dorset chiapas solidarity

June 29, 2014

Report on the Zapatista Tribute to Galeano (with English subtitles)

Filed under: Zapatista — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 8:00 am


Report on the Zapatista Tribute to Galeano (with English subtitles)

Video with English Subtitles; Report on the Tribute to Galeano (May 24, 2013), the zapatista compañero assassinated by the paramilitary group CIOAC in La Realidad. The tribute was also the last official communication by Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos, where he declares that his character ceases to exist.

Posted by Dorset Chiapas Solidarity  29/06/2014



June 28, 2014

Military positions in Chiapas, near the JBGs of the Zapatista support bases

Filed under: Marcos, Repression, Zapatista — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 10:13 am


Military positions in Chiapas, near the JBGs of the Zapatista support bases



Adrian Ciriaco – This map shows what the media keep quiet about: in Chiapas there is no peace, there is an armed strategy of containment which awaits the opportunity to emerge as an armed strategy of destruction. The war in Chiapas is not only of the fourth generation, it is not purely through the media, through ideology or through social programmes. It is not even only about paramilitary harassment: the army is there in strategic positions … for this reason we are sharing this graph which a compañero published on Facebook, because this information should not only be for users of social networks…

The red dots are the locations of the caracoles and Good Government Juntas (JBG)…

“The rectangles and squares indicate the positions which the federal army and the combined forces have taken in Chiapan territory.

The red and black rectangles, contrary to what you might be thinking, are GAFES Airmobile Groups of Special Forces, ie people prepared for guerrilla warfare, (for killing).

“Because, compas, it is one thing to shout ‘you are not alone’ and another to face with only your body an armoured column of federal troops, as happened in Los Altos de Chiapas, and see if with luck someone finds out, and see if there is a little more luck and the person who finds out is outraged, and if there is even more luck and the person who is outraged does something about it.

In the meantime, the tanks are stopped by the Zapatista women, and it is through insults from mothers and stones, that the steel snake has to pull back.

And in the northern zone of Chiapas, which endured the birth and development of the white guards, now recycled as paramilitaries; and in the Tzotz Choj zone, the continuous aggressions from campesino organizations of “independents,” which sometimes do not have a name; and in the Tzeltal Selva area, ​​the combination of paramilitaries and contras.”
A difficult decision.
From the Zapatista reality.
Mexico, May 2014


Translated and posted by Dorset Chiapas Solidarity  28/06/2014


An Introduction to Zapatista Education

Filed under: Zapatista — Tags: — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 8:03 am


An Introduction to Zapatista Education


Posted by Dorset Chiapas Solidarity  28/06/2014



June 27, 2014

On the road to Reality

Filed under: Indigenous, La Sexta, Zapatista — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 6:48 pm


On the road to Reality

Schools for Chiapas team travels to the community of La Realidad to make the first donation of $N30,000 pesos from The Reality Fund to help rebuild the Zapatista school and health clinic that the teacher Galeano died defending on May 2, 2014.
Please help us rebuild this important school by donating NOW:
Posted by Dorset Chiapas Solidarity 27/06/2014

Threats, detention, raids, harassment, surveillance and stigmatisation of human rights defenders in the state of Chiapas

Filed under: Human rights — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 5:53 pm


Mexico – Threats, detention, raids, harassment, surveillance and stigmatisation of human rights defenders in the state of Chiapas



27 June 2014
Over the past month, human rights defenders in Chiapas have been the victims of a series of attacks, threats, harassment, surveillance and stigmatisation. Most recently, on 24 June 2014, a raid was carried out on the home of journalist Mr Javier de Jesús Molina Estrada. Ten days before, human rights defender Fr Marcelo Pérez Pérez received fresh death threats. In addition, on 8 June 2014, human rights defender Mr Víctor Hugo López Rodríguez, Director of Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Bartolomé de las Casas – Frayba (Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Centre) was once again under surveillance. Finally, human rights defender Mr Mario Marcelino Ruíz Mendoza of Servicios y Asesoría para la Paz – Serapaz (Services and Counselling for Peace) was detained on 29 May 2014 and released same day without charges.Javier de Jesús Molina Estrada, correspondent for La Jornada and poet, who writes about violence in Chiapas and has discussed potential solutions in his writings, reported that Federal Policemen and a member of the Public Ministry broke down the door to his home, stating that his home had been reported as a place of sale of drugs in an anonymous tip. No arrest warrant or report was provided by the officials.

Fr Marcelo Pérez Pérez and members of the Simojovel Parish Council have taken part in a campaign advocating for the closure of bars, nightclubs and centres of prostitution in Simojovel, in an attempt to decrease levels of alcoholism and drug addiction. On 15 June 2014, an attempt was made to break into the Simojovel parish house. This event came two days after threats were made against Fr Marcelo Pérez Pérez, to the effect that a price of between 100,000 and 150,000 pesos (5,500-8,500 Euro) had been put on his head. Earlier in the month, the priest and members of the Parish Council were the victims of defamation. In one incident, pamphlets defaming the human rights defender were distributed by people working in the Town Hall in Simojovel. The threats have been increasing following the peaceful pilgrimage on 6 June 2014 of members of the Parish Council of San Antonio de Padua, other areas and Catholic communities (approximately 3500 persons) in support of their campaign.

Frayba has reported on incidents where the municipal police, security and civil protection forces and ministerial police have acted in a disproportionate and arbitrary manner, with repeated use of inhuman and degrading treatment. On 29 May 2014, Víctor Hugo López Rodríguez was followed by different vehicles and photos were taken of him on one occasion. The surveillance continued on 8 April 2014, with one of the cars being parked in front of the organisation’s offices. On 23 May 2014, a person driving one of the vehicles used previously was seen recording events at a solidarity ‘caravan’. The person was asked to identify himself and hand over the recording, and the camera was found to contain photos of individual members of Frayba and those attending the protest. According to information received, the man was working for state intelligence services.

10382770_641929859233781_4320835747114967012_nOn the evening of 29 May 2014, Mario Marcelino Ruíz Mendoza was detained along with more than 20 leaders of the Consejo de Bienes Comunales de la Zona Lacandona (Council of Communal Goods of the Lacandona Zone), members of the organisation ARIC Independiente (Independent ARIC) and other civil society organisations. The individuals were arrested in front of the Government Palace by members of the judicial police as they were arriving to attend a negotiation with the Chiapas State government. They were detained on the grounds of rioting, attacks on general communications channels, and abduction. The group was to discuss the release of the legal adviser of the Lacandona community, to resolve the agricultural situation in the context of the conflict in the Montes Azules, and to gain recognition for the agricultural authorities of the communal properties of that region. Three hours later, Mario Marcelino Ruíz Mendoza was released. The following day, the other 22 indigenous people were released in accordance with the law. That same day an accord was signed between the Comisión para el Diálogo, la Paz y la Justicia de la Selva Lacandona (Commission for Dialogue, Peace and Justice in the Lacandona Jungle) and representatives of the Federal and State Government. Both sides agreed to prioritise dialogue and the creation of agreements to resolve the problem of the Lacandona zone.

Front Line Defenders expresses its concern at the threats, detention, raids, harassment, surveillance and acts of defamation against human rights defenders in Chiapas State, which are solely related to their legitimate and peaceful human rights activities.

Front Line Defenders urges the authorities in Mexico to:

1. Carry out an immediate, thorough and impartial investigation into the threats, detention, raids, harassment, surveillance and acts of defamation committed against human rights defenders in Chiapas, in particular Javier de Jesús Molina Estrada, Fr Marcelo Pérez Pérez, Víctor Hugo López Rodríguez, Mario Marcelino Ruíz Mendoza and their colleagues, with a view to publishing the results and bringing those responsible to justice in accordance with international standards;

2. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Chiapas State, as well as in Mexico as a whole, are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions.


