dorset chiapas solidarity

April 17, 2015

Mexican Justice approves land grab in Chiapas

Filed under: Bachajon — Tags: — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 6:16 pm

Mexican Justice approves land grab in Chiapas



Injustice and impunity continues against the ejidatarios of San Sebastián Bachajon, adherents to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN), who have been fighting a legal battle over the last four years, after the Mexican government transferred the ownership of the ejido lands.

The Third Collegiate Tribunal in Tuxtla Gutierrez referred the case to the Supreme Court of Justice (SCJ), but the minister Beatriz Luna proposed to the court to return the case to the Tribunal. In recent days this body of justice denied the ejido’s amparo, and, although this was derived from the amparo, the Third Tribunal ordered all the government authorities of Chiapas not to continue the acts of dispossession; the decision to recuperate the land on 21st December last was due in part to the legal foundation that was given them in advance of the judgement on their rights.

Despite the strong repression and harassment, the ejidatarios maintain their position of continuing with their actions. On 9th January at least 900 members of the federal and state police evicted them from the lands which had been recovered since 21st December. On 19th March, ejidatarios adherents were victims of dispossession and the burning down of the offices where they shared information, taught workshops for the community and collected contributions from tourists entering the waterfalls of Agua Azul.

San Sebastián Bachajón is one of the largest ejidos in Mexico with 70,000 hectares, it is an area of ​​high biodiversity and natural beauty, where political interests have looked for tourism investment. This land is rich in natural resources, green forest, wildlife and water. The waterfalls of Agua Azul are among the greatest attractions of Chiapas state; in certain seasons they acquire a turquoise hue that makes them even more attractive for foreign tourists.

In 2007, the ejidatarios became part of the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle, and made the decision to exercise their right to self-determination as a people. They then erected a tollbooth on their territory, so that tourists who wanted to visit the waterfalls of Agua Azul would pay a fee. With the money collected, they decided in assembly, they would support sick ejidatarios and the most needy families, explains the journalist Gloria Muñoz in her opinion column in the newspaper La Jornada.

In March 2011, Juan Sabines Guerrero, former governor of Chiapas, put on the table the representatives of the ejido Bachajón, those from the area of ​​Agua Azul and his entire government Cabinet, and signed agreement no 274 whereby the two peoples supposedly pledged to donate the lands to the state to establish a single toll booth. This left the state as administrator of the road through the Ministry of Finance of Chiapas and the Commission of Natural Protected Areas of the federal government, when the surface area of ​​Agua Azul was not even in this category.

After more than four years of tireless struggle to defend their territory, the San Sebastián Bachajon ejidatarios have resisted even though two of their main leaders were assassinated, many of its inhabitants have been imprisoned and tortured; and six of them are still deprived of their freedom.





The Despised lost their best Narrator

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 5:03 pm



By: Raúl Zibechi

Those who listen to the beat from below harbor their sorrows and share their laughs and weeping. Those who make an effort to understand them without interpreting them, by accepting them without judging them, can win a place in the hearts of those below. Eduardo Galeano toured the most diverse Latin American geographies on trains, on the back of a mule and on foot, traveling in the same ways as those below. He wasn’t seeking to imitate, but something better: feeling in his skin the feelings of others to make them come alive in his texts, to help them leave anonymity.

Eduardo was a simple man, committed to the common people, to the nobodies, to the oppressed. His was a commitment to the people of flesh and bone, to men and women living and suffering; much deeper than the adhesion to ideologies that always can be corrupted according to the interests of the moment. The pains of those below, he taught us, cannot be negotiated or represented, not even explained by the best writer. That’s equal to stopping their hopes.

Among his many teachings, it’s necessary to rescue his punctilious attachment to the truth. But he finds those truths far from the mundane noise of the media, in the hungry eyes of the Indian child, in the cut feet of the campesinos, in the candid smile of the sellers, there where the scorned tell their truths every day, without witnesses.

He never had the slightest hesitation in pointing towards those responsible for the poverty and hunger, like these chronicles about the crisis of Uruguayan industry, when at the age of 20 he was the editorial chief of the weekly Marcha, one of the first and best exponents of the critical and committed the press. In them he denounced the powerful with first names, last names and properties, without deviations. Because, as he liked to say: “the media prostitute the words.”

But it was his reports about the struggles and resistances of those below that left an early and indelible impression. Like the one he titled: “From rebellion henceforth,” in March 1964, relating the second “cañera” march (sugar cane workers’ march). His gaze stopped on the more than 90 boys that participated, on Doña Marculina Piñeiro, so old that they had forgotten their age and for whom he seemed to feel a special admiration. “They wanted to conquer us with hunger. But because of hunger what were we going to lose? We are accustomed,” the woman told him, a mother and granddaughter of cañeros.

His pen gave form to the everyday life of the disinherited, but it wasn’t made up of portraying their pain. He toiled at painting –with live colors– the dignity of their steps, their rage capable of overcoming the repression and torture. In first place would appear, always and in each one of his notes, the people that embodied sufferings and resistances. Perhaps because he was obsessed by the indifference of others, which he considered “a lifestyle” whose protective covering we should destroy, that’s why he wrote his articles.

Among the much homage that he received in life, he had the privilege of the teacher at the Little Zapatista School, José Luis Solís López, adopting Galeano as his pseudonym. It is very probable that the teacher was not referencing the writer. Anyhow, Eduardo and Zapatismo knew and recognized each other at once. As if they had been waiting all their lives. Neither a program nor a list of demands called him, but rather the ethics of being below and to the left.

Eduardo Galeano was in La Realidad in August 1996. He participated in one of the tables at the Intercontinental Meeting for Humanity and against Neoliberalism. He talked a little, was clear and said a lot. In those days, and in many more, he planted Galeanos, he infected Galeanos; Galeanos that now walk hoisting their dignity and their Galeano rage. The forever despised carry him in their hearts.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Translation: Chiapas Support Committee

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

En español:



April 16, 2015

Euro Caravana 43

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 3:28 pm


Route of EuroCaravana43

A committee from the Ayotzinapa Rural Normal School is touring Europe between April 16 and May 19 to inform the European community about the continuation of the struggle of the fathers and mothers for the live presentation of the 43 missing students, despite the Mexican government insisting that student teachers were incinerated, without evidence to prove it, said the Tlachinollan Human Rights Center .

The brigade, consisting of a parent, a student and a human rights defender, will travel to thirteen countries in Europe for meetings with student communities, groups, social organizations and union members.

“With marches, rallies in front of Mexican Embassies and Consulates, lectures at universities and meetings with organized communities, the Ayotzinapa Brigade will share the meaning of seven months of struggle and organization against the forced disappearance of 43 students that occurred in Iguala, Guerrero, on September 26, 2014,” a statement of human rights centre announced.

“Among the objectives of the brigade to Europe is supporting the demands of parents and mothers for opening lines of investigation into the responsibility of the Mexican Army and the Federal Police in the forced disappearance of 43 students from the Ayotzinapa Rural Normal School,” it explained.





BoCa En BoCa #31 English

Filed under: Boca en Boca, news — Tags: — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 3:19 pm


BoCa En BoCa #31 English



Download it!

Download it!



BoCa En BoCa #31, April 


26/02-March in Escuintla to demand security and justice for the feminicide of Yolanda Hernández Velásquez.

