas. This event represents the first attempt at recognition by the Mexican state of the collective rights of indigenous peoples. Following the signing, the government promised to draw up a legal framework to recognise the rights of indigenous peoples to self-determination, autonomy, to their territory and natural resources. This framework was to be incorporated in to the constitution, but the resulting proposal was weak and watered down and the dialogue broke down.

Ernesto Zedillo and Vicente Fox and their administrations completely betrayed the Accords, but a precedent was established for autonomy and the construction of an other country. At the same time the government chose the path of war, counterinsurgency, militarisation, lies, deceptions, government aid programmes to control and co-opt, violence, impunity, displacement and dispossession. Some believe that in the last twenty years the situation of the indigenous people hasworsened, due to the systematic plundering of their natural resources, cultural heritage and knowledge.  While some legal advances in the field of indigenous rights and culture have been achieved, and the government has signed international treaties that are a tool for defending indigenous peoples, the EZLN have chosen to follow their own path to freedom and justice, putting the accords in to practice in their own communities and territories. See this excellent article.

D: LAND RECLAMATIONS, AUTONOMY AND MEGAPROJECTS

10. San Francisco Teopisca On 7th February, campesinos from San Francisco Teopisca release a communique denouncing the fact that 32 animals (cattle) of the former proprietor Pedro Hernández Espinoza have been abandoned on their lands so that they feel obliged to feed them. They demand respect for their recuperated lands.

11. Attacks on Ejido Tila. On 8th February thousands of ejidatarios from Tila march, by agreement of the General Assembly, to show the general will of the people for self-government and self-determination and against government repression. This follows an attempted police operation and outstanding arrest warrants against 20 individuals. On 22nd February, dozens of human rights and peace organizations send a letter to the Chiapas and federal authorities in which they warn of possible repression of the Chol ejidatarios of Tila who declared their autonomy last year in defence of their territory.

12. Ejido Candelaria in defence of mother earth: the struggle against the superhighway. The Ministry of Tourism confirms the relaunch of the megaproject for the construction of the San Cristobal-Palenque highway. Communities in Chiapas are organizing to protect the sacred Suyul Lagoon and their communal lands from this planned multi-lane highway. Ejidatarios from Candelaria have travelled from community to community along the proposed highway route, leading to the formation of a united front of opposition, the Movement in Defence of Life and Territory. The ejidatarios of Candelaria issue a communique on 17th February, as part of the Pope’s visit, making clear their comprehensive rejection of the construction of this highway, and their defence of their mother earth and native seeds.

13. Chicoasen lawyer released. Ejidatarios from Chicoasen, who are defending their lands against the construction of the Chicoasen II dam, announce the release of their lawyer, who has been imprisoned for several months, and that their struggle continues. They have been struggling for over 40 years for the recuperation of their lands, and many of the ejidatarios who have arrest warrants against them, are over 70 and in a delicate state of health. Following the building of the Chicoasen I dam, the ejidatarios have an amparo against the second dam, which they wish to have honoured.

14. San Isidro los Laureles. On 27th February, the community of San Isidro los Laureles, municipality of Venustiano Carranza, Adherents to the Sexta Declaración de la Selva Lacandona, part of Semilla Digna, members of the CNI, denounce intimidation and harassment by white guards carrying high calibre firearms. They fear another violent eviction. Las Abejas make a statement in their support.

15. Simojovel. The Pueblo Creyente of Simijovel denounce the increase in threats and aggressions against their parish priest Father Márcelo Pérez and the growth of the campaign of defamation against him. The price on his head has now reached I million pesos. They also denounce the poverty, violence, institutionalized corruption, impunity, alcoholism, drug trafficking and existence of narco-politics in Simojovel.

E: PRISONERS

16. Bachajón. Emilio Jiménez Gómez and Santiago Moreno Pérez, indigenous Tseltales from San SebastiánBachajón, who have respectively spent two and seven years unjustly imprisoned in Cereso 17 at Playas de Catazaja, Chiapas announce that their resistance and struggle continues, and call for solidarity. They express their solidarity with other prisoners from below and to the left.

17. Supporters of the Voice of el Amate reach agreement. On 4th February, members of the ex-prisoners’ organization Supporters of the Voice of el Amate, adherents to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle, hold a press conference about their demand for damages for having been unjustly deprived of their liberty. They establish a sit-in in front of the cathedral in San Cristobal de Las Casas, where they remain until an agreement is signed with representatives of the State Government, promising to meet the damages in staged payments. They announce other commitments also made by the government including the liberation of Roberto Paciencia Cruz, unjustly imprisoned in the State Centre for Social Reintegration (CERSS) No. 5, and of Alejandro Diaz Santiz, member of The Voice of el Amate, held at Villa Comatitlan maximum security prison, who they said was being immediately transferred to San Cristobal de Las Casas prison “as a sign of goodwill.”

Roberto Paciencia Cruz subsequently denounces the consequences of torture, which have a led to deterioration in his vision. He cannot afford to buy the spectacles prescribed. He demands his release as promised.

F: Five communiques or letters issued by the EZLN.

18. The first two communiques compare advances in the Zapatista communities to the situation of the non-Zapatista communities which are affiliated with political parties.

The first, “Meanwhile,” signed by Subcomandantes Moisés and Galeano, and “entirely written using free software,” announces to members of the Sixth and the National Indigenous Congress that activities will be convened in the coming days. It speaks of the indigenous men and women who live in communities which in one way or another are affiliated with the political parties. It tells for example how the government uses social programmes to dispossess people and take their land through tricks and deceit. Likewise, it describes the pillage of indigenous peoples’ lands, which contain materials such as uranium, amber, sulphur, or potential tourist attractions, through the same methods of deceit or coercion. In order to gain any respect, it seems, the partidistas are now passing themselves off as Zapatistas. Also described is the situation of the women in the partidista families.

The second, with the same signatures, tells how the situation in the Zapatistacommunities continues to improve, with more young people joining the organisation. Preventive healthcare has grown, as has crop production, and primary education is available everywhere. There is a demand for higher education. Those who have grown most are the compañeras, who, for example, have a collective in each of the autonomous municipalities where they are proving to be much better administrators than the men. All this despite it being a dark period, with “the rearming of the paramilitaries, the increase in military, air, and land patrols, and everything the bad governments do to try to destroy us.”

19. Arrest warrants expired. On 22nd February, the Federal Judiciary Council of Mexico announces that, after 21 years, the 1995 orders for the arrest of the man then known as Subcomandante Marcos, and twelve other members of the EZLN, on charges such as terrorism, sedition, mutiny, rebellion, and conspiracy, have expired. Marcos, now Galeano, responds with a note to the Council saying “why don’t you self-prescribe this?”

20. Letter from the Sup. On 28th February, a letter is published from Subcomandante Galeano to Juan Villoro Ruiz, entitled: “The arts, the sciences, the original peoples and the basements of the world.” The letter concerns, among other things, the coming storm, the failing of the machine, the fact that humanity can exist without the machine, the role of the arts and sciences, and the creation of a better world. The indigenous peoples in the basements of the world are the ones most likely to survive the storm and the only ones with the ability to create “something else”. The aim of Zapatismo is defined as to make a world where a woman can be born and grow up without fear.

21. Convocation to Activities. On 29th February, Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés issues a call to three forthcoming Zapatista activities for 2016:

We convoke artists, formal and natural scientists, compañer@s of the national and international sixth, the National Indigenous Congress, and whatever human being who feels called, to the following activities:

– ONE: TO THE FESTIVAL AND SHARING EXCHANGE “CompARTE FOR HUMANITY” which will take place from the 17th to the 30th of July 2016. All those who practice ART can participate. The festival will have two major events: The first will be at CIDECI, San Cristóbal de Las Casas. The other will be at the Caracol of Oventik, where only Zapatista bases of support will offer their artistic expressions.

– TWO: To the FESTIVAL IN HOMAGE TO THE NATIONAL INDIGENOUS CONGRESS for its 20 years of struggle and resistance, to be held on October 12, 2016, at CIDECI. The CNI will hold its own activities before and after this.

– THIRD: To the gathering “The Zapatistas and the conSCIENCES FOR HUMANITY” to be held from December 25, 2016 until January 4, 2017, at CICECI. Participation in the discussion will include ONLY invited formal and natural scientists, in addition to, and as students, Zapatista young people, bases of support.

More details are to follow.

For recent news see also:https://dorsetchiapassolidarity.wordpress.com/2016/02/18/boca-en-boca-40-february-2016/

https://dorsetchiapassolidarity.wordpress.com/2016/02/22/12335/

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Zapatista News Summary for January 2016

 

 

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No real Zapatista news this month, but plenty news from Chiapas, where it is the usual story of forced displacement, paramilitary violence, imprisonment, forced disappearances and killings at the hands of federal, state and municipal governments against indigenous communities, but at the same time of the growth in solidarity between these communities, and of dignity as they walk in defence of mother earth, the land and territory.

1. New Year Communiqué. The EZLN  communiqué, “on the 22ndanniversary of the beginning of the war against oblivion”, a long text incorporating different ideas and acting as an assessment of the past years, is widely read, circulated and published. Presentations of the book “Critical Thought against the Capitalist Hydra, volume one” continue, as do meetings of reflection on the Escuelita. The book is being translated in to Italian, French, German and English.

2. Other communiqués of solidarity. On 1st January, the ejidatarios of San Sebastian Bachajón issue a communiqué in solidarity with Las Abejas, and on 2nd January the Ejido Tila releases one of solidarity with other adherents to the Sixth: against paramilitary actions by the government towards Las Abejas, against repression of the community San Isidro los Laureles and thanking the Ejido Bachajón for their solidarity.

3. Community of San Isidro Los Laureles fears eviction. On 2nd January, members of the the Tsotsil community of San Isidro Los Laureles, municipality of Venustiano Carranza, denounce a threat of eviction from their reclaimed lands, fearing a repeat of the violent eviction of 1994, in an “operation of the White Guards.”. On December 20th 2015, the community had decided to reclaim “about 165 hectares from three properties.” The members of the community declared that, “our grandfathers, grandmothers and parents who were serfs worked these lands. Since 1940 they have worked on minimum wage and have never received loans or bonuses. We reclaim these lands for our families because we no longer have anywhere to live or work for the livelihood of the families as indigenous people.”

4. Paramilitary activity reported again in Ejido Tila. In a communiqué issued on January 5, 2016, the ejidatarios of Tila, adherents to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle, report the names of those who form “a small cell of paramilitarygroups who have been organizing inside” their ejido. They also claim that, “the political landscape is full of lies” on the part of the “current mayor of Tila, Chiapas, Prof. Edgar Leopoldo Gómez Gutiérrez,” and that “on a number of occasions the removal of the town council has been requested and this request has not been heeded.”

5. Tenth Anniversary of death of Ramona. The 6th of January 2016 represents the tenth anniversary of the Death of Comandanta Ramona, “the smallest of the small”, who is widely remembered.

6. Threats to displaced families from Primero de Agosto. On 6th January members of CIOAC-H fired shots at the displaced Tojolabal families from Primero de Agosto, described as “EZLN sympathisers.” The aggressors said, “the government knows what we are doing,” as they continue to operate in the area with total impunity. They threaten to rape the women and to come with high calibre firearms to cause maximum violence when they evict the community from their temporary encampment.

7. Radio stations dismantled. On 7th January, the Zoque Language and Culture Centre in Chiapas denounced the dismantling of two highly influential radio broadcasting stations in indigenous communities after the layoff of 50 percent of its staff by the Commission for the Development of Indigenous Peoples.

8. Confrontations in Oxchuc. Inhabitants of Oxchuc have been attempting to prevent the municipal president (mayor), María Gloria Sánchez Gómez from the PVEM, from taking office, saying her election last July was fraudulent. After months of negotiation and conflict, the government arrest 38 people, who had been asked to come to San Cristobal to negotiate, on 8th January. A majorconflict breaks out in Oxchuc, and the protestors detain 37 workers for the state and municipal authorities trying to break up a roadblock on the road to Ocosingo and Palenque. All are released a few days later. The Permanent Commission of Justice and Dignity of Oxchuc says it is no longer a post-electoral conflict, it is now a social one, against the political bosses [caciques) who dominate many Chiapas municipalities, against the will of the majority of the people living there.

9. Provocations continue against San Francisco Teopisca. On 10th January, campesinos from San Francisco, municipality of Teopisca, denounce acts of harassment, threats of violence and the failure after 19 years of the three levels of government to consider their land demands. The group are part of Semilla Digna, a group formed by communities adherent to the Sixth in Chiapas to defend land and territory.

10. Possible reactivation of mining in Chicomuselo is denounced. On 10th January, thousands of people gather to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the death of campesinos in a clash with farmers and police in the municipal seat of Chicomuselo. Several organizations from the border highland region emet to express their rejection of the current political system and demand the cancellation of mining concessions that the federal government has granted in the town of Chicomuselo, to companies such as Blackfire, without prior consultation or consent, and without informing the residents of the communities.

11. Solidarity and Support towards the displaced families of Banavil. On 12th January, Frayba opens a photographic exhibition in San Cristobal de las Casas in support of people like the Tseltal families from Banavil, Tenejapa, who were forcibly displaced from their homes and lands on 4th December, 2011. The exhibition, entitled “20 windows on forced displacement, looks of solidarity and accompaniment,” shows pictures of peoples displaced with violence from their lands over the last 20 years. “Forced displacement in a context of counterinsurgency warfare to eliminate experiences of autonomous organization is a daily violation of human rights in Chiapas.”

12. Xochicuautla in solidarity. On 12th January, at a press conference at the offices of Frayba), authorities of the Otomí-Ňätho indigenous community of San Francisco Xochicuautla, located in Mexico State, along with members of the Indigenous Peoples’ Front in Defence of Mother Earth, condemn the “illegal imposition of the Toluca-Naucalpan highway project by Enrique Peña Nieto and the Higa Group,”which is destroying their forests. They express their solidarity with the indigenous peoples of Chiapas in resistance against dispossession, denounce the murders of indigenous inhabitants of Bachajón in order to impose a resort at the waterfalls of Agua Azul, and offer their support to San Isidro Los Laureles, Las Abejas and the Ejido Tila.

13. Lack of medical attention denounced. On 18th January, ejidatarios from the community of La Pimienta, municipality of Simojovel, denounce the failure of the federal and state government to provide the medical services which were promised after babies were given contaminated vaccinations by IMSS staff last May, leading to the death of 2 babies and the serious illness of 29. They demand fulfilment of the agreements made.

14. Prison conditions denounced. Roberto Paciencia Cruz, unjustly imprisoned in Cereso No 5 in San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chiapas, writes several letters. On 5th January he commemorates 11 years since the foundation of the Voice of Amate, an indigenous group organized within the prison against injustice. On 13th January he denounces a scarcity of food in the prison, and on 21st January he denounces a denial of visits, after those attempting to visit him were denied entry to the prison.

15. Support for Las Abejas. The Latin American Network of Sites of Memory, which brings together 39 institutions from 11 countries, announces its concerns and condemns the acts of persecution and murder against members of civil society organization Las Abejas of Acteal, and the revival of the paramilitary group known as Peace and Justice. The Network calls on the government of Mexico and the state government of Chiapas to clarification the repeated acts of persecution, threats, attacks and killings directed against members of Las Abejas., under the mantle of paramilitarism and impunity.

16. Chimalapas. The Caravan of Civil Observation and Solidarity for Chimalapas visits the community of San Francisco La Paz in the municipality of Santa Maria Chimalapa, Oaxaca, on 10th and 11th January. It tells the federal governments of Oaxaca, Chiapas and Veracruz of its concerns about the increasingly tense social climate in the area, and calls for the immediate implementation of the agreement to remove and punish the invaders. The Caravan declares its support for the call for justice for the people of Chimalapa and also its rejection of government attempts to silence this resistance. It asks the people of Mexico and the world join the call for the defence of this territory, which is “the most biodiverse in Mexico and Mesoamerica.”

17. Armed group from CIOAC-h attacks another community in Chiapas. Around one hundred members of CIOAC-h attack the ejido November 20, in the municipality of Las Margaritas, on 15th January, leaving one person killed and ten seriously wounded. The reason given for the attack is the refusal by a group of women to carry out activities specified in the Prospera programme. CIOAC-h has attacked various groups and organizations in the border area, including the EZLN. The founders of this organization, Luis and Antonio Hernández, have achieved political and governmental positions through CIOAC, and now their children are taking over; this attack was led by the son of one of the leaders.

18. The defence of land and territory against dams and mining. On 21st and 22nd January, representatives of 12 organizations, movements and parishes met in the town of Tonalá in the “Chiapas Meeting of Peoples Affected by Dams and Mining” to share experiences and define a common defence strategy against the increase in mining, dams and other infrastructure projects being imposed without the people being consulted. The “Declaration of the Gathering of those in Chiapas affected by Dams and Mining” is issued.

19. 25th January marks the fifth anniversary of the death of jTatik Samuel Ruiz García. Several thousand members of the Pueblo Creyente from different parishes in the area make a pilgrimage in San Cristóbal de Las Casas, in defence of their human rights and of the mother earth. They read a letter written to Pope Francisco, who is to visit Chiapas in February. The annual award Reconocimiento jTatik Samuel, jCanan Lum 2016 is given by bishop Raúl Vera López to representatives of the indigenous Nahua community of Santa María Ostula, Michoacán; the parish council of Simojovel and the community of Las Brisas, municipality of la Trinitaria, Chiapas, for being guardians of the earth.

20. Public apology for El Aguaje case. On 28th January, Frayba reports that, 15 years after the event, the Mexican state has made an act of public apology, and signed an agreement to pay damages to families from the community of El Aguaje, located in Rancho Nuevo in the municipality of San Cristobal de Las Casas, who have been the victim of violations of their human rights. On 17 September 2000, children playing found an object on a traditional trackway of their community. When they accidentally dropped it, it exploded, killing one child and seriously injuring two others. The object was a live grenade, property of the Mexican Army.

21. “With the encyclical ‘Laudato Si’ we are defending the rights to the land, territory, and forests.” Preparations are being made for the forthcoming Latin American Meeting in San Cristobal de Las Casas, February 13th and 14th, to be held in the context of the Pope Francisco’s visit to talk about the content of the encyclical “Laudato Si” and to send a message to the world regarding the invaluable contribution made by the peoples and communities to protect nature through the defence of territories, biodiversity, ecosystems, and cultural diversity. Organisers include the Mesoamerican Alliance of Peoples and Forests and Frayba.

 

The following article from Desinformémonos sums up the situation of the indigenous peoples of Chiapas on the eve of the visit by Pope Francisco: https://dorsetchiapassolidarity.wordpress.com/2016/01/30/chiapas-the-darkness-they-wont-show-the-pope/

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Zapatista News Summary December 2015

 

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1. Harassment of members of Las Abejas. On 2nd December, Las Abejas of Acteal denounce that in the communities of Los Chorros, Chenalhó municipality, which is a “nest of paramilitaries,” three members of their organisation have been threatened and had their electricity and water cut off for not accepting government assistance projects, which as an organisation they reject. Over 40 national and international groups and collectives make a pronouncement in their support, against the strategies of war and counterinsurgency and in favour of autonomy and resistance. On 23rd December, 3 families of members of Las Abejas in the community of Kexaluk’um have their electricity cut off. There are also problems in the community of Xunuch, and in Colonia Puebla, where two years ago more than 100 people were displaced for several months.

2. Threats against the Centre for Women’s Rights in Chiapas denounced.Frayba reports concerns about acts of harassment, vigilance and threats against the Centre for the Rights of Women in Chiapas in San Cristóbal de Las Casas, which were denounced by the organisation on 2nd December, and demands that the state establishes protocols to guarantee the safety of members of the organisation. The women say that the aggressions they have experienced are an indication of the level of violence endured by women in Chiapas, and call for an alert to be issued about gender violence in the state.

3. Protest at lack of follow-up to death of babies due to medical negligence. About a thousand members of the community of La Pimienta, in the municipality of Simojovel, hold a protest march and set up a sit-in on 2ndDecember to denounce the lack of any medical follow-up or monitoring for the 29 babies whose health was gravely affected – another two died – after being given expired and contaminated vaccinations by staff of the IMSS last May. Contrary tocommitments given by the government, the community still has no access road, no clinic and no doctor. They call on the government to fulfil its promises, guarantee the health of the 29 infants and award compensation for damages.

4. Four years of impunity and displacement for Banavil. A press conference is called on 4th December to mark the fourth anniversary of the forced displacement of the 19 people from Banavil, in the municipality of Tenejapa, and the forced disappearance of Alonso López Luna, by members of the PRI from the same community.

5. Ten years of recovery of lands for San Francisco Teopisca. On 6th December, ejidatarios of the community of San Francisco, in the municipality of Teopisca, celebrate the tenth anniversary of the recuperation of their lands. San Francisco is one of the communities belonging to the collective “Semilla Digna.” They explain how they spent ten years asking for their lands back before deciding to take them.

6. Popular Citizens’ Constitutional Assembly. Thousands of people march on 6th December in San Cristobal de Las Casas and participate in the publicproclamation of the new Popular Citizens’ Constitutional Power, which is intended to elaborate and reach consensus on a new Political Constitution for the country, drafted by the people and for the people, to lead to the re-founding of the nation and a new social contract. Bishop Raúl Vera López leads the event and is given the staff of command by the indigenous present.

7. More municipalities declare their territory free of mining and dams. By ratifying the III Declaration of Tapachula on 8th December, nine municipalities of the Sierra Madre and the Soconusco follow the campesinos and fishermen from the sierra and coast of Chiapas (on 30th November) and declare their territory to be “free from mining operations and dams” and in resistance against the “megaprojects of death” of transnational corporations. The Mexican state seeks to grant concessions over areas of their territory without the consent of the inhabitants, who plan to organise and link with other struggles in resistance.

8. Teacher is killed in confrontation between police and teachers in Tuxtla. On 9th December there is a violent confrontation between security forces and teachers of the National Education Workers Union attempting to boycott the teacher evaluation, resulting in one teacher dead and five people injured. Six people are detained, but released the following day when the teachers call atruce, and return to work.

9. Another attack on community of Shulvo, Zinacantan. On 9th an attack is reported against adherents to the Sixth Declaration in the community of Shulvo, Autonomous Municipality Vicente Guerrero, official municipality of Zinacantan. A group of PRI with guns, under the command of the municipal president of Zinacantan, attack and shoot at adherents to the Sixth and cause damage to several houses. On November 3rd a group of PRI members and employees of the CFE cut the electricity and water supplies to several families in the same community of Shulvo.

10. The 23rd anniversary of Las Abejas of Acteal. On the 10th December the Civil Society Organisation Las Abejas from Acteal celebrates 23 years of “exercising their rights as original peoples to construct their autonomy and defend their mother earth.”

11. National and international days for political prisoners. From 6th to 13thDecember, ‘National and International Days for our Prisoners’ are held, in solidarity with political prisoners in Mexico and the world who are adherents to the Sexta or the equivalent. The days are co-ordinated by the Network for Solidarity and against Repression (RvsR), and follow discussions held at theEurozapatista meeting in Barcelona. Chiapas currently has four political prisoners who are adherents to the Sixth Declaration: Alejandro Díaz Sántiz, Emilio Jiménez Gómez, Esteban Gómez Jiménez, and Santiago Moreno Pérez.

12. Call for release of Alejandro Díaz Sántiz. As part of the above, a caravan travels from San Cristobal to CEFERESO in Villa Comaltitlán, Tapachula, to coincide with a press conference to demand the immediate freedom of Alejandro Díaz Sántiz, unjustly imprisoned for 16 years, and to denounce the conditions of isolation he is forced to endure since his transfer to the high security prison in September. He is only allowed 30 minutes in the yard each day, while for the rest of the time he remains confined to his cell without access to pictures, reading matter, correspondence, pencils or paper.

13. Recovery of ancestral lands in Tila. On 16th December, the Ch’ol ejidatarios of Tila, adherents to the Sexta, following an agreement in assembly, recover their ejidal lands which have been occupied for the last fifty years by the municipal presidency and city hall. They expel the municipal council, which they say is composed of paramilitaries, and burn and partially demolish the city hall. Following the shooting and wounding in the stomach of an ejidatario, the ejido Tila denounces the reactivation of paramilitary groups, and a declaration “Facing the Gathering Storm” is issued in solidarity by the Indigenous National Congress. Pronouncements of support are also issued from nearby communities, adherents to the Sexta.

14. Zapatista support base from Toniná arrested again. On 18th December, Frayba denounces the arbitrary deprivation of liberty and lack of due process in the arrest of José Alfonso Cruz Espinosa, support base of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (BAEZLN). He was arrested in November on what the JBG of La Garrucha has denounced as fabricated charges of ecocide and plunder, an act which took place in 2012, and an excessive amount is set for his bail. His family pay the fee and he is released pending further proceedings. José has been targeted because he owns the land at the foot of the classic Maya pyramid in Toniná.

15. Land reclamation in San Isidro Los Laureles. Indigenous Tsotsil adherents to the Sexta, who are also members of “Semilla Digna,” from the community of San Isidro Los Laureles, municipality of Venustiano Carranza, announce on 20th December that they have recuperated between 165 and 200 hectares of their land and territory from large cattle and sugar cane ranches, where their parents and grandparents had worked as indentured servants since 1940. They previously reclaimed the lands in 1994, but were violently dispossessed. On 26th December they issue a call for solidarity as they fear another violent eviction. On 30th December, they announce that this eviction is scheduled to take place between 2nd and 5th January 2016.

16. The 18th anniversary of the Acteal Massacre is marked on 22nd December with a commemoration and pilgrimage. The director of Frayba, Pedro Faro, says: “For 18 years no justice has been done and the wall of impunity persists.” Only two of the paramilitaries who committed the massacre are still in prison, all the others charged have been released. Las Abejas announce they have decided to continue walking and buildingLekil Chapanel, True or Other Justice.

17. Leaders and members of the CIOAC-H threaten and intimidate displaced people from Primero de Agosto. On 23rd December, the displaced families release a statement to mark 10 months since their forced displacement. They are living in the mud through the torrential rain, sleeping on wet ground under plastic sheets. They denounce that the harassment from members of Cioac-H from Miguel Hidalgo continues.

18. Pope to visit Chiapas. It is announced that the visit of Pope Francis to Mexico in 2016 will include  Chiapas, where he will hold a mass with indigenous communities, and visit the tomb of bishop Samuel Ruiz García, who died in 2011.

19. Violation of rights of migrants. An international jury of independent human rights experts and advocates finds Mexico, the US and key countries of origin of migrants in transit jointly responsible for widespread human rights violations in Mexico, based on hearings held at New York University in September 2015. The jury calls for the suspension of US military and police aid to Mexico.

20. The Caravan of Mothers of Disappeared Migrants tours Mexico from 30thNovember, finishing in Chiapas on 18th December. This is the eleventh time acaravan of Central Americans has travelled across Mexico, looking for relatives who have gone missing along the migration routes that lead to the U.S. border. The women are part of mutual aid groups that began forming in their home countries as the numbers of missing migrants rose to crisis proportions. They work closely with a network of human rights activists in Mexico, many of them affiliated with migrant shelters run by Catholic priests.

21. Semeí Verdía is free. On 24th December, Semeí Verdía Zepeda, commander of the Community Police of Santa María de Ostula, municipality of Aquila, Michoacan, is released  under legal reserves from prison, where he has been confined on charges of homicide since July 2015, following local, national and international protests. Indigenous groups in Chiapas and elsewhere celebrate.

22. Reactivation of paramilitary groups denounced. Recent events in the ejido Tila and the municipality of Chenalhό have demonstrated the recent reactivation of paramilitary groups, primarily Paz y Justicia , in the north of Chiapas, the Tseltal and Chol región. Between 1995 and 2000 members of this group are charged in this area alone with the murder or disappearance of at least 122 indigenous people, the displacement of more than 4000 people, the closing of almost 50 Catholic churches, the theft of more than 3000 head of cattle and the rape of at least 30 women from various communities.

23. Intimidation and raids on collaborators with Cideci and a member of the support team of the EZLN Sixth Commission. On 29th December, Frayba denounces harassment, threats, raids and attacks on Julio César Ortega, and his son César Iván and their home and family. Both are adherents to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandόn Jungle of the EZLN and collaborators with CIDECI-Unitierra Chiapas, and Julio César has been at various times a driver and member of the Support Team of the Sixth Commission of the EZLN.

24. San Sebastián Bachajón in support of the ejido Tila. On 29th December, ejidatarios adherents to the Sixth Declaration from San Sebastián Bachajón organise a roadblock and issue  a communiqué  in solidarity with the ejido Tila and to demand respect for the rights of the indigenous people of both communities.

25. Ambush and armed attack on members of Las Abejas. On 30thDecember, Las Abejas denounce an attack the previous evening on 2 adults and one child, members of the group, by three people, two dressed in black, and one dressed in military style. The ambush takes place on the road to Pantelhó, and the attackers shoot at the 3 members of Las Abejas, injuring one of them, when they are returning from collecting sacks of coffee in the community of San Joaquín. They stress that this is another example of the current renewal of paramilitary activity in this area, reminiscent of late 1997. “We can say that this is similar to the situation before the Acteal Massacre, because at any time and in any place we can be ambushed and killed like animals, for the same government authorities not only do nothing, but instead they protect the murderers and paramilitaries and let them act with total impunity.”

26. Zapatista 22nd Anniversary. Celebrations to mark 22 years since the first public appearance of the Zapatistas are held in the Caracoles, and in many parts of the world. The EZLN issue a communique, “on the 22nd anniversary of the beginning of the war against oblivion”, signed by Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés and Subcomandante Insurgente Galeano. Moisés reads this at Oventic at midnight on 31st December.

 

 

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Zapatista News Summary For November 2015

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In Chiapas

  1. Temporary return of displaced Banavil families: From 30 October to 3 November, the four families displaced from Banavil, Tenejapa municipality return temporarily to their homes there. During this time, they visit the grave of Antonia López Méndez, the daughter of one of the families, who died on 21 February 2015, at the age of eleven. After this they have to come back to San Cristóbal de Las Casas.
  2. Opposition to Chicoasén II dam: On 3rd November, the elderly men and women who have been affected by the construction of the Chicoasén II dam commence a hunger strike to demand the release of their lawyer Arturo Ortega Luna, who was arrested on 21st October. The hunger strike has to be lifted after ten days due to very serious health problems among the participants.
  3. Simojovel: On 3 November, the Pueblo Creyente from the San Antonio de Pádua parish in Simojovel issue a denouncement in which they express gratitude for the accompaniment of all those who have walked beside them. Their principal demand continues to be “the closure of all bars, legal and clandestine.” They denounce that“the number of bars has actually increased.”
  4. Adherents to the Sixth in Zinacantán have water, electricity and telephone supplies to their community cut off: Members of the community of Shulvó, in the autonomous municipality Vicente Guerrero, or Zinacantan, are intimidated on November 3, 2015 by a group of PRI members and the Federal Electricity Commission who cut their supplies of water and electricity, as well as the phone so they cannot communicate with other adherents.
  5. Frayba report: On 5th November, Frayba presents its annual report “The Human-Rights Insurgency,”
  6. In support of political prisoners: An event is held in San Cristóbal de Las Casas on 7th November to call for the release of political prisoners Alejandro Díaz Sántiz in Chiapas and Mumia Abu-Jamal in the US.
  7. In memory of Manuelito: On the third anniversary of his death, the Civil Society Las Abejas de Acteal commemorates Manuel Vázquez Luna (Manuelito), who died due to medical negligence on 10th November 2012. His parents, sisters, grandmother, and uncle were all killed by paramilitaries on 22nd December 1997.
  8. The Ninth anniversary of the Viejo Velasco Massacre. On 13th November, members of the organization XINICH, a member of the National Indigenous Congress (CNI) and an adherent to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle, begin the first of 13 Sundays of prayer and fasting in their communities in commemoration of the nine years since the Viejo Velasco massacre.
  9. The Mexican State recognizes its responsibility for the execution of 3 Zapatistas in the Ejido Morelia: On 7th January 1994, shortly after the Zapatista Uprising, the Mexican Army entered ejido Morelia, a Zapatista community that is now a Caracol, selected 3 elderly men, support bases Severiano and Hermelindo Santiz Gómez and Sebastián Santiz López, tortured them, and took them away. Several days later their dead bodies were found on a road near the ejido. A complaint was filed, eventually through the IACHR, and finally, on November 10 2015, after almost 22 years, the state and federal governments make a public apology to their families. However, their lawyer says: “the State has accepted its international responsibility in the human rights violations that the Mexican National Army committed, and in the terms in which the IACHR would point it out. Nevertheless, this admission has not represented punishment of those responsible.”
  10. Velasco distributes “assistance” to government supporters in Acteal: On 13thNovember, the governor of Chiapas, Manuel Velasco Coello, visits Acteal and distributes “bullets of sugar,” items such as chemical fertilisers to the members of political parties and paramilitary groups living there. Las Abejas de Acteal denounce the visit as a deceitful trick to gain control of the people. The visit takes place a month before the eighteenth anniversary of the massacre, which “remains unpunished”.
  11. Troubles in Ejido Tila: Ejido authorities from the Ejido Tila, in the northern zone of Chiapas, report a far-reaching paramilitary, military and police operation in their territory, and repeat their demand for the municipal government headquarters to be re-located outside the ejido.
  12. Happy 32nd Anniversary EZLN! On 17th November, the EZLN celebrates 32 years, and many reflect on their achievement.
  13. New book by Luis Villoro: Luis Villoro’s last book, Alternative: Perspectives and Possibilities for Change, which includes correspondence with the then Subcomandante Marcos, is presentedon 19th November at Cideci by representatives of Villoro’s family and friends including Comandante David of the EZLN, accompanied by Comandantas Yolanda and Florencia.
  14. New communiqué from Bachajón: The adherents to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle from the Ejido San Sebastián Bachajón release a communiqué on 20th November in which they remember “the struggle and great example of our General Emiliano Zapata” and declare “we are not afraid of their repression, imprisonment and death.”
  15. Europa Zapatista Gathering: On the 20th, 21st and 22nd November an Encuentro is held in Barcelona attended by representatives of Zapatista support groups from many parts of Europe. The final declaration can be read in Spanish here.
  16. In defence of land, territory and the rights of women: On 23rd and 24th November, the first assembly of peoples, organizations and individuals in defence of land, territory and the rights of women takes place, organised by the Women’s Movement in Defence of Land and Territory and the Right of Women to Decide. The following day a march against violence against women takes place in the centre of the city of San Cristóbal de Las Casas at which apronouncement is read by a Tsotsil indigenous woman from the ejido Candelaria, a community in struggle against the San Cristóbal-Palenque highway project.
  17. Unite against megaprojects: On 25th November, the international day against violence against women, the Movement in Defence of Life and Territory holds a pilgrimage in 11 municipalities in Chiapas to make visible the situation of dispossession and plunder they are experiencing as indigenous peoples; and especially to denounce the violence experienced by women. Following the pilgrimage, a declaration warning of the grave risk to communities in Chiapas from megaprojects such as dams, mines and oil wells is issued by the Movement in Defence of Life and Territory and the Pueblo Creyente of the parishes of Candelaria, Huixtán, Tumbalá, Cancúc, Tenejapa, Oxchuc, Ocosingo, Altamirano, Bachajón-Chilón, Yajalón, and Salto de Agua.
  18. Another march against megaprojects: The Union of Campesinos and Fishermen, the Autonomous Council of the Coastal Zone, and the Civic Front, march on the 30th November against megaprojects, demanding the cancellation of permits and concessions for mining and hydroelectric companies.
  19. The absence of systems for the Protection of the Rights of Children and Adolescents is condemned: Figures show Chiapas has one of the highest rates of mortality in children under 5 years with 22.9 deaths per thousand children; Between 2011-2015 more than 33 children and adolescents were murdered; From 2011 to date, more than 2000 children in the northern and highlands of Chiapas have been displaced from their communities as a result of violence.