Posted by  Dorset Chiapas Solidarity 27/06/2014


Raúl Zibechi: Latin America Today, Seen From Below

Filed under: Zapatista — Tags: — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 5:46 pm


Raúl Zibechi: Latin America Today, Seen From Below

Mexico and the Zapatistas

Excerpt taken from:

0-1-0-tierra es nostra2Here Raúl Zibechi offers a wide-ranging look at the geopolitical reality of the continent from the perspective of social movements, touching on the organizing model of the indigenous Chilean Mapuche and Mexican Zapatistas, conflicts occurring over the extraction industries in many countries, and the increasingly dominant role of Brazil in the region.

Raúl Zibechi is a Uruguayan writer, professor and analyst whose newest book “The New Brazil: Regional Imperialism and the New Democracy” was just published in English by AK Press.

Original interview published in the June 2013 issue MU Magazine, from the La Vaca popular media collective in Buenos Aires. Translated by Margi Clarke. 


I am pro Zapatista. And from that sympathy, I am enthusiastic that they have gone into hiding in the last 6 years, disappeared according to conventional media.  But in those 6 years of silence they have become ever more autonomous: they have their health system, their educational practices, their own production, their power, their own armed forces.  They are their own society, their own world.  Last December [2012] they decided to demonstrate this with a march: forty thousand participants with hoods marching without saying a word.  Forty thousand people who had to come from very long distances, some having to walk 2 or 3 days to get to the nearest county seat. And they did it. Their level of logistical organization has no precedents and it clearly shows their level of organizational development: forty thousand people doing the same thing at the same time.  All walking in silence, their fists raised, the only sound their boots marching on the paving stones, without speaking and the men carrying the children.  This was the evidence of what they have been doing for the past several years.

MU: So what is Zapatismo at this time, in terms of social organization?

In the state of Chiapas there are 5 “caracoles” (snails), which are areas controlled by the Zapatistas, each with slightly different levels of development.  The most well-known are Oventic and La Realidad deep in the Lacandon jungle near the border with Guatemala.  In these zones of control they have Good Government Councils, production cooperatives, primary school and secondary school and a hospital.  They are truly autonomous communities.  A special aspect of the health system is that nearby villagers, even if you are not a Zapatista you can be seen for free.  All this they have done without money and without the State and without international cooperation: they have support of some Mexican civil society groups who are in solidarity and from their own labor.  The caracoles in this way have built everything they need to live and their own power structures to administer it all.  At the community level the ruling body is the assembly.  A gathering of 30 communities is an autonomous municipality.  The network of municipalities makes up the Good Government Council, which controls the caracol. The caracol is thus the physical zone of autonomy, and the Good Government Council is the political space.

MU: How does the Council function?

Through the elected representatives from each autonomous municipality.  The interesting thing is that these representatives change every 15 days or every month.  The Councils have between 10 and 20 members, with men and women in equal numbers.  A caracol can include up to 200 communities, which means we are talking about 20,000 people or more.  These people participate in a rotating political system: there are no permanent representatives.  Every 15 days or every month, the governing body’s composition changes.  Imagine what this means in real terms: calculate how many people over all these years who have had a concrete experience of what power and representation means.

MU: What is most inspiring to you about the Zapatista experience?

I would not say that it is a general tendency (in Latin America) but I do say that there is a growing political tension that puts in question the role of the State, and among the Zapatistas this is true in way not seen in any other popular movement.  And now they have gone another step further: they have created a Zapatista political school.  It is only by invitation and they invitation says: ”Well, you who never spoke against us when that was the fashion, can come to this school.  We are not going to pay your way here, but once you are here you can share our food and our home with us.”  When you get to the school you find that the villagers are the professors.  The students come to listen and learn.  These special invited students are intellectuals, unionists, social movement leaders, we who are more accustomed to speaking and being listened to, not to learning and much less going to school to listen to others.  How could I not be inspired by an experience like this?



June 26, 2014

Zapatistas: the Politics of Life against the Power of Death

Filed under: Marcos, Zapatista — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 7:00 pm

Zapatistas: the Politics of Life against the Power of Death

It is easy to say “autonomy”, but the word itself cannot encapsulate years of hunger, humiliation, conflict, death, harassment, disdain, and racism. Nor can it reflect the pain and rage that come from seeing a comrade violently murdered. It also lacks reference to the political imagination, the effort, and the creativity needed to resist injustice and elaborate a project of self-government.


5-24-2014-La-Realidad-Galeano-II-085-675x450No-one now denies that around fifteen people killed José Luis Solís López (aka “Galeano”) in a

horrifically violent way – with guns, machetes, and clubs – before dragging him eighty metres and leaving him to rot. “He didn’t deserve to die like that”, said one comrade. However, initial reports in the media affirmed that a ‘confrontation’ had taken place, with one person dying and thirteen being injured as a result. The media outlets, which called the event a “commotion” (Proceso), a “rumpus” (El Universal), and a “scuffle” (La Jornada), published that the conflict had occurred as a result of disagreements about collective transport routes in the area. And the words used by the press reflected their disregard for the seriousness of the incident that had in fact taken place.

There had indeed been a conflict, with the Zapatistas of the Caracol of La Realidad calling for a comprehensive process of dialogue on May 1st in order to solve it, with the presence of members of the FRAYBA Centre for Human Rights. The other party in the conflict was the CIOAC-H, a group which had confiscated a Zapatista truck in the area after a dispute over the local gravel supply. On May 2nd, 15 members of the CIOAC-H arrived in La Realidad, claiming that the Zapatistas had detained one of its secretaries – Roberto Alfaro Velasco – who himself would soon deny this assertion. Velasco, according to the Zapatistas and FRAYBA, had been participating in the dialogues since the previous day. In fact, a FRAYBA press statement dated May 5th, 2014, would cite, word for word, that Velasco had told the CIOAC-H members: “At no point have I been detained. I have been free and I have decided to stay to solve this problem, and for this reason we have been meeting and exchanging information on a constant basis”.

In the afternoon of May 2nd, however, members of the CIOAC-H began to destroy the autonomous Zapatista school in La Realidad. And, when three Zapatista vehicles arrived, they were ambushed at the entrance of the community. Then, when Zapatista support bases left the meeting and other buildings to support their comrades, they were also attacked – with firearms, machetes, clubs, and stones. Fifteen of them were injured in this event, while Galeano was surrounded, attacked, and killed with brutality and mockery.

The Zapatistas soon denounced the CIOAC-H, which they called a paramilitary group, for the premeditated ambush and murder of May 2nd. They claim they will ensure Galeano’s murderers are brought to justice, though without the involvement of the official government of Mexico. The CIOAC-H, meanwhile, recognises that it works with the government and has asked for its intervention, with ejidal commissioner and CIOAC-H member Javier López Rodríguez telling La Jornada: “We want a solution. What happened can’t be changed, but we now want the support and intervention of all three levels of government in this matter, because we work with them”.


10177531_1434815593454241_5913818747920963295_nDays after the aforementioned attack, I spoke to a friend of mine, who is a reporter in Chihuahua. I told her about all of the denunciations of Galeano’s death and the aggression against the Zapatistas, and about the acts of solidarity in Mexico and throughout the world. She was surprised that such commotion had been caused by the death of just one person. I said “one is already too much”, and she agreed. She hadn’t asked about the number of deaths out of disregard, but out of surprise. Having reported in Ciudad Juárez when the army patrolled the streets, when dead bodies appeared on a daily basis throughout the city, and when the city suffered one of the highest murder rates in the whole world, she was used to indifference and impunity. For years, she had written daily about brutal murders, whose victims were blamed by the government for their own deaths because “they must have been involved in something dodgy if that happened to them”. For example, General Jorge Juárez Loera – commanding officer of Military Region XI in 2008 when Operation Chihuahua was launched – himself said that “instead of saying one more death, we should say one less criminal” (in response to the escalating murder rate in Ciudad Juárez).