02/03- 12 months after the death in custody of José Rolando Pérez de la Cruz, family members continue to demand justice, denouncing the impunity suffered in the community of Acala.

02/03- The organization PUDEE (Peoples United in Defence of Electricity) denounce unauthorized explorations by CONAFOR in Tila.

04/03- The displaced families of Banavil blamed the government for the death of their daughter Antonia López Méndez, due to the conditions of forced displacement in Banavil and the precarious conditions of health and food.

08/03- In Cuxitali, population denounces government attempts to divide community against itself and foster conflict as it seeks to evict them from their territory.

08/03-Luisa Margareth Castillo Mora declared a hunger strike after the government’s failure to attend to her petition for justice, after having been beaten and tortured.

09/03- Civil society organizations claim to have been betrayed by the government, which is proposing a law promoting the privatization of water.

13/03- The Mexican Movement of Those Affected by Dams and In Defence of Rivers rejects projects to build 12 dams, some already under construction, denouncing the destruction of ecosystems.

13/03- The CFE cuts electricity to the preschool “Julio de la Fuente”, from the community Amado Nervo, Yajalón.

14/03-The Civil Organisation Las Abejas reaffirms its resistance against payment for electricity and the construction of more dams.

17/03-El Refugio La 72, in Tenosique, denounces the National Institute of Migration and the Federal Police for causing the deaths of migrants through their Frontera Sur programme.

18/03- The Tonalteco Civil Front marched to reaffirm their resistance against high electricity prices, 77 years after the expropriation of the oil industry in Mexico.


28/02 Subcomandantes Moisés and Galeano made public a letter to Doña Emilia, the wife of Don Félix, “honoured official that he was of our Zapatista Army of National Liberation”.

19/03- The unjustly imprisoned Alejandro Díaz Sántiz, member of La Voz del Amate, supported in a letter from prison the Lenten Via Crucis pilgrimage.

20/03- Neighbours of the community of Cahuaré share their concern at the expiry of a temporary clause regulating the limestone mining in the Cañón de Sumidero which has harmed the environment.


Violent expulsion of Primero de Agosto continues without resolution

02/03, the families from the village of Primero de Agosto reported that on 23/02 they were displaced “violently by ejidatarios from the ejido Miguel Hidalgo, Las Margaritas, belonging to the organization CIOAC-Historic; some were dressed in black carrying high-powered weapons, while  the women carried clubs and machetes.” “We make a call for solidarity about the dispossession we suffer,” they said, demanding that all three levels of government “bring to justice those responsible, guarantee our safety and compensate us for the damage.”

On 07 / 03, in an open ceremony, they invited solidarity in a day of prayer and a closing Mass.

The women made their appeal on 08/03: “There is no peace or security among us.” “We are mothers and we fear further attacks. We want to return to our housess and our lands, so we can work them.”

In the ceremony on 15/03, they thanked those who had provided support. “in this meeting, we are thinking about what has to happen next, and for that reason we ask openly that we are not forgotten. We go on in hope”

On 23/03 they added the following statement: “today we have completed 30 days of suffering, of expulsion, of illness, of having to put up with living in inhuman conditions under trees with nothing but a piece of plastic for shelter. For 30 days we have been demanding a response from the government, which has done nothing. We are suffering threats and are in pain.”

They denounced threats made against them this month: “there have been new threats of expulsion, and of kidnapping and even of killing us… there are plans to turf us out and to kill Antonio Roman Lopez, who is one of our compañeros. They reiterated that “CIOAC-Históric, led by Luis Hernandez Cruz, has shown its manner of resolving conflicts: through threats of kidnapping and murder, while the government looks on doing nothing”.

New attacks on BAEZLN in el Rosario

On 25/02, the Frayba Centre for Human Rights denounced that “threats that have been made for three weeks in the community of El Rosario (Autonomous Zapatista Rebel Municipality of San Manuel) by the Pojcol group ,against members of EZLN support communities”.

On 12 February a building belonging to the Zapatista supporters was destroyed. On 22 February, two letters “signed by a representative of the Poicol Group were received which threatened the Zapatistas if they didn’t withdraw their guard from the area. If this was not done, the letters warned that Pojcol would occupy Nuevo Paraiso (a village in the official municipality of Ocosingo, but also part of the Council of Good Government (Caracol 3 – The Path of the Future). The Zapatistas were warned “to avoid more blood being spilled”.

The situation in this area is particularly tense. On 1 August, 32 people had to flee the area after threats from the Pojcol Group, as denounced in a communique from the La Garrucha Council of Good Government.

Military incursion into 2 Zapatista Caracoles

On 12/03 Frayba warned in a bulletin of “systematic incursions by the Mexican Army, who are harassing the Support Bases of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (BAEZLN) in the territory of the Good Government Junta (JBG) of La Realidad, in the Border Jungle zone of Caracol I “Towards Hope”. They documented that several “trucks, hummers, jeeps and power equipment, with members of the Army, ranging from four to 30 people” make up these convoys. They also warned of “low-flying aircraft and helicopters photographing and filming members of the civil brigades of human rights observation, and the BAEZLN in the facilities of the JBG”.

For the Frayba Human Rights Centre, this “increasing harassment that the Mexican Army is carrying out in Zapatista territory, represents acts of provocation and harassment that violate the rights to autonomy and self-determination”.

SupGaleano stressed in a communiqué a “significant increase in military activity in the vicinity of the Zapatista Caracoles (aggressive patrols, intimidating checkpoints, threatening overflights)—particularly in the caracoles of La Realidad and Oventik (the first has just opened a school-clinic, and the second will host the tribute to Don Luis Villoro Toranzo)”.

Las Abejas denounce a case of identity theft. 

On 22/03, the Las Abejas Civil Society, in their monthly communiqué, announced they would take part in the Lenten Stations of the Cross and also in the pilgrimage of the Pueblo Creyente from the Parish of Simojovel, after denouncing disappearances and displacements, such as in Ayotzinapa, Primero de Agosto, and Banavil,

“Each month, and on each day that our heart beats, there are many things to say… Who can remain indifferent, who can remain with their arms folded in the face of this wave of violence, unleashed by the neoliberal capitalist system and administered by the bad government? We cannot.”

The Abejas also disassociated themselves from a group “that is using the logo and letterhead of our organisation and which has been falsifying the seal which only the directive council is authorised to use”. They also denounced activities by the group to levy tolls on drivers, and to collect funds for medical help for the survivors of the Acteal massacre. “This group has allowed itself to be manipulated by ex-members of our organisation, and by outsiders, who want to take advantage of the strength and prestige of Las Abejas.”



8th March, the women cry out

The Companeras of San Sebastián Bachajón demand that the police leave their territory and their rights be respected.

The women of Las Abejas of Acteal declared during a rally held that day: “This day is important for every one of us, and is in memory of those women who struggled and gave their lives for the respect of the rights of women throughout the world.”

“To the army that is in our land, we come to say that we do not want you here, you do not protect us; on the contrary, you are a threat to our lives.” “We are pacifists and we do not come here to harm you; however, our mission is to denounce the violence and the abuses committed by soldiers against women throughout Mexico”, they said outside an army barracks.

The Movement in Defence of Land and Territory and for Women´s Participation and Recognition in Decision-Making also made a statement “Our fundamental benchmark is the EZLN struggle for autonomy.” “The Movement is against the neoliberal and patriarchal capitalist system that turns people into merchandise and pushes women and men of all ages to abandon our lands and families in search of low-paying jobs, and even running the risk of falling into the hands of human trafficking networks.”

