dorset chiapas solidarity

May 29, 2013

Bachajón ejidatarios require guarantees in the judgement about the waterfalls of Agua Azul

Filed under: Bachajon — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 7:38 pm


Bachajón ejidatarios require guarantees in the judgement about the waterfalls of Agua Azul

An area of ​​2,590 square meters was taken from us, they say

Matilde Pérez U.

La Jornada

Wednesday May 29, 2013

ssb11Ejidatarios of San Juan Bachajón, Chiapas, asked the Minister Juan Silva Meza, president of the Council of the Federal Judiciary, to guarantee impartiality, objectivity and independence in the study and resolution of the case of the ownership of land near the waterfalls of Agua Azul, located in the municipality of Chilón.

The Tzeltales Mariano Moreno and Domingo Pérez Alvarado pointed out that there is no authorization by the ejido for the installation of a single toll booth on that site; the agreement with the National Commission of Natural Protected Areas was signed by a group of eight ejidatarios headed by former commissioners Pedro Alvarado Hernández y Francisco Guzmán Jiménez.

At a press conference they explained that in February 2011, federal and Chiapan authorities illegally took possession of 2,590 square meters of the ejido for the installation of the booth; they also want to develop a tourist project in the region and are pressurising the ejidatarios, who are defending themselves from displacement and demanding respect for their collective rights to the common use lands.

In the letter they delivered to the magistrate, the indigenous explained that in March 2011 they filed an amparo against the seizure of six pieces of land, and last January the seventh district judge, José del Carmen Constantino Avendaño, dismissed the amparo. Ejidatarios again demanded legal protection and on May 16 the third appellate court in Tuxtla Gutierrez ordered the reinstatement of the procedure and the notification of the ejidal assembly.

During their stay in Mexico City, both indigenous went to the office of United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to request his intervention, and also asked the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to issue precautionary measures to protect the autonomous authorities of the ejido and the family of Juan Vázquez Guzmán, assassinated on April 24 for his active participation in the defense of the ejido.



For a Future that Won’t Destroy Life on Earth

Filed under: Displacement, Indigenous — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 6:24 pm

For a Future that Won’t Destroy Life on Earth

Kristin Moe


There’s a remote part of northern Alberta where the Lubicon Cree have lived, it is said, since time immemorial. The Cree called the vast, pine-covered region niyanan askiy, “our land.” When white settlers first carved up this country, they made treaties with most of its original inhabitants—but for reasons unclear, the Lubicon Cree were left out. Two hundred years later, the Lubicon’s right to their traditional territory is still unrecognized. In the last four decades, industry has tapped the vast resource wealth that lies deep beneath the pines; today, 2,600 oil and gas wells stretch to the horizon. This is tar sands country.

Idle No More is the latest incarnation of an age-old movement for life that doesn’t depend on infinite extraction and growth. Now, armed with Twitter and Facebook, once-isolated groups from Canada to South America are exchanging resources and support like never before.

In 2012 testimony before the U.S. Congress, Lubicon Cree organizer Melina Laboucan-Massimo, then 30, described witnessing the devastation of her family’s ancestral land caused by one of the largest oil spills in Alberta’s history. “What I saw was a landscape forever changed by oil that had consumed a vast stretch of the traditional territory where my family had hunted, trapped, and picked berries and medicines for generations.”

“When we’re at home, we feel really isolated,” says Laboucan-Massimo, who has spent her adult life defending her people’s land from an industry that has rendered it increasingly polluted and impoverished. The Lubicon are fighting a hard battle, but their story—of resource extraction, of poverty and isolation, and of enduring resistance—is one that echoes in indigenous communities around the world. Today, Laboucan-Massimo and others like her are vanguards of a network of indigenous movements that is increasingly global, relevant—and powerful.

This power manifests in movements like Idle No More, which swept Canada last December and ignited a wave of solidarity on nearly every continent. Laboucan-Massimo was amazed—and hopeful. Triggered initially by legislation that eroded treaty rights and removed protection for almost all of Canada’s rivers—clearing the way for unprecedented fossil fuel extraction—Idle No More drew thousands into the streets. In a curious blend of ancient and high-tech, images of indigenous protesters in traditional regalia popped up on news feeds all over the world.

A history of resistance
To outsiders, it might seem that Idle No More materialized spontaneously, that it sprang into being fully formed. It builds, however, on a long history of resistance to colonialism that began when Europeans first washed up on these shores. Now, armed with Twitter and Facebook, once-isolated movements from Canada to South America are exchanging knowledge, resources, and support like never before.

Idle No More is one of what Subcomandante Marcos, the masked prophet of the Mexican Zapatistas, called “pockets of resistance,” which are “as numerous as the forms of resistance themselves.” The Zapatistas are part of a wave of indigenous organizing that crested in South America in the 1990s, coinciding with the 500th anniversary of European conquest—most effectively in Bolivia, Ecuador, and Mexico. Certain threads connect what might otherwise be isolated uprisings: They’re largely nonviolent, structurally decentralized, they seek common cause with non-natives, and they are deeply, spiritually rooted in the land.

The connections among indigenous organizers have strengthened through both a shared colonial history and a shared threat—namely, the neoliberal economic policies of deregulation, privatization, and social spending cuts exemplified by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the World Trade Organization. Indigenous organizers see these agreements as nothing more than the old colonial scramble for wealth at the expense of the natives. In a 1997 piece in Le Monde Diplomatique, Marcos called neoliberalism “the totalitarian extension of the logic of the finance markets to all aspects of life,” resulting in “the exclusion of all persons who are of no use to the new economy.” Many indigenous leaders charge that the policies implemented through organizations like the World Bank and the IMF prioritize corporations over communities and further concentrate power in the hands of a few.

Uprising in Ecuador

The mid-1990s saw a massive expansion of such policies—and with it, an expansion of resistance, particularly in countries with significant indigenous populations. In 1990, CONAIE, the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador, staged a massive, nonviolent levantamiento—an uprising—flooding the streets of Quito, blocking roads and effectively shutting down the country. Entire families walked for days to reach the capital to demand land rights, fair prices for agrarian goods, and recognition of Ecuador as a plurinational state, made up of multiple, equally legitimate nations. In the end it forced renegotiation of policy and created unprecedented indigenous representation in government; many hailed CONAIE’s success as a model for organizing everywhere.

CONAIE’s slogan, “Nothing just for Indians,” invited participation from non-indigenous allies around larger questions of inequality and political representation, creating a political space that was big and inclusive enough for everyone. Dr Maria Elena Garcia, who studies these movements at the University of Washington, says that non-indigenous support has been “crucial” for success across the board. In the case of CONAIE, she says, there came a tipping point when “most Ecuadorians … said, ‘Enough. This organization is speaking for us.’”

The Zapatista Army

Meanwhile, in Mexico, the Zapatista movement was busy building a different kind of revolution. On January 1, 1994, the Zapatista Army took its place on the international stage. It was day one of NAFTA, which Subcomandante Marcos called “a death sentence to the indigenous ethnicities of Mexico.” More than any other movement, they linked local issues of cultural marginalization, racism, and inequality to global economic systems and prophesied a new movement of resistance. The media-savvy revolutionaries used their most potent weapon—words—and the still-new Internet to advocate a new world built on diversity as the basis for ecological and political survival. Transnational from the beginning, the Zapatistas made common cause with “pockets of resistance” everywhere.

Then, a curious change occurred: for nearly 10 years following their initial insurgency, the Zapatistas maintained a self-imposed silence. The world heard little from Marcos, but the autonomous communities in Chiapas were very much alive. They had turned inward, building independent governments, schools, and clinics. As journalist and author Naomi Klein observed, “These free spaces, born of reclaimed land, communal agriculture, resistance to privatization, will eventually create counter-powers to the state simply by existing as alternatives.” Embodying, here and now, the society they seek to create is a powerful manifesto; for those who cared to listen, their silence spoke volumes.

