dorset chiapas solidarity

February 27, 2015

Murders, threats and duopoly: the state of press freedom in Mexico

Filed under: Journalists — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 7:26 pm

 

Murders, threats and duopoly: the state of press freedom in Mexico

LHN

Deadly attacks on journalists are on the rise in Mexico, and perpetrators operate largely with impunity

In June 2011, Mexico was named the most dangerous country in the Americas for communicators. Photograph: Reuters

Luis Hernández Navarro  Wednesday 25 February 2015

On 2 January, journalist Moisés Sánchez was kidnapped by an armed group. Nine people with covered faces stormed into his house in Medellin de Bravo, a town in the wealthy eastern state of Veracruz. They searched and grabbed documents, and took Sánchez, along with his camera, laptop, mobile phone and tablet. The police took hours to come to the house. Sánchez was found dead 23 days later on the outskirts of the town.

Sánchez, editor of La Unión, is the eleventh journalist to be murdered in Veracruz since Governor Javier Duarte de Ochoa took office on 1 December 2010. As well as murders, four media professionals have gone missing and there have been 132 attacks against the local press in the same period.

Events in Veracruz state are serious, but they are far from exceptional. In vast zones of Mexico, especially on the United States border and in areas where drug trafficking prevails, journalists at all levels have been threatened or attacked. Victims include some of the most nationally well-known commentators but more frequently are reporters writing for regional and local media, online and on social media.

The free press defence organisation Article 19 documents three chilling facts: attacks against communicators are rising in Mexico, in most cases impunity prevails, and in more than half of cases the perpetrators are linked with the state.

During the investigation into Sánchez’s disappearance, the entire police force of Medellin de Bravo was detained by state prosecutors. A former police officer confessed to participating in the murder, claiming he did so “by direct order” of Martín López Meneses, deputy director of the municipal police in Medellin. Sánchez had been threatened by the mayor three days before being kidnapped.

In June 2011, Frank William La Rue – then UN special rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression – warned that Mexico was the most dangerous country in the Americas for communicators. La Rue documented 66 cases of murders against journalists between 2000 and 2010, and 12 disappearances between 2005 and 2010, of which few have been solved.

As with diseases that have a new outbreak after they were believed eradicated this evil came back to life eight years ago, when then-President Felipe Calderón, of the conservative PAN party, declared a “war on drugs”, with logistical support and funding from the US. Violence against the press walks hand-in-hand with the violation of human rights, the criminalisation of social protest, and the so-called war on drugs. Impunity gives criminals carte blanche. Organised crime and its networks of complicity with those in political power have further aggravated the tense situation in Mexico.

Many reporters and media organisations are terrified. With increasing frequency, journalists are seeking asylum in the US. Others choose to publish anonymously and many avoid writing about events that could endanger their lives.

“There is a border where dirty money becomes apparently clean … and it is on that border where the journalist runs a greater risk,” states a report by Article 19. “It is not the consummate criminals who threaten the journalists. It is the apparently legal powers and seemingly reputable businesses that feel most threatened by the journalist’s work, precisely because it is on that border where the journalist may denounce the politician, policeman, soldier, or businessman that is in collusion with organised crime.”

On April 2012, a new law, Ley para la Protección de Personas Defensoras de Derechos Humanos y Periodistas, was approved and certain mechanisms to protect journalists were implemented, including the adoption of cautionary actions and, in some cases, police protection of individuals under threat.

But far for diminishing, violence against journalists keeps growing. In 2013 alone 330 attacks against journalists, media workers and offices were documented, making it the most violent year for journalists in Mexico since 2007.

On 3 February, the Washington Office on Latin America and Peace Brigades International described the new legislation as insufficient, and said it does not provide for timely responses to demands of protection. They blame the Mexican government for discrediting and criminalising human rights defenders and organisations, and highlight the levels of impunity enjoyed by perpetrators of crimes against journalists and human rights defenders.

The flip side of the lack of freedom of the press in Mexico is the high concentration of mass media ownership and control. Almost all (96%) of Mexico’s commercial television channels are in the hands of two corporations, Televisa and TVAzteca, and 80% of radio broadcasters are owned by 13 commercial groups. Some of those groups control dozens of networks.

This duopoly simultaneously provokes an enormous absence of information as well as great scepticism about the news broadcast in Mexico. During the general election campaign in 2012, thousands of young people mobilised outside the studios of Televisa and TVAzteca to protest the manipulation of information. The government passed new legislation but the rules of the game essentially did not change.

A new federal law of telecommunications and radio broadcasting was enacted in 2014, aiming to break down the media duopoly by creating a new private television network. It has not yet materialised. Civil society organisations were strongly critical of the new law, stating that it limits the powers of the regulating body (which should be autonomous), avoids the necessary mechanisms to fight monopolies efficiently, restricts public and social media, and ignores the rights of audiences.

Press freedom in Mexico faces severe obstacles. To give guarantees allowing journalists to exercise their profession, to fight impunity, limit the power of monopolies and open spaces to public communication media are important challenges. International attention is essential. More murders like that of Moisés Sánchez must be prevented.

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2015/feb/25/press-freedom-mexico-murder-threat-duopoly

 .

***********************************************************

.

Peña Nieto you are not welcome here: 3 Days of Continuous Protests and Actions Denouncing the Human Rights Crisis in Mexico

Filed under: Human rights — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 6:23 am

 

 Peña Nieto you are not welcome here: 3 Days of Continuous Protests and Actions Denouncing the Human Rights Crisis in Mexico

 

The President of Mexico,  Enrique Peña Nieto and his wife  Angélica Rivera de Peña, are paying a state visit to the United Kingdom as guests of The Queen. The three-day State Visit is from 3rd to 5th March 2015. During their visit, the President and Señora Rivera will stay at Buckingham Palace.

Let everyone know about the human rights abuses in Mexico! Those who lie, kill and torture are not welcome!

DOWNING STREET 4 pm to 7 pm TUESDAY 3rd MARCH!!

 

?????

 

.

*********************************************************

.

February 26, 2015

Antonia, young girl displaced by violence in Tenejapa, Chiapas, dies in exile

Filed under: Displacement, Frayba, Human rights, Indigenous — Tags: — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 4:39 pm

 


Antonia, young girl displaced by violence in Tenejapa, Chiapas, dies in exile

By Angeles Mariscal

Chiapas Paralelo, February 24, 2015

Antonia

Antonia

Antonia Lopez Mendez spent three of her 11 years in forced displacement. Her life was consumed in exile. To the poor health, nutrition and education which she experienced away from her community were added the stress of seeing her family threatened and expelled.

On Saturday the blood vessels in her brain collapsed. When she died, with severe headaches, the public hospital where she was admitted diagnosed “cerebral oedema”.

Only once she was dead was Antonia López Méndez able to return to her place of origin; the authorities of Banavil, Tenejapa, they could not deny her that right. On Monday, her body was buried along with her two sisters. Then her family returned into exile.

More than 2000 children are displaced

Antonia’s last three years were similar to those lived through by more than 2000 children in the northern zone and highlands of Chiapas, who as a result of violence have been displaced from their communities.

The situation of violence and displacement against children is a situation which has been very little known, said the Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Centre (Frayba), which today declared the impunity and indifference of the government authorities of Chiapas.

“This Centre has sent formal communications addressed to the governor and government secretary of Chiapas demanding that they take the necessary measures to ensure the funeral ceremony of the young indigenous Tzeltal Antonia Lopez Mendez”.  Accompanied only by a patrol and police convoy, Antonia and her family were able to enter Banavil. They were met with closed houses, cold and fog. Nobody from the community wanted to accompany them.

Rights denied

Antonia López Méndez was one of 13 people (4 families) who were forcibly displaced from the community of Banavil, Municipality of Tenejapa, on 4th December, 2011.

During her last three days of life, she started having pains in the neck and leg, accompanied by loss of speech which led to her being admitted to hospital. When she died, her relatives decided to take her to Banavil, “the place from which they were forcibly displaced by a group of members of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), who, to date, have enjoyed total impunity, as the existing arrest warrants against the aggressors are not being executed,” said Frayba.

They requested the intervention of the mayor of Tenejapa, who did not respond. By telephone, the Municipal Secretary José Alfredo Girón Luna, said there was no agreement to bury her there. He recommended that they bury the child in the municipal seat of Tenejapa “because people in Banavil are very angry about the outstanding arrest warrants, and bringing Antonia to be buried there in Banavil would cause problems.”

“For more than three years we have been demanding justice, return and truth for the displaced families of Banavil, Tenejapa; the impunity and indifference of the authorities of the government of Chiapas only confirms their complicity in protecting groups who are among the perpetrators of serious violence in the Tseltal region of the Altos de Chiapas. We also believe that the appalling or non-existent conditions of healthcare, food and education, have as a consequence resulted in unfortunate incidents like the death of the child Antonia Lopez  Mendez. The State Government has failed in its duty to guarantee these rights,” denounced the Fray Bartolomé Centre.

After burying Antonia, the displaced returned to their exile.

http://www.chiapasparalelo.com/noticias/chiapas/2015/02/antonia-nina-desplazada-por-la-violencia-en-tenejapa-chiapas-muere-en-el-exilio/

.

