dorset chiapas solidarity

January 31, 2014

EZLN Sympathisers Migrate Due to Harassment

Filed under: Acteal, Displacement, Frayba, Human rights, Indigenous, water — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 7:03 pm


EZLN Sympathisers Migrate Due to Harassment

In the last three years, aggression towards EZLN (Zapatista) sympathisers in Mexico has intensified. As a result, displacement has increased, with many finding refuge in Acteal.

Agustín Cruz Gómez in front of the church he is building in Ejido Puebla.


EJIDO* PUEBLA, Chiapas – At 2pm on 20th July 2013, the Ejido Puebla’s PRI commissioner  Agustín Cruz Gómez released a warning to the community in the Tsotsil language via loudspeaker: “Someone has poisoned the communal water tank”. The community, deep in the Chenalhó municipality, was also warned that the lives of a hundred people were at risk.

Four hours later, Cruz (also a Presbyterian minister) claimed that the only two Zapatista militants in the community – Mariano Mendéz and his son Luciano – were to blame. He also led the mob that went to their house, beat them, tied them to a post in the basketball court, and threatened to set them on fire.

Cruz doesn’t exactly have common interests with the Zapatistas. The Fray Bartolomé de la Casas Centre for Human Rights (Frayba) points out that he blessed the weapons used to perpetrate the Acteal Massacre of 1997.

The mob also arrived at the house of the Baptist Juan López Méndez – a Zapatista sympathiser. His wife, five months pregnant at the time, tried to stop them from entering, but they pushed her aside and tipped over the furniture. In the commotion, a table fell on their one-and-a-half-year-old daughter. López himself, 26 years of age, was dragged out of the house.

The mob told his wife that they were attacking him because he had poisoned the community’s water. López, subsequently also tied to a post, heard people in the crowd saying “bring petrol” and “let’s burn him”.

The three accused were eventually sent to the official authorities, accused of possessing illegal firearms, drug dealing, and gang membership. Although they never received payment for the damage done to their property, they were soon set free due to the lack of evidence regarding each claim made.

A Series of Attacks

99 people, from 17 families, have taken refuge in Acteal.

These accusations represent just one part of a series of violent events that led to the forced displacement of 17 families (18 men, 19 women, and 62 children) from the Puebla Ejido. These families were given refuge by the civil society group Las Abejas (a pacifist group linked to the Zapatistas) in Acteal. The majority of the exiles now belong to this group.

The Zapatistas have frequently denounced the intensified harassment and dispossession suffered in 20 communities in five of its Caracoles – autonomous Zapatista regions. In the Ejido, meanwhile, Cruz denies the acts of violence, sustaining that the 99 people are “self-displaced’, having “left voluntarily” and not because anyone forced them out. “They say I’m a paramilitary [but] I don’t [even] know what that means”, he asserts.

Víctor Hugo López, director of the Frayba Centre, says this was not an isolated case, but simply one more in an aggressive campaign of threats, kidnappings and dispossessions against Zapatistas and their sympathisers. He affirms that these actions “have displaced 200 people in the last three years from communities like San Marcos Avilés, Comandante Abel, and Banavil”.

No Going Back

Virginia López Sántiz

In the dark, wooden room used as a kitchen by the displaced families in Acteal, a pan boiling beans sits on top of glowing pieces of coal. Virginia López Sántiz watches over the group’s only meal with a sorrowful expression: looking downwards with her body reflecting a feeling of defeat.

Virginia arrived in Acteal on August 26th 2013, with six children between one and sixteen years of age. Her husband, Nicolás Arias Cruz, is the representative of the seventeen exiled families who, exiled from their homes, spend cold nights sleeping on sacks, sharing the few blankets they possess.

The family fled after a series of events which began when Agustín Cruz ordered the destruction on April 19th 2013 of a chapel being built by a group of Catholics. Nicolás was one of the members of the group, and he also belonged to Las Abejas. He was one of the people who reported the actions of the politician. Cruz, meanwhile, claimed they hadn’t asked for permission to demolish the old chapel and that, because it was on Ejido land, he reserved the right to destroy the one they were building in its place, later fencing off the land.

After July’s accusations, the accused, along with four others who acted as witnesses in the lawsuit against Cruz, could not return to the town. Although the state government had established a ‘round table’ (mediated by the federal government and the media) to encourage reconciliation, the seven exiles saw their vehicles attacked with stones by youngsters when they were returning. As a result, they felt they had to pull back.

Nicolás explains how “they burned two houses; a dog; our pozol (fermented corn dough) and beans; our firewood; and five crosses we had in storage”.

A day later, the parish priest of Chenalhó, Manuel Pérez Gómez, went to the Ejido Puebla along with the state authorities to verify the integrity of the Catholic group. A crowd detained him, beat him, tied him up, and threatened to douse him in petrol. Only after five hours in captivity did they release him.

This was the moment when it became clear that the inhabitants would have to leave their homes behind permanently and head into exile in Acteal.

Justice denied

Displaced in Acteal

The lawyer from Frayba, Irma Vázquez, says that the conflict does not have religious roots. She explains that ten days before the conflict broke out on April 29, the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN) ordered the release of Jacinto Arias Cruz, former municipal president of Chenalhó, who has been accused of being the main instigator of the Acteal massacre, in which 19 women, 18 infants, four unborn and eight men, who all belonged to the organization Las Abejas, were executed. All were Zapatista supporters.

Irma Vázquez states that Jacinto accompanied the ejidal commissioner on a short protest he made in Mexico City, demanding the land of the chapel. There, the pastor circulated a statement against the Zapatistas and Las Abejas:

“This is a call to violence, the youth are angry and their blood boils, and their young people are educated in violence, with a military training and structure, they are militants (milicianos),” says the lawyer.

Vázquez confirms that the displaced families have filed three criminal complaints against those responsible for the destruction of the new chapel, for the assaults and death threats, and for kidnapping the priest, and demanding that they publicly determine who was responsible for the deception about the water poisoning.

A Clean Conscience

This afternoon, the newspaper El Universal travelled along the rough dirt track to this small community surrounded by wooded mountains. Cruz showed them the pile of rocks left behind after the demolition of the 38-year-old Catholic chapel. He then revealed the remnants of the reconstruction effort that the politician had allegedly stopped in its tracks. When asked who had destroyed the building before its construction could advance, Cruz replied that “some kids” had done it, trying to deny any responsibility for the act.

When the commissioner showed the paper around the town as part of his first official interview with the media, youngsters looked down at them from their roofs, while the municipal police (who had arrived in the town after August’s unrest) stayed inside their outposts.

Cruz made it clear that, in his town of around three thousand inhabitants, there are people from ten religious denominations, including Catholics, Baptists, and Pentecostals. However, his own church is clearly the brightest and most colourful – even though it is still under construction.

With his church in the background, the minister denied the aggressions and death threats suffered by the displaced families, saying “there are no threats – nothing – they left voluntarily”. When asked if they could return, he said “sure, let them return. This is their Ejido. They were born here. Why do they want to suffer far away from here? We want a peaceful solution. Why would we want so much trouble?” At the same time, however, he rejects the exiles’ demands of punishment for those responsible for the crimes committed against them. “Right now, we’re not asking for justice. It is better that there is peace. And if they want peace, they’ll need to calm down too!” The tour then moved on, towards the basketball court where the three people accused of poisoning the water supply had almost been burned alive.

El Universal asked if Cruz had “blessed the arms used in the Acteal Massacre”, as the Frayba Centre claims, and if his conscience was clean. He replied to the first question, saying “If Frayba has a witness who can testify, let them speak up. The fact is that it’s pure gossip.” To the second, he answered “Of course! That’s why I’m seeking peace – so people calm down. As a minister, I love both God and my neighbours in the Ejido.”

A Government Counterinsurgency Strategy

Víctor Hugo López

Víctor Hugo López, meanwhile, considers the forced displacement of the exiled families to be part of the State’s counterinsurgency plan against the Zapatistas – a campaign aimed at “fighting against the civil society bases so that any EZLN expansion or territorial control is prevented”.

He also points out that there is a recurring pattern of “harassment; displacement; arbitrary deprivation of life or freedom; and kidnappings – all of which are executed by members of the community who are affiliated to a political party”. He also says that these communities are suffering a gradual or total dispossession of their land and crops, alleging that the government gives ‘support’ to “whoever is prepared to fight against civil and Zapatista resistance”.