Victory in Bolivia

Most of these movements have used nonviolent tactics, including blockades, occupations of public space, and mass marches—combined with traditional political work—to varying degrees of success. In Bolivia these tactics yielded an extraordinary outcome: the election of Evo Morales, in 2005, as Bolivia’s first indigenous head of state.

Five years later, Morales convened 30,000 international delegates for the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth. A response to the repeated failure of international climate negotiations, the gathering was rooted in an indigenous worldview that recognized Mother Earth as a living being, entitled to her own inalienable rights.

The resulting declaration placed blame unequivocally on the capitalist system that has “imposed on us a logic of competition, progress, and limitless growth.” This unrestrained growth, the declaration says, transforms “everything into commodities: water, earth, the human genome, ancestral cultures, biodiversity, justice, ethics, the rights of peoples, and life itself.” Significantly, the declaration also extended the analysis of colonialism to include climate change—calling for “decolonization of the atmosphere”—but it rejected market-based solutions like carbon trading. It’s a holistic analysis that links colonialism, climate change, and capital, a manifesto for what has come to be called “climate justice.”

Idle No More

ezln-300x225Fast forward to December 2012, and two things happened: The Zapatistas staged simultaneous marches in five cities, marking a resurgence of their public activism. Anywhere from 10,000–50,000 masked marchers filled the streets in complete silence. The march was timed to coincide with the end of the Mayan calendar—and the beginning of a new, more hopeful era—and demonstrated the Zapatistas’ commitment to the indigenous cosmology of their ancestors.

That same month, a continent away, Idle No More emerged on the scene. While it began as a reaction to two specific bills in Parliament, it has gained strength and momentum in opposition to the network of proposed pipelines that will crisscross North America, pumping tar sands oil from Alberta to refineries and ports in Canada and the U.S. These pipelines will cross national, tribal, state, and ethnic boundaries and raise a multitude of issues—including water quality, land rights, and climate change. The campaign to stop their construction is already unifying natives and non-natives in unprecedented ways.

Dr. Garcia, whose own ancestors are indigenous, believes that indigenous movements offer something vital: hope, and what she calls “the importance of the imaginary. Of imagining a different world—imagining a different way of being in the world.”

“We’re a land-based people, but it goes further than that. It’s a worldview. When you destroy the earth, you destroy yourself,” says Melina Laboucan-Massimo. This is “the common thread in indigenous people all over the world.”

It is this thread that goes to the heart of our global ecological crisis. While indigenous cultures differ widely from one another, what they collectively present is an alternative relationship—to the earth, to its resources, and to each other—a relationship based not on domination but on reciprocity. Any movement that seeks to create deep, lasting social change—to address not only climate change but endemic racism and social inequality—must confront our colonial identity and, by extension, this broken relationship.

Laboucan-Massimo has spent a great deal of time abroad, studying indigenous movements from Latin America to New Zealand and Australia, feeling the full weight of their shared history under colonialism. These days, though, she’s more likely to be on the road, educating, organizing, and building solidarity among natives and non-natives. It was understanding the connections between movements, she says, that gave her “all the more fervour to come back and continue to do the work here.”

Recently, she travelled from Alberta to the National Mall in Washington, D.C., where she and her elders stood at the forefront of the largest climate change rally in history. And she’ll keep organizing, armed with a smartphone, supported by a growing network of allies from Idle No More and beyond, connected in every possible way to the rest of the world.


Communiqué from San Sebastián Bachajón, 28th of May, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 4:28 am

Communiqué from San Sebastián Bachajón, 28th of May, 2013

To the people of Mexico and the world

To the compañer@s adherents to the sixth declaration of the Lacandon Jungle

To the mass and alternative media

To national and international human rights defenders

To the Good Government Juntas

To the indigenous peoples in resistance

To public opinion

san-sebastian-bachajon-300x131We come with dignified rage to give our word in Mexico City, we want to denounce once again the great injustices and dispossessions that the three levels of bad government, headed by the major criminals Enrique Peña Nieto, Manuel Velasco Coello and Leonardo Guirao Aguilar, continue to commit against our people. These corrupt governments displace indigenous peoples from their territory to develop transnational projects and make themselves rich at the expense of our suffering. They say that their projects are to provide work for the indigenous so they can get out of poverty, but the only thing they want is to keep our lands and for us to return to the time of slavery. It is these same corrupt governments who sent people to cowardly assassinate our compañero in the struggle, Juan Vázquez Guzmán, during the evening of April 24, 2013, while he was resting at his home in the settlement of Bachajón.

ssbDSC02495The bad government buys ejidal[i] and community authorities[ii] who have no conscience to defend their people, they sell themselves for a few pesos and become faithful servants of the bad government, because they only see their personal interests. An authority who governs without obeying and defending his people is not really an authority, but simply has the name, so the people have the right to defend themselves. In our community the officialist[iii] ejidal authorities are manipulated by the government to consummate the theft of our lands. The former commissioners Pedro Alvaro Hernández and Francisco Guzmán Jiménez now have good cars and live off the fat of the land because they no longer work the fields. They have allowed the government to militarize and fill our communities with state preventive police. They signed documents handing over our land to the government, without the authorisation of our highest authority the General Assembly, and instead of being punished and sent to prison, they are rewarded and protected by the bad government. But the indigenous who fight for their people are tortured and punished in jail, serving unjust sentences, like our prisoners Antonio Estrada Estrada (prisoner in CERSS 17, Playas de  Catazajá, Chiapas), Miguel Vázquez Deara (prisoner in CERSS 16, Ocosingo, Chiapas) and Miguel Demeza Jiménez (prisoner in CERSS 14, El Amate).

The theft of our lands has been prepared, since the end of 2010, by the general secretary of government Noé Castañón León himself, at his offices in Tuxtla Gutierrez, together with the former ejidal commissioners Francisco Guzmán Jiménez, Carmen Aguilar Gómez Primero, Juan Alvaro Moreno, Manuel Jiménez Moreno and Miguel Ruiz Hernández. On February 2, 2011, they came to violently evict the compañeros of our organization from the toll booth[iv] we built with much effort to benefit the people, they stole building materials and cash, and the next day they arrested 117 of our compañeros.

The bad government has strongly repressed our movement because they want us to disappear, they do not like the people to organize and defend what is theirs, they just want to get rid of us and for nobody to say anything. These same bad governments say we live in a democracy, but they repress us with state forces and order assassination to silence our movement which fights for justice, land, freedom and democracy.

On March 2, 2011 compañero Mariano Moreno Guzmán, who is one of the founders of the ejido and a former ejidal commissioner who obtained the documents for our people, presented an amparo[v] on account of the eviction. The amparo was allotted to the Seventh District Judge in Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas with the number 274/2011. On January 30, 2013, the corrupt Judge José del Carmen Constantino Avendaño gave judgement and dismissed the amparo. On May 16, 2013, the Third Collegiate Court of Tuxtla rejected the judgment of the Seventh Court as being illegal and ordered the reinstatement of the procedure. Now the Seventh Judge must notify the claim for amparo to the General Assembly of Ejidatarios through the officialist Ejidal Commissioner, who is from the government. The skill of the government can be clearly seen, as they could not cancel the amparo with the judgment of Judge Constantino Avendaño, they now want to use an Act of Assembly, similar to those they like to fabricate with the complicity of the Chief Resident of the Agrarian Prosecutor of Ocosingo, Engineer Luis Demetrio Domínguez López, the Municipal Presidency of Chilón and the government authorities of Chiapas.

We will not allow the theft of our lands and the abuse of our people to continue, despite the cowardly assassination of our compañero Juan Vázquez Guzmán, we will keep fighting and defending with energy and organization, we will not be silent as the bad government wants us to be. Juan Vázquez Guzmán lives, the Bachajón struggle continues!