600 police officers burn Bachajón headquarters

On 21/03, three months after recovering their lands, adherents to the Sixth from Ejido San Sebastián Bachajón announced that “at around 8 am, more than 600 members of the public forces burned down our San Sebastián regional headquarters.” They denounced the “politics of death and corruption of the bad government, its contempt for the people and human rights”.

They rejected “the tricks of the bad government to malign our struggle and fabricate crimes against our organization which defends our Mother Earth. The people of the Ejidal commissioner together with the Security Adviser are blocking the Ocosingo-Palenque motorway in order to blame the organization, and also these lackeys of the bad government are cutting down trees and we know they are fabricating crimes of ecocide with the purpose of arresting the autonomous authorities of our organization.” They demanded the “withdrawal of the armed forces and of the National Commission for Protected Natural Areas from our lands dispossessed since February 2011.”

Members of the free media members announced they had been “attacked by the officialist group following the Ejidal commissioner, “they were surrounded, arrested, tugged, beaten and threatened with machetes, demanding they hand over a camera, a cell phone and a tripod.”

The EZLN builds the world’s most expensive school-clinic

The EZLN issued several communiques: a series named “Gracias” [Thank you].  In Gracias I, on 05/03, they announced that on 01/03, a health clinic and a school were “presented to the support bases of the EZLN in La Realidad,” recalling that “The construction was made possible by the solidarity of everyone”. Then they presented their accounts explaining how they would use the remainder (buying and selling cattle, coffee and maize, buying a vehicle, support for a collective shop, dining room and bakery, and part to fund Zapatista resistance). They transcribed the words of companero Jorge, BAEZLN. “What was destroyed has already been rebuilt much better than before.” And the words of the CCRI of the EZLN by Comandante Tacho, giving thanks for solidarity, “This is a fact, and it has shown once more that when we are coordinated and organized we can change our lives, building from below and to the left new things for the good of the people and for the people.”

In Gracias II, “Capitalism destroys, the people build” published on 07/03, the words of Sup Moisés were presented as he “formally handed over” the clinic and school on 01/03: “We say with all our heart and in truth: we are fighting for the people of Mexico, and perhaps we will be an example to the world.” “Capitalism wants to put an end to this example, and we will not allow it.

Gracias III, published on 08/03, set out the word of Sup Galeano and Sup Moisés, explaining that the clinic and school is the world’s most expensive building. “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.”

On 04/03 “on the Bulletin Board, the Concierge”, the calendar of the Zapatistas was announced:

From 05/03, the anniversary of the death of Luis Villoro Toranzo, words about critical thought.

On 02/05, in Oventik, a tribute to Luis Villoro Toranzo and Galeano.

From 03 to 09/05, seminar “Critical thought versus the capitalist hydra,” in Cideci.

From July to December: World Seminar decentralised, diverse, simultaneous, selective, massive…

From 31/07 to 02/08, Little Zapatista School second Level.

November or December, Little Zapatista School third level.

Great Lenten pilgrimage: Way of the Cross

After the great pilgrimage from 23 to 26/03 from Simojovel to Tuxtla convened by the Believing People (Pueblo Creyente) of Simojovel, which brought together more than 15,000 people, a statement made on 25/03 was published: “Our demands have been: to close bars, stop the murders, prostitution, drug trafficking, narco-politicians, arms trafficking and people trafficking.  We demand clean water, decent hospitals for our sick, better road conditions.” They added: “The whole situation is being experienced in all municipalities of Chiapas, and throughout our country, so we are present here not only believers from Simojovel but several parishes, municipalities, various organizations and religious denominations”.

On 26/03, they expressed “the feelings and demands of everyone present.” The situation of violence in the country, “with each day that passes the situation is getting worse.  Let us not allow cases to happen like AYOTZINAPA, ACTEAL AND PUEBLO NUEVO SOLISTAHUACAN, because of the corruption of authorities who have ceased to serve and protect the people”.  They set out in 6 points the claims for justice “which show clearly the situation we are suffering as a state and as a country”:  Stop impunity and corruption; No megaprojects; No structural reforms; Infrastructure demands; Displacement; Denunciation and solidarity.

The civil organization Las Abejas of Acteal also expressed solidarity: “We cannot be indifferent and remain silent in the face of barbarism and the critical situation of human rights in Mexico, but especially for the poor and indigenous peoples”.

The displaced families of Banavil: “we do not want them to trample us as always; we shout and raise our voices.”

And displaced families from First of August: “As men and women we say ‘Ts’omanotikb’as k’ulajel Jsak’aniltik’, which means men and women together building lives.”



April 15, 2015

Eduardo Galeano and the Zapatistas

Filed under: Zapatistas — Tags: — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 7:12 pm


Eduardo Galeano and the Zapatistas

“Indigenous people, it is plain to see, are only a problem for those who deny them the right to be who they are”

– Eduardo Galeano

Always on the side of the marginalised of Latin America and the wider world, recently deceased Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano consistently recounted and echoed their dignified rage. In fact, his social activism and commitment to the unprotected masses of his continent saw him visit the Mexican state of Chiapas to learn more about the Zapatista communities there.

Having exchanged letters with Subcomandante Marcos (now ‘Galeano’), the author would soon write a number of articles about the Zapatista movement, including ‘Una marcha universal’ (published by La Jornada on March 10, 2001), in which he spoke about how Emiliano Zapata had once again appeared in Mexico City, almost a hundred years after his most famous visit. “This second time”, he said, the deceased rebel had come “from La Realidad to change reality”, travelling from the Lacandona Jungle to deepen the process of change in the whole of Mexico (something the Zapatistas had been doing ever since emerging in the public arena at the start of 1994).

Thanks to the Zapatistas and the “creative energy they [had] released”, Galeano asserted, “not even what was is as it was” in the past. The movement’s indigenous solution to the ‘indigenous problem’, he described, had been to unmask the reality (which had been hidden for five centuries) precisely by donning masks themselves. In other words, it had started to ‘return hope’ to those who had long been ‘condemned to a perpetual process of waiting’ for change.

For Galeano, the Chiapan revolutionaries were standing up to those who had been denying their families the ‘right to be who they were’ for centuries. For too long, societal elites had rejected the concept of pluralism and the right to Mexican citizens to truly exercise their freedom (unless of course they were to accept in silence the “mutilations imposed by the racist tradition” of the Bad Government, which had sought to cripple the souls and ‘cut the legs’ of the People). The Zapatistas, like others before them and after them, refused to accept the government measures designed to destroy all cultures and communities that got in the way of the interests and desires of Mexico’s economic and political elites.

Eduardo Galeano also sought to repel the unending offensive on the people of Latin America, though he chose to do so through his literary works rather than on the ground. And, as perhaps the best-known chronicler of the invisiblised and silenced citizens of the continent, his voice will be sorely missed. Just like the fight of so many other revolutionaries throughout history, however, his was not (and will not have been) in vain. Those who have been inspired and informed by Galeano’s works, for example, have long taken on the fight for justice, freedom, and democratic rule as their own, and will undoubtedly continue to do so. In other words, the aforementioned struggle will never end with the death of revolutionary figures like Galeano. On the contrary, it will always be nourished by their example, which serves as an eternal incentive to keep resisting and creating.