In the case of Ejido Puebla, the “return of the PRI”, in his opinion, “means the return of the perpetrators”.

*Ejido = System of communal farming

Translated and adapted by Oso Sabio from an article by Laura Castellanos, published in Spanish at:–976881.html Friday 3rd January 2014



The Violence in Michoacán is a Reflection of how Mexico is Submerged in Hell

Filed under: Acteal, Displacement — Tags: , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 4:06 pm

Communique from Las Abejas: The Violence in Michoacán is a Reflection of how Mexico is Submerged in Hell


Civil Society Organization Las Abejas

Holy Land of the Martyrs of Acteal

Acteal, Ch’enalhó, Chiapas, Mexico.

22nd January, 2014

To Social and Political Organizations

To Human Rights Defenders

To the Alternative Media

To the National and International Press

To National and International Civil Society

To the Adherents to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle

Brothers and sisters,

In this Holy Land we welcome you and wish you a happy new year, despite the horrifying situation that reigns in our suffering and bleeding Mexico.

Our hearts are very sad and outraged by the war that currently exists in the state of Michoacán. It is not a surprise that the government does not act upon the violence, but to the contrary, many of the civil and military authorities are colluding with organized crime, as reported by inhabitants from Apatzingán, Michoacán. This situation is a disgrace to Mexico.

We know that guns do not bring life, but remove it, however, the people of the place in question have chosen to create self-defence groups, because that’s the only option that the bad government and its army leaves them, by not applying justice and protecting the citizens from the clutches of drug criminals. For example we read in several newspapers in the country that the military, instead of arresting members of the criminal group known as “the Knights Templar”, killed 4 civilians including a four year old girl in Apatzingán, Michoacán.

During the government of Felipe Calderón there were more than 60,000 dead, without counting those disappeared due to the drug war. Now Enríque Peña Nieto is very clear that he wants to continue this policy of war that Calderon created, careless of the lives of innocent people. What kind of human beings are these so-called governments, who do not care about human life? But as these “leaders” are employees of the neoliberal countries, then they have no soul or conscience.

It is very clear that neoliberalism is full of: demagogic speeches, welfare projects, land dispossession, violence, drugs, femicide, discrimination, oppression, imprisonment, mass murder, impunity, etc. According to neoliberalism, in order to prevent all these from happening, there has to be a Zedillo, a Calderón, a Peña Nieto, i.e. corrupt officials and politicians also involved with mafias.

These governments are blatantly hypocritical; supposedly the U.S. government wants to help the situation in Michoacán, when in fact their country is the world’s largest consumer of drugs and supplier of guns to be use in wars that kill innocent people and countries. What the neoliberal governments actually say and do is disgusting.

Brothers and sisters, our Mexico, our world is in complete crisis because of the greed of a few people for money and power, those who want to control everything at the expense of the work and the blood of the poor and innocent.

All of us from las Abejas of Acteal, we confirm and uphold our word that we expect nothing from the bad governments, nor from the political parties. We are the ones who have to decide how we should govern and live in harmony amongst ourselves.

These days the displaced brothers and sisters of the ejido Puebla are in their community harvesting their coffee for 10 days. Although the local and federal governments “guaranteed” peace, the brothers and sisters have reported incidents such as:

  • Young perpetrators use verbal abuse towards the displaced when walking through the streets.
  • Probable gun shots near a river in the ejido.
  • Last Sunday 19th January, the official trustee of Chenalho offered 600 pesos to the representative of the displaced so everyone could “drink coffee”. Obviously our compañero did not accept the money, and told the trustee in a respectful manner, “I  am sorry but I will not accept it, we do not come here to ask for money, we want justice.”

How sad and outrageous it is that the authorities of the bad government are so accustomed to offering goodies and crumbs, rather than  applying justice,  in order to leave offences unpunished, regardless of whether it is a simple offence or  a crime against humanity, like the massacre of Acteal.

It is very clear that the bad government in its three levels, its heart and its head do not want peaceful justice and dignity in the ejido Puebla.  It only wants our brothers and sisters to forget about the attacks, and instead calls to start a “new page”, which means exemption from punishment, as is the usual habit of the bad government.

Given the above, the displaced women and men ask solidarity groups to demand the government meet the following demands:

  1. Justice for offenders and provision of security when they permanently return
  2. Recognition of the Catholic’s land
  3. Reparations for the damage caused to the church and the belongings stolen

We hope that our displaced brothers and sisters can remain the 10 days, although as already mentioned, there are not conditions to remain in Puebla, because they realise that they are not respected by the attacking group.

There are so many things that start in this year 2014, sadness that has started with blood and begins with the greatest impunity.

Nevertheless, we have to strengthen our fight. Raise our voice to calm down the war in Michoacán. The violence in that state is a reflection of how Mexico is immersed in hell.

We respectfully ask all men and women of good heart to be united and make protests, demonstrations, public complaints from our locations, against this reality that exists in Mexico, because it is urgent to stop this nightmare.

Before finishing, we would like to say that on 24th January it will be 3 years since Jtotik Samuel is no longer physically with us, but his spiritual presence and the teachings that he shared remain here with us forever. His memory will always live in our hearts.  We’ll never forget his struggle for peaceful justice and dignity for our people.

Brothers and sisters, we wish you strength in your hearts, do not be discouraged, stand firm in your struggles, because the year is just beginning.


The Voice of the Civil Society organisation “Las Abejas”

For the Board:

Antonio Gutiérrez Pérez                         Martín Pérez Pérez

Nicolás Arias Cruz                       Simón Pedro Pérez López

Translated by Nélida Montes de Oca


Dorset Chiapas Solidarity


Promotion of Federal Programmes in Chiapas Causes Division among peoples

Filed under: Displacement, Indigenous, Lacandon/ montes azules, Tourism — Tags: — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 3:08 pm

Promotion of Federal Programmes in Chiapas Causes Division among peoples

 ** Representatives even sent to negotiate with alcoholic drinks, they denounce

By: Hermann Bellinghausen,

Nuevo Jerusalén, Chiapas, January 29, 2014

Division of the peoples, even among families; offensive and consumerist  promises; distribution of checks; conditionality of programmes; veiled threats and that’s not all. The federal envoys who promote the Fund for Support to Agrarian Nuclei without Registration (FANAR, a successor of Procede) even arrived to negotiate bearing alcoholic beverages, as happened at the end of 2013 in Joltulijá, a beautiful community with two lagoons, endangered by potential tourism.

“They came to offer a bottle of alcoholic drink to the commissioners, which they rejected saying: ‘what you don’t see is that we are trying to stop the people from drinking and you come to offer us alcohol,’” relates an older man from this community. “The majority of us are in resistance, but behind our backs a few solicited land titles from the government, when what they are seeking is to dispossess us. The pressure is great, because of the interest in tourism. They arrive with public ministers and to frighten us they tell us that they are going to ask for the Army to make us accept.” In fact, a detachment from the Navy arrived, but withdrew faced with the rejection of the indigenous.

The indigenous indicate as directly responsible for this escalation: the agrarian visitor Rita Guadalupe Medina Septién and the lawyer Juan René Rodríguez, both from the Agrarian Prosecutor’s office in Ocosingo, accompanied by officials of the National Agrarian Registry (RAN). They have not been received in Arroyo Granizo, La Arena, San José Guadalupe and Limonar, but they have been received in Nuevo Francisco León and Lacanjá Tzeltal, where they went in October. As a mark of their passage, the officials leave division like a trail, sometimes with false religious tinges because people of Evangelical faith usually accept programmes. If those who are opposed turn out to be Catholics (and not a few Presbyterians), the differences are guaranteed: “There were already quarrels, even among brothers. They divide the ejido authorities. They threaten each other.”

They have been present in Nuevo Francisco León since September, “to talk about the FANAR, promising supports, credits, that although we already may owe money, we can go to Elek­tra to buy a refrigerator. ‘There are no disadvantages, one can receive lots of government projects,’ they told us.”