We join the week of worldwide action: Juan Vázquez Guzmán lives, the Bachajón struggle continues! convoked by our compañeros from Movement for Justice in El Barrio, Dorset Chiapas Solidarity Group, Committee of the True Word from Kolkata, India and Committee of the True Word from Alisal, for the days from June 25th to July 2nd.

From the northern zone of Chiapas, receive an embrace from the women and men of San Sebastián Bachajón. May 28, 2013.


Land and Freedom!

Hasta la victoria siempre!

[i] From ejido, a communal landholding

[ii] Authorities are people with positions of responsibility in the community

[iii] Officialist here means government-supporting

[iv] Toll booth is where tickets are sold to visitors to the waterfalls of Agua Azul

[v] Amparo is a form of legal protection


San Sebastián Bachajón Ejido Owners Renew the Legal Struggle in Defense of Their Territory

Filed under: Bachajon, Displacement, Indigenous, La Sexta, Movement for Justice in el Barrio, Repression — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 4:25 am


San Sebastián Bachajón Ejido Owners Renew the Legal Struggle in Defense of Their Territory

 ** They have been to the Federal Judiciary Council and a UN agency

By: Hermann Bellinghausen, 28th May 2013

images (24)This week, the Chiapas ejido of San Sebastián Bachajón, municipality of Chilón, resumes the legal battle that it has been maintaining for more than three years in defense of its territory and the right to community self-determination. This Monday, representatives of the Tzeltal community went to the Federal Judiciary Council (CJF, its initials in Spanish) and the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, to demand the return of an area of their territory, which various Chiapas and federal authorities “arbitrarily took possession” of on February 2, 2011.

“We presented a new letter to the president of the CJF, Juan Silva Meza, so that it [the CJF] can ensure impartiality and independence in the resolution of the protective order (amparo) filed in 2011,” reported Ricardo Lagunes Gasca, legal representative of the ejido owners, who is accompanying the indigenous delegates in this process. On January 30 of this year, the seventh judge of Tuxtla Gutiérrez issued a decision dismissing the amparo, considering that the ejido member authorized by the community, Mariano Moreno Guzmán, “did not have the requirements of the Law of Amparo for being the ejido’s surrogate representative.” Furthermore, they demanded that they [the CJF] take in to account the apocryphal nature of the act of assembly which was presented, in order to get amparo themselves, by the Secretary General of the Chiapas Government and the ejidal commissioner in his service, Francisco Guzmán Jiménez.

Apocryphal act

The judge validated it [the act of assembly] and determined that the ejido “gave its consent for the installation of the only ticket booth at the access to the Agua Azul Waterfalls”, thereby endorsing that the government would administer it, even when the document “does not have signatures of the ejido owners nor prior notice”.

The ejido owners and adherents to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle promoted appeal number 118/2013 against the verdict, which was decided on May 16. The resolution of a tribunal in Chiapas, published on May 22, revokes the January 30 decision “because it considers it illegal” and orders the procedure to be reset so that the general assembly can be notified of the demand filed by Moreno Guzmán, “which should have been done on its admission on March 4, 2011, and not two years later.”

The indigenous, their lawyer stated, told Minister Silva Meza that they hope that the case “will be resolved according to the rights of indigenous peoples and the June 10, 2011 reforms; that it will guarantee that the judge does not determine the issue solely from the perspective of the agrarian law (more restrictive and less protective than international standards) and that it will guarantee the highest standards of protection for the rights of the peoples with respect to territory, the right to consultation and free, prior and informed consent.”

Accordingly, the autonomous authorities who are adherents to the Sixth sent a petition to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in Washington, in relation to the dispossession of their territory, and the repression and criminalization of their organization by the Chiapas government.

Meanwhile, Movement for Justice in El Barrio from New York, the Dorset Chiapas Solidarity Group and the Committees of the True Word from Alisal and Kolkata, convoked the Week of Worldwide Action in support of this struggle, from June 25 to July 2. They pointed out that the initiative, “supported by the ejido owners”, is in response to the “savage assassination” of Juan Vázquez Guzmán, leader of the Sixth in San Sebastián Bachajón, on April 24. They emphasized that: “the Tzeltal communities are under attack from the forces of capitalism and transnational corporations who will leave no corner of the world untouched”.

Here “their greed covets the ownership of the beautiful waterfalls of Agua Azul, in order to make them into a private luxury tourist destination”, they asserted. “The ejidatarios of San Sebastián Bachajón are obstacles”, which has made them the “recipients of threats, aggressions, arbitrary detentions, forced disappearances, imprisonment, torture, and attacks from state forces and paramilitary groups”.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Tuesday, May 28, 2013



Marchers Reject Monsanto, Back Food Sovereignty

Filed under: Corporations, Maize — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 4:20 am


Marchers Reject Monsanto, Back Food Sovereignty

According to organizers, hundreds of thousands of environmentalists and other activists participated in marches in 436 cities and 52 countries on May 25 to protest the Missouri-based biotech giant Monsanto Company, whose products include genetically modified (GM) seeds and the glyphosate-based herbicide Roundup. The global March Against Monsanto generated events in countries including Australia, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, the UK and the US. (La Jornada (Mexico) 5/26/13, some from AFP, Prensa Latina)

A few dozen Argentines reportedly protested in front of Monsanto’s Buenos Aires offices on May 25, and protests were planned for Tucumán, Mendoza, Rosario, Misiones and Calafate. One of Argentina’s largest protests took place two days earlier, on May 23, when hundreds of residents marched in Córdoba City, the capital of the central province of Córdoba. Malvinas Argentinas, a working-class suburb located 14 km from the provincial capital, is the site Monsanto has picked for its largest facility in Latin America [see Update #1166], and the company is also building an experimental station in Río Cuarto in the same province. “Monsanto out of Malvinas Argentinas, Córdoba and Latin America” is a popular slogan in the Córdoba metropolitan area, where residents blame fumigation with agricultural chemicals for cancer, respiratory diseases and deformed foetuses. At the May 23 march the Malvinas Struggles Assembly called for a popular consultation on the construction of the plant. According to a recent poll by researchers from local universities, nine out of 10 Malvinas Argentinas residents want a vote and 58% of them oppose the construction.

Most of Argentina’s soy is transgenic, and soy is now Argentina’s biggest crop, taking up nearly 20 million hectares, 59% of the country’s farmland. The centre-left government of President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner is pushing to expand soy production, while Congress is working on a new Seed Law, one so favourable to the GM industry that critics are calling it the Monsanto Law. (El Mundo (Spain) 5/25/13)

Activists also held protests against Monsanto in Montevideo, Uruguay, and Santiago and other cities in Chile. (LJ 5/26/13, some from AFP and PL; Diario de Mendoza (Argentina) 5/26/13 from Russia Today (RT))

In Mexico activists marked May 25 with protests in 20 of the country’s 32 states. The focus was on recent requests from Monsanto and other biotech firms for permission to expand the commercial planting of GM corn [see Update #1177]; environmentalists and campesinos fear that the massive sowing will contaminate the 59 native corn strains, threatening both biodiversity and Mexico’s ability to produce its own food. In the Federal District (DF, Mexico City), organizations like Vía Orgánica (“Organic Way”) and the Without Corn There Is No Country campaign sponsored a march from the Bellas Artes Palace to the Monument to the Revolution; they also organized a “Carnival of Corn,” with pictures, music and theatrical performances that attracted hundreds of visitors. (LJ 5/26/13)

Activists in the southeastern state of Chiapas held a similar festival in the plaza in front of the cathedral in San Cristóbal de las Casas. The organizers called for Chiapas municipalities to be declared GM-free zones; they also expressed their concerns about Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto’s “National Crusade Against Hunger,” which they said was oriented toward the distribution of food from industrialized farming rather than from campesino production.

