dorset chiapas solidarity

February 10, 2016

Supporters of The Voice of Amate make agreement for freedom of prisoners and damages

Filed under: Political prisoners, Repression, sipaz, Uncategorized — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 7:42 pm

 

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Supporters of The Voice of Amate make agreement for freedom of prisoners and damages

 

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Members of Supporters of The Voice of Amate in front of San Cristóbal de Las Casas Cathedral. Photo: @Chiapas Denuncia Pública

On February 4 last, members of the ex-prisoners’ organization Supporters of The Voice of Amate, adherents of the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) released a message at a press conference about their demand for damages for having been unjustly deprived of their liberty. Those who were imprisoned for over a decade demanded that the state government “fulfils its promise to pay material damages and losses of goods and estate caused by the unjust imprisonments that we suffered with our families over a number of years.”

After the press conference they staged a sit-in in front of the San Cristobal de Las Casas Cathedral, where they remained until an agreement was signed with representatives of the State Government promising to meet the damages in staged payments, meeting the total by April 30 of this year at the latest. They announced the rest of the commitments on the part of the government through a communiqué, such as the liberation of Roberto Paciencia Cruz, unjustly imprisoned in the State Centre for Social Reintegration (CERSS) No. 5, as well as finding a way to free Alejandro Diaz Santiz, member of The Voice of Amate, held at Villa Comatitlan maximum security prison, near Tapachula, who is being immediately transferred to San Cristobal de Las Casas prison “as a sign of good will.”

 

Chiapas: Supporters of The Voice of Amate make agreement for freedom of prisoners and damages

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February 9, 2016

Believing People in Resistance await Pope Francisco in Chiapas

Filed under: Indigenous, Migrants, Uncategorized — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 7:25 pm

 

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Believing People in Resistance await Pope Francisco in Chiapas

 

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Banner reads: Believing People of the southeast with Pope Francisco against mining and for the defence of our Mother Earth.

 

By: Enriqueta Lerma Rodríguez

February 2, 2016

Beyond the condemning discourses about the Pope’s visit to Chiapas, accusing the event of being a form of control of the masses that responds to the need to recuperate the faith of the few faithful Catholics who are left in the region, faced with the increase in the number of Evangelicals and in the desire of government authorities to show the “good Indian,” it’s pertinent to analyse the relevance that the Vicar’s presence acquires for an important percentage of indigenous Catholic believers. If the visit to Tuxtla could be omitted from a profound analysis it doesn’t come out the same with the Diocese of San Cristóbal de Las Casas, where the largest percentage of the population is indigenous, with a diversified rural economy and grouped together in a diocese that for more than fifty years has shown particularities of significant social resistance.

The influence of the diocese in the region is highly important if one remembers the theological and political tradition inherited from Bishop Don Samuel Ruiz, who presided over it from 1959 to 1999. Many of the political, indigenous and campesino organizations, which currently contend in the state’s political arena have their germination in the 1974 Indigenous Congress, where, for the first time, secular catechists from the different diocesan regions had the opportunity to discuss the common problems about which they complained: mistreatment, discrimination, exploitation on the fincas (estates), dispossession of their land, abuses from those monopolizing crops, a lack of school and health services, threats and violence. The 1974 Congress, organized by the Diocese, was the inaugural parting of the waters for a new stage of resistance and empowerment in the communities, generating campesino movements and the formation of numerous groupings demanding agrarian redistribution.

One could argue against the importance of the Diocese of San Cristóbal with the decrease of Catholics in the state. Nevertheless, while it’s certain that religious diversity has increased in Chiapas, provoking social problems of expulsions and religious intolerance, it’s also necessary to say that despite that the Catholics continue to represent the most numerous religion among the Indigenous population. The data provided by the INEGI in its latest document on the theme, 2010 Panorama of Religions in Mexico, contradicts the diagnostics that point out that Indigenous Catholics have been exceeded at 60%. It is possible to observe that in a population of 1,209,057 speakers of any indigenous language, Catholics represent 50.35% with 608,819 followers; on the other hand, the total of Presbyterians, Evangelicals, Protestants, Christians, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, Jews and Muslims is 450,257, in other words 34.25%; the rest don’t point out any religion. Nevertheless, in opposition to the heterogeneity that religious secularization represents, Indigenous Catholics, even with their doctrinal particularities, compose a more cohesive sector, the majority subscribed to the universal church, which has permitted an important number of them to mobilize constantly in order to work in favour of social justice and for the defence of native territories. This organized sector is recognized as “Pueblo Creyente (Believing People);” a name that Bishop Samuel Ruíz designated in his time for the indigenous people of faith that demonstrated in the streets against the unjust incarceration of the parish priest of Simojovel, Joel Padrón, who in 1991 would denounce the numerous human rights violations in the northern part of Chiapas. He was accused of conspiracy against the government, criminal association, plunder, robbery, threats and provocation, among other crimes. Pueblo Creyente’s tenacious resistance attained his freedom despite all the state pressure.

Pueblo Creyente, now with more strength, has added itself to different processes of resistance and solidarity. However, the history of struggle and congruence for the social welfare was made palpable years ago. For example, in the 1980s, during the period of Guatemalan refugees, through the diocesan Solidarity Committee, camps, basic education courses, workshops for artisans and for analysis of the reality were organized and steps were even taken for the definitive stay of some Guatemalans on lands acquired by diocesan agents. These same agents accompanied the organized return to Guatemala, earning the respect and gratitude of thousands of former refugees forever, a recognition that not even the United Nations High Commission for Refugees attained.

The mediation of the Church of Don Samuel has been so important in the region and so polemical that during the juncture of expulsions of “Christians” in San Juan Chamula, the diocese condemned the acts perpetrated in said municipality, promoting dialogue. That also provoked the expulsion of the Catholic Chamulan followers of Don Samuel and the rupture with the Diocese of San Cristóbal, since the expellers opted for the Orthodox Catholic Church. Within this context the Diocese promoted religious tolerance and supported the re-accommodation of those expelled, thereby showing their first practices towards ecumenism.