The succession of testimonies have the force of repetition, confirmation of why the communities in the northern Lacandón Jungle reject the land titling and regularisation procedures promoted by the government. Many of them are situated, at least partly, inside the so-called buffer zone of the Montes Azules Reserve. For many years, the governments have tried to limit their territorial rights, or take them away. It is appropriate to mention that there are also numerous Zapatista support bases within this zone, and that they per se reject any government interference, do not receive programmes and defend their territory.

But as a woman from Lacanjá Tzeltal says, the government pressure “has served to unite Catholics and Presbyterians, and many PRI members have left their party because of FANAR. There is no agreement, but they already measured the land, which has not been handed over. We can still stop it. Many are already regretting it.”

The government envoys warn that: “the old writings are no longer useful.” Moreover, they condition the written instrument and the programmes like Procampo on the acceptance of FANAR. “They are already violating the Agrarian Law since, without sending out a call for approval of the programme, they are implementing FANAR’s rules. Their actions outside the law have caused division.”

The dissidents of Nuevo Francisco León and Lacanjá Tzeltal demanded that the Agrarian Prosecutor “respect our agrarian rights” and that they do not condition receipt of the programmes on “changing our ejidal regime.”


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Thursday, January 30, 2014

En español:

English translation by the Chiapas Support Committee for the International Zapatista Translation Service


Farewell Compañero Kuy!

Filed under: Repression — Tags: — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 11:29 am
RvsR: Farewell Compañero Kuy!

With profound sadness and indignation we have found out about the death of our compañero Francisco Kuykendall, el Kuy. His death is an absence in our lives and in our struggles.

On January 25th, 2014 our compañero Francisco Kuykendall Leal died. His death is the consequence of the impunity with which the police behave. On December First, 2012, exercising his right to assemble, and going along to perform a play in the vicinity of the Congress of the Union, a teargas grenade was fired by the Policía Federal Preventiva directly at Kuy’s head. Those responsible remain free, surely committing crimes against more social fighters.

Since that December First the brutality of the local police, not only in Mexico City, and federal police was clear. That Enrique Peña Nieto, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, or Josefina Vásquez Mota had been in their ascension to power in this hurt and wounded Mexico has no connection, that politics already was planned by the strong pressure from great national and transnational capital. From there the tremendous and brutal repression of that December first, from there which since that day practically any public protest is heavily guarded, and more that a few times repressed, no longer by police, but by uniformed hordes; since that day the rise in selective detentions, with ridiculous accusations, are currently something common.

We know the damages which that teargas grenade provoked. The resistance of our compañero was sustained for more than one year, aches, fevers, infections, seizures, it is true, but also smiles, handshakes, and lively looks were part of this last resistance process of our compañero.

Today we are left with, yes, sadness, but before all else rage. All those responsible for his murder are unpunished: Enrique Peña Nieto, Manuel Mondragón y Kalb, the armed beast who fired at him, without forgetting that the still mayor of Mexico City Marcelo Ebrard, coordinated his hordes with the federal ones.

This affront against social struggle, against the adherents to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle, must remain in our collective memory. This crime committed against a compañero who decided to arm himself against injustices with theatre and performance, and offer his solidarity with his art, we will not forget. From below and to the left we seek justice for the life of a compañero who was set on making this world something more just, free, and democratic.

May Kuy be certain that each member of this Network will continue to construct with determination a non-capitalist world whose cements are the below and the left from where we are and who we are.

¡Hasta siempre compañero Kuy, hasta siempre!

Against plunder and repression:


Red Contra la Represión y por la Solidaridad


Translated from Spanish by Henry Gales
Originally published on January 27th, 2014

Death of activist Kuykendall qualifies as murder

Gloria Leticia Díaz

Proceso, 27th January, 2014

Following the death of activist Juan Francisco Kuykendall on Saturday, January 25, Amnesty International (AI) demanded of the relevant authorities “a full and impartial investigation” as well as of “other abuses on December 1, 2012 [day of Peña Nieto´s inauguration] which ensure that people responsible be accountable to justice.”

AI made the statement after learning that Kuykendall died from the consequences of a rubber bullet shot in the head received during the crackdown on demonstrators on December 1, 2012, outside the Chamber of Deputies in San Lazaro.

Kuykendall, a native of Tamaulipas, a teacher, playwright and theatre director, “was in critical health since December 1, 2012,” the organization recalled, warning that although there are indications that the shots against the protesters, one of which struck Kuykendall, came from the federal police, “the authorities have not clarified the circumstances surrounding the serious head injury suffered” by the activist.

The organization, based in London, England, highlighted that it has been especially critical “regarding the growth of abuses against protesters by police forces in Mexico recorded over the last 18 months, including arbitrary arrests and police brutality.”

It noted that although the Federal District government accepted the recommendation issued by the local Human Rights Commission, by those facts “no agent charged with protecting the public order has been brought to justice.”

As to the gun that fired the bullet that wounded Kuykendall, AI noted that it is considered one of the “less lethal” police weapons, among which are “rubber bullets and tear gas,” weapons which the organization said “does not exempt the security forces of their obligation to respect the principles of necessity and proportionality in the use of force and accountability when the use of these weapons has been a harm or risk to the health or safety of a person, especially when they are used improperly or in a context in which it is not possible to ensure that projectiles will not impact protesters directly.”

The organization insisted that the authorities are obliged to report on the use of such weapons, the training received by police that use them, and use protocols. “Amnesty International also calls on the authorities to subject any use of force by security forces to international human rights standards,” the organization stated.

Reiterating the urgent need for those responsible for injuring Kuykendall to pay for their deeds, Amnesty International called on authorities to be accountable for a commitment that “the police are properly trained” and that they adhere to international standards on the use of “less lethal” weapons.

Daughter Speaks

Minutes before Amnesty International disseminated its statement, Fernanda Kuykendall, daughter of the activist revealed that the Public Prosecutor has initiated an investigation into the murder of her father. “Finally, the MP (Public Ministry) determined that it was a homicide, and the authorities will have to clarify the facts (…) It’s on the death certificate,” Fernanda said to Radio Formula.

The daughter of the playwright said that during the time that her father was alive, for a year and almost two months, he was at home for only 15 days, and the rest of the time he lived in various hospitals. Because the rubber bullet Kuykendall that received caused an exposed skull fracture with loss of brain tissue, the damage to the activist was basically neurological, and his physical condition deteriorated progressively. …

In January 2013, the family of the activist and playwright filed a criminal complaint against the violence suffered by Juan Francisco Kuykendall at the hands of the Mexican government and in particular against Enrique Peña Nieto, Manuel Mondragón y Kalb, current commissioner for National Security, and Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong, Secretary of Government Relations [SEGOB].

The Human Rights Commission of the Federal District (CDHDF) lamented the death of Kuykendall, whom it described as a social activist, who participated in the 1968 student movement and had supported social causes since 1970, as well as being an actor who wrote and presented works of a social character to inform and raise awareness about social and political realities.

Regarding the last mobilization in which he took part, on December 1, 2012, the agency recalled that it had documented in its recommendation of July 2013, “arbitrary detentions, disproportionate use of force, cruel, degrading and inhuman treatment, and torture and violations of due process for 102 people who were arrested that day in the vicinity of St. Lazarus and the centre of the city.”

Translation by Reed Brundage


January 29, 2014

Indigenous of the Lacandón Jungle agree to defend their lands against the neoliberal onslaught

Filed under: Indigenous, Lacandon/ montes azules — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 8:59 pm


Indigenous of the Lacandón Jungle agree to defend their lands against the neoliberal onslaught 

 ** They resist “government programmes,” which they accuse of sowing division

** They “try to put an end to our knowledge. They want to privatize our rivers, forests and waterfalls,” they say.


By: Hermann Bellinghausen

Nuevo Jerusalén, Chiapas, January 28, 2014

Independent organizations in the northern part of the Lacandón Jungle stated that they continue in resistance against the programmes of the government and of the “neoliberal businessmen,” who “continue to seek ways to take from us the most valuable thing we have: our land.”

Representatives from twenty Chol, Tzeltal and Zoque communities of the region, organized in the Committee for the Defence of Indigenous Freedom (CDLI), Tsoblej Yu’un jWocoltic, the Union of Communities of the Lacandón Jungle (Ucisech) and Xi’Nich (The Ants), met in Nuevo Jerusalén this weekend to document the pressures from the federal government through the conduct of delegates from the Secretary of Agrarian, Territorial and Urban Development (Sedatu) and the Agrarian Prosecutor, particularly in municipality of Ocosingo, to make the communities compromise ownership of their land in exchange for programmes; that is, money.