In the western state of Nayarit campesinos from Santiago Ixcuintla, Sauta, Villa Hidalgo and La Presa demanded the removal of Monsanto, which they said had taken over some 1,800 hectares of their lands since 2010 and was irrigating the crops with water from the Santiago River. In Jalisco some eight groups, including the Honda de México Workers Union, demonstrated in a plaza in the state capital, Guadalajara. GM corn is a death sentence which would leave Mexican producers at the mercy of giant multinationals, said Jesús Quiroz Pérez, a campesino from the community of Ixcatán in Zapopan municipality. In Morelia, the capital of the southwestern state of Michoacán, the protest was led by some 500 members and supporters of the #YoSoy132 (“I’m number 132”) student movement [see Update #1130]. (LJ 5/26/13)

Hundreds of Puerto Ricans marched in San Juan’s Santurce neighbourhood on May 25 with the slogan “Nothing is holy [santo] about Monsanto.” Protesters noted that Monsanto and Dow Chemical were the main producers of the defoliant Agent Orange, which was tested in Puerto Rico during the 1960s before being used by the US military in Vietnam. The protest’s main speaker, attorney Salvador Tió, called for support for a law proposed by pro-independence senator María de Lourdes Santiago to require labels identifying GM products. Tió also demanded that Monsanto be required to comply with a law limiting individual farms to 500 acres. According to the Investigative Journalism Centre (CPI), the Puerto Rican government’s Land Authority is negotiating with Monsanto to renew contracts for land in the Juana Díaz plains totalling 768 acres, in violation of the law. Guillermo Somoza Colombani, justice secretary in the 2009-2013 administration of former governor Luis Fortuño, supported Monsanto’s claim that the law didn’t apply because the firm is registered as a biotech company, not an agricultural company. Current agriculture secretary Myrna Comas has said that the administration of Gov. Alejandro García Padilla will review all the contracts signed by previous governments. (Prensa Latina 5/25/13)

Weekly News Update on the Americas, Issue #1178, May 26, 2013




May 27, 2013

Convocation in Support of San Sebastián Bachajón and in Honor of Juan Vázquez Guzmán

Filed under: Bachajon, Movement for Justice in el Barrio — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 5:36 pm

Convocation for the Week of Worldwide Action:

“Juan Vázquez Guzmán lives!

The Bachajón struggle continues!”

From Tuesday, June 25 to Tuesday, July 2, 2013

To our sisters and brothers of the Ejido San Sebastián Bachajón:

To our Zapatista sisters and brothers:

To our compañer@s of the Sexta:

To the Committees of the True Word:

To the adherents to the International Campaign in Defense of El Barrio and our allies everywhere:

To civil society in Mexico and the world:

Bachajon y Juan Ingles ChicoMovement for Justice in El Barrio, Dorset Chiapas Solidarity Group, the Committee of the True Word from Kolkata, India and the Committee of the True Word from Alisal propose that we carry out the Week of Worldwide Action: “Juan Vázquez Guzmán lives! The Bachajón struggle continues!” from Tuesday, June 25th (the birthday of Juan Vázquez Guzmán) to Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013.

We send you all greetings and embraces of solidarity from New York, Dorset, Kolkata and Alisal.

We wish to share with you our humble proposal and hope that you will wish to join with us in solidarity from your own places and in your own ways to carry out the Week of Worldwide Action: “Juan Vázquez Guzmán lives! The Bachajón struggle continues!”.

This initiative is supported by the adherents of the Sixth of San Sebastián Bachajón.

Compañeras and Compañeros:

In these times when the very survival of our Mother Earth is under threat from the forces of greed and profit which level the mountains, uproot the jungles and forests, dam the rivers and poison the waters, creating a wasteland of despair, we want to share with you the pain and indignation we feel following the savage murder of our beloved compañero, Juan Vázquez Guzmán from San Sebastián Bachajón, on April 24, 2013.

We demand justice! His killers must not remain unpunished! No more impunity!

Juan Vázquez Guzmán was the Secretary General of the adherents to the Sixth Declaration from the ejido of San Sebastián Bachajón, and an inspiration to us all in his struggle against the brutal repression and plunder of the land and territory of the ejidatarios (communal landholders) of these communities.

In response to the tragic death of our beloved compañero, Juan Vazquez Guzman, we invite groups around the world to keep his memory alive. Those who knew Juan knew a man whose words had strength and whose vision and heart were free from fear in the struggle for the defense of his people and their land. His warm smile, his contagious sense of humor, his love for his people and his commitment to the creation of another world will stay in the hearts of those who had the good fortune to know him.

Juan’s dedication and passion remain with us, and we call on you to join us in remembering his life and continuing his struggle.

The indigenous Tzeltal communities of Bachajón are under attack from the forces of capitalism and transnational corporations who will leave no corner of the world untouched, and will not rest until they have destroyed the entire planet.

In San Sebastián Bachajón, their greed covets the ownership of the beautiful waterfalls of Agua Azul, in order to make them into a private luxury tourist destination. The ejidatarios of San Sebastián Bachajón are obstacles to their plans and their profit, as this is land they inherited from their ancestors and care for as a treasure of humanity. This has made them recipients of threats, aggressions, arbitrary detentions, forced disappearances, imprisonment, torture, and attacks from state forces and paramilitary groups.

Juan Vázquez Guzmán was a leader of his people in their struggle to defend their land, their history, customs and traditions, their livelihood and means of sustenance, their rivers, jungles and wildlife, everything that makes life on earth precious.

Compañeras and Compañeros:

The bad governments and their allies in multinational business corporations wish to destroy the indigenous peoples and all those who struggle from below and to the left, because it is only the organized resistance of autonomous communities against the wars and destruction of our natural resources that can save the Mother Earth for our children.

For this reason, we call on you all to join together to continue the dignified struggle of compañero Juan Vázquez Guzmán and the ejidatarios of San Sebastián Bachajón, so that all ways and forms of life may have their place.

To all those who strive to build another, better, world, one of freedom, justice, democracy and dignity, we call on you all to join our forces together to organize actions –from your own area and according to your different methods of struggle- such as demonstrations, marches, street stalls, handing out flyers, public forums, theatre, informative gatherings, and any other activities to carry out the:

Week of Worldwide Action: “Juan Vázquez Guzmán lives! The Bachajón struggle continues!”

From Tuesday, June 25th to Tuesday, July 2nd of this year.

We ask you to please let us know as soon as possible if you are able to accept our proposal and if you will participate. You can contact us by email at:

To our beloved compa Juan Vázquez Guzmán, we embrace you, knowing that you will always be with us. We will always be thankful to you for having given so much inspiration to each of us in our own struggles.

The seed of resistance you nourished in these indigenous soils will continue to grow and flourish watered by the love and the passion for struggle you have given us.

You will never be alone.

We believe that everyone should know of your dignified life and of the dignified resistance of your people.

We demand a full investigation of your assassination, and punishment of those responsible.

Your voice will not be silenced, nor will the work of your heart be ended.

Juan Vázquez Guzmán, compañero, we will remember you on June 25th, the day of your birthday. We call on all people of good heart to celebrate your life and your dignified struggle.

Juan Vázquez Guzmán, beloved compa and brother, guardian of the land, the struggle continues.

Land, Freedom and Justice for the Ejidatarios of San Sebastián Bachajón!

Freedom and Justice for Antonio Estrada Estrada, Miguel Vázquez Deara and Miguel Demeza Jiménez of San Sebastián Bachajón!

Stop the Aggressions against the Adherents to the Sexta!

Long Live the Zapatistas!

No more impunity!

Juan Vázquez Guzmán, Presente!