 

 

 

Other

  1. Exhumation of murdered student Julio César Mondragón: On 4th November, the body of Julio César Mondragón, a student from the Ayotzinapa Teachers’ College who was tortured and executed on 26-27 September in Iguala, Guerrero, is exhumed to perform a new autopsy, with the permission of his family.
  2. New attack by police on Ayotzinapa students in buses: On 11th November, 8 buses carrying about 150 student-teachers from the Raúl Isidro Burgos Teachers College were stopped by federal, state, and ministerial police as well as the military on the highway between Chilpancingo and Tixtla. According to media, the police attacked the buses three times, leaving 20 students injured and requiring hospitalization, and 13 arrested.
  3. More attacks on journalists: The homes of Gloria Muñoz Ramírez, director ofDesinformémonos, author of ‘Los de Abajo’ in La Jornada, and co-editor of Ojarasca, and of well-known independent journalist Anabel Hernández, are broken in to and threats made. The previous week, Desinformémonos suffered a cyber-attack.
  4. Deaths of journalists: According to Animal Politico, Mexico is the most dangerous place in the Americas to be a journalist with 50 murders in the last five years. In the rest of the continent in that same period, 100 journalists were killed. In the last 15 years, 107 journalists have been killed in Mexico. There are also 20 journalists disappeared. The southwestern state of Veracruz continues to be the most dangerous place in Mexico to be a journalist, with 16 deaths in 15 years.
  5. Attacks on women. In an ongoing femicide crisis in Mexico, seven women were killed every day on average across the country in 2013 and 2014, and dozens more faced other forms of gender violence, according to the national statistics institute, Inegi. Their statistics show that 63 percent of Mexican women over 15 years of age have experienced some form of gender violence, which could include physical, sexual, emotional, or psychological violence as well as economic forms of abuse such as discrimination in the workplace.
  6. The Movement for Our Disappeared in Mexico: On November 18, 2015, family members of disappeared people held the first press conference of the Movement for Our Disappeared in Mexico. This is a joint effort of more than 35 organizations made up of the families ofdisappeared persons in Mexico and about 40 civil society organizations which accompany them.
  7. Migrant numbers go down: A Pew Research Centre report reveals that more Mexicans are now leaving the United States than arriving. More than one million Mexicans and their families left the United States for Mexico from 2009 to 2014, compared with 870,000 Mexicans who came to the United States during that same period — a net loss of some 140,000 people.
  8. National campaign Breaking the Silence: The militarization of public security in Mexico has promoted cases of sexual violence as a form of torture on the part of armed forces, in addition to those acts committed by federal and state police departments, diverse civil and human rights organizations denounce at a forum held to call for action on these issues.
  9. Number of murders increases: The number of cases of homicide rose 7 percent in Mexico during the first 10 months of 2015, compared to the same period last year, Mexican officials reveal. According to the official figures, the number of investigations for homicide went from 13,149 to 14,069 this year, which translates to 47 murders a day. The states of Guerrero and Veracruz have the highest murder rates in the country, the figures show, with Acapulco having the highest homicide rate in the world at 107 per 100,000 inhabitants.
  10. The Committee of Survivors of Torture in the Case of Atenco is set up by 80 villagers who were repressed during the police operation on 3 and 4 May 2006 on the federal highway Texcoco-Lecheria.
  11. Missing migrant children: Forty-eight mothers from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua travel to Mexico on 30th November as part of the XI Caravan of Hope, searching for missing children on the migratory route between Central America and the United States.
  12. No GM soya in the Yucatan: The Second Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN) overturns permits issued to the transnational Monsanto by the General Department of Plant Health at the National Service for Food Health, Safety and Quality, for production of transgenic soya. The Court ordered authorities to hold a “prior, free and informed” consultation with the indigenous communities of Yucatán and Campeche, before granting any new authorization.
  13. No GM corn in Mexico yet: A court ruled in favour of the appeal filed by the Corn Collective against the August 19 judicial decision which had lifted the moratorium on cultivation of GM corn that has been in effect since 2013. With this ruling, the suspension of issuance of planting permits has been upheld.

 

https://dorsetchiapassolidarity.wordpress.com/2015/12/01/zapatista-news-summary-for-november-2015/

 

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Read the latest edition of Boca en Boca here:https://dorsetchiapassolidarity.wordpress.com/2015/11/13/boca-en-boca-38-english-november-2015/

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Zapatista News Summary For October 2015

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In Chiapas

  1. The 57 displaced Tojolabal families from Primero de Agosto community denounce threats of a new displacement. They have been threatened with firearms by members of CIOAC-H. Frayba issues an Urgent Action, saying their lives are at risk, along with their personal security and physical integrity. They have now been displaced for 8 months.
  2. “The Other Justice” Forum. On 10th and 11th October, more than 200 indigenous from Chiapas meet in Acteal, Chenalhó, Mexico, for the Forum on “The Other Justice” organized by the Civil Society Las Abejas, the X’inich Committee for the Defence of Freedom, and Peoples United in Defence of Electrical Energy (PUDEE). A joint declaration is issued from the peoples, communities and organizations from the Walking the Other Justice Forum: “Only by walking together will we reach The Other Justice, True Justice, which is righteous and humane.”
  3. Acteal victims testify at a hearing in Washington. On 20th October, the Civil Society Las Abejas, together with the Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Centre for Human Rights (Frayba), participate in a public audience before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in Washington, DC, regarding impunity in the case of the Acteal massacre of 22ndDecember, 1997. Evidence is brought to show that the Mexican state was responsible for the massacre and the lack of investigation, sanction, and compensation for the victims. However, the official representative of the Mexican government rejects all responsibility for the atrocity.
  4. Las Abejas will have no friendly resolution. After the audience before the IACHR, Las Abejas hold a press conference in which they denounce the “cynicism of the Mexican State in denying its responsibility for the Acteal massacre. We say that we will NOT accept coming to afriendly resolution with the Mexican State.”
  5. Risks to the lives of priest and parish council of Simojovel. The IACHR grants precautionary measures in favour of Father Marcelo Pérez Pérez and 10 more human rights defenders, members of the Pueblo Creyente and the Parish Council from the community of Simojovel. Frayba makes clear that the risk to their lives and integrity continues daily. The Mexican authorities are called on by many human rights organisations to immediately take appropriate measure to guarantee their safety.
  6.  Estaban Gómez Jiménez, from San Sebastián Bachajón, imprisoned since 2013 and currently held in the Social Rehabilitation Centre (Cereso) No. 14, El Amate, denounces in a communiqué that the state authorities of Chiapas have denied him a transfer to a prison near San Cristobal de las Casas, so he can be nearer to his family. He explains how he has now been imprisoned unjustly, for a crime he did not commit, for 3 years 5 months.
  7. Criminalisation of ejidatarios affected by the Chicoasén II dam. The lawyer for the Ejidal Committee of those affected by the Chicoasén II dam, Arturo Ortega Luna, is arrested. He has been accompanying the indigenous Zoque peoples in their struggle against the dam. Frayba demands his immediate release and the cancellation of at least 11 outstanding arrest warrants against elderly Zoques for defending their rights to the land, and an end to the criminalisation of the struggle for the land.
  8. Femicides on the rise in Chiapas. In fewer than 10 days, six women are killed: three of them also sexually assaulted, one was a minor, another was pregnant, and some of the corpses showed signs of serious violence. There have been 249 cases in the last 3 years; in Chiapas femicide is principally perpetrated by those close to the victims, in the majority of cases by relatives.
  9. Death in custody following torture. The family of José Rolando Pérez de la Cruz protest, in front of the government palace in the capital of Chiapas, at his death in custody following torture by the municipal police of Acala, one year and eight months ago. They demand justice.
  10. Banavil. The 19 members of the families displaced from Banavil return temporarily to their community to make an offering, according to their customs and traditions at this time of year, at the graves of: Antonia López Méndez who died, at the age of 11, on 21st February, 2015 as a result of their forced displacement, and of her 2 sisters, Petrona and María López Méndez. The families are accompanied by a caravan of human rights observers and national and international individuals and organisations in solidarity.

Other

  1. IAHCR visit concludes. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) presents its preliminary conclusions, after its visit to Mexico, speaking of “the grave human-rights crisis experienced in Mexico, as characterized by an extreme situation of insecurity and violence and grave human rights violations.” The “lack of access to justice” has generated a structural situation of impunity, they said.
  2. UN assessment of Mexican human rights situation. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, meets with President Peña Nieto on October 7 and gives a press conference in which he states his assessment of Mexico’s human rights situation. The U.N.’s human rights commissioner says that Mexico has a 98 percent impunity rate, and most crimes aren’t even investigated. More than 151,230 people have been murdered in Mexico since December 2006, including thousands of Central American migrants making the dangerous trek through the country toward the United States.
  3. US Merida Initiative funds withheld. The country’s failure to protect human rights leads to the US state department withholding 15% or nearly US$5 million in anti-drug funds to Mexico.
  4. Torture reaches catastrophic levels. According to Amnesty International, Mexico’s torture epidemic continues, reaching “catastrophic levels in the past year, with more than double the number of reports at the federal level of suffocation, rape and other sexual abuse, electric shocks and beatings.” In 2014 torture complaints against the Mexican government more than doubled to 2,403, while thousands more remain unreported for reasons of fear and intimidation against the victims and their families. Homicides increased by 6.6 percent, and over 965 kidnappings have been reported so far this year.
  5. Construction of wind farm suspended. On 12th October, representatives from the indigenous Binni’zaa (Zapotec) community from Juchitán de Zaragoza report that, following the amparo they had submitted against the construction and the operation of the megaproject advanced by the Southern Wind Energy Corporation on their lands, a judicial order has been made to suspend all the authorizations, permits, approvals, licenses, and land-use changes awarded by local and federal officials. They report a resulting increase in harassment.
  6. Increase in attacks on human rights defenders. A major new report co-authored by International Service for Human Rights shows that human rights defenders in Mexico face worsening and often deadly risks, that the vast majority of attacks against defenders are not adequately investigated or remedied, and that greater political and financial commitment is necessary to make the Law on the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists in the country effective.  The spectrum of violations against defenders includes murders, enforced disappearances, surveillance, criminalisation, and slander. They say that deep-seated, structural impunity facilitates and perpetuates these violations against defenders.
  7. Institutionalised racism against indigenous. At the conference “Indigenous Peoples: Social Disadvantages, Access to Rights and Justice,” various indigenous leaders convene to discuss thestructural problems their people face in Mexico, home to nearly 16 million indigenous people. They say that stereotypes in Mexico exclude indigenous people from developing policy to address their problems. More than 8,000 indigenous people are serving sentences in Mexico’s state and federal prisons because of institutionalized racism.
  8. Ayotzinapa. The IACHR accept a proposal to allow a group of experts to continue their investigation of the disappearance of the 43 students last year. The Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts will stay a further six months in the country. In a mass protest marking the 13-month anniversary of the disappearance, the parents of the 43 demand the government of Enrique Peña Nieto secure the safe return of their children and allow for an investigation of the army battalion suspected of having been active in the area at the time of their disappearance.
  9. Supreme Court postpones decision on GM soya in Mayan territory. The Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation postpone their decision about the three amparos filed by the Maya beekeepers of Yucatan and Campeche against the granting of permission for Monsanto and others to plant GM soya beans in the Yucatan Peninsula. This would put an end to the traditional honey production in the area.
  10. Mexico now deports more Central Americans than the US. Official figures show that the Southern Border Programme increases the number of deportations and risks for migrants, more of whom are now arrested in Mexico than in the US. In seven months, 92,889 undocumented migrants were detained; during the same period, the US Migraarrested 70,448.

For more detailed Chiapas news: https://dorsetchiapassolidarity.wordpress.com/2015/10/21/boca-en-boca-37-in-english-october-2015/

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Zapatista News Summary For September 2015

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  1. Enlace Zapatista Launches a New Website:  http://www.grieta.org.mx/. As part of the effort to raise awareness of the different resistances in Mexico, on 3rd September the Enlace Zapatista team unveils the website: “Grieta: medio para armar” (“Crack: Media to arm yourself”.) The site contains current information about the struggles in the countryside and the city for the defence of land and territory, under headings such as Megaprojects and The Mirror of Resistance – information about the organization and struggle of communities in the Indigenous National Congress (CNI). Also included are the word of the EZLN, the seminar Critical Thinking against the Capitalist Hydra and national issues.
  1. Death threats and attacks denounced in Tzakukum: On 9th September, Fraybadenounces death threats, physical attacks and harassment against support bases of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation in the community of Tzakukum, in the official municipality of Chalchihuitán, based on information provided by the Good Government Junta of Oventik, Caracol II. The aggressions include beatings, multiple death threats including threats involving attacks with machetes and burning with petrol, and cutting of water supplies. Frayba stresses that “these human-rights violations in Tzakukum take place within a context of counterinsurgency that is implemented by the Mexican State against Zapatista autonomy.” As has happened in other communities, the conflict began in July 2015 over the building of a school.
  1. More presentations and English version of new book: Presentations continue to be made of the book based on the recent seminar El Pensamiento Crítico frente a la Hidra Capitalista 1: participaciones de la Comisión Sexta del EZLN. Much of the book exists in written form in English on the Enlace Zapatista website. Bilingual multimedia compilations are available hereand here. 
  1. Second level of Escuelita: The deadline for the submission of the six questions was 3rdOctober. The questions will be evaluated to decide whether a student passes and can move on to the third level. The questions will be answered collectively.
  1. First anniversary of the disappearance of the 43 students of Ayotzinapa: The EZLN issues a communiqué on 24th September: From Pain, From Rage, For Truth, For Justice, in which they announce that on 26th September thousands of Zapatistas “will mobilize in our territories in order to embrace those people who feel pain and rage because of imprisonment, disappearance, and death imposed from above” and calling on all honest persons on the planet to do the same.
  1. Zapatistas mobilise on 26th September: Thousands of support bases of the EZLN mobilisefrom an early hour in their different territories in Chiapas in solidarity with the families and compañeros of the 43 disappeared. Children, women, men and elders from the Highland zonedemonstrate along the sides of the roads with banners, posters, candles, bearing the names of each of the 43 missing from the normal school of Ayotzinapa. The demonstration is held in the context of protests nationally and internationally to demand the live presentation of the rural normal school students, missing for a year.
  1. Chiapas in Solidarity with Ayotzinapa: Groups and communities in Chiapas, adherents to the Sixth Declaration and members of the Indigenous National Congress (CNI, its initials in Spanish), issue communiques and participate in demonstrations in solidarity with Ayotzinapa. These include the Civil Society Organization Las Abejas de Acteal, adherents to the Sixth fromSan Sebastián Bachajón, the Autonomous Council of the Chiapas Coast, el Frente Civico Tonalteco, the Ejido Tila, Candelaria el Alto, Cruztón, and San Francisco Teopisca. Adherents and sympathizers of the Sixth also demonstrate in San Cristóbal de las Casas.
  1. Chiapas prisoners: Prisoners unjustly detained in Prison no. 5 in San Cristóbal de las Casas denounce the forcible transfer of Alejandro Díaz Santiz and 3 other Tsotsil prisoners to a high security prison, CEFERESO de Villa Comaltitlán. This takes place in the context of a massive transfer of 400 prisoners, using 2000 police, to different prisons.
  1. Actions in Tila: On 16th September, ejidatarios of Tila symbolically take possession of the municipal headquarters (ayuntamiento) and denounce its presence in Chol Territory.
  1. Special Economic Zones: As was expected, Peña Nieto sends a proposal to Congress to approve a law creating Special Economic Zones in Chiapas, Oaxaca and Michoacán – the Inter-Oceanic Industrial Corridor, Puerto Chiapas and the Port of Lazaro Cardenas – in order to generate a “strategy of comprehensive and immediate formal development that will create well-paid jobs.” This is interpreted by the indigenous peoples as another opportunity for dispossession, exploitation and plunder.

Other

  1. Mario Luna is free: After a year of false imprisonment, indigenous Yaqui Leader Mario Luna, traditional secretary of the indigenous village of Vicam, commissioned by the entire tribe to defend the water of the Yaqui River, is released from the Centre for Social Readaptation [Cereso] Number 2 in Hermosillo, Sonora. He vows to continue the defence of Yaqui tribal water rights against the Independence Aqueduct.
  1. Semeí Verdía Zepeda of Santa Maria Ostula is indicted: A formal indictment is issued against the indigenous Nahua leader of Santa Maria Ostula, Semeí Verdía Zepeda, for the crime of first degree murder.
  1. Marco Antonio Suástegui Muñoz released: On 21st August, the spokesperson for the Council of Ejidos and Communities Opposed to the La Parota Dam (CECOP), Marco Antonio Suástegui Muñoz, is released after having been incarcerated for fourteen months. He had been arrested on 17 June 2014 on the charge of having participated together with eight other opponents of the La Parota dam project in a shootout and attempted murder. (Apologies this was omitted from August news).
  1. “We are refugees too”: In light of the current European migrant crisis, immigrant rights defenders draw attention to the terrible conditions facing migrants from Central America.
  1. New Mexico City airport: It is announced that work will start in November. Houses are demolished in the vicinity and people evicted. Attention is drawn again to the 250 protected species of birds, in addition to mammals and reptiles, threatened by this development, which are not mentioned in the official report.
  1. More attacks on free media: On 8 September, the home of the journalists Elva Mendoza, Contralínea magazine, and Flor Goche, Desinformémonosis broken into. Computer equipment and journalistic documentation are stolen from the apartment, located in Mexico City, leaving intact valuable objects such as screens and cash. Then on 20th September, a violent attack by shock groups on the headquarters of Regeneración Radio does extensive damage and leaves several people seriously injured. 107 journalists have been killed in Mexico since 2000.
  1. Ayotzinapa: The official Mexican government account of the disappearance of the 43 students, that they were incinerated at rubbish dump, is scientifically impossible, according to a six-month investigation by independent experts assembled by the Inter-American human rights commission. They say that the official investigation has to be refocused to include the participation of State agents in the attack and their active role in preventing the search for the truth. On the Day of Indignation, more than 100,000 people march in Mexico City, confirming Mexican civil society’s conviction to stand with the 43 students’ families as well as denounce the state’s complicity in the disappearance of more than 20,000 others. Since January 2007, there have been 26,580 forced disappearances, of which 9,384 occurred during the first 22 months of the government of Peña Nieto. In other words, 13 people have been disappeared every day. Demonstrations also take place nationally and internationally.

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For more news from the organised communities, have a look at the latest edition of  Boca en Boca here: https://ukzapatistas.wordpress.com/boca-en-boca/ .

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Zapatista News Summary For August 2015

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In Chiapas 

  1. Level 2 of the Zapatista Escuelita: The “second grade” of the course is now available online for students who passed the first level, held in Chiapas in 2013 and 2014. Groups of approved students are gathering together to watch the video and prepare their questions. Only those who passed the first level have the password for the video.
  1. Anniversary of Caracoles: The twelfth anniversary of the birth of the Caracoles and the creation of the Good Government Juntas (JBG) is celebrated in all the Caracoles on August 8th.
  1. Two murderers of Galeano are free: On August 18th the EZLN denounce in acommunique, signed by Subcomandantes Moisés and Galeano, that two of the intellectual authors of the murder of the Zapatista teacher José Luis Solís López, Galeano, on May 2, 2014 in La Realidad, have been declared innocent and freed, “despite that fact that they and their accomplices in the CIOAC-Histórica know that they are guilty of organizing the crime.” They have returned: “fat and happy, to their homes in the village of La Realidad. They were supposedly being held prisoner for the murder of our teacher and compañero….they have been declared innocent of this crime by the same people who financed and supported them: the federal and Chiapas state governments.” “Truth and justice will never, ever come from above. We will have to construct them from below.”
  1. EZLN new book; More presentations of the book “Critical Thought against the Capitalist Hydra” volume 1 are made at places like Cideci and Nemi Zapata in Chiapas, in other parts of Mexico, and internationally.
  1. Banavil: On August 3rd, the forcibly displaced families from the community of Banavil, municipality of Tenejapa, return temporarily for a period of 15 days to work their lands, in order to be able to sustain their families. Frayba denounce that this return is happeningwithout the agreed guarantee of minimum safety conditions from the Mexican State. While they are there, the Tseltales denounce that the women and children have become ill with cough and fever, and that they found that their lands have been invaded, trees and fences cut down, and the boundaries moved. The return is accompanied by 100 people, including human rights observers and independent media. A new film is released about their struggle.
  1. Primero de Agosto: The 17 forcibly displaced Tojolabal families denounce new threats from members of CIOAC-H from Miguel Hidalgo, including firing shots in the air from close by.
  1. Las Abejas de Acteal: The civil society organisation calls a press conference for the anniversaries of 2 months since the murder of Manuel López, which has not been investigated, and of 6 years since the release of paramilitaries responsible for the massacre. “In Mexico there is a pestilential disease called impunity.” A photographic exhibition on the process of the construction of justice is opened. Confusingly, a group of ex-members of Las Abejas, called “Council of Pacifist Sowers of Peace, Voice of the Civil Society Organisation of ‘Las Abejas,’” set up in 2014, also mark the same occasion, with a “Day for Historical Memory, Justice and against Impunity.”
  1. No medical treatment for the Selva Lacandona: The air ambulance service to 11 remote indigenous communities in the Selva Lacandona ceases operation because the Chiapas government has failed to make the promised payments for the service for the last 2 years, owing nearly 2 million pesos. This leaves over 20,000 people without access to emergency medical care, medical staff, medication or vaccines. To reach the nearest hospital, in Ocosingo, requires a 9 hour walk across the mountains to reach the nearest track. The journey is then another 6 hours in a pickup truck over a dirt road.
  1. New road from San Cristobal to Palenque: Press sources say that following the failure of the new super-highway project, due to the amount of local opposition, the federal government will invest three thousand million pesos in modernising the existing road. 
  1. Attacks on the offices of Sipaz: Between Friday, August 14 and midnight August 17, 2015, the office of the organization of international observation and accompaniment, the International Service for Peace (SIPAZ) in San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, was trespassed. Money was stolen and an intimidating note left. On the night of August 17/18, the office was broken into again. Human Rights organisations demand guarantees of the personal safety and integrity of members of Sipaz. 
  1. Three Bachajón political prisoners released: Three young Tseltales from the ejido San Sebastián Bachajón, Juan Antonio Gómez Silvano, Mario Aguilar Silvano and Roberto Gómez Hernández, are released from the prison in Yajalón on 18th August, following an amparo which recognised that they were detained illegally and tortured. They were arrested on 16thSeptember, 2014. Three other indigenous men from Bachajón who are imprisoned unjustly remain incarcerated.
  1. New threats in Simojovel: The Pueblo Creyente from Simojovel denounce an increase in threats, attacks on the Casa Parroquial, and death threats to Father Marcelo Pérez Pérez, and to the President and members of the Parish Council. In a letter of 24th August, they list the most recent incidents.
  1. Frayba: The lawyer Pedro Faro Navarro becomes the new director of Frayba.

   14. Cideci: Celebrates its 26th anniversary

Other 

  1. Murders in Mexico City: Alejandra Negrete, Yesenia Quiróz. Mile Virginia Martín, activist Nadia Vera and journalist Ruben Espinosa, who collaborated with Proceso magazine and other media, are murdered in Mexico City. The killing of Espinosa marks a new level of violence against journalists, as he is the first to be killed while in exile in Mexico City. Vera is the 36th women’s rights defender to be murdered in Mexico since 2010. Since the attack on Vera and Espinosa, two more journalists have been assassinated in Veracruz and the offices of a local newspaper have been firebombed. In total, 12 journalists who cover Veracruz have been killed since December 1, 2010. Mexico today is the second most dangerous country in the world for journalists, at least 107 having been killed since 2000. Less than 10 percent of the cases have resulted in the sentencing of a responsible party. Mexico also has the second highest rate of impunity in the world.
  1. Miguel Ángel Jiménez, who helped uncover mass graves around Iguala, is found shot dead inside his taxi on the outskirts of Acapulco.  Miguel was a political activist who played a prominent early role in the search for 43 missing students and others in southern Mexico.
  1. Threats to native corn:court decides to lift the preventative (precautionary) measure that for the last two years has halted the process of authorizing planting permits for GM corn, and that has prevented transnational businesses, including Monsanto and Syngenta, from planting GM corn in Mexico. An appeal against this decision is filed immediately by Demanda Colectiva, who brought the original lawsuit that blocked the sowing of GMOs in the country. This means that GM corn cannot yet be sown.
  1. Ayotzinapa: After eleven months of searching, on 26th August the 15th Global Action for Ayotzinapa is held, with a presence at the embassies of several countries and a march in Mexico City marked by police aggression. The demonstrators demand that the federal government extend for another six months the time for the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI) from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to continue its investigations into this crime. This has now been extended by 2 monhs.
  1. Tlachinollan: The Human Rights Centre of the Mountains of Guerrero reaches its 21st anniversary, demanding truth and justice for Ayotzinapa.
  1. Yaqui leader free: Fernando Jiménez, leader of the Yaqui tribe, is released on 27th August, after a year of unjust imprisonment. He was imprisoned together with Yaqui spokesperson Mario Luna, who remains in prison. 
  1. 25,000 disappearances since 2007: On August 27th, Amnesty International presents a report to mark the International Day of the Disappeared. The report states that since 2007 almost 25,000 people have disappeared in Mexico. AI reports that almost half the disappearances, 12,500, have occurred during the current administration. They cite the disappearance of the 43 Ayotzinapa students as a case with great impact worldwide. AI has organized a campaign of letters in Spanish called #Noesnormal, urging the president of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto, to adequately investigate the thousands of disappearances.

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Zapatista News Summary For July 2015

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1. Many letters and pronouncements are issued rejecting the paramilitary attacks denounced recently by the JBG Path to the Future (La Garrucha) in El Rosario, and expressing solidarity with the Zapatista Support Bases (BAZ). Frayba issues an Urgent Action about the risk to the life and personal safety of the BAZ in the communities of El Rosario and Nuevo Paraíso.

2. The Network for Solidarity and against Repression (RvsR) convokes global solidarity with the Zapatista communities for the week 12th to 19th July, leading up to the Chiapas elections on July 19th, denouncing the counterinsurgency strategy of the use of paramilitaries by the three levels of government. There is a large response to this call in many parts of Mexico, and also internationally in countries such as Brazil, Argentina, Germany, France and Spain.

3. The EZLN presents the book “Critical Thought against the Capitalist Hydra” volume 1 – Participation of the Sixth Commission in the Seminar, and releases a fragment of text, “Chiapas, Mexico, the World” taken from “our view of the hydra” by Subcomandante Galeano. This extract talks about urban dispossession in the city of Tuxtla Gutiérrez, capital of Chiapas, and who wins and who loses from it.

4. The tenth anniversary of the release of the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle is celebrated.

5. The CNI and EZLN issue a joint condemnation of an attack on the Indigenous Nahua municipality of Santa María Ostula, Michoacán. Following protests against the arrest of the First Commander of their community police, Cemeí Verdía Zepeda, the Mexican army opens fire, killing a 12-year old boy, and wounding six people including a six- year old girl. The arrested commander is subsequently freed on lack of evidence and immediately re-arrested on a different charge.

6. Subcomandantes Moisés and Galeano send out information about the second level of the Escuelita Zapatisia, from 31st July to 2nd August, which is for those who passed the first level, and finally leads to the sixth level. The second level will not be held in Zapatista territory, because so many students have problems with the cost and the time needed to get there, but is to be done collectively by students in the places where they live. They also send out information for any former student who has not received an email.

7. On 30th July, the CNI and EZLN issue a communique in support of the struggle of the Ñätho community of San Francisco Xochicuautla against the road project which threatens the destruction of their sacred forest. This follows the signing of a presidential decree by President Enrique Peña Nieto, cancelling a 1954 order guaranteeing indigenous community land rights in Xochicuautla, and expropriating 37 hectares of land in order to permit the construction, by the notorious Grupo Higa, of a new section of the Toluca-Naucalpan highway on the communal land of the community, slicing through the sacred Otomi-Mexica forest. The ejidatarios of San Sebastian Bachajon also issue a communique in solidarity. A march is held in Mexico City in support of both Xochicuautla and Ostula.

8. Ejidatarios of Tila, adherents to the Sixth, denounce an armed confrontation which took place there on 20th June, between supporters of the PVEM and PRI political parties. There is great insecurity in this area during the time of elections, with people fearing for their lives. They describe young people, hooded and dressed in black, carrying guns, clubs and machetes, operating roadblocks with the support of the municipal police. Post-electoral conflicts have continued in many parts of Chiapas, where the PVEM, allied with the PRI, remain the most powerful political parties.

9. On 28th and 29th July over 4,000 indigenous and mestizos from Las Margaritas and the surrounding area go on a pilgrimage against the suffering of the peoples, for peace and life and against violence and dispossession, in particular in support of the communities of Primero de Agosto, Banavil, Acteal, Ayotzinapa and Chicomuselo. They release the Pronouncement of Las Margaritas in Defence of our Right to be Peoples.

10. The Network for Peace highlights the lack of response from the Chiapas state government to the case of the displaced people of Primero de Agosto. The displaced families from Banavil alsocall attention to their case, and later announce they will return temporarily to work their lands.

11. On the ten-month anniversary of the Ayotzinapa attack, parents of the 43 disappeared students announce that on 30th July a caravan to the southern states of Mexico will begin in San Cristobal de la Casas. The next day a second caravan will start in Chihuahua.

 

Other

1. Actions are held against the visit of the Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto and his entourage to France, 13th to 15th July.

2. A new arrest warrant is issued against the Yaqui leader, Mario Luna, whose appeal (amparo) has recently been allowed, and whose liberation had been anticipated. The new warrant could lead to between four and ten years imprisonment.

3. Human Rights Watch publishes its 2015 report, in which it says that the government has made little progress in prosecuting the widespread killings, enforced disappearances, and torture committed by soldiers and police in the course of efforts to combat organized crime. In August 2014, the government acknowledged that the whereabouts of over 22,000 people who had gone missing since 2006 remained unknown, and no one has been convicted for an enforced disappearance committed after 2006. Mexico’s security forces have participated in widespread enforced disappearances, in some cases, collaborating directly with criminal groups.