They no longer cultivate their lands

“They tell us: ‘Don’t work at cultivating or producing your own food any more! We are the ones who can do it. We have the means; we are cleverer and cleaner. We are the entrepreneurs, the most prepared to produce food for everyone.’ We answered them: ‘We are tired of you deceiving us with your programmes like the Support Fund for Agrarian Nuclei without Registration (FANAR, previously Procede) and the National Crusade Against Hunger, through which they put money into the communities, causing division instead of promoting economic and social development.’

“With the arrival of this money those who have fragile hearts are enchanted, because it makes them think that it makes everything easier, but in reality it makes us useless, because we buy their seeds which destroy our land and their poisons which produce more plagues. We open the door to their education system and with the education that they give, our children no longer want to work with us, and we give foreigners, entrepreneurs and others the possibility of buying or seizing our resources.”

The indigenous, members of the Indigenous National Congress (in fact, one of their points was planning their forthcoming participation in the CNI), said that the municipal governments of Palenque and Ocosingo “are also enchanted with the money and proposals of the entrepreneurs, they don’t think about us, they don’t defend us, they don’t consult us, they don’t respect us and they don’t listen to us. They attempt to do away with our knowledge. They want to privatize our rivers, forests and waterfalls. They come in to measure our boundaries without consulting us and drill without taking into account the damage to other lands.”


But, they emphasize, “this is the land where corn and beans are born, where our feet dance at the fiestas, where we launch our prayers, where we are born, where we die, from which we eat: she sustains us and feeds us. Taking it away from us is uprooting our knowledge, it is fragmenting the community.” Because of that “we continue in resistance, we are not going to leave.”

They continue to reject the modification to Article 27 of the Constitution approved during the mandate of Carlos Salinas de Gortari: “We do not want the change of ejido land into small landholdings, we continue to believe in communal land. We continue to demand that they fulfill the 13 demands of the San Andrés Accords.”

Without going any further, the ejido Nuevo Jerusalén, established on lands recuperated from what was a cattle ranch after the 1994 EZLN uprising, lacks the paperwork of official agrarian registration. “Although there are two groups here, we are in agreement about not entering the government’s plans,” their representative says. “They are coming from the Agrarian Prosecutor to pressure and offer, to divide us.”

In addition, he points out: “the new landholding reform changes the concept of land ownership. They want us to start paying VAT on land. Now they tax ejidos and in the law urbanize indigenous peoples.”

Dispossession walks many paths.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

En español:

English translation by the Chiapas Support Committee for the International Zapatista Translation Service






Warning about privatization of land in the Northern Lacandón Jungle

Filed under: Indigenous, Lacandon/ montes azules, Paramilitary — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 6:17 pm


Warning about privatization of land in the Northern Lacandón Jungle 

 ** Dissatisfaction with programmes promoted by the Sedatu and the Agrarian Prosecutor 

 ** Even the “pro-government” clusters of Nueva Palestina and Frontera Corozal are unhappy 

FotoDaily life in Chiapas, Photo Yazmín Ortega Cortés 

By: Hermann Bellinghausen 

Palenque, Chiapas, January 27, 2014 

Discontent runs through the communities of the northern Lacandón Jungle, because of the application of government programmes which limit their use of the land, in particular the Support Fund for Agrarian Nuclei without Registration (Fanar), which would allow the privatization of individual plots, and is promoted by the Ministry of Agrarian, Territorial and Urban Development (Sedatu) and the Agrarian Prosecutor. 

Even the large pro-government conglomerates of the so-called “Lacandón Community” (Nueva Palestina, Tzeltal, and Frontera Corozal, Chol) have shown their disagreement. They were particularly affected by the Redd Plus programme. It is no longer functioning, but it was found useful during the last government for making them sign a series of promises which in fact impeded them from making use of their lands, a first step towards dispossession. 

These communities, in particular Nueva Palestina, have a long history of violence and abuse against dozens of villages of different organizations, both inside the Montes Azules Reserve and in the “buffer zone;” the most serious, but not the only one, being the Viejo Velasco Suárez Massacre in 2006, which is still unpunished although two residents of the Nuevo Tila ejido are accused of the actions, and there are arrest warrants against them, despite the fact that they were compañeros of the victims. According to the zone’s independent organizations, those really responsible are residents of Nueva Palestina and members of the Lacandón town of Lacanjá Chansayab. 

Paramilitaries blackmail the State 

An indigenous man, a witness to the massacre who for security reasons does not give his name, describes the situation like this: “Who are the ones that are now asking for justice and respect for their territory? They are the indigenous who are privileged by the corrupt system of the PRI and the PRD, and are simply called paramilitaries by the communities. The state has used them to repress, kill, kidnap, disappear and burn alive those who have different political positions, but ultimately they are all indigenous.” 

And he continues: “Each time they want more power and resources they blackmail the state. They did it with Juan Sabines Guerrero, and he gave them handfuls of money supposedly to take care of the Lacandón Jungle. The Lacandóns handed over their lands through the Redd Plus programme for ‘environmental services,’ in exchange for 2 thousand pesos per month. The old community members signed the agreement without the consent of their children, and these now demand that they are also given money. 

“We don’t know what they want, supposedly justice, we doubt that it’s really that, rather it’s a strategy to get more money. How many millions did Pablo Salazar Mendiguchía not waste to buy the lands of the Lacandónes? How many millions did Sabines not take from the state to be given to the Lacandónes for ‘environmental services’? The Lacandónes are useful to the government; it uses them to justify mega-projects in the zone,” he maintains. 

On a La Jornada tour through the northern Jungle we found that this situation affects almost all the communities. What is new is that the unconditional (supporters) of the government have also discovered they are ensnared. “The (residents) of Nueva Palestina and the Lacandónes have been identified by the Chol, Tzeltal and Zoque communities as paramilitaries for the governments, since the times of President Luis Echeverría and Governor Manuel Velasco Suárez,” states the indigenous man, a member of the Union of Communities of the Jungle of Chiapas (Ucisech, its Spanish acronym). 

The Lacandones and their allies “have always obtained benefits and immunity,” and are accustomed to being presented as “peaceful conservationists, hospitable with tourists, who are not rebellious, and are different from the peoples who inhabit the buffer zone and are considered by the government as invaders and rebels for defending their territory.”

Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

En español: 

Based on an English translation by the Chiapas Support Committee for the International Zapatista Translation Service






January 28, 2014

Ejidatarios Displaced from Chenalhó Suffer Threats when Harvesting their Coffee Fields

Ejidatarios Displaced from Chenalhó Suffer Threats when Harvesting their Coffee Fields

 ** Indigenous Tzeltal unjustly arrested and imprisoned receives amparo (protection order)

By: Hermann Bellinghausen

San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, January 26th, 2014

ricardoRepresentatives of the displaced people from the ejido Puebla, in Chenalhó, who on Monday will complete 10 days harvesting the coffee fields which they left behind last August, announced that they will return to take refuge again in the Las Abejas camp in Acteal, where they have been staying for six months, because conditions for their definitive return still do not exist and the state government has not fulfilled the demands of the indigenous, Nicolás Cruz Pérez stated today.

“During the time we have been harvesting the coffee we have received threats and attacks, we have a list of these acts, and are letting the Public Prosecutor (who the government sent from January 17 to 27) know about the threats and attacks,” which are the same ones Governor Manuel Velasco Coello was told about “on his visit to our ejido on January 22,” added the indigenous, insisting on a “just and dignified” return.

The demands of the families, who were displaced by the violence of an officialist (pro-government) group from the community are: reparations for damages (robberies, damage to property and crops), restitution of the chapel annexed by the ejido authorities, and the application of the law to the numerous crimes committed by the officialist group.

During the time that they have stayed in the ejido, the displaced have received continual insults and threats of the same kind that dispossessed them of the chapel. 

Antonio Estrada Estrada

In another matter, it was reported that the Tzeltal campesino Antonio Estrada Estrada, from San Sebastián Bachajón (Chilón), received an amparo (legal protection order) which opens the door to his final acquittal. Released from prison last December 24th, until now his freedom has not been complete.