The very same territory of this diocese has been the scenario of the Zapatista Uprising, which is not a simple fact: it’s enough remember the notes of Jan de Vos, who Subcomandante Marcos assured in an interview that the meeting between the guerrillas and the catechists of Don Samuel, in the middle of the Jungle, permitted the first ones to transform their “squared” vision of the world into “round.” It’s not too much to say that the tijwanej method of “receiving and returning the word to the community” and “discussing among everyone to interpret the reality and to carry out actions” is a contribution from liberation theology to Zapatismo and not the inverse. At the same time, it’s appropriate to remember that the rebellion in the Cañadas (Canyons), had its germ in the migration of indigenous campesinos, supported by the Jesuits, to the Jungle from the fincas of Ocosingo, Altamirano and other places and that many catechists and church agents were accused, after the Zapatista Uprising, of being promoters of the revolt, as Andrés Aubry, Carmen Legorreta and Xóchitl Leyva point out. The nomination of Samuel Ruiz to participate in the dialogue with the federal government as part of the CONAI was also a demonstration of the analytical ability of the church’s agents and of the trust that the communities had deposited in the Catholic Church, especially in its bishop.

Among other work of great importance the diocese also founded the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Centre; the civil association Economic and Social Development of Indigenous Mexicans (DESMI, its initials in Spanish), in charge of incentivizing and advising agro-ecology production in various communities; and the Support Commission for Unity and Community Reconciliation (CORECO) that since the Zapatista Uprising had the charge of promoting the resolution of inter-community conflicts through dialogue and promoting peace.

The response to the diocese’s attempts at pacification and justice, however, has awakened little sympathy in the state and federal governments. It’s appropriate to point out the case of Father Miguel Chateau, the parish priest of Chenalhó, extradited by the federal government after having denounced the characteristics and type of training had by the paramilitaries who perpetrated the massacre of Las Abejas in Acteal. The response was the deportation and condemnation of the diocese for its intervention. Stories like these are repeated in all corners of diocesan territory. There are the recent threats against Father Marcelo Pérez of Simojovel, who is opposed to the increase of organized crime, the cantinas, the sale of drugs and prostitution. Pueblo Creyente supported him with a pilgrimage of dozens of kilometres through various municipios, given that his “enemies” offered a reward of up to a million and a half pesos for his head. Pueblo Creyente’s request that Father Marcelo meet with the Pope to tell him the crime situation in Chiapas was blocked from the current top leadership of the San Cristóbal Diocese: he will not be able to interview with the Pope, although he DID achieve being present at the papal mass as animator of the event.

Beyond the complicated conjunctures, which are not few, it is also necessary to point out the important work that the diocese carries out on a daily basis. Organized in its seven diocesan zones (central, south, Tzeltal, Tzotzil, Chol, Chab and southeast), the pastoral agents, secular deacons and catechists, carry out different tasks: through the social pastoral work they attend to specific problems in matters of human rights; gender equity –from the women’s commission, CODIMUJ-; youth advisory; support to migrants, among other actions. With the recently created Mother Earth Pastoral they seek to coordinate efforts in defence of territory, opposing the sale of land, the monoculture of non-indigenous species, the use of genetically modified organisms, the construction of highway and hydraulic mega-projects, the mining extraction, dispossession of land and migration provoked by the poverty that disarticulates the family nucleus. At the same time Pueblo Creyente demonstrates with pilgrimages against the structural reforms, against the genocide reflected in the country’s clandestine graves, against the disappearance of students like in the Ayotzinapa case, against femicides and against the private guards that subject the peoples. On this list of objectives Pueblo Creyente has also added the project of the New Constituent, feeling proud that Bishop Raúl Vera is one of its principal promoters.

Pueblo Creyente nurtures its spirituality starting from Indian theology and continues –to the grumbling of the diocesan leadership and against the suspension dictated from the Vatican- ordaining permanent indigenous deacons: men from the community who serve at the side of their wives and with the support of their families the ministry of imparting the sacraments and of reading the word of God in light of the times; men and women committed to their communities in the project of achieving spiritual liberation, and pledged to eliminating social oppression. Nevertheless, perhaps the biggest challenge that Pueblo Creyente has is the equal proliferation of currents inside the diocese, where renewed and charismatic Catholics are opposed to the tasks of the pastoral agents who seek to construct a liberating church. The dispute inside Catholicism in San Cristóbal is between these two projects: a liberating church or a conservative one. An example of this contradiction was observed this January 25. Diocesan authorities were opposed to the pilgrimage in memory of the fifth anniversary of the death of Don Samuel Ruiz, with the justification that it was better to channel efforts to the Pope’s visit, but Pueblo Creyente, loyal to their pastor, who they call Caminante, [1] went to remember his work and honour it with the continuation of his work. During the event differences were evident between the current bishops that seek to discourage the Pueblo Creyente organization. For example, before starting the mass, the faithful that showed hand-painted signs in defence of territory were asked to put away their banners and slogans.

Among other questions, this is the context that the Pope will encounter during his visit to Chiapas: a Catholic community in resistance starting with the base church communities and a sector of Catholics who seek to finish off Don Samuel’s project. Because of that the controversies are now harsh and unpleasant in San Cristóbal, where the “coletos” [2] feel excluded because the Pope decided to meet only with eight indigenous for sharing food.

The Pope’s visit in San Cristóbal without a doubt represents a key moment for Catholicism in the diocese of San Cristóbal. Pueblo Creyente hopes that he has knowledge of the problems that affect the weight of the indigenous population in the region, that he knows about the work that they have carried out in favour of justice and for the defence of their original territories, that he is witness to the importance that the permanent indigenous deaconship holds for the communities and that he authorizes their ordainment. They hope that the balance inclines in their favour and they attain giving continuity to the path traced by jTatik Samuel Ruíz. And surely the people of faith hope that what they cried out in chorus to Felipe Arizmendi when he started his participation in the fifth anniversary of the death of Don Samuel happens: “We want a bishop on the side of the poor, we want a bishop on the side of the poor!”

[1] Caminante – a walker or, one who walks, a wayfarer

[2] Descendants of the Spanish invaders

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Originally Published in Spanish by Desinformemonos

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Amazing photos of Pueblo Creyente’s demonstrations: http://desinformemonos.org.mx/un-pueblo-creyente-en-resistencia-espera-al-papa-francisco-en-chiapas/

Re-published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

 

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Campesinos intimidated after taking back their lands

Filed under: sipaz — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 6:54 pm

 

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Campesinos intimidated after taking back their lands

 

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Assembly in San Isidro Los Laureles community @RadioZapatista

 

In a communiqué on January 21, the San Isidro Los Laureles community, Venustiano Carranza municipality, adherents to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle and members of the ‘space for struggle Semilla Digna,’ reported intimidation “on the part of the landlords” 31 days after taking back their lands. They reported that, “On the part of the landlords, they are going around intimidating on the recovered estates, in the latest models of Ford trucks with darkened windows, with four people on the back of the truck, wearing bullet-proof vests and high-powered weapons.” They ask public opinion, human rights organizations, the National Indigenous Congress (Congreso Nacional Indígena – CNI), the alternative media, and the Councils of Good Government of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) “of everything that comes against us and against our rights, because our decision is and will be to resist and defend what legitimately corresponds to us (sic).”