My friend’s surprise at the response to Galeano’s death made me reflect on the way the Zapatistas had acted, along with the prevalent indifference in other sectors of the Mexican population that is sown by government officials saying deaths are “related to organised crime”. The fact is that one murder alone is outrageous and unacceptable, and the Zapatistas’ actions and words reflect this sentiment. They are not alone, though. Luz María Dávila, for example, stood up to Felipe Calderón, telling him that her two children and their friends – all murdered in a massacre – were not “gangsters” and that he was not welcome in Ciudad Juárez. Dávila, however, had to interrupt an official event to be heard, just like the Zapatistas on January 1st, 1994. After twenty years of organisation and resistance, however, they can now be heard without having to do so.


The EZLN communique “Pain and Rage”, which referred on May 8th to the previous week’s attack in La Realidad, cited a Zapatista teacher, who had told Subcomandante Marcos that, because he and his comrades were Zapatistas, they sought justice rather than revenge. Whilst teaching us the value of indignation in the face of murderous brutality, such a comment also teaches us to distinguish between revenge and justice. Vengeance is easy. It is death and destruction. Realising that revenge is not necessarily the same as justice, however, and trying to imagine a different type of justice, is a lot harder.

The State, on the other hand, prefers vengeance. Its violence and impunity in Mexico today is based on the logic of revenge, with Felipe Calderón himself saying in 2010 that 90% of those murdered had died in “battles between cartels”, and that the “innocent civilians” who had been killed were “a minority”. This official justification of an extrajudicial collective death sentence, however, came in a context in which 95% of murders were not even investigated. As Michel Foucault said, a system of power can, through its use of language, strengthen its own power and produce even greater repression. And this has been the case in Mexico. Although the death sentence does not officially exist here, officials apply the death penalty collectively to those who are murdered by calling them “criminals” or “cartel members” – without even investigating the facts.

The media, meanwhile, repeats these illegitimate sentences, and many people hear and believe them. In Culiacán, Sinaloa, I interviewed César, a young survivor of a massacre in which his younger brother had died. They were taking their mother’s truck to a mechanic when an armed group arrived and killed everyone in the proximity. César managed to hide under a truck, but saw his 16-year-old brother ripped apart by bullets. Before the event, he said, he had also believed that those killed were responsible for their own deaths because they were involved in criminal activity in some way.

The State’s logic is that those murdered are savage, and that they go about killing one another. For that reason, the State also goes after them and kills them. But this logic is much deeper and older than drug trafficking. It is part of the simultaneous evolution of the State, its racism, and its hidden wars. It was used by the conquistadors against the indigenous communities in Mexico (and Latin America), and can be seen today in the State’s counterinsurgency strategies and nurturing of paramilitary organisations. Such strategies, however, almost remain hidden today in the media thanks to the use of words like “confrontation”, “commotion”, “rumpus”, and “scuffle”.

The Zapatistas refuse to seek revenge, and refuse to enter into the government’s murderous logic. In the communique of May 8th, Marcos affirmed that “our efforts are for peace, theirs are for war”. This is precisely why their response to Galeano’s death has sought to resist indifference and impunity.


13In 1994, the Zapatistas felt they were forced to take up arms in order to combat the oblivion that was engulfing their communities. They had to cover their faces in order to be seen and, in accepting dialogues for peace, they affirmed that nothing would be for them, and everything would be for everyone. As a result, they invited all indigenous communities in Mexico to participate in the process. And, in spite of a failed military operation in February 1995 to capture the EZLN’s leaders “dead or alive”, the Zapatistas and other indigenous groups continued with the peace process. They subsequently signed the San Andrés Accords with the government in 1996, which promised to establish political and economic autonomy in the country’s indigenous communities.

The federal government did not live up to its promises, however, keeping Chiapas heavily militarised and encouraging the growth of paramilitary groups. One of these groups was “Paz y Justicia”, which massacred 45 indigenous Tzotziles while they were praying in a church in Acteal on December 22nd 1997. And, when EZLN delegates travelled in convoy to Mexico City in 2001, to demand the federal government live up to its side of the Accords, the government instead passed a racist law considering indigenous communities to be “subjects of special protection” – and thus under the authority of the federal government.

As a result, the Zapatistas decided to unilaterally comply with the San Andrés Accords, announcing the creation of the Caracoles and the Committees of Good Government in 2003 – and thus the construction of indigenous autonomy without any relation to the three levels of government. The Sixth Declaration of the Lacandona Jungle followed in 2005, and the ‘Other Campaign’ in 2006 – which sought to unite grassroots struggles throughout the country. And, between 2007 and 2009, they called for meetings between Zapatista communities and grassroots movements throughout the world.

Amidst the most severe criticisms of Calderón’s policies between 2010 and 2012, the Committees of Good Government of the five Caracoles continued to denounce the constant paramilitary aggressions they were suffering. And on May 7th, 2011, fifteen thousand Zapatista support bases marched in the protest called by poet Javier Sicilia – whose son had been a victim of a massacre in Temixco, Morelos, in which seven people had been killed.

In these years, media commentators accused Marcos of silent complicity with Calderón’s government, showing both that they did not understand Marcos’s public role as EZLN spokesman, and that they knew neither how to listen nor read. The Committees of Good Government had published numerous denunciations of Calderón’s politics during this period, and decided to organise a massive protest in Chiapas on December 21st, 2012 to emphasise that they were stronger than ever. On this day, thousands of Zapatista support bases marched in absolute silence through numerous municipalities in Chiapas, and a short communique entitled “Did you hear that?” (“¿ESCUCHARON?”) soon followed.

Long, complex, and analytical communiques were subsequently released, presenting the political proposals of the Zapatistas. And the idea of the “Escuelita Zapatista”, which would see thousands of Mexicans and non-Mexicans travel to Zapatista territory (in August 2013, December 2013, and January 2014) to learn about the Zapatistas’ political process, would be presented in these notes. The course would be called “Freedom According to the Zapatistas”.


5-24-2014-La-Realidad-Galeano-III-109-675x450On March 31st, 2014, the Zapatistas called for a meeting of indigenous communities throughout Mexico, a homage to the deceased philosopher Luis Villoro, and a seminar on “Ethics in the Face of Dispossession” between late May and early June. The CIOAC-H ambush in La Realidad came in this context and, as a response, Subcomandante Moisés suspended all of these events.

On May 13th, in the communique “Fragments of Reality I”, Zapatistas and their sympathisers were called on to pay homage to Galeano on May 24th in La Realidad and elsewhere. Thousands of support bases and people throughout Mexico and the world would attend events to honour Galeano’s life and demonstrate that the Zapatistas of La Realidad were not alone. Also, in a clear denunciation of the misleading reports of the commercial media, only the “free”, “alternative”, and “autonomous” press was allowed to enter La Realidad for the event.

In this event, Moisés affirmed that he would be the new spokesman of the EZLN, a role that Marcos had played for 20 years, affirming that “through my voice speak the pain and rage of hundreds of thousands” of indigenous EZLN members. Without hesitation, he asserted that Galeano’s death was a result of the neoliberal politics of capitalism and that, while Galeano’s killers would be brought to justice, the Zapatistas would not seek vengeance. The only revenge that would be sought would be “against capitalism”.

In his comments, Moisés made a clear distinction between the people who attacked the Zapatistas and the real powers behind them. The power in Chiapas, he said, “is [Manuel] Velasco, and behind him is [President] Peña Nieto, and behind the traitorous Peña Nieto is Big Capital – the true inhuman criminal of neoliberal capitalism”.



In the early morning of May 25th, Marcos read his “final public words”, which lasted around 53 minutes and in which his personality died “so that Galeano could live”. His name, void of a unique story or life, would be put in Galeano’s place so that his life would not be taken away.