*************************************************************

.

Mexican guerrilla leader Felix Serdan Najera dies at 98

Filed under: Zapatista — Tags: — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 2:59 pm

 


Mexican guerrilla leader Felix Serdan Najera dies at 98

EFE

11016813_466783556807880_5540834442823575556_n

Felix Serdan Najera, the last surviving member of the Jaramillista guerrilla movement in the Mexican state of Morelos and later an honorary major in the Zapatista National Liberation Army, or EZLN, died over the weekend, his family said. He was 98.

Serdan Najera died early Sunday from respiratory problems at his house in the village of Tehuixtla.

He was the top aide to guerrilla leader Ruben Jaramillo, a soldier and politician who fought in the Mexican Revolution and founded an insurgent movement in 1944.

The Jaramillista guerrilla movement’s core supporters were peasants and it defended the interests of Morelos’s cane cutters.

The EZLN gave Serdan Najera an honorary commission in 1994 and collected money to help the veteran guerrilla leader.

Serdan Najera was present at the launch of the EZLN’s uprising in January 1994 and helped train the new generations of Zapatista rebels.

10393978_1571535019759490_430470427841043284_n

http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/lifestyle/2015/02/23/mexican-guerrilla-leader-felix-serdan-najera-dies-at-8/

.

************************************************************

.

On visiting the Zapatista community of Oventic

Filed under: Zapatista — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 1:59 pm

 

On visiting the Zapatista community of Oventic

Tom Murray
Workers Solidarity Movement

Last November, I took part in a week-long language school at Oventic, Chiapas.[1] I spent the week living and learning with two US-based comrades – Laila, a tattoo artist and socialist/feminist from Memphis, and Michael, a housing rights activist from Baltimore – alongside the wider Zapatista community of Oventic. Our ‘guides’ for the week were our neighbours – Natalio and Paloma as well as Stephanie (who was learning to be a teacher) and Efrain (a linguist, philosopher and educator all rolled in to one). These were the people we met and spoke with every day. What follows are some reflections recorded along the way.

On the Zapatista community

Oventic is located high in the mountains of Chiapas. It is hard not to feel small beside the great mountain ranges and underneath such a vast sky. The mornings are usually bright, clear and full of bird song. In the evening, fog rolls down the hills and shrouds us in a damp mist. By night, it is pitch black except for the stars. Life here, surprisingly, is very ordinary and, equally surprisingly, very special. In the mornings, from my privileged bunk bed, I can hear the sounds of a day to day routine beginning – men and women getting up before dawn, clothes washed by hand and hung on lines, the low singing of those getting ready for work in the fields and always the running and laughing of children. The work of the village is work but work in common, shared and collective. People talk with one another slowly and leisurely. The children are almost always playing.

In the evenings, when work is long over, there are sports and games on the basketball courts. One evening, we attend a community meeting in a nearby classroom where Efrain plays social movement media clips on a laptop and projector, showing news of the disappearance of the 43 student teachers of Ayotzinapah and the protests of dignity and rage overflowing Mexico. Another evening, Michael and I join the community assembled on the basketball courts and help bag and store the corn that the village will use to make tortillas. There is singing as we finish. Later that night, the three of us visitors take part in a music session where the community sang the Himno Zapatista along with many rebel and folk songs, including some Irish ones (my contribution).

On Corozonar, Bats’i k’op and Listening Zapatistas do not ask one another the Spanish ‘como estas?’, but rather the Tsotsil ‘k’uxi jav o’on’ – not ‘how are you?, but rather ‘what is your heart telling you?’ This is one example of how language can emerge from (and shape our understanding of) a place or world. It also shows the emphasis that the Zapatistas place on listening – listening to our own hearts (corozonar) and to others’. Natalio explains to us that many Zapatistas use an indigenous language or ‘bats’i k’op’ (which translates as ‘real words’) to talk to one another. He emphasises at various points the need to live in the real world.

At the end of my stay, when Laila, Michael and I take the bus back to San Cristobal, we are bombarded with advertising for Coke and Pepsi, PRI and PAN, as well as the local radio chatter. Michael says it feels a bit like stepping out of the real world and back into ‘The Matrix’.

How are you like a tree? Where are our roots?

In our first conversation, Natalio, Stephanie, Michael and I read a story about Napí, an indigenous girl who likes to dream of another world in which she can fly with the birds of the forest. At one point in the story, we are told how Napí’s mother, soon after Napí was born, buried her umbilical cord at the roots of a great tree, in keeping with local Mayan custom. We are invited to reflect on how Napí understood the world as a child, as part of a family and a community and as part of her natural environment.

Natalio then asks us, ‘what happened to your umbilical cord?’ He suggests that this question of ‘where are our roots?’ is a question for life. If we want to grow upwards and outwards, we must find and grow roots – in our communities and in our environment. Later, Efrain suggests that finding our roots in a community is a means of recuperating and recovering our personality from capitalism in a ‘nosotr@s’ or ‘we ourselves’, or in intersubjectivity.

What does the earth mean?

The land is seen as La Madre Tierra, the fountain or source for all flora and fauna, for all our lives. Natalio tell us that there are many words for land. There is ‘balumil’ which is the entire world; ‘osil’ which is the land in which families live and work; and, in between, ‘lum’ or ‘jteklum’ which is the community’s territory and practices. He explains that the Zapatistas cannot live without land. In the history of the indigenous, being without land meant being without any rights or recognition or dignity. So as to conquer the locals better, the ranch barons divided indigenous communities into ‘mozos’ (those without land) and ‘valdios’ (those workers with a little land). Today, the Zapatistas allocate small plots of land to families where they work as equals and share resources.

What does work mean? We all go to a milpa or small hillside plot one morning. We help clear the overgrowth from the small plants or aloes that Natalio’s family cultivates. My academic hands are not used to using a pick or hoe; they blister quickly. After a short time, working together, we have managed to clear away quite a bit of the grassy overgrowth. Natalio then suggests we stop and we do. As we walk back, he explains that Zapatistas don’t work to a schedule but rather work until their bodies tell them they should stop.

As we develop this idea, Natalio explains that there are many words for work. A’mtel is human work, all those activities for yourself, your family, your community that you decide to do. Pak k’ak’al approximates those activities that you do and hope to receive something similar in return. P’iju’mtasbail – is a local word for working in common, as a brother or sister. These are all forms of real work. The third form is ‘Kanal’. This is unreal work in which you are not acting for yourself. Instead, you have a boss and there is a process of control from above; you do not have options or choices. People who are exploited in this way are termed ‘jkanal’.

What does education mean?

The Zapatista experience of state education – in which visiting teachers came occasionally and often proved violently disciplinarian – taught them that the state did not care about their children’s education or their future. This form of education based on writing and book-learning dates from the Conquest and is described as ‘el chan vun’. Today, the Zapatistas share a different form of education or ‘chanu’mtasbail’ in which all the community and the natural environment take on the role of ‘teacher’. Our classes are held in the same spirit. They involve a series of questions or videos or stories in the mornings that we are then invited to reflect on in the afternoon as we take part in other activities in the community. We then write some reflections and discuss these the following morning.

Do you consider yourself an anti-capitalist? Please explain why.

One sunny day we are taken across a river and to the top of a nearby mountain ridge where we sit in a circle in the shade of the pine trees. Efrain lays out seven cards each stating a Zapatista organising principle. He emphasises that these are not a model to be applied but more like ‘guides’ that emerge from the indigenous way of seeing and living. These are:

To propose, not to impose
To represent, not to supplant
To lower, not to elevate oneself
To serve, not to serve oneself
To obey, not to command
To convince, not to win
To create, not to destroy

The Zapatistas share a broad understanding of what it means to be anti-capitalist. In the Sexta Declaration, they side with the ‘humble and simple people’ of the world who are looking and struggling against and beyond neoliberalism, seeking dignity. Efrain says that an indigenous word ‘chulel’ captures the living quality of life, all the life force or energy involved in the earth, in one’s own life, even the potentialities latent in objects and things. Capitalism is a destroyer of ‘chulel’, of nature and of community. It promotes an extreme individualisation and dehumanisation. The Zapatistas are on a path or a way of true living, emerging out of and realising chulel.

References

The Sexta Declaration and many (many) more Zapatista communiqués are available at http://palabra.ezln.org.mx/ and http://enlacezapatista.ezln.org.mx/

Efrain suggested that I read Carlos Lenkerforf, who has written on Mayan languages in ‘Los Hombres Verdaderos’ and ‘Cosmovision Maya’, or Sup. Marcos (Yvon le Bot), ‘El Sueno Zapatista’. He also recommended the journalistic pieces written by Herman Bellinghausen in the newspaper, La Jornada.

In terms of anarchist writings, Murray Bookchin’s The Ecology of Freedom, a terrific analysis of the ecological and democratic sensibilities of organic communities, resonates with some of the ideas presented here. Articles by WSM members who participated in the Zapatista Encuentros are also available. Finally, I recently interviewed Gustavo Esteva on the links between the Zapatistas and today’s social movements’ resistance in the ‘zombie time’ of capitalism.