 It is worth noting that on December 20, 2015, the San Isidro Laureles community decided to take back “about 165 hectares from various properties: “Tres Picos” (property of Octovín Albores, owner of 30 hectares), “Las Delicias” (property of Francisco Javier Ruíz, owner of 60 hectares), and “El Refugio’ estate (property of Rodrigo Ruíz, owner of 75 hectares).” 

https://sipazen.wordpress.com/2016/02/08/chiapas-campesinos-intimidated-after-taking-back-their-lands/

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February 8, 2016

Mexican Indigenous Ask Pope to Apologize for Massive Genocide

Filed under: Indigenous, Uncategorized — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 12:00 pm

 

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 Mexican Indigenous Ask Pope to Apologize for Massive Genocide

 

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The Purepechas of Michoacan released a statement asking Pope Francis to apologize for the killing of 24 million Indigenous people. | Photo: purepecha.com

 

The Supreme Indigenous Council of Michoacan, Mexico, accused the Catholic Church of being complicit in the killing of over 24 million Indigenous people.

Some 30 Indigenous communities of Michoacan, Mexico, have released a statement demanding Pope Francis apologize for the genocide committed with the complicity of the Catholic Church against their people during the Spanish invasion of the Americas in the sixteenth century as well as the fact that they have been victimized for over five centuries.

“For over 500 years, the original people of the Americas have been ransacked, robbed, murdered, exploited, discriminated and persecuted,” the Supreme Indigenous Council of Michoacan said in the statement.

“Within this framework, the Catholic Church has historically been complicit and allies of those who invaded our land,” they added.

Various Purepechas communities from Michoacan demanded that the pope make a public statement apologizing for the church’s role in the genocide and ongoing disappearance of the Indigenous people of Mexico.

The council also denounced that with weapons and the help of Catholic missionaries, a culture, language, religion and other European values were imposed on the people of Mexico.

“The Bible was the ideological weapon of the Conquerors,” they added ahead of the pope’s visit to Mexico, which begins Feb. 12.

The Spanish intervention and invasion of the Americas represents one of the biggest acts of genocide in history, they said.

“The arrival of the Europeans meant the interruption and destruction of various original civilizations, which had their unique ideas and concepts of the world, our own government, writings, languages, education, religion and philosophy,” the statement added.

The “European invaders” caused the death of 95 percent of the the total Indigenous population within 130 years after the unfortunate arrival of Christopher Columbus and Hernan Cortes, the council noted.

They highlighted that before the Spaniards arrived to the Mexican region, there were about 25.2 million Indigenous people, and that after 1623, less than 700,000 were left.

The pope is scheduled to visit Morelia, the capital of Michoacan, Feb. 16.

Last year, First Nations people also demanded the pope apologize for the genocide committed by colonization.
http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Mexican-Indigenous-Ask-Pope-to-Apologize-for-Massive-Genocide-20160207-0033.html

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Radio Show #134 – Zapatista solidarity

Filed under: Zapatistas — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 11:52 am

 

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Radio Show #134 – Zapatista solidarity

 

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International Brigadas – VIVA EZLN

 

Donnacha talks to Lia from the Manchester Zapatista Collective about the Chiapas uprisings, the current situation on the ground and what activists can do to help.

Listen here: https://thecircleda.com/2016/01/29/show-134-zapatista-solidarity/

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February 7, 2016

San Andrés: 20 Years Later

Filed under: Indigenous, Uncategorized, Zapatistas — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 2:48 pm

 

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San Andrés: 20 Years Later

 

 

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Luis Hernandez Navarro

Almost 20 years ago, on 16th February 1996, in San Andres Sakam’chen de los pobres, the San Andres Accords on Indigenous Rights and Culture were signed. No photo was taken when the Zapatistas and the federal government stamped their signatures on what were the first substantive commitments about the causes that originated the armed uprising of the Chiapas indigenous.

Although the federal government and the legislators of the Commission for Concord and Pacification (COCOPA) wanted to perform a ceremony with great fanfare, the commanders of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) refused to take to the rooftops. In an impromptu speech Comandante David explained the reasons why they did not want a big celebration: “We want it to be a simple act. We are simple people who live simply and that is the way we want to keep on living.”

Nor did they agree to be photographed. “We came to a small agreement –said Comandante David-. Let’s not fool ourselves, the peace hasn’t been signed. If we do not agree to signing openly and publicly it is because we are right.”

And, after denouncing the attacks perpetuated on them by the government and acknowledging that they “have always betrayed our struggle”, he warned: “We have signed this in private to show that the government has hurt us and that the wound is still hurting.”

The San Andres Accords were signed during a time of great political turmoil in the country.  A belligerent national indigenous movement emerged, catalysed by the uprising of the EZLN. The devaluation of the peso in December 1994 precipitated a huge wave of dissatisfaction and vigorous movements of debtors to the bank appeared. The post-election conflicts in Tabasco and Chiapas became a national demand for democracy. The conflict between Carlos Salinas, the outgoing president and Ernesto Zedillo, the incoming president, grew.

The rebel mistrust of that February 16th proved to be premonitory. Once the wave of social discontent was neutralized, the federal government betrayed its word. The Mexican State (that is, the three powers) betrayed the Zapatistas and all the indigenous communities by refusing to fulfil what they had signed in the San Andres Accords. The opportunity to pay the historical debt that the State had to the indigenous communities was lost. Instead of opening the possibility of establishing a new social pact that was inclusive and respected differences, the State decided to maintain the old status quo. Instead of recognising the indigenous communities as social and historical entities with the right to self-determination, the State chose to continue with the policies of rejection and abandonment.

The problem didn’t stop there. At the same time as they decided to diminish the indigenous communities’ rights, the opportunity for a change of regime was lost. San Andres offered the opportunity to create a new set of relationships between society, political parties and the State. Instead of that, a new political reform apart from the agreements in Chiapas was encouraged by the government and the political parties. The parties’ monopoly of political representation was strengthened by the argument that society was experiencing a period of “democratic normalization,” while institutional representation and many other political and social forces that had nothing to do with these parties were left aside. The power of the leaders of the mass corporate organizations remained virtually intact.

However, zapatismo and the indigenous movement, far from lowering their flags after the betrayal, kept up their struggle and their programme. In wide regions of Chiapas and other states they moved towards building autonomy and operating indigenous self-defence. Many local autonomous governments, communitarian police forces, self-managed productive projects, and projects of alternative education and recovery of the native language, began to arise.