4. Mexico’s National Social Development Policy Evaluation Council (Coneval) says that over 60 million people, half the country’s population, are living in poverty, an increase of two million in the last two years, with twelve million – and 20 million children – in extreme poverty. According to the document, while one out of every two people in Mexico lives below the poverty line, only one out of every five has their needs completely covered. The highest level of extreme poverty – 76.2 per cent – is in Chiapas. Mexico is the eleventh richest economy in the world.

5. Latest Mexican government figures show that between 2007 and 2014 more than 164,000 people were murdered. Over the same seven-year period, slightly more than 103,000 died in Afghanistan and Iraq, according to data from the United Nations.

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Zapatista News Summary for June 2015

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News from Chiapas

1. Follow-up to the seminar “Critical thought versus the capitalist hydra.” Videos, audios and English translations of the series of talks by the EZLN, explaining their thinking on the issues facing Mexico and the world, continue to be published. These include a translation of Sub Galeano’s words ‘The Method, the Bibliography, and a Drone Deep in the Mountains of the Mexican Southeast,’ in which he sums up: “We are faced with a reality that can be synthesized today in one word: Ayotzinapa. For us Zapatistas, Ayotzinapa is not the exception, but the rule. What we see there is a family portrait of the system at a global level.” The message is to organise. “The seminar is really a seedbed asking compas of the Sixth to continue the process in their own places, according to their own times and ways.”

2. Another pilgrimage. On 6th June, 2,500 members of the Pueblo Creyente from El Bosque go on a pilgrimage to call attention to the problems they are facing, such as violence, corruption, drug trafficking, prostitution, bars selling alcohol, and lack of basic services like healthcare and drinkable water.

3. Frayba provides evidence of arbitrary detentions and persecution of innocent people by the municipal police in Ocosingo, during the electoral protests on 7th June, when the police arbitrarily arrested 11 people, with an excessive use of force and violence. They have all now been released.

4. Alejandro Díaz Santiz, indigenous Tsotsil detained in prison No. 5 in San Cristóbal de Las Casas has his amparo for release denied; he has now spent 16 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Alejandro, who is in solidarity with the voice of el Amate and an adherent to the Sixth, calls for an investigation in to the unhealthy and polluted water in the prison which is causing health problems. In another letter he expresses solidarity with the Ayotzinapa familes.

5. The caravan of family and friends of the disappeared and murdered normal school students of Ayotzinapa visits the North of Chiapas to meet with the organized indigenous communities of the Indigenous National Congress (CNI), in order to share their struggles. The first meeting is held on 16th June in San Francisco Teopisca, municipality of Tenejapa, Chiapas, a meeting also attended by members of Las Abejas. On 17thJune the second meeting takes place in the ejido San Sebastián Bachajón at Cumbre Nachoj, the headquarters of the adherents to the Sixth from Bachajón. On 18th June the Ayotzinapa families march with human rights defenders and members of X’inich in Palenque to demand justice for the disappeared students and for the victims of the Viejo Velasco massacre.

6. Problems due to alcohol. Representatives of the Pueblo Creyente from the parish of San Pedro Apostol, municipality of Chenalhó, report that alcoholism is causing social conflicts and increased violence against women in the communities. They demand the closure of the bars and canteens and accuse the authorities of lacking the political will to solve this conflict. Among the problems they say are caused by excessive drinking are: death, suicide through drinking chemicals, road accidents, marriage or family breakdown, children without clothing, and the suffering of women whose husbands have abandoned their families.

7. The Pueblo Creyente of Simojovel call for solidarity and peace following new death threats and harassments being made by leaders of the PRI against Father Marcelo Perez and the catechists and members of the Parish Council and the Pueblo Creyente. These threats, which have increased since 16th June, are in response to the denouncement of corruption, and in particular to the recent arrest of three members of the PRI for the possession of arms and drugs. In response, nine parishes unite with Simojovel’s struggle.

8. 120 days of forced displacement. The 17 families forcibly displaced from Primero de Agostoin the municipality of Las Margaritas, by members of CIOAC-historical, continue to demand an immediate return to their community, justice, and reparation of damages.

9. A member of Las Abejas of Acteal is assassinated. On 23rd June, Manuel López Pérez is travelling with his eleven-year old son on a public transport vehicle from Pantelhó when it is ambushed by seven armed men dressed in military clothing. They shoot Manuel three times, twice in the head. Members of the board of Las Abejas say they are unable to attend his burial in San Joaquin for security reasons, due to the number of paramilitaries in the area. They later denouncedeath threats against other members of their organisation, Antonio Lopez Jimenez and his family, who are also displaced from San Joaquin for not participating in government projects.

10. A new paramilitary attack is denounced in the Caracol of La Garrucha. On 24th June the JBG Path of the Future denounces that 28 paramilitaries from the ejido Pojkol arrived that morning at the homes of the Zapatista support bases (BAZ) in the community of El Rosario, in the autonomous municipality of San Manuel. 8 of them were carrying 22 calibre firearms. They met up with the 21 paramilitaries from El Rosario itself, and a little later with an alleged engineer and the rancher from Ocosingo who held the lands before 1994. The rancher handed over documents, and the attackers started to measure the recuperated lands, planning a temple and houses. Then they started to go in to the homes of the BAZ. They destroyed one of the houses, robbing all the possessions including the roof, and taking them all back to Pojkol. The JBG say that these two individuals are the paramilitary advisers, and that the group is financed and trained by the state, municipal and federal governments. These are the same paramilitaries who have attacked El Rosario on two previous occasions. The denouncement includes a denunciation by Subcomandante Moises about repression against teachers and the murder of Antonio Vivar Díaz.

11. Margarita Gómez and David Hernández Torres, indigenous Tsotsil campesinos from Teopisca, Chiapas, are detained and tortured by members of the Specialised Police to make them confess to the murder of Juan Perez, brother of David Hernández. They are now imprisoned in the Centre for Social Reinsertion of the Sentenced No 5 in San Cristobal de las Casas, found guilty of murder. David and Margaret are concerned for the welfare of their seven children, all minors, while they are punished for a crime they did not commit. They cannot read or write or speak Spanish.

News from Mexico

With thanks to the Chiapas Support Committee

1. Mexico’s Mid-term Elections – On Sunday, June 7, Mexico held mid-term elections to renew delegates to the federal Congress. There were also elections for local officers in some states. The results show that the PRI will control a majority of the seats in Congress. The campaign was characterized by protests, violence, burning of party propaganda and election materials and militarization of the electoral process. Guerrero, Oaxaca and Chiapas experienced both militant protests and militarization. Teachers led the local protests and maintained strikes and an encampment in Mexico City, and continue to militantly oppose the education “reform.”

In Tlapa, Guerrero, police killed Antonio Vivar Díaz, a student with a young wife and daughter, and a leader in the Guerrero Popular Movement (MPG). Tlapa was militarized and occupied by federal police during the election. In several states entrances and exits to Pemex facilities were blocked. At least 100 people were arrested and detained in Oaxaca alone, and 25 of them remain in prison. Hundreds of criminal actions are still being processed. In Guerrero, leaders of the teachers’ movement (Ceteg) and the MPG denounced intense repression by the Mexican Army, Navy and Federal Police.

2. Ayotzinapa – The Caravana 43 visits three countries in South America as part of a strategy to circulate struggle, disrupt misinformation, and create a context for a deeper discussion about how state violence and repression have become systematic in Mexico and in other parts of the world. Other relatives of the 43 disappeared students protest with students and social organizations in Guerrero, including teachers’ organizations. Felipe de la Cruz, spokesperson for the parents of the 43, reveals that he is receiving death threats and threats against his family on his mobile phone, intended to deter their fight to find their disappeared sons.

A Mexican judge seeking asylum in the United States reveals a new version of what happened in Iguala, Guerrero, on the night of 26th September when the 43 Ayotzinapa students were forcibly disappeared. This version suggests that federal and military officials were directly involved in the case. It undermines the official narrative of the Mexican government, that the students were detained and taken to the base of the Iguala Municipal Police before being delivered to the United Warriors cartel, by affirming that this is not true.

The families mark the 9-month anniversary of the disappearances on 26th July by holding a 43-hour vigil.

3. Mexico legalises gay marriage. After months of rulings saying that restricting marriage to heterosexual couples is discriminatory, the Mexican Supreme Court legalizes same-sex matrimonies nationwide.

4. The indigenous Ñhathö community from San Francisco Xochicuautla convokes a Peace Camp of Dignified Resistance for the Defence of the Otomi Forest against the megaproject of death, the Toluca Naucalpan highway.

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Zapatista News Summary For May 2015

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News from Chiapas

1. A homage to compañeros Don Luis Villoro Toranzo and Zapatista teacher compañero Galeano takes place in the Caracol of Oventic on Saturday May 2nd. More than five thousand people, EZLN support bases, adherents and sympathizers, attend. Also present are the families of Don Luis Villoro and of teacher Galeano, the parents of one of the students disappeared from Ayotzinapa, and the EZLN General Command. Words of homage are spoken by Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés. A homage to Zapatista teacher Galeano is given by Subcomandante Galeano, who also reads words about Luis Villoro which he says were written by the late Subcomandante Marcos.

2. The Seminar “Critical Thought against the Capitalist Hydra” is inaugurated on May 3rdin Oventic before moving to CIDECI, University of the Earth, in San Cristóbal de Las Casas,where it continues until 9th May, with participation from many well-known thinkers, writers, philosophers, activists and analysts, along with the Sixth Commission of the EZLN. An in-depth analysis is shared regarding the future of capitalism and the construction of alternatives to it. 2,600 people register to participate. The Mexican Centre for Free Media says the Seminar can only be compared to the Intergaláctica of 1966 in terms of the birth of new ideas and processes. The contributions from the EZLN are available in written form in English. All the contributions are available in audio form in Spanish, and there is other information here. Also available in English are the contribution from John Holloway and reflections from Gustavo Esteva and Raúl Zibechi.

3. Solidarity with the day labourers of San Quintin. During the closing session of the Seminar, Subcomandante Moises says the EZLN are enraged by the police repression against San Quintin agricultural workers earlier that day and calls for solidarity with their ongoing struggle for dignified labour conditions in San Quintin, Baja California. Tens of thousands of farmworkers have been protesting since the launch of a workers’ strike to demand adequate salaries and an end to slave-like working conditions. Since then, a provisional agreement for better conditions has been made.

4. The JBG from La Garrucha denounces paramilitary attacks on the Zapatista communities of El Rosario and Nueva Paraíso which took place the day after the seminar ended. At El Rosario shots are fired at a thirteen year old girl, after the attackers have invaded and measured the recuperated land. In Nuevo Paraíso the JBG has initiated mediation, deciding to transfer 21 hectares of land to the paramilitaries to put an end to the threats, but this has not yet resolved the problem.

5. Frayba releases a report:“La Realidad, Context of War.” The report highlights new developments in counterinsurgency; the members of CIOAC-H are part of the theatre of war, creating an armed “self-defence” group, allowed, encouraged and strengthened by the structure of municipal government. The Human Rights Centre considers that the Mexican government is responsible for the extrajudicial execution of Zapatista teacher Galeano and the assaults and harassment of BAEZLN. The centre identifies Enrique Peña Nieto and Manuel Velasco Coello as being involved in counterinsurgency policy, and holds the Mexican government responsible for committing of crimes against humanity and “failing in its duty to promote, respect, protect and guarantee human rights, and to prevent, investigate, punish and redress human rights violations, leading to a situation of structural impunity.”

 

6. Two babies dead and others seriously ill in Simojovel. After receiving vaccinations for Tuberculosis (BCG), Rotovirus and Hepatitis B, 31 indigenous children aged under 5 from the rural mining community of La Pimienta in Simojovel municipality have adverse reactions and have to be hospitalized. The immunisations are compulsory for the children of women registered under the government programme Prospera. Two of the babies die, Yadira aged 30 days and Emmanuel Francisco aged 28 days; their births have not yet been officially registered. 93 percent of the people in this area live in poverty, 69 percent in extreme poverty, and the tragedy highlights the lack of healthcare in the region. The Pueblo Creyente convoke a pilgrimage from Simojovel to La Pimienta for 23rd May in demand of justice and decent healthcare. Over 2,000 people participate.

7. A report is released on the condition of the forcibly displaced community of Primero de Agosto. On 11th and 12th May, a Civilian Observation Mission from the Network for Peace visits the indigenous Tojolabal families forcibly displaced from Primero de Agosto. Their report reveals a grave humanitarian situation, especially serious for children and pregnant women. 56 people are living under plastic sheets; they suffer malnutrition and acute shortage of water; they fear further attacks and consequently do not sleep. The situation is worsening, with serious consequences for their physical and emotional health. Immediate action for the return of the community to their homes is called for.

The Rest of Mexico

1. The National Caravan for the Defence of Water, Land, Work, and Life, organized by the Yaqui people of Sonora, Mexico, tours the country to raise awareness about the struggle against megaprojects, and calling for people to organise. Their specific demands are: the cancellation of all mega-projects that affect life, water, land and air; the cancellation of recently approved neoliberal structural reforms; an end to the militarization of the country; the presentation alive of the 43 disappeared Ayotzinapa students; the recuperation of food and energy sovereignty; and the freedom of political prisoners.

2. The Caravan of the Fire of Dignified Resistance tours the state of Mexico. Its aim is the defence of human rights, the creation of alternatives, and the recovery and conservation of their history, culture, and collective organization. The FPDT from Atenco is one of the participants. The caravan also denounces dispossession.

3. Eurocaravan 43 for Ayotzinapa finishes its tour of Europe in London. Another caravan of family members starts a tour of parts of South America.

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Zapatista News Summary for April 2015

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 News from Chiapas

1. SupGaleano sends a communiqué The Storm, the Sentinel, and Night Watch Syndrome which gives details and the link to use to register for the seminar “Critical Thought Versus the Capitalist Hydra,” to take place from 3rd to 9th May 2015. It also warns: “the thing is that we, the Zapatistas, see and hear a catastrophe coming, and we mean this in every sense of the term, a perfect storm… what we see is not good at all. We see that what is coming is something terrible, even more destructive than before, if that’s possible.” So they think the forthcoming ‘exchange of thought’ or ‘seedbed of ideas’ is very much needed.

2. Cyber-attack on EZLN webpage. On 7thApril, a few days after registration for the seminar using this site was announced, the webpage Enlace Zapatista suffers a cyber-attack: automated programmes launch thousands of simultaneous hits to saturate the site and take it down. Faced with this kind of attack, the only solution is to disconnect the equipment. The free media responds by reprinting the text of the communiqué and sharing the pre-registration formats for the seminar, so registration can continue. It is subsequently announced that the webpage is back up again, and in a new communique: Why so Serious? SupGaleano thanks everyone who helped, and jokes about the attack. The Cat-Dog is now administering the matrix.

3. Report on registration for the Seminar “Critical Thought Versus the Capitalist Hydra.” In another communiqué on 21st April, SupGaleano reports that so far 1,074 people have registered for the seminar. Of these, 558 people are adherents to the Sixth, 430 people are not adherents to the Sixth, 82 people say they are from the free, autonomous, independent, alternative, or whatever-you-call-it media, and 4 people are from the paid media. The Programme is released on 29th April, by which time 1,528 people have registered.

4. The Pueblo Creyente of Simojovel, in a communiqué released on April 13, denounce an increase in the death threats and acts of persecution and harassment against their priest, Father Marcelo Pérez, following their recent pilgrimage, as well as against members of the Parish Council and the Pueblo Creyente from this municipality.

5. Primero de Agosto, more than 60 days displaced. In a communique published on 17thApril, 2015, the forcibly displaced people (17 families) of the community Primero de Agosto report the latest acts of harassment they have suffered on the lands they currently occupy. Between April 9-15, members of the Cioac-h from the ejido Miguel Hidalgo fired shots 500 yards from where they are currently forcibly displaced, issued verbal threats, and entered and robbed the dwelling area of one of the displaced people. The villagers have now been displaced for two months, they have no water, many of them are sick, their possessions have been burned, and one of the women is about to give birth.

6. The ejidatarios from San Sebastián Bachajón are denied their petition for amparo against the dispossession of their communal lands, which they first presented to the courts in March 2011.  After three rejections and appeals, an unsuccessful attempt was made to transfer the case to the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation. A new petition has been launched to demand the enforcement of international treaties signed by the Mexican State, “because up to now the Judicial Power of the Federation has favoured and privileged the impunity with which the dispossession of the indigenous peoples of Mexico has been operated”. A Worldwide Pronouncement is released In Solidarity with the Compañer@s of San Sebastián Bachajón, with signatories from over 20 countries, from Palestine to Uruguay, from Denmark to Japan, and from Scotland to Bolivia. The commemoration of 2 years since the assassination of Juan Vázquez Guzmán takes place on 24th April, 2015, with a mass in the family home. His family release a videomessage.

Link to petition

Other news

1. Eduardo Galeano dies.The much-loved writer and poet, friend of the dispossessed and forgotten, dies of lung cancer.

2. Brigade for Ayotzinapa travels to Europe. The tour of the US and Canada culminates in New York on 26thApril. Between 15 April and 19 May, the brigade plans to visit 18 cities in 13 countries in Europe to inform the European community about the continuing struggles of the parents for the presentation with life of the 43 disappeared students. The group visits London on 19th May. Another group will visit Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil.

3. Mexico is the second-worst country in terms of impunity according to the results of the 2015 Global Impunity Index.

4. The Caravan of the Fire of Dignified Resistance is announced, representing the union of the struggles and resistances of peoples from the state of Mexico, including the FPDT from Atenco. The caravan is for the defence of the land, the water and autonomy, and is touring the state from east to west until 15th May.

5. The Yaqui tribe, along with many other organisations convoke a National Caravan for the Defence of the Water, Territory, Work and Life, from 11th to 22nd May. The caravan aims to make visible the current crisis, to strengthen struggles, and to form a front in defence of water and against its privatisation.

6. April 20 marks five years since the murder of the human rights defenders Bety Cariño and Jyri Jaakkola, who died while participating in a humanitarian caravan to San Juan Copala in the Triqui zone of the state of Oaxaca. As part of the commemoration, various actions and protests are held. So far, there has been no justice.

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Zapatista News Summary for March 2015

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1. EZLN announce forthcoming events: In a communiqué, On The Bulletin Board, written by Subcomandante Galeano, the EZLN announce their calendar for 2015, starting with the report, due on 5th March, on the completion and grand opening of the School-Clinic in La Realidad Zapatista. Two homages are to take place: to Luis Villoro Toranzo (died 5th March 2014) and also to compaGaleano, on the anniversary of Galeano’s death, May 2nd, at the caracol of Oventic. This will be followed, on 3-9 May, by the Seminar “Critical Thought Versus the Capitalist Hydra,” beginning in Oventic and continuing in CIDECI, San Cristóbal de las Casas. From July to December, 2015, the World Seminar: “Critical Thought Versus the Capitalist Hydra” will take place on Planet Earth.

The communiqué also announces the next stage of the Escuelita (Little School). The second grade, (only for those who passed the first grade,) will be from July 31st to August 1-2, 2015. The Fiesta for the Caracoles will be from August 8-9, in the 5 Zapatista Caracoles, and the Third Grade of the Escuelita (only for those who pass the second grade) will take place from November-December 2015.

2. Thank you I, II and III: Starting on 5th March as promised, a series of three communiqués record that on March 1, 2015, after more than six months of work, the building that houses a health clinic and a school was presented to the Zapatista bases of support in La Realidad, and that it was the solidarity of people and collectives throughout the world which made this construction possible.

In Thank You I the EZLN presents the accounts for the building work, and gives the words of compañero Jorge and Comandante Tacho at the inauguration of the Autonomous Zapatista School “Compañero Galeano” and the Autonomous Clinic 26th of October “Compañero Insurgente Pedro.

Thank You II – Capitalism destroys, the People Construct – consists of the words of the EZLN’s General Command in the voice of  Subcomandante Moisés as he hands the new school and clinic over to the EZLN’s support bases.

Thank You III – The Most Expensive Building in the World – Subcomandantes Moisés and Galeano thank all those who supported the construction, “this clinic and school are also yours.” They also explain “The entirety of the funds required to construct the huge buildings where the powerful hide in order to organize their thievery and crimes would not be enough to pay for even a single drop of Indigenous Zapatista blood. That is why we feel that this is the most expensive building in the world.”

3. Increase in harassment of La Realidad by the Mexican Army – Frayba reports that it has documented, through its Civilian Observation Brigades (BriCO,) a growing number of military actions since July 2014 in the territory of the JBG of La Realidad. These consist of incursions in convoys with trucks, hummers, jeeps, and motorized equipment, with members of the Mexican Army ranging from 4 to 30 people. There are also low flyovers with light aircraft and helicopters photographing and filming BriCO members, BAEZLN and the installations of the Junta.

4. Another Communique: About the Homage and the Seminar– Subcomandante Galeano confirms that the forthcoming homage and seminar will take place despite the increase in army patrols, checkpoints and flyovers, which are particularly taking place in the caracoles of La Realidad and Oventic, and lists the names of those who have confirmed their participation in the two events.

5. Grave concern over the displaced community of Primero de Agosto: The 17 families (57 people) displaced from the community of Primero de Agosto on February 24th by members of Cioac-H (the same group who attacked La Realidad and murdered compa Galeano) continue to live in precarious circumstances, without water and under sheets of plastic, on the side of the road. Members of the attacking group continue to threaten them, and they fear more violence. There is an acute shortage of food, and the children and the women, one of whom is pregnant, are sick. Members of neighbouring communities have been showing solidarity and support, while the government does nothing, and continues to support the activities of Cioac-H.

6. Public Forces burn down the regional headquarters of San Sebastián Bachajón: On 21st March more than 600 members of the public forces burned down the newly built San Sebastián regional headquarters, with the participation of the ejidal Commissioner Alejandro Moreno Gomez and the Security Adviser Samuel Díaz Guzmán. Following this, two members of the free media, who were there to document human rights violations, were verbally and physically assaulted. Previously, political party supporters had been maintaining a roadblock at the Agua Azul turning in an attempt to discredit the ejidatarios adherents to the Sexta.

7. Pilgrimage from Simojovel to Tuxtla: Well over 15,000 people, many of them members of Pueblo Creyente, participated in a massive four-day peaceful pilgrimage against violence from Simojovel to Tuxtla Gutiérrez, a distance of 120 kilometres. The call for this pilgrimage arose from the situation of insecurity being experienced by indigenous communities in the region, resulting from an increase in narcopolitics and narcotrafficking and a rise in alcoholism due to a proliferation of bars (cantinas). Many death threats have been made against the priest of Simojovel, Marcelo Peréz Peréz, and the parish council. The pilgrims called for greater security and an end to impunity and corruption among state authorities.

Their demands include an end to megaprojects such as the proposed new highway, to mining and the dispossession of land, to the structural reforms, to the privatisation of water, to forced displacement, violence, prostitution, disappearance and murder. The pilgrims were joined by members of Las Abejas from Acteal, and by displaced people from Primero de Agosto and Banavil.

8. Statement from CNI: From their gathering in the community of Amatlán de Quetzalzoatl, municipality of Tepoztlan, Morelos, the peoples, nations and tribes of the Indigenous National Congress (CNI) gave their position on “the narco capitalist rulers who are seeking to take over our country. The repression has not ceased, but neither has our resistance. We will not stop the struggle for life and for our continued existence.”

Other

1. Torture in Mexico is out of control: On 9 March, Juan E. Méndez, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture and other cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatments, presented the report based on his visit to Mexico between April and May 2014.  In his conclusions, he says that “torture and ill-treatment of the incarcerated after their arrest, and prior to their presentation to the justice system, are generalized phenomena in Mexico which take place within the context of impunity.”  He adds that there is evidence of the active participation of police and military forces, “and also tolerance, indifference, or complicity on the part of some doctors, public defenders, prosecutors, and judges.” He indicated furthermore that torture is used “to punish the arrested and to extract confessions or incriminating information.”  He highlighted that “the impunity afforded to torture and other abuses is sufficient to lead to its repetition and exacerbation.”

2. Attacks against journalists grow during Peña Nieto’s term: The frequency with which journalists are attacked during the government of Enrique Peña Nieto has grown by 80% according to the organization Article 19. In their report State of Censure, they point out that in the two years that Peña Nieto has been president, 656 attacks against the press have been documented, 330 in 2013 and 326 in 2014. This represents an attack every 26.7 hours and contrasts with the attacks recorded in the government of Calderón (2006-2012), in whose term 1,092 cases were recorded, that is to say, one every 48.1 hours. Of the 326 attacks documented by Article 19 in 2014, 156 are attributed to public officials, in particular to police who attacked the media within the context of demonstrations and social protests.

3.  Farmworkers strike. Around 50,000 farmworkers in the San Quintín Valley in the Mexican state of Baja California went on strike on March 17 to demand higher wages and better working conditions. Agricultural production is at a standstill, and crops (strawberries, tomatoes, cucumbers) are rotting. About 80 percent of the workers are from the original peoples of Mexico from Guerrero, Chiapas, Oaxaca, Puebla, Michoacán and San Luís Potosí.

Dorset Chiapas Solidarity

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Zapatista News Summary For February 2015

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1. Forced displacement of families, indigenous Tojolabales, from the community of Primero De Agosto in the municipality of Las Margaritas. Frayba denounce the forced displacement of 57 indigenous Tojolabales, including 12 minors, one newborn, 20 women and 25 men, residents of the community of Primero de Agosto, by members of the Historic Independent Central of Agricultural Workers and Peasants (CIOAC-H), who are protected in the region by the municipal government of Las Margaritas. The displaced people are now living in very unhealthy conditions in a camp on the side of the road, with very little food.

2. A national and international brigade of observation in solidarity with San Sebastián Bachajón, convened by the Network against Repression and for Solidarity, visited the ejido in response to the serious risk of attack and displacement. They heard stories of the struggle in defence of their lands, documented problems, and shared the everyday work of the community.

3. Threats, attacks and harassment against EZLN support bases in El Rosario. Frayba denounce the serious situation of threats and attacks by the armed “Pojcol Group” against the support bases of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (BAEZLN) in the Community of El Rosario, Rebel Autonomous Municipality San Manuel, and threats against the community of Nuevo Paraíso, in the official municipality of Ocosingo, both in the Caracol of La Garrucha. Frayba has denounced the situation since July, 2014, but the attacks and threats have worsened in the last few weeks, with shots being fired into the air. On 1stAugust 2014, 32 support bases were displaced from the nearby community of Egipto.

4. The organized ejidatarios of San Sebastián Bachajón denounce threats by ejidatarios from the PRI to evict them from their new Regional Headquarters and displace them from the recuperated land which belongs to the ejido. The ejidatarios say they are also being falsely accused of crimes on the highway in order to undermine their struggle. They demand the withdrawal of public forces from their lands.

5. Antonia Lopez Mendez, aged 11, one of 13 people sympathetic to the EZLN who were displaced from the community of Banavil in December 2011, dies. The cause of death is said to be cerebral oedema, due to stress, poverty, poor healthcare and malnutrition. Her family are accompanied by civil society and religious and human rights organisations back to Banavil, with no support from the authorities, to bury her before returning in to exile.

6. Guerrilla leader Felix Serdan Najera dies at the age of 98. He was aide to the late guerrilla leader Ruben Jaramillo, and an honorary major in the EZLN. Subcomandantes Moisés and Galeano release a letter they have written to his compañera, Emilia.

7. The Pueblo Creyente (Believing People) from Simojovel denounce threats made by PRI members against their priest, Father Marcelo Pérez Pérez, and announce a forthcoming four-day pilgrimage for peace to Tuxtla Gutiérrez. The Believing People of the parish of Santa Catarina Pantelho organise a demonstration rejecting mining exploration and exploitation in their area.

Compiled by Dorset Chiapas Solidarity

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Zapatista News Summary For January 2015

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In Chiapas

1. EZLN Issues New Year Comunicado – The EZLN comunicado: “Words on its 21st Anniversary of the Beginning of the War against Oblivion” was read by Sup Moisés it to those in attendance at the New Year Celebration in Oventik. The comunicado focuses on the families of the 43 disappeared Ayotzinapa students and talks about the injustices in society and why we must rebel against and resist injustice.

2. Joint Declaration from the Festival – The Indigenous National Congress (CNI), the EZLN and adherents to the Sixth Declaration issued a Joint Declaration from the Festival of Resistances and Rebellions against Capitalism on January 8. Not surprisingly, it spells out the evils of capitalism and the environmental damage it causes to Mother Earth and to her Peoples. Also, it urges us to organize: “We invite you to continue walking with a small but firm step, to continue to meet, share, construct, and learn along with us, to weave the organization from below and to the left of the Sixth that we are.” A summary of the entire Festival has just been published on Counterpunch.

3. San Sebastián Bachajón: Another Eviction and Another Recuperation – San Sebastián Bachajón (SSB) ejido owners denounced from the tourist centre of the Agua Azul Waterfalls that at approximately 6:30 AM on January 9, more than 900 state and federal police evicted the compañer@s who were guarding the lands recuperated last December 21. The timing of these events is interesting. SSB recuperated their land as the Festival started and the government waited to strike back until it ended. On January 11 and 12, SSB launched a successful, although difficult, struggle to again recuperate the land that the government had taken away from them. It includes the ticket booth at the entrance to the Agua Azul Waterfalls, a large tourist attraction between Ocosingo and Palenque. It also includes a public security (state police) office and a government clinic that is not in use. At the same time, the Chiapas State Human Rights Commission asked the state government to take precautionary measures to assure that the human rights of SSB residents would be respected. Meanwhile, an International Caravan of adherents to the Sixth left Mexico City for SSB to act as observers. You can read all the latest news from Bachajón here.

4. Mitzitón Files Legal Action Against Chiapas Superhighway Construction – On December 30, 2014, the Indigenous Tsotsil Town of Mitzitón filed a court petition for a protective order (injunction) to suspend the highway work that “the bad government seeks to construct on lands and Territories of Indigenous Peoples in our state.” Mitzitón is an adherent to the EZLN’s Sixth Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle. Its lands are located where the road from San Cristóbal to Comitán (also known as the Pan-American Highway) intersects with the road to Ocosingo and Palenque. The government plans to convert both roads into superhighways, which requires taking land away from a number of indigenous communities. Mitzitón announced the legal action in a communiqué to the Festival of Resistances and Rebellions against Capitalism.

In other parts of Mexico

1. Ayotzinapa Parents and Students Take Their Struggle to Geneva – Parents and student compañer@s of the 4 murdered and 42 disappeared Ayotzinapa students continue struggling to clarify what really happened on September 26 and 27. Several of the parents went to Geneva, Switzerland, to give testimony to the United Nations Committee against Forced Disappearances February 2 and 3. Their legal representative from the Tlachinollan Human Rights Centre in Guerrero went with them. Cases of forced disappearances from other states in Mexico are also represented, as the hearing is about investigating Mexico’s record on dealing with this crime.

2. Mexico’s Attorney General Declares the Students Dead – A large 8th National and International Day of Action in support of Ayotzinapa took place on January 26 without incident. Marches took place throughout Mexico. Roadblocks continue in Guerrero, although the government has started to crack down and arrest people for taking over tollbooths on superhighways. The citizen search for the students continues, students and parents continue visiting organizations asking them to join their movement to find the truth about what happened to the 43. Meanwhile, Mexico’s attorney general announced that the investigation is closed, thereby pronouncing the students dead. The Attorney General’s position is that members of the United Warriors Cartel murdered the students and incinerated their bodies in the Cocula garbage dump, then threw their ashes into the river. The government’s position is based on testimony from the criminals it arrested and the fact that DNA found at the garbage dump matched one of the students. The University of Innsbruck could not match any other ashes or remains from the dump to the students with preliminary DNA testing, but has agreed to conduct more tests using a new method. The parents object to closing the investigation and believe there are lines of investigation still to be explored; such as, the role, if any, of the Army, the ex-governor of Guerrero and other government officials.

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Compiled monthly by the Chiapas Support Committee. The primary sources for our information are: La Jornada, Enlace Zapatista and the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Centre (Frayba).

Minor edits have been made for a UK audience.

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December 2014 Zapatista News Summary

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Happy New Year! / ¡Feliz Año!

In Chiapas

1. EZLN Issues Comunicado “On Ayotzinapa,”and much more – On December 14, the EZLN released a long statement with the title “On Ayotzinapa, the Festival and hysteria as a method for analysis and a guide for action.” It analyzed Ayotzinapa as part of the global capitalist war against humanity and offered the EZLN’s 20 spaces to relatives and compañer@s of the murdered and disappeared Ayotzinapa students, thus inviting them as honoured guests to the Worldwide Festival of Resistances and Rebellions against Capitalism. The section on hysteria is a commentary on the protests that took place in Mexico around the murders and forced disappearance of the students and the reaction to them from journalists, the political class and the “well-behaved.” Lots of political commentary about those of above. Although signed by SCI Moisés, it appears that SCI Galeano (formerly Marcos) had considerable input.

2. The EZLN Reports on Who will Attend the Festival – On December 19, the EZLN issued a brief comunicado titled: “On the Eve of the Festival,” in which Subcomandante Moisés lists participants in the Worldwide Festival of Resistances and Rebellions Against Capitalism and reminds people how to sign up.