[1] This was a rare opportunity. The Zapatistas started limiting outsider involvement to prevent government or military informers infiltrating and undermining their communities. They recently opened the language school as a means of enabling outsiders to demonstrate solidarity, of spreading the Zapatista word, of generating some revenue for the communities, and of providing the communities with a soft form of protection from military incursions. About a third of the Mexican army has been stationed in Chiapas since the Zapatista uprising of 1994. International solidarity networks play a role in limiting the army’s violence.

 

.

*************************************************************

.

Sonora, Mexico: Indigenous Yaqui Persist in Opposition to Aqueduct

Filed under: Indigenous, water — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 6:15 am

 

Sonora, Mexico: Indigenous Yaqui Persist in Opposition to Aqueduct

   Tomás Rojo, Paola Pacheco, Alejandra Leyva and Monica Oehler, during the presentation of the report, A Failed Sentence: The Failure of the Mexican Government to Fulfil the Supreme Court Resolution Regarding the Yaqui Tribe's Right to Consultation, held at the Iberoamerican University Photo: Roberto García Ortiz


 
Tomás Rojo, Paola Pacheco, Alejandra Leyva and Monica Oehler, during the presentation of the report,
A Failed Sentence: The Failure of the Mexican Government to Fulfil the Supreme Court Resolution Regarding the Yaqui Tribe’s Right to Consultation, held at the Iberoamerican University
Photo: Roberto García Ortiz

Arturo Sánchez Jiménez

La Jornada. 24th February, 2015
For the Yaqui tribe, the Independence Aqueduct has been legally defeated. Tomás Rojo, spokesman for the tribe, said the megaproject is still operating because there are levels of government who have refused to obey the law and have violated human rights.

Rojo participated yesterday in the presentation of the report, A Failed Sentence: The Failure of the Mexican Government to Fulfil the Supreme Court Resolution Regarding the Yaqui Tribe’s Right to Consultation, prepared by the Civil Mission for Observation of the Consultation. It was held at the Iberoamerican University.

MV Note: Under the Mexican Constitution, indigenous tribes have a right to prior consultation regarding any governmental or private project that may affect their lands. In 2013, the Supreme Court ruled that such a consultation had not been held with the Yaqui and needed to be carried out. However, early in 2015, the Court ruled that the completed aqueduct could continue to function while the consultation was being carried out. 

Interviewed at the end of the ceremony, the spokesman said that last Monday a committee of representatives of the Yaqui people met with the head of the Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT), Juan José Guerra Abud, to discuss the consultation, mandated by the Supreme Court of Justice (SCJ), which must be held with the tribe regarding the aqueduct. The consultation process was stopped after the detention of indigenous leader, Mario Luna.

While consultation resumed last week at the stage at which it had been interrupted–providing the Yaqui with information about the aqueduct–Rojo said the tribe “has determined that (the authorities) want to end the consultation and only complete the formal procedure in order to accept the environmental impact statement regarding the aqueduct project. We have the suspicion that they do not want to give our consent the value that it should have.”

Therefore, reported Rojo, they will insist on the cancellation of the operation of the aqueduct before the consultation is ended, because a few days ago the opinion of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) was issued, which stated that the diversion of water from the basin of the Sonora Yaqui River had caused irreversible damages to the people who belong to this tribe.

The presentation of this report was lead by Alejandra Leyva, representative of the Mexican Commission for the Defense and Promotion of Human Rights; Monica Oehler Toca, from the area of ​​legal strategies of Amnesty International, and Pablo Reyna, director the Advocacy Program at the Iberoamerican University.

Leyva said the Observation Mission found that the right to prior consultation is the main violation of the guarantees of the tribe, as the Supreme Court ordered it to be held in 2013, when construction of the aqueduct had already been completed and it was functioning. She said that when the consultation is finished, the tribe’s decision regarding the aqueduct should be respected, “especially if it is found that there is irreparable damage” to them.

For her part, the representative of Amnesty International said that Mexico “seems to have everything in place regarding respect for the rights of indigenous peoples”, as the government has signed international treaties and laws have been created for this purpose. “But when we review a particular case, such as that of the Yaqui tribe, we see violations of their rights.”

The academic Adolfo Gilly, who for health reasons did not attend the presentation, sent a text in which he questioned whether the objective of the aqueduct is to exterminate the Yaqui.

Translated by Reed Brundage

Latest version of article in Spanish: http://www.jornada.unam.mx/ultimas/2015/02/24/acueducto-independencia-esta-201cderrotado-legalmente201d-vocero-yaqui-9075.html

 

 .

*********************************************************************

.

February 25, 2015

Celebrating a decade of Zapatismo in the City

Filed under: Movement for Justice in el Barrio — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 7:17 pm

 

Celebrating a decade of Zapatismo in the City

By Jessica Davies On February 24, 2015

Post image for Celebrating a decade of Zapatismo in the CityFor ten years the local people of El Barrio have been organizing horizontally to create non-authoritarian spaces of urban resistance and solidarity.

 

We fight so that:
The oceans and mountains will belong to those who live in and take care of them;
The rivers and deserts will belong to those who live in and take care of them;
The valleys and ravines will belong to those who live in and take care of them;
Homes and cities will belong to those who live in and take care of them;
No one will own more land than they can cultivate;
No one will own more homes than they can live in.

Ten years ago, in an area of East Harlem known as El Barrio, women from fifteen Mexican immigrant families came together to see how they could achieve decent housing in their community. They were fighting against gentrification and displacement, as their landlord was trying to force them out of their homes to attract wealthier tenants and transform their neighborhood. Since they had no previous organising experience, they knew there was much to learn. They listened to and supported each other, and in December 2004 they founded Movement for Justice in El Barrio (Movement).

Movement is made up of low-income tenants, the majority of whom are immigrants. Many are also indigenous. Forced by poverty to leave their beloved Mexico, they built a strong community in El Barrio, and were determined not to allow themselves to be displaced yet again. They understood that their struggle was against a neoliberal system made up of abusive landlords, property speculators, multinational corporations, corrupt politicians and government institutions seeking to push them away from their much-loved community.

Autonomy and self-determination

We believe that those who suffer injustice first-hand must design and lead their own struggles for justice.

Movement is built around the principles of autonomy, self-determination, and participatory democracy, and it is based on horizontal, leaderless forms of organization. Their goal is to create spaces where people can come together as a community to share their problems. In this way they can collectively come up with solutions, and it is the community itself that has the power. Movement believes that not being dependent on anyone to tell them what to do creates a strong foundation that can never be destroyed.

Consulting the community is the basis of  Movement’s organizing activity. Its members go door to door, building by building and block by block, getting to know people and forging strong relationships. Committees are formed in each building, and once a whole building is organized, they become members. Each building agrees on its own actions and forms of struggle. Movement is also deeply committed to fighting all forms of discrimination and respecting differences. Above all, this means listening to one another.

The group operates on many levels. In addition to door-knocking, it holds town hall meetings, community dialogues, street outreach, house meetings, and community-wide votes. It organises protests, marches and direct action. It makes clever use of the media, gives interviews and talks, and organizes gatherings. It uses tactics such as court actions and public condemnation, and once community consultations have been carried out, it campaigns on specific issues.


Movement for Justice in El Barrio: A Decade of Dignified Struggle

We all share a common enemy and it is called neoliberalism. Neoliberalism wishes to divide us and keep us from joining forces. We will defeat this by continuing to unite our entire community, until we achieve true liberation for all.

The organization faces many challenges. Most of its members speak no English and have had few opportunities for education. They have little access to media and information; very few of them have computers. In addition to all of the responsibilities that come with family life, they are forced to work ten- to fourteen-hour days, six or seven days a week. This makes it difficult for them to also attend four- or five-hour meetings to make decisions, and it is difficult for everyone to come together at the same time. Because everyone must be consulted, and all decisions are made collectively, it can take a long time to reach an agreement. Yet in spite of all these difficulties, the commitment and achievements of its members have been remarkable.

In keeping with its principles, Movement accepts no government funding and has no involvement with politicians or political parties. Its members know that it is essential to build bridges with other ignored, forgotten and marginalized communities including women, migrants, people of colour, and the LGBT community, and to build relationships with members of these organizations, who are also fighting against multiple forms of oppression.

Building community

Together, we resist with dignity and fight back against the actions of capitalist landlords and multinational corporations who are displacing poor families from our neighborhood. We fight back locally and across borders. We fight back against local politicians who refuse to obey the will of the people. We fight back against the government institutions that enforce a global economic, social and political system that seeks to destroy humanity.

Human beings were born to live in community — we cannot survive without each other. A society and culture that promotes individualism, everyone for themselves, also promotes loneliness, isolation and despair. Ten years ago, Movement’s current members did not even know each other, and they had no fellowship with the other inhabitants of their building. Now they resist, organize and celebrate victories together. They have built a community of friendship, love, trust and solidarity, and transformed their lives.