With embraces of Love and Solidarity,

Movement for Justice in El Barrio

Dorset Chiapas Solidarity Group

Committee of the True Word from Kolkata, India

Committee of the True Word from Alisal


Convocatoria Mundial en Apoyo a San Sebastián Bachajón y en Honor a Juan Vázquez Guzmán

Filed under: Bachajon, Movement for Justice in el Barrio — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 5:26 pm

Convocatoria para la Semana de Acción Mundial:

“¡Juan Vázquez Guzmán Vive!”

“¡La Lucha de Bachajón Sigue!”

Del martes, 25 de junio al martes, 2 de julio

bachajon circulo_Mesa de trabajo 26 copia 5 Spanish round largeA nuestr@s hermanas y hermanos del ejido San Sebastián Bachajón:

A nuestr@s hermanas y hermanos Zapatistas:

A nuestr@s compañer@s de la Sexta:

A los Comités de la Palabra Verdadera en todo el mundo:

A los adherentes a la Campaña Internacional en Defensa del Barrio y nuestr@s aliados en todo el mundo:

A la sociedad civil en México y en el mundo:

Movimiento por Justicia del Barrio, Grupo de Solidaridad con Chiapas de Dorset, el Comité de la Palabra Verdadera de Calcuta, India, y el Comité de la Palabra Verdadera de Alisal proponen que se realice la “Semana de Acción Mundial: ¡Juan Vázquez Guzmán Vive, La Lucha de Bachajón Sigue!” del martes, 25 de junio (el día del nacimiento de Juan Vázquez Guzmán) al martes, 2 de julio.

Les enviamos a todos saludos y abrazos de solidaridad de Nueva York, Dorset, Calcuta y Alisal.

Queremos compartir con ustedes nuestra humilde propuesta y esperamos que ustedes deseen unirse con nosotr@s en solidaridad desde sus propios lugares y en sus propias maneras para llevar a cabo la “Semana de Acción Mundial: ¡Juan Vázquez Guzmán Vive, La Lucha de Bachajón Sigue!”.

Esta iniciativa es respaldada por l@s ejidatarios de San Sebastián Bachajón, adherentes a la Sexta.

Compañeras y Compañeros:

En estos tiempos, cuando la supervivencia misma de nuestra Madre Tierra está bajo la amenaza de las fuerzas de la codicia y las ganancias las cuales anivelan las montañas, desarraigan las selvas y los bosques, apresan los ríos y envenenan las aguas, creando desiertos de desesperación, queremos compartir con ustedes el dolor y la indignación que estamos sintiendo tras el salvaje asesinato de nuestro querido compañero, Juan Vázquez Guzmán de San Sebastián Bachajón, el 24 de abril de 2013.

¡Exigimos justicia! ¡Sus asesinos no pueden quedarse sin castigo! ¡No más impunidad!

Juan Vázquez Guzmán fue Secretario General de los adherentes a la Sexta Declaración del ejido de San Sebastián Bachajón, y una inspiración para todos nosotr@s en su lucha contra la brutal represión y saqueo de la tierra y territorio de los ejidatarios de estas comunidades.

En respuesta a la trágica muerte de nuestro querido compañero Juan Vázquez Guzmán, hacemos esta invitación a grupos de todo el mundo para mantener viva su memoria. Quienes conocieron a Juan conocieron a un gran luchador social cuyas palabras tenían fuerza y cuya visión y corazón estaban libres de temor en la lucha por la defensa de su pueblo y su tierra. Su sonrisa calurosa, su contagioso sentido del humor, su amor por su pueblo y su compromiso por la creación de otro mundo permanecerá en los corazones de quienes tuvieron la suerte de conocerlo.

La dedicación y pasión de Juan siguen con nosotr@s, y les hacemos un llamado a unirse a nosotr@s para recordar su vida y continuar su lucha.

Las comunidades indígenas Tzeltales de San Sebastián Bachajón están siendo atacadas por las fuerzas del capitalismo y las empresas transnacionales que no dejaran sin tocar ningún rincón del mundo y no descansaran hasta que hagan destruido todo el planeta.

En San Sebastián Bachajón, su avaricia ambiciona adueñarse de las hermosas cascadas de Agua Azul, con el fin de convertirlos en un destino turístico de lujo privado. Los ejidatarios, quienes heredaron estas tierras de sus antepasados y quienes las cuidan como un tesoro de la humanidad, son un obstáculo para los planes y las ganancias de estas empresas. Esto ha convertido a los ejidatarios como los recibidores de amenazas, agresiones, detenciones arbitrarias, desapariciones forzadas, encarcelamiento, tortura, y ataques de las fuerzas gubernamentales y grupos paramilitares.

Juan Vázquez Guzmán fue un líder de su pueblo en su lucha por defender su tierra y territorio, su historia, costumbres y tradiciones, sus medios de subsistencia y medios de sustento, sus ríos, selvas y vida silvestre, todo lo que hace preciosa la vida en la tierra.

Compañeras y Compañeros:

Los malos gobiernos y sus aliados en corporaciones multinacionales de negocios desean destruir a los pueblos indígenas y a todos quienes luchan desde abajo y a la izquierda, porque es solo la resistencia organizada de las comunidades autónomas contra las guerras y destrucción de nuestros recursos naturales que puede salvar a la Madre Tierra para nuestros hij@s.

Por ello, les hacemos un llamado para que se unan para continuar la lucha digna del compañero Juan Vázquez Guzmán y los ejidatarios de San Sebastián Bachajón, para que todas las maneras y formas de vida puedan tener su lugar.

A todos aquellos que se esfuerzan por construir otro mundo, mejor, uno de libertad, justicia, democracia y dignidad, les hacemos un llamado para que junt@s unamos nuestras fuerzas organizando acciones -desde su localidad y con sus diferentes formas de lucha- como manifestaciones, marchas, repartición de volantes, foros públicos, teatro, concentraciones informativas y cualquier otra actividad para realizar la:

“Semana de Acción Mundial: ¡Juan Vázquez Guzmán Vive, La Lucha de Bachajón Sigue!”

Del martes, 25 de junio (el día del nacimiento de Juan Vázquez Guzmán) al martes, 2 de julio de este año.

Les pedimos a tod@s que por favor nos hagan saber lo antes posible si aceptan nuestra propuesta y si participaran. Se pueden contactar con nosotros por correo electrónico al:

A nuestro querido compa Juan Vázquez Guzmán, te abrazamos, sabiendo que siempre estarás con nosotr@s. Siempre estaremos agradecidos contigo por habernos dado tanta inspiración para cada una de nosotr@s en nuestras propias luchas.

La semilla de resistencia que nutriste en estos suelos indígenas continuara creciendo y floreciendo regada por el amor y la pasión por la lucha que nos has dado.

Nunca estarás solo.

Creemos que tod@s deberían saber de tu vida digna y de la resistencia digna de tu pueblo.

Exigimos una investigación completa de tu asesinato, y el castigo para los responsables.

Tu voz no será callada, ni el trabajo de tu corazón terminado.

Juan Vázquez Guzmán, compañero, te recordaremos el 25 de junio, el día de tu cumpleaños. Haremos un llamado a tod@s las personas de buen corazón que celebre tu vida y tu digna lucha.

Juan Vázquez Guzmán, querido compa y hermano, guardián de la tierra, la lucha continúa.

¡Tierra, libertad y justicia para los ejidatarios de San Sebastián Bachajón!

¡Libertad y Justicia para Antonio Estrada Estrada, Miguel Vázquez Deara y Miguel Demeza Jiménez de San Sebastián Bachajón!

¡Alto a las agresiones en contra de los Adherentes de la Sexta!

¡Vivan los Zapatistas!

¡No más impunidad!

¡Juan Vázquez Guzmán, Presente!