3. 1st Worldwide Festival Begins in Xochicuautla – The 1st Worldwide Festival of Resistances and Rebellions against Capitalism, co-sponsored by the EZLN and the National Indigenous Congress, began with registration on December 20 in Xochicuautla, State of Mexico, and Inauguration of the Festival on December 21 during the day. In the evening some left to spend the night and next day at the exchange in Amilcingo. The sharing of resistances (exchanges) took place on December 22 and 23 in both locations. Reports from Xochicuautla focused on thecommonalities of the different indigenous struggles that were present and the need to defend Mother Earth. Parents and compañer@s of Ayotzinapa accepted the EZLN’s invitation and those in attendance at the Inauguration of the Festival listened as they, in turn, invited attendees to join their movement. The Report from Amilcingo lists the many struggles (mirrors) present. It included many familiar struggles, including some from Chiapas. A detailed report from Ailcingo in Spanish includes drawings and photos. http://subversiones.org/archivos/111829

4. The Festival Moves to the Federal District – An exchange of struggles, workshops, music and other cultural offerings defined the continuation of the Festival of Resistances and Rebellions held in a facility of the Francisco Villa Independent Popular Front-UNOPII, in Itztapalapa, Federal District. The free media reported that a representative of the parents of the ABC Day Care Centre in Hermosillo, Sonora, spoke and read a statement from the parents.

5. San Sebastián Bachajón Recuperates Its Land from the Government – On December 21, the ejido of San Sebastian Bachajón, in Chiapas, recuperated its lands that were stolen by the government in 2011. The reclaimed land involves the ticket booth at the entrance to the Agua Azul Cascades, a large tourist attraction between Ocosingo and Palenque. It also includes a public security office and a government clinic that is not in use. The complete story with photos can be found on the compas’ website:http://vivabachajon.wordpress.com/en-ingles/

6. The CIOAC-H Threatens to Displace a Community in Las Margaritas – On December 17, the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Center (Frayba) issued an urgent action regarding armed threats to displace Primero de Agosto, a community in Las Margaritas Municipality. These threats have apparently been ongoing since EZLN “sympathizers” settled on the land in 2013. The Urgent Action describes the people under attack as “sympathizers,” rather than adherents to the Sixth Declaration or EZLN support bases. The CIOAC-H is the campesino organization to which the paramilitaries who murdered Compañero Galeano in La Realidad (also located in the official municipality of Las Margaritas) and which continues to receive protection from the official municipal government of Las Margaritas.

7. Las Abejas Commemorate 17th Anniversary of the Acteal Massacre with Ayotzinapa Parents – On December 22, 2014, Las Abejas commemorated the 17th Anniversary of the Acteal Massacre, in which paramilitaries murdered 45 women, men and children while they prayed for peace. A delegation of 14 people from Ayotzinapa, including students and parents of the disappeared, arrived in Acteal to participate in the activities commemorating the 17th anniversary of the murder of the 45 indigenous on December 22, 1997. “We came to share our situation and to report a little about what we are experiencing as family members, (…) the Acteal tragedy is similar to ours; it has no differences because it is the same Mexican State that committed that murder 17 years ago. Our demands of the State continue being that the disappeared be returned alive, that there is justice for the four murdered youths, complete reparations for the damage, that another line of investigation is opened against the 27th Battalion of the Mexican Army, that former Governor Ángel Aguirre Rivero is investigated and that he is incarcerated if he has responsibility.”

8. New Year’s Eve in Oventik – December 31, 2014 represented the final exchange (sharing) of the Worldwide Festival of Resistances and Rebellions against Capitalism. After midnight, it also represented the 21st Anniversary of the Zapatista Uprising. The EZLN issued a comunicado in Spanish (not yet translated) of the EZLN’s words on its 21st Anniversary. In the ceremonies, Moisés embraced each of the parents and survivors from Ayotzinapa and said that the EZLN would join their struggle.

In other parts of Mexico

1. No Holidays for Ayotzinapa Parents and Students – Relatives and student compañer@s of the 4 murdered and 42 disappeared Ayotzinapa students spent a busy Holiday season. They said that this was a time of struggle for them, not of vacations. Apostolic (papal) nuncio Christophe Pierre, a Vatican diplomat in Mexico, officiated at a mass in Ayotzinapa with the parents and students, accompanied by the Archbishop of Acapulco. The parents are petitioning the Pope to help them find their disappeared children and Christophe Pierre said he would deliver their request to the Pope. Additionally, the parents and students appeared in marches and demonstrations in and around Mexico City and Guerrero and asked that no elections be held in 2015; if elections are held, they advocate that people not vote. They also participated in the EZLN/CNI Festival of Resistances and the commemoration of the Acteal Massacre.

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Compiled monthly by the Chiapas Support Committee.The primary sources for our information are: Enlace Zapatista, the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Centre (Frayba) and free media.
We encourage folks to distribute this information widely, but please include our name and contact information in the distribution. Gracias/Thanks.
Click on the Donate button at  www.chiapas-support.org to support indigenous autonomy.

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November 2014 Zapatista News Summary

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In Chiapas

1. Ayotzinapa Caravan Meets with EZLN in Oventik –  On November 15, the Caravan of relatives and compañer@s of the murdered and disappeared Ayotzinapa students which travelled south met with Zapatista bases and commanders of the EZLN in the Caracol of Oventik. Comandantes Javier and Tacho welcomed and opened the meeting and Subcomandante Moisés issued a major statement on behalf of the EZLN’s General Command.

2. EZLN and CNI Denounce Xochicuautla Arrests – On November 3, the National Indigenous Congress (CNI) and the EZLN issued a joint statement regarding the use of riot police and helicopters in an action to break up a protest in Xochicuautla over the construction of a super-highway. 8 indigenous members of the community were arrested. This is the same community where the Worldwide Festival of Resistances and Rebellion against Capitalism will be inaugurated on December 21.

3. CNI Announces Schedule and Registration for Worldwide Festival of Resistance and Rebellion Against Capitalism – On November 26, the National Indigenous Congress (CNI) announced the schedule and registration process for the Worldwide Festival of Resistance and Rebellion Against Capitalism to be held in several locations over the holiday season and ending at Cideci in Chiapas.

4. More than 20,000 March Against Chiapas Super-Highway – On November 25, more than 20,000 thousand members of Pueblo Creyente (Believing People) and the Movement in Defense of Life and Territory marched in 12 municipalities (counties) of Chiapas against the construction of the super-highway between San Cristóbal and Palenque. Pueblo Creyente is a religious-political organization in the local parishes of the San Cristóbal de Las Casas Catholic Diocese, which includes much of the eastern half of Chiapas. The marchers were also protesting the proliferation of bars and the sale of alcoholic beverages, and the cultivation and sale of drugs. It was the international day against violence toward women and the marchers issued a statement that included a commitment to end violence against women in all its forms. Among the reasons given for opposing the super-highway’s construction was that it would destroy Mother Nature, bring with it new kinds of customs and only benefit the rich. Marchers also demanded that the 43 forcibly disappeared Ayotzinapa students be returned alive.

5. 3 Men Convicted for the Acteal Massacre Released from Prison – On November 13, three more of the paramilitaries convicted of participating in the December 22, 1997 Acteal Massacre of 45 indigenous members of Las Abejas were released from prison. The Supreme Court overturned their cases finding a lack of due process.  Their release means that 73 of the 75 paramilitaries convicted of the crime against humanity are now free. Las Abejas and the Frayba Human Rights Centre denounced the release. Las Abejas was one of the organizations which participated in the march against the super-highway.

In other parts of Mexico

1. Mass Support for Ayotzinapa on November 20 – Relatives and student compañer@s of the 3 murdered and 43 disappeared Ayotzinapa students formed 3 caravans; one caravan headed north, another went south and the third toured communities in Guerrero, organizing support. The 3 caravans then culminated in a huge march to Mexico City’s Zocalo for one of the largest marches and rallies in recent history (meaning that there were so many hundreds of thousands that they couldn’t be conuted). Solidarity protests continue to take place in various parts of Mexico, the United States and the world. Mexico’s attorney general gave a press conference in which he presented photographic evidence and confessions from gunmen for the United Warriors criminal gang. The government’s position is that the gang members shot and killed the students, and incinerated their bodies in a Cocula municipal garbage dump, ultimately scooping their ashes into plastic bags and tossing the bags into the river. The parents and many others refuse to accept the government’s version of the facts for reasons that Luis Hernández Navarro explains here. Although forensics experts have examined the clandestine graves found around Iguala, Guerrero, no bodies have been identified as those of the missing students. Mexico has now agreed to permit experts from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to participate in the investigation regarding the 43 disappeared students.

2. Reports On Mexico’s Drug War – This month we learned that the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) not only gave guns to Mexican drug traffickers, it also gave them explosive devices! Another news report indicates that US marshals are participating in military exercises with Mexican Marines, although the US government denies it. Eleven headless and partially-burned bodies were just found in Guerrero and rumours are circulating about the disappearance of 30 students a year ago. This has not been confirmed. As of one year ago, a reliable source reports that the total number of dead in Mexico’s “Drug War” reached 150,000. That number represents an educated guess because both governments (US and Mexico) hide the numbers and not all murders are reported to government authorities. However, several news sources have started to compare the number of deaths in Mexico’s Drug War to the number of deaths in Iraq’s war and to question why so much attention is paid to the numbers in Iraq and not to those in Mexico.

In the United States

1. Solidarity in U.S. with Relatives and Students of Ayotzinapa – There have been different forms of solidarity with the 43 disappeared students expressed throughout the United States: marches, vigils, protests, etc. Many communities around the country and the world participated in the Nov. 20 Day of Action. Actions are planned throughout the United States on Wednesday, December 3. This time the actions question the billions of dollars in military aid the US sends to Mexico through the Merida Initiative (“Plan Mexico”) and the role that money plays in the country’s terrifying violence. The Ayotzinapa Massacre and 43 forced disappearances have started to shine some light on drug war violence in Mexico, as well as on the political corruption and impunity.

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Compiled monthly by the Chiapas Support Committee http://www.chiapas-support.org. The primary sources for our information are: La Jornada, Enlace Zapatista and the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Centre (Frayba).
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October 2014 Zapatista News Summary

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In Chiapas

1. Zapatista Solidarity with Ayotzinapa: 4 Comunicados, 2 Demonstrations – First, the Zapatistas issued a comunicado expressing solidarity with Ayotzinapa students and announcing that its members would participate silently in the October 8 marches throughout the country. It also urged adherents to the Sixth Declaration to participate in solidarity mobilizations. Some 20,000 Zapatistas marched silently on October 8.

Second, an October 20 comunicado announced that the EZLN would participate in the national and international October 22 actions in support of the Ayotzinapa students and also the Yaqui prisoners. On October 22, thousands of Zapatistas participated by lighting candles in their communities and on local roads, demanding the safe return of the 43 Ayotzinapa students, as well as the freedom of the 2 Yaqui prisoners, Mario Luna and Francisco Jiménez.

Third, On October 23, the EZLN and the National Indigenous Congress (CNI, its initials in Spanish) issued a strong joint statement on Ayotzinapa (accusing the bad governments of disappearing the students) and also on the Yaqui political prisoners. The EZLN and CNI concluded by calling Mexico a Narco-State. The EZLN and the CNI are not alone in analyzing Mexico as a Narco-State; Luis Hernández Navarro reached the same conclusion, and he named names.

Fourth – On October 29, the EZLN and the CNI issued a second joint statement, this time regarding a private company invading indigenous communal lands of the Ñatho and Mexica in San Francisco Xochicuautla, state of Mexico and the attack and threat made against Yaqui activist Lauro Baumea.

2. The San Cristóbal-Palenque Super-Highway – The route for the super-highway between San Cristóbal and Palenque has been finalized. The highway’s route will cut through the lands of many ejidos and, therefore, it continues to generate protest. The Los Llanos ejido extended an invitation to communities adhered to the Sixth Declaration to meet on October 12, Día de la Raza, regarding their rejection of the super-highway. On that date, those adherent communities sent some 800 representatives to Los Llanos. They raised many issues, including the fact that the super-highway would dispossess lands reclaimed by the EZLN, cause environmental damage to Mother Earth and affect food security. There were other affected communities that also demonstrated against the super-highway that day. The Candelaria ejido extended an invitation to a November 25 march in San Cristóbal de las Casas, where they will make clear their position of rejecting the dispossession of their lands for the super-highway project.

Mexico’s Southern Border 

1. Plan Sur Militarizes Chiapas – The so-called Southern Border Strategy, called “Plan Sur” in Chiapas, to deter drug trafficking, human trafficking and provide for “orderly” immigration is proving to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing. “Orderly” immigration has meant stepped-up enforcement against Central American and other immigrants, as well as their abandonment by coyotes, deportation by immigration authorities and criminalization by the Mexican State. Moreover, the containment posts staffed by federal forces, allegedly to intercept the traffickers and immigrants, have increased militarization in the state and they just happen to surround Zapatista Territory!

 

In other parts of Mexico

1. Protests for Ayotzinapa Continue in Mexico – Protests have been taking place in various parts of Mexico in solidarity with the 43 Ayotzinapa students that were forcibly disappeared on September 26 and 27. The state of Guerrero is in turmoil as teachers, relatives of the disappeared students and social organizations join with students to protest against the Narco-State. Fires have been set in state and municipal office buildings, roads blocked and buildings occupied to protest the murders and demand that the 43 are returned alive and well. Several universities are on strike and solidarity demonstrations continue throughout the country.

Government officials have denied that the bodies found in numerous clandestine graves are those of the disappeared students and continue asserting that they don’t know what happened to the 43. However, experts are conducting investigations on human remains found in a Cocula municipal garbage dump not far from Iguala. Meanwhile, Guerrero Governor Angel Aguirre has been replaced with Interim Governor Rogelio Ortega Martínez. Ortega was Secretary General of the Autonomous University of Guerrero before being appointed as the Interim Governor. Aguirre leaving the governorship has not decreased the protests. The Huffington Post published a very good Homero Aridjis article on the violence in Mexico with a graphic that parodies the Time magazine cover that showed Peña Nieto as “Saving Mexico.” The Huff Post graphic depicts him as the Grim Reaper “Slaying Mexico.”

2. The Permanent People’s Tribunal Announces Drug War NumbersHere they are: In the last 7 years [end of 2006 to end of 2013] the “drug war” in Mexico has produced “over 125,000 civilian victims [civilian deaths], some 25,000 forced disappearances and more than 250,000 people who have been internally displaced or forced into exile.” The Permanent People’s Tribunal (PPT) is an international opinion tribunal independent of State authorities. It examines and provides judgements relative to violations of human rights and rights of peoples. The Tribunal was founded in Bologna (Italy), June 24, 1979, by legal experts, writers and other intellectuals. It succeeded the International War Crimes Tribunal, which, in 1967, exposed war crimes committed against the Vietnamese people. The Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal may use International human rights law, or the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples adopted by the United Nations. The focus of the PPT’s Mexico branch is on the violence in Mexico. Two of its members recently published the tribunal’s findings on the San Fernando Massacre in Tamaulipas, Mexico, which included findings on Drug War numbers.

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Compiled monthly by the Chiapas Support Committee. The primary sources for our information are: La Jornada, Enlace Zapatista and the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Centre (Frayba).

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SEPTEMBER 2014 ZAPATISTA NEWS SUMMARY

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In Chiapas

1. The EZLN issues 2 comunicados – The first is a joint demand  with the National Indigenous Congress for the freedom of the Yaqui leader Mario Luna, arrested in order to repress the Yaqui struggle over water rights. The second comunicado  is an anti-capitalist editorial by Subcomandante Moisés in the recent Zapatista Rebel Magazine. It is called: Beyond the Sharing.

2. Proposed Route for the San Cristóbal-Palenque Super-Highway – The proposed route is now public, and there is resistance to its construction  from large numbers of Indigenous peoples.

3. Three Sexta Adherents from San Sebastián Bachajón (SSB) Arrested and Tortured – They were arrested on false charges , tortured until they confessed and sent to prison while awaiting trial. The repression against SSB continues and is related to the community’s resistance to a mega-tourist development and the Super-Highway.

Mexico’s Southern Border

  1. Central American Migrants In Mexican Prisons – The Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez Human Rights Center (Prodh) released a report that concluded: In addition to the risk of being extorted, kidnapped, disappeared, tortured and murdered, Central American migrants run the risk of being criminalized and incarcerated by the Mexican State.
  2. Immigration Agents Beat Migrant Rights Defenders and Steal Equipment – On September 18, migrant rights defenders from the “Brothers on the Road” organization, which maintains a shelter just across the Chiapas border in Ciudad Ixtepec, Oaxaca, were pulled off the train known as “The Beast,” and beaten and robbed of their photographic and video equipment by Mexican immigration agents. The migrant rights defenders were investigating complaints of mistreatment from migrants at the shelter when they were pulled from the train, beaten and robbed.

In other parts of Mexico

1. Police Kill 6 Students in Guerrero; 22 Police Held – On September 26, in Iguala, Guerrero, municipal police and “pistoleros” killed 6 people including 3 students of the Ayotzinapa Normal School who were organizing a collection of funds to attend the October 2 commemorative march in Mexico City. As of this writing, there is one student who is brain dead and on life support, 22 injured and 42 students listed as “missing.” Observers say that 20 of the missing were carried off in police trucks. Mexican analysts say that Iguala is a key drug trafficking city, where organized crime gangs operate. This is an ongoing story and the facts are still unfolding. 22 police have been held following the deadly attack.

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Compiled monthly by the Chiapas Support Committee. The primary sources for our information are: La Jornada, Enlace Zapatista and the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Center (Frayba).

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August 2014 Zapatista News Summary

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In Chiapas

1. Zapatista Exchange (Sharing) with the National Indigenous Congress (CNI) – The Zapatistas held an “exchange” (sharing) with the National Indigenous Congress (CNI, its initials in Spanish) in La Realidad between August 4 and 8. The First Declaration from the Exchange was issued on August 9 at the Closing, which was open to all Zapatista supporters. There was also a Second Declaration issued. Sup Moisés also gave a progress report on school reconstruction. On August 10, both Subcomandantes Moises and Galeano  (formerly Marcos) met with the free media and gave presentations.

2. Paramilitaries Displace 72 Zapatistas in San Manuel – Armed members of the ORCAO fired shots into the air and at homes, and also made death threats against civilian Zapatista supporters in the communities of El Rosario, Egipto, San Jacinto and Kexil, causing some of them to flee for their lives to some other Zapatista community. All communities belong to San Manuel autonomous municipality (which has been the Chiapas Support Committee’s partner since 2002). Aggressions began at the end of July and escalated during the first 2 weeks of August. Path of the Future Good Government Junta in La Garrucha and the Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Centre (Frayba) issued reports and denunciations concerning the attacks, which as of the last report, have displaced 72 Zapatistas.

3. Zapatistas Announce December/January Plans – The EZLN and the CNI announced: the “First Worldwide Festival of Resistances and Rebellions against Capitalism” with the slogan of “WHERE THOSE UP ABOVE DESTROY AND THOSE OF US BELOW RECONSTRUCT.” This big worldwide sharing will be held between December 22, 2014 and January 3, 2015 in different locations. For the complete schedule, Click here. There will be a Fiesta of Anticapitalist Rebellion and Resistance in the Caracol of Oventic on December 31, 2014 and January 1, 2015.

Mexico’s Southern Border 

1. The Southern Border Strategy Unfolds in Chiapas – Details of Mexico’s “southern Border Strategy” are being released little by little. As more becomes known about the so-called Southern Border Strategy, it is becoming obvious that its focus is on impeding (catching and deporting) Central American migrants. Police and military personnel are pulling migrants off the train called “The Beast.” And the federal government announced this month that it is investing $6.058 billion pesos to improve the tracks of the train known as La Bestia (The Beast) so that it can go faster and be more difficult for immigrants to board. Moreover, the government plans to investigate the train’s operators and see if they have ties to organized crime. The stories of human rights and immigrant rights activists in Chiapas are appearing in the press almost every day and many of their organizations have formed a coordinated observation program. Frayba is part of that formation. When the government arrests undocumented immigrants, it calls this “rescuing” them and purports to be saving them from the hands of criminals or injury on the train, although it will then swiftly deport them.

In other parts of Mexico

1. 100 Organizations Meet in Atenco in Defence of Land and Against “Reforms” – Representatives of 100 campesino, union and social organizations met in San Salvador Atenco over the weekend of August 16-17 to define an action plan in defence of land, water and against dispossession and the recently approved structural reforms. The action plan includes both mobilizations and legal actions. The final declaration describes that dispossession is caused by megaprojects that are imposed without consent from the communities that they affect. Mining projects, dams, highways and pipelines or ducts dispossess communities. Meanwhile, two political parties are collecting the signatures needed for a national referendum on the recent structural reforms.

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Compiled monthly by the Chiapas Support Committee. The primary sources for our information are: La Jornada, Enlace Zapatista and the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Centre (Frayba).
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Zapatista News Summary for July 2014

In Chiapas

10519000_255975444603153_6542168332983910217_n1. Sup Moisés Reports on Fundraising to Rebuild the Autonomous School and Clinic in La Realidad – In a July 18 communiqué entitled Almost 5 Times as much, Subcomandante Moisés reports that fundraising for rebuilding the autonomous school and clinic in La Realidad has yielded almost 5 times the amount they estimated it would cost. CIOAC-H members destroyed the school and clinic during the May 2 attack in which Compañero Galeano was murdered. They will use additional funds to buy equipment and supplies for the school and clinic. The original amount requested was only for construction materials.

2. Zapatista Exchange with the National Indigenous Congress (CNI) – The Zapatistas will hold an “exchange” with the National Indigenous Congress (CNI, its initials in Spanish) in La Realidad between August 4 and 8. That meeting is not open to all Zapatista supporters. A report from the Exchange will be given on August 9 in La Realidad, which is open to all Zapatista supporters. August 9 is the anniversary of the Juntas. In a July 7 communiqué, Sup Moisés gave the initial report on fundraising and also asked for solidarity to house and transport CNI members. He later reported in the Just so you know communiqué that some of the funds raised for the reconstruction will be used to support the exchange with the CNI.

3. Las Abejas Speak out on Palestine – In its July 22 statement, Civil Society Las Abejas (The Bees) sent the following message to the Palestinian people: “While the bad Mexican government foments aggressions and designs strategies to break the social fabric in our communities, our brothers and sisters in Palestine are massacred by the government of Israel. Perhaps Palestinian men and women, children, and elders do not know of Acteal or of our struggle, but we feel your suffering and pain in the deepest part of our hearts, as when parents see their sons or daughters mutilated by Israeli bombs and bullets, or when boys and girls have their parents killed and become orphans. We do not understand how any human being or the Israeli government can be so evil as to not respect life! Is it not true that there exist international laws to condemn this type of war that murders innocent people? We know that it is not enough to pray, but from Acteal we pray for life and the protection of boys and girls, men and women, and female and male elders of the Palestinian people. We ask God to stop the massacre in Palestine and to touch the hearts of men and women throughout the world, so that together we can demand that the Israeli government stop killing innocent people.” On the 22nd of each month, Las Abejas issues a statement in commemoration of its members who were massacred on the 22nd of December 1997.

Mexico’s Southern Border

1. Peña Nieto Announces Southern Border Strategy in Chiapas – On July 7, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto inaugurated a new Customs Station at Playas de Catazajá, Chiapas, and announced two types of immigration cards for Guatemalans; one card is for a temporary work permit, the other is a 72-hour visitor’s permit limited to border states. He did not say how many work permits would be available. Otto Perez Molina, President of Guatemala, was with Peña at the event. Peña also announced the five elements of his Southern Border Strategy: formal and ordered passage; greater security; protection and social action in favour of the migrants; regional co-responsibility and inter-institutional coordination. Apparently, the strategy includes placing 10 sentry posts on the border and creating a Border Police, similar to the US Border Patrol, but specific details of the plan were not revealed. A short time later, Humberto Mayans was named the “Czar” for the southern border. Part of the strategy is to deter migrants from hopping freight trains that carry them through Mexico towards the US.

2. Merida Initiative Has Funds For Immigration Project – Two days after Peña announced the elements of his strategy for the Southern Border, the US made known through its embassy in Mexico that there were funds available in the Merida Initiative to support Mexico’s efforts to control immigration on the southern border.

3. US State Department Advisor Thomas Shannon Inspects Chiapas Border with Guatemala – For two days in mid-July, Thomas Shannon, Counsellor to John Kerry at the US State Department, visited the Tapachula portion of the Chiapas border with Guatemala. He visited the Century XXI (Siglo XXI) Immigration Station in Tapachula, reportedly the largest one in Latin America (capacity 2,500 per day). He also visited a migrant shelter and met with activists and human rights defenders, who made a proposal: give the migrants visas to travel through Mexico, thereby making their journey less dangerous. He said he was interested in learning about the situation of the unaccompanied child migrants. Shannon’s visit to the Chiapas border just 2 weeks after Ambassador Anthony Wayne’s visit in June dramatizes the importance this issue has taken on and the importance of Mexico’s southern border.

In other parts of Mexico

1. Jose Manuel Mireles, Self-Defence Leader, Formally Charged and Held In Prison – On July 6, a judge issued the formal indictment against Mireles and the 3 guards arrested with him, meaning that they must stand trial for carrying firearms for the exclusive use of the Army and for the charge of simple possession of marijuana and cocaine. They were remanded to federal prisons while awaiting trial. The defence team maintains that the charges are false and that Mireles is a political prisoner. Javier Sicilia said that the arrest of Mireles demonstrates that the government is on the side of the criminals. Mireles’ wife maintains that the illegal weapons Mireles was allegedly in possession of are registered with the government. In other words, she seems to be alleging that not only are the charges false, the weapons were planted. Recently, Mireles issued a letter from prison to the autodefensas, in which he alleged that Alfredo Castillo, the Federal Commissioner for Michoacán, came to Michoacán to repress and lock people up. He termed the commissioner an executioner and said he lies and betrays. Mireles also urges the self-defence groups not to make agreements with Castillo and not to talk to him. Finally, he urged them not to fight among themselves.

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Compiled monthly by the Chiapas Support Committee. The primary sources for our information are: La Jornada, Enlace Zapatista and the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Centre (Frayba).

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Zapatista News Summary for June 2014

Migrants Boarding “The Beast” in Chiapas

Migrants Boarding “The Beast” in Chiapas


 

In Chiapas

1. Sup Moisés Describes What Is Needed to Rebuild the Autonomous School and Clinic in La Realidad – In his communiqué Subcomandante Moisés describes in detail the materials and equipment necessary to rebuild the autonomous school and clinic in La Realidad which the CIOAC-H members destroyed in the May 2 attack in which Compañero Galeano was murdered. The communiqué is entitled A Meeting In La Realidad A Few Days Ago. Instructions for sending donations can be found here.

2. More CIOAC-H Attacks – Primero de Agosto, a pro-Zapatista Tojolabal community in the same region as La Realidad, denounced aggressions from the Independent Central of Agricultural Workers-Historic (CIOAC-H, its initials in Spanish) and another organization called the ASSI. The aggressions include provocations, threats, attempted murders, robbery and a land invasion. Those who murdered Compañero Galeano belonged to the CIOAC-H and the Zapatistas classified the organization as paramilitary. According to the denunciation, the paramilitary behaviour continues. See Zapatistas Denounce Attacks By Cioac-H Over Land Conflict.

3. Militarizing Mexico’s Southern Border: Chiapas – The Chiapas border with Guatemala has suddenly become an important issue. According to the Frayba Human Rights Center, complaints of human rights abuse have doubled since implementation of the new “security” program for Mexico’s southern border. Chiapas is Mexico’s southernmost state, bordering the Central American country of Guatemala. Militarization of this international border is the latest phase of the US-backed Drug War, allegedly designed to deter drug trafficking from Central America into Mexico. However, it is also aimed directly at deterring migration from Central America and officials report a sharp rise in the number of unaccompanied migrant minors and entire families fleeing the violence. Chiapas NGOs report that militarization has increased in Chiapas municipalities along the border, and there are Zapatista communities in those border municipalities.

4. US Ambassador Anthony Wayne Inspects Chiapas Border with Guatemala – For two days during the last week of June, the US Ambassador to Mexico, Anthony Wayne, flew over portions of the Chiapas border with Guatemala and met with commanders of the Mexican Army and Navy regarding security on that border. He also visited the large migrant detention centre (capacity 2,500 per day) and learned that Mexico has detained and deported 10,505 minors in the past year. The ambassador’s visit dramatizes the importance this issue has taken on and the importance of Mexico’s southern border.

In other parts of Mexico

1. Jose Manuel Mireles, Self-Defence Leader, Arrested – In April, we reported that leaders of the various self-defence groups from 20 Michoacán municipalities signed an agreement with the federal commissioner for Michoacán, Alfredo Castillo, and other government officials to “demobilize” and register their weapons. The deadline set for the demobilization was May 10. Not all of the self-defence leaders supported this agreement. In other words, the federal government divided the leadership. So, some of the self-defence members have registered their weapons and joined the rural police; while others have not. One of the self-defence leaders who did not register his weapons or join the rural police is Doctor Jose Manuel Mireles. Instead, he criticized the government’s role in Michoacán. Soon after he led a group of armed autodefensas into the small town of La Mira, federal police and members of the Mexican Army and Navy arrested Mireles and 69 others (later reports say 82) accompanying him for carrying unregistered weapons.

2. Guerrero’s Community Police Suffer Internal Division – On June 21, one community police agent died in a confrontation between the two opposing factions in a struggle for control of the San Luis Acatlán House of Justice. The Regional Coordinator of Community Authorities-Community Police (CRAC-PC, its initials in Spanish) suffered a serious internal division this year, which some attribute to the government’s interference in this autonomous project. More information here.

3. The FPDT in San Salvador Atenco Struggling to Defend its Land Again. – The People’s Front in Defence of Land (FPDT, its initials in Spanish) is once again facing the threat of losing some of its farmland to urban development and a new airport in Mexico City. On June 1, the ejido assembly approved a measure that would permit the conversion of agricultural lands into private property, thus opening the door to a new Mexico City Airport and the Ciudad Futura (Future City) Project. The ejido Commissioner is a PRI member and the FPDT emphasized the “irregular and illegal” nature of the assembly and said it would take legal action as well as engage in social protests. The FPDT is remembered for the valiant defence of its land and marches with machetes raised from 2001 to 2002, after the federal government’s first effort to construct the new airport on Atenco’s land. See Indigenous Community Near Mexico City Again Stands Ready To Fight For Its Land.

In the United States

1. 52,000 Unaccompanied Migrant Minors – The tragedy of children attempting to migrate without a parent or other adult relative has overwhelmed US immigration facilities; and those are only the children that get caught! The Pew Research Institute reports the following percentages for the countries of origin of unaccompanied children apprehended between October 1, 2013 and May 31, 2014: 25 percent are Mexican, an equal percentage are Guatemalan, 29 percent are Honduran and 21 percent are Salvadoran. This is a dramatic increase of Central American children. The United States has agreements with Mexico for returning the Mexican minors promptly. That is not the case for the Central American minors. The US government must find housing for them while their immigration cases are processed. Many of the Mexican and Central American children are fleeing the violence of criminal gangs and drug traffickers, trying to reunite with parents who are working in the United States. Many have asylum claims. Immigration reform would grant relief to others, but the US government seems incapable of reforming that obsolete system.

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Compiled monthly, by the Chiapas Support Committee. The primary sources for our information are: La Jornada, Enlace Zapatista and the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Centre (Frayba).
Chiapas Support Committee/Comité de Apoyo a Chiapas
P.O. Box 3421, Oakland, CA  94609
Tel: (510) 654-9587
Email: cezmat@igc.org
http://www.chiapas-support.org

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Zapatista News Summary for May 2014

Compañero Galeano Murdered in La Realidad Attack, “Marcos” Disappears and Becomes SCI “Galeano

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The assassination of José Luis Solís López (Compañero Galeano), the EZLN’s response, the national and international protests that followed, the day of homage and the disappearance of the personage called Marcos have dominated the news this month. We’ll attempt to summarize events about which hundreds of thousands, possibly millions of words have been written in many languages…

On May 2, 2014, members of the Independent Central of Agricultural Workers and Campesinos Historic (CIOAC-H, its initials in Spanish), as well as members of the Green Ecologist Party of Mexico (PVEM) and the National Action Party (PAN) attacked civilian Zapatista support bases in the Zapatista Caracol of La Realidad. They first attacked some Zapatista bases who were arriving in the Caracol with stones and clubs. Next, they destroyed an autonomous school and clinic, most likely to draw the Zapatistas out of the offices in which they were meeting. They were meeting to resolve a dispute between the Good Government Junta and the CIOAC-H over a truck owned by the Junta that had been retained by the CIOAC-H. Two members of the Frayba Human Rights Centre were present at the meeting and were eyewitnesses to the events.