The EZLN had changed and developed, power had returned to the powerless, and the figure of Marcos was no longer necessary. The lights were turned off, and Moisés said that another comrade would now speak. Off stage, Marcos said “My name is… Subcomandante Insurgente Galeano. Is anyone else called Galeano?” Other voices responded, affirming “I am Galeano” and “We are all Galeano”, and Marcos then said: “Ah, that’s why they told me that, when I was born again, it would be collectively”.


10416588_885684678113797_7139946350914974096_nThe news of Marcos’s ‘farewell’ spread quickly across the internet, but there are four main ways in which we can reflect on the occurrence: rumours, speculation, counterinsurgent information from the State, or EZLN communiques. And, personally, I prefer to listen to the EZLN.

In his speech, Marcos affirmed that his personality – once an essential disguise – had become a redundant distraction, and that was why he would be the one to die so that Galeano could live. The disguise was no longer necessary, because the Zapatistas could now communicate with Mexico and the world without it. They no longer needed a mestizo intermediary to relate to the Bad Government, because they had broken all ties with it. Nor did they need him to communicate with the mainstream media, which they had also denounced. They had spent twenty years building autonomy in their recuperated lands, and had built relations with many other grassroots struggles through the Other Campaign and the Escuelita Zapatista. In August 2013, around one thousand three hundred people attended the Escuelita. And, between December and January, around five thousand people arrived at the Indigenous Centre for Integral Capacitation (Cideci) in San Cristóbal to receive four books, two videos on DVD, and a place to study. They would travel to different communities and stay with families for a week, being fed and cared for during their stay – all without the figure of Marcos.

There was fun and laughter in the Escuelitas, but also profound dialogue. They related directly with the Zapatistas who were constructing autonomy in their communities – the same communities which had the organisational capacity necessary to pull off the task of planning and implementing a school of such magnitude.

For me, it was clear from the Escuelitas that life in the countryside is difficult, and not made easier by constant aggression from paramilitary groups, political parties, and the three levels of government. In spite of all of this, however, Zapatista communities have developed an incredible level of political and social organisation. In order to share their political struggle with sympathisers, for example, they received, transported, fed, and accommodated six thousand three hundred people – all with very little money. In August, they only asked for a contribution of 100 Mexican pesos for the cost of producing the books and DVDs and, after more in depth accounting (which was published after the first Escuelita), they realised the individual contributions would need to rise to 380 pesos in order to cover the costs of the second and third schools.

The concept of communities governing themselves according to their own principles and institutions (or ‘autonomy’) may be easy to understand, but understanding everything Zapatista communities have gone through to get to where they are now is a lot more complicated. They have spent eleven years building their Caracoles and Committees of Good Government, twenty years fighting a war against oblivion, and 520 years resisting dispossession and oppression. The word autonomy cannot capture the years of hunger, humiliation, conflict, death, harassment, disdain, and racism. Nor can it reflect the pain and rage that come from seeing a comrade slain mercilessly. Through the Escuelitas, the Zapatistas have tried to share these things with their students, along with the political imagination, effort, and creativity which they have needed in order to resist injustice and elaborate their project of self-government. But the first lesson for students was learning to listen.

Gayatri Spivak wrote an essay called “Can the Subaltern Speak?”, which investigates how the power structures of global capitalism impose different grades of silence on the people attacked and excluded by the system. This investigation made me ask a similar question, especially in the wake of Marcos’s “death” and the Escuelitas: “Can the citizen listen?” It is all too obvious that the State does not listen, so it’s not even worth asking that question, but it is worth asking if the “citizen” – the person included in the capitalist system even if they are exploited or repressed – can hear what the Zapatistas are saying.

Amidst the State’s dispossession and denial of citizens’ rights through numerous racist laws, one of the things shown in the Escuelitas is how the Zapatistas put the theory of “a world in which many worlds fit” into practice. In the course books of “Freedom According to the Zapatistas”, we see how they are building this world alone, and how they openly recognise the setbacks and errors they have faced in the process. This generous act of sharing their experiences with others is part of a concrete political proposal for the construction of a mechanism of communication that crosses traditional barriers. One of these barriers is what Walter Mignolo called “the colonial difference” – the imperialist, racist, and capitalist divide that separates the world into the exploited and the exploiters. Belonging to a particular ethnic group does not put you automatically on one side of this divide – even if you are not an exploiter you can put yourself on the side of the exploiter. But it is not impossible to cross this boundary. Upon positioning oneself against capitalism, racism, and imperialism, one can help to build a unified struggle against injustice through communication and solidarity – regardless of ethnicity or culture.

The 20 years of the Zapatista struggle, along with the Escuelita Zapatista, are both political projects and invitations for others to share their struggles – no matter what their “calendars and geographical locations” may be. And those of us who want to learn from the Zapatistas, and act in solidarity with them, will need to begin by listening – but deeply and politically, without yearning for the presence of a defunct hologram.


10407972_381692171970347_5606108701940648706_nBefore dissolving his disguise, Marcos made an important, and seemingly simple, comment: “Against death, we demand life”. In his essay “Necropolitics”, Achille Mbembe extends Foucault’s theory of the State, referring not to “Biopower”, which focusses on the administration of life, but to “Necropower”, which is “the power and ability to dictate who can live and who must die”. This form of politics sees murder (the production of death or a slow death “in life”) as the maximum expression of the State’s sovereignty and the battle tactics that evolve alongside it. Mbembe says that Necropower fragments territories, spreads violence, and propounds a state of siege as a military institution – with invisible deaths and open executions occurring simultaneously.

Necropolitics can be seen around the world, from the occupation of Palestine to the numerous neo-imperialist wars of the USA (waged not only with the country’s formal army but also with mercenaries and drones). In Mexico, armed commandos have roamed the streets in recent years, whether in the form of soldiers, police officers, or non-uniformed paramilitaries (Mbembe uses Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari’s concept of “war machines” to describe these figures). There have been massacres in houses, prisons, medical centres, clubs, garages, and on roads; tens of thousands of Mexican citizens and Central American migrants have disappeared; communal graves have been found throughout the country; bodies have been dissolved in acid; executions take place on a daily basis; hunger and economic violence are used as a weapon of mass destruction; and there is relentless impunity. Considering all of these factors, there should be no doubt that, according to Mbembe’s essay, Necropolitics operates in Mexico today.

In this context, it has been deeply subversive of the Zapatistas to elaborate a policy of life in the last 20 years through its construction of an alternative form of politics. Since the very beginning, according to Marcos, the Zapatistas made it clear that their “dilemma was not between negotiating and fighting, but between dying or living”. And this was soon reflected in the fact that: instead of dedicating themselves to “training guerrillas, soldiers, and squadrons”, they chose to train “promoters of education and healthcare, building the bases of autonomy that the world marvels at today”; instead of “building camps, improving their arsenal, and building walls or trenches”, they chose to build schools, hospitals, and health centres – in order to improve their quality of life; and instead of “fighting to occupy a place in the Parthenon of individualised deaths from below”, they “chose to build life”.

Today, the Zapatistas continue to build life, fighting for justice in a world governed by the power of death. And, through listening, learning, communicating, and showing solidarity, those of us who have also positioned ourselves against capitalism, racism, and imperialism can do the same.

Translated and adapted by Oso Sabio from an article originally written by John Gibler at

Translated for, and posted by, Dorset Chiapas Solidarity 26/06/2014





News from Sipaz 26/06/2014

Filed under: Displacement, Frayba, Human rights, Indigenous — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 5:49 pm


Chiapas: Civil Society Las Abejas against the “Proposed Hydrocarbons Law”

June 24, 2014

Anniversary of the Acteal massacre. Archive photo @ SIPAZ

Anniversary of the Acteal massacre. Archive photo @ SIPAZ

On June 22, the Civil Society Las Abejas of Acteal denounced another effort by the government to promote “constitutional reforms […] not for the benefit of the Mexican people, but for a few people who are sick with ambition and greed,” expressing their opposition to the “proposed hydrocarbons law,” defining it as “a project of theft and plunder of the peoples” to “legalize the theft of our lands and the invasion of our territory,” and also a “death sentence for millions of men, women, and children who [live] from the Mother Earth.”