Translated and adapted by Oso Sabio from an article published on page three of the 14/04/15 edition of La Jornada.



April 13, 2015

Communiqué from San Sebastián Bachajón 11th April 2015

Filed under: Bachajon, Indigenous, La Sexta — Tags: , , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 7:52 pm


Communiqué from San Sebastián Bachajón 11th April 2015




To the General Command of the Clandestine Indigenous Revolutionary Committee of the Zapatista National Liberation Army

To the Good Government Juntas

To the Indigenous National Congress

To the compañer@s adherents to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle

To the mass and alternative media

To the Network for Solidarity and against Repression

To Movement for Justice in El Barrio from New York

To national and international human rights defenders

To the people of Mexico and the world


By this means we allow ourselves to communicate and to inform in advance all the compañeros and compañeras of the organizations that are in the struggle and the resistance of the land, that on 24th April this year the commemoration will be held of the late Juan Vázquez Guzmán, recalling his dignified struggle in San Sebastián Bachajon, Chiapas. The event will be held at the family home and there will be a Mass starting at 3:00 pm.

We give this invitation to everyone who wants to participate.

We thank you in advance for your understanding and your presence on that date.

From the northern zone of the state of Chiapas, the women and men of San Sebastián Bachajón send our combative greetings.

Never again a Mexico without us

Land and Freedom! Zapata Vive!

Hasta la victoria siempre!

Freedom for political prisoners!

Juan Vázquez Guzmán Lives, the Bachajón struggle continues!

Juan Carlos Gómez Silvano Lives, the Bachajón struggle continues!

No to the dispossession of indigenous territories!

Immediate presentation of the disappeared compañeros from Ayotzinapa!





Filed under: Autonomy — Tags: — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 7:29 pm




Gustavo Esteva
La Jornada, 13th April, 2015

It is healthy to discuss the electoral issue throughout the entire country. A minority are preparing to participate, or not, in the exercise without reflecting on it. On the rise, however, is the number of those who wonder seriously, perhaps as never before, whether it makes sense to vote.

We are in a disastrous condition. Half of Mexican families cannot leave their houses at night or let their children play in the street. We live in fear. The number of dead, kidnapped, disappeared, attacked or assaulted are on the rise, as are the unemployed and people living below the poverty line. Education, health and transport services are in open decline. Freedoms are routinely canceled and rights regularly violated. One village after another is forced to put up stiff resistance, because the lands they won with a revolution [Mexican Revolution, 1910-1917] are threatened. One-half of Mexico’s territory has been handed over to private corporations, and the government conspires with them to evict their rightful owners. Environmental destruction deepens and causes irreversible damage.

The list of evils is endless. They are becoming increasingly serious. We cannot go on like this. Is it possible to drive the needed change either by voting or abstaining? Seemingly, neither a radical discrediting of the group in power by means of adverse votes nor an [electoral] boycott will make a difference, since a massive and overwhelming electoral victory may turn out to be insignificant in the face of the disaster. Changing the partisan composition of some governmental agencies and delegitimizing the political leaders would not have a major impact on the situation. Actually, no election result would be relevant … except for those who want to grab a piece of the political pie.
The level of incompetence and corruption of the current government is almost unbeatable. But it wouln’t be enough to remove them and put in others, even if the new ones were angels of goodness, honesty and competence, which we certainly do not see among the candidates. Changing the people and even the policies isn’t sufficient. We need to replace the same institutions and the economic and political regimen to which they relate, and this cannot be done from above through social engineering. Neither voting for them or throwing them out will work.

Substantive discussion is dodged by arguing that not voting strengthens the Party of the Institutional Revolutionary [PRI], or that this “strategic” foxhole of the political struggle shouldn’t be abandoned and that there are “reliable” candidates or parties, or that voting is an inalienable right and duty and new devices will prevent fraud … They are fragile arguments. The fact that a party is increasing its level of acceptance by dirty tricks [Green Ecology Party] that violate the rules of the game well illustrates the nature of an election day that will have the same vices as always. Voting will not remedy the evils we suffer. But neither will not voting, as was proved six years ago, when two-thirds of Mexicans didn’t go to the polls.

We are not responsible for what has happened and is happening. But we must accept our responsibility for letting this degradation occur. We cannot continue delegating the remedy to others, because the remedy necessarily involves each one of us. It is about, nothing more or less, rebuilding our torn and partially destroyed society, recovering what is left of the country, creating a new truly democratic social order in which democracy is not reduced to a marketing circus organized by the governing minority for its own reproduction in order that the one-percent might perpetuate itself in power.
There are no universal recipes for what we need to do. In each person’s arena, with the organization appropriate to our various circumstances, we must get to work. There are places where it seems possible to put us in control of our lives and organize effective resistance. In others, we will have to settle for less. In all cases, our imagination and our courage will be needed.

Instead of our actions being irrelevant, it’s about making irrelevant the politicians and their system of domination, [it’s about] dismantling the need for all state apparatuses and private corporations.

One definition of insanity is expecting a different result to be produced by performing the same action. We have voted and not voted with the same unsatisfactory results. Why expect that now might be different?
Not voting can express an effective rejection of the political classes and reflect a clear awareness of the situation. But we must not allow abstention to be confused with apathy or indifference. This stance will make sense when taken by organizations capable of confronting in a dignified manner the perfect storm in which we find ourselves. This is not a question of single individuals voting or not voting depending on the mood of the day. It is about groups, collectives, communities and organizations, large and small, who have decided to struggle, because only then can they live and express their attitude in an organized way.
Translated by Jane Brundage


Filed under: Human rights — Tags: — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 7:19 pm



Eduardo Galeano’s Words Walk the Streets of a Continent

Written by Benjamin Dangl

The world lost one of its great writers today. Uruguayan author Eduardo Galeano died at age 74 in Montevideo. He left a magical body of work behind him, and his reach is as wide as his continent.

During Argentina’s 2001-2002 economic crisis, Galeano’s words walked down the streets with a life of their own, accompanying every protest and activist meeting. Factories were occupied by workers, neighborhood assemblies rose up, and, for a time, revolutionary talk and action replaced a rotten neoliberal system. Galeano’s upside-down view of the world blew fresh dreams into the tear gas-filled air.

In the streets of La Paz, Bolivia, pirated copies of Galeano’s classic Open Veins of Latin America are still sold at nearly every book stall. There, too, Galeano’s historical alchemy added to the fire of many movements and uprisings, where miners of the country’s open veins tossed dynamite at right-wing politicians, and the 500-year-old memory of colonialism lives on.

Up the windy mountain roads of Chiapas, past Mexican state military checkpoints, lies the autonomous Zapatista community of Oventic. One day a few years ago, Galeano’s familiar voice floated over the foggy, autonomous land, reciting children’s stories over stereo speakers.

At a World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil, Galeano entered a steaming hot tent where hundreds had gathered to hear him speak about the Uruguayan water rights movement in which the people had “voted against fear” to stop privatization. What I remembered most about the talk is how much he made the crowd laugh.

And one night in Paraguay, with the smell of cow manure and pesticides lingering in the air, small farmers besieged by toxic soy crops gathered tell stories of resistance, stories they linked Galeano’s accounts of the looting of Latin America and struggles against greed and empire centuries in the making.

With the small mountain of books and articles he left behind, Galeano gives us a language of hope, a way feel to feel rage toward the world while also loving it, a way to understand the past while carving out a better possible future.