At the same time, they reinforced the resistance against dispossession and environmental devastation in all their territories. For two decades the indigenous communities have been leaders in rejecting the use of transgenic seeds and defending the maize, in opposing open-pit mining and deforestation, in the care for water resources and the opposition to privatization while reclaiming communal spaces. Indigenous communities have led important fights in very unfavourable conditions.

In indigenous territories the neoliberal reforms and the looting of natural resources have come up against the actions of the organized indigenous communities. In various regions of the country, the struggles of the organized peoples have stopped or postponed predatory projects.

The state’s decision to abort the dialogue of San Andres and renege on the agreements on indigenous rights and culture precipitated the extension and deepening of the political and social conflicts outside the sphere of institutional representation across the country. Their leaders are outside, or on the edges of, the institutions.

Meanwhile, the political agreement reached between the government and the political parties in 1996 dissolved. Mexican society did not fit into the actually existing political regime. The approval of the independent candidacies (claimed in the table on democracy in San Andres by the Zapatistas and their allies) and the crisis of bureaucracy inside political parties as we know has generated centripetal forces inside the mechanisms of political representation.

In these circumstances, it is not surprising that, twenty years after the signing of the San Andres accords, in the heart of the indigenous movements and those of other excluded groups, are arising new ways of practicing politics, unknown to us until today. These new ways are not going to be willing to take the photo either.

 

Translated by the UK Zapatista Translation Collective

http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2016/01/26/opinion/017a2pol

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The Mayor of Oxchuc resigns after six months of protests

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 1:43 pm

 

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Victory in Oxchuc, Chiapas

The Mayor of Oxchuc resigns after six months of protests

 

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Protest yesterday in Oxchuc

By: Isaín Mandujano

Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas. (apro).

After six months of protests on the part of residents of Oxchuc municipio, María Gloria Sánchez Gómez, mayor-elect of the Green Ecologist Party of Mexico (PVEM, its initials in English), resigned her position.

Local deputy Judith Torres Vera, Vice President of the local (state) Congress, confirmed it. She specified that last night Sánchez Gómez went to the legislative confines to request an indefinite leave of absence, which is interpreted as a definitive resignation according to local law.

Within the framework of the dialogue table installed this afternoon, the local deputy reported to leaders of the dissident movement that the mayor had presented her resignation, as they demanded, and therefore next Wednesday, February 10 it will be sent to the standing commission and on Thursday, February 11 the substitute mayor will be named.

Torres Vera warned that a municipal council would not be formed, but rather through uses and customs, through a plebiscite, the communities would elect their new mayor to propose to the full local Congress.

“What we want is for peace to prevail in the municipio of Oxchuc and in our state, and in that context she gave her resignation,” the legislator pointed out.

She indicated that while only the mayor presented her resignation, it is understood that all her council members leave with her, as 105 of the 115 communities demanded today in a big march, but that will be defined between Wednesday and Thursday.

About the agreements made at the dialogue table this noon, the indigenous accepted returning to classes and the return of those expelled from the municipio, in other words, family members and collaborators of María Gloria Sánchez Gómez (around 22 family members).

Since last July 19, when María Gloria Sánchez was declared the winner after Election Day, groups of dissidents began a series of protests against her. The mayor should have taken possession of the office on September 1, 2015, but she was never permitted.

The first group that initiated the protests was repressed in October, after which new communities joined in, and on January 8 the majority joined when the second attack was perpetrated. In total, the residents of 105 of the 115 communities marched this Friday to demand the abdication of the PVEM’s mayor, who together with her husband, Norberto Sántiz López, former federal deputy and twice mayor for the PRI, maintained a political boss system (cacicazgo) in Oxchuc for 15 years.

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Originally Published in Spanish by Proceso.com

Friday, February 5, 2016

Re-published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

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February 6, 2016

Is This Mexico’s Oldest Revolutionary?

Filed under: Human rights, Uncategorized, Women, Zapatista — Tags: — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 4:19 pm

 

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Is This Mexico’s Oldest Revolutionary?   

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“They weren’t going to give us our basic rights. We had to take them.”

  

Dona Fili, at the age of 90, is still a key figure in one of Latin America’s largest land occupations.

In 1971, in response to surging rent prices, she helped occupy and build a community in Pedregales de Coyoacan, just outside Mexico City.

“In Pedregales, we have the same dream as everyone else in the world: the need for housing.

“We realized the greatness of our people, when we decided to build. We built a school, houses. People are capable of anything,” she told teleSUR.

When she and her other community members first arrived, there was no electricity or water and they had to carry food in from afar. Her fellow revolutionaries built many of the houses from the lava rocks of a nearby volcano.

The Zapatista community has resisted numerous eviction attempts and a recent push to sell off the land to make way for expensive housing.

“We learnt that if you want housing, you have to fight, but the evictions always came because the government said that our land was uninhabitable,” she said.

“They weren’t going to give us our basic rights. We had to take them.”

Dona Fili continues her fight, and can still be heard leading the chants of “Pedregales won’t be sold.”

see video here:
http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Is-This-Mexicos-Oldest-Revolutionary-20160204-0057.html

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February 5, 2016

Indigenous struggle in Chiapas will come ‘out in the open’ for Pope Francis’s visit

Filed under: Acteal, Human rights, Indigenous, Marcos, Uncategorized, Zapatistas — Tags: , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 6:59 pm

 

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Indigenous struggle in Chiapas will come ‘out in the open’ for Pope Francis’s visit

The pope’s plans to address legacy of violence, discrimination and poverty in southern Mexican state is bound to rouse Mayan people – and the Zapatistas

 

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A woman and child walk past a billboard welcoming Pope Francis in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas state, Mexico. He will visit Mexico between 12 and 17 February. Photograph: Moysés Zuñiga/AFP/Getty Images

 

David Agren in Acteal, Mexico

The killing began when masked paramilitaries burst into a Catholic prayer meeting and opened fire. Those who escaped the initial attack were chased for hours through the canyons and cloud forests which surround this Tzotzil Indian community of corn and coffee farmers in southern Mexico.

Forty-five people died in the assault on a Catholic activist group known as Las Abejas, or the Bees; 21 were women, 15 were children. The perpetrators were linked to the then (and now) governing Institutional Revolutionary party.

The 1997 Acteal massacre was one of the worst mass killings of Mexico’s recent history, and it remains a potent reminder of indigenous struggle in Chiapas, a state still suffering from widespread poverty, discrimination and political corruption.

“Eighteen years have passed … and we continue denouncing grievances committed against us by party officials, who are manipulated by a government that keeps causing us pain and suffering,” said Las Abejas leader Sebastián Pérez Vázquez.