Con abrazos de amor y solidaridad,

Movimiento por Justicia del Barrio

Grupo de Solidaridad con Chiapas de Dorset, Inglaterra

Comité de la Palabra Verdadera de Calcuta, India

Comité de la Palabra Verdadera de Alisal


Call-out to StopG8 UK One Common Struggle

Filed under: Uncategorized — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 3:30 pm


Call-out to StopG8 UK

One common struggle

This June the leaders of the G8 (the world’s richest countries) are meeting in Northern Ireland. As economic crisis bites, and the planet burns, the bosses and their politicians are celebrating business as usual. Capitalism: a system that kills, exploits, and degrades the many for the profit of a few.

On June I 0-14 we are organising a week of action and events in London. London is at the heart of global capitalism .The corporations, banks, hedge funds, and billionaires looting our world have names and addresses. They are in the glass towers of the City, and behind unmarked doors in Mayfair and Knightsbridge. London is the money-laundering den of dictators, the playground of the super-rich. But London is our city too.  A city of hope, resistance, and struggle.

Capitalism is killing us.  Unemployment, cuts, and the rise of fascism in the ‘West’. Poverty, colonialism, brutal exploitation in the ‘Third World’. War and famine for profit. Private prisons, police checks, CCTV to keep us scared and controlled. Life robbed of meaning and beauty, our dreams and our dignity for sale.

Don’t ignore. Don’t wait. For our friends and loved ones, for our communities, for our planet, for everything they’re trying to take from us. The time is now. Let’s come together and fight. One common struggle.

Join us on the streets.

June  10-l4: Week of actions, talks, meet-ups, films, games, concerts and more, all over London and beyond.

 June 11:      Big day of action in Central London.

June 17-18: GS Summit, Enniskillen, North of Ireland. 
















Press conference about San Sebastián Bachajón

Filed under: Bachajon — Tags: — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 10:09 am

* Invitation to a press conference with the ejidatarios of San Sebastián Bachajón, about the murder of Juan Vázquez and the situation at the Agua Azul Waterfalls *

  * We invite you to a press conference with the ejidatarios of San Sebastián Bachajón ​​to report on the murder of our compañero Juan Vázquez Guzmán and the struggle for the defence of the land which continues in the area of Agua Azul Waterfalls, Chiapas.*

* It will be on Tuesday, May 28, 2013 at 11:00 am

At Carmona y Valle No. 32, Col. Doctores, delegación Cuauhtémoc, México Federal District. *

* We appreciate your attendance. *

* Against dispossession and repression: *

* Solidarity! *

* Network against Repression and for Solidarity *

* (RvsR) *




May 25, 2013

Conservation International evicting indigenous people again

Filed under: Indigenous — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 7:04 pm

Remember the story of Conservation International, Starbucks, and Montes Azules??


Bushmen face imminent eviction for ‘wildlife corridor’

A Bushman community in southern Botswana A Bushman community in southern Botswana is facing imminent eviction from their land for a 'wildlife corridor'.is facing imminent eviction from their land for a ‘wildlife corridor’.
© Survival

Survival International has received disturbing reports about an imminent eviction of several hundred Bushmen in southern Botswana to make way for a ‘wildlife corridor’.

The Bushman community at Ranyane has allegedly been told by the local government that trucks will arrive on Monday to remove them from land they have inhabited for generations. Their houses will be destroyed.

The Bushmen’s land is in a proposed ‘wildlife corridor’ which American organization Conservation International, whose Board members include Botswana’s President Khama, has pushed for over a period of many years. The land lies between the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) and the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park and is also occupied by some settlers and farms.

Survival International has contacted President Khama and Conservation International, voicing its opposition to the planned eviction of the Bushman community.

A Bushman told Survival, ‘We appeal to anyone who can, to help give their support to the Bushmen at Ranyane to fight for their right to stay on their land. The international community needs to know that what the government is doing is wrong.’

Removing tribal peoples from their land Removing tribal peoples from their land destroys their livelihoods and self sufficiency and has devastating impacts on their health.destroys their livelihoods and self sufficiency and has devastating impacts on their health.
© Survival

It is not the first time Botswana’s Bushmen have been targeted by the government in the name of conservation. In three brutal evictions between 1997 and 2005, thousands of Bushmen were removed from the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, supposedly for wildlife conservation. Bushmen forced off their land in 2002 went to court and in a landmark judgement Botswana’s High Court ruled in 2006 that the evictions were ‘unlawful and unconstitutional’.

Forcibly evicting tribal peoples from their ancestral lands has devastating impacts on their health and destroys their livelihoods and self sufficiency. In Botswana’s so-called ‘resettlement’ camps, Bushmen who have been removed from their land depend entirely on government handouts and frequently suffer from alcoholism, depression and many other illnesses.

Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said today, ‘Destroying tribal peoples and calling it ’conservation’ is an echo of colonialism. It should not be allowed in the 21st century, and all true conservationists should be up in arms.’




May 24, 2013

Insects, from Delicacy to Tool against Hunger

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 12:45 pm



Insects, from Delicacy to Tool against Hunger

By Emilio Godoy

Toasted grasshoppers on sale in the Benito Juárez market in the capital of Oaxaca state, Mexico. Credit: Nsaum75 CC BY-SA 3.0Toasted grasshoppers on sale in the Benito Juárez market in the capital of Oaxaca state, Mexico. Credit: Nsaum75 CC BY-SA 3.0

MEXICO CITY, May 22 2013 (IPS) – The Food and Agriculture Organisation’s recommendation to consider using edible insects as a food source to combat hunger may have particular repercussions in Colombia and Mexico, two Latin American countries that have a tradition of eating insects and a high degree of biodiversity.

Mexico has 300 edible insect species, according to a study published in May by the entomology department of Wageningen University in the Netherlands and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), titled “Edible insects: Future prospects for food and feed security”.

But local researchers have identified more than 500 species in the centre, south and southeast of Mexico, a mega-biodiverse country with a poverty rate of 47 percent.

“Insects are a viable, cheap source of high quality food that could be even better than the packaged foods that are consumed at present,” researcher Julieta Ramos-Elorduy, at the National Autonomous University of Mexico’s Biology Institute, told IPS.

In her view, “This country is ready for mass consumption of insects, but people need education about techniques and ways of marketing them. Protecting them is not a concern. There are no official measures,” said the expert, who has been carrying out research since the 1970s on the benefits of insects, and has reported 549 edible species.

The issue acquires an environmental dimension, particularly on International Day for Biological Diversity, celebrated this Wednesday May 22.

Eating insects or entomophagy is an indigenous tradition in Mexico, attested to by the Florentine Codex, written by Franciscan friar Bernardino de Sahagún (1499-1590) who described the consumption of 96 species.

Some insects provide up to three times more protein, weight for weight, than beef, and their nutrient concentrations are surpassed only by fish, according to the National Commission for Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity (CONABIO).

The Mexican insect menu is made up of blood-sucking bugs, worms, beetles, butterflies, ant and fly larvae, bees, wasps and “chapulin” grasshoppers. They can be grilled, fried or served with different kinds of sauces.

In recent decades, several of these delicacies have vaulted from kitchens in poor rural homes to tables in fancy restaurants.

In Mitla, a town close to a Zapotec archaeological site of the same name in the southern state of Oaxaca, a small business uses moth larvae (Hypopta agavis) that feed on American aloe leaves to make a hot spicy salt to accompany mescal, an alcoholic drink distilled from the same aloe plant.

“We follow a homemade recipe. Grinding is done by hand and we use a hand mixer. We also package by hand,” Diana Corona, the commercial manager of the firm Gran Mitla which produces 300 kilograms of “sal de gusano” (larva salt) a month, told IPS.

It takes 300 grams of ground larvae, 300 grams of dry chili peppers and 400 grams of salt to produce one kilo.

The larvae or worms are collected from August to October and frozen to ensure continuous production, as from November to the following May harvesting is banned throughout the country.

The FAO publication says that more than 1,900 species are part of the traditional diets of at least two billion people worldwide. The favourites are beetles, caterpillars, bees, wasps, ants, grasshoppers, locusts and crickets.