Many of the members of this remarkable organization believe that their greatest achievement over the last ten years has been to build a culture of resistance. This has led to a sense of identity and self-worth, of being a part of something that gives purpose and meaning to their lives. A new generation of children are growing up in an amazing environment of organizing, marching and of collective decision-making, and it makes a lasting impact on their lives, shining through in their vibrant community spirit.

The strength of the community Movement has created is reflected in the astonishing fact that not one of its members has been displaced over the last ten years. In fact, so far, they have won every battle with which they have been confronted. It is no wonder that Village Voice chose Movement as the “Best Power to the People Movement in New York City.”

Learning from other struggles

We have found ways to make our voices heard and to let our voices echo with the voices of other marginalized people resisting across the world.

When Movement was founded in December 2004, its members had no previous organizing experience. They began to look for other dignified struggles to learn from. When they read the Zapatista’s Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle, released in June 2005, members saw a mirror of themselves reflected in it. Since then, they have developed their own form of urban Zapatismo, and continue to look to their Zapatista compañeras and compañeros for inspiration in their daily struggle for justice and collective liberation.

With the women, as always, at the forefront, Movement has applied tools and ways of organizing they learned from the Zapatistas in their own local struggle. The Consultas de Barrio are fundamental to their work. These are neighborhood consultations that enable all local residents to identify the issues which most concern them. These consultations build and strengthen the community at the local level, helping them bring more people into the struggle, and ensure that all of their campaigns are driven by the entire El Barrio community.

Encuentros are a well-known Zapatista tradition that Movement has made its own in both New York and in Mexico. They serve as a way to link struggles and to build networks of solidarity. They say:

An Encuentro is a space for people to come together; it is a gathering. An Encuentro is not a meeting, a panel or a conference. It is a way of sharing developed by the Zapatistas as another form of doing politics: from below and to the left. It is a place where we can all speak, listen and learn. It is a place where we can share the many different struggles that make us one.

The next ten years

As they celebrate their tenth anniversary, Movement now has 900 members, 80% of whom are women, spread out over 85 building committees. Its dignified resistance continues to grow. Movement and its members have won numerous victories against the brutal landlords and multinational corporations who try to take away their homes and destroy their community. They have held politicians and city institutions to account and constructed a culture of resistance and a community of solidarity. They have formed strong bonds with groups in many countries, and their word has been heard around the world. As the Zapatistas say, the struggle continues.

We are struggling for housing, for education, for health, for freedom, for justice, for love, for a voice, for a space to exist, for peace, for respect, for ourselves, for our community, for dignity…for humanity. We stand in resistance, here, in our corner of the world. Together we will build a world where many worlds fit — un mundo donde quepan muchos mundos.

Jessica Davies is an activist and member of the UK Zapatista Solidarity Network. This article was originally published on Dorset Chiapas Solidarity.

 

http://roarmag.org/2015/02/horizontalism-zapatismo-el-barrio-nyc/

 

.

*********************************************************

.

Forced displacement of families, indigenous Tojolabales, from the community Primero de Agosto

Filed under: Displacement, Frayba, Human rights, Indigenous — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 6:24 am

 

Forced displacement of families, indigenous Tojolabales, from the community Primero de Agosto

 frayba

chd_frayba

Centro de Derechos Humanos

Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas, AC.

Urgent Action No. 01

San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, México

February 23, 2015

 

Forced displacement of families, indigenous Tojolabales, from the community Primero de Agosto

This Center for Human Rights received reliable documentary information about the forced displacement of 57 indigenous tojolabales, 12 of which are minors, one newborn, 20 women and 25 men residents of Primero de Agosto, action perpetrated 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.

According to reports, today at 8:00am, 50 members of the CIOAC-H, including Reynaldo Lopez Perez, Comisariado Ejidal, Antonio Mendez Perez, Agente Auxilar; and other authorities of the Ejido Miguel Hidalgo, municipality of Las Margaritas, entered the communityof Primero de Agosto, carrying high-powered weapons, surrounding the houses of the villagers, which resulted in the forced displacement of residents who fled for the nearest road to their community where they are currently in serious conditions for women and children, as they have no shelter, food, or security against possible aggressions by people from the ejido Miguel Hidalgo.

Because of this, the Center for Human Rights demands in an URGENT manner from the federal and state governments:

First: The necessary measures are taken to ensure the human rights of the displaced individuals, in accordance with the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement and other international treaties signed and ratified by the Mexican State.

Second: The investigation and punishment of those responsible for the displacement and damage to property and belongings of the residents of the community. As well as the omission incurred by municipal and state authorities, who have not given adequate and effective attention to this matter.

Third: Provide integral attention considering the guiding principles of internal displacement in the areas of humanitarian aid and reparations and compensation to indemnify private rights and safe reintegration or resettlement of the displaced families.

Background History: 

On January 22, 2015, Governor Manuel Velasco Coello, as well as various authorities were alerted on accusations in writing of an impending displacement made by authorities of the Ejido Miguel Hidalgo against settlers Primero de Agosto, municipality of Las Margaritas, where they were literally given a deadline to leave the land.

After several meetings of dialogue, the government of Chiapas reported in writing, on January 28, 2015, through the official document SG.SSORF/000123.004/131/017/15, signed by Lic. Jesus Esquinca Meza, Undersecretary of the Government Region XV, Meseta Comiteca Tojolabal, which said “It seems exceeded in order to find a solution to the conflict, given the complexity of the case” and also stated that “the issue was raised to the coordination of Government Undersecretaries for attention”.

Since December 17, 2014, the Center for Human Rights issued an Urgent Action of threats of displacement against residents of Primero de Agosto , which has already been perpetrated by members of the CIOAC-H.

On August 1, 2013, 17 families, indigenous Tojolabales, in need of work and access to land, took possession of a wasteland called “predio el Roble” which was not being worked or occupied. The families of Primero de Agosto have been assaulted and threatened by ejidatarios of the Ejido Miguel Hidalgo since they took possession of the land.

We ask the national and international civil society to join in solidarity by disseminating the allegations, signing and sending this urgent action to the authorities listed here. Thank you in solidarity, please send appeals to:

for names and addresses, please see: http://www.frayba.org.mx/archivo/acciones_urgentes/150223_au01_primero_de_agosto_ingles.doc.pdf

 Send a copy to:

Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas, A.C.  Calle Brasil 14, Barrio Méxicanos, CP: 29240 San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, México  Tel: 967 6787395, 967 6787396, Fax: 967 6783548  Correo: accionesurgentes@frayba.org.mx

.

*****************************************************

.

February 24, 2015

BoCa En BoCa #29 in English

Filed under: Boca en Boca — Tags: — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 6:55 pm

 

BoCa En BoCa #29 in English

BEB29englogo

If it’s necessary, if the cause is just,
if it’s for the good of my people,
I’m ready to die,
because we’ve found no other way
of getting justice”.
.
Comandanta Ramona
.
There are many peoples who, for the cause of dignity, freedom, justice, or the needs of their community, are ready to give their life to improve the lives of their people.
.
As we have seen in recent months, parents, families and friends of the 43 disappeared students of the Raul Isidro Burgos School, have decided to fight for their people, to not be afraid, and to have a single goal: freedom and justice.
.
The members of the San Sebastian Bachajon ejido,who have been fighting for four years to defend their land and common goods, and to struggle for freedom and justice (intensively so since 21 December) – also for freedom and justice.
.

Download It

.

Freedom and justice also for Las Abejas of Acteal, who continue to suffer repression from the government, and also continue without justice for the massacre of 1997; Freedom and justice for the members of the Tila ejido, who are defending the rights of the assembly of the ejido as their highest decision-making body; Freedom and justice for the village of Primero de Agosto, who are struggling for their rights to be respected and for a dignified life. Freedom and justice in the struggle against violence committed against women, and against migrants; Also, for the displaced people of Banavil, and for all of the members of the Indigenous National Congress, for the members of the Pueblo Creyente, in other words all those who face repression in their struggle for life.
.
As the compañeros of the Indigenous National Congress put it: “this cowardly aggression by the bad government shows us their fear of us, those who come from below and to the left. Those who come from our communities and villages, our cities and countries to this festival, come to be together, to listen to each other and share the ways we rebel and resist, to multiply our strength in that way, and to share our pain for those who are missing”.
.
We remind you that via the PDF version of this document you can find the links to the full articles which provide more information on the stories in this bulletin.
.
If you need this bulletin in another language, or if you are able to translate this into another language, send us an email!
.
We also invite you to follow us on our Facebook page: “Kolectivo BoKa En BoKa”.
.
Saludos and Resistencias
.
Kolectivo De BoKa En BoKa
.
.
BEB29engp1
.
BEB29engp2
.
***********************************************************
.

February 22, 2015

URGENT: Ejidatarios from the PRI and police officers enter the liberated ejido lands

Filed under: Autonomy, Bachajon, Displacement, Human rights, Indigenous, La Sexta, Repression — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 5:10 pm

 

URGENT: Ejidatarios from the PRI and police officers enter the liberated ejido lands

 DSC01846-web-500x333

Ejidatarios from the PRI, guarded by several police cars and trucks of the state police, have entered in recent days the area of Agua Azul where the organized ejidatarios of San Sebastián Bachajón are to be found. According to their affirmation, there are threats of eviction and they are aware that an ambush is being prepared to evict the Regional Headquarters and displace the ejidatarios from the recuperated area which belongs to the ejido of San Sebastián.