On hearing the attack, the Zapatistas came out of the meeting. Compañero Galeano, a Zapatista support base and teacher at the Zapatista Escuelita, was attacked with clubs, machetes and firearms. According to the EZLN communiqué, Pain and Rage, he was brutally and intentionally murdered in a planned and premeditated military-style attack. Another 15 Zapatistas were injured, some seriously. Subcomandate Moisés cancelled all scheduled public events, including the meeting with indigenous peoples and organizations of the National Indigenous Congress and the homage that they had prepared for compañero Don Luis Villoro Toranzo, as well as participation in the Seminar “Ethics in the face of Dispossession,” that was being organized by artists and intellectuals in Mexico and the world. The Escuelitas were also suspended.

The Good Government Junta turned the matter of the murder and attack over to the EZLN’s commanders, the CCRI-CG.

The commanders went to La Realidad and on May 13 released the first results of their investigation in the Fragments of La Realidad 1  communiqué. They also announced a day of homage to Galeano on May 24.

In Mexico, and throughout the world, students from the Escuelitas and adherents to the Sixth organized letters of support denouncing the attack and murder. In the United States a national sign-on letter circulated that also called for protest actions.

Marcos made an appearance in La Realidad at the May 24 homage. He left and returned a few hours later in the early hours of May 25 and announced the disappearance of the personage known as Marcos in Between Light and Shadow. He will be known as Subcomandante Insurgente Galeano from now on, so that Galeano lives! The significance of this change means that Subcomandante Moisés will be signing those communiqués and will be the EZLN’s spokesperson. Thus, the EZLN will have an Indigenous man as the public face of the collective that is the EZLN.

Also on May 24, Subcomandante Moisés issued a communiqué with more information about the investigation into the crimes in La Realidad.

On May 28, Sup Moisés issued a communiqué with an update on the Little Schools, the need for Peace Campers (campamentistas or international observers) in La Realidad and the need for materials (money to buy them) to replace the autonomous school and clinic in La Realidad.

On May 30, Sup Moisés announced August 2 and 3 as the dates for the “Sharing with Indigenous compañer@s  of the National Indigenous Congress. He also announced that dates for the first and second levels of Escuelitas Zapatistas would be made public very soon.

by Chiapas Support Committee

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APRIL 2014 ZAPATISTA NEWS SUMMARY

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In Chiapas

1. Zapatistas Release 2nd Issue of Rebeldía Zapatista – The Zapatistas have released another edition of the Rebeldía Zapatista magazine. The Zapatista bases that participated in the Escuelitas give their impressions of the students. An editorial by Subcomandante Moisés is the only part of the magazine published online. You can read his editorial comments here.

2. Homage to 2 Zapatista Supporters Murdered Near Agua Azul – On Saturday, April 26, residents of San Sebastián Bachajón ejido (SSB), adherents to the EZLN’s Sixth Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle, gave homage to Juan Vázquez Guzmán, murdered April 24, 2013, and Juan Carlos Gómez Silvano, murdered on March 21, 2014. Both men were leaders in SSB’s struggle to defend their lands from government efforts to take that land away; in other words, against dispossession. SSB has been resisting the government’s efforts to take its lands in order to benefit powerful interests. Tourism interests are those that have dominated previous reports and analyses from Chiapas. However, at the homage to the two fallen leaders, the SSB folks raised the spectre of another powerful interest – Walmart!

3. International Campaign in Support of San Sebastián Bachajón – Between April 24 and May 8, Zapatista Solidarity groups are sponsoring an international campaign in support of San Sebastián’s struggle to defend its land and in honour of its 2 murdered leaders. It involves watching a 13-minute video about the struggle. The video is posted on YouTube. It is in Spanish with some English subtitles (click the cc box at the bottom of the screen for English subtitles). http://vivabachajon.wordpress.com/en-ingles/

4. Displaced Return to Puebla Ejido – On April 14, the 17 Catholic families displaced last August from this ejido in Chenalhó municipality by the dispute over a piece of land with the Evangelical majority, returned to the Puebla ejido accompanied by Felipe Arizmendi Esquivel, the Bishop of San Cristóbal de Las Casas, and Eduardo Ramírez Aguilar, the Secretary of Government, as well as by representatives of non-governmental organisms and civilian observers. The Bishop stated that it was a return “without justice,” and asked: “to continue supporting the “returnees,” because it’s not over, not only as to material issues, but above all in security, stability, harmony and reconciliation.” The Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Centre was one of the organisms accompanying the Catholic families.

In other parts of Mexico

1. Self-Defence Groups and Government Sign Agreement – Early this month, leaders of the various self-defence groups from 20 Michoacán municipalities signed an agreement with the federal commissioner for Michoacán, Alfredo Castillo, and other government officials to “demobilize” and register their weapons. The deadline set for the demobilization is May 10. Castillo said: Those who want to continue patrolling the towns of Michoacán will have to become part of a new state-wide rural police force. All current self-defence group members, however, will be allowed to keep their weapons, regardless of whether they join the police force, as long as they register them with the Army and keep them at home. Castillo said: “Beginning May 11, any [armed] person not registered, not uniformed, will be arrested.” He said the deadline date would allow authorities time to vet and train those who want to join the rural force and to re-train and purge municipal police forces of officers with known or suspected criminal ties. Meanwhile, the self-defence groups had some demands of their own and some provisions are included in the agreement regarding the release of self-defence members who are in prison simply for carrying weapons. There are also provisions for financial support for widows and children of victims of the struggle against organized crime in Michoacán. The United States government has poured untold billions into the “drug war” and little, if any, progress was made to protect ordinary citizens from the criminal groups until the self-defence groups formed and ran the criminals out of the communities. We’ll see what happens after May 10! For an analysis, here’s an article by Luis Hernández Navarro.

2. United Nations Special Relator on Torture Visits Mexico – The United Nations (UN) special relator on torture, Juan E. Méndez, began a visit to Mexico in the last week of April. The not-really-shocking, but very sad, headline is that complaints about torture increased by 500% during the Calderón administration. This is attributed to the use of the Armed Forces in public security and the legal figure of arraigo (lengthy detention without charges). He has not yet visited Chiapas.

3. North American Defence Heads Meet in Mexico – Robert D. Nicholson, Canada’s Minister of Defence; Charles Timothy Hagel, US Secretary of Defence, as well as General Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda, Mexico’s Secretary of Defence, and Admiral Vidal Francisco Soberón Sanz, Mexico’s Secretary of Navy met together in Mexico. They discussed their mutual concerns about threats from transnational organized crime and ways to improve mutual efforts… at least that’s what the press reports said.
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Compiled monthly by the Chiapas Support Committee. The primary sources for our information are: La Jornada, Enlace Zapatista and the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Centre (Frayba).

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MARCH 2014 ZAPATISTA NEWS SUMMARY

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In Chiapas

1. Zapatista Supporter Murdered Near Agua Azul – On March 21, Juan Carlos Gómez Silvano, 22, was ambushed and murdered while driving his small truck. He was hit by more than 20 shots. Gómez Silvano was the coordinator of adherents to the EZLN’s Sixth Declaration in the San Sebastián Bachajón Ejido (SSB). He lived in Virgen de Dolores community on land that Sixth adherents recuperated in 2010 and participated in the construction of autonomy. Residents of the area say that the Mexican Army and state police constantly harass them and threaten eviction. SSB has been resisting government’s efforts to take its lands in order to benefit powerful interests. Those interests plan to develop tourism luxury accommodations for wealthy elites at the Agua Azul Cascades as part of a large tourist corridor from Agua Azul to Palenque. The San Cristóbal-Palenque Toll Road would connect that corridor to tourism sites throughout the Chiapas and would take land away from indigenous communities. The toll road is also highly disputed. You can read the complete article on Gómez Silvano’s murder, as well as some background on the Plan Puebla-Panamá and the tourism project on our blog.

2. Zapatistas Announce Plans for May/June – On March 31, the EZLN announced its plans for the early summer via its Enlace Zapatista website: 1) An exchange with Native Peoples from May 26-30 (invitation only); 2) On May 31 in Oventik there will be a presentation of conclusions from the exchange with Native Peoples (open to the public); 3) On June 1 in Oventik, there will be a homage to Luis Villoro (also open to the public); and 4) From June 2-8, in both Oventik and Cideci, a seminar on “Ethics Facing Dispossession” will take place featuring many writers and thinkers. The Seminar is open to the public.

3. The Frayba Human Rights Centre Celebrates 25th Anniversary – The Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Centre celebrated the 25th anniversary of its founding this month. Bishop Samuel Ruiz founded the Frayba Centre in March 1989. Since then, it has attained national importance in the promotion and defence of human rights and the collective rights of indigenous peoples. Its importance in a situation of an on-going “low-intensity” war against the Zapatistas and their supporters is huge. An article about the Frayba Centre provides more detail about this important Centre’s current work and background.

4. Violence Continues in the Puebla Ejido – According to information documented by the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Centre (Frayba), the home of Normelina Hernandez Lopez and Macario Arias Gomez in the Puebla ejido, in Chenalhó Municipality, was completely burned. They are a Catholic family that was forcibly displaced on August 23, 2013, together with 17 other families, a total of 100 people, who are currently displaced and living in the community of Acteal, Chenalhó. A few days before, on March 7, 2014, at 6:30 AM, José Cruz Gomez found a door in the Catholic Church’s facilities in the same ejido burned. These acts occurred despite the presence of approximately 30 members of the State Preventive Police.

Mexico’s Southern Border

1. Announcement of Security Plans for Mexico’s Southern Border – Mexico’s National Security Commission has released a general outline of its 3-tiered plan to beef up security on its southern border with Guatemala (and a small border with Belize). The first tier will be on the Yucatán Peninsula and in Chiapas, with another in Tabasco and also on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. Each tier will be a “containment belt.” Security will be on both land and sea and rely on the use of radar and intelligence work. Each tier will have control points staffed by members of the Army or Navy, state and federal police, as well as agents from various government agencies. The most interesting feature of the plan is the “mixed” staffing. The purpose of mixed staffing is said to be in order to avoid the corruption of officials. It assumes that they would watch each other and report corruption. More details are expected soon. Vigilance points in Chiapas will be located in the zones of Huixtla, Suchiate, Arriaga, Trinitaria, Comitán, Benemérito de las Américas and Palenque.

In other parts of Mexico

1. Federal Forces Disarm Community Police in Santa María Ostula – On March 19, some 40 members of the Mexican Navy disarmed 14 community police that were guarding the town of La Placita, until a few weeks ago a bastion of organized crime. This action left the community police defenceless. In response, one day later around 1,500 inhabitants of the town of Santa María Ostula and the municipalities of Aquila, Chinicuila and Coahuayana, together with 300 community police and autodefensas, closed the Manzanillo-Lázaro Cárdenas Highway for two hours at the Mexican Naval Marine Base and checkpoint in La Placita. They demanded the return of the confiscated weapons. The marines’ action against the community guards of Ostula forms part of the federal government’s offensive to disarm and demobilize Michoacán’s autodefensas. But it is also one more in the offensive to hit and disarticulate the most politicized sectors of the indigenous and citizen mobilization in Michoacán, those that struggle for historic rights and that confront the big interests, like the transnational mining companies.

2. Relationship of Self-Defence Groups and Government: Confusing – This month, Mexican authorities arrested Hipólito Mora, one of the main leaders of Michoacán’s self-defence groups, known as autodefensas, for allegedly participating in a double murder. Authorities also disarmed the rest of the autodefensas loyal to Mora and reinstated a mayor who had been removed because of alleged connections to organized crime. Mora is in prison, formally charged with those crimes while his lawyer appeals the decision to formally charge him. Meanwhile, self-defence groups continue driving members of the Knights Templar out of towns in Michoacán in the company of federal security forces. La Jornada reports that the self-defence groups have now recuperated 25 percent of Michoacán.

3. Mexico Announces that it Killed Drug Boss a Second Time! – On March 9, Mexican authorities announced that they had killed the leader of the Knights Templar criminal organization, Nazario Moreno Gonzalez, and that this time he was really dead. The Knights Templar is a spinoff from La Familia Michoacana of which Moreno Gonzalez was also the head. In December 2010, Mexican authorities announced the death of Moreno Gonzalez in a raid and shootout with La Familia near Apatzingán, Michoacán, the gang’s alleged stronghold. He was known as El Chayo and El más loco (the craziest). Rumours persisted that he was alive and he continued to be revered as a saint by those close to the Knights Templar. It appears that they actually killed him this time, but it doesn’t say much for the credibility of government reports. Authorities also announced that they killed Enrique Plancarte Solís, known as El Kike, the alleged financial boss of the Knights Templar.
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Compiled monthly by the Chiapas Support Committee. The primary sources for our information are: La Jornada, Enlace Zapatista and the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Centre (Frayba).

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FEBRUARY 2014 ZAPATISTA NEWS SUMMARY

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In Chiapas

1. Catholic Nuns Assaulted in Attack on Zapatista Community – During the first two days of February, reports started to come out about a January 30 attack on the Zapatista community of 10 de Abril (April 10th) in which there were serious injuries to several Zapatistas. The aggressors/attackers were from the November 20 ejido in another municipality and called their grouping the CIOAC-Democratic. When 10 de Abril called for medical personnel from the San Carlos Hospital in Altamirano to bring help, the attackers detained the medical personnel and their vehicles, including an ambulance. The aggressors also put their hands all over several nuns in a search for whatever was in their pockets, and ultimately took money and papers out of their pockets. Apparently, the Frayba Human Rights Centre notified the Chiapas government of the “urgent” situation and it did nothing. This incident is one of many geared towards dispossessing the Zapatistas of their recuperated land and is part of the “low-intensity” counterinsurgency war. You can read a reporthere.

The national CIOAC organization stated that the aggressors from November 20th are not members of, nor are they affiliated with the national organization.

2. Government Pressure to Privatize Communities in Resistance – Early in February La Jornada issued a series of reports on the northern jungle zone of Chiapas that uncovered government manoeuvres used to pressure landholders into privatizing their land. One measure used is to condition Procampo funds on privatization. Procampo is a programme that gives cash benefits to peasant farmers. It is funded through the Inter-American Development Bank and designed to offset the negative effects of NAFTA. While many of these communities are in resistance, meaning they do not accept money or programmes from the government, there may be a minority living within these same communities that is not in resistance. They DO accept Procampo. Thus, the conditioning of Procampo money on the community agreeing to privatize causes further division within a community. The communities in resistance are supportive of the EZLN in various degrees. Privatizing land is another way to dispossess indigenous communities supportive of the Zapatistas of their land and to foster further political divisions. One report also included an update on the Viejo Velasco Massacre fallout.

3. San José El Porvenir Also Opposes San Cristóbal-Palenque Toll Road – Last month, Los Llanos, a Tzotzil community in the rural part of San Cristóbal de las Casas Municipality, obtained a temporary injunction against construction of the San Cristóbal-Palenque Toll Road until there is a decision on the case. The toll road is one of the infrastructure projects envisioned within the Plan Puebla Panamá (now renamed the Mesoamerica Project). Its purpose is to facilitate tourism. Now, another Tzotzil community affected by the toll road, San José El Porvenir, has announced its opposition to the superhighway and its agreement with Los Llanos. San José El Porvenir is located in the municipality of Huixtán.

4. They Inaugurate Palenque International Airport – On February 12, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and Chiapas Governor Manuel Velasco Coello attended the inauguration of the Palenque International Airport in Chiapas. The opening of this airport represents the completion of another key infrastructure project of the Mesoamerica Project for facilitating tourism and commerce in the Northern Zone of Chiapas. It is anticipated that the airport will receive the first Interjet flight on March 13. Of interest was a statement from the (federal) assistant secretary of Transportation and Communications, Carlos Almada López, about the Palenque-San Cristóbal Toll Road. Almada said that the preliminary design for the superhighway would be finished in May and that will determine the project’s specific trajectory and timetable. After this inauguration it was revealed that the federal government will provide $18 billion pesos for highway construction in Chiapas in order to further facilitate tourism and commerce.

5. Displaced from the Puebla Ejido Return to Acteal and Land Returned to Church – The people displaced from the Puebla ejido extended their stay in Puebla to harvest their coffee fields until February 6. Members of social organizations continued to accompany them. Although they received insults and threats, the harvest was successful. Many of the 98 displaced individuals are members of Las Abejas of Acteal, an adherent to the EZLN’s Sixth Declaration. The displaced have set the following conditions for a permanent return to the Puebla ejido: 1) recognition of the Catholic Church’s ownership of the plot of land in question; 2) recognition and reparations for the damages, to the community for the destruction of work on the church and for the destruction of homes;” and 3) reparations for “personal damages for the robberies and destruction” of personal belongings inside their homes. The land on which the church was being re-built was returned to the Diocese of San Cristóbal de las Casas on February 26.

In other parts of Mexico

1. Amnesty International Human Rights Abuse in Mexico – The Secretary General of Amnesty International (AI), Salil Shetty, visited Mexico from February 15-18. He said that Mexico projected a false image of respect for human rights. While it passes many important laws in that regard, grave human rights violations continue to occur and some of the data even indicate a crisis. Among the grave concerns are the forced disappearances, attacks on journalists and human rights defenders and the abuse of undocumented migrants. What all these violations have in common is the impunity of the perpetrators. He also expressed concern about the self-defence groups (autodefensas). You can read AI’s report “Human Rights Challenges Facing Mexico” here.

2. Santa María Ostula Issues Denunciation And Gets Help From Autodefensas – On February 24, Santa María Ostula posted a comunicado/denunciation on the Enlace Zapatista website. Ostula declared its autonomy in 2009 and is part of the National Indigenous Congress and an adherent to the EZLN’s Sixth Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle. One of the communities the autodefensas visited this month is Santa María Ostula and its village of Xayakalan. According to the denunciation from Santa María Ostula, its residents, together with the autodefensas, took control of Santa María Ostula. Then, on February 10, a Mexican Army platoon entered Ostula and disarmed both the local community police and the autodefensas. The weapons were returned after they convinced the Army that they would be murdered if they were without weapons. 31 members of the autonomous region have been murdered since 2009. On February 13, Santa María Ostula reorganized its community police and, in coordination with the autodefensas, took over the nearby town of Las Placitas. That is where the people live that murdered the 31 comuneros. The comunicado and several news reports state that some of those living in Las Placitas are heads of the local drug cartel. The alleged cartel members fled before the community police entered the town. The denunciation states that ever since February 8, federal ministerial police have come to Ostula threatening eviction and it asks national and international civil society to be alert to these threats.

3. Joint DEA and Mexican Navy Operation Nabs El Chapo Guzmán – On February 22, Mexican marines and DEA agents raided an apartment in Mazatlan, Sinaloa, Mexico and took alleged drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán Loera into custody. He has been placed in a maximum security prison. The United States wants him extradited. While much will be made of his capture and imprisonment as a major victory in the Drug War, the reality is that someone will replace him and the drugs will continue to flow. You can read the story of his capture in the Los Angeles Times.

4. Obama Attends North American Summit in Toluca – On February 19, US President Barack Obama attended the North American Summit of NAFTA leaders in Toluca, Mexico. He spent a total of 8 hours in Mexico with the Canadian Prime Minister and the President of Mexico. The visit was expected to be mostly about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP); in other words, about trade. While some agreements that facilitate trade were reached, the general impression was that Obama was preoccupied with events in the Ukraine and Venezuela.

Compiled monthly by the Chiapas Support Committee. The primary sources for information are: La Jornada, Enlace Zapatista and the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Centre (Frayba).

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JANUARY 2014 ZAPATISTA NEWS SUMMARY

In Chiapas

1. Zapatistas Celebrate 20 Years of Resistance! – On January 1, 2014, the Zapatistas celebrated the 20th anniversary of their Rebellion and Resistance. They hosted approximately 5,000 students between the two Escuelitas, one during the week before January 1st and one the week afterwards. Students from both sessions also attended the anniversary celebration, along with many other supporters who joined in. Here is one of the many articles published, this one by a journalist that attended the Escuelitas and then the New Year’s celebration in Oventik. Communication is awaited from the EZLN about the dates for the next Escuelita.

2. Chiapas Ejido Files Suit Against San Cristóbal-Palenque Toll Road – On January 6, Los Llanos, a Tzotzil community in the rural part of San Cristóbal Municipality, filed suit to stop the construction of the San Cristóbal-Palenque Toll Road. On January 13, the court issued a temporary injunction until there is a decision on the case. See here. The toll road is one of the infrastructure projects envisioned within the Plan Puebla Panamá (now renamed the Mesoamerica Project) to facilitate tourism. Los Llanos is across the road from the Mitziton ejido, which has a history of conflict and protest over the toll road’s construction.

3. San Sebastián Bachajón (SSB) Denounces That an Ex Prisoner Is Not Free and the Latest Move to Take Their Land – Antonio Estrada, a resident of San Sebastián Bachajón, was released from a Chiapas state prison on Christmas Eve. However, he has to report to and sign in at a court in the state capital every week. Apparently there is still an unresolved federal case against him for carrying a weapon intended for the exclusive use of the Mexican Army. On January 24, a court granted Estrada a protective order against that charge, which opens the door for absolving him of that crime. See here.

The ejido owners also accuse a pro-government faction in the SSB ejido of attempting to fabricate yet another false assembly act in order to dispossess them of the portion of land in dispute since 2011.

4. Those Displaced from the Puebla Ejido Return to Harvest Coffee – From January 17-27, those displaced from the Puebla ejido nearly 5 months ago returned to harvest their coffee fields. Members of social organizations accompanied them. Although they received insults and threats, they were able to harvest their fields and then return to the refugee camp in Acteal. Many of the 98 displaced individuals are members of Las Abejas of Acteal, an adherent to the EZLN’s Sixth Declaration. Article.

5. Tila Ejido Obtains Court Order To Stop Land Grab – The Tila ejido is located in the state’s Northern Zone and is an adherent to the EZLN’s Sixth Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle. A portion of their ejido land lies within the town of Tila, the capital of Tila municipality. A building known as the “Casino del Pueblo” (the People’s Clubhouse) was taken over by municipal authorities some time ago and is still the subject of litigation that has dragged on for years and is pending before Mexico’s Supreme Court. Now, however, municipal authorities want to tear it down to build a commercial centre and, although the building does not belong to them, are promoting a referendum on the project as a substitute for the “prior, full and informed consent” required when indigenous lands are affected by the government. On January 24, the Tila ejido obtained a court order suspending any work or construction on the ejido’s property until the case is resolved in court. Article here.

6. Dispossession in the Lacandón Jungle of Chiapas – A journalist from La Jornada toured parts of the Lacandón Jungle and filed reports on government attempts to affect the land in the northern part of the Jungle, some within the Jungle’s so-called Buffer Zone. The communities in that region are unhappy with the application of government programs like Fanar (the Fund for Support to Agrarian Nuclei without Registration, previously called Procede), which limits the use of their land and would permit the privatization of individual plots. Fanar is being promoted by Sedatu (Secretariat of Agrarian Territorial and Urban Development) and also the Agrarian Prosecutor. Read more.

In other parts of Mexico

1. Mexican Government Temporarily Legalizes Michoacán Self-Defence Groups – On January 27, Michoacán’s Self Defence groups and the federal government signed an agreement in the municipality of Tepalcatepec, Michoacán. The agreement requires members of self-defence forces to register by name with the government, register their weapons and become enrolled in Mexico’s Rural Defence Corps under the control of the National Defence Ministry, known as Sedena. The agreement came about after a month of armed clashes between the self-defence forces and alleged cartel members, as Mexico’s federal armed forces were deployed to Michoacán. At the start of the month, Reuters published a story about the drug cartels shipping iron ore to China out of the Lazaro Cardenas Port. With respect to the Self-Defence groups, the question of who financed them was frequently raised. In the wake of signing the agreement, stories are emerging that they were financed by transnational mining companies. There is also some testimony y that a rival drug cartel, Jalisco Nueva Generación, gave some of them weapons.

AND

A New Raúl Zibechi Article – We posted a new article by Raúl Zibechi translated into English on our blog. As always, there is a link to the original Spanish for those who prefer to read in Spanish.

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Compiled monthly by the Chiapas Support Committee.The primary sources for our information are: La Jornada, Enlace Zapatista and the Fray Bartolome de las Casas Human Rights Center (Frayba).

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DECEMBER 2013 ZAPATISTA NEWS SUMMARY

HAPPY 20th ANNIVERSARY!

Compiled by the Chiapas Support Committee. As the Zapatistas and their supporters around the world celebrate the 20th anniversary of the EZLN Uprising, the Chiapas Support Committee wishes all our friends and compañer@s a Happy New Year!

In Chiapas

1. EZLN Issues 3 Comunicados – The Zapatistas released 3 comunicados: Two Important Notices; Rewind 2; and Rewind 1. In the first comunicado, Moisés provides some information for those attending the Escuelitas in December and January and for those who did not receive an invitation. The EZLN say that there will be a fourth Escuelita in either April or August 2014. In Rewind 2, Marcos offers comments about the recent privatizations (the government calls them “reforms”) of energy, education and justice and compares them to the Article 27 land “reform.” In Rewind 1, Marcos discusses “for profit” media in a postscript. It may be the EZLN’s way of answering the recent article in El País by Maite Rico, and perhaps others, who incorrectly claim that the Zapatista communities are no better off now than they were in 1994. In both Rewind 1 and 2, Marcos is also remembering those who gave their lives for the movement.

2. Good News! San Sebastián Bachajón Prisoners Released Miguel Demeza and Antonio Estrada, both residents of San Sebastián Bachajón and both unjustly incarcerated for crimes they did not commit, were released from prison in Chiapas. They were political prisoners whose unjust imprisonment was considered to be part of the repression against those resisting dispossession because of the massive tourist project proposed for the area surrounding the Agua Azul Cascades.

3. The TPP Holds Hearings in Chiapas – On December 6 and 7, the Permanent Tribunal of the Peoples (TPP, its initials in Spanish) held important hearings in Susuclumil, a Chol community in Tila municipality, Chiapas. The Tribunal’s purpose was to take testimony from witnesses, survivors and relatives, all victims of the “dirty war” (counterinsurgency or “low-intensity” war) in Chiapas against the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN). Those affected by the human rights abuses gave testimony about forced disappearances, murder, forced displacement, sexual violence and 2 massacres perpetrated by paramilitary groups; all of which remain unpunished.

In other parts of Mexico

1. New Guerrilla Group Emerges in Guerrero – Around December 1, the Revolutionary Armed Forces-Liberation of the People (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias – Liberación del Pueblo, FAR-LP) emerged publicly in the Mexican state of Guerrero. Commanders of the FAR-LP met with members of the press somewhere in the mountains of Guerrero, where they read from a comunicado. Among the armed group’s demands are the liberation of CRAC leaders Nestora Salgado García and Gonzalo Molina González, as well as the coordinator of the house of justice of El Paraíso, Bernardino García Francisco and 12 Community Police members. The FAR-LP claims to have a presence in the areas of Acapulco, La Montaña and Costa Chica.

In the United States

1. Covert CIA Operation Killed FARC Leaders – The Washington Post (WP) ran an extensive article about how “smart” bombs, made in the USA, were used to kill various FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) leaders as part of a covert CIA operation to kill FARC leadership. The Colombian military and the CIA were aided by intelligence from the US National Security Agency (NSA), which also operates in Mexico. The issue raised in this article concerns the “ethical” justifications used for directing smart bombs at a human target. See: http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/investigative/2013/12/21/covert-action-in-colombia/  OR en español: http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2013/12/23/mundo/033n1mun

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NOVEMBER 2013 ZAPATISTA NEWS SUMMARY

In Chiapas

1. EZLN Issues 3 Comunicados – The Zapatistas released 3 comunicados: The Bad and the Not-So-Bad News; Rewind 3; and Spaces Full for the December and January Escuelitas (Little Schools). In the first comunicado, Marcos talks about finances for the August Escuelitas and reports that the original $100 peso fee for students was not enough to cover the costs and, therefore, they have to raise the fee for the December/January Escuelitas to $380 pesos per student. Rewind 3 tells the story of Durito and the Cat-Dog. Spaces Full reports that there is no room for any more students at the December or the January Escuelitas. However, it adds that there will be a fourth Escuelita in either April or August of next year.

2. Good News for San Sebastián Bachajón – Finally, some good news for the compañeros in San Sebastián Bachajón! A federal appeals court in Tuxtla Gutiérrez overturned a lower court decision regarding their ejido land that the government appropriated and occupied. The court of appeals ruled that the lower court judge should not have given credibility to the document introduced by a pro-government (and anti-Zapatista) ejido commissioner. This is a case that involves access to the Agua Azul Waterfalls, where the government hopes to develop a luxury tourist complex. The government wants to get control over the land surrounding the Waterfalls so that it can lease that land to tourist developers for enormous sums of money.

3. La Garrucha issues 2 Denunciations – The Good Government Junta in La Garrucha denounced that yet another arrest warrant has been issued for Alfonso Cruz Espinoza, a Zapatista support base who just happens to own the land  called San Antonio Toniná adjacent to the Toniná archaeological site, near the city of Ocosingo, Chiapas. The arrest warrant is allegedly because Cruz Espinoza permitted Zapatista support bases to cut down a small tree on his property to build an artesanía store for Francisco Gómez autonomous municipality with the authorization of the Good Government Junta and the region’s four autonomous municipalities. This is another struggle over a potentially profitable tourist site and not the first time that government authorities have judicially pursued Cruz Espinoza in an attempt to take away his land.

The second denunciation concerns the on-going dispute between officially organized (with the government’s permission) truckers and independent truckers (Zapatistas). The official truckers are retaining trucks belonging to the independent truckers in the yard at their central headquarters in Ocosingo, thus depriving the independents of their ability to make a living. The Junta wants the trucks released and the independent truckers compensated for lost income.

4. Morelia Denounces Land Invasion – On November 12, Morelia’s Good Government Junta denounced that members of CIOAC-Historic, a pro-government campesino organization, invaded Zapatista lands in the 10 de Abril (April 10) Ejido. This occurred during the month of October. The Junta set 2 appointments for the CIOAC-Historic members to appear and make their case for why they invaded the lands. No one appeared for the first appointment, but 60 CIOAC-Historic members came to the second appointment on October 25. They failed to produce any document giving them rights to the land and they agreed to not work it. However, they entered the land on November 6 issuing death threats and continued to commit aggressions afterwards, including an attempted kidnapping, and they divided the land with a fence. The CIOAC-Historic members claim their orders are coming from the governor of Chiapas.

5. The Samuel Ruiz García Committee Denounces Mining Companies – The Samuel Ruiz García Committee for the Promotion and Defence of Life denounced that one or more mining companies want to renew exploitation on the La Revancha plot of the La Grecia Ejido in Chicomuselo municipality. That is the area where Semarnat (Secretary of the Environment and Natural Resources) issued an environmental impact report alerting residents to the health hazards of mining. It is also the area where anti-mining activist Mariano Abarca Roblero was murdered.

6. Alberto Patishtán Returns to Chiapas – On November 30, Alberto Patishtán returned to Chiapas a free man after completing medical treatment in Mexico City. His supporters from several organizations and his family greeted him at the airport near Tuxtla Gutiérrez and then he went to San Cristóbal for a mass in the Cathedral. He was quoted in La Jornada as saying: “The struggle doesn’t end here; it starts here.”

In other parts of Mexico

1. “Drug War” Violence Continues – The Mexican Army has taken control of the Port of Lázaro Cárdenas, Michoacán as a means of controlling drug trafficking and the extreme violence in western Michoacán. Lázaro Cárdenas is allegedly the port where large shipments of ephedrine from China enter Mexico. Ephedrine is used (legally) in different pharmaceuticals and Mexican drug cartels use it (illegally) in the manufacture of methamphetamine. Michoacán has a large Army presence due to an increase in violent conflicts among several drug cartels and by the drug cartels against local residents. The local residents are forming armed self-defence groups to protect their families, homes and communities from the cartels and from corrupt security forces (both police and military). The federal and state governments, however, have characterized these self-defence groups as “criminal.” The situation is similar in Guerrero with the drug cartels, self-defence groups and security forces. Within the last several months, the murders of several campesino leaders have escalated the violence in Guerrero; while in the state of Jalisco, the government is finding clandestine graves with the remains of at least 100 victims, allegedly victims of cartel violence.

In the United States

1. The DEA’s Principal Concern Is Mexico – Due to being the largest port of entry and a growing production centre for illicit substances, Mexico is the DEA’s principal concern. A report, Evaluation of the drug threat, points out that Mexican cartels have increased their production of heroin and also initiated their expansion through the east and centre west of the United States. The report indicated a decrease in the availability of cocaine and an increase in heroin, meth and marijuana.

Produced by the Chiapas Support Committee

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OCTOBER 2013 ZAPATISTA NEWS SUMMARY

1. Alberto Patishtán To Be Free Soon – The big news this month regarding Alberto Patishtán is that both chambers of the Mexican Congress wrote and moved through the legislative process legislation to expand the criminal law concerning presidential pardons. After Mexico’s Supreme Court denied Patishtán’s appeal for recognition of innocence and sent it to a federal appeals court in Chiapas, which also denied his appeal, legislators went to work on an amendment to the current penal code. The amendment permits the president, upon a request from the legislature, to grant pardon to a person who has been sentenced to prison and whose human rights have been seriously violated by the criminal proceedings. Several days ago Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto said that he would grant the pardon and that Patishtán would be released from prison on October 31. Alberto Patishtán is an adherent to the EZLN’s Sixth Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle. There are three other Sexta adherents, also unjustly imprisoned: Antonio Estrada Estrada, Miguel Demeza Jiménez and Alejandro Diaz Sántiz.