“She’s on the horizon,” he once wrote of utopia. “I go two steps, she moves two steps away. I walk ten steps and the horizon runs ten steps ahead. No matter how much I walk, I’ll never reach her. What good is utopia? That’s what: it’s good for walking.”







April 12, 2015

Bachajón, a chronicle of destruction at the hands of the Chiapas government

Filed under: Autonomy, Bachajon, Displacement, Indigenous — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 3:21 pm

Bachajón, a chronicle of destruction at the hands of the Chiapas government

On March 21, 600 members of the public security forces burned down the regional headquarters of our compañeros, adherents to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle, from the rebel ejido of San Sebastián Bachajón, located a few meters from the toll booth of the National Commission for Protected Natural Areas for the Agua Azul waterfalls, in the northern jungle of the state of Chiapas. That same day, in the afternoon, compañeros from the free media collectives Kolectivo Zero and Koman Ilel were attacked while doing documentation work about the events, by ejidatarios who are affiliated to political parties, in the presence of the security forces.

This is a clear strategy of the capitalist system, to plunder the land to satisfy its economic interests. The government of Mexico has sold its territory piece by piece to transnationals, and we see clearly their ways of carrying out these projects of death in three stages, which are: the sale of land, dispossession and plunder.

The sale of Mexican territory has been going on for a long time through their meetings, summits and forums, such as NAFTA, the United Nations Conference on Climate Change or the Mesoamerica Project, where despite their various masks and speeches about development and progress, all they do is to share out the natural resources of the earth.

The dispossession of territory is applied through different strategies such as the welfare programmes of the bad governments which seek to destroy in all areas their worst enemy, which is “Autonomy;” a first step in this plan of dispossession is to parcel out ejido land won in the Mexican Revolution, through plans of counterinsurgency and paramilitaries; this immediately breaks the traditional organising customs of the original peoples, turning them towards individual rather than communal ways of life, or through means of an education that is based on preparing children and young people to serve the capitalist system. In the countryside, these programmes which are provided firstly involve GMOs, making the land in the best cases become dependent on these chemicals, and in the worst cases become infertile, thus transnationals or to give a more specific example, Monsanto, can afford to hoard, patent and control the production of food; it is important to mention that this is a circular deal because these chemicals cause diseases that force people to consume pharmaceutical drugs, moving away more and more from their traditional medicines such as herbal treatments, which connect directly with Mother Earth and often have a lot to do with their cosmology.

These are just some very general examples of the attack from the capitalist system towards indigenous peoples, it is necessary to dig deeper into each of these projects of death to identify a better collective resistance strategy for the salvation of the original peoples, who are the foundation of the existence of mankind in terms of living well. In our history we can see that if people become aware and resist all this, the state’s response is immediate repression, imprisonment, torture and death. Those from above do not care about the existence of peoples who resist and defend their traditional ways of life, uses and customs, and they make every effort to hand over the natural resources to extractive transnationals, so that later they can plunder freely, so as to destroy all autonomy and reduce human beings to just being a workforce in the service of big capital.

San Sebastián Bachajón, also a member of the Indigenous National Congress, like many other peoples, is aware of this situation of dispossession and death, so they have resisted and continue to resist, our compañeros do not need anyone to come from outside to tell them how to care for the mother earth, they have done so throughout history, and therefore they have been a target of interest for the bad governments who only look to the earth for its monetary value; our Tseltal compañeros work every day not only to maintain their autonomy, but also to build a world where many worlds fit, the Spanish name of our compañeros’ destroyed headquarters is “Where those from above destroy, those from below reconstruct” (the name of the first international festival of rebellion and resistance against capitalism, convened by the EZLN and CNI), a name that is entirely in accord with their history of struggle.



Communiqué from San Sebastián Bachajón 10th April 2015

Filed under: Bachajon, Displacement, Indigenous — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 11:02 am

Communiqué from San Sebastián Bachajón 10th April 2015

 accion-bachajon_2_julio-2012 (1)


End of the legal process for the Comp@s of Bachajón. The Court denied the amparo.

The comp@s of Bachajon issued a new communique on 10th of April. After a text in Tzeltal the comp@s explained the new strategies of the bad government to end their organization. The previous day, the Agrarian procurator of Ocosingo joined together with the green and PRI supporters of the ejido “to seek an agreement about how to finish off our organization.”

They denounced the bad government looking for a way to divide, murder and imprison for the benefit of entrepreneurs. “The people will not remain silent and will defend whatever the cost”.

Finally they announced that “the Third Collegiate Court of Tuxtla Gutierrez dened our protection” of March 2011.…/fin-the-process-juridico…



To the General Command of the Clandestine Indigenous Revolutionary Committee of the Zapatista National Liberation Army

To the Good Government Juntas

To the Indigenous National Congress

To the compañer@s adherents to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle

To the mass and alternative media

To the Network for Solidarity and against Repression

To Movement for Justice in El Barrio from New York

To national and international human rights defenders

To the people of Mexico and the world

Icha spatil a wotanik ta ha pisilik jmololabex, ants winiketik macha`tik nokòl skoltabel slum skinalik, lìh ya jkabeyexkoyik ta nael jkoopkotik yuun te jkoltabel te jkinalkotik sok ya jna`kotik te skuxlejal jmololkotik Emiliano Zapata te laj yak skuxlejal yuun te skinal sok skotayel slumal.

Greetings to all the compañeros, women and men who are in the struggle for the land, here we share our word on the defence of the land and recall the memory of our General Emiliano Zapata who gave his life for land and freedom for the peoples.

We continue in struggle against the politics of the murderering, thieving and corrupt bad government which does not like our organization, so it burned the San Sebastián regional headquarters with support from Alejandro Moreno Gómez, ejidal Commissioner and the security adviser Samuel Diaz Guzman, together with 600 Chiapas state police; and also on 9th April there came to the community of Xanil the Agrarian Procurator of Ocosingo, with lic. Juan René and the Undersecretary of Yajalón whose surname is Alpuche, adviser to the paramilitaries of Paz y Justicia, where they had a meeting with the members of the PRI-green parties followers of Alejandro Moreno Gomez, to seek agreement on how to put an end to our organization because they say they no longer want to have this organization in the community, because they like to be with the government and its lackeys and minions, handing over the land, despising autonomy and the life of the peoples.

It makes us angry to see how these bad ejidal representatives feel themselves to be owners of the ejido and sell their dignity for crumbs. Our organization knows that the bad government’s mouth is watering at all the natural resources of our territory, so it is looking to make division among us in order to kill us and send us to prison, where the people are the only losers and the government and their national and foreign businesses are the winners because they dispossess the land.

We have had it up to here with this bloody government looking to fuck us over, but the people will not remain silent and will defend whatever the cost, we do not want this bad government to carry on abusing the people, deceiving the people and making fun of the people, the bad government should die, SO SHOULD PEÑA NIETO AND HIS PUPPET VELASCO COELLO.

We understand that the Third Appellate Court of Tuxtla Gutierrez denied our amparo 274/2011, which was started in March 2011, because value was given to the agreement signed by the PRI with the thief of Juan Sabines Guerrero and the judges of the court said that the agreement respects the human rights of the community and that is for their benefit. These judges are traitors to the fatherland, corrupt and racist, they sold themselves to the government so as to continue sitting on their arses in their big offices, big cars and white houses like the one peña nieto has, because they do not care about the people.