Indigenous Mexico’s fight for recognition and respect was symbolised by the Zapatista uprising which burst into the open on 1 January 1994, the day the country entered the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) – an arrangement the government insisted would vault Mexico into the first world.

 

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Indigenous women of the Las Abejas civil society commemorate the 17th anniversary in 2014 of the massacre of 45 Tzotzil people in the Acteal community. Photograph: Alamy

 

Later this month, Pope Francis – who has put the poor and excluded at the centre of his papacy – will come to Chiapas as part of his six-day visit to Mexico. He will celebrate mass in several Mayan languages and address the injustices facing indigenous people, who in recent years have departed the Catholic church in droves for evangelical congregations and even mosques started by Muslim missionaries.

Two decades after the emergence of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN), he will find that the state and its indigenous population remain firmly on the periphery of Mexican society.

Federal government figures show poverty, inequality and hunger rates have remained stubbornly high – despite billions of pesos spent on roads, schools, clinics and a spate of social programmes.

Critics in Chiapas contend that the wave of spending has been as much about controlling rebellious communities as raising the population from poverty.

“The situation here in Chiapas has not changed over the last 20 years,” said Pérez. “Even though the people are wiser to the situation, things have stayed the same.”

Pope Francis will arrive in southern Mexico as a somewhat unwelcome guest. Priests in the diocese of San Cristóbal de las Casas say the administration of President Enrique Peña Nieto wanted the pope go elsewhere, proposing the placid state of Campeche on the Yucatán peninsula as an alternative. The government feared that the papal visit could stir up latent indigenous discontent, the priests said.

“The visit is going to give an opportunity for everything in Chiapas that’s simmering under the surface to boil over,” said diocesan spokesman Jesuit Father Pedro Arriaga. “It’s going to again show that the Zapatista movement is still here, that indigenous marginalisation continues, that poverty persists, that [government] health clinics are very deficient. All of this will come out into the open.”

Sources in the federal government say its concerns over the papal visit to Chiapas were logistical, not political.

Churchmen in Chiapas also see the visit as a vindication of the work of the state’s former bishop Samuel Ruiz, who led the diocese for 40 years until his retirement in 2000, but ran afoul of land-owning elites, politicians and the Vatican.

Pope Francis plans to pray at the tomb of Ruiz, who shared a similar pastoral approach. He rode to remote Indian pueblos on mules, preaching in their local languages and organising them into Catholic communities – behaviour seen as a challenge to the rule of local landowners. He trained hundreds of catechist instructors and ordained married, indigenous deacons – a solution to perpetual shortages of priests – as he built a church which incorporated and appreciated indigenous cultures. The Vatican banned such ordinations in 2001, but Pope Francis has permitted the practice to resume.

Some of Ruiz’s catechist instructors and deacons subsequently joined the Zapatistas, though the bishop opposed violence. He was appointed a mediator in the conflict and helped broker the San Andrés peace accords between the EZLN and Mexican government – an agreement the Zapatistas allege was never fully respected.

“The government never understood that the Zapatistas preferred to live with dignity than live with refrigerators,” says Dominican Father Gonzalo Ituarte, a former diocesan vicar. “The problem that we had with the Zapatistas [is that] what they proposed is the same thing we had proposed for many years.”

The Zapatista struggle won worldwide attention, while its pipe-smoking spokesman, Subcomandante Marcos, became an icon of the anti-globalisation movement. Thousands of foreign “Zapaturistas” poured into the state, providing a presence some analysts suspect kept any army excesses in check.

 

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Zapatista rebels stand in line during a rally in the early 1990s in the main square of San Cristóbal Las Casas’ cathedral. The Zapatista National Liberation Army launched its uprising on 1 January 1994. Photograph: Reuters

 

Today the Zapatistas have largely withdrawn to their autonomous communities though they can still mobilise their masses. An estimated 40,000 Zapatistas emerged unexpectedly for a march in five municipalities coinciding with the end of the Mayan calendar on 21 December 2012.

Perhaps not coincidentally, a month later, Peña Nieto went to the Zapatista stronghold of Las Margaritas to launch his landmark social program, The Crusade Against Hunger. Brazil’s former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was brought in to lend legitimacy to the launch.

In a New Year’s 2016 message, EZLN spokesman Subcomandante Moisés said Zapatistas settlements were “better than 22 years ago”, but also better than those in non-autonomous communities, which have been supported by government programmes. But some observers say government money has already caused the movement to splinter.

The offers can be enticing for the inhabitants of impoverished communities as government officials and political parties hand out everything from sheep to bicycles to bags of fertiliser – especially at election time. (Mexico’s social development secretariat did not respond to interview requests, though it says in adverts that programmes are non-partisan.)

The social investments have produced some successes. “Thanks to this programme, we were able to study,” said Margarita Martínez, a Tzotzil linguistics professor.

“[But] it’s also a form of control on the part of the government,” she added. “In the campaigns, there are times in which they tell people, ‘If you don’t vote for this party, they’re going to take away your benefits.’ It’s not true, but people believe it.”

And while grinding poverty persists, change of a different kind is slowly happening in Chiapas.

Martínez, 35, recalls coming to San Cristóbal de las Casas as a girl and not being allowed to walk on the sidewalk. Those prejudices persist – when she arrived at her university wearing traditional costume of a woollen skirt and colourfully embroidered shirt, security guards presumed she was a cleaner – but nowadays, more indigenous people have trained as professionals or occupy prominent places in commerce.

Parents are still teaching native Mayan languages such as Tzotzil and Tzeltal to their children, but young people are also using it to produce poetry, rock music and even hip-hop. Parents dress their children traditionally for Catholic events such as baptisms and first communions, too.

Indigenous art is also flourishing. Painter Saúl Kak opened an exhibit in the Casa de la Cultura in the state capital, Tuxtla Gutiérrez, showing the struggles of the displaced Zoque people. His paintings touch on political topics and including a piece with the familiar Coca-Cola font spelling the words, “toma con conciencia”, (a word play on the familiar slogan, reading, “consume with consciousness”,) to protest mindless consumerism.

“This would have never happened 25 years ago,” says John Burstein, director at Galería MUY, which represents Kak. “There’s no way the Casa de Cultura would have brought in an indigenous artist.”

Back in Acteal, members of Las Abejas say they see some small signs of hope in their struggle, too.

“Many people,” Pérez says, “have stopped selling their consciences for a little bit of money or a sack of corn flour.”