In their latest communiqué, they stated that: “We, the women and men, or the campesinos and campesinas, who work the land, we say we CAN LIVE WITHOUT GOLD; CAN LIVE WITHOUT OIL; but we CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT WATER!, CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT CORN”. They also addressed the senators and the president of Mexico, accusing them of being “traitors to the motherland,” stressing that “what they have done is, in a few words,  called a crime and betrayal of the motherland. They pointed out that the hydrocarbons law states that “in 90 days the campesinos who own land on which there are presumed to be hydrocarbon deposits will come to an agreement with companies such as Shell, British Petroleum … etc,” and added that “here in our country their laws and their reforms of death and dispossession have no worth. They must know that we will defend the Mother Earth, just like our brothers and sisters who were massacred at Acteal defended peace and justice, at all costs.”

Las Abejas continued to denounce the neoliberal capitalist system as “a machine of terror and inhumanity which represses, imprisons, dispossesses and massacres the peoples who resist and build their autonomy.” Therefore, they continued to demand that their brothers and sisters of the organized peoples of Mexico “unite to defend our mother earth and territory, until the laws of plunder and dispossession of the Mexican political mafia are cast down.”

Finally, they expressed their solidarity with the priest of Simojovel, Marcelo Pérez, who has received threats, the director of the Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Centre, Victor Hugo López, who has suffered harassment, and the family of David Ruiz, a member of the Indigenous National Congress (CNI), who was killed in a motor accident.



Chiapas: Urgent Action concerning threats to Marcelo Perez, the priest of Simojovel

June 23, 2014

Padre Marcelo Perez (@

Padre Marcelo Perez (@

In an Urgent Action issued on June 19, the Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Centre (CDHFBC) expressed concern at the death threats and harassment which threaten the life and integrity of the priest Marcelo Pérez Pérez and others who are part of the Parish Council of the municipality of Simojovel. For several months, the parish has been particularly active in seeking the decommissioning of bars, nightclubs and centres of prostitution in the municipality.

During the last pilgrimage organized in this context, on June 6, board members heard: “This fucking father who keeps on fucking, what he wants is a beating or a bullet” Other people during the pilgrimage were defaming the cleric through flyers accusing him of being a “subversive apostate”, “false prophet”, “social destabiliser of the region,” among other insults about his work.

The CDHFBC demands from the state that they protect and ensure the life, personal integrity and security of Father Marcelo and those who make up the Parish Council; investigate and put an end to the acts of death threats, harassment, assault, defamation and criminalization against Father Marcelo and those who make up the Parish Council; guarantee and respect the right to freedom of thought and free expression in the region.

For more information in English:


Chiapas: 18 years since the disappearance of Minerva Pérez, her case remains unpunished

June 20, 2014


June 20 is the 18th anniversary of the forced disappearance of Minerva Guadalupe Pérez Torres, an indigenous Ch’ol and native of the community of Masojá Shucjá, in the municipality of Tila, who in 1996, at the age of only 19, “was disappeared by members of the then paramilitary group Development Peace and Justice“, as it says in the bulletin of the Fray Bartolome de Las Casas Human Rights Centre (CDHFBLC). In addition, the CDHFBLC has evidence of persistent “impunity for the gross and systematic violations of the human rights to truth and justice, in five unresolved cases of forced disappearance of women, victims of internal armed conflict in Chiapas.”

It should be noted that Minerva was tortured, gang-raped for three days, and even today her whereabouts are unknown, according to testimony gathered by the CDHFBLC. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (CIDH) is currently studying the cases of the disappearance of 37 persons, 85 executions and more than 12 thousand people who were forcibly displaced in the lower area of ​​Tila during the years of armed conflict.


Translated and posted by Dorset Chiapas Solidarity 28/06/2014


Guerrero: the siege against the CRAC-PC

Filed under: Human rights, Indigenous — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 5:19 pm


Guerrero: the siege against the CRAC-PC


By: Luis Hernández Navarro

unknownRelentlessly pursued by the government and internally divided, the community police and the systems of community justice of Guerrero are living through a grave crisis. Arbitrary arrests of its leaders have happened one after another, the formation of rural police sponsored by the government and grave aggressions of one group against the other.

One week ago, on June 17, Guerrero’s ministerial police detained and brutally beat the spokesperson of the Council of Ejidos and Communities Opposed to La Parota Dam, Marco Antonio Suástegui Muñoz. He is pointed to as the one probably responsible for “the commission of different illicit acts.” Recently, Marco Antonio organized a self-defence group in the rural Acapulco zone, with the support of the Regional Coordinator of Community Authorities-Community Police (CRAC-PC).

This weekend, deputies from the PRD, Citizen Movement and Heladio Aguirre, will intervene in favour of the community police leader of Olinalá, Nestora Salgado. Comandanta Salgado is unjustly detained in the Tepic women’s federal prison and has been the victim of serious violations of her rights.

On June 20, 18 communities of the Sierra received in the municipality of Leonardo Bravo, with flowers and a fiesta, the first generation of the state’s rural community police. This new armed force is a presidential initiative to stop the expansion of the authentic community police.

One day later, the CRAC-PC faction led by Eliseo Villar Castillo attempted to violently take over the historic seat of the San Luis Acatlán House of Justice, in which its detractors participate. At least one community police agent died.

The Eliseo Villar group has the support of Governor Angel Aguirre. The relationship between the two is close. The journalist Sergio Ocampo tells that the governor declared that Eliseo supported him in his campaign, gave him a calf, is his friend and now he’s going to reciprocate. That’s how he did it. His faction, besides having open doors in different government offices, he receives around one million pesos per month.

The conflict has a history behind it. In 2013, the CRAC suffered a strong implosion. The internal cohesion cracked and different groups and leaders disputed the leadership of the movement and interlocution with the State. The currents attacked each other furiously and launched grave accusations in each other’s faces: paramilitaries, agents of the government and traitors. The essence and direction of the original project was lost.

In its 19 years of life, the CRAC has suffered three ruptures. The first, with the group that vindicated itself as “founding peoples,” founded the Union of Peoples and Organizations of the State of Guerrero (Upoeg, its initials in Spanish) in 2010, was expelled from the Coordinator, and in June and September 2013 it unsuccessfully tried to take over the San Luis Acatlán House of Justice. The second, also in 2013, was the product of the clash between the communities of Tixtla, Olinalá and Ayutla, which followed a more radical dynamic of social mobilization. And the third, resulted from a severe fracture inside the leadership team of the House of Justice.

The state government’s intervention has been a key factor in the development and exacerbation of the internal contradictions of the Coordinator. The authorities seek to domesticate it in any way possible, to take away its autonomist edge and impose its agenda by virtue of financial cannon shots and repression. The local and federal governments desire to disappear by any means the spaces of resistance to the mining invasion in the zone. Curiously, all the parties in the fight admit that the government foments the internal quarrel.

The tragic confrontation last June 21 is the latest link of the third rupture. Originally its protagonists made up part of the same group. In fact, it was their dispute with the leadership team of the Upoeg that opened the door for Eliseo Villar to lead the CRAC. The fear that people from the Upoeg would come to the front of the Coordinator led them to promote a hard personage to confront them, overlooking their traditions. Eliseo was that figure: a police agent without a long community trajectory.