The state government released Estrada, an adherent to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle, after he had been arrested illegally, tortured and unjustly deprived of his freedom for more than two years. When he left the prison at Playas de Catazajá the accusations of a federal crime, although unfounded, were still hanging over him. For this reason he still has to go periodically to sign in at a lower court in the state capital.

The lawyer Ricardo Lagunes Gasca, legal representative of the ejidatarios, explained that his liberation was through a benefit of law granted by the Chiapas government. However, “Antonio has not legally regained his innocence,” plus he also faces a federal trial before the sixth district judge in Tuxtla Gutiérrez. This trial derives from the same matter for which he was sentenced to more that seven years; now the charge is added of carrying a firearm for the exclusive use of the Army.

On Friday, 24th January, added the lawyer, “the third collegiate tribunal in Tuxtla Gutiérrez issued the decision in the case of the petition for amparo filed by Estrada in September 2013, challenging the sentence of more that seven years in prison delivered by the lower court judge of Playas de Catazajá, for the alleged crimes of armed robbery and organized crime, of which he was accused by specialized police from the State’s Prosecutor General of Justice.”

In its judgement, the federal tribunal decided in favour of the indigenous man: “due to the violations of his human rights it awarded him the amparo outright, which has the effect of absolving him completely of the acts for which he spent more than two years unjustly imprisoned.”

With this resolution the doors are open for the judge of the sixth district in Tuxtla Gutiérrez “to grant Antonio Estrada Estrada his complete freedom in the federal criminal case which is being heard in that court, and for him to finally recover his complete legal freedom,” the lawyer concluded.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Monday, January 27, 2014

En español:


January 27, 2014

Adherents to the Sixth denounce official moves to dispossess them of ejidal territory

Filed under: Bachajon, Displacement, Human rights, Indigenous, La Sexta — Tags: — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 7:31 pm


Adherents to the Sixth denounce official moves to dispossess them of ejidal territory

A Chilón commissioner is collecting signatures to cancel the amparo “through deceptions”

They demand the “complete freedom” of Antonio Estrada; each month he has to appear before the court

By: Hermann Bellinghausen,

La Jornada, Saturday, January 25, 2014

Ocosingo, Chiapas, January 24, 2014

aliciayzoraidaThe ejidatarios [communal landholders] of San Sebastián Bachajón, adherents toThe SixthDeclaration of the Lacandón Jungle, have denounced that the officialist [pro-government] authorities are preparing a new fraudulent move to justify the handing over of part of the ejidal territory to the government for purposes of tourism, and in this way to consolidate a dispossession which has been underway since 2011.

The Tzeltal ejidatarios, from the official municipality of Chilón, pointed out “the deceptions and corruptions of Alejandro Moreno Gómez, officialist commissioner, and his vigilance council chairman, Samuel Díaz Guzmán, who are deceiving the ejidatarios and the people in general in the town of Sebastián Bachajón with false promises of getting a government coffee project, and are asking them for a copy of the certificate of land rights and of the IFE’s voting credential, supposedly to secure that project.”

However, that “is a lie, because we know that once again they are going to fabricate assembly minutes with falsified signatures of ejidatarios, in order to ask the seventh district court, with its seat in Tuxtla Gutiérrez, for the cancellation of our amparo [protective order] 274/2011. This is the true intention of Moreno Gómez, advised by the bad state and federal governments, behind the backs of the general assembly of ejidatarios, which is the highest body.” With this manoeuvre “they are seeking to eliminate obstacles to keeping our lands, violating the bad government’s own laws and violating our right as a people recognized in the Constitution and international treaties.”

At the same time the indigenous denounce that the government of Manuel Velasco Coello “did not completely free our compañero Antonio Estrada Estrada (prisoner until last December), because they only took him out of the prison, but legally they continue to hold him guilty of the attack of which two specialized Palenque police accused him. He must sign every eight days at the sixth district court in Tuxtla Gutiérrez, because they also fabricated the crime of carrying a federal firearm against him, when the compañero was tortured. He is innocent and has no economic resources.”

In their denunciation, the ejidatarios say that last December 24th, when Estrada Estrada was released, the Undersecretary of Government, Carlos Morelos Rodríguez, “went to the Catazajá Prison to make him sign a document, telling him that the board of reconciliation of the Chiapas government needed it to give him freedom that same day, and that he would not be released if he did not sign it; so the compañero signed it.” Afterwards, the state authorities delivered that document to the third collegiate tribunal in Tuxtla Gutiérrez “so that it would cancel protective order 915/2013 which was in place against the sentence of seven years for robbery and organized crime.”

The Alejandro Díaz Santiz case

The ejidatarios demand from the government: “the immediate cancellation of the charges against our compañero, and also the release of Alejandro Díaz Santiz, member of solidarity with the Voice of El Amate, who is held in Cereso Number 5 in San Cristóbal de las Casas”.

They warn that the people of San Sebastián Bachajón will continue resisting “the dispossession and persecution from the bad state and federal governments.” They greet the peoples and indigenous communities of Mexico and the world “who are also fighting for Mother Earth and don’t let themselves be overcome by the violence, discrimination and contempt from the bad government and its capitalist entrepreneurs, who seek to make us disappear so they can take over our land and its natural resources”.

They demand that: “our people and organization be respected” and they reiterate: “we are not going to allow the humiliations from the bad government and those who want to continue dispossessing us and discriminating against us just for being poor and indigenous. We will continue fighting for what is ours, even though the government may not like it.” 



Communiqué from San Sebastian Bachajón, 22nd January, 2014


Communiqué from San Sebastian Bachajón, 22nd January, 2014 

San Sebastian Bachajón continues to resist dispossession and persecution from the bad federal and state governments.


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

To the mass and alternative media

To the Good Government Juntas

To the Zapatista Army of National Liberation

To the Indigenous National Congress

To the Network for Solidarity and against Repression

To Movement for Justice in El Barrio from New York

To national and international human rights defenders

To public opinion


bachajon (1)Compañeros and compañeras, the people of San Sebastian Bachajón continue resisting in struggle against the dispossession and persecution from the bad federal and state governments. We greet all the peoples and indigenous communities of Chiapas, Mexico and the world who are also fighting for Mother Earth and do not let themselves be overcome by the violence, discrimination and contempt from the bad government and its capitalist entrepreneurs who seek to make us disappear so they can take over our land and natural resources for personal and financial gain.

We denounce the deceptions and corruptions of Alejandro Moreno Gómez, the officialist commissioner of San Sebastián Bachajón, and the Chairman of the Vigilance Commission, Samuel Diaz Guzman, who are deceiving the ejidatarios and the people in general of the community of San Sebastián Bachajón with false promises to get a government coffee project; and they are asking for a copy of the certificate of land rights and of the IFE voting credential, supposedly in order to get that project, but it is a lie because we know clearly that once again they are going to fabricate assembly minutes with forged signatures of ejidatarios to ask the Seventh District Court in Tuxtla Gutierrez to cancel our amparo 274/2011; this is the real intention of Alejandro Moreno Gómez, advised by the bad state and federal government; behind the backs of the general assembly of ejidatarios, which is the highest body, they are aiming to remove any obstacles to keeping our lands, violating the very laws of the bad government and violating our rights as a people recognized in the constitution and international treaties.

We also denounce that the bad government of Manuel Velasco Coello has not completely freed our compañero Antonio Estrada Estrada, because they only let him out of prison, but they still legally hold him guilty of the assault of which two specialized police from Palenque, Chiapas, accused him. He must attend to sign every week at the Sixth District Court in Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas, because they also fabricated the crime of possession of a federal weapon against him when the compañero was tortured; he is innocent and does not have any economic resources.

On 24th December, 2013, when our compañero was freed, the Undersecretary of Government, Carlos Morelos Rodríguez, went to the prison at Catazajá to make our compañero Antonio sign a document, telling him that the Bureau of Reconciliation of the Government of Chiapas needed [his signature] to give him his freedom that same day, and that he would not be released if he did not sign it; so the compañero signed it. Afterwards the Government of Chiapas delivered that document to the Third Collegiate Court in Tuxtla Gutierrez so that it would cancel amparo 915/2013, which was in place against the 7-year sentence for assault and organized crime.