 

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/feb/05/pope-francis-mexico-visit-chiapas-indigenous-people-zapatistas

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Mexican woman jailed for combatting cartels: ‘It is a sacrifice that had to be made’

Filed under: Human rights, Indigenous, Political prisoners — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 5:25 pm

 

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Mexican woman jailed for combatting cartels: ‘It is a sacrifice that had to be made’

 

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Nestora Salgado is a Seattle-area resident who returned to her native Mexico and led a vigilante-style – but legal – community police force, which mounted patrols to protect residents from cartel operatives.

A dual US-Mexico citizen, Salgado was arrested in August 2013 after people detained by her group alleged they had been kidnapped. A federal judge cleared her of those charges, but a related state case has kept her imprisoned.

The International Human Rights Clinic at Seattle University Law School has been pursuing her case at the UN’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in Geneva, Switzerland, for about two years. In a decision reached in December and communicated to her lawyers on Tuesday, the five-member panel called her arrest arbitrary and said Mexico should not only free her but compensate her for the violation of her human rights.

The UN group found that she was arrested for community policing, which is protected under Mexican law, and that authorities ignored her American passport. She was denied contact with her lawyers and family for almost year, the panel said, and in prison she has been denied adequate medical care and access to clean water.

“In the first place, there is no doubt that the arrest and detention without charges is illegal and thus arbitrary,” the UN group said. “Furthermore, the military arresting civilians for presumed crimes when national security is not at risk is worrying.”
The ruling is not binding on Mexico, but it could increase pressure to release her, said Thomas Antkowiak, the law clinic’s director.

“We’ve been in ongoing negotiations with the government in Mexico, the federal government mainly, and those have gone nowhere. We’re hoping this is going to inject new life into those negotiations.”

The clinic also plans to ask the US State Department to press for her release, he said.

A spokesman for the prosecutor’s office in the southern state of Guerrero, Mexico, was not immediately available to discuss the ruling on Tuesday. Mexican authorities typically do not comment about ongoing cases, though Guerrero’s governor called for her release last year.

Salgado grew up in Olinala, a mountainous town of farmers and artisans in Guerrero. She moved to the US when she was about 20, settling in the Seattle area, where she waitressed and cleaned apartments. She eventually began making trips back home, and she became involved in the community police following the killing of a taxi driver who refused to pay protection money to a cartel.

A state law allows Olinala and Guerrero’s other indigenous communities to organize their own police forces.

Salgado was accused of kidnapping in connection with the arrest of several teenage girls on suspicion of drug dealing, and of a town official for allegedly trying to steal a cow at the scene of a double killing. The Guerrero state government said following the arrest that authorities had received complaints from the families of six kidnapping victims, including three minors, and that ransom had been demanded.

“She’s endured over two years of illegal detention, without evidence or a trial against her,” Antkowiak said. “She’s a political prisoner.”

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/feb/02/mexico-arrest-detention-nestora-salgado-illegal-united-nations

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Meeting of those affected by dams and mining

Filed under: Mining, sipaz — Tags: — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 4:23 pm

 

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Meeting of those affected by dams and mining

 

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On January 21 and 22, more than 70 delegates from 20 municipalities, representatives of 12 organizations, movements and parishes of the state, met in Boca del Cielo, Tonala, Chiapas, at the seat of the Regional Autonomous Council of the Coastal Zone of Chiapas to share experiences in the “Chiapas Meeting of those Affected by Dams and Mines.” At the meeting, called by the Mexican Movement of the Affected by Dams and in Defence of Rivers (Movimiento Mexicano de Afectados por las Presas y en Defensa de los Ríos – MAPDER) and the Mexican Network of the Affected by Mining (Red Mexicana de Afectados por la Minería – REMA), they defined a strategy of common defence in the face of the multiplication of mining projects, dams and other infrastructure projects imposed in the state “without consulting the people.”

In the declaration that the participants produced, they voiced their analysis of the “grave situation that the country and the campesino communities, fishermen and indigenous of Chiapas are passing through due to the imposition of a development model and projects that threaten land and territory.” They denounced, “the advance of mining projects, with irreversible costs to the environment and the health of the people, imposed by cheating, buying out authorities, community division, among other tactics.” On another note, they condemned “the imposition of green capitalism which is reflected in wind farm projects, projects of Reduction of Emissions caused by Deforestation and Destruction of Forests (REDD) and payment for environmental services.” They assured the strengthening of “the organization and resistance proposing alternatives to the model of commercialization of life and corporate appropriation, despite the criminalization and persecution experienced by the defenders of land, territory and human rights” of the peoples, ejidos, organizations and movements who were present.

They called on the people to participate in a state-wide campaign in defence of water, against the privatization of water and dams, and for free rivers which will be held from March 14 to 22 under the banner “Rivers for life, not for companies.” They also invited people to “continue to create local and regional organization processes to confront the imposed projects, inform about the consequences of the model, protect land and territory, and defend all those forms of life which continue to give us sustenance and permanence on Mother Earth.” According to Otros Mundos A.C., “the role which violence plays is fundamental to understanding the imposition of mining projects and the control of territory.” In an interview, Gustavo Castro, a member of Otros Mundos, explained the complexity of extensive mining in Chiapas, saying that, “violence increases in the measure that communities decide to defend their territories […] movements in defence of territory not only have to confront the state or the companies, but they also have to deal with drug traffickers. It appears that we are in an armed dispute for territory.”  

 

https://sipazen.wordpress.com/2016/02/04/chiapas-meeting-of-those-affected-by-dams-and-mining/

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Nestora Salgado’s Arrest “Illegal and Arbitrary”: UN Group on Arbitrary Detention

Filed under: Human rights, Indigenous, Political prisoners, Uncategorized — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 4:04 pm

 

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Nestora Salgado’s Arrest “Illegal and Arbitrary”: UN Group on Arbitrary Detention

 

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Proceso, 3rd February 2016.

A United Nations panel has determined that Nestora Salgado’s arrest in August 2013 was due to her activities with the community police, protected by Mexican law; therefore, the arrest is illegal and arbitrary. The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, in Geneva, Switzerland, reached its conclusions last December, but they were announced yesterday by Salgado’s lawyers.

The panel noted that the activist was not allowed contact with lawyers and family for almost a year, and during her time in prison was denied adequate medical care and access to clean water. The five-member panel called her arrest arbitrary and noted that Mexico should not only release her, but compensate her for violation of her human rights. The UN group stated: “First, there is no doubt that her arrest and detention without [demonstrated] charges is illegal and therefore arbitrary. It is also worrisome that the Army arrested a civilian for alleged crimes, when national security was not at risk.”