There is no democracy and no law in this country hijacked by the bloody corrupt politicians, let them all go away, the people must wake up and fight to defend the lands, dignity and life. Our organization will continue to defend our Mother Earth in honour of our grandfathers and grandmothers who taught us how to defend it and as it was defended by the compañeros Juan Vázquez Guzmán and Juan Carlos Gómez Silvano.

We demand the immediate release of political prisoners in Mexico and the World and of our imprisoned compañeros Juan Antonio Gómez Silvano, Mario Aguilar Silvano, Roberto Gómez Hernández, Santiago Moreno Perez, Emilio Jimenez Gomez and Esteban Gomez Jimenez.

Lih ta ya`hkolal slum kinal chiapas, ants winiketik yuun San Sebastian Bachajon yaj jtikonbeyex cotik spatil a wotanik ta pisilik.

From the northern zone of the state of Chiapas, the women and men of San Sebastián Bachajón send our combative greetings.

Mayuk bin hora jun mexico, te me mayukonkotike`

Never again a Mexico without us

Land and Freedom! Zapata Vive!

Hasta la victoria siempre!

Freedom for political prisoners!

Juan Vázquez Guzmán Lives, the Bachajón struggle continues!

Juan Carlos Gómez Silvano Lives, the Bachajón struggle continues!

No to the dispossession of indigenous territories!

Immediate presentation of the disappeared compañeros from Ayotzinapa!

Long live the dignified struggle of our Chol compañeros and compañeras of the ejido Tila!




Zapatista sympathizers chased from land slated for tourism megaproject

Filed under: Autonomy, Bachajon, Corporations, Displacement, Human rights, Indigenous, Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 7:06 am


Zapatista sympathizers chased from land slated for tourism megaproject

A painted banner portrays three Zapatista civilians killed by paramilitaries. It reads "The Struggle in Bachajon Continues!" The banner was hung in CIDECI, an autonomous university for indigenous and rural peoples in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas. The closing events for the Global Festival of Resistance and Rebellion Against Capitalism were held at CIDECI with the participation of the families of the 43 disappeared students from Ayotzinapa and the National Indigenous Congress (CNI).

A painted banner portrays three Zapatista civilians killed by paramilitaries. It reads “The Struggle in Bachajon Continues!” The banner was hung in CIDECI, an autonomous university for indigenous and rural peoples in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas. The closing events for the Global Festival of Resistance and Rebellion Against Capitalism were held at CIDECI with the participation of the families of the 43 disappeared students from Ayotzinapa and the National Indigenous Congress (CNI).

‘They want to erase journalists in Mexico’

Filed under: Uncategorized — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 7:01 am


‘They want to erase journalists in Mexico’

Mexican journalist, author and campaigner Lydia Cacho is in London this week to rally support for those who risk their lives to expose corruption

Journalist and human rights campaigner Lydia Cacho. Photograph: Sarah Lee for the  Observer

Journalist and human rights campaigner Lydia Cacho. Photograph: Sarah Lee for the 

Ed Vulliamy

“I suddenly had a clearer understanding than ever of the power that journalism has to give a voice to those who have been silenced by the crushing weight of violence.”

So wrote Mexico’s best-known journalist and human rights campaigner, Lydia Cacho, upon seeing her colleagues from the press gather to cover her arrival for interrogation before judges at Puebla, central Mexico, after what she calls a “legal kidnap” by the police.

The first stage of that prolonged ordeal 10 years ago had been a terrifying 36-hour drive from her home in the coastal state of Quintana Roo to the courthouse and jail, during which she had been sexually violated, threatened with death and “disappearance”, and horribly intimidated.

Cacho was to be charged with libel after the publication of a book, The Demons of Eden, which revealed a sex-trafficking and pederast-paedophile ring with connections to power on high. The appalling story of power’s revenge, its searing impact on Cacho and the implications of the affair for all reporters is told in a further book, Memorias de una Infamia (Memories of Infamy), in which, vindicated by subsequent events and trials, Cacho demonstrates that the pederasts and sex criminals were protected by the governor of Puebla state, by the judiciary and by people even higher up – with connections also to drug trafficking.

The foreword is written by the one reporter who worked alongside Cacho during her ordeal, revealing crucial material – including phone taps – that swung the narrative from the jaws of incarceration and torture into her favour. This was Carmen Aristegui, Mexico’s most famous broadcaster, who was sacked last month by her employer, MVS Radio, after revealing that the wife of President Enrique Peña Nieto had acquired a vast luxury property from a group that had won several lucrative government contracts.

The fate of the two journalists has stirred to fever pitch the discourse about repression of free speech and the acute physical dangers faced by journalists in Mexico. Scores of reporters have been killed – often tortured and decapitated – in what is now seen as a pincer-movement against their work by drug cartels and the state.

The Los Angeles Times reported: “The loss of one of Mexico’s most critical journalistic voices comes as revelations of corruption and killings by police and the army have roiled the country and plunged Peña Nieto into the worst crisis of his 27-month presidency.”

While all this was happening last month, Peña Nieto was a guest of the Queen and the British government.

Cacho – who has won innumerable awards for her work and was made a Chevalier d’Honneur of the French Republic – will rally support this week for Aristegui and her endangered colleagues at the London Book Fair, part of a PEN festival focusing on Mexico.

Ahead of her visit, Cacho told the Observer: “After all these years, every time my mobile phone rings and I see the name of a colleague I fear the worst: assassination, kidnapping or forced disappearance. When I was arrested 10 years ago, I was not so well-known, at least not to the broader news readers; now I’ve published 10 books and still live under tremendous pressure from corrupted politicians and traffickers who want me either dead or exiled and silenced.”

Of her friend, Cacho added: “Carmen Aristegui is probably the most famous newscast journalist in our country. She was fired most probably for investigating the president, which happened months after I was fired from El Universal, one of the main national newspapers. If this is happening to us, the visible ones, can you imagine what local reporters are going through in the provinces, where rule of law is almost nonexistent?”


Campaigning journalist Carmen Aristegui. Photograph: Gregory Bull/Associated Press

Campaigning journalist Carmen Aristegui. Photograph: Gregory Bull/Associated Press

Cacho thinks the timing of Aristegui’s firing is accounted for by “the return of the PRI party, who ruled Mexico for more than 70 years. Peña Nieto’s advisers are obsessed with protecting his image at all costs. It seems they want us back into the 1980s, when nobody dared to investigate the president and his ministers.

“Aristegui’s team not only uncovered the fact that the president’s wife and his finance minister, [Luis] Videgaray, had received a couple of luxurious residences from a big construction conglomerate that was doing business with the federal government; they also exposed a network of corruption, a radiography of how the president is managing the country’s finances as if he was a feudal lord, as if laws, international treaties and transparency did not exist. This case exposes, once again, how a small group of politicians and tycoons handle all media permits in order to control freedom of expression, and they do so through monopolies and the destruction, persecution of free media and journalists.”

A report published by the London-based Article 19 organisation at the end of March and launched in Mexico City by Aristegui and Cacho – found that “under the current administration headed by Enrique Peña Nieto, the number of assaults on the press was nearly double that reported during [his predecessor] Felipe Calderón’s term of office … Failures in the justice system continue to prevail.”

According to a report by Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission in January, 97 reporters have been killed over the past four years for doing their job. There have been 22 disappearances of reporters and 433 registered attacks since 2005, when the current drug cartel war began in earnest.