Alberto is now free! See HERE.

2.  Mitzitón Announces Community Ecology Police – The Mitzitón Ejido, an adherent to the EZLN’s Sixth Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle, announced that the ejido has created Community Ecology Police to protect their forests from illegal logging. The ejido assembly agreed to create the ecology police because “the government has done nothing to avoid the illegal logging that the group led by Carmen Díaz López, Gregorio Gómez Jiménez and Francisco Gómez Díaz has been carrying out since 2009, despite denunciations presented to the a government agent.” The announcement also reported that the ejidal rights of those same illegal loggers and the 23 families that follow them were terminated. Moreover, the ejido assembly agreed to re-admit 40 Evangelical families who left the ejido 14 years ago. It appears that the government was involved in brokering these agreements as a means to end the on-going violence in Mitzitón. The state government gave money for the construction of new homes to the 23 families whose rights were terminated. Part of the agreement made with the 40 returning Evangelical families involved each family paying one thousand pesos to the assembly for the time that they were absent and agreeing to follow the rules set by the assembly. The Protestants are members of the Wings of the Eagle Church that Pastor Esdras Alonso González heads. He is the leader of the so-called Army of God. Mitzitón is an ejido located in the municipality of San Cristóbal de las Casas. (For those familiar with the area, Mitzitón is situated on land near the junction of the road to Comitán and the road to Ocosingo/Palenque, near the big Army base.) Mitzitón consists of 300 families and 4,479.9 acres (1,813 hectares). The ecology reserve is composed of 3,953.6 acres (1,600 hectares) of pine forest. More info HERE.

3. The New Community of Che Guevara Faces Eviction Attempts – Che Guevara is a Zapatista community on recuperated land in the official municipality of Motozintla, located in the Sierras of Western Chiapas, bordering on Guatemala. It is part of the autonomous Zapatista municipality of Tierra y Libertad, which runs along the border with Guatemala. The Good Government Junta in La Realidad denounced the fact that various local government officials have been trying to drive away the Zapatistas who live in Che Guevara with numerous provocations, and that on October 26 these same provocateurs started to construct a house on Che Guevara’s recuperated land. Building a house on land recuperated by the Zapatistas has often been the start of dividing a community and the eventual eviction of the Zapatistas. It is one of the government’s counterinsurgency tools. More info HERE.

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SEPTEMBER 2013 ZAPATISTA NEWS SUMMARY

In Chiapas

1. Court Denies Freedom to Alberto Patishtán – The long-awaited decision regarding Alberto Patishtán’s appeal for a recognition of his innocence came on September 12, but it wasn’t what he hoped for. A federal appeals court in Chiapas denied Alberto Patishtán’s request for a recognition of his innocence, thus denying him freedom. He has no remaining avenues for appeal in Mexican courts. The only Court to which he can appeal is the Inter-American Court on Human Rights and that appeal has been filed. Click here for an article about this adverse decision.

2. Chiapas Teachers “Take” Pemex Installations – Like teachers in many parts of Mexico, Chiapas teachers are protesting the education “reforms” proposed by President Peña Nieto as part of his “Pact for Mexico,” a group of neoliberal structural changes termed “reforms.” In addition to the occupation of plazas in the state capital, the teachers took over Pemex installations this month, thus blocking the distribution of gasoline to local gas stations. They also took over the toll booths on the super-highways and collected the fees to finance sending teachers from Chiapas to reinforce the occupation in Mexico City.

3. The Plot Thickens on Mexico’s Southern Border – Reports are circulating that the Obama administration is considering a plan for three-tiered security checks around Mexico’s southern border with Guatemala and Belize.  Apparently worried about Republican opposition, the administration has attempted to keep these plans secret ever since former Homeland Security Secretary, Janet Napolitano, visited Mexico and said that the United States was prepared to “act” on Mexico’s southern border. Nevertheless, some details are leaking out. According to one report, the border control plan calls for U.S. funding and technical support for three security lines extending more than 100 miles north of Mexico’s border with Guatemala and Belize. The border security system would use sensors and intelligence gathering to counter human trafficking and drug running from the region, a major source of illegal immigration into the United States. It would be financed through the Merida Initiative.

In Other Parts of Mexico                                

1. Tropical Storms Batter Both Coasts of Mexico – On September 14, Ingrid, a category 1 hurricane, hit the Gulf Coast of Mexico. Five states suffered massive displacement of people from their homes and massive property damage: Veracruz, Tamaulipas, San Luis Potosi, Puebla and Hidalgo. In Veracruz alone, 30,000 people were displaced from their homes. The next day,  tropical storm Manuel hit Mexico’s Pacific Coast. While several coastal states were hard hit and experienced flooding, mudslides and power outages, the state of Guerrero apparently suffered the brunt of the storm damage and deaths. Thousands are homeless and there are many yet-to-be counted dead. Mountains crumbled on top of villages and rivers flooded. Tourists were stranded in Acapulco and another city’s water supply was destroyed. As this News Summary is published, the situation in Guerrero is desperate; roads are destroyed, flooded or blocked with mud, and consequently vehicles cannot get through to deliver food and other supplies. The Tlachinollan Human Rights Centre in La Montaña region of Guerrero is worried about impending starvation. 26 of 31 states in Mexico were affected by the high winds and heavy rains from the 2 storms. The death toll was reported at 144 several days ago with 53 reported missing or disappeared. The CRAC-PC (community police) in Guerrero reports that 15 more people died due to a lack of medical attention, so the death toll continues to rise.

2. Opposition to Pact for Mexico “Reforms” Grows into Resistance – Teachers protesting anti-worker education “reforms,” politicians and social movements opposing privatizing the state-owned oil company, Pemex, and opposition to tax “reforms” continue and begin to coalesce into a resistance movement. Despite repression, teachers are still occupying space in Mexico City. Cuauhtemoc Cardenas and Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO), two politicians who have not been friendly for some time, are leading huge protests against privatizing Pemex. And tax “reforms” that will hurt Mexico’s middle class are swelling the ranks of the protests. These protests are also taking place in many states, not just in Mexico City. For an article with more details, click here.

And In the United States

1. US Vice President Joe Biden’s Brief Visit to Mexico – United States Vice President Joe Biden made a very short visit to Mexico on September 19. His visit was apparently cut short by the natural disasters on both coasts. However, he was in Mexico long enough to offer the administration’s support for the neoliberal “reforms” against which many Mexicans are protesting!

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Compiled monthly by the Chiapas Support Committee. The primary sources for our information are: La Jornada, Enlace Zapatista and the Fray Bartolome de las Casas Human Rights Center (Frayba).

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AUGUST 2013 ZAPATISTA NEWS SUMMARY

In Chiapas

1. Around 1700 Students Attend “Little Zapatista Schools” – From August 12 to 16, around 1700 students attended the “Little Zapatista Schools” (Escuelitas), to learn about Freedom According to the Zapatistas. Prior to attending classes, many of the students participated in the celebration for the 10th anniversary of the Good Government Juntas. After attending the schools, many students stayed in San Cristóbal to participate in the Seminar in honour of Juan Chávez Alonso.

2. Violence Continues in Chenalhó: 95 Displaced – Paramilitary violence continued in the Puebla ejido during August and, as a result, there are now 95 displaced persons living as refugees in the community of Acteal. In one incident, para-militarized youth from the Puebla ejido prevented the first wave of displaced persons from returning to their homes, despite an agreement reached with the state government. Another incident involved the unprecedented detention and beating of the Chenalhó parish priest.

3. Government Commissioner Visits Alberto Patishtán – On August 27, the federal government’s Commissioner for Dialogue with the Indigenous Peoples of Mexico, Jaime Martínez Veloz, visited Alberto Patishtán in prison, because his liberation “is fundamental for generating minimal levels of trust” with the EZLN that would permit the reconfiguration of  conditions for the fulfilment of the San Andrés Accords. Meanwhile, a caravan of Patishtán’s supporters went from Mexico City to Chiapas and met with one of the magistrates involved in hearing the appeal for recognition of innocence. They learned that a decision on Patishtán’s appeal is expected mid-September.

4. Court Refuses to Restore Land to San Sebastián Bachajón – On August 1, a court in Tuxtla Gutiérrez denied a request from San Sebastián Bachajón (SSB) to restore its land confiscated 2 years ago by the state government. The confiscated land involves a proposed tourism mega-project at the Agua Azul Cascades. Lawyers for SSB said the ejido would appeal.

5. Migrant Tragedy Involving Chiapas: 11 Dead – In the early hours of Sunday morning, August 25, the freight train known as The Beast, or La Bestia in Spanish, derailed in a remote area of Tabasco, close to the Chiapas border. Eleven migrants died and 16 were injured. Reports indicate the dead are all from Honduras. The Beast is used by Central American and other migrants. They hop on the freight cars in Chiapas and ride the train to its destination, risking their lives on a difficult and dangerous journey to the United States. Many of the migrants cross the Chiapas border with Guatemala and then hop the train in Arriaga. The story of Central American migrants in Chiapas and throughout Mexico is perhaps one of the most under-reported stories out of Mexico, at least in English, and often involves abuse, exploitation and even death at the hands of criminal gangs.

6. Mining Company Appears In Chicomuselo – On August 15, La Jornada reported that: “Residents of Monte Sinaí ejido, in Chicomuselo Municipality, denounced mining prospecting activity and offers from employees of the Montecristo 114 Company, part of Grupo Industrial, S. A. De C. V., in three of the location’s barrios. The towns in this region of the Chiapas Sierras have agreed, since May 14, 2009, ‘by majority vote, not to permit the entry of mining companies that seek to harm their lands and put the residents lives at risk,’ and they stated that they will defend their lands ‘even at the cost of their own lives.’” This is the same municipality where Mariano Abarca, an anti-mining leader, was murdered. After his murder, the Governor of Chiapas declared a “moratorium” on mining in the state, which has apparently expired. The ejido detained the company’s agents and made them sign a document “in which they promised not to return and to respect the autonomy of the communities.” They also asked the government that the procedure for expediting licences for exploration and exploitation of mineral resources be revised, “when those affected have not been consulted about these projects or have not been informed about the impacts that they represent.”

7. Mexico’s Southern Border with Guatemala – Last month we reported that, according to the outgoing Homeland Security Secretary, Janet Napolitano, the United States was prepared to “act” on Mexico’s southern border. Although we asked Senator Feinstein’s office for information which would explain the meaning of “act,” we received no explanation. The Los Angeles Times, however, provided some information about what is planned. It appears that the US will at least partly finance “high-tech biometric kiosks” that record fingerprints, photos and other identifying information of those applying for temporary visitor and work permits; in other words, those attempting to cross legally. What?? Those aren’t the folks the US and Mexico are worried about. They’re worried about the people who cross without inspection and ride “The Beast” in hopes of some day reaching the United States. According to the Times, the Mexican government also plans to set up “internal control stations” (checkpoints?) and strengthen security near commonly-used migration routes.

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JULY 2013 ZAPATISTA NEWS SUMMARY

1. Renewed Violence in Chenalhó: 3 Beaten and Detained – On July 20, 2 Zapatistas and one non-Zapatista were arrested in the Puebla ejido, municipality of Chenalhó. This is the municipality in which the Acteal Massacre took place. The equivalent autonomous Zapatista municipality is San Pedro Polhó, where a number of indigenous Zapatista campesinos are still displaced as a result of the paramilitary violence that culminated in the massacre of 45 women, children and men in the village of Acteal on December 22, 1997. The 2 Zapatistas were beaten and tied to posts on the basketball court and threatened with having gasoline poured on them and then being set on fire. They were accused of poisoning a water tank in the community. The 3rd man was arrested and beaten for protesting the treatment of the Zapatistas. All three were taken to the prosecutor in San Cristóbal and placed in jail, where they were held for 3 days. There were not fed and did not receive medical treatment for their injuries. All 3 were released on Tuesday evening, July 23.

2. 9 Indigenous Political Prisoners Free In Chiapas! – On July 4, 9 indigenous political prisoners were released from state prison. All of them were adherents to the EZLN’s Sixth Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle and were members of the Voice of El Amate and those in Solidarity with the Voice of El Amate. Thus, the governor fulfilled a commitment he made to these prisoners when he visited them soon after taking office. The governor personally delivered the release papers to those being freed.

3. EZLN and CNI Issue Joint Communiqué In Support of the Yaqui Tribe’s Defense of Water – On July 9, the CCRI of the EZLN and the National Indigenous Congress (Congreso Nacional Indígena, CNI) issued a joint communiqué in support of the Yaqui Tribe’s defence of their water and their mobilisation against implementation of the Independence Aqueduct in the Mexican state of Sonora. The Yaqui Tribe has been organizing roadblocks on strategic highways and has obtained a court order in their favour due to the environmental impact of the proposed aqueduct. Despite the court order (injunction), Sonora’s governor wants to continue the project and has obtained arrest warrants against the indigenous leaders. The EZLN and the CNI demanded the cancellation of the arrest warrants.

4. New Info about “Little Zapatista Schools” in December/January – On July 18, Sup Moisés released information about the classes where the Zapatistas will teach Freedom According to the Zapatistas. In the communiqué, the Zapatistas are offering the class again in both December and January so that everyone will have an opportunity to participate. They will be taught both before and after the New Year celebration of the 20th Anniversary of the Uprising.

5. Chiapas Cancels Carbon Deal With California – On July 8, the state government of Chiapas announced the cancellation of a carbon trading deal (REDD Plus) with California, modeled after the UN’s REDD program. The carbon-trading program was to be implemented in the Lacandón Jungle of Chiapas, without regard for indigenous and campesino land rights. In the Lacandón Jungle, Zapatistas and non-Zapatistas alike opposed the project. The Chiapas government called the programme a failure.

6. Janet Napolitano’s Latest and Last Visit to Mexico Involves Chiapas – US Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano made one last visit to Mexico before she leaves her position in September. She met with Mexico’s Foreign Minister, Osorio Chong and other Mexican officials on the US-Mexico border before meeting with President Enrique Peña Nieto in Mexico City. Among the bi-lateral agreements that were reached between Mexico and the US during her visit is one concerning Mexico’s southern border. Press reports simply say that the US agreed to “act” on that border to assure an orderly immigration flow, but there is no description of what that may involve. Nor is there any explanation of why the US and Mexico are entering into an agreement about a border the US doesn’t share and about which Mexico already has agreements with its southern neighbours.

7. Sup Marcos Issues 2 Comunicados at the end of July – Subcomandante Marcos issued 2 comunicados at the end of July: Votán I and Votán II. Votan I brings back the imaginary beetle named Durito. Votán II describes what to expect in the little school.

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JUNE 2013 ZAPATISTA NEWS SUMMARY

In Chiapas

1. Moisés: There’s No More Space in the Little Schools – On June 13, Subcomandante Moisés released a communiqué reporting that the little schools where students will study “freedom according to the Zapatistas” are now full. There are no spaces left. It seems that there were a total of 1500 spaces and more people wanted to go. However, Sup Moisés says there will be another session of the little schools later, probably around December/January.

2. Marcos Issues Communiqués About the Little Schools – In a series of communiqués entitled Classmates, Subcomandante Marcos issued (so far) 5 reports on who will be and who will not be attending the little schools. Those who will not be present include the disappeared and political prisoners; among them, Alberto Patishtán, Leonard Peltier, Mumia Abu-Jamal, Julian Assange, Bradley Manning and members of Pussy Riot. Edward Poindexter and Mondo we Langa were also included. They are former members of the Black Panther Party (BPP), targeted in the U.S. government’s COINTELPRO program that spied and infiltrated the BPP. Another group that will not be present includes those not invited; such as, current and former members of the Cocopa, the US State Dept., the CIA, FBI, etcetera. In the fourth comunicado, Marcos explains that the original peoples of the Americas will not be present because the Zapatistas have nothing to teach them. Rather, the Zapatistas have learned from them and they will have their celebration on August 17-18 at the Seminar Tata Juan Chavez Alonso. The most recent communiqué describes who the students are at the little schools, where they are from and how many there are.

3. GREAT NEWS! A Chiapas Court Frees Miguel Vazquez Deara – On June 26, a Chiapas Court released Miguel Vazquez Deara from prison. Vazquez Deara is from San Sebastián Bachajon and is an adherent to the EZLN’s Sixth Declaration, an active participant in defending the loss of their lands to luxury tourism interests. He was arrested in September 2011 and charged with armed robbery and criminal association based on the false accusation of government supporters with an interest in the Agua Azul Cascades. He confessed under torture and was sentenced in November 2012. His illegally obtained confession was the only evidence used to find him guilty. On appeal, the court threw out the confession because Vazquez Deara did not have a lawyer or translator present when he gave his confession. This misuse of the criminal justice system is a weapon used against those who defend their land in Chiapas and throughout Mexico.

4. Worldwide Campaign: Juan Vazquez Guzman Lives! The Bachajon Struggle Continues! – Organizations in Solidarity with the Zapatista struggle launched a worldwide week of struggle –June 25 to July 2– to remember Juan Vazquez Guzman, who was assassinated on April 24. Vazquez Guzman was the leader of the resistance to tourism interests that want to take away land in Bachajon for “boutique” hotels with helipads for politicians and corporate executives. You can read more information about the Worldwide Campaign here.  (Editor’s Note: or better still:http://vivabachajon.wordpress.com/en-ingles/)

5. Police Violently Repress Chiapas Teachers – On Saturday, June 29, Chiapas state police and special riot police violently broke into a statewide union congress and evicted all those present, arresting 28 and injuring around 200. Four teachers are hospitalized. According to several reports in La Jornada, Local 7 of the SNTE was electing representatives and a secretary general at the congress of delegates. When it became obvious that Section 7’s “democratic block” had the majority, representatives of the national union decided to break up the meeting by accusing the congress of “kidnapping” because the doors were locked to prevent outsiders from entering and voting illegally. The national reps went to the state government and accused the local teachers of kidnapping. The state government sent its elite police corps. The democratic block is to the Left of the national union’s leadership; in other words, they are a dissident voice within the union. Of concern here is the response of Chiapas police. Photos of the bloodied teachers can be found on the front page of Sunday’s La Jornada.

In the United States

1. Mexico Is One of the Countries the US Spied On – WikiLeaks revealed that the United States National Security Agency spied on the Mexican Embassy and that Mexico was only one of the US allies on which it spied according to the Guardian. Click here to read the full story.

2. US Immigration Bill Worries Mexico – June 24, a border security amendment seen as crucial to the passage of an immigration bill backed by President Barack Obama cleared a key procedural hurdle in the U.S. Senate, helping pave the way for the biggest changes to U.S. immigration law since 1986. The amendment would double the number of agents on the southern border to about 40,000 over the next 10 years and provide more high-tech surveillance equipment to stop illegal crossings at the U.S.-Mexico border. The amendment also calls for finishing construction of 700 miles of border fence. The bill would grant legal status (work permits) to millions of undocumented foreigners, who would be put on a 13-year path to citizenship.

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MAY 2013 ZAPATISTA NEWS SUMMARY

In Chiapas

1. News Update on Alberto Patishtan – On May 31, the FPDT (Atenco), Las Abejas and Alberto Patishtan’s son, Hector, released a short documentary on YouTube about Alberto’s case. On May 27, Mexico’s Supreme Court sent its file on the Alberto Patishtan case to the federal circuit court in Chiapas via ground transportation. There is no explanation in these press reports for the long delay. However, Patishtan’s lawyers are hoping for a June decision (before the July vacation break). Newspaper reports also indicate that Patishtan was taken twice to Mexico City for medical follow-up on his brain surgery at the National Neurology and Neurosurgery Centre, once in April and recently in May, but these reports give no information about the results of the examinations.

2. San Sebastián Bachajon Legal Dispute Over Ticket Booth Continues – On May 16, a Chiapas court issued its decision in the case of San Sebastián Bachajon (SSB). The decision orders a replacement of the procedure allegedly authorizing the government to take several parcels of land away from the ejido, conveniently all on land belonging to adherents to the EZLN’s Sixth Declaration, for use as a ticket booth where visitors to the Agua Azul Cascades pay an entry fee. The SSB adherents went to court claiming that the procedure used to grant the government authority to do that was unlawful. They asked the court for the return of their land and an order restraining the government from taking it. The decision does not return the land to them, but rather orders that the matter be presented to the Ejido’s Assembly for its position in a lawful procedure. The SSB adherents are concerned that the pro-government contingent in the ejido, especially the ejido commissioner, will manipulate the process. Consequently, two SSB adherents went to Mexico City to present their position in the matter to a member of Mexico’s Supreme Court. They also visited the offices of the UN’s High Commissioner on Human Rights, asking for intervention, and the offices of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, seeking precautionary measures following last month’s (April 24) assassination of the community leader Juan Vasquez Gomez [actually Juan Vázquez Guzmán].

3. Two Campesinos Murdered in Venustiano Carranza – On May 5, two campesinos died of gunshot wounds in a confrontation that occurred in the municipality of Venustiano Carranza, allegedly over agrarian and political disputes. Two campesinos were killed in the confrontation and 20 houses burned or damaged. There were also injuries. According to newspaper accounts, this attack stemmed from an old dispute for control of the Casa del Pueblo, which was aggravated with the arrival of a new president (in January of last year), who accused his predecessor of “misplacing” 67 head of cattle. The dispute is between the Emiliano Zapata Campesino Organization-Casa del Pueblo (OCEZ-CP) and an internal dissident group. The dissident group of 49 families was expelled last year and is sheltered in government buildings near the state capital and demands a safe return to their homes. Those in the current OCEZ-CP leadership want the state government to relocate the dissidents. It appears that 12 OCEZ-CP members have been arrested in connection with the May 5 violence and that the organization and its allies have set up an encampment and are occupying Cathedral Plaza in San Cristóbal. Supporters allege that paramilitary groups backed by the state government are responsible for the violence. The groups involved are not connected to the Zapatistas in any way, but are part of a large leftist campesino organization in Chiapas.

4. Chiapas Teachers Settle Strike – On May 15, National Teachers Day, Chiapas teachers belonging to Local 7’s Democratic Block went on strike over reforms to the federal education law passed in the federal Congress. Teachers throughout much of Mexico staged massive demonstrations on May 15 against the reforms which take away some of their union rights and job security, and can also lead to the privatization of education. The strike ended 5 days later after union negotiators reached an agreement with the state government. The state government signed a memorandum with the teachers committing that “the entry (hiring), promotion, recognition and permanence (job security) of education workers “will not be conditioned by any standardized evaluation with punitive character that might affect their labour rights”. The state administration also committed to guaranteeing that the agreements between the rector council of the Pact for Mexico, the federal government and the CNTE “will be ratified by the Chiapas government.” The education reform is part of Peña Nieto’s package of neoliberal reforms. http://newpol.org/content/mexican-teachers-rebel-against-governments-educational-reform

In Other Parts of Mexico

1. Seven Years After the Police Terrorism in Atenco – On May 3 and 4, the community of San Salvador Atenco commemorated the 7-year anniversary of the brutal police repression that resulted in 2 young people dead, more than 150 jailed and 26 women sexually assaulted by police while in custody. As a result of this police terrorism, the leadership of the Peoples Front in Defence of the Land (FPDT, its initials in Spanish) were placed in a maximum-security prison with sentences longer than the lifespan of a human being. The FPDT is the San Salvador Atenco-based organization that successfully resisted (with raised machetes) the government’s plan to take away their agricultural lands in order to use them for building a new Mexico City international Airport. The state and federal police action of May 3 and 4, 2006 was seen by many as “payback” for the FPDT’s successful resistance to the airport; but its significance went beyond the airport resistance. At that time, the Zapatistas were traveling the country during the “Other Campaign” and had visited Atenco just a couple of days before the police action. The police repression in San Salvador Atenco halted the Other Campaign for several months and, in general, put Mexico’s social movements on notice of what to expect in the future. On May 3 and 4, 2006, the governor of the state of Mexico, where Atenco is located, was Enrique Peña Nieto. He is now Mexico’s president and once again there are plans to build an airport, industrial park and urban sprawl on lands belonging to Atenco and surrounding ejido lands.

2. Amnesty International (AI) Issues Report on Mexico Violence – Amnesty International (AI) recently issued its 2013 Report on Human Rights. It refers to the term of Felipe Calderón. A number of human rights abuses are described, including the fact that Mexican authorities do not recognize the gravity of the problem and that there is complicity in these abuses by public servants. The complete report on Mexico can be read here. According to numbers released by the federal government and published by La Jornada, there were 5,296 murders in Mexico, allegedly related to organized crime, during the first 151 days of Enrique Pena Nieto’s presidency; in other words, from December 1, 2012 to April 30, 2013. This represents a slight decrease from the same time period the previous year under Calderón, but it is, nevertheless, a tragic number of deaths.

In the United States

1. President Obama Visited Mexico on May 2 – United States President Barack Obama visited Mexico beginning May 2. He met with President Peña Nieto and gave a speech to an audience of students and business people. Press reports indicate that the two presidents talked less about security and more about economics, thereby prompting the shopping cart cartoon above. Obama said he was hopeful on immigration reform, but not so hopeful about restrictions on guns. The Mexican economy relies on money (remittances) that Mexicans living and working in the United States send to their families in Mexico. Those remittances are one of Mexico’s top three sources of income and foreign exchange. The United States is also Mexico’s largest supplier of illegal weapons that end up in the hands of organized crime groups and thus feed the current violence in Mexico.

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APRIL 2013 ZAPATISTA NEWS SUMMARY
In Chiapas
1. Political Assassination of Pro-Zapatista Leader in San Sebastián Bachajón – On Wednesday, April 24, Juan Vazquez Guzman, leader of the pro-Zapatistas in San Sebastian Bachajon, was assassinated by unidentified individuals as he was entering his home. He led the ejido owners who are adherents to the EZLN’s Sixth Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle in their resistance to the government taking away their land to exploit for tourism purposes. This is the first political assassination in Chiapas involving Zapatistas or pro-Zapatistas in some time and could signal more repression now that the PRI has returned to power.
2. Threats of Forced Eviction Continue in San Marcos Aviles, Caravan Threatened – On April 19, the Good Government Junta located in Oventik issued a denunciation that listed all the continuing threats and acts of harassment suffered by the Zapatista support bases in the San Marcos Aviles ejido since July 2011. The Chiapas Network for Peace then announced that on April 21 and 22, a Civil Observation Caravan would go to San Marcos to collect testimony from the Zapatistas. The Caravan was threatened by “political party members” in San Marcos Aviles. They threatened to take away the Caravan’s vehicles and that blood would run if the vehicles were not turned over to them. Fortunately, the threats did not turn into action and the Mission was able to collect testimony of specific continuing death threats, including threats to kill children, and land grabbing.
3. Chiapas March for Patishtan’s Freedom – On April 19, the movement to free Alberto Patishtan organized a march in Tuxtla Gutierrez, the capital of Chiapas, to demand Patishtan’s freedom. The march of many Tzotzil supporters from the Highlands, the Catholic organization Believing People and Las Abejas was joined by the Democratic Block of Section 7 of the national education Workers Union, a total of 15,000 people. Marchers went to the Chiapas headquarters of the Federal Judicial Power, which is supposed to issue a decision on Patishtan’s case any day now.
4. Mexico’s Supreme Court Releases Another 15 Men Convicted in the Acteal Massacre Case – On April 11, Mexico’s Supreme Court released another 15 of the men accused and convicted in the Acteal Massacre of 45 Tzotzil indigenous on December 22, 1997. The release and recognition of innocence was based on the use of illegal evidence, the same as in the prior releases of those condemned for the Acteal Massacre. Of the original 87 who were convicted only 6 remain in prison. Bishop Felipe Arizmendi of the San Cristobal de las Casas Diocese lamented the release of those convicted, many of whom had confessed to their crimes. In condemning the release of these men, the civil organization La Abejas noted that they are seen walking around Acteal and nearby towns. Moreover, Las Abejas reported hearing gunshots from several communities. Both Las Abejas and Bishop Arizmendi ask: “If the men convicted and now released are not responsible for the massacre, who is?”
In Other Parts of Mexico
1. Communities Form Their Own Police Patrols – As a result of the dramatic increase in organized crime and the utter inability of Mexico’s security forces to deal with it, a new phenomenon is emerging. Some communities are trying to protect their residents by forming their own community police patrols. So far, at least 40 communities in 8 states have formed such patrols. While much of the violence plaguing communities is connected to drug trafficking and government officials, police and military corrupted by the drug gangs, communities are also seeking protection from illegal logging and the encroachment of mining companies and their armed “guards.” Some indigenous communities have a tradition of elected police/guards who protect the communities from common crimes like theft or public drunkenness and its associated crimes. They have been doing this for more than 15 years. These elected community police have their hunting rifles, machetes and clubs, none of which is illegal. However, other communities have police that are armed with high-caliber weapons that are illegal. The state and federal governments are worried about this new development and want to bring these community patrols under the control of local authorities in some official role, but the communities see the local authorities as part of the problem.
In the United States
1. President Obama to Visit Mexico and Costa Rica May 2-4 – United States President Barack Obama has plans to visit Mexico beginning May 2. While Mexico hopes to obtain an agreement on more money for the Merida Initiative, US Secretary of State John Kerry says President Obama also wants to focus on economic and trade issues. Human rights groups, however, sent a letter to President Obama, Mexican President Pena Nieto and the Central American presidents asking them, among other things, to re-think the regional security model (Drug War) and consider the regulation of drugs rather than their prohibition. Additionally, 23 US Congresspeople, of both parties, sent a letter to Secretary Kerry expressing concern over the five-fold increase in human rights complaints against military personnel over the last 6 years. Oakland Congresswoman Barbara Lee signed the letter.
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MARCH 2013 ZAPATISTA NEWS SUMMARY

In Chiapas

1. EZLN Concludes THEM AND US Essay – During February, the EZLN released Parts 5, 6 and 7 (the final part) of THEM AND US.      The last three parts, signed by Marcos, talk about how money is handled by the Juntas, some experiences in resistance, including critical comments about Rural Cities, the Mesoamerica Project, formerly the Plan Puebla-Panamá and the current Plan for Mexico. They also revealed a little history of their founding organization (the FLN) by revealing that several clinics are named for 2 FLN compañeras who died in the struggle. In Part 7, entitled Doubts, Shadows and one word, Marcos talks about the “shadows” that have made what they have done possible. He also talks about coming to the Little Schools to erase your doubts about the Zapatistas and learning and says that Sup Moisés will send out details about those schools.

2. Moisés Issues Dates and Other Details About the “Little Schools” – On March 17, the EZLN issued a communiqué signed by Subcomandante Moisés. It contains much of the information about the “escuelitas” or little schools” where they will teach Freedom According to the Zapatistas.  The Little Schools will begin immediately following the Celebration for the 10th Anniversary of the Good Government Juntas (August 8 to 11) and will last for one week. Another of the details contained in the communiqué is that the Good Government Juntas are now closed to brigades, caravans, interviews or any visit that requires the time of the authorities because all the Zapatistas will be busy preparing for the little schools and the celebrations. The Caracoles remain open to visitors.

3. Mexico’s Supreme Court Denies Patishtán’s Appeal – On March 6, Mexico’s Supreme Court refused to grant a “recognition of innocence” hearing to Alberto Patishtán, a teacher, human rights defender and prisoner in Chiapas. Sentenced to 60 years in prison for the ambush and murder of 7 police, the Court referred the appeal to a collegiate tribunal in Chiapas. Legal sources in Mexico think the chances are slim that a federal court in Chiapas will do what the Supreme Court refused to do. An international campaign in support of his freedom is underway.

4. Mexico’s Supreme Court Releases Another Man Convicted in the Acteal Massacre Case – One week after it refused to hear the request from the social struggler Alberto Patishtán Gómez for a recognition of innocence, the first hall of the Supreme Court resolved the immediate liberation of Marcos Arias Pérez, accused (and convicted) of participating in the Acteal Massacre on December 22, 1997 in the municipality of Chenalhó, Chiapas. Once again, the rationale for the release was because of due process violations. Patishtán’s case is also replete with due process violations, so what is prohibiting Patishtán’s release? Speculation is mounting that influential politicians in Chiapas may be to blame.

In Other Parts of Mexico

1. Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Holds Hearing on Atenco Rapes – When the Mexican governments and the state government of Mexico jointly conducted a police operation to terrorize, repress and torture the population of San Salvador Atenco on May 3 and 4, 2006, the police included sexual torture (forced rape) on at least 26 women in custody. They filed a complaint with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, a division of the Organization of American States, with headquarters in Washington, DC. A hearing was finally held in the middle of the month. The government offered an apology and a friendly resolution, but the women who suffered the sexual assaults rejected the offer.