Thomas Antkowiak, director of the International Human Rights Clinic at the Law School of the University of Seattle, said that the determination has no legal force in Mexico, but could increase pressure for her release. [Salgado is a naturalized U.S. citizen and resided in Washington state.] The clinic took her case to the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. Antkowiak argued: “This is a very important channel for applying political pressure. We have an impartial and international panel saying she was illegally detained. I think it’s an important step.”

He added: “We have been in negotiations with the government of Mexico, principally with the federal government, but that has not led us anywhere. We hope this will inject new life into the negotiations.”

He noted that the Clinic also plans to ask the State Department to advocate for the release of Nestora Salgado, accused of kidnapping in connection with the arrest of several teenagers who were suspected of trafficking drugs, and a local official who allegedly tried to steal a cow at the scene of a double homicide.

Antkowiak said that Nestora “has suffered more than two years of illegal detention without evidence presented against her or a trial being held. She is a political prisoner.”

Translated by Jane Brundage

http://www.proceso.com.mx/428658/la-detencion-de-nestora-salgado-es-ilegal-y-arbitraria-onu

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February 3, 2016

The Lessons of Zapatista Women Activists for Today’s Social Movements

Filed under: Women, Zapatista — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 8:27 pm

 

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The Lessons of Zapatista Women Activists for Today’s Social Movements

 

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The role of indigenous women in the Zapatista movement is little known.

By James Tracy

Images of the Zapatistas have always been striking—indigenous peasants with wooden rifles declaring war on the Mexican government; with their faces covered by black ski masks or red bandanas, they symbolically became the face of the faceless, the voice of the voiceless.

On January 1, 1994, the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN), made up of mostly indigenous peasants from Mexico’s southern state of Chiapas, declared war on the Mexican government. It was the same day the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was signed. Coming three years after the end of the Communist bloc, the Zapatistas offered a unique political perspective that combined indigenous perspectives with an organizing model called “leadership through obedience,” reflecting both anarchist and socialist political traditions. They became one of the major catalysts for the anti-globalization/global justice movement, and the Zapatista ethos offered an alternative to both stale, orthodox leftist party building and the expanding global neoliberal project. Quickly mastering the art of rebellion at the dawn of the internet era, the Zapatistas became a major source of inspiration for young activists, many of whom travelled from North America and Europe to directly work alongside the Zapatistas.

Hilary Klein was one of those young activists. She spent much of the 1990s working in Zapatista communities. Since returning, she has organized at Make the Road New York and currently works the Centre for Popular Democracy. Her new book Compañeras: Zapatista Women’s Stories is the first English-language study of the role of indigenous women in the Zapatistas.

Why did you go to live in the Zapatista base communities?

I didn’t go to Mexico intending to live in Zapatista communities. When I went to Chiapas in 1997, I was only planning to stay for about six weeks. I went as a human rights observer—responding to a call from the Zapatistas who were facing consistent attacks from the Mexican armed forces. The presence of outsiders often prevented these attacks and, when they did happen, at least we could document them and get the word out.

But once I got there, I was captivated by the Zapatista movement—the courage, the dignity, the willingness to take risks and the commitment to building something new. And I was particularly struck by women’s role in the movement. There were so many extraordinary women leaders, and Zapatista women had already achieved some pretty remarkable transformations in gender roles. At the same time, these things were still very much evolving. I felt like history was unfolding before my eyes. How could I leave?

So I decided to stay and work with women’s economic cooperatives in Zapatista communities. I ended up being there for six years instead of six weeks.

What about the Zapatistas captured the imagination and attention of radicals in North America and elsewhere?

It’s important to remember the historical context. The Zapatista uprising was in 1994—at the tail end of the Cold War. After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, capitalists were claiming victory and “the end of history.” Activists and organizers around the world knew that wasn’t the case, but for my generation, it felt like there was a collective question in the air—of what a new wave of liberation movements would look like. The Zapatista movement stepped onto the world stage right at that moment and was one particularly inspiring answer to that question.

Images of the Zapatistas have always been striking—indigenous peasants with wooden rifles declaring war on the Mexican government; with their faces covered by black ski masks or red bandanas, they symbolically became the face of the faceless, the voice of the voiceless. Many people were touched by a movement that was so specific to its own context—peasants in southern Mexico calling for land and indigenous rights, while at the same time being so universal. The Zapatistas presented 11 demands that people all over the world could relate to (work, land, housing, food, health, education, independence, freedom, democracy, justice and peace), and they identified global capitalism as the common enemy—whether you’re a worker, a student or a housewife, young or old, living in the city or in the countryside.

I’m thinking of the Zapatistas’ creation story. The popular narrative was that a group of university-educated revolutionaries from the country’s urban areas went to Chiapas to organize indigenous people, but were transformed and organized in a completely different way by the people of Chiapas. Were there similar dynamics with the internationalists who came to support the Zapatistas?

There’s a lot of truth to that creation story. It’s overly simplified, of course, but the Zapatista movement’s ability to draw from different revolutionary frameworks, to adapt different political and cultural traditions, contributed to it being such a compelling social movement, and so resilient over the years. In terms of the internationalists, it’s much harder to generalize because so many people from so many countries spent time in Chiapas. But it was fascinating to see that relationship evolve over time.

Right after the uprising, the Zapatistas welcomed any type of solidarity. They needed the resources, and they needed the presence of outsiders—internationalists as well as supporters from other parts of Mexico—as protection against the Mexican armed forces. But as the Zapatista project of indigenous autonomy became more and more established (the Zapatistas developed their own local and regional government, health and education infrastructure, and economic structures based on cooperation and solidarity), the EZLN made it increasingly clear that solidarity projects had to respond to the needs identified by Zapatista communities and to respect their leadership.

In the late 1990s, a number of groups stopped working in Zapatista villages altogether because they weren’t willing to be told what to do by a bunch of indigenous peasants. But others stayed on, and I think developed a much healthier relationship, one based on mutual trust and respect.

Before your book came along, there wasn’t much of an understanding about the role of women in the Zapatista movement. Why was it that so many people’s understanding of zapatismo stopped at Subcomandante Marcos?

Subcomandante Marcos was the spokesperson chosen by the EZLN, and the Zapatistas are very careful about what information they share about themselves. So in some ways it was their own choice that when most outsiders heard about the Zapatista movement, it was through Marcos’s voice. Marcos is a brilliant writer, poetic and articulate, and succeeded in reaching a wide audience. But a cult of personality developed around him that was not particularly helpful. Subcomandante Marcos has stepped back, by the way, and the new Subcomandante is an indigenous man named Moisés.