We demand from the bad government the immediate cancellation of the charges against our compañero Antonio Estrada Estrada, and also the liberation of our compañero Alejandro Díaz Santiz, of solidarity with the voice of el amate, held at cereso number 5 in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas.

We demand respect for our people and organization, we will not allow the humiliations from the bad government and from those who want to continue to dispossess us and discriminate against us just for being poor and indigenous; we will continue to fight for what is ours, even though the government does not like it.

We ask all the compañeros and compañeras and national and international solidarity organisations to remain alert as to what is happening in our community.

Never again a Mexico without us.

From the northern zone of Chiapas, receive a hug from the women and men of San Sebastián Bachajón.


Land and Freedom!

Hasta la victoria siempre!

Freedom for Political prisoners!

Juan Vázquez Guzmán Lives, the Bachajón struggle continues!

No dispossession of indigenous territories!


Now You See Me: A Glimpse into the Zapatista Movement, Two Decades Later

Filed under: Zapatista — Tags: , , , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 6:34 pm

Zapatista 20th Anniversary

Now You See Me: A Glimpse into the Zapatista Movement, Two Decades Later

By Laura Gottesdiener 


Line to search delegates, Zapatista Encuentro, 1996. (Image: <a" target="_blank"> Julian Stallabrass / Flickr</a>)

Line to search delegates, Zapatista Encuentro, 1996.

Growing up in a well-heeled suburban community, I absorbed our society’s distaste for dissent long before I was old enough to grasp just what was being dismissed. My understanding of so many people and concepts was tainted by this environment and the education that went with it: Che Guevara and the Black Panthers and Oscar Wilde and Noam Chomsky and Venezuela and Malcolm X and the Service Employees International Union and so, so many more. All of this is why, until recently, I knew almost nothing about the Mexican Zapatista movement except that the excessive number of “a”s looked vaguely suspicious to me. It’s also why I felt compelled to travel thousands of miles to a Zapatista “organizing school” in the heart of the Lacandon jungle in southeastern Mexico to try to sort out just what I’d been missing all these years.

Hurtling South

The fog is so thick that the revelers arrive like ghosts. Out of the mist they appear: men sporting wide-brimmed Zapata hats, women encased in the shaggy sheepskin skirts that are still common in the remote villages of Mexico. And then there are the outsiders like myself with our North Face jackets and camera bags, eyes wide with adventure. (“It’s like the Mexican Woodstock!” exclaims a student from the northern city of Tijuana.) The hill is lined with little restaurants selling tamales and arroz con leche and pozol, a ground-corn drink that can rip a foreigner’s stomach to shreds. There is no alcohol in sight. Sipping coffee as sugary as Alabama sweet tea, I realize that tonight will be my first sober New Year’s Eve since December 31, 1999, when I climbed into bed with my parents to await the Y2K Millennium bug and mourned that the whole world was going to end before I had even kissed a boy.

Thousands are clustered in this muddy field to mark the 20-year anniversary of January 1, 1994, when an army of impoverished farmers surged out of the jungle and launched the first post-modern revolution. Those forces, known as the Zapatista Army of National Liberation, were the armed wing of a much larger movement of indigenous peoples in the southeastern Mexican state of Chiapas, who were demanding full autonomy from their government and global liberation for all people.

As the news swept across that emerging communication system known as the Internet, the world momentarily held its breath. A popular uprising against government-backed globalization led by an all but forgotten people: it was an event that seemed unthinkable. The Berlin Wall had fallen. The market had triumphed. The treaties had been signed. And yet surging out of the jungles came a movement of people with no market value and the audacity to refuse to disappear.

Now, 20 years later, villagers and sympathetic outsiders are pouring into one of the Zapatistas’ political centers, known as Oventic, to celebrate the fact that their rebellion has not been wiped out by the wind and exiled from the memory of men.

The plane tickets from New York City to southern Mexico were so expensive that we traveled by land. We E-ZPassed down the eastern seaboard, ate catfish sandwiches in Louisiana, barreled past the refineries of Texas, and then crossed the border. We pulled into Mexico City during the pre-Christmas festivities. The streets were clogged with parents eating tamales and children swinging at piñatas. By daybreak the next morning, we were heading south again. Speed bumps scraped the bottom of our Volvo the entire way from Mexico City to Chiapas, where the Zapatistas control wide swathes of territory. The road skinned the car alive. Later I realized that those speed bumps were, in a way, the consequences of dissent — tiny traffic-controlling monuments to a culture far less resigned to following the rules.

“Up north,” I’d later tell Mexican friends, “we don’t have as many speed bumps, but neither do we have as much social resistance.”

After five days of driving, we reached LaUniversidad de la Tierra, a free Zapatista-run schoolin the touristy town of San Cristóbal de Las Casas in Chiapas. Most of the year, people from surrounding rural communities arrive here to learn trades like electrical wiring, artisanal crafts, and farming practices. This week, thousands of foreigners had traveled to the town to learn about something much more basic: autonomy.

Our first “class” was in the back of a covered pickup truck careening through the Lacandon jungle with orange trees in full bloom. As we passed, men and women raised peace signs in salute. Spray-painted road signs read (in translation):

“You are now entering Zapatista territory. Here the people order and the government obeys.”

I grew nauseous from the exhaust and the dizzying mountain views, and after six hours in that pickup on this, my sixth day of travel, two things occurred to me: first, I realized that I had traveled “across” Chiapas in what was actually a giant circle; second, I began to suspect that there was no Zapatista organizing school at all, that the lesson I was supposed to absorb was simply that life is a matter of perpetual, cyclical motion. The movement’s main symbol, after all, is a snail’s shell.

Finally, though, we arrived in a village where the houses had thatched roofs and the children spoke only the pre-Hispanic language Ch’ol.

¡Ya Basta!

Over the centuries, the indigenous communities of Chiapas survived Spanish conquistadors, slavery, and plantation-style sugar cane fields; Mexican independence and mestizo landowners; racism, railroads, and neoliberal economic reforms. Each passing year seemed to bring more threats to its way of life. As the father of my host family explained to me, the community began to organize itself in the early 1990s because people felt that the government was slowly but surely exterminating them.

The government was chingando, he said, which translates roughly as deceiving, cheating, and otherwise screwing someone over. It was, he said, stealing their lands. It was extracting the region’s natural resources, forcing people from the countryside into the cities. It was disappearing the indigenous languages through its version of public education. It was signing free trade agreements that threatened to devastate the region’s corn market and the community’s main subsistence crop.

So on January 1, 1994, the day the North America Free Trade Agreement went into effect, some residents of this village — along with those from hundreds of other villages — seized control of major cities across the state and declared war on the Mexican government. Under the name of the Zapatista Army for National Liberation, they burned the army’s barracks and liberated the inmates in the prison at San Cristóbal de Las Casas.

In response, the Mexican army descended on Chiapas with such violence that the students of Mexico City rioted in the streets. In the end, the two sides sat down for peace talks that, to this day, have never been resolved.

The uprising itself lasted only 12 days; the response was a punishing decade of repression. First came the great betrayal. Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo, who,in the wake of the uprising, had promised to enact greater protections for indigenous peoples, instead sent thousands of troops into the Zapatistas’ territory in search of Subcomandante Marcos, the world-renowned spokesperson for the movement. They didn’t find him. But the operation marked the beginning of a hush-hush war against the communities that supported the Zapatistas. The army, police, and hired thugs burned homes and fields and wrecked small, communally owned businesses. Some local leaders disappeared. Others were imprisoned. In one region of Chiapas, the entire population was displaced for so long that the Red Cross set up a refugee camp for them. (In the end, the community rejected the Red Cross aid, in the same way that it also rejects all government aid.)

Since 1994, the movement has largely worked without arms. Villagers resisted government attacks and encroachments with road blockades, silent marches, and even, in one famous case, an aerial attack comprised entirely of paper airplanes.

The Boy Who Is Free

Fifteen years after the uprising, a child named Diego was born in Zapatista territory. He was the youngest member of the household where I was staying, and during my week with the family, he was always up to something. He agitated the chickens, peeked his head through the window to surprise his father at the breakfast table, and amused the family by telling me long stories in Ch’ol that I couldn’t possibly understand.