2. Mexican Court Annuls Immunity for Zedillo – On March 6, a Mexican Court ruled that former president Ernest Zedillo was not eligible for immunity protection under the Mexican Constitution and invalidated a diplomatic note from the then Mexican Ambassador to the United States requesting that the US State Department recommend immunity to the Connecticut federal district court in which Zedillo has been sued by some victims of the Acteal Massacre. The court reasoned that Zedillo was no longer entitled to immunity because he was no longer president. He now lives in Connecticut and teaches at Yale. The lawsuit filed on behalf of some of the victims of the massacre is still an open case in the Connecticut federal district court. For the full story, see:http://yaledailynews.com/blog/2013/03/25/mexican-court-rules-zedillo-ineligible-for-immunity/

3. Drug Trafficking Is 5th Largest Source of Jobs in Mexico! – A report prepared for members of Mexico’s Chamber of Deputies states that estimates are that drug trafficking employs around 468,000 people, more that PEMEX (the acronym for Petroleos Mexicanos), the oil company with the most employees in the world). The purpose of the report is to support a proposed legislative change to create a financial intelligence technical unit capable of investigating and pursuing money laundering. The report cites estimates of profits from drug trafficking at somewhere between $25 and 40 billion dollars per year and concedes that governmental structures, including police, are infiltrated with drug trafficking employees and corrupted with bribes, blackmail and threats. The conclusion seems to be that there is no way to stop the corrupting influence of that kind of money without putting dams in the way of money laundering.

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FEBRUARY 2013 ZAPATISTA NEWS SUMMARY

In Chiapas

1.EZLN Introduces Subcomandante Moisés – During February, the EZLN released Part VI, entitled Gazes, of the essay THEM AND US. In Part VI, which also has 6 sections, Marcos announces that the EZLN has a new Subcomandante: Moisés, who has been a lieutenant colonel in the EZLN’s military arm for the past approximately 10 years. Moisés is widely believed to be the successor to Marcos and this promotion and appointment would seem to confirm it. The introduction was followed by a letter from Subcomandante Moisés. In the letter, Moisés explains that his role is to be the “door” and the role of Marcos is to be the “window.” Apparently the role of the “door” is to get to know us, the adherents to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle (the Sixth or la Sexta) and the role of Marcos is to look at or watch those on the outside (not part of the Sixth) who continue to look “above,” as well as those who refuse to look above. Moisés also introduced us to the “little schools” where the Zapatista bases will teach us about freedom; in other words Freedom Schools.

2. Zapatistas Talk About Autonomous Government; Invite Us to “Little Schools” – The EZLN next issued Part VII of THEM AND US in February. In the first communiqué of Part VII, titled “The Smallest Ones,” Marcos tells us that the Zapatista support bases are preparing “little schools” where they will teach adherents to the Sixth Declaration about their experience constructing autonomy and government. The course will be called “Freedom According to the Zapatistas.” The next several sections of Part Vii consist of transcriptions of recordings from a conference that Zapatista support bases held to talk about their experiences. Zapatista support bases talk about creating autonomous government and the history of Zapatista women. The women’s voices tell an amazing story!

3. Zapatistas in San Marcos Avilés In Danger of Eviction – On February 23, the Fray Bartolome de las Casas Human Rights Center (Frayba) issued an URGENT ACTION regarding the threat of imminent eviction to Zapatista families living in San Marcos Avilés ejido. Political party members in the ejido have asked the municipal government to evict the Zapatistas for failing to pay a property tax. The on-going harassment from the political parties in the ejido and threats of yet another violent eviction pose a dangerous situation and a hostile environment for all the Zapatistas living there.

4. Chiapas Civil Organizations Call Attention to the Situation in Busiljá – Nine Chiapas organizations, including human rights groupings, denounced the “profound humanitarian crisis” involving the 7 displaced Tzeltal families from the Busilja ejido. The 7 families are members of the Genaro Vazquez Rojas Front of Ejidos and are adherents to the EZLN’s Sixth Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle. Specifically, a little girl remains kidnapped and disappeared by paramilitaries living in Busilja, one of the displaced family members is incarcerated unjustly in a state prison and members of all 7 displaced families have arrest warrants issued for them because of not abandoning their lands or not accepting projects from the government. The nine organizations demand that the state government release the man in prison, Elias Sanchez Gomez (son), cancel the arrest warrants and comply with an Inter-American Commission on Human Rights determination of precautionary measures for the little missing girl, Gabriela Sanchez Morales.

In Other Parts of Mexico

1. Survey Finds that Zapatismo Remains Alive for 44% of Mexicans Polled – “The silent marches realized in some localities in the state of Chiapas last December 21, marked the return of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN, its initials in Spanish) and of its representative Subcomandante Marcos, to the country’s public and political life” postulates the polling company Parametría in a national study about the theme, effectuated last January, which showed that for 44 (percent) of those polled the movement “continues alive.”

2. U.S. Escalation of Mexico Drug War – On December 31, 2012, before leaving the Pentagon, then U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta established a new US-based special operations headquarters to teach Mexican security forces how to hunt drug cartels the same way special operations teams hunt al-Qaeda, according to a report from the Associated Press last month. The new headquarters will be at the US Northern Command in Colorado. Navy Admiral Bill McRaven is in charge of the special operations command. This is the latest step in the U.S. escalation of the militarization of Mexico.

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JANUARY 2013 ZAPATISTA NEWS SUMMARY

In Chiapas

1. EZLN Declares An End to the Other Campaign – In January the EZLN, through its spokesperson Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos, released a 5-part essay entitled THEM AND US.

In Part V, the EZLN does away with the Other Campaign and the International Campaign and says that from now on there are just adherents to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle. It also made a large part of the message in Part V password-protected. In other words, folks need to have the password to read some of the communiqués or messages from the EZLN. The password will change from time to time and will be readily available through members of the Sixth.

2. The EZLN Extends Invitation to Anniversary Festivities – In a just-released post-script to Part V, the EZLN extended an invitation to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the birth of the Good Government Juntas with the Zapatista communities. No dates were specified in the post-script, but the birth of the Caracoles was on August 8, 2003 and the birth of the Juntas was August 9, 2003. So, you can estimate the approximate dates of the celebration. There are obviously more details to come. This post-script has not been translated into English yet.

3. The Government Strikes Back In Las Margaritas – On January 21, in a nationally televised event, President Enrique

Peña Nieto, accompanied by members of his cabinet, the governor of Chiapas, Manuel Velasco Coello, and most of the official Chiapas municipal presidents, launched his administration’s National Campaign Against Hunger in the Chiapas municipality of Las Margaritas in the Lacandón Jungle. Although the details are still unclear, this anti-poverty program is supposedly designed to help Mexicans living in extreme poverty. Indigenous peoples from the state were hauled to the event by the political parties. Although the administration said there were 30,000 people in attendance, local reporters estimated 15,000. Since the content of the program was not clarified during the event, it seemed more like a government attempt to show its power in response to the silent march of 40,000 Zapatistas.

4. Marcos Gives “The Finger” to Las Margaritas Event – Marcos immediately sent out a brief, critical and pointed response to the government’s production in Las Margaritas. A few words saying the spectacle was poorly organized and directed, the implication being that they threw it together in a hurry as a response to the EZLN mobilization. In a communiqué “To: Ali Baba and His 40 Thieves,” Marcos inserts a graphic image of “The Finger” as the main message.

5. Francisco Santiz Lopez Free! – Francisco Santiz Lopez, a Zapatista support base from Tenejapa, was released from the state prison

libresantizin San Cristóbal on January 25, after a judge signed an order for his release. The judge’s order followed a favorable decision on a request for injunctive relief from another court. An international campaign for his freedom along with that of Alberto Pa

tishtán, took place last year and gained support in 30 countries. Francisco Santiz was in prison for 13 months for a crime he did not commit: carrying a firearm for the exclusive use of the Mexican Army.

6. Chiapas Judge Denies Protective Relief to San Sebastián Bachajon Lands – On January 31, a federal judge in Chiapas refused to grant protection to the common use lands taken away by the government in the San Sebastián Bachajon (SSB) ejido. They were taken violently by the government in a dispute over where to locate a ticket booth for access to the Agua Azul Cascades tourist area. The government only permits the ejido members that are pro-government to collect fees at the access. The ejido members that protest are adherents to the EZLN’s Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle. The judge said the petition for relief was untimely. Lawyers for the pro-Zapatista SSB ejido members disagree.

In Other Parts of Mexico

1. Marcos Seeks Solidarity Collection to Support Compañero “Kuy” – In Part V (THE SIXTH) of the essay THEM AND US, Marcos asks the Network against Repression to start a fund and send details of how to send money for the medical expenses and rehabilitation of Juan Francisco Kuykendall, known as “Kuy”). He was gravely injured in the December 1 demonstrations protesting Peña Nieto’s inauguration and he is a member of the Sixth. His skull was cracked open by a projectile fired by law enforcement and a large portion of his brain exposed and lost. He remains hospitalized and his children have filed a request for clarification of the events that caused his injury and for damages with Mexico’s Attorney General. “Kuy” is a 67-year old activist and theater director in Mexico City. The Zapatistas sent money for the fund along with their message to the Network.

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DECEMBER 2012 ZAPATISTA NEWS SUMMARY

In Chiapas

1. More Than 40,000 Zapatistas March in Chiapas – On December 21, at the end of the Mayan Long Count Calendar (13 Baktún) and the beginning of a new calendar, more than 40,000 Zapatista support bases marched silently into 5 Chiapas cities (Ocosingo, Palenque, San Cristóbal, Las Margaritas and Altamirano). They set up platforms in the central plazas of each city and then filed onto the platform, raised their fists, came down off the platform and returned to the Caracoles from which they came. Zapatista commanders (the CCRI-CG) sent a communiqué signed by Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos to the media. It read in part: “DID YOU HEAR? It’s the sound of your world crumbling and ours re-emerging…” This sent a brief, but pointed message to the new government: We’re still here. We have resisted your counterinsurgency and we’re stronger for havinportadag learned how to resist and construct our autonomy. Our world is re-emerging. This show of force sent a few shock waves through those above and waves of hope through those below. Check out the video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5K_z_ceSlwE&feature=youtu.be

2. EZLN Issues 3 More Communiqués – On December 30, the EZLN released 1 new communique and 2 letters. The communiqué is about the EZLN’s next steps. One letter is addressed to members of the new government (“those above”) and the other letter to Luis H. Alvarez, the former “Indigenous Commissioner” that went around Chiapas giving money to non-Zapatistas and anti-Zapatistas in order to buy their consciences. We’ll have more on these recent EZLN communications shortly.

3.  Las Abejas (The Bees) Commemorate the 15th Anniversary of the Acteal Massacre – Between December 20 and 22, Las Abejas held ceremonies to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the Acteal Massacre. Among the many speeches they gave, the Bees criticized the new government for the violent repression in Mexico City on December 1 and for appointing Emilio Chuayffet to the cabinet position of Secretary of Education. He was the Interior Minister at the time of the massacre and Las Abejas consider him to be one of the unpunished intellectual authors of the massacre. Las Abejas also pointed out that they were stronger for their struggle and resistance. The Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity’s Indigenous Commission attended the ceremonies in Acteal and, while in Chiapas, visited Zapatista and Other Campaign prisoners in the San Cristóbal prison.

4. New Chiapas Governor Takes Office – On December 8, 2012, Manuel Velasco Coello took the oath of office as Governor of Chiapas. He is a member of the Partido Verde Ecologista de México (Green Ecologist Party of Mexico, PVEM). Upon taking office, Velasco Coello greeted the EZLN and the Good Government Juntas, saying he recognized their contributions and that he wanted good relations with them and also wanted to cool down the conflict. We’ll see! In a good will gesture, Velasco Coello released the 2 Zapatista Lopez Monzon brothers and their 2 non-Zapatista brothers from prison in Motozintla and withdrew the arrest warrant issued for Alfonso Cruz Espinoza, a Zapatista support base and the property owner of private land adjacent to the Toniná archaeological site. When a collective from the Caracol of Morelia built a roadside artesianía stand with a sign saying it was a Zapatista stand, the previous state government issued an arrest warrant for Cruz Espinoza. Apparently, the old Sabinas government anticipated tourism around the end of the Mayan Long Count and wanted no evidence of the Zapatistas in front of tourists.

In Other Parts of Mexico

1. Injuries and Detentions in December 1 Protests – As we reported last month, Enrique Peña Nieto took the oath of office as president of Mexico on December 1, amid protests that turned violent and in which many people were injured, apparently by rubber bullets fired by police or tear gas cannisters. Several people suffered serious injuries. A young man affiliated with #YoSoy 132 lost an eye. Another man, an adherent to the EZLN’s Other Campaign, suffered severe brain damage and remains in a medically induced coma. Some of the demonstrators were arbitrarily detained, many of them young and from the #YoSoy 132 Movement, and 70 were sent to prison. Most were released shortly thereafter, however 14 remained in prison facing charges for which bail was denied. Video footage of arbitrary detentions and inappropriate charges is alleged to exist. There were more demonstrations for the release of the 14. The latest news on this front is that the Mexico City Congress passed legislation that changed the severity of the crime of “attacks on the public peace” (disturbing the peace?) so that the 14 could make bail. And, on December 27, as soon as the new legislation was officially published, all 14 were released on bond. They still face court cases for those charges and there are now more protest actions asking that the charges be dropped. Notwithstanding Mexico City’s legislation, the violent repression and detentions have only solidified opposition to the new PRI government of Enrique Peña Nieto.

2. Death Toll Due to Drug War Reaches 116,100! – An Italian civic organization, Libera, reports that it calculated 136,000 malicious deaths between 2006 and December 1, 2012. Of those, 116,000 are attributed to the “Drug War.” Libera is a grouping of more than one thousand human rights organizations and activists from Europe and America. Its figures were compiled from Inegi (Mexico’s government statistics agency) and from human rights defenders. Prior to this report, the Chiapas Support Committee had confirmed a figure close to that from sources in Chiapas.

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NOVEMBER 2012 ZAPATISTA NEWS SUMMARY

In Chiapas

1. The EZLN Celebrates 29th Anniversary – November 17 was the 29th anniversary of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN). In Chiapas, alternative media and other organizations celebrated. Nationally and internationally, the Worldwide Echo concluded with organizations and collectives holding demonstrations and delivering the Statement of Support for the Zapatista Communities to Mexican Embassies and Consulates. We thank all those who signed the letter.

2. La Realidad Denounces Unjust Imprisonment and Attempted Land Grab

The Good Government Junta in La Realidad denounced that 2 Zapatista brothers and 2 of their brothers have been in prison since June, falsely accused of crimes they did not commit. The detention stems from a 2011 incident when the 2 Zapatista brothers were severely beaten by people that are referred to as “criminals” and 2 other brothers came to their rescue. A year later, the aggressors lodged complaints against the 2 Zapatista brothers they beat up and also against the 2 who came to their rescue. The 2 Zapatista brothers are from the San Ramon section of Motozintla municipality. The same Junta also denounced an attempted land grab in Motozintla by members of the Mexico’s Green Ecologist Party (PVEM, its initials in Spanish) from Che Guevara community.

3. EZLN’s Word Expected Soon – The EZLN’s website posted an announcement on November 25 that said the EZLN’s word is coming soon. We assume that it will have to do with Enrique Pena Nieto taking power as president of Mexico and thereby returning the PRI to power.

In Other Parts of Mexico

1. Enrique Peña Nieto Assumes the Presidency on December 1 – On December 1st, Enrique Peña Nieto became President of Mexico amid violent protests from a broad spectrum of organizations opposed to the PRI’s return to power and the way Pena Nieto was elected. Pena Nieto inherits a Drug War in which approximately 90,000 have been killed, 25,000 are disappeared and tens of thousands displaced from their homes. As Pena Nieto takes office, the government reports that 4 out of every 10 Mexicans in the labour force are unemployed and poverty affects roughly 46 per cent of the population. Finally, Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) reported a 500% increase in torture, as well has a huge rise in forced disappearances and arbitrary detentions.

2. US Vice President Joe Biden Attends Ceremonies – US Vice President Joe Biden headed the US delegation to the ceremonies for Pena Nieto’s swearing-in. In his first address to the nation, Pena Nieto announced measures geared to address the insecurity, hunger and to kick start the economy. He says he will focus security forces in areas of high violence to protect the public, rather that focusing on capturing crime bosses. He is also proposing a Universal Social Security system. At least 100 people were injured in violent demonstrations around the country.

3. 14 Police and 5 Commanders Indicted In Ambush of 2 CIA Agents at Tres Marias – As previously announced, 14 federal police agents have been formally charged with the attempted murder of 2 CIA agents and a Mexican marine on August 24 near Tres Marias. They have also been charged with causing bodily harm, abuse of authority and damage to the property of another. Additionally, 5 police commanders have been charged as accessories after the fact for participating in an attempted cover up. The 14 police are in prison while awaiting a determination of their case. The five commanders are free on bond.

In the United States

1. President Obama Meets with Pena Nieto – On November 27, US President Barack Obama met with president-elect Enrique Pena Nieto at the White House. While the US press emphasized that the meeting focused heavily on economic issues, reports in the Mexican press stated that that the meeting also focused on immigration reform and security.

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OCTOBER 2012 ZAPATISTA NEWS SUMMARY

In Chiapas

1. Las Abejas (the Bees) Denounce the Reactivation of Paramilitary Groups Las Abejas of Acteal, a civil society organization, denounced the reactivation of the paramilitary group, Mascara Roja, in Chenalhó Municipality. They attribute this to the large number of paramilitaries imprisoned for participating in the Acteal Massacre who have been released over the last several years. Las Abejas states that those released have re-grouped with those who never were brought to justice, and that they are now carrying firearms on the highways, in the mountains and on the paths to corn and coffee fields. Las Abejas also state that a PRI member shot a Zapatista in the back about a month ago. Furthermore, they denounced the resurgence of Paz y Justicia, the paramilitary group that is attacking 2 Zapatista communities in the region of the Roberto Barrios Caracol, near Palenque.

2. Alberto Patishtan Recovering from Neurosurgery – On October 3, Alberto Patishtan was transferred to the Manuel Velasco Suarez National Institute of Neurology and Neurosurgery in Mexico City, and operated on October 8 to remove a brain tumour. The surgery was reportedly successful and he is recuperating now in the Vida Mejor Hospital in Tuxtla Gutierrez. His close friends report that he has recovered 70% of his eyesight! Meanwhile, Mexico’s Supreme Court accepted the request from Patishtan’s lawyer to consider whether the Court has the jurisdiction to hold a hearing and issue a ruling on Patishtan’s innocence. Amnesty International sent a letter to the Court in favour of Patishtan.

3. The Siege Against Comandante Abel and Union Hidalgo Communities – The Good Government Junta in Roberto Barrios denounced the continuing siege of the two Zapatista communities, Comandante Abel and Union Hidalgo, by paramilitaries. In a communiqué posted October 30 on Enlace Zapatista, the Junta described how paramilitaries have already redistributed the land they stole from Zapatistas on September 6. They have harvested and taken away all the corn and bean crop. They fire shots into the air in the middle of the night and the police are patrolling to protect the paramilitaries. The Junta suggests, describing certain actions, that the state police are training the paramilitary members, who engage in military-style exercises. It also alleges that police and paramilitary activities are coordinated under one command. Moreover, it appears that those who stayed behind to protect the Zapatistas’ homes and belongings remain in the communities under siege.

4. Zapatista Detained in Zinacantan in Reprisal for Delivering an Invitation – In early October, the Good Government Junta in the Caracol of Oventic denounced that authorities in Jechvo (Zinacantan) once again used violence to cut off the water supply to the Zapatistas. One of the civilian Zapatistas, Mariano Gomez Perez, asked for help from the autonomous judge and the Junta. The autonomous judge sent a letter to the PRI agent, inviting the agent to a meeting to talk about the problem. When Gomez Perez attempted to deliver the written invitation, the PRI agent detained him and took him before a community assembly, which fabricated crimes against him and sent him to a Zinacantan municipal judge. The judge told the PRI agent not to accept the invitation. This situation is a repeat of 2004, when the same authorities, then PRD members, cut off the water supply to the Zapatistas. When Zapatistas from throughout the region brought water in a show of solidarity, the PRD members opened fire on them.

5. Six Zapatistas Detained in Guadalupe Los Altos – On October 12, the Good Government Junta in La Realidad denounced that 6 Zapatista support bases from Guadalupe Los Altos community had been in jail for 12 days and that their families were being threatened with expulsion. Community authorities are part of the CIOAC Official organization and are members of the PAN and PRD political parties. It seems that there is a history of provocations over the degree of participation in community issues, specifically making financial contributions to projects such as schools and roads. The Junta maintains that the Zapatistas have their own school, but are current in their contributions for the benefit of the community, as long as they are not projects of the bad government. This is a common point of contention in divided communities with a mix of pro-government party members and Zapatistas.

In Other Parts of Mexico

1. Investigation Into Ambush of 2 CIA Agents Continues – Investigations continue into what is now being called “the attempted murder” of 2 CIA agents and a Mexican marine on August 24 near Tres Marias. A judge extended the detention without charges (sometimes referred to as house arrest) of the 12 original Federal Police agents for an additional 40 days and 2 more federal police agents were detained in connection with the case. Mexico’s attorney general, Marisela Morales, termed the incident “attempted murder” the week following the testimony of the CIA agents who termed it a “direct attack.” Morales stated that all of the police agents currently detained will be charged within the next 2 weeks.

2. Police Raid 3 Michoacan Teachers Colleges, 176 Detained – State and Federal police raided teachers colleges in Tiripetio, Cheran and Arteaga, Michoacan to break up student protests. They detained 176 students who were protesting obligatory English and computer classes. Similar protests have occurred at teachers colleges in other states as the federal government tries to severely restrict and regulate them. Teachers colleges in Mexico prepare students to teach in rural and heavily indigenous areas. Many of the students are themselves indigenous. The schools have faced reduced budgets, admissions and staffing, as higher education in Mexico focuses more and more on business interests.

3. Urapicho Organizes Community Police – Another Purépecha community, Urapicho, a neighbour of Cherán, is constructing its own security force in the absence of any police protection from the official government. Urapicho posted a video on YouTube enumerating the problems they have faced from organized crime and woodcutters. Masked members of the community appear in the video talking about those who have been disappeared. One of them wears a hat with a Che logo and a Zapatista paliacate. The government has agreed to send the community police to the state’s police academy for training and has also added police encampments to the area. For those of you who participated in the March of the Colour of the Earth in 2001, this community is in the general area of Nurio. You can watch the video (in Spanish) at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&NR=1&v=e851A-FoB_o

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SEPTEMBER 2012 ZAPATISTA NEWS SUMMARY

In Chiapas

1. Paramilitaries Cause Displacement from 2 Zapatista Communities: Comandate Abel and Union Hidalgo – On September 7, the Good Government Junta in the Caracol of Roberto Barrios denounced that paramilitaries invaded and fired upon Comandante Abel community, a newly-founded community of Zapatistas supporters who had been forced to leave San Patricio community because of paramilitary attacks by members of Paz y Justicia. 73 people fled from Comandante Abel into the woods on September 7, when the shooting that started on September 6 continued. They reached San Marcos, a Zapatista community, on September 9, where they were given shelter. Currently, there are 27 Zapatistas remaining in Comandante Abel community. They are surrounded by an armed aggressor group from Union Hidalgo and members of the State Preventive Police.On September 8, 10 Zapatistas were also displaced from Union Hidalgo due to constant harassment and death threats by members of the PRI and PVEM political parties. They are currently sheltered in Zaquitel Ojo de Agua community. The re-emergence of the paramilitaries belonging to Paz y Justicia is more than alarming! This re-emergence is partially attributed to the victory of the PRI and the PVEM political parties in the July 1 elections. The PRI won the presidency and the PVEM won the Chiapas governorship. The Junta in Roberto Barrios issued a press release on September 30, accusing the state government of supplying the paramilitaries and state police in order to maintain the siege against the Zapatistas.

2. Worldwide Echo in Support of the Zapatistas Expands and Continues – In just two months, since the election of a new president and a new governor of Chiapas, the attacks and threats against Zapatista communities have increased dramatically. The Worldwide Echo Campaign has expanded to include many of the Zapatista communities now under attack, as well as for the Zapatista political prisoner Francisco Santiz Lopez. Information about the 2nd phase of this campaign, which consists of direct action, can be found on the campaign’s website: http://sanmarcosavilesen.wordpress.com/

3. Alberto Patishtan Diagnosed With Brain Tumor While Supreme Court Postpones Decision – The effort to obtain a Supreme Court hearing wherein Alberto Patishtan Gomez (or his lawyers) can prove his innocence is underway. Patishtan’s lawyer obtained a meeting with the president of Mexico’s Supreme Court. The purpose of such a meeting was to present a request for the creation of an innovative legal mechanism to open a space in which Patishtan could prove his innocence. The Supreme Court must decide whether to open such a new space. Its decision has been postponed. Meanwhile, Patishtan was placed in a government hospital in the state capital and has been diagnosed with a brain tumor requiring surgery.

4. Another Man Involved in the Acteal Massacre Released from Prison – On September 26, Mexico’s Supreme Court ordered the release from prison of Manuel Santiz Perez, convicted of participating in the Acteal Massacre of 45 women, children and men on December 22, 1997. The Court used the same rationale for this case as it did in the previous cases: the photographic album shown to survivors and witnesses was prejudicial and violated legal rights and criminal procedure. According to the report in La Jornada, this is the last of the cases appealed on behalf of those who participated in the Acteal Massacre. It is worth noting that the Court found the time to free a confessed killer, but not the time to decide whether it will hear Alberto Patishtan’s case or the case of the Other Campaign folks from Tila.

On the Chiapas Border

1. New Military Bases in Guatemala and 200 US Marines – The president of Guatemala, Otto Perez Molina, announced that Guatemala will build 3 new military bases to reinforce the fight against organized crime (the trafficking of drugs, arms, and humans). Two of these bases will be close to the Chiapas border; one in the Department of Peten (on the other side of the Usumacinta River from Chiapas) and one in the Department of San Marcos. San Marcos borders the southwestern part of Chiapas. A third base will be located near Puerto Barrios (close to Honduras). It has also been widely reported that 200 US Marines are now patrolling Guatemala’s Pacific Coast to intercept drug trafficking by sea. Guatemalans report that the country is being militarized with the rationale of fighting the drug war, but the militarization is also being used against social movements.

In Other Parts of Mexico

1. Investigation Into Ambush of 2 CIA Agents Suggests Connection to the Beltran Leyva Cartel – During September, investigations continued into the Tres Marias Case, as the attack on an armor-plated vehicle belonging to the US Embassy in Mexico is known. Mexico’s attorney general has requested that the detention without charges of 12 Federal Police agents be continued for another 40 days. Meanwhile, La Jornada reported that the FBI is carrying on a parallel investigation and offered the 12 police agents the “opportunity” to be converted from collaborators in the attack into the US government’s protected witnesses. Their lawyers say they declined the “offer.” Although no definitive final reports have yet been issued, it now appears that the US officials in charge believe the attack may have been perpetrated by members of the Beltran Leyva Cartel as “payback” for the murder of Arturo Beltran Leyva in December 2009.

2. US State Department Grants Immunity from Prosecution to Zedillo – On September 7, the US State Department announced that it would recommend immunity for former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo to the Connecticut Court in which he was sued for damages in the murder of 45 women, men and children on December 22, 1997 in Acteal, Chiapas. The State Department said the decision was made in order to keep good relations with Mexico.

3. 25, 000 – 30,000 Displaced by Narco-Violence in Sinaloa – The state of Sinaloa’s Commission for Defense of Human Rights reports that between 25 – 30 thousand people have had to flee their communities because of criminal acts related to drug trafficking within the last 9 months! The state estimates that twelve of the state’s 18 municipalities are most affected by this violence, averaging approximately 2, 000 displaced from each municipality.

In the United States

1. Caravan for Peace Ends – The Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity (MPJD), headed by Mexican poet and journalist Javier Sicilia, ended its US Peace Caravan in Washington, DC on September 12. The month-long Caravan toured 27 US cities and traveled a total of 6,210 miles, addressing 5 US policy issues along its route to Washington DC: 1) US funding of a Drug War in Mexico through the Merida Initiative; 2) humane treatment of immigrants; 3) arms trafficking to Mexico; 4) laundering of drug money by US banks; and 5) the militarization of US foreign policy. At the Caravan’s conclusion, Sicilia announced that he would take 2 months off from the MPJD to grieve over the loss of his son.

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AUGUST 2012 ZAPATISTA NEWS SUMMARY
 In Chiapas
1. Collection of Signatures for Zapatistas in San Marcos Avilés and Francisco Sántiz López! Please Sign! – Threats  of violence and eviction continue against Zapatista support bases in San Marcos Avilés. They are asking for our support. The Zapatistas fear another, and possibly violent eviction. All the Zapatistas’ crops, animals and building supplies have been stolen by political party members and there is not enough food to last them until the next harvest. A global campaign is underway to collect signatures on a Declaration in Support of San Marcos Avilés and Zapatista political prisoner Franciso Sántiz López. We hope you will take a stand for human rights and freedom by sending your signature. The Declaration  can be read at http://sanmarcosavilesen.wordpress.com/worldwide-declaration/ . Signatures should be sent to laotranuevayork@yahoo.com 
2. Justice Delayed for Tila’s Ejido Members – Adherents to the EZLN’s Other Campaign traveled all the way from Tila, in the Northern Zone of Chiapas, to Mexico City to be present when Mexico’s Supreme Court issued a decision on their case concerning the 321 acres (130 hectares) of land that the Chiapas state government and municipal authorities took away from them. A decision was expected on August 2, but the Court said it had other cases to decide first and, therefore, did not rule on the case.
3. Zapatista Good Government Juntas of Morelia and La Realidad Denounce Attacks – On August 15, 2012, both Zapatista Juntas (Morelia and La Realidad) denounced attacks. The Junta in Morelia accused ORCAO members of a succession of incidents involving firearms and death threats in Moisés Gandhí community. The ORCAO (Regional Organization of Ocosingo Coffee Growers) members have also fumigated pastureland in several Zapatista communities. La Realidad denounced an attack on the Zapatista coffee warehouse near the San Carlos Ejido by members of two political parties, the PRI and the PVEM. These political party members put up a fence around the warehouse and cut off its electricity in their attempt to take the warehouse away from the Zapatistas, who store and sell their coffee products there.
4. Update on Alberto Patishtán Case – The effort to obtain freedom for Alberto Patishtán Gómez, a political prisoner and Other Campaign adherent, has entered a new phase. A lawyer specializing in human rights cases is attempting to obtain a meeting with the president of Mexico’s Supreme Court. The purpose of such a meeting is to request the creation of an innovative legal mechanism to open a space for Patishtán to prove his innocence. Patishtán’s supporters are asking for letters addressed to the Court supporting such a move. Their website provides an address and sample letter: http://albertopatishtan.blogspot.fr/2012/08/accion-carta-scjn.html
In Other Parts of Mexico
1. Two CIA Agents “Ambushed” and Injured by Mexican Federal Police – On August 24, vehicles allegedly carrying Mexican Federal Police pursued, stopped and repeatedly shot from close range at a US Embassy vehicle with diplomatic license plates. Inside the US Embassy’s SUV were 2 CIA agents and a Mexican Navy captain. The Embassy vehicle had the highest level of armored plating available and, therefore, the vehicle’s occupants were only slightly injured. The CIA agents and the Navy captain were on their way to a shooting range on a secret Navy training facility in the state of Mexico. The attack occurred in the state of Morelos, on the Mexico City-Cuernavaca Highway. One of the many suspicious facts is that the Federal Police were dressed in civilian clothing. Mexico’s Attorney General took the position that the federal police were “confused.” The US Embassy called it an “ambush.” 12 of the 18 federal police involved in the shooting are being held without charges for 40 days under the relatively new legal figure of “arraigo” until the investigation is complete. The US State Department is withholding any statement pending the completion of the investigation, in which the US and Mexican authorities are now collaborating. According to La Jornada, one  of the lines of investigation is whether or not members of organized crime were involved.
2. Election Challenges Thrown Out! – On August 30, Mexico’s Electoral Tribunal threw out all challenges to the July 1 presidential election like pieces of garbage. The decision was signed the following day. This means that Enrique Peña Nieto is officially the president-elect of Mexico and will take office on December 1 of this year. #YoSoy132 held a “Funeral for Democracy” to protest the ruling in Mexico City, as well in various states. Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) has also promised civil disobedience.
3. Murders in Mexico: 95,000 Since 2007! – This month, Mexico’s National Institute of Statistics and Geography (Inegi, its initials in Spanish) released its figures  on the number of murders in Mexico since 2007, the year when President Felipe Calderón sent the Mexican Army into the streets to perform the police function of fighting crime. Inegi also reported that 27,199 homicides were committed in Mexico in 2011. This means that 74 people died every day because of murder, three per hour or one every 20 minutes during the fifth year of this government, a portion 160 percent higher than the number of homicides perpetrated in 2006.