Just as the report appeared, a long line of murderous attacks on reporters in the state of Veracruz culminated in the discovery of the decapitated body of a freelance website reporter, Moisés Sánchez, who had disappeared in the small town of Medellín de Bravo. The mayor of the town has been charged with having ordered the murder, but activists believe the attacks on reporters – 13 in Veracruz alone – have been orchestrated on higher authority, in the state administration. Among the victims in Veracruz was Regina Martínez, a reporter for Proceso magazine, who had been seeking to establish those connections. Her violated and tortured body was found in 2012.

In her book, Cacho differentiates between “fame”, which she sees as something “for artists”, and notoriety, which she says she has achieved simply by refusing to be silenced. Either way, her struggle has become what the great anti-mafia writer Roberto Saviano calls “the Lydia Cacho cause”.

In her London appearances, Cacho will also focus on violence against women, and lifting the impunity of those who violate them. Ahead of the visit she said: “When Peña Nieto was governor of the state of Mexico [in the south of the country] the femicide rate went through the roof: up by 185%, according to specialist Humberto Padgett. Young women were being assassinated relentlessly. Some were taken by the cartels for sex trafficking; others, younger than 15, exploited as slaves in the opium and marijuana fields..

“Peña Nieto denied everything; on his way to the presidency he could have been the hero, approving gender equality laws, forcing the justice system to act as law requires. Instead he ordered journalists to be quiet, his team bought some off, and the honest ones had to flee the region, or where threatened, or killed by unknown criminals”.

A woman of passion as well as courage, Cacho surveys the scene: “These are dark times for our country,” she says by telephone from Quintana Roo. “Civil society is confronting the powers that be, but the free media is becoming smaller day by day; narco lords rule some states and provinces. There are not enough hours in a day to help those voices that need listening to, those hundreds of thousands of victimised families that need seeing. Journalism is essential in a country that lives in a silenced war, a masked war. They can erase us journalists from the mainstream media, and they can eliminate us physically. What they will never be able to do is deny the true stories, snatch away my voice, our voices and our words. As long as we are alive we will continue to write and what we have written will keep us alive”.

Cacho recalls the last time she talked to her colleague and friend Anna Politkovskaya. “We laughed in a hotel room, we talked about family and children, about love and work, we discussed the risk of our jobs. One morning watching the news I froze as I heard she had been assassinated after coming back from buying food for her family. This fact made me aware of my own mortality.”

But by way of a message to herald her arrival in Britain, Cacho insists: “I am a woman who will not give up her rights, nor will I sacrifice the rights of others to have a comfortable living. Being a journalist in Mexico is not a job; it’s a calling, a responsibility, never a sacrifice. It is to be part of the counter-power that makes life worth living.”

Lydia Cacho will appear at a British Council event at the London Book Fair, Gallery Theatre, Kensington Olympia, on Tuesday; and for English PEN at the Free Word Centre, Farringdon Road, London, on Thursday. Slavery Inc: the Untold Story of International Sex Trafficking, is published by Portobello Books



April 11, 2015

“Women’s Struggles Transform the World” – A Global Celebration for International Women’s Day

Filed under: Movement for Justice in el Barrio, Women — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 3:20 pm


“Women’s Struggles Transform the World” – A Global Celebration for International Women’s Day

by Katie Earle
mujer-rebelde-22 (1)

It felt like spring in New York City on Sunday, March 8th, International Women’s Day, the day of a global celebration of women and an evening when the reverberating voices of women everywhere demanding dignity were given our full attention. It was in this spirit that activists crowded into the Maysles Cinema on Malcolm X Boulevard in Harlem for an event convened by Movement for Justice in El Barrio (Movement), to hear these voices from NYC and beyond.

Movement for Justice in El Barrio is in its tenth year of organizing for dignified housing and against displacement. Founded by mothers demanding better living conditions in their buildings, this movement has grown to include over 85 organized buildings and 900 members. The great majority of their members are women. With a focus on everything, from winning international battles against multinational corporations to fighting against multiple forms of oppression, the organization’s roots as a women-founded movement has also inspired international solidarity.

Led and run entirely by women, the evening began with a warm welcome from Movement members, and each participant was handed a single red rose at the door.  This rose was lifted in commemoration more than once during the evening.  Attended by a diverse group of people of different ages and walks of life, including many representatives of community organizations and activists, it was an incredibly refreshing tribute to those dedicated to justice and who are fighting for their rights and the rights of women everywhere.

A documentary entitled Graffiti Women, which was made by young women, launched the evening.  These young women discuss how they became graffiti artists in a subculture dominated by boys and men.  Their work is shown with the risk of being viewed through double standards.  While it is as good if not better than the work made by their male colleagues –it is not always given equal respect for the simple fact of being made by girls. They were shown in the video to be very busy changing that.

The evening then embarked overseas, with video-messages sent to the gathering from the European Women’s Network of Greece as well as the Organization of African Women.  The European Women’s Network sent greetings of solidarity and described the violence they face day to day as they struggle to change their society from the inside out. The Organization of African Women spoke of the many daily obstacles they face as migrant women, and sent a message of hope and continued struggle.

There was also a clip entitled Zama, based in South Africa. This short film gives a succinct portrait of one woman’s life within the Shack Dwellers Movement, or Abahlali baseMjondolo.  This is an organization that Movement has connected with in the past and they maintain a relationship of solidarity, as the struggle for dignified housing links them across the space and time that separates them.  The film starts with a South African saying that is fitting every day, but particularly on International Women’s Day: “When you strike a woman, you strike a stone.”

The evening then took a turn to Mexico, where a film focused on a “Zapatista Women’s Encuentro”, an international gathering of women dedicated to a leader held in high esteem, Comandanta Ramona.  The Zapatistas are already committed to feminism and promoting female leadership, but this encuentro went the extra step and refused admittance to any and all compañeros (men) in the conference hall. Men were able to participate in the encuentro in roles traditionally held by women such as cooking, cleaning and childcare. In this very concrete way, the years that women´s voices had been silenced were acknowledged and an attempt was made to remedy the injustice in the present day.

We stayed in Mexico with the next film to hear the voices of the Mothers of the 43 students who have been disappeared from Ayotzinapa via another video-message sent especially for this gathering. These women have taken the disappearance of their sons and turned their pain into an international campaign, creating what Movement calls a “living testament that this “other world” we desire is currently being inspired and created, from the bottom up, by women.”

There was then the premiere screening of a new documentary about the women of Movement for Justice in El Barrio.  While many of these women were present at the event, the film showcased personal portraits of these amazing women and their struggle for another world. The film also focused on the engagement of the youth in the movement.  Children of organizing members play an active role in the movement and are able to take ownership of it, in this way ensuring its continued struggle in the years and generations to come.

A video-message sent to the gathering was presented from women members of the community of San Sebastián Bachajón, whose lands include the access road to the highly desirable tourist attraction of Agua Azul, and who have been fighting to maintain control of their lands.  They spoke of their commitment to equality between men and women, and their sacred duty to care for the land that their ancestors left to them. The film series ended with a music video celebrating “indignadas” from around the world. Clips from all over the world celebrated the struggles many women have been actively engaged in to create a new and more just world.  As Movement members declared in the evening’s program, “For us, the bravery and strength of women form the backbone of human dignity.” Champagne glasses were then handed out to everyone in the crowd, sparkling wine was poured for all and a toast to women everywhere was given.