The first intrusion took place last February 19 at 9 am, when about 45 officialists (pro-government,) party members, and people from the ejidal commission of Alejandro Moreno Gómez came to Agua Azul guarded by several police cars. They gained access to Agua Azul by the Pinquinteel turning in the municipality of Tumbalá, and by the Saquil.Ulub turning in the ejido of San Sebastián. Once there, they intimidated and threatened the compañer@s who are guarding the San Sebastián Regional Headquarters and those who are charging entrance fees to Agua Azul.

The commissioner Alejandro Moreno Gomez insisted on making arrangements to collect [the toll] together with the independent ejidatarios from Agua Azul in Tumbalá. But they denied that CONANP has again become the administrator of the natural resources and the income they generate.  Having failed to reach any agreement, the party supporters withdrew along with state, municipal and judicial police at 4pm.

On February 20, the party supporters returned, entered again and set up camp on the land which was dispossessed in 2011, guarded by 3 state trucks.

Construction of crimes

DSCN0678-web-200x150Another form of repression and harassment being suffered by the ejidatarios adherents to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle is by the legal and media path through the construction of crimes. The main accusation that they receive is that of being the authors of the assaults that occur on the stretch of road between Ocosingo and Palenque. Already several ejidatarios have been imprisoned on charges of robbery and assault, and it appears that the municipal government plans to charge them again so as to be able to issue arrest warrants as a result of some events which occurred on 17th January.

On 17th January three attackers were arrested on the section of the highway between Ocosingo and Palenque. These offenders have been known to the police who patrol this section for the last four years. In spite of this, in the prosecution district Selva Palenque, Juan Alvaro Moreno from Xanil is negotiating their release. As the organized ejidatarios explain, it is intended to blame the adherents to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle for the crimes committed by these criminals, telling the population and the tourists that the “hooded ones” are the attackers.

By referring in this way to the ejidatarios adherents to the Sixth, the police seek to create confusion and fear to divide the population.

The media are also complicit in this strategy of governments and big businesses to criminalize the independent ejidatarios and the adherents to the Sixth. Through various media campaigns in which they emphasize the uncertainty on the highway, making a direct associated between the roadblocks and the attacks, they are justifying a supposed security plan. This plan was coordinated between the General Secretariat of Government, the security and the law enforcement agencies and was introduced on 6th February. Its application means the introduction of more police units in to the area between Ocosingo and Palenque.

DSCN0671-web-500x281

Opinion

It is not valid to incriminate the Zapatistas [supporters] for the crimes committed on this stretch of the highway, because their struggle is against the dispossession of their lands. Some years ago the compañer@s even collaborated in the arrests of these attackers because few people live in this stretch, and the risk they pose to the security of the municipalities is well known. As an organization they should not be held responsible for these criminals because what they seek is justice.

http://komanilel.org/2015/02/21/urgente-ejidatarios-priistastas-y-policias-entran-en-las-tierras-ejidales-liberadas/

.

*********************************************************

.

In San Sebastián Bachajón the struggle for life and territory continues: autonomy, resistance and organization.

Filed under: Autonomy, Bachajon, Corporations, Displacement, Human rights, Indigenous, La Sexta — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 2:02 pm


In San Sebastián Bachajón the  struggle for life and territory continues: autonomy, resistance and organization.

20150208_101135_Mx_Chiapas_Bachajon_w1024_par_ValK-500x333

Ejidatarios from the PRI threaten to evict the new Regional Headquarters

After several years, the conflict in San Sebastián Bachajón has reached a moment of high tension. On the one hand, ejidatarios both adherents to Sixth and independents, hold their positions in the area of ​​Agua Azul, defend the territory from the new Regional Headquarters of Bachajón and demand the formal resignation of the old government-supporting (officialist) commissioner. On the other hand, the national government keeps public forces in the area and supports the ejidatarios co-opted by the PRI who threaten to evict the Regional Headquarters.

Independent ejidatarios and adherents to the sixth depose the officialist commissioner

acta-de-asamblea-EjidatariosBachajOn-375x500After several assemblies held in the centres of population of the ejido San Sebastián Bachajón, the ejidatarios from the three centres met together in an assembly held on 7th February 7 outside the ejido house of San Sebastián Bachajón. In this assembly it was agreed to dismiss the officialist ejido commissioner Alejandro Moreno Gómez, and Samuel Díaz Guzmán, president of the vigilance council, for the mismanagement of economic and natural resources, and their formal resignation was demanded. In their place, the ejidatarios declared representatives from each population centre of the ejido: Chich, Alan Sacjun and Bachajón.

The minutes of the meeting were given to the governor of Chiapas, Manuel Velasco Coello, on 9th February in Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas, along with other public officials, in order to report the changes occurring in the ejido San Sebastián Bachajón.

The withdrawal of CONANP and public forces are formally demanded

At the assembly, those attending read the agreement approved, on February 11 of 2011, in the city of Tuxtla Gutiérrez by Francisco Jiménez Guzmán then ejidal commissioner and agreed to its cancellation. The agreement, which the ejidatarios never had knowledge of, declared the Treasury of the State of Chiapas to be the sole administrator of the income from the toll booth located at the entrance road to the waterfalls of Agua Azul. The management was undertaken through the National Commission of Natural Protected Areas, beyond the limits of the protected natural area within its jurisdiction and within the ejido of San Sebastián Bachajón.

Indeed, that same year CONANP altered the plan of the Natural Protected Area, modifying the limits of the area established by the Decree of 1980, thus violating the territory of the ejidatarios to the benefit of the federal government through the control of the region. In this way they were exerting their activity, despite the warning of the ejidatarios and the report of independent experts from the National Autonomous University of Mexico, showing that they were transgressing the limits of ejido. This exercise of CONANP also meant the continued presence of public forces within the territory of the ejidatarios.

The assembly also agreed the obligation of the former commissioner to hand over the cash box and the audit of the accounts of the toll booth located on the road to Agua Azul. It also decided that from now onwards both the toll booth and the gravel bank would be managed by the ejido representatives of the three centres of population and by the ejidatarios adherents to the Sixth, without the intervention of government authorities.

Collusion between municipal authorities and national government

The interest of the state and national government in controlling the disputed territory needs to be mentioned, since thanks to its natural resources it is proposed as a strategic area for the tourism sector, and therefore a source of income. It is no coincidence that the arrival of the ejido commissioner that is to say, the ejidatarios from the PRI, in Bachajón, took place in 2007, just when the Palenque Integrally Planned Center (CIPP) was introduced. The CIPP is a macroproject for the construction of infrastructure and the equipping of areas for tourist development in the area around Palenque. The entrance of the PRI into the role of ejido commissioner brought new conflicts, including the lack of transparency in the management of the toll booth on the road to Agua Azul. It also created a social divide between pro-government and independent ejidatarios which is heightened day by day through some counterinsurgency strategies of the state. Strategies known as aid programmes, basic food baskets or even the handing over of housing in poor condition to party supporters and voters in order that they remain faithful to the party political leaders, and in extreme cases, that they will participate in forced evictions.

PRI ejidatarios agree to evict the Regional Headquarters

Specifically, an assembly of officialist political leaders and ejidatarios from the PRI decided to evict the Regional Headquarters after Tuesday 10th February if the national public forces had not done so by then. The assembly was held on Sunday 1st February 1 in Bachajon, in the municipality of Chilón and was attended by the officialist ejido commissioner and by several political officers of the PRI from the municipality of Chilón and the region.

In the assembly, the PRI leaders accused the ejidatarios, adherents to the Sixth, and the independent ejidatarios of San Sebastián Bachajón of having regained control of the territory located around the community of Agua Azul, in the ejido San Sebastián. Likewise, the local leaders insisted to the PRI ejidatarios that they themselves should be the ones to evict the organized ejidatarios if the federal government did not do so during the ten-day period ending on Tuesday 10th February. This agreement was made with the complicity and consent of political officers from Yajalón and neighbouring municipalities, and the Undersecretary of Government of the fourteenth region, which includes the municipalities of Chilo, Yajalón, Ocosingo and Tila.

asambleaPriistas-500x493As shown in the photograph, several political officers were present during the making of the agreement, including members of the officialist ejidal commission of San Sebastián Bachajón such as Alejandro Moreno Gómez, ejido commissioner; Samuel Diaz Guzman, from the vigilance council and Manuel Moreno Jiménez, training adviser to the officialists and lawyer to the officialist commissioner of San Sebastián. But also members of neighbouring municipalities such as Oscar Miguel Sánchez Alpuche, undersecretary of government of Yajalón and Francisco Demeza, government delegate of the government of Chilón in the Undersecretariat of government in region XIV.