 

4. Mexico’s Supreme Court Issues 2 Rulings on Military Immunity – On August 21, Mexico’s Supreme Court of Justice ruled unconstitutional a section of the Military Code that permitted soldiers accused of abusing civilians to be tried in military courts. On August 30, the Supreme Court issued a second ruling that found the same section of the Military Code unconstitutional and transferred the case of a member of the military accused of child abuse to a civilian court. This is an important step for victims of human rights and other abuses by soldiers and a step long-sought by human rights advocates. There are several more cases involving this issue pending before the Supreme Court. Once all are resolved, the limits of military immunity will be more clearly defined.
In the United States
1. Sicilia’s US Campaign Travels Through the United Stateas – The Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity (MPJD), headed by Mexican poet and journalist Javier Sicilia, started a US Peace Caravan in San Diego, California, on August 12. So far, the Caravan has traveled through California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas , Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia addressing 5 US policy issues along its route to Washington DC: 1) US funding of a Drug War in Mexico through the Merida Initiative; 2) humane treatment of immigrants; 3) arms trafficking to Mexico; 4) laundering of drug money by US banks; and 5) the militarization of US foreign policy. Following the Caravan’s visit to El Paso, Texas, the City Council passed a resolution asking the US federal government for solidarity with the victims of violence in Mexico, a discussion of US drug policy and a code of conduct for arms sales. In Phoenix, Sicilia met with Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Sicilia stated in an interview afterwards that he believed the sheriff was “addicted to racism.” Hurricane Isaac prevented the Caravan from stopping in New Orleans.
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JULY 2012 ZAPATISTA NEWS SUMMARY

In Chiapas

1. Alberto Patishtan Returns to San Cristóbal Prison – A federal appeals court upheld the decision of a federal judge in Chiapas ordering that Alberto Patishtan be returned to the state prison in San Cristobal. After considerable delay, the government finally complied with the court order and removed Patishtan from the federal maximum-security prison in Sinaloa and returned him to the Chiapas prison on July 26. This is one small victory on the road to winning his freedom. Obtaining necessary medical treatment is another challenge he faces.

2. Campaign to Free Alberto Patishtan and Francisco Santiz Lopez – The 3rd week of struggle, called “Bringing Down the Walls of the Jails,” to win freedom for Alberto Patishtan and Francisco Santiz Lopez, also took place during July. Patishtan is a member of the Zapatistas’ Other Campaign and Santiz is a Zapatista support base. The national and international protest, supported by the Zapatistas and the family and friends of Alberto Patishtán, again gained support from around the world. The Chiapas Support Committee circulated the letter demanding Patishtán and Sántiz’ freedom at our Community Forum on Mexico. The Forum was well-attended, so we obtained a lot of signatures. We thank all those who signed the letter. It was mailed to Mexico’s current president, Felipe Calderón.

3. Attempts to Evict Zapatistas from San Marcos Avilés Continue – On July 25, La Jornada published an article summarizing the request from Zapatista support bases in San Marcos Avilés directed to national and international civil society, asking for support. The community fears another eviction. The first eviction occurred in 2010 after the Zapatistas built a primary school as part of their construction of autonomy. The divided community is officially governed by members of the 3 political parties who do not want Zapatistas or autonomous schools threatening their political power and control. That first eviction drove the Zapatistas into the wooded mountains where they had to survive outdoors for 33 days. The same acts that occurred before are taking place once again. All the Zapatistas’ crops, animals and building supplies have been stolen by political party members, along with threats of eviction. A global campaign is underway to provide solidarity to San Marcos Avilés, in Chilón municipality. The first phase of the campaign is publishing information about what is taking place in that location. A videotaped bilingual testimony by Zapatista residents of San Marcos Aviles can be viewed at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rY-8CBt3Vkg

4. Caravan for Land and Territory Travels to Mexico City – Adherents to the EZLN’s Other Campaign announced details of a march and caravan from Tila, in the Northern Zone of Chiapas, to Mexico City. The Chiapas state government and the municipal authorities took approximately 21 acres (130 hectares) of land away from Tila’s Chol ejido owners. The state refused to comply with a court order and the appeal has reached Mexico’s Supreme Court. A decision is expected on August 2. The caravan left Tila on Monday, July 30 and arrived in San Cristobal the same day for a lively press conference, which included the compañeros from the FPDT (Atenco), before heading for Mexico City.

In Other Parts of Mexico

1. Mexican Elections – On July 1, Mexicans voted in elections for national offices and some state and local offices, including the election of a new president. Mexico’s Federal Electoral Tribunal certified the PRI candidate, Enrique Peña Nieto, as winner of the presidential contest. PRD candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who lost by 3 million votes, has challenged the election. The basis of his challenge is that the PRI exceeded spending limits in several ways:, including buying votes with pre-paid gift cards. There is also an allegation that the free advertising given by the pro-PRI television networks should be counted as a campaign expenditure and that the polling was rigged to give false impressions.

2. Election Protests – Besides the formal legal challenge to the election, which most give little chance of succeeding, Mexico’s civil society is organizing against what is referred to as the “imposition” of Peña Nieto. On July 14 and 15, representatives from some 300 social organizations met in San Salvador Atenco for the 1st National Convention Against the Imposition. In addition to Atenco’s home-grown host organization, the Peoples Front in Defence of Land (FPDT, its initials in Spanish), #YoSoy 132 (student movement), the SME (electricians union), the CNTE (teachers union) and from communities, including representatives from Cherán. Representatives agreed upon an agenda of protest actions (already underway) all the way up to the date Peña Nieto is scheduled to take office: December 1, 2012. Representatives went back to their organizations for approval of each action. Meanwhile, Mexicans have been demonstrating in Mexico and all over the world (including San Francisco) against the return of the PRI. Large demonstrations have been held in Mexico City. On July 27, #YoSoy132 peacefully “took” (surrounded) Televisa offices in Chapultepec and issued a 6-point program for change. Televisa is half of Mexico’s media duopoly that is accused of publishing biased information in favor of Peña Nieto during the election.

3. Two Killed in Cherán – On July 9, the Council in Cherán, Michoacan, reported 2 campesinos had disappeared. They were found murdered several days later. Cherán is an autonomous community in the Purépecha Meseta that is part of the Zapatistas’ Other Campaign and participates in various social movements. The community is surrounded by woodcutters who are destroying the forests. Some of them may have ties to organized crime. However, some of the woodcutters are now protesting because they maintain that their only source of income is from making furniture and artesanía out of wood from the forest. The army has placed 3 mixed operations bases in the region, known as the Purépecha Meseta.

In the United States

1. Sicilia’s US Campaign Begins in San Diego on August 12 – The Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity (MPJD), headed by Mexican poet and journalist Javier Sicilia, begins a US Peace Caravan in San Diego, California. on August 12. The Caravan plans to address 5 issues along its route to Washington DC: 1) US funding of a Drug War in Mexico through the Merida Initiative; humane treatment of immigrants; arms trafficking to Mexico; laundering of drug money by US banks; and the militarization of US foreign policy.

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JUNE 2012 ZAPATISTA NEWS SUMMARY

In Chiapas

1. Campaign To Free Alberto Patishtan and Francisco Santiz Lopez – The 2nd week of struggle, called “Bringing Down the Prison Walls”, to win freedom for Alberto Patishtan and Francisco Santiz Lopez, took place during the week of June 8-15. Patishtan is a member of the Zapatistas’ Other Campaign and Santiz is a Zapatista support base. The national and international week of protest, supported by the Zapatistas and the family and friends of Alberto Patishtán, again gained support from around the world. The Bishop of Saltillo, Raul Vera, is president of the Board of Directors of the Fray Bartolome de las Casas Human Rights Center in Chiapas and is informed about both cases. He stated very recently that there may be a space opening for discussion with the government about Patishtan’s case. And he indicated that the national and international support is a factor in opening that space. The Chiapas Support Committee thanks everyone who signed on to the letter we sent to President Calderon during the 2nd week of protest.

2. San Sebastian Bachajon Takes Over the Ticket Booth – On June 21 at 7 am, Other Campaign members from San Sebastian Bachajon once again took control of the ticket booth as a protest action in support of Alberto Patishtan and Francisco Santiz and 3 men from their ejido who are in Chiapas prisons. Police arrived around 9 pm to force them from the building. Several people were slightly injured, but there are no reports of anyone being arrested or seriously injured.

3. Frayba Releases Report on Torture in Chiapas – On June 26, the Fray Bartolome de las Casas Human Rights Center (Frayba) issued its report on torture in Chiapas. The report concludes that torture is routinely used to gain information and extract confessions. The report can be read in Spanish at: http://www.frayba.org.mx/archivo/boletines/120626_boletin_09_tortura.pdf

In Other Parts of Mexico

1. Mexican Elections – On July 1, Mexicans voted in elections for national offices and some state and local offices, including the election of a new president. With more than 90 percent of the vote counted, PRI candidate Enrique Peña Nieto leads the other candidates with 37.89 percent of the vote and appears to be Mexico’s next president. PRD candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is in second place with 31.85 percent. The PRI also won the governorship in Chiapas, while the PRD won the election for mayor of the Federal District (Mexico City).

2. Sicilia Peace Caravan Coming to US – On Monday, June 18, Javier Sicilia and other members of the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity (MPJD) held a press conference to announce a month-long Caravan for Peace across the United States. In its invitation to the press conference, the MPJD referred to 71,000 innocent deaths due to the drug war! With Sicilia at the press conference were representatives from both US and Mexican NGOs working with Sicilia on the Caravan. The Caravan hopes to build support for changing drug policy in the US in order to reduce the profits of the criminal organizations that have evolved in Mexico from drug trafficking. It also hopes to reduce the number of guns crossing the US Border into Mexico and will advocate for better treatment for immigrants.

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MAY 2012 ZAPATISTA NEWS SUMMARY

 In Chiapas

1. Campaign To Free Alberto Patishtan and Francisco Santiz Lopez – The Fray Bartolome de las Casas Human Rights Center (Frayba) in Chiapas called for an intense national and international campaign to win freedom for Alberto Patishtan and Francisco Santiz Lopez, both of whom are “political prisoners.” Patishtan is a member of the Zapatistas’ Other Campaign and Santiz is a Zapatista support base.  The international week of protest took place between May 15 to 22 and may be extended for another week. A very large protest took place in El Bosque Municipality, where Patishtan is from, and the Oventik Junta demanded the freedom of Santiz Lopez, who they referred to as a “political hostage.”

2. Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Grants Protection to Patishtan – While solidarity organizations and collectives around the world took actions to demand Alberto Patishtan’s freedom, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) announced that it granted urgent precautionary measures in favour of prisoner of conscience Alberto Patishtán Gómez, faced with the grave danger to his life and health due to the worsening of untreated glaucoma. The IACHR asked the government of Mexico to instruct the competent authorities “to carry out the medical examinations that permit evaluating the beneficiary’s health and to offer him adequate treatment.” Patishtan has started to denounce de-humanizing conditions in the federal prison located in Sinaloa.

3. Morelia Junta Denounces Land Grabbing by ORCAO Members – The Good Government Junta in Morelia denounced a land grab by members of ORCAO in Patria Nueva community (Lucio Cabañas autonomous municipality) on the outskirts of Ocosingo. It also denounced attacks and harassment by ORCAO members on the El Nantze Ranchería, in the community of 21 de Abril (17 de Noviembre autonomous municipality), near Altamirano. The Junta alleges that the attacks are being orchestrated with support from all 3 levels of government. This is the same organization that the Zapatista Junta in La Garrucha denounced last month for attacking land in Pancho Villa autonomous municipality.

4. Campesinos Reject An Adventure Tourism Hotel on Lake Miramar – A series of articles in La Jornada this month reported that the majority of Emiliano Zapata ejido owners, whose lands are adjacent to Lake Miramar, rejected a government plan for a hotel on the shores of the virgin lake. The plan included 11 double rooms, 4 suites, a restaurant and bar, laundry and an “employee area.” Lake Miramar is located on the edge of the Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve in the Lacandon Jungle.

5. Paramilitary Members of Opddic Threaten Cintalapa Women With Death – Paramilitary members of the Organization for Indigenous and Campesino Rights (Opddic, its initials in Spanish) have threatened to kill the women who remain in their homes in the Cintalapa ejido, according to a denunciation by a representative of a group of families displaced from that ejido since 2007. The denunciation alleges that on May 16 two PRI members who are also members of Opddic threatened that if the women did not abandon their homes they would be killed. This is the same group of displaced people that reported the 2011 kidnapping of a little girl in Busiljá. The representative also demanded freedom for 2 prisoners from their group and reported that paramilitaries intimidated those in Busiljá by throwing stones on the roofs and wearing uniforms and bullet-proof vests and being heavily armed.

6. San Sebastian Bachajon Denounces Armed Attack by UCIAF – On Sunday, May 6, members of the Indigenous and Forest Campesino Union (UCIAF, its initials in Spanish) attacked 2 residents of San Sebastian Bachajon (SSB) with guns. A 17-year old youth was severely injured and was taken to a hospital in San Cristobal. His brother was not injured. A week before, another attack by the same person from the same group attacked a man from SSB with a steel object, seriously injuring him. When they went to demand that the authorities execute an arrest warrant against the assailant, they were told that they would have to pay 6, 000 pesos for that and that “justice costs money.” The UCIAF used to be the paramilitary group known as Paz Y Justicia (Peace and Justice). Its members are also affiliated with the Green Ecologist and Institutional Revolutionary Parties. Moreover, SSB reports constant harassment and the detention of another ejido member.

In Other Parts of Mexico

1. Mexican Spring: #YoSoy132 Student Movement Forms Around Elections – Mexico will hold elections for national office on July 1st of this year, including the election of a new president. The electoral scene has become more interesting with the appearance of the student movement #YoSoy132, which is in touch with the #Occupy movement in the US. According to an account in La Jornada, the university students met several days ago at UNAM and demanded: political trial against President Felipe Calderón, for the more than 65,000 deaths that his struggle against drug trafficking has left; against the PRI candidate, for the repression in San Salvador Atenco in May 2006, and against president-for-life of the National Education Workers Union, Elba Esther Gordillo Morales, for corruption and for harming education. They demanded her immediate exit from that union and the investigation of her relatives, name lenders and wealth. Moreover, the student movement opposes the return of the PRI to State power, “whose current face is Peña Nieto,” the PRI presidential candidate.

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APRIL 2012 ZAPATISTA NEWS SUMMARY

In Chiapas

1. Campaign To Free Alberto Patishtan and Francisco Santiz Lopez – The Fray Bartolome de las Casas Human Rights Centre (Frayba) in Chiapas launched an intense national and international campaign to win freedom for Alberto Patishtan and Francisco Santiz Lopez, both of whom are “political prisoners.” Patishtan is a member of the Zapatistas’ Other Campaign and Santiz is a Zapatista support base. The campaign also demands the presentation of Alonso López Luna, disappeared and presumed dead in the Banavil conflict of December 4. The Movement for Justice in the Barrio is collaborating with Frayba to coordinate an International  week of action and protest May 15 to 22.

2. Two More Other Campaign Members Tortured and Imprisoned – During the last week in April, La Jornada reported on the torture and unjust imprisonment of 2 more men from San Sebastian Bachajon (SSB) Antonio Estrada Estrada and Miguel Vázquez Deara. Both men sent their accounts of detention, torture and incarceration to La Jornada via family members. Both men are accused of auto theft on the Ocosingo-Palenque Highway. Both were tortured in order to obtain confessions.Vazquez Deara has been in the Ocosingo Prison since September 2011. Antonio Estrada has been in the Playas de Catazaja Prison since August 2011. These are two more incidents that demonstrate the government’s efforts to “break” the resistance of SSB to tourism development.

3. La Garrucha Denounces Land Grabbing in Francisco Villa – On April 24, the Good Government Junta in La Garrucha denounced a wave of land invasions and attacks against the community of Nuevo Paraiso in Francisco “Pancho” Villa autonomous municipality, a little to the east of the city of Ocosingo. The lands in question are lands recuperated by the EZLN after its 1994 Uprising. The Junta states that the invaders are from the communities of Pojkol, Guadalupe Victoria and Las Conchitas. They are armed and have invaded corn and coffee fields to steal the crops and sell them. The Junta also says that the invaders cut the wire fencing that encloses pastureland for cattle and let out all the animals, then burned the fence posts. Another destructive tactic being used by the invaders is to pollute the water supply with dead animals and women’s underwear. According to the Junta, the invaders from Las Conchitas belong to ARIC Historic, a pro-government faction of the old ARIC, and the invaders from Guadalupe Victoria belong to the ORCAO. The purpose of these actions is to obtain legal title to the land from the government and drive away the Zapatistas. The government cooperates with the invaders as part of its “soft” counterinsurgency war against the Zapatistas.

In Other Parts of Mexico

1. Ambush in Cheran, 2 Dead and 2 Injured – On April 18, paramilitary groups associated with organized crime and the woodcutters that operate in the region ambushed Cheran residents while they were re-foresting land. Two Cheran residents were murdered and two others injured. According to the Michoacan state attorney general’s office, 6 of the attackers were also killed, but Cheran authorities say they did not kill them and know nothing about how the 6 died. The attorney general’s office is using the old “inter-community conflict,” just like the government did in Acteal. In other words, they blame the victim for the crime. Cheran is an indigenous Purepecha community that declared itself autonomous last year in order to organize its own self defence against the paramilitaries and woodcutters by forming community police and electing its own authorities through traditional indigenous methods (known as uses and customs). Cheran is an adherent of the EZLN’s Other Campaign.

2. General Law for Victims Approved by Deputies – On April 30, Mexico’s Chamber of Deputies unanimously approved the General Law for Victims. The law establishes a system of attention to victims that includes the right to truth, justice and reparations for damages. It also institutes guarantees of no repetition. It also creates a National Registry for Victims. The Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity (MPJD) and non-governmental organizations.

3. Javier Sicilia Tours US – Javier Sicilia is making appearances in the United States to promote his caravan to Washington, DC in August. Sicilia and the MPJD plan to lead a caravan from San Diego to Washington, DC to demand alternatives to the drug war in Mexico from the US government. Such alternatives could be decriminalization of drugs that are currently illegal, stricter arms control and an end to funding the drug war in Mexico.

In the United States

1. Wal-Mart de Mexico, International Scandal – On April 21, the New York Times published the results of a long and extensive investigation into the business practices of Wal-Mart de Mexico, a wholly owned subsidiary of Wal-Mart in the United States. The results of the investigation showed that Wal-Mart de Mexico executives bribed Mexican government officials in order to obtain building permits for their enormous expansion throughout Mexico. The investigation also showed that Wal-Mart executives in the US knew about the bribes and covered it up for approximately the past 5 years or more. Bribe money was used to unclog bureaucratic delay, environmental concerns and community objections. The startling numbers show that Wal-Mart de Mexico now has 2, 087 different kinds of stores with different names throughout the country and that it has driven a lot of smaller Mexican businesses into bankruptcy. Its practices appear to violate both US and Mexican laws. The US Justice Department is investigating potential violations of the federal Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The entire shocking article can be read in English at:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/22/business/at-wal-mart-in-mexico-a-bribe-inquiry-silenced.html?pagewanted=all

2. Summit of the Americas – The Sixth Summit of the Americas was held in Cartagena, Colombia on April 14 and 15. While the US corporate media reports that a big sex scandal occurred among Secret Service agents and Colombian prostitutes, issues of substance also occurred. The US was taken to task for the embargo of Cuba and the attending countries vowed that there would not be another Summit without Cuba. The issue of legalizing/decriminalizing drugs was also discussed and, while no decisions were made, the fact that it is being discussed among the member countries as an alternative to the bloody drug wars favoured by the United States, it is significant that it was discussed at all. The US lobbied hard to keep legalization as an alternative to a drug war from being considered. Another issue dividing the US and Canada from other countries is Argentina’s position on the Falkland Islands (las Malvinas). The countries were unable to agree on a consensus document summarizing the Summit.

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MARCH 2012 ZAPATISTA NEWS SUMMARY

In Chiapas

1. New Charge Against Zapatista Prisoner Halts Release – On March 28, the Good Government Junta in Oventik denounced the new federal charge against Francisco Santiz: “Carrying firearms for the exclusive use of the Army.” Francisco Santiz Lopez is a civilian Zapatista support base who was arrested and unjustly charged with killing a PRI member in Banavil community during a violent conflict there on December 4, 2011. Santiz Lopez received notice on March 22 that he had been cleared of the murder charges and would be released from prison. A “few metres” away from leaving prison, he was informed of the new charge and was not released. The non-Zapatista detained along with Santiz Lopez has been released with two bullets still in his body. His is one more example of the lack of necessary medical attention which Other Campaign prisoners have been complaining about recently.

2. Three (3) Jungle Communities Threatened With Eviction – San Gregorio, Rancheria Corozal and Nuevo Salvador Allende communities received a threat of eviction from the federal government, unless they agree to a “relocation.” The campesino organization to which the communities belong, ARIC-I, said they would not agree to leave. The 3 communities are within the Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve. To the best of our knowledge, these communities have no political relationship with the EZLN or the Other Campaign. What we think is of interest here is that the government allegedly told them is that: “only tourism, research and the controlled use of natural resources is permitted in the Montes Azules.”

3. The Struggle Continues to Support Alberto Patishtán – On March 17, more than 1, 000 friends, relatives, and neighbours of Alberto Patishtán Gómez, a prisoner since June 19 2000, gathered together in the community of El Bosque to demand Patishtán’s return to Chiapas (from a federal prison in Sinaloa) and his unconditional release. All believe him to be innocent and a political prisoner. The Fray Bartolome de las Casas Human Rights Centre (Frayba) had earlier reported that Patishtan’s lawyers won a protective order (like an injunction) from a judge to return him to Chiapas. The government was delaying any implementation of the order. It was discovered among the paperwork and evidence in Patishtan’s file that the government of Chiapas had requested his transfer to Sinaloa.

4. Campesinos Denounce Ultimatum to Accept Digital Meters or Cut Off Electricity – On March 8, Peoples United for the Defence of Electric Energy (PUDEE, its initials in Spanish) denounced that the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE, its initials in Spanish) threatened to cut off their electricity supply if they do not accept the new digital meters. PUDEE organizes communities in resistance to paying high energy rates in the Northern Zone of Chiapas and is an adherent to the Other Campaign. PUDEE further denounces that the CFE is working hand-in-hand with the Green Party of Mexico (PVEM, its initials in Spanish) to intimidate people and, in several communities, even threatened to install the dreaded meters by force. PUDEE also alleges that government authorities are requiring proof of payment of electric bills in order to participate in a welfare programme known as “Opportunities.” Finally, it reminds folks that the PVEM is linked to the Paz y Justicia paramilitary group in the Northern Zone of Chiapas.

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FEBRUARY 2012 ZAPATISTA NEWS SUMMARY

In Chiapas

1. Seven More Released in Acteal Case – On February 1, 7 of the men convicted of murder and other crimes in the Acteal Massacre case were released from prison after serving 14 years of a 35-year sentence. Lawyers for those released also obtained a finding of innocence by the court. Their were released and found innocent based on the fact that the evidence used against them by the Attorney General was tainted. The same lawyers said they are also suing the PGR for damages caused by the “false” imprisonment. Bishop Arizmendi, who many in the diocese of San Cristóbal consider conservative, spoke out against the release, questioning whether anyone would end up being punished for this crime against humanity? The 7 released will be relocated in Villaflores Municipality, in the center of Chiapas state, where the 45 previously released have also been relocated. 28 more men who were convicted and sentenced for the massacre remain in prison and await decisions in their appeals.

2. Update On Chiapas Prisoners – The General Labor Confederation of Spain, adherent to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle and participant in the EZLN’s International Campaign, visited Chiapas political prisoners during February. Their report indicates that all Other Campaign and Zapatista support base prisoners, including those from Banavil, are in good spirits, although there are still complaints about the lack of medical care. That lack was confirmed in a denunciation from Alberto Patishtan from the federal prison in Guasave, Sinaloa. Patishtan reported that he is still being denied treatment for glaucoma. The Fray Bartolome de las Casas Human Rights Center (Frayba) is asking the court for an order returning him to the prison in San Cristobal de las Casas Municipality, Chiapas.

3. Other Campaign Communities Deprived of Electricity by CFE Workers – The Digna Ochoa Human Rights Center in Tonala, Chiapas, denounced that the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE, its initials in Spanish) dismantled a transformer in La Central, a community in resistance to high electricity rates, belonging to the Regional Autonomous Council of the Coastal Zone of Chiapas. The residents of La Central (municipality of Pijijiapan) have been without electricity since January 3. The Regional Autonomous Council of the Coastal Zone of Chiapas is an adherent to the EZLN’s Other Campaign. Its members refuse to pay their electricity bills, which they believe are outrageously high. (See item #1 in Other Parts of Mexico below.)

In Other Parts of Mexico

1. Francisco Hernandez Detained and Imprisoned for Refusing to Pay Electricity Bills – Federal agents detained Francisco Hernández and placed him in a Chihuahua state prison, accusing him of robbery because of his participation in the payment strike against the CFE due to its high rates. The MARC is an organization that has struggled for more than 10 years against the high charges for electric energy service. Its members maintain a payment strike and reconnect service to users whose service has been suspended, while the cases and complaints are reviewed and the charge for the real consumption that the family has is adjusted, principally in precarious settlements in the state capital. Francisco Hernández, an electrician, is one of its principal leaders. The MARC is an adherent to the EZLN’s Other Campaign and a member of the National Network in Resistance to High Electricity Rates.

2. Mexico’s President Puts Up A Billboard on the US / Mexico Border – On Thursday, February 16, Mexican President Felipe Calderón made a speech at the Ciudad Juárez-El Paso Border. The backdrop for his speech was a three-ton billboard built with crushed weapons illegally exported from the US and confiscated by various authorities. Calderon said: “One of the main factors that allows criminals to strengthen themselves is the unlimited access to high-powered weapons, which are sold freely, and also indiscriminately, in the United States of America.”  The billboard, posted on the border at Ciudad Juárez, read in English “NO MORE WEAPONS.” (What politicians won’t do during an election year!)

In the United States

1. US Officials in Mexico – From February 18-20, US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton was in Los Cabos (Baja California Sur) for a G-20 preparatory meeting of foreign ministers. While in Mexico, Clinton signed an agreement with her Mexican counterpart for joint oil exploration in cross-border underwater oil fields. On February 27, Janet Napolitano, US Secretary of Homeland Security also signed a joint agreement with Mexico for increased Customs Security at the border. She continued on to visit Guatemala, Costa Rica, El Salvador, and Panama. Her visits were scheduled to conclude on February 29. At the beginning of February, Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman delivered 17 million dollars worth of equipment for computerizing clinic records of individuals receiving treatment for drug addiction in Mexico’s 332 drug treatment centers. The technology enables the centers to share clinical records and is part of the Merida Initiative.

2. US Vice President Joe Biden to Visit Mexico – The White House announced that Vice President Joe Biden would visit Mexico on March 4, where he will meet with President Felipe Calderón to discuss a broad range of issues to forge cooperation ahead of April’s Summit of the Americas. Vice President Biden will continue on to Honduras for a visit with its president, Porfirio Lobo, and will attend, at Lobo’s invitation, a meeting of Central American Integration System (SICA, its initials in Spanish). SICA is Central America’s regional security organization to which the United States, the Inter-American Development Bank and some European countries are giving funding to fight a “war on drugs.”

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JANUARY 2012 ZAPATISTA NEWS SUMMARY


In Chiapas


1. Seminar on Anti-Systemic Movements
– From Dec 30 to Jan 2, Cideci-Unitierra, located on the outskirts of San Cristóbal de las Casas, hosted an international seminar of reflection and analysis entitled Planet Earth: Anti-Systemic Movements. The seminar celebrated the 18th anniversary of the Zapatista Uprising on January 1, 1994 and recognized that the Zapatistas provided the inspiration for rebellions in many countries against capitalism and undemocratic governments.


2. Displaced Families Occupy SCLC Plaza
– In December, 7 families from Busilja ejido and 18 people from Cintalapa ejido set up camp and occupied the Peace Plaza in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas. They were protesting against rape, kidnapping, and theft of their lands, homes and personal property by armed members of the Organization for the Defence of Indigenous and Campesino Rights (Opddic), who they characterize as being PRI members and paramilitaries. They further alleged collaboration by the police in both rape and arbitrary detention, and the collaboration of state government officials by refusing to punish Opddic and PRI members. They demanded: the return of an 8-year old girl who they say was kidnapped; the return of their lands, homes and other property; and the release of 2 men from prison. Frayba Human Rights Centre issued a bulletin denouncing the human rights violations involved in the detention of the 2 men and the disappearance, rape, kidnapping, land grabbing and internal displacement that occurred in the 2 ejidos. Those displaced from the 2 communities formed an organization and are adherents to the EZLN’s Other Campaign.They ended the occupation after 30 days and a complete lack of response from the state government to their demands. They remain displaced. A possible motive for their displacement is ecotourism development. Busilja and Cintalapa are near the Ojo de Agua area in the Lacandon Jungle. The Viejo Velasco Massacre also took place in this area of the Jungle and some of the same PRI members were allegedly involved in that as yet unsolved crime.


3. Other Campaign Communities in Chiapas Take Local Action
– A series of articles by La Jornada‘s envoy in Chiapas, Hermann Bellinghausen, described the struggle of Other Campaign adherents in the Sierras of Western Chiapas against mining, crime and what they perceive as government efforts to displace them from the lands to which they have legal title. They got so fed up with their elected officials ignoring crime and the needs of the region’s people that they formed an Other Campaign organization named Luz y Fuerza del Pueblo-Sierra Región (Peoples’ Light & Power-Sierra Region), which now has members in 38 municipalities (counties). Recently, Peoples’ Light & Power members closed off access to Siltepec Municipality to beer companies and distributors of drugs and alcohol, as well as to Canadian mining companies and logging companies. They also closed bars and houses of prostitution and basically took over many local government functions because elected officials did nothing to solve their problems. Residents of this region believe that government negligence is designed to drive them off their land and into a nearby “rural city,” which is under construction.


4. Civilian Zapatista Member Unjustly Detained by Police
– On January 19, the Fray Bartolome de Las Casas Human Rights Centre (Frayba) issued an Urgent Action in which it reports that Franciso Santiz Lopez, a Zapatista civilian supporter, was detained by police and placed in state prison Number 5, allegedly for the acts of violence that occurred on December 4 in the Banavil ejido, in the municipality of Tenejapa. The events of December 4 included an attack by 50 armed PRI members on 4 families sympathetic to the Zapatistas. The results of the armed attack are:  the death on 1 PRI member;  one man, Alonso Lopez, disappeared (and presumed dead); Alonso’s son, Lorenzo Lopez, shot twice, gravely injured in the hospital and somehow accused of causing bodily injury; and the arbitrary detention of Francisco Santiz Lopez, a civilian Zapatista support base, who was not even at the scene of the crime when it occurred.


In Other Parts of Mexico


1. Researchers Question Official Numbers on Drug War Deaths
– A New York Times article reports that researchers question the official numbers from the Calderon government in Mexico with respect to how many have died in the war against drugs. Apparently, Mexico has not been forthcoming with information in response to a freedom of information request by the Times and a different government agency reports possibly 20,000 more deaths than the official report. The numbers released by President Calderon’s government only reflected statistics up to September 2011. Whatever the real numbers are, ordinary Mexicans are living a nightmare in many once peaceful cities. See: www.nytimes.com/2012/01/12/world/americas/mexico-updates-drug-war-death-toll-but-critics-dispute-data.html?scp=1&sq=number%20of%20dead%20in%20Mexico%20drug%20war&st=cse


2. Zedillo’s Lawyers Respond to Acteal Massacre Case
– Attorneys for former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo responded to the complaint filed by anonymous victims of the 1997 Acteal Massacre in Chiapas, Mexico. The lawyers filed Zedillo’s answer on January 6 of this year, asserting the defence of immunity from prosecution because of his former government duties. Lawyers also asserted that the allegations were false, cast doubt upon the anonymous nature of the plaintiffs and asked the federal court in Connecticut to fast track the case. The Mexican government asked the US government to issue a statement supporting the immunity defence, meaning that the PAN administration of Felipe Calderon is supporting Zedillo.


3. Two and A Half Million Mexicans Face Starvation
– Severe drought and freezing temperatures killed crops and animals in the Tarahumara region of Chihuahua in northern Mexico, causing hunger in the indigenous Raramuri population, most of whom are subsistence farmers. In order to draw attention to the situation, an activist circulated a report on social networks that 50 Raramuris committed suicide because they could not feed their children. That resulted in food aid from the government, civil society and churches that provided temporary relief. While the drought destroyed this year’s crop, freezing temperatures destroyed roots, which means that next years crop could not be planted. The crisis is not only in the Tarahumara region; that merely drew attention to the fact that as many as 2 and a half million people in northern Mexico face possible starvation because of the drought.

These reports are compiled monthly by the Chiapas Support Committee.

The primary sources for our information are: La Jornada, Enlace Zapatista and the Fray Bartolome de las Casas Human Rights Center (Frayba).

Chiapas Support Committee/Comité de Apoyo a Chiapas

P.O. Box  3421, Oakland, CA  94609

Email: cezmat@igc.org

www.chiapas-support.org

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Chiapas-Support-Committee-Oakland/

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