The fracture inside this group was produced when Eliseo Villar installed an agenda which was very pragmatic and very tied in with the state’s interests, confronting a sector of majority communities in San Luis Acatlán, advised by Valentín Hernández Chapa and Pablo Guzmán.

According to Abel Barrera, Eliseo’s agenda at the front of the Coordinator is guided by the search for support for productive projects, increasing the economic resources that the state government gives them and obtaining money for the construction of the houses of justice, armament and uniforms. This orientation had as a final result that the most political theme, the theme of how to strengthen a security model of the peoples from their own cosmovision and autonomy, was blurred. Villar began to manage that resource without transparency or rendering accounts. His opponents accuse him of diverting 740,000 pesos. Additionally, he refused to struggle for the freedom of imprisoned community leaders.

His detractors removed Eliseo Villar in an assembly held on March 31, 2014. The deposed coordinator denied the validity of the act and said that his adversaries were a minority.

Those who failed to recognize Villar –Abel Barrera explains– are part of a mixed coalition of advisors, coordinators, commissioners and ex commissioners –historic leaders of the Costa-Montaña region–, who have greater clarity about the original sense of the project. Their axes of action consist of having coordinators truly subordinate to assembly decisions, naming the police in the communities, respecting and complying with internal rules, and promoting the re-education of those who commit crimes.

The governmental siege on the community police of Guerrero advances. The Eliseo Villar group’s attempt to take over the historic San Luis Acatlán House of Justice is no more than the latest play to achieve it.

Twitter: @lhan55

Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada, Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Translation: Chiapas Support Committee









La Parota Dam: Detention of environmental and human rights defender Mr Marco Antonio Suástegui Muñoz

Filed under: Human rights — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 5:15 am


La Parota Dam: Detention of environmental and human rights defender Mr Marco Antonio Suástegui Muñoz



ATT0020725 June 2014

On 23 June 2014, 52 organisations and individuals sent a joint letter regarding the detention of environmental human rights defender Mr Marco Antonio Suástegui to four members of the Mexican and Guerrero State Government: Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong, Secretary for the Interior, Ángel Heladio Aguirre Rivero, Governor of Guerrero State, Jesús Martínez Garnelo, Secretary of the Government of Guerrero State, and Leonardo Octavio Vázquez Pérez, Secretary for Public Security and Public Safety of Guerrero State. Please find the text of the letter below.
Re: Mexico – Detention of environmental and human rights defender Mr Marco Antonio Suástegui Muñoz
The 52 organizations and persons signatory to this letter, which work for the protection of human rights and the environment, address you in order to express our deep concern at the detention of Mr Marco Antonio Suástegui, leader of the Consejo de Ejidos y Comunidades Opositores a la Presa La Parota – CECOP (Council of Communal Lands and Communities Opposing the La Parota Dam), on 17 June by members of the Ministerial Police of the Attorney General of Justice of Guerrero State.According to the information received, Mr Suástegui was detained by members of the Ministerial Police by means of violence and threats, and transferred twice, apparently in violation of due process. Additionally, our organizations have been made aware of strong indications of violations of the rights of Mr Suástegui, such as his having been severely beaten. For these reasons, we request that urgent measures be taken to secure his integrity, his right to a defence, and that the State refrain from harassing those who dedicate themselves to legitimate activities in the defence of human rights and the environment.

Foto LA parotaThe detention directly affects the work undertaken by Mr Marco Antonio Suástegui in the defence of human rights and environmental issues. In that regard, the Mexican State has the obligation to  respect and guarantee human rights and to protect human rights defenders, especially those who are at particular risk, such as environmental rights defenders. International human rights bodies, including the Special Rapporteurs on freedom of expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the United Nations, have recognised the context of threats and harassments that exists for those who defend human rights in Mexico, including environmental rights, calling on the State to guarantee the rights of these persons and their free exercise.

Accordingly, the signatories below call upon the Mexican State to take effective and urgent measures to guarantee the human rights of Mr Suástegui and the important work that the human rights defender performs in defence of the Papagayo River. In particular, we consider it fundamental that the State:

  • Take measures to ensure that the competent authorities guarantee the right to a defence and due process of Mr Marco Antonio Suástegui, and reverse any action taken in the detention procedure and past transfers that tainted by illegalities,
  • Take measures to guarantee his physical and psychological integrity, and
  • Take all necessary measures to secure the work for the defence of human rights and the environment undertaken by Marco Antonio Suástegui, and take an active role in avoiding any act that hinders the actions taken to defend the Papagayo River.

Yours sincerely,

Front Line Defenders

Asociación Interamericana para la Defensa del Ambiente (AIDA)
Centro por la Justicia y el Derecho Internacional (CEJIL)
Equipo Regional de Monitoreo y Análisis de Derechos Humanos en Centroamérica
JASS, Asociadas por lo Justo
Plataforma Interamericana de Derechos Humanos, Democracia y Desarrollo (PIDHDD)

Fundación para el Desarrollo de Políticas Sustentables (FUNDEPS)

Oficina Jurídica para la Mujer de Cochabamba

Associação Juízes para a Democracia (AJD/Brasil)


Corporacion Humanas
Fiscalía del Medio Ambiente (FIMA)

Defensa de Niñas y Niños – Internacional (DNI)
Iglesia Luterana Costarricense (ILCO)
Justicia para la Naturaleza

Centro de Documentación en Derechos Humanos “Segundo Montes Mozo S.J.” (CSMM)
Comisión Ecuménica de Derechos Humanos (CEDHU)
Corporación de Gestión y Derecho Ambiental ECOLEX

Fundación de Estudios para la Aplicación del Derecho (FESPAD)

Accountability Counsel
Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL)
Global Rights
International Rivers
Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights

Fundacion Myrna Mack
Grupo de Apoyo Mutuo de Guatemala (GAM)
Instituto de Estudios Comparados en Ciencias Penales de Guatemala (ICCPG)
Unidad de Protección a Defensoras y Defensores de Derechos Humanos (UDEFEGUA)

Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO)

Centro de Desarrollo Humano (CDH)
Centro de Investigación y Promoción de Derechos Humanos (CIPRODEH)
Equipo de Reflexión, Investigación y Comunicación/Radio Progreso

Abogadas y Abogados para la Justicia y los Derechos Humanos
Asistencia Legal por los Derechos Humanos (ASILEGAL)
Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas, A.C.

Centro Nicaragüense de Derechos Humanos (CENIDH)

Centro de Incidencia Ambiental (CIAM)
Comisión Nacional de Derechos Humanos de Panamá (CONADEHUPA)

Ágora Espacio Civil

Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos (APRODEH)
Coordinadora Nacional de Derechos Humanos, red de 81 organizaciones en Perú
Centro de Derechos y Desarrollo (CEDAL)
Instituto Internacional de Derecho y Sociedad (IIDS)

GAIA Derecho Ambiental

Acción Solidaria en VIH/Sida
Centro de Derechos Humanos de la Universidad Católica Andrés Bello
CIVILIS Derechos Humanos
Programa Venezolano de Educación Acción en Derechos Humanos (Provea)
Sinergia, Asociación Nacional de Organizaciones de Sociedad Civil

Luz Marina Monzón, Colombia
Gerardo Tallavas, México
Delphine Djiraibe, Chad

C.C.  Dr. Raúl Plascencia Villanueva, Presidente de la Comisión Nacional de Derechos Humanos




June 24, 2014

Guerrero: Community Police Leader Nestora Salgado Still in Federal Prison

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 6:07 pm

Guerrero: Community Police Leader Nestora Salgado Still in Federal Prison

Proceso: Marta Lamas*

0-391x293More than four months ago, I wrote about Nestora Salgado, a regional coordinator of the Community Police of Olinalá [Guerrero], who was illegally detained in retaliation for her courageous work against organized crime and municipal corruption; specifically, she was arrested for committing the crime of cattle rustling (stealing animals/livestock) and for presumably being involved in the murders of two ranchers. Accomplices of the official filed a complaint against her for “kidnapping.”