Precedents in 2011

It would not be the first time that this happened. In February 2011, Carmen Aguilar Gomez and Francisco Guzman Jiménez, the ejidal commissioner at the time, were the officials who led the PRI ejidatarios to evict the organized ejidatarios from the area around Agua Azul. Their intervention was supported by the state government at all times. Proof of this was when the following day, national and state public forces entered the territory and arrested 117 ejidatarios adherents to Sixth under the pretext that it was all an intra-community conflict.

20150208_095151_Mx_Chiapas_Bachajon_w1024_par_ValK-500x333

http://komanilel.org/2015/02/16/en-san-sebastian-bachajon-la-lucha-por-la-vida-y-el-territorio-continua-autonomia-resistencia-y-organizacion/

 .

***********************************************************

.

 

 

 

 

February 20, 2015

Communiqué from San Sebastián Bachajón February 14 2015

Filed under: Autonomy, Bachajon, Corporations, Displacement, Indigenous, La Sexta, Political prisoners, Repression, Tourism — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 12:20 pm

 

Communiqué from San Sebastián Bachajón February 14 2015

San Sebastián Bachajón denounces the creation of false crimes of highway assault and organized crime to undermine their struggle

20150207_175039_Mx_Chiapas_Bachajon_w1024_par_ValK 

FROM EJIDO SAN SEBASTIAN BACHAJÓN, ADHERENTS TO THE SIXTH DECLARATION OF THE LACANDON JUNGLE, CHIAPAS, MEXICO, 14 FEBRUARY 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

Compañeros and compañeras, we inform you that the bad government is using a strategy of supposed tourist businesses to create an environment of persecution against indigenous communities, but especially of our organization, through false accusations of assault on the highway and organized crime, in order to undermine our struggle by presenting us as thieves or criminals, for this reason they are increasingly sending police to our region of San Sebastian, which is near the Agua Azul turning on the road from Ocosingo to Palenque, because they can find no way to stop us defending our territory and as they see that more and more of the brother and sister ejidatarios are opening their eyes to the bad policy of the government and therefore leaving increasingly more isolated the ejidal commissioner Alejandro Moreno Gomez and the vigilance councillor Samuel Diaz Guzman, who have no one to embrace them but their patrons the bad governments.

This trick of the bad government to accuse us of false crimes of assault and organized crime is the same as in 2009 and 2011, when they imprisoned the political prisoner compañeros for defending the land, but we are not afraid of the government’s threats, we demand that the three levels of bad government respect the people and organized communities, because we will not rest in the defence of the land and our rights as a people.

We demand the withdrawal of the public forces from our lands which have been dispossessed since February 2011 and of the National Commission for Protected Natural Areas.

 

We demand freedom for our political prisoners Juan Antonio Gómez Silvano, Mario Aguilar Silvano and Roberto Gómez Hernández and for the unjustly imprisoned compañeros Santiago Moreno Pérez, Emilio Jiménez Gómez and Esteban Gómez Jiménez.

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!

JUSTICE FOR AYOTZINAPA, ACTEAL, ABC, ATENCO!

 

.

***************************************************

.

 

 

February 17, 2015

Five lights amidst the fog of the Bachajon conflict

Filed under: Autonomy, Bachajon, Corporations, Displacement, Human rights, Indigenous, La Sexta, Movement for Justice in el Barrio — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 9:04 pm

 

Five lights amidst the fog of the Bachajon conflict

by Aldabi Olvera

bachajon10

First Light: the project for a “Cancun for Chiapas”

A “Cancun for Chiapas”, the “Entrance to the Mayan World”, “the Mayan route, the end of an era, for you, a new journey”: all of this in the northern zone of Chiapas, a key location for the economic development plans of the state government. In 2007, media coverage took off with the announcement of the CIPP (Centro Integralmente Planeado Palenque, or “Palenque Holistically Planned Centre), a development that had been mothballed for eight years. The plan aimed to bring together a series of mega projects, taking in the waterfalls at Agua Azul and Misol Ha, the beaches at Catazaja, the Mayan ruins at Palenque and the surrounding Lacandon Forest. The concept included not only hotel developments, a theme park, golf course and residential and commercial development, but also an airport for Palenque (opened in 2014) and a motorway connecting San Cristobal de Las Casas and Palenque. This development prospect would affect at least seven municipalities in Chiapas: Catazajá, Chilón, Ocosingo, Salto de Agua, Tumbalá and Palenque.

LINKS

Information obtained in a Point of Order in the federal senate, regarding the progress of the overall mega project as of 2010 (in Spanish)

http://sil.gobernacion.gob.mx/Archivos/Documentos/2010/10/asun_2690699_20101014_1287105872.pdf

Article in Spanish on the proposed San Cristobal – Palenque highway

http://www.masde131.com/2014/10/de-la-raza-a-la-resistencia-los-perjuicios-de-la-carretera-san-cristobal-palenque/

Article in English from the Financial Times about the Agua Azul conflict
http://www.cgtchiapas.org/sites/default/files/mexicoparadiseindisputeft.com_.pdf

 

There is however an obstacle in in the way of these projects and their implementation, one which also lies between the ambitions of hotel and construction companies and the abundant nature of the region. This obstacle is the ancestral territory and the ejidos of the indigenous peoples of the region, in particular the Tseltal Mayans of San Sebastian Bachajon.

The Second Light: Ejido Territories and Defending the Land

It’s enough to flick through the novel Balun Canan to get a sense of the contempt of the colonisers, as well as the struggle for the land, which has been the experience of the Tseltal people for 522 years. After the Mexican revolution of 1910, land was redistributed to peasants through the communal structure of the ejido. This was also achieved after the 1994 Zapatista uprising, when indigenous people across Chiapas managed to recover other lands from the hands of big land-owners.

Today, these ejidos and communally-owned territories still exist. Some are forest; others are used for cattle ranching or for the cultivation of maize or coffee.

The Tseltal people of San Sebastian Bachajon were late in obtaining official recognition for the lands of their ejido, which only took place in 1980. The ejido’s lands cover around 70,000 hectares, making it one of the largest ejidos in the country. As in all ejidos, power to make decisions over any part its territory lies only with the ejido’s general assembly. The position of ejido commissioner (today occupied by Alejandro Moreno Gomez) has a role limited to executing decisions made by that assembly.

The current conflict in the ejido dates back to the launch of the CIPP project, and worsened with an armed eviction that took place on 2 February 2011. This was carried out by a group from the villages of Pamala and Xanil, headed by Manuel Jimenez Moreno and Juan Alvaro Moreno respectively, with the support of around 800 state and federal police. Following this, in March 2011 Franciso Guzman Jimenez, ex-commissioner of the San Sebastian Bachajon ejido, made an agreement with ministers from the government of ex-Governor of Chiapas, Juan Sabines Guerrero and with representatives of the village of Agua Azul, which handed over an area of land to the Chiapas state government and to the National Commission for Natural Protected Areas (CONANP, from its initials in Spanish). Under this agreement a tollbooth was set up on the road leading to the waterfalls, at the point where the ejido’s lands border those of neighbouring Tumbala municipality. None of this was done with the free, informed and prior consent of the ejido members.

In response, ejido members, including women, children and old people, set up their own tollbooth, pledging their support for the Zapatista movement’s Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Forest.

In February 2014, the Los Llanos ejido, located in the municipality of San Cristobal de Las Casas, and inhabited by Tsotsil Mayans, applied for an injunction against the new motorway which had been announced in November the previous year by the state Government Secretary General, Eduardo Ramirez Aguilar, on the grounds that it would affect their lands. In August 2014, an assembly in the ejido of San Jeronimo Bachajon (neighbouring the San Sebastian ejido) gave an emphatic no to the construction of the San Cristobal – Palenque motorway. From these actions arose the Movement for Defence of Life and Territory. On October 12, the Los Llanos ejido celebrated a day of resistance with indigenous peoples from other settlements and organizations, including those from San Sebastian Bachajon.

B-AMRMmCcAA-M6Y

Third Light: Aggression and Violence by the State

Juan Vazquez Guzman, spokesman and coordinator of the Supporters of the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Forest (“La Sexta”), was assassinated on 24 April 2013. The authorities have yet to shed any light on his murder, or to arrest anyone in connection with it. And then on 21 March 2014, Juan Carlos Gomez Silvano, the new coordinator of La Sexta in Bachajon was also murdered.

More than 120 members of this group have been detained by the municipal and state police at various moments since it was founded in 2007. Currently three political prisoners remain incarcerated in State Prison Number 12, at Yajalon, Chiapas: Juan Antonio Gomez Silvano, Mario Aguilar Silvano and Roberto Gomez Hernandez.

LINKS:

Tseltal Mayans Arrested and Tortured in Chiapas (in Spanish)
http://www.masde131.com/2014/09/y-ahora-apresan-y-torturan-a-tres-tzeltales-de-chiapas-tambien-del-congreso-nacional-indigena/

Testimonies of Four Indigenous Prisoners in Chiapas (in Spanish)
http://www.masde131.com/2014/10/tejido-testimonial-de-cuatro-indigenas-presos-en-chiapas/ Tejido testimonial de cuatro presos indígenas en Chiapas

 

Coinciding with the start of the Festival of Resistance and Rebellions against Capitalism on 21 December 2014, members of La Sexta decided to re-occupy the land where the toll-booth had been installed. On 9 January they were evicted by more than 800 police. Last weekend, they again decided to recover the toll-booth by blocking the Ocosingo – Palenque highway at the turn-off for Agua Azul. This was achieved, at the cost of being attacked with rubber bullets and firing of live ammunition. Helicopters hovered over the area, and over the houses of La Sexta members, taking photos. At the current moment, according to the available information, police and persons linked to the ejido commissioner have control of the Agua Azul waterfalls.