Collecting and farming insects could create jobs and income, and could have industrial-scale potential, the authors say.

“That could be achieved if the insects are farmed and marketed in large quantities. But producers need to be aware that their resources are being depleted,” said Ramos-Elorduy, who is investigating the productivity of insect species that feed on maize and pumpkin, and seeking ways of increasing it.

“Collecting techniques are the same everywhere, but there is no legislation stipulating proper techniques. People do not know what they are. Besides, wages are very low,” she said.

In their research paper “Edible insects in some locations in Central Region of Mexico State: Collection techniques, sale and preparation”, Ramos-Elorduy, Andrés Juárez and José Manuel Pino warn that “this valuable food resource is in danger of disappearing, due to a variety of environmental and socio-economic problems.”

The paper, published in December, concludes that “impacts on the environment, cultural change and changes in land use are causing the consumption of insects to decrease, especially among young people.”

Corona, of Gran Mitla, agreed that measures should be taken to protect these species. “Regulations are needed for collection and marketing. Insects are part of the Mexican diet and the resource must be protected,” she said.

For the same reason, many collectors are reluctant to talk about where they find their insects and grubs, and how they capture or harvest them.

The FAO report recommends automated infrastructure and regulatory frameworks to ensure stable, reliable and safe production. It also stresses that insect biomass could be used as the raw material for animal feed.

In Colombia, a snack available from street stalls is the crunchy “hormiga culona” (Atta laevigata), a leafcutter ant species, sold toasted and salted. The origin of this and other dishes is native culture.

But “going into the rainforest for large-scale extraction of insects is a touchy issue, because they are found in wildlife habitats,” Colombian biologist and regional planner Jaime Bernal Hadad told IPS.

Colombia has a poverty rate of 33 percent, and it is the second most mega-biodiverse country on the planet, after Brazil.

“In tropical ecosystems, although there is a great diversity of species, there are only relatively few individuals per species,” said Bernal Hadad. “Large-scale extraction could lead to the extinction of species, or create environmental imbalances.

“Beetles on fallen trees in the forest help decomposition and the balance of those forests,” he said. “Wasps and bees have an important role in pollination. And while there are native groups who eat beetles and prize them highly, they are minority groups and do not create problems.”

In Bernal Hadad’s view, farming insects “is an interesting option. But other factors come into play, such as the issue of cultural acceptability and consumption.

“Of course, in Europe it may be regarded as exotic, but if we consider marginalised populations in Latin America, the issue is very different,” he said.

The fight against hunger “cannot ignore structural issues,” he said. Moreover, “it is worth asking whether the proposal could be controlled or if it would become another method of interfering with conservation, not as a result of ranching and the timber industry, but because of insects,” he said. “Then we would continue to reproduce the destruction of natural systems, without real solutions.”



Paramilitary Activities Against Indigenous Continue in Chiapas, Mexico

Filed under: Paramilitary — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 4:48 am

Paramilitary Activities Against Indigenous Continue in Chiapas, Mexico

La Jornada: Fernando Camacho Servín
Translated by Shaun TwomeyWith the objective of “knocking out terror” and demobilizing popular organizations, the successive governments of Chiapas state have created and financed various paramilitary groups which have committed dozens of assassinations, kidnappings, and robberies. What’s more, they have facilitated the forced displacement of thousands of people, according to members of the National Front for the Fight for Socialism (FNLS).

In a press conference, the activists remarked that “the paramilitary-like activities have been observed as a policy of the State” through which government officials:

“fund and organize these groups far and wide throughout the country in order to undermine the efforts of the people to defend their social rights,” while simultaneously evading their responsibility for the facts.

In the case of the ejido [indigenous community where land is owned communally] “El Carrizal” in the Chiapas municipality of Ocosingo, the member organizations of FNLS have been intimidated and assaulted by armed groups under the control of Javier Ortega Villatoro – including Los Petules and the CMPECH [the Popular Movement Coordinating Committee of the State of Chiapas] – that have terrorized local residents through assassinations and disappearances.

In the same way, FNLS representatives added, communal land owners in the indigenous area of Venustiano Carranza have been victims of a series of unjustified homicides and imprisonments, which local authorities misleadingly describe as simple “domestic conflicts” between farmers in order to protect the armed groups truly responsible for these acts.

Meanwhile, in the Tila municipality of Petalcingo, paramilitary groups affiliated with the Institutional Revolutionary (PRI) party and the Ecologist Green Party of Mexico (PVEM) are squaring off with each other, at a time when both are also responsible for the violent acts against members of FNLS.

Carmen Hernández Pérez, resident of Venustiano Carranza and member of the Emiliano Zapata Farmer’s Organization, lamented that in recent years there has been at least 36 murders linked to these armed groups, without any subsequent investigation by authorities whatsoever.

Rio Florido community resident Francisco Santiz further added that only a few days ago, the paramilitaries of El Carrizal had tried to carry out forced kidnappings and assassinations in the municipal seat of Ocosingo.  Spanish original


May 23, 2013

Rios Montt trial: Fight over Guatemala genocide continues

Filed under: Human rights, Indigenous — Tags: — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 5:48 am



Rios Montt trial: Fight over Guatemala genocide continues

The headlines in the morning newspapers in Guatemala share one word in common: annulled.

They refer, of course, to the latest twist in the labyrinthine case of genocide against the country’s most notorious military leader, Efrain Rios Montt.

The highest court in Guatemala has now overturned the historic judgement against the former president, who has spent just one day of his 80-year sentence in prison.

Similarly, the headlines all quote the same date: 19 April.

That is the day to which the case has now been re-set. Survivors and victims’ families who gave testimonies after that day about the systematic rape, starvation and forced displacement of their villages now face having to return to court to deliver their evidence again.

Dismissal ‘expected’

At times the Rios Montt trial seems almost too convoluted and complex to fully understand without a doctorate in Guatemalan law. And even then, it is far from simple.

But in essence, the sentence has been annulled over a dispute between two judges.

A judge from an earlier stage in the proceedings, Patricia Flores, ordered the trial suspended over what she said were unconstitutional procedural errors made in the evidentiary phase.

When the head of the three-judge tribunal hearing the case, Jazmin Barrios, pressed on regardless, Mr Rios Montt’s lawyer accused her of bias for which he was thrown out of court.

The half-day which the former leader spent without a lawyer by his side may have put the prosecution’s entire case in jeopardy.

Dozens of witness statements must be reheard, the concluding arguments remade and a new sentence reached, the court has ordered.

Needless to say, Mr Rios Montt’s defence team are also pushing for the judges to be dismissed and for new judges to be installed.

Judge Jazmin Barrios




Judge Jazmin Barrios was involved in a dispute over alleged procedural errors

“This was to be expected,” Edwin Canil told me with resignation. Mr Canil is a survivor of a brutal massacre of an Ixil indigenous community by the army during Mr Rios Montt’s time in power.

With tears in his eyes, he told us of the slaughter of almost his entire family in 1983, of being forced to live in refugee camps in the Mexican state of Chiapas and of the dawning realisation when he went to university years later that it had not been the actions of small renegade groups of soldiers but rather a state policy to destroy his people.

He subsequently dedicated his life to working with one of the main human rights organisations, the Centre for Human Rights Legal Action (CALDH), to bring the charges of genocide and crimes against humanity against Mr Rios Montt.

“I told people recently that [the guilty sentence] wasn’t the end of this, but only the start.”

Legal question marks

For Mr Rios Montt’s lawyer, Francisco Garcia Gudiel – the man who was thrown from the courtroom last month and whose absence gave the grounds to overturn the sentence – the constitutional court’s decision was “justice”.

“There were a series of deficiencies and violations in the process” against his client, he told the BBC earlier this week, and he repeated his claim that the lead judge was biased against him.