Everyone then held up their roses in silence for a special homage to Antonia López Méndez, a young 11-year-old girl who died of malnutrition and lack of access to medical services when her family was displaced from their home in Banavil, Chiapas, Mexico.  Her death was a direct result of the displacement her family was forced to endure. Her spirit was honored by all those present, roses held in the air.  The homage included the world premiere screening of a new film on the dignified struggle of the displaced families of Banavil. It concluded with a call for people to join the Faces of the Displaced campaign.

DSC_0450A letter sent to the gathering from a group of indigenous women and men Las Abejas in a community called Acteal in Chiapas, Mexico was also read out at the event.  This pacifist community endured a brutal massacre in 1997 by a paramilitary group as men, women and children attended a prayer meeting. The letter spoke to the need to continue in the struggle, and the power of a community to endure.

While its focus is in dignified housing, Movement links with groups locally in NYC and globally who share a common struggle.  Many of these groups were invited to celebrate the evening.  CAAAV – Organizing Asian Communities, Gabriela NY, Damayan Migrant Workers Association, the National Domestic Workers Alliance, the Youth Activists-Youth Allies Network, the New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines, Bayan, US, Caravan 43 and Mother Tongue spoke, sang and shared their struggle with the audience in a dialogue focusing on the role of women at the forefront of dignified struggles, making links between work that may be quite different but shares common analysis, enemies, values and goals.  The floor was then opened up for the audience to share and discuss their ideas about women in the struggle.

The audience was bid adieu with nuggets of wisdom from women members of Movement. Throughout the last ten years, we were told, we have learned that winning is possible only when we work together to achieve a common goal. “Uno sola no puede lograr nada, sólo vamos a ganar si luchamos y trabajamos juntas. Así sí podemos ganar.” These were the words we were left with as we entered back into the almost springtime air, full of inspiration from the women’s voices we had heard, and filled with the power of those voices to make change in this world.

Links to some of the videos mentioned, the first and the third have English subtitles:

Videomensaje de las Madres de los 43 Estudiantes Desaparecidos de Ayotzinapa

Videomensaje de las Mujeres Ejidatarias de San Sebastián Bachajón

Video: Homenaje a Antonia Lopez Mendez, desplazada de Banavil



In Mexico, Disappearance Is the Rule of Law

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 3:09 pm


In Mexico, Disappearance Is the Rule of Law

By Alice Driver


By Ignacio Rosaslanda (Courtesy of másde131)

Seven months have passed since the Mexican government said that there were no bodies: no bones, no teeth, no nothing. All 43 of them were burned up in a pile of trash, Attorney General Jesús Murillo Karam reported, and then he began to enumerate what was thrown on top of the bodies —diesel, gasoline, tires, firewood, plastic— as if that were evidence of some truth. Later, officials discovered one bone, identified one body, and they did it triumphantly. But where were the rest?

“With the 43, you can only say that they’ve identified one body,” said journalist Francisco Goldman, who writes for The New Yorker about the events unfolding in Mexico. I interviewed Goldman in February 2015, five months after the students had been forcibly disappeared, and the country was still in the throes of the largest protests in the history of the country. “That’s all you can say. Legally they’re disappeared. Everybody wants to say they’re dead,” explained Goldman.

Under President Felipe Calderón, between 2006 and 2012, an average of six people disappeared per day, according to the investigative reporting of Proceso. Under President Enrique Peña Nieto, that number has risen to 13, a conservative estimate based on unreliable government statistics. “People in Mexico understand that it’s not just those 43—those 43 have come to represent everyone else. Something’s got to happen. Something’s got to move. It’s now or never for Mexico. It really is,” said Goldman.

Goldman has spent the better part of the last two decades living in and writing about Mexico, and he participated in the largest protest in the history of the country in November 2014, a protest sparked by the disappearance of 43 students from a rural school in Ayotzinapa famous for its history of social activism.

It took the government 10 days to open an investigation into their disappearance, and eventually it came to light that the mayor had sent the police to stop the buses full of students, and he had asked the police to hand the students over to a local gang. Murillo Karam announced that the gang had confessed to murdering the students and burning their bodies, a convenient narrative. It is the favourite storyline of both the Mexican and the U.S. media to blame all violence on drug gangs.

The main problem with that story is that the government, the police and the army work in parallel with cartels, controlling drug routes and money for personal gain. “The narco gang is the police. The police handed them over to a narco gang? No, the police and the narco gang are the same thing,” said Goldman.

Families of the disappeared get caught up in the machinery of justice, which works only in favor of the official story, the one that blames victims for their own deaths, the one in which the President of Mexico, after the Attorney General announced that the 43 disappeared students were dead, told his country that, “We have to move forward with greater optimism.”

Journalists risk their lives to help share stories of disappearance in Mexico, which for the past decade has been one of the most dangerous countries in the world for those in the media. A Mexican journalist recently contacted me after seeing my book, More or Less Dead, about disappearance and feminicide in Mexico. She wrote, “I went on the State of Mexico to the area of regional news, when the actual President of the Mexico was the Governor of the State of Mexico. The experience I acquired there has been crucial to tell today that Enrique Peña Nieto plays an active role in the system of impunity where, without a doubt, the government is tied to the drug dealers (which is referred to as narcogobierno) and profoundly immersed in the corruption which is tolerated and on occasions fomented by a fundamental part of the members of the government.”

She asked to remain anonymous due to fear that the government would retaliate against her. “Upon my arrival to the news office, the Governor had me investigated. I was asked extensive questions about my personal and professional life. Later on, I received a phone call where they invited me to leave the State of Mexico.”

And she did flee the country, because the government threatened to harm her and members of her family.

The government, in its initial search for the disappeared 43 students, discovered and dug up a mass grave, declaring that the student’s bodies were probably there. They discovered bodies, but they were not the students’ bodies. And then they found another mass grave, and another, and another, and more bodies. But none of them belonged to the students. How many mass graves have to be dug up before it becomes clear that mass graves are not the exception but the rule of state justice?

When the journalist wrote to me, she said, “Ayotzinapa renewed my rage, and I do not want to stop until finding justice for the 43 who are disappeared and the thousands more who are dead and massacred, and for the thousands of immigrants who fearfully travel across Mexico.” The government had forced her out of the country, but they could not make her forget. On Lent, six months after the students disappeared, citizens around Mexico replaced the traditional symbol of the cross, painted in ash on their foreheads, with the number 43. Photos of these individuals bloomed on social media like wildflowers, overtaking the visual landscape that day.

“My son is absent and only memories remain,” said Estanislao Mendoza a few days before Christmas in 2014. Mendoza is the father of Miguel Ángel Mendoza Zacarías, who was disappeared by the police along with 42 other students on September 26, 2014.

“The families of Ayotzinapa have become such a force,” reported Goldman. “They are tireless. Nothing will ever make them give up.”

Disappearance is a physical silencing, but “no bodies” does not equal “nobody.” “No bodies” does not equal “nothing.”


Dr. Alice Driver is the author of More or Less Dead: Feminicide, Haunting, and the Ethics of Representation in Mexico (University of Arizona Press 2015). She recently translated Abecedario de Juárez, a collaboration between journalist Julián Cardona and artist Alice Leora Briggs that explores and maps the new language of violence in Mexico.



Older Posts »

The Shocking Blue Green Theme. Blog at


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 422 other followers