Fourth Light: Legal Battles Occurring alongside Territorial Defence

No-one has consulted them, no-one has asked if they need, or are in agreement with the planned mega-projects. Not to speak of respecting the autonomy that they have over their ancestral lands. For this reason the legal defence of Bachajon is based on agrarian law, on Convention 169 of the International Labour Organization, on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and on Chiapas’s Law for Dialogue, Conciliation and A Dignified Peace. These grant indigenous peoples the right to free, informed and prior consent in relation to their lands and natural resources, and the right to free determination of their affairs, among other things.

Mariano Moreno Guzman, an elderly member of the community and an ex-ejido commissioner who was one of the ejido members who secured the original registration of its lands, has represented the community in a legal appeal (case reference 274/2011) to the Seventh District Judge in Tuxtla Gutierrez, the state capital of Chiapas. On 29 September last year the Third Collegiate Tribunal in Tuxtla ruled in favour of sending the dispute for adjudication to the federal Supreme Court, noting the following:

“The appeal is justified on the grounds that its legal case seeks to defend the collective rights of the community against the complicity of the ejido commissioner with the expropriatory acts of the federal government and State of Chiapas. Various claims are made in it, including denial and lack of access to justice by indigenous peoples, their right to be consulted, and the need for their free, prior and informed consent”.

On 19 November, the Second Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice, decided not to accept the case. As a result, the case was returned to the Third Collegiate Tribunal in Tuxtla Gutierrez so that this body could rule on the issue of the alleged violations of indigenous people’s rights.

20150208_095003_Mx_Chiapas_Bachajon_w1024_par_ValK (1)

Fifth Light: Counter Propaganda and the Free Press on the Bachajon Case

Various media in Chiapas have visited Bachajon to research news stories and documentaries on what is going on there. Websites such as Koman Ilel, Kolectivo Zero and Pozol, as well as Subversiones and Radio Zapote (in addition to other networks) have published bulletins, videos and photos about the area. Members of La Sexta in Bachajon have also worked with the Movimiento por Justicia del Barrio in New York, as this organisation has supported the ejido since 2011, maintaining a blog for denunciations, petitions and opinion pieces (see http://vivabachajon.wordpress.com/).

A year ago Másde131 [which originally published this article in Spanish] made a documentary which explains the wider context [available at this link in Spanish; English subtitles can also be selected when viewing the video] The Struggle for Life and Death at the Agua Azul Waterfalls.

 

Translated by Fionn O’Sullivan

http://www.masde131.com/2015/01/cinco-luces-del-conflicto-en-bachajon-y-las-cascadas-de-agua-azul/

.

********************************************************

.

 

From Chiapas to Rojava: seas divide us, autonomy binds us

Filed under: Autonomy, Women, Zapatista — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 7:43 pm

 

From Chiapas to Rojava: seas divide us, autonomy binds us

Post image for From Chiapas to Rojava: seas divide us, autonomy binds us

Despite being continents apart, the struggles of the Kurds and Zapatistas share a similar purpose: to resist capitalism, liberate women and build autonomy.

Image: Tierra y Libertad by Matt Verges

Power to the people can only be put into practice when the power exercised by social elites is dissolved into the people.

― Murray Bookchin, Post-Scarcity Anarchism

Only six months ago very few people had ever heard of Kobani. But when ISIS launched its futile attack on the town in September 2014, the little Kurdish stronghold quickly became a major focal point in the struggle against the religious extremists. In the months that followed, Kobani was transformed into an international symbol of resistance, compared to both Barcelona and Stalingrad for its role as a bulwark against fascism.

The brave resistance of the People’s and Women’s Defense Units (YPG and YPJ) was praised by a broad spectrum of groups and individuals — from anarchists, leftists and liberals to right-wing conservatives — who expressed sympathy and admiration for the men and women of Kobani in their historical battle against the forces of ISIS.

As a result, the mainstream media was soon forced to break its silence on the plight of the Kurds of Northern Syria, who had declared their autonomy in the summer of 2012. Numerous articles and news stories depicted the “toughness” and determination of the Kurdish fighters, often with a dose of romanticization. Nonetheless, the media attention was often selective and partial. The very essence of the political project in Rojava (Western Kurdistan) went unreported and Western journalists generally preferred to present the resistance in Kobani as an inexplicable exception to the supposed barbarism of the Middle East.

Unsurprisingly, the victorious flag of the YPG/YPJ brandishing the iconic red star was not a pleasing image to the eyes of the Western powers. The autonomous cantons of Rojava represent a homegrown solution to the conflicts in the Middle East, focusing on gender equality, environmental sustainability and horizontal democratic processes including all different ethnic and social groups, while simultaneously resisting the terror from ISIS and rejecting both liberal democracy and capitalist modernity.

Although many in the West preferred to stay silent on the issue, the Kurdish activist and academic Dilar Dirik has rightly claimed that the ideological foundations of the Kurdish movement for democratic autonomy are key to understanding the spirit that has inspired the Kobani resistance.

Enough is enough!

As the battle for every street and corner of the city intensified, Kobani managed to capture the imagination of the global left — and of left-libertarian groups in particular — as a symbol of resistance. It was not without reason that the Turkish Marxist-Leninist group MLKP, which joined the YPG/YPJ on the battlefield, raised the flag of the Spanish Republic over the ruins of the city on the day of its liberation whilecalling for the formation of International Brigades, following the example of the Spanish Revolution.

It was not necessarily the battle for Kobani itself, but the libertarian essence of the cantons of Rojava, the implementation of direct democracy at the grassroots, and the participation of women in the autonomous government that gave grounds to such historical comparisons. But Rojava was not just compared to revolutionary Catalonia. Another striking comparison — with the struggle of the Zapatistas for autonomy in the south of Mexico — might in fact be key to understanding the paradigm of the revolution in Kurdistan and what it means for those who believe that another world is possible.

Ever since it first appeared on the scene in the early 1990s, the Zapatista movement has probably been one of the most symbolic and most influential elements of the revolutionary imagination worldwide. In the morning of January 1, 1994, an unknown guerrilla force composed of indigenous Mayas took over the main towns of Chiapas, Mexico’s poorest state. The military operation was carried out with strategic brilliance and combined with an innovative use of the internet it resonated around the globe, inspiring international solidarity and the emergence of the Global Justice Movement.

The Zapatistas rebelled against neoliberalism and the social and cultural genocide of the indigenous population of Mexico. Ya Basta!, or ‘Enough is Enough!’, was the battle cry of the rebellion which was the “product of 500 years of oppression,” as the First Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle stated. The Zapatistas rose up in arms right as global capital was celebrating the presumed end of history, and the idea of social revolution seemed to be a romantic anachronism that belonged to the past. The Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) was soon forced out of the cities after intense battles with the federal army that lasted for twelve days. However, it turned out that the deep horizontal organization of the indigenous communities could not be eradicated by any state terror or military campaigns.

The masked spokesperson of the rebel army, Subcomandante Marcos, challenged the notion of the historical vanguard and opposed to it the idea of “revolution from below,” a form of social struggle that does not aim to take over state power but rather seeks to abolish it. This conceptualization of autonomy and direct democracy then became central to many of the mass anti-capitalist movements we have seen since — from the protests at Seattle and Genoa to the occupations of Syntagma, Puerta del Sol and Zuccotti Park.

A shared historical trajectory

The roots of the struggle for democratic autonomy in Rojava can be found in the history of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the organization that has been central to the Kurdish liberation movement ever since its creation in 1978. The PKK was established as a Marxist-Leninist guerrilla group in Northern Kurdistan (Southeastern Turkey) combining a form of Kurdish nationalism with the struggle for social emancipation. Under the leadership of Abdullah Öcalan it grew into a substantial guerrilla force that managed to withstand the attacks of NATO’s second biggest army in a conflict that claimed the lives of more than 40.000 people over the course of thirty years.

The Turkish state displaced hundreds of thousands and reportedly used torture, assassination and rape against the civilian population. Yet it did not manage to break the Kurdish resistance. Since its inception, the PKK has expanded its influence both in Turkey and in the other parts of Kurdistan. The leading political force in the Rojava revolution — the Democratic Union Party (PYD) — was founded as the PKK’s sister organization in Syria after the former had been banned in the late 1990s. Currently, the two organizations are connected through the Kurdistan Communities’ Union (KCK), the umbrella organization that encompasses various revolutionary and political groups sharing the ideas of the PKK.