“What does it mean when a judge is hugging [Mr Rios Montt’s opponents] after the sentence was passed, as if to say, ‘I have delivered what you wanted’?” he asked rhetorically.

Mr Garcia Gudiel strongly believes the case against Mr Rios Montt will “fall of its own accord”, saying there were so many legal question marks over the process that it is not possible that the genocide sentence will stand in its current form.

People from Guatemala's Ixil community celebrated the guilty verdict against Rios Montt on 10 MayPeople from the Ixil community celebrated the guilty verdict on 10 May

His critics accuse him of trying every legal trick in the book to block the case, put obstacles in the way of the judicial process and keep the 86-year-old former military leader out of jail.

For now, he has certainly achieved that final aim. A day after he was sentenced, Mr Rios Montt was transferred to a military hospital after fainting. His lawyer disputes the suggestion that it was an act.

“He is very unwell. He has a serious heart condition, suffers from hypertension, problems with his prostate and problems in five of his vertebrae which make it difficult to remain seated for long periods of time. He legs are asleep constantly.”

Nevertheless, he insists his client is ready for the legal fight ahead.

So, it seems, are the victims.

“We knew they would do this, and after this they’ll enter an appeal, and then another and so on,” says massacre survivor, Edwin Canil.

“They haven’t even begun to get politics involved,” he says. He points to a law being proposed in parliament which would allow all prisoners aged 80 or over to serve their sentences at home.

“This has got a long way to go yet. It’s just a question of who gets tired first: them or us. But we’re still here and staying firm.”



May 22, 2013

Israel and Mexico swap notes on abusing rights

Filed under: Human rights, Zapatista — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 6:37 pm

Israel and Mexico swap notes on abusing rights

Jimmy Johnson and Linda Quiquivix The Electronic Intifada 

21 May 2013

Mexican soldiers stand in front of crowd of protesters holding flagsMexico has gone public about military coordination with Israel in Chiapas, home to the Zapatistas liberation movement.

Earlier this month, Jorge Luis Llaven Abarca, Mexico’s newly-appointed secretary of public security in Chiapas, announced that discussions had taken place between his office and the Israeli defense ministry. The two countries talked about security coordination at the level of police, prisons and effective use of technology (“Israeli military will train Chiapas police,” Excelsior, 8 May [Spanish]).

Chiapas is home to the Zapatistas (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional), a mostly indigenous Maya liberation movement that has enjoyed global grassroots support since it rose up against the Mexican government in 1994. The Zapatistas took back large tracts of land on which they have since built subsistence cooperatives, autonomous schools, collectivized clinics and other democratic community structures.

In the twenty years since the uprising, the Mexican government has not ceased its counterinsurgency programs in Chiapas. When Llaven Abarca was announced as security head in December, human rights organizations voiced concerns that the violence would escalate, pointing to his history of arbitrary detentions, use of public force, criminal preventive detentions, death threats and torture (“Concern about the appointment of Jorge Luis Llaven Abarca as Secretary of Public Security in Chiapas,” Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas (Frayba) Center for Human Rights,14 December 2012 [PDF, Spanish]).

Aptly, his recent contacts with Israeli personnel were “aimed at sharing experiences,” Abarca has claimed. This may be the first time the Mexican government has gone public about military coordination with Israelis in Chiapas. Yet the agreement is only the latest in Israel’s longer history of military exports to the region, an industry spawned from experiences in the conquest and pacification of Palestine.

Weapons sales escalate

The first Zionist militias (Bar Giora and HaShomer) were formed to advance the settlement of Palestinian land. Another Zionist militia, the Haganah — the precursor to the Israeli army and the successor of HaShomer — began importing and producing arms in 1920.

Israeli firms began exporting weapons in the 1950s to Latin America, including to Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic under the Somoza and Trujillo dictatorships. Massive government investment in the arms industry followed the 1967 War and the ensuing French arms embargo. Israeli arms, police, military training and equipment have now been sent to at least 140 countries, including to Guatemala in the 1980s under Efraín Ríos Montt, the former dictator recently convicted of genocide against the Maya.

Mexico began receiving Israeli weaponry in 1973 with the sale of five Arava planes from Israel Aerospace Industries. Throughout the 1970s and ’80s, infrequent exports continued to the country in the form of small arms, mortars and electronic fences. Sales escalated in the early 2000s, according to research that we have undertaken.

In 2003, Mexico bought helicopters formerly belonging to the Israeli army and Israel Aerospace Industries’ Gabriel missiles. Another Israeli security firm, Magal Security Systems, received one of several contracts for surveillance systems “to protect sensitive installations in Mexico” that same year, The Jerusalem Post reported.

In 2004, Israel Shipyards sold missile boats, and later both Aeronautics Defense Systems and Elbit Systems won contracts from the federal police and armed forces for drones for border and domestic surveillance (“UAV maker Aeronautics to supply Mexican police,”Globes, 15 February 2009). Verint Systems, a technology firm founded by former Israeli army personnel, has won several US-sponsored contracts since 2006 for the mass wiretapping of Mexican telecommunications, according to Jane’s Defence Weekly.

Trained by Israel

According to declassified Defense Intelligence Agency documents [PDF] obtained via a freedom of information request, Israeli personnel were discreetly sent into Chiapas in response to the 1994 Zapatista uprising for the purpose of “providing training to Mexican military and police forces.”

The Mexican government also made use of the Arava aircraft to deploy its Airborne Special Forces Group (Grupo Aeromóvil de Fuerzas Especiales, or GAFE). GAFE commandos were themselves trained by Israel and the US. Several would later desert the GAFE and go on to create “Los Zetas,” currently Mexico’s most powerful and violent drug cartel (“Los Zetas and Mexico’s Transnational Drug War,” World Politics Review, 25 December 2009).

Mexico was surprised by the Zapatistas, who rose up the day the North American Free Trade Agreement went into effect. The Mexican government found itself needing to respond to the dictates of foreign investors, as a famously-leaked Chase-Manhattan Bank memo revealed: “While Chiapas, in our opinion, does not pose a fundamental threat to Mexican political stability, it is perceived to be so by many in the investment community. The government will need to eliminate the Zapatistas to demonstrate their effective control of the national territory and of security policy.”

Marketing “stability”

Today, faced with a people in open rebellion against their own annihilation, the perception of stability continues to be an important modus operandi for the Mexican government. For Israel, the Oslo “peace process” and the Palestinian Authority’s neoliberal turn has similarly helped cultivate an illusory perception of peace and stability while the colonization of Palestine continues.

Indeed, “creating an atmosphere of stability” was the stated goal of the recent Mexico-Israel contacts, and the desire for at least the perception of it might help explain why an Israeli presence in Chiapas is now going public, or rather, according to journalist Naomi Klein, is being “marketed.”

Yet managing perceptions can only remain the short-term goal of governments whose shared ambition is to annihilate. And just as Israel shares with Mexico its military experiences against Palestinians, it is equally likely that Israel could apply some of Mexico’s counterinsurgency tactics to its oppression of the the Palestinian people.

The military relationship between Israel and Mexico is how the Zapatistas themselves have long recognized their connection to the Palestinian struggle.

This message was underscored by Zapatista spokesman Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos when Israel was bombing Gaza in early 2009 (“Of sowing and harvests,” 4 January 2009). Despite the distance between Chiapas and Gaza, Marcos stressed that their experiences made the people of the two territories feel close to each other.

It is worth recalling Marcos’ words: “Not far from here, in a place called Gaza, in Palestine, in the Middle East, right here next to us, the Israeli government’s heavily trained and armed military continues its march of death and destruction.”

Linda Quiquivix is a critical geographer. She can be reached at

Jimmy Johnson is the founder of Neged Neshek, a website focused on Israel’s weapons industry. He can be reached at jimmy [at] negedneshek [dot] org.




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