dorset chiapas solidarity

September 26, 2013

Chiapas: Social conflict and changes in the state government

Filed under: Zapatista — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 5:29 pm

Chiapas: Social conflict and changes in the state government

SIPAZ Report Vol. XVIII Nº 3 – September 2013

The most significant change in the state government of Chiapas took place in July when Manuel Velasco Coello, governor of the state, named Eduardo Ramírez Aguilar as the new Secretary General of Governance, replacing Noé Castañón in this charge, who had held the position during the majority of the previous government of Juan Sabines.

This change was attributed to the necessity for another type of response in light of the growing conflictivity and social mobilizations seen in the state. On August, 6, civil organizations published the report “Generalized violence in Venustiano Carranza”; based on information collected during a Civil Observation Mission, the report “seeks to clarify the violent acts which took place in Venustiano Carranza on 5 May.” The report notes that these acts found their basis in the “lack of interest on the part of the state government to profoundly resolve the demands of both groups. The government’s actions before, during, and after 5 May have generated polarization and a wave of violence in the municipality.” The report recalls “the result of these [factors] are the following: the murder of two persons […]; the displacement of 49 families, who to date live in a highly vulnerable situation without the government working to guarantee conditions for their return or relocation; damage to 42 homes, 22 vehicles, and 8 shops; the arbitrary detention of 19 campesinos […]; nine persons arbitrarily incarcerated; two tortured persons; and 167 arrest-orders which are still to be carried out.”

desplazados colonia pueblaAnother critical case is that of Colonia Puebla, Chenalhó municipality, where new aggressions that seem to have a religious basis coincided with the release of yet another group of those accused and incarcerated for the Acteal massacre of 1997. On 10 June, Catholics from Chenalhó denounced the looting of the land on which their chapel and construction materials are located, actions in which the ejidal authorities took part. On 18 June, they carried out a pilgrimage-march to Chenalhó so as to denounce the lack of attention from authorities. A month later, tensions increased once again when members of an anti-Catholic faction supported by ejidal authorities dismantled the construction site of the chapel. On 20 July, two persons, Mariano Méndez Méndez and Luciano Méndez Hernández, were detained and accused of having poisoned the community’s water supply. Both are from support bases of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN). A third person, of Baptist denomination, was arrested for having manifested his opposition to such measures. They were released three days later, after no evidence was produced tying them to the charges of poisoning. But the problem at its root continues without resolution, this despite the signing of a civil pact on 8 August. The Las Abejas Civil Society has denounced that “the paramilitaries from Chenalhó are now reactivated, firing their weapons and causing displacements as they did previously in the year 1997.” Near the end of August, more than 90 persons (Catholics and two Baptist families) had fled Colonia Puebla.

Besides this, on 29 June, more than a thousand units of the state police invaded the Extraordinary Congress being held by Section 7 of the National Union of Educational Workers (SNTE) in Tuxtla Gutiérrez. As a part of this show of public force, more than 200 teachers were injured, some seriously, and 29 arrested, though they were released soon thereafter.

It should also be mentioned that women organized from the municipality of San Cristóbal de las Casas have declared a “Gender Violence Alert” amidst the refusal of the authorities to take adequate measures to detain violence against women in Chiapas. It has been calculated that there have been seen more than 55 femicides, and that dozens of women have disappeared since the beginning of the year.

Mass in front of the No. 5                                        Prison in favor of the release                                        of                                        Alberto Patishtán, 19 June 2013                                        © SIPAZ

Mass in front of the No. 5 Prison in favor of the release of Alberto Patishtán, 19 June 2013
© SIPAZ

Another source of mobilization has been related to prisoners. In June, upon completing 13 years’ imprisonment, events were once again organized to demand the release of Alberto Patishtán Gómez, an indigenous Tsotsil professor who is a member of the Voz del Amate, presently being held outside San Cristóbal de Las Casas. There was held a mass outside the prison, with hundreds of participants emphasizing the urgency of the matter. On 4 July, nine prisoners who adhere to the EZLN’s Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle were released, an event also attended by governor Manuel Velasco Coello. However, neither Alberto Patishtán Gómez nor Alejandro Díaz Sántiz, a prisoner in solidarity with the Voz del Amate, were released on this occasion. In August, Amnesty International has added its voice to the call for the release of Patishtán.

Morelia caracol, August                                        2013 ©                                        SIPAZ

During the time covered by this report, the EZLN published several communiques which were signed by either Subcomandante Marcos or Subcomandante Moisés. Some of them address the political context, while others discuss their new initiatives, such as the “little school” (Escuelita) and the creation of the “Trailblazing Lecture ‘Tata Juan Chávez Alonso'” which it organized jointly with the National Indigenous Congress (CNI) for 17 and 18 August (see article). More than 2000 students from different states of Mexico and other countries attended the “little school” which was held behind closed doors in the five Caracoles and the CIDECI-Unititerra of San Cristóbal de Las Casas. The students received a packet containing two CDs and several books dealing with the issues “autonomous 

Oventik caracol, July 2013                                        © SIPAZgovernment, participation of women in autonomous government, and autonomous resistance,” and they moreover were invited to stay with a “votán,” or an EZLN member who was especially designated to serve as comrade, teacher, and guide. During this time, it was denounced that “on 12 and 13 August during the night, military planes were engaged in overflights above the zones pertaining to the five Zapatista caracoles.”

Oventik caracol, July 2013 © SIPAZ
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