He also, unknowingly, defied the government’s claim that he does not exist.

Diego is part of the first generation of Zapatista children whose births are registered by one of the organization’s own civil judges. In the eyes of his father, he is one of the first fully independent human beings. He was born in Zapatista territory, attends a Zapatista school, lives on unregistered land, and his body is free of pesticides and genetically modified organisms. Adding to his autonomy is the fact that nothing about him — not his name, weight, eye color, or birth date — is officially registered with the Mexican government. His family does not receive a peso of government aid, nor does it pay a peso worth of taxes. Not even the name of Diego’s town appears on any official map.

By first-world standards, this autonomy comes at a steep price: some serious poverty. Diego’s home has electricity but no running water or indoor plumbing. The outhouse is a hole in the ground concealed by waist-high tarp walls. The bathtub is the small stream in the backyard. Their chickens often free-range it right through their one-room, dirt-floor house. Eating them is considered a luxury.

The population of the town is split between Zapatistas and government loyalists, whom the Zapatistas call “priistas” in reference to Mexico’s ruling political party, the PRI. To discern who is who, all you have to do is check whether or not a family’s roof sports a satellite dish.

Then again, the Zapatistas aren’t focused on accumulating wealth, but on living with dignity. Most of the movement’s work over the last two decades has involved patiently building autonomous structures for Diego and his generation. Today, children like him grow up in a community with its own Zapatista schools; communal businesses; banks; hospitals; clinics; judicial processes; birth, death, and marriage certificates; annual censuses; transportation systems; sports teams; musical bands; art collectives; and a three-tiered system of government. There are no prisons. Students learn both Spanish and their own indigenous language in school. An operation in the autonomous hospital can cost one-tenth that in an official hospital. Members of the Zapatista government, elected through town assemblies, serve without receiving any monetary compensation.

Economic independence is considered the cornerstone of autonomy — especially for a movement that opposes the dominant global model of neoliberal capitalism. In Diego’s town, the Zapatista families have organized a handful of small collectives: a pig-raising operation, a bakery, a shared field for farming, and a chicken coop. The 20-odd chickens had all been sold just before Christmas, so the coop was empty when we visited. The three women who ran the collective explained, somewhat bashfully, that they would soon purchase more chicks to raise.

As they spoke in the outdoor chicken coop, there were squealing noises beneath a nearby table. A tangled cluster of four newly born puppies, eyes still crusted shut against the light, were squirming to stay warm. Their mother was nowhere in sight, and the whole world was new and cold, and everything was unknown. I watched them for a moment and thought about how, although it seemed impossible, they would undoubtedly survive and grow.

Unlike Diego, the majority of young children on the planet today are born into densely packed cities without access to land, animals, crops, or almost any of the natural resources that are required to sustain human life. Instead, we city dwellers often need a ridiculous amount of money simply to meet our basic needs. My first apartment in New York City, a studio smaller than my host family’s thatched-roof house, cost more per month than the family has likely spent in Diego’s entire lifetime.

As a result, many wonder if the example of the Zapatistas has anything to offer an urbanized planet in search of change. Then again, this movement resisted defeat by the military of a modern state and built its own school, medical, and governmental systems for the next generation without even having the convenience of running water. So perhaps a more appropriate question is: What’s the rest of the world waiting for?

Celebrating Dissent

Around six o’clock, when night falls in Oventic, the music for the celebration begins. On stage, a band of guitar-strumming men wear hats that look like lampshades with brightly colored tassels. Younger boys perform Spanish rap. Women, probably from the nearby state of Veracruz, play son jarocho, a type of folk music featuring miniature guitar-like instruments.

It’s raining gently in the open field. The mist clings to shawls and skirts andpasamontañas,the face-covering ski masks that have become iconic imagery for the Zapatistas. “We cover our faces so that you can see us” is a famous Zapatista saying. And it’s true: For a group of people often erased by politicians and exploited by global economies, the ski-masks have the curious effect of making previously invisible faces visible.

Still, there are many strategies to make dissent disappear, of which the least effective may be violence. The most ingenious is undoubtedly to make the rest of the world — and even the dissenter herself — dismissive of what’s being accomplished. Since curtailing its military offensive, the government has waged a propaganda war focused on convincing the rest of Mexico, the world, and even Zapatista communities themselves that the movement and its vision no longer exists.

But there are just as many strategies for keeping dissent and dissenters going. One way is certainly to invite thousands of outsiders to visit your communities and see firsthand that they are real, that in every way that matters they are thriving, and that they have something to teach the rest of us. As Diego’s father said in an uncharacteristic moment of boastfulness, “I think by now that the whole world has heard of our organization.”

Writing is another way to prevent an idea and a movement from disappearing, especially when one is hurtling down the highway in Texas headed back to New York City, already surrounded by a reality so different as to instantly make the Zapatistas hard to remember.

The most joyous way to assert one’s existence, however, is through celebration.

The New Year arrived early in Oventic. One of the subcomandantes had just read a communique issued by the organization’s leadership, first in Spanish, then in the indigenous languages Tzotzil and Tzeltal. The latter translations took her nearly twice as long to deliver, as if to remind us of all the knowledge that was lost with the imposition of a colonial language centuries ago. Then, a low hiss like a cracked soda can, and two fireworks exploded into the air.

“Long live the insurgents!” a masked man on stage cried.

“Viva!” we shouted. The band burst into song, and two more fireworks shot into the sky, their explosions well timed drumbeats of color and sound. The coordination was impeccable. As the chants continued, the air grew so smoky that we could barely see the fireworks exploding, but in that moment, I could still feel their brilliance and the illumination, 20 years old, of the movement releasing them.

Laura Gottesdiener is a journalist, social justice activist. She is an associate editor for Waging Nonviolence, and she has written for Rolling Stone, Ms. magazine, The Arizona Republic, TomDispatch, and other publications. She lived and worked in the People’s Kitchen during the occupation of Zuccotti Park.


From Fire to Autonomy: Zapatistas, 20 Years of Walking Slowly By Andalusia Knoll and Itandehui Reyes, Truthout             Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.


Social activist wounded on December 1 inauguration of Peña dies

Filed under: Repression — Tags: — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 5:59 pm


Social activist wounded at December 1 inauguration of Peña dies

By Fernando Camacho Servín
La Jornada
January 25, 2014
Translated by Scott Campbell

The activist and theater director Juan Francisco Kuykendall, who suffered a fractured skull during the December 1, 2012 protests against Enrique Peña Nieto’s inauguration, died early Saturday morning after suffering a cardiac arrest.

“Kuy died at 5:05am. They have still not given me the death certificate and we don’t know what they are going to say the clinical cause was, but since 2:30 in the morning he was in cardiac arrest,” said Eva Palma, the victim’s partner.

The health of Kuykendall Leal – who for the past three months was at the Zone 30 General Hospital of the Mexican Institute of Social Security (IMSS) – was critical for a long time, she explained.

“He was very malnourished, with deep scars and since he used tubes to urinate and to eat, infections began to attack him. Just yesterday when I went to see him I could tell he was having a lot of difficulty breathing,” said Palma in an interview.

She said that since Kuykendall’s injury, suffered during the protests against the inauguration of Enrique Peña Nieto, the activist was treated at several IMSS clinics, including at the XXI Century National Medical Centre, where he was discharged for supposedly being in “stable” condition.

“The thought that sticks with me is that men as productive and concerned with culture as Kuy, who was an activist since the ‘70s, don’t deserve to end up like him, because of the state, because of men like Peña Nieto, Osorio Chong or Manuel Mondragón, who were the ones who ordered the operation.

“The capitalist system is very unjust and in the end, my partner fell in battle, but he leaves us his example, his legacy and we are going to claim him as an adherent to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle. He fell in battle for his ideals,” Palma emphasized.

After being hit in the head with a projectile – it is believed it was a rubber bullet – Juan Francisco Kuykendall suffered a cranial fracture causing him to lose part of his brain mass.

It is expected that this Saturday afternoon a wake will be held for the activist at a funeral home in the Doctores neighborhood in Mexico City.

Originally from Tamaulipas

The 67 year old, originally from Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, migrated to the Federal District in 1967 with the goal of being an actor. He achieved that at the National Institute of Fine Arts, where he studied drama.