Nestora was arrested in August 2013 during an impressive combined operation by military, state and municipal forces. She was taken first to Acapulco, where she spent six hours incommunicado, then moved a thousand kilometers [622 miles] away, to a maximum security prison in Nayarit. Initially, they ordered ‘preventive prison’ [remanded to prison] thanks to two lawsuits of ordinary jurisdiction, charging her with ‘kidnappings’ for detentions carried out by the Community Police within the framework of her duties. As a result of protests that emerged, and given the injustice of keeping her with charges of state jurisdiction in a maximum security federal prison (which isolated her from family and legal defense), federal charges were initiated pertaining to organized crime in the form of kidnapping. The federal charges were based on the same facts as the original state charges.

In March of this year, a federal judge dismissed the federal charges regarding organized crime and ordered her release. Professor Thomas Antkowiak, director of the International Human Rights Clinic at the Faculty of Law, University of Seattle, who heads the international litigation for Nestora, said: “The judge acknowledged that Nestora acted legally as the leader authorized by the indigenous communities.”

However, the woman remains imprisoned.

nestora-570x267After almost three months of red tape, since filing their request on March 18, 2014, three members of the Human Rights Commission of the Chamber of Deputies and three lawmakers from Guerrero visited Nestora on Wednesday, May 28, in Tepic Prison. At a press conference on Monday, June 2, the two deputies (members of the PRD Parliamentary Group) asked the National Human Rights Commission to take a stand on the case. Given that the situation in which Nestora is being held is not adequate, they asked that she be transferred to Mexico City to participate in her legal process.

They demanded that the Secretariat of Government Relations [SEGOB] provide precautionary measures for Nestora’s family because when her daughter Saira was traveling by bus from Olinalá to meet with legislators, she escaped an apparent assassination attempt against her. In the bus in which she was riding, they gunned down a woman with similar physical characteristics, who lost her life. The risk and political persecution to which the family is being subjected is very worrisome.

The Committee for the Liberation of Nestora has won the support of thousands of individuals and organizations ( The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights are both monitoring the case.

On Monday, May 16, U.S. Congressman Adam Smith [D-Washington] gave a press conference at the University of Seattle Law Department, where he stated: “I am extremely concerned about the circumstances surrounding Nestora’s arrest, and I am outraged by reports of the deplorable prison conditions and treatment that violate her basic human rights.”

Congressman Smith went on: “I have sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry urging him to ensure due process, access to counsel and a fair legal process for Nestora. I also expressed my concerns and those of Nestora’s family for the inhumane treatment, and I have asked that the U.S. Embassy use all necessary means to ensure her health and safety while she remains in detention. Every individual should have the right to due process, and I am going to continue working with Nestora’s family and with her legal representation from the University of Seattle to press for fairness and legitimacy.”
Nestora, who moved to the United States in 1991 at the age of twenty, also has U.S. citizenship. Of course, this was not worth much when she was arrested, or when they wouldn’t even allow her to make a call to the U.S. Consulate. Congressman Smith joined those who advocate for Nestora’s release, since she is a U.S. citizen who resides in Smith’s electoral district. The Seattle Times headlined the news of Congressman Smith’s press conference as the pressure mounts to free the Renton [Washington] woman imprisoned in Mexico ….
Review of the case is imperative, not only for the absence of due process, but for the damage to her health. The deputies already reported that she has even been denied potable water, forcing her to drink from the tap when the other prisoners are given a jug [of purified water]. In addition, the absence of medical treatment and keeping her in total isolation means psychological torture.

What is the Attorney General waiting for to take action on the matter?

*Marta Lamas Encabo (Mexico City, 1947) is a Mexican anthropologist and feminist. She studied ethnology at the National School of Anthropology and History and obtained an MA in Anthropology from the National Autonomous University of Mexico. She has been a member of editorial  boards of UNAM and the Economic Culture Fund, a founding member of La Jornada and founder of the magazine “fem”, the first feminist magazine in Mexico, director of the magazine “Feminist Debate” and a columnist for Proceso magazine and the Spanish newspaper El Pais. In 1992, she founded the Information Group on Reproductive Choice (GIRE), to promote sexual and reproductive rights. In 2000 she founded the Simone de Beauvoir Leadership Institute to train women in a gender perspective.

Translated by Jane Brundage
Posted by Dorset Chiapas Solidarity   24/06/2014

June 23, 2014

The sacred right of petition

Filed under: Marcos, Zapatista — Tags: — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 7:14 pm


The sacred right of petition

By Gustavo Esteva

10313283_10152259563654877_6898508891897999415_nThe social unrest is unclear, profuse and diffuse … but wholly general, just as the wave of violence increases, as much from the criminals from above and below as from the economy. How to stop the discontent from developing into despair? How to change it into a capacity for transformation? What can we do?

“Look after yourselves, look after us,” Galeano told us during his first appearance. This is the priority. We must commit ourselves to defend the Zapatistas; no day should pass without our doing something against the continuous threats that surround them. And we need to take care of ourselves, because these affect us too.

The main threat comes from above: government and political classes act as entrepreneurs of dispossession, violence, corruption and impunity. There is a growing consensus on the need to resist against their policies and actions. However, the way we react divides us. Some of us look below, others look above. Some people take profound changes in their hands, that they understand as the only effective way to resist, whilst others continue to ask those above for some cosmetic changes, which only feed the fantasy that the solution will come once they can replace authorities with better ones.

There are millions of people here and elsewhere, who are willing to give everything, even their own lives, to defend the sacred right to petition. It’s an old tradition, perhaps inherited from the monarchy, when you had to petition the king for everything. According to the American pattern, that is the foundation of all modern “democratic” societies, based on the docility and submission to power, which was also established in our first Constitution.

The political freedom which is considered most important in contemporary democracies is the right of assembly, enshrined in the Bill of Rights of the United States as “the right of the people to peacefully assemble and to address the government to resolve their grievances.” It is the first amendment, the first.  It affirms the right to assembly … in order to exercise the right of petition, which is the fundamental right in the nation-state, a regime created to manage capitalism. With cynicism this is called democracy, even though its citizens cannot participate in the government’s decisions, let alone impose their will on the rulers. They can demand anything, but the authorities, like the king, can ignore them.

10441082_10204283435826941_5737331400209828390_nThere is the sense of exercising our right to assembly and speak out, while increasingly exposed to regulation and repression. We must not lose it. But it is foolish to continue devoting our energies to demonstrations, petitions or whatever, to ask those above to do the opposite of what they are doing. Global experience, and very clearly in Mexico, shows that official representatives, whether or not they are willing, are not capable of meeting the demands of the people, nor of facing current issues thoroughly, they just cannot do it. It is impossible to make from above the changes currently necessary.

Some people are still waiting for a great cataclysmic event: attacks by hand, the state, or luck which will suddenly cause changes. It is a dangerous and paralyzing illusion.

“I can no longer believe in magical transformations, like a victorious uprising which transforms a society”, said Mercedes Moncada a while ago, from Nicaragua. “I think revolutions are gradual, deep and associated with everyday life. They have to take root in all areas of society, within families, in personal relationships, in the little ones, in the neighbourhood, all of which also defines the form of power.”

We were also told, back in 2007, by the late sup: “Great changes do not start from above, nor with monumental and epic events, but with small movements in size which seem irrelevant to the politicians and analysts from above. History is not changed by town squares filled with people or angry crowds, but … from the organized consciousness of groups and collectives which know and recognize each other, from below and the left, and construct another politics.”

This is what it is about nowadays. This is what take care of us/them means. As the sup also said: “The real transformations of a society, that is to say, of social relations in a historical moment … are those that are directed against the system as a whole. Currently neither patches nor reforms are feasible. In contrast, the anti-systemic movements are possible and necessary.”