The ideology uniting the different civil and revolutionary groups in the KCK is called democratic confederalism and is based on the ideas of the US anarchist Murray Bookchin, who argued in favor of a non-hierarchical society based on social ecology, libertarian municipalism and direct democracy. After Öcalan was captured by the Turkish state in 1999 and sentenced to life imprisonment, he rejected the PKK’s Marxist-Leninist past. Instead, he turned towards Bookchin, leading to a conviction that local and regional autonomy for Kurdish communities is in fact the most viable solution.

Although the Zapatistas are famous for their autonomous self-governance and rejection of the notion of a historical vanguard, the roots of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation were similarly Marxist-Leninist in nature. Just like the PKK, the Zapatistas’ ideas of self-governance and revolution from below were a product of a long historical evolution.

The EZLN was founded in 1983 by a group of urban guerrillas who decided to start a revolutionary cell among the indigenous population in Chiapas, organize a military force and eventually take state power through guerrilla warfare. Soon they realized that their vanguardist ideological dogma was not applicable to the cultural realities of the local communities, and they started learning from the indigenous peoples’ traditions of communal governance. Thus Zapatismo was born as a fusion between Western Marxism and the experience and knowledge of the native American population that has been resisting the colonial Spanish state and the federal Mexican state for five centuries.

This shared ideological trajectory of the two guerrilla organizations demonstrates a historical turn in contemporary understandings of the revolutionary process. The Zapatista uprising and the construction of autonomy in Chiapas marked a break with the traditional strategy of foquismo, inspired predominantly by the Cuban Revolution. The rejection of vanguardism was made very clear in a letter Subcomandante Marcos wrote to the Basque liberation movement ETA, wherein he clearly stated: “I shit on all revolutionary vanguards on this planet.”

In Chiapas, it is not the vanguard that leads the people — it is up to the people themselves to build the revolution from below and sustain it as such. Now this is the logic the PKK has been shifting towards in the last decade under the influence of Murray Bookchin, demonstrating its transformation from a movementfor the people into a movement of the people.

Cantons and Caracoles

Probably the most important similarity between the revolutions in Rojava and Chiapas is the social and political re-organization that is taking place in both regions on the basis of the libertarian socialist worldview of the PKK and EZLN.

The Zapatistas’ struggle for autonomy originated from the failure of the peace negotiations with the Mexican government after the uprising in 1994. During the peace negotiations the rebels demanded that the government adhere to the San Andres accords, which gave the indigenous people the right to greater self-determination over education, justice and political organization based on their traditions as well as communal control over land and local resources.

These accords were never implemented by the government and in 2001 President Fox backed an edited version that was passed by Congress but that did not meet the demands of the Zapatistas and the other groups of the indigenous resistance. Two years later, the EZLN created five rebel zones, or Caracoles(“snails” in English), that now serve as administrative centers. The name Caracoles represented the particular revolutionary temporality of the Zapatistas: “We are doing it ourselves, we learn in the process and we advance. Slowly, but we advance.”

The Caracoles include three levels of autonomous government: the community, the municipality and the Council of Good Government. The first two are based on grassroots assemblies; the Councils of Good Government are elected but with the intention to get as many people as possible to participate in the councils over the years through a principle of rotation. The Caracoles have their own education, healthcare and justice systems, as well as cooperatives producing coffee, creating handicrafts and rearing cattle, among other things.

In some way, the cantons in Rojava resemble the Caracoles. They were proclaimed by the Movement for a Democratic Society (TEV-DEM) in 2013 and function through the newly established popular assemblies and People’s Councils. Women participate equally in decision-making processes and are represented in all elected positions, which are always shared by a man and a woman.

All ethnic groups are represented in the different councils and its institutions. Healthcare and education are also guaranteed by the system of democratic confederalism. Recently the first Rojavan university, the Mesopotamian Social Sciences Academy, opened its doors with plans to challenge the hierarchical structure of education and to provide a different approach to learning.

Just as is the case with the Zapatistas, the revolution in Rojava envisions itself as a possible solution to the problems of the whole country and the region as a whole. It is not just an expression of separatist tendencies. As a delegation of academics from Europe and North America that visited Rojava recentlyclaimed, this genuinely democratic system points to a different future for the Middle East — a future based on popular participation, the liberation of women and a just peace between different ethnic groups.

A women’s revolution

Gender has always been central to the Zapatista revolution. Before the dissemination of autonomous forms of organization and the adoption of women’s liberation as central to the struggle, the position of women was marked by exploitation, marginalization, forced marriage, physical violence and discrimination.

This is why Subcomandante Marcos claims that the uprising started not in 1994 but already one year before, with the adoption of the Women’s Revolutionary Law in 1993. This law set the framework for gender equality and justice, guaranteeing the rights to personal autonomy, emancipation and dignity of the women in rebel territory. Today women participate at all levels of government and run their own cooperatives and economic structures to guarantee their economic independence.

Women still form a large part of the ranks of the Zapatista guerrilla force and take high positions in its military command. The takeover of San Cristobal de las Casas, the most important city the EZLN captured in the 1994 uprising, was headed by Comandante Ramona, who was also the first Zapatista to be sent to Mexico City to represent the movement in negotiations with the government.

The mass involvement of indigenous women in the political project of the Zapatistas is easily compared to the participation of women in the defense of Kobani and in the Women’s Protection Units (YPJ) more generally.  The bravery and determination of Kurdish women in the war against ISIS is a product of a long tradition of women’s participation in the armed struggle for social liberation in Kurdistan. Women play an important role in the PKK and gender liberation has long taken central place in the Kurdish struggle.

The Rojava revolution has strongly emphasized women’s liberation as indispensable for the liberation of society as a whole. The theoretical framework that puts the dismantling of patriarchy at the center of the struggle is referred to as “jineology” (jîn meaning woman in Kurdish). The application of this concept has resulted in an unprecedented empowerment of women — a remarkable achievement not just in the context of the Middle East but also in comparison to Western liberal feminism.

The women’s assemblies, cooperative structures and women’s militias are the beating heart of the Rojava revolution, which is considered incomplete as long as it does not destroy the patriarchal structures at the basis of capitalist society. As Janet Biehl wrote after her recent visit to Rojava, in the Rojava revolution women fulfill the role that the (male) proletariat fulfilled in the revolutions of the 20th century.

The road to autonomy

The Ecology of Freedom is probably the most important among Bookchin’s works, and the concept of social ecology developed in this book has been actively adopted by the revolutionaries in Rojava. Bookchin was convinced that “the very notion of the domination of nature by man stems from the very real domination of human by human.” By connecting capitalism, patriarchy and environmental destruction, he identified their combined abolition as the only way forward towards a just society.

A similar holistic approach has been advocated and implemented by the Zapatistas as well. Sustainability has been an important point of reference in Chiapas, especially since the creation of the Caracoles in 2003. The autonomous government has been trying to recuperate ancestral knowledge about sustainable land use and combine it with newer agro-ecological practices. This logic is not only a matter of improving the living conditions in the communities and avoiding the use of agrochemicals, it also constitutes a rejection of the idea that large-scale export-oriented industrial agriculture is superior to the “primitive” way the indigenous people work the land.

The similarities between the system of democratic confederalism that is being developed in Western Kurdistan and the autonomy being constructed in Chiapas go far beyond the few points I have stressed in this article. From slogans such as Ya Basta! — adapted in Kurdish as êdî bes e! — to the development of grassroots democracy, communal economic structures and the participation of women, the similar paths of the Kurdish movement and the Zapatistas both demonstrate a decisive break with the vanguardist notion of Marxism-Leninism and a new approach to revolution — emerging from below and aiming at the wholesale liberation of society and its reorganization into a non-hierarchical direction.

Although both movements have received some bitter criticism from the more sectarian elements on the left, the very fact that the only major and successful experiments in revolutionary social change originate from non-Western, marginalized and colonized groups, should be considered a slap in the face of the white and privileged dogmatic “revolutionaries” of the global North who have hardly been successful in challenging oppression in their own countries but who still believe it is their judgment to decide what revolution looks like.

In reality, the struggles in Rojava and Chiapas are powerful examples to the world, demonstrating the vast potential of grassroots self-organization and the importance of communal ties to counter the social atomization wrought by capitalism. Moreover, they are forcing many on the Western left — including some anarchists — to reconsider their colonial mindsets and ideological dogmatism.

A world without capitalism, hierarchy, domination and environmental destruction — or as the Zapatistas would say, a world in which many worlds are possible — has often been depicted as “utopian” and “unrealistic.” Yet this world is not some future mirage that comes to us from the books: it is already being constructed by the Zapatistas and the Kurds, allowing us to re-imagine what radical social change looks like and providing a possible model for our own struggles back home. The red stars that shine over Chiapas and Rojava shed light on the way to liberation. If we need to summarize in one word what brings these two struggles together, it would definitely be autonomy.

Petar Stanchev is finishing a degree in Latin American Studies and Human Rights at the University of Essex. He has previously lived and studied in Mexico and has been involved in the Zapatista solidarity movement for four years. This article was originally published at Kurdish Question and has been edited and republished with the author’s permission.

.

**********************************************************
.
Older Posts »

The Shocking Blue Green Theme. Blog at WordPress.com.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 402 other followers