His wife, Eva Leticia Palma Pastrana, remembers that 1968 was a year of political turmoil that “also impacted Kuy,” as he is known among friends and family. On October 2, he joined the students’ protest, but during the arrests he was saved by a Cuban doctor who hid him in her apartment.

Many years later, after becoming a playwright, set designer, theatre teacher and supporter of organizations and collectives such as the Other Campaign, we wanted to go to the May 2006 protests in San Salvador Atenco, but we got lost. We were saved many times, says Palma Pastrana. The same did not occur on a Saturday, when Kuy, 67 years old and a resident of Coyoacán, went with his friend Teodulfo Torres to the protest around the Chamber of Deputies.

“We entered on Eduardo Molina Avenue, because everywhere else was closed. We were heading to see what happened, I took out my video camera and then I heard a thud. I turned to see Kuy, but he was already on the ground.”

Complaint filed at the PGR

On January 18, a group of friends and family of the teacher Juan Francisco Kuykendall filed a complaint with the Federal Attorney General’s Office (PGR) to demand clarification of what happened and punishment for those responsible for the attack.

Joined by members of the student movement #YoSoy132, the Peoples’ Front in Defence of the Land, and other social organizations, Rodrigo and Fernanda Kuykendall, children of the academic, entered the premises of the PGR to file their lawsuit, which also requests full compensation for the injury.



Provisional Suspension of Governmental Works is Conceded to the Ejido Tila

Filed under: Displacement, Human rights, Indigenous — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 7:11 am


Provisional Suspension of Governmental Works is Conceded to the Ejido Tila 

 ** They complain about the dispossession of the Casino del Pueblo and the intention to erect a commercial centre

By: Hermann Bellinghausen

Ocosingo, Chiapas, January 25, 2014

TILA CHIAPAS: Determinación judicial impide al Ayuntamiento realizar obras sobre territorio indígena y ejidal.This Friday, January 24th, the fifth district court, seated in the city of Tuxtla Gutiérrez, conceded to the ejido Tila a provisional suspension of the public works planned by the municipal government, under amparo (protection order) 73/2014.

The judicial measure means that the authorities of Tila municipality, in the Northern Zone, cannot carry out any public works on the area that belongs to the ejido, which is also indigenous territory, until the litigation is definitively resolved.

Last January 17th, Tila, which includes the urban centre of the municipal capital, filed a petition for amparo because the municipal authorities were seeking to promote the creation of a commercial centre on the site where the Casino del Pueblo is currently located.

The Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez Human Rights Centre, when notifying of the suspension, remembered that: “the area as well as the construction belong historically and legally to the Tila ejido and to the Chol people.” Nevertheless, since 1991 “the municipal council has dispossessed the ejido of this place and administers it as its own property.”

In the amparo mentioned above, the Chol ejido owners complain of the dispossession of the Casino del Pueblo and the intention of the authorities to erect a commercial centre there, since, the indigenous argue, “this illegal action violates ejidal social property and territorial rights, as well as the right of indigenous peoples to consultation and to the preservation of their institutions, forms of organization and cultural wealth” (see La Jornada, January 16 & 21).

According to the Centro Pro, the government’s action “is part of a systematic dispossession against the Chol people.” Since 1966, different state and municipal authorities have attempted to dispossess the Tila ejido of part of its territory and they (the ejido owners) have obtained favorable resolutions in the lawsuits for amparos 590/77 and 259/1982. This last one is pending before the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation, since authorities of the municipal council have refused to comply with the decision and restore an area of 130 hectares to the ejido owners.

The fifth district judge’s agreement “concedes the suspension of the plan so that things are maintained in their current state and public works are not executed, nor acts disposing of the Casino del Pueblo, which they argue to be subject to the ejidal regime, in the town of Tila.”


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Sunday, January 26, 2014


Based on an English translation by the Chiapas Support Committee for the International Zapatista Translation Service


January 26, 2014

Juan Francisco Kuykendall Leal died on 25th January, 2014

Filed under: La Sexta, Repression — Tags: — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 7:12 pm

Juan Francisco Kuykendall Leal, Compañero Kuy, died on 25th January, 2014

He had been in a coma for over a year, the first victim of the authoritarianism of  Peña Nieto.


Compañero de la Otra, de la Sexta, de siempre…!Kuy vive, la lucha sigue!


Displaced people from Chiapas still have no guarantees for a final return

Filed under: Acteal, Displacement — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 3:10 pm


Displaced people from Chiapas still have no guarantees for a final return

– They left ejido Puebla six months ago, following attacks by the PRI authorities

State officials have already documented damage to land plots and houses, as well as thefts

Hermann Bellinghausen

La Jornada
Wednesday, 22 January 2014

San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, Jan 21st

desplazados colonia pueblaThis Wednesday marks five days since the (“temporary”, according to the displaced indigenous) return to the ejido Puebla, Chenalhó, but there are still no safe conditions for the final return.

The displaced families abandoned the village six months ago, following assaults and false accusations from the PRI ejidal authorities. Last Friday [17th January], 14 of the 17 families currently taking refuge in Acteal went in a caravan to recover their land and harvest their coffee, preceded by state and federal officials who came to meet with the dominant group of the ejido, headed by evangelical pastor and commissioner Agustín Cruz Gómez.

On this occasion the following attended, escorted by state police: the Government Secretary, Enrique Ramírez Aguilar, and the undersecretaries Mariano Díaz Ochoa (Regional Operations), Belisario Rodríguez (Indigenous Peoples and Culture) and Víctor Hugo Sánchez Zebadúa (Religious Affairs) as well as Francisco Yáñez, federal envoy, and the mayor of Chenalhó, José Arias Vázquez. They met amicably with the Commissioner Cruz Gómez and other ejido authorities responsible for the violence, displacement and dispossession.

16 officers of the Public Ministry (MP) came with them, along with two expert surveyors to visit the plots of the displaced, who have reported thefts and destruction. They were coordinated by Rigoberto Jiménez Carrillo, deputy director of Process Control from the Agency Specializing in Indian Affairs.

Subsequently, the brigade of observation, which from that day was accompanying the displaced people, released the testimony of one of them: “we went to my plot with the MP and there we saw piles of earth. Previously, when all was quiet, we had an agreement that we would not dig up land when there were productive plants growing there. But when the problem began, they no longer respected my rights. The patronato of this community sent the driver of the machine to dig up my plot. But only this one. Then, when it rained, the small orange and guava trees were uprooted from the earth. There they remain, and I cannot plant anything. Then we went to the second plot and found eight coffee bushes cut down with a machete. In the third plot we found eight more fallen bushes.”

A brigadista reports that, “indeed, there is damage to some houses and plots. In five of them, “the water has been cut off, and wood and coffee have been stolen from the plots of land.” The indigenous “have found horse tracks, and we listened to families who have lost their entire harvest, such as pumpkins, and alternative crops.” In addition, during the six months of forced displacement, they have not been able to weed the “farms” of the aromatic crop. The displaced are expected to conclude the work of collecting the coffee on the 27th.

Meanwhile, several indigenous organizations expressed their “solidarity and support for the displaced brothers” of ejido Puebla and condemned the forced displacements in Banavil, Tenejapa and the ejido Aurora Ermita, Pueblo Nuevo Solistahuacán. “We demand that the federal, state and municipal governments take action on the matter; that they give attention to the background of forced displacement in Chiapas and that all actions are based according to international treaties, since the state laws do not protect the displaced but are only designed to disguise all kinds of impunity.” These consist of the El Bosque Movement for the Defence of the People, Civil Resistance Light and Energy of the People (adherent to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle), the Private Agricultural Executive Committee of Chiapas, former prisoners of La Voz del Amate, Santo Tomas Civil Resistance, the displaced people from Banavil and Aurora Ermita, Ricardo Flores Magon Front and LakLumal Ixim. (In Spanish: Movimiento del Bosque por la Defensa del Pueblo, Resistencia Civil Luz y Fuerza del Pueblo, Comité Particular Ejecutivo Agrario de Chiapas, ex presos de La Voz del Amate, Resistencia Civil Santo Tomás, desplazados de Banavil y Aurora Ermita, Frente Ricardo Flores Magón y LakLumal Ixim.)



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