Information about Zapatista women was available if you were looking for it, but you had to dig past all the stuff about Marcos. And I did think there was a real gap, not only in terms of information, but really in terms of Zapatista women’s voices—that’s one reason I wanted my book to be a vehicle for Zapatista women telling their own stories.

How did your understanding of women in social movements change as a result of writing this book?

I wouldn’t say that my understanding “changed” so much as deepened and evolved. I had the incredible opportunity to witness women’s leadership in the Zapatista movement strengthening over time and to see the interconnected relationship between women’s increased political involvement and changes in so many other areas of life—in the family, in health care, in education. Something that has also really stayed with me are the parallels between women’s involvement in the Zapatista movement and other social movements, in this country and around the world. Very different contexts, of course, different challenges and opportunities, but so many of the same themes come up again and again.

In the United States, feminism is again a subject of intense debate stemming from (to name a few) campus violence, online misogyny and even Hillary Clinton’s run for President. Are there lessons people can draw from your book to deepen this debate?

Definitely. In this country, women’s issues are often framed as a very individual problem. I think one of the most powerful lessons from Zapatista women is that women’s rights and a people’s collective rights are not mutually exclusive. Zapatista women have fought for their rights as women and their rights as indigenous people at the same time. With campus violence, for example, for a long time, cases of sexual assault were treated as isolated incidents. In Zapatista territory, women addressed the problem of domestic violence by working to change an institutionalized culture of violence. They included women’s right to live free of violence in the Women’s Revolutionary Law, they fought for a ban on alcohol in Zapatista communities, and they have carried out ongoing political education and consciousness-raising about violence against women. There might be some interesting lessons here for the women fighting to change the culture of violence on college campuses.

As far as Hillary Clinton’s run for president, I think the main lesson there is that Zapatista women provide an example of what women’s leadership can look like without emulating traditional masculine leadership or the exploitative power dynamics inherent in capitalism.

Do the Zapatistas still matter today?

Absolutely. Even though the Zapatista movement is not in the international spotlight as much as it was 15 or 20 years ago, it’s still alive and well (which is pretty impressive given the counter-insurgency waged against them by the Mexican government for more than two decades).

The Zapatista project of indigenous autonomy still provides a model of local and regional alternatives to global capitalism. The Zapatistas still play an important role supporting and inspiring other social movements.

In Mexico, for example, after 43 students from a rural teachers’ college in Ayotzinapa were kidnapped and presumed killed in September 2014, a protest movement erupted against the government’s corrupt and violent involvement in the drug war. The EZLN held a series of public events with family members of the 43 disappeared students and other students from Ayotzinapa, many of whom refer to the Zapatista movement as an important reference point for them. And Zapatista women—and their stories of courage and dignity—remind us that revolutionary struggles cannot achieve collective liberation for all people without addressing patriarchy, nor can women’s freedom be disentangled from racial, economic, and social justice.

 

http://inthesetimes.com/article/18812/zapatista-women-ezln-subcomandante-marcos-companeras-hilary-klein

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February 2, 2016

Child victims of the war in Chiapas

Filed under: Frayba, Human rights, Indigenous, Uncategorized — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 7:34 am

 

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Child victims of the war in Chiapas

A public apology without the aggressor present; they accuse the armed forces of being a power superior to the civilian government

 

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Pedro Faro, Director of Frayba (speaking), government officials and the victims (the 4 on the right) at the public apology.

 

By: Angeles Mariscal

Ever since military personnel arrived in Chiapas in 1994 to carry out actions against the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN), the human rights violations increased: Frayba

The federal government asks the parents of Angel, Ricardo and José, victims of the explosion of a military grenade, for public forgiveness. Representatives of the Armed Forces refused to attend the event, whose realization was brought about with the intervention of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).

Angel Díaz Cruz, just 9 years old, died from the impact of an anti-personnel grenade that Mexican Army personnel had “forgotten” some 500 metres away from El Aguaje community, in the municipio of San Cristóbal de las Casas. Ricardo and José López Hernández were injured.

The acts occurred in September 2000. Now, 15 years later, the Mexican government held a public act of recognition of the Mexican State’s responsibility, and asked the family members of the victims for forgiveness.

The big absence at the event were any representatives from the Armed Forces, whose members utilized a piece of land as a training field that the El Aguaje community used to collect mushrooms and to graze their flocks of sheep.

“The only thing that these poor children did was to look for mushrooms to eat.” They saw the grenade and thought it was a toy, and they brought it inside of the house where it exploded, explained the father of Ricardo and José, who also spoke in the name of Cristina Reyna Cruz López, Angel’s mother.

“My family and the residents of El Aguaje are now obliged to live with all kinds of noises provoked by the explosives, the mortars and the machine guns, which provoked a lot of fear,” he remembered.

The family of the injured boys and of Angel denounced the act to judicial authorities. The Military Prosecutor’s Office demanded jurisdiction over the investigations and, beginning at that moment, access to the record was closed to the family and its representatives, without reparations being made for damages or medical attention being given to the two survivors.

With help from the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Centre (Frayba), the family took the case to the IACHR, which after several years of investigations, concluded that the Mexican government was responsible for not carrying out its practices in safe zones far from the civilian population, and that it denied the victims access to justice upon bringing the case to military jurisdiction.

According to the Mexican government, Infantry Major Raúl Anguiano Zamora and Lieutenant Emilio Sariñana Marrufo were arrested for these acts. The families don’t know what the penalty given to them was because they were never notified of the process.

The IACHR asked the government and the victim to reach an agreement for an amicable solution, which includes the public apology that took place today, and that Homero Campa Cifrián, Assistant Secretary of Human Rights for the Secretariat of Governance gave, as well as the Governor of Chiapas, Manuel Velasco Coello.

Homero Campa reported that the families would be indemnified for the damages and that a school will be constructed in El Aguaje that carries the name of Angel Díaz Cruz.

Pedro Faro, current director of the Frayba, explained that the IACHR has had to intervene in three other cases where the Mexican Army has violated the human rights of Chiapas residents, in situations that include the torture and homicide of civilians where they arrived to set up their camps.

He explained that ever since military members came to Chiapas in 1994 to carry out actions against the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN), human rights violations have increased.

Faro emphasized that despite the fact that the Mexican government has committed to stop human rights violations, the Mexican Army has maintained the contrary. “Today we lack the principal character of this story (…) The Mexican Army is not present because it is untouchable in Mexico; it’s clear to us that it is a supra power to civilian government,” he emphasized.

For his part, José López Cruz demanded that the agreements the Mexican government signed today “are totally fulfilled.”

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Originally Published in Spanish by Chiapas Paralelo

Friday, January 29, 2016

Re-published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

 

 

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