If we manage to tear off the concealing veil of illusions of petition, or of the replacement of leaders, we can focus on what we really need and what is entirely feasible: to organize ourselves into groups and collectives that can nurture each other in their practice of effective transforming actions to deal effectively with the abominable threats against us, and make circumstances into opportunities for the change we have long dreamed of.


Translated by Nélida Montes de Oca for Dorset Chiapas Solidarity  Posted 23/06/2014



June 22, 2014

Bachajón: the Mexican justice system gets the chance to stop rights abuses

Filed under: Bachajon, Displacement, Human rights, Indigenous, Tourism — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 12:47 pm


ón: the Mexican justice system gets the chance to stop rights abuses 

Members of this Tseltal ejido continue the legal fight for their lands, in the face of three years of repression and tricks

By Ricardo Lagunes Gasca

A life in struggle

A life in struggle

Chiapas, Mexico. Three years after the legal defence of the lands of the San Sebastián Bachajón ejido [communally owned territory] began, the Third Collegiate Court will have the opportunity to address the root of the problem and issue a ruling on the alleged violations of indigenous rights.

The life of the indigenous peoples and communities in Mexico is increasingly threatened with extinction, in the face of “structural” constitutional and legislative reforms that result in the illegal appropriation of their natural resources, either by privatization or through forcible seizure.

Against this background various indigenous communities have begun legal actions to defend their rights. These include the Yaqui tribe, campaigning against the Independence Aqueduct, or the Ikoots people of San Dionisio del Mar, fighting to stop construction of the mega wind farm at Barra Santa Teresa, among others.

Although provisional or final court judgements are meant to offer protection for indigenous lands, they have not in fact changed any facts on the ground for these communities. As a result, the threat to the life and land of the community remains, requiring greater organisation and political mobilization to prevent abuses becoming irreversible.

The Tseltal ejidatarios at San Sebastián Bachajón are adherents to the [Zapatista] Sixth Declaration of the Selva Lacandona. They began the legal defence of their lands in March 2011, aiming to reverse the violent seizure of their lands which began on 2 February 2011 when communal lands adjoining the village of Agua Azul (Tumbalá Muncipality) which belong to the ejido were taken away, along with the ejido’s main gravel quarry.

This land grab was carried out by the Government Secretary, Noé Castañón León, working with Leonardo Rafael Guirao Aguilar (president of the Green Chiapas Foundation and currently the municipal president of Chilón), along with the ex-commissioner of the ejido, Francisco Guzmán Jiménez and government supporting groups from the Xanil and Pamalha villages in Chilón.

Since March 2011 the Zapatista supporters have faced a series of arbitrary judicial decisions that have denied them justice and an effective means of protecting their lands. Nonetheless, in spite of the racism towards indigenous people that pervades the justice system, they continue to resist and to contest the illegal judgements made by the Seventh District Judge in Tuxtla Gutierrez. They have also appealed to public opinion over the lack of ethics of certain federal judges who put themselves at the disposal of the rich and powerful.

In appeal proceedings, the Third Collegiate Court has now accepted that the Seventh District Judge violated due process on two separate occasions. These violations relate to the fact that the judge failed to inform the general assembly of the San Sebastián Bachajón ejido that a legal appeal made by Mariano Moreno Guzman (a representative of the Bachajón ejido) had in fact been granted. Now that the general assembly has been informed and has not contested the appeal, the Third Collegiate Court has the opportunity to address the underlying issue and to make a ruling on the violation of indigenous rights.

Separately, the ex-commissioner of the ejido Francisco Guzmán Jiménez and the current commissioner, Alejandro Moreno Gómez, tried to prevent a judgement being made on the appeal by fabricating proceedings of the assembly. These proceedings do not follow the requirements of the Agrarian Law in the slightest degree. They are also signed only by those two individuals and lack the signatures of other ejido members. So far this has prevented the appeal being resolved in favour of the economic and political interests that are protecting the commissioner and ex-commissioner.

The only reason the government’s placemen hold their positions in the ejido commission is because they are protected by these wider interests. The commissioners have no support in the assembly or among the wider community. They were in fact imposed with support provided by the municipal president of Chilon, and the Rural Procurator in Ocosingo to make it appear their election was legal.  The Bachajón ejido members have now challenged the legality of the appointment of Alejandro Moreno Gómez and other members at the 54th District Agrarian Tribunal in Comitán.

In playing his assigned role, Alejandro Moreno Gómez is not only working with various government agencies to appropriate the ejido’s common land and gravel quarry, but is also preparing the way for the construction of the San Cristóbal de Las Casas – Palenque highway. It seems that he is ready to continue playing a role in promoting murder and impunity.

The author is a human rights lawyer

Translated  for Dorset Chiapas Solidarity  and posted 22/06/2014



Subcomandante Marcos’ disappearing act

Filed under: Marcos, Zapatista — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 10:22 am

Subcomandante Marcos’ disappearing act

Marta Molina

The man formerly known as Subcomandante Marcos arrives in the main square of La Realidad before issuing his final communique. In his greeting to the crowd, he raised a middle finger to the audience — one of the multiple tricks and jokes that he played on the crowd throughout the ceremony. (WNV/Marta Molina)

The man formerly known as Subcomandante Marcos arrives in the main square of La Realidad before issuing his final communique. In his greeting to the crowd, he raised a middle finger to the audience — one of the multiple tricks and jokes that he played on the crowd throughout the ceremony. (WNV/Marta Molina)


On a rainy day in late May in the middle of the Lacandon jungle of southeastern Mexico, thousands of people listened to the final speech of the figure known as Subcomandante Marcos, once the spokesperson for the Zapatista movement.

“My name is Galeano,” he said. “Subcomandante Insurgente Galeano. Is anyone else named Galeano?” he asked.

Suddenly, all members of the command of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation, known as the EZLN, responded: “I am named Galeano… We are all Galeano,” they answered.

“Ah, that’s why they told me that when I was re-born, I’d be born collectively,” Marcos replied.

This communiqué, which lasted nearly one hour, was both the last speech of the figure who has been the public face of the Zapatista movement since 1994 and a final act of commemoration for Galeano, a Zapatista compañero who was murdered in May in La Realidad, the jungle region of Chiapas, Mexico. It was also — at least as far as mainstream media is concerned — one of Marcos’ least understood poetic acts.

The Zapatistas refused to permit any mainstream or corporate media to attend the event, which left only a small number of independent, free and autonomous journalists at the commemoration. The result was that outlets such as BBC quickly announced that Marcos was “stepping down” due to “‘internal changes’ within the 20-year-old, far-left guerrilla group.”

Yet, as is often the case with the Zapatistas, the complexities of the movement and its vision are far removed from the way it appears in the corporate press. “If anyone else is interested in knowing what happened on this day, they’ll have to look to the free media,” said Subcomandante Marcos, before beginning to read the key points of the last communiqué.


ImageProxy (5)The main square of La Realidad, one of the five Zapatistas’ autonomous and self-governed regions known as caracoles, began filling up quickly on the morning of the May 24 as more than 2,000 people from the Zapatista grassroots communities arrived. These participants of the movement who live in the autonomous Zapatista municipalities are known as the bases de apoyo, which means “bases of support.” Another approximately one thousand people from across Mexico arrived in solidarity caravans to hug the family of Galeano, a Zaptista who was recently murdered by members of the Independent Center for Agricultural Workers and Historic Peasants, which is a group of paramilitary forces in this area of Chiapas.

The day was far from a traditional commemoration for a murdered comrade. Instead, the Zapatistas insisted that they did not come to bury Galeano, but rather to unearth and give life to him for all of the paramilitary attacks he received, for being a teacher in the zone, and for being a candidate to the Council of Good Government, known as the Junta de Buen Gobierno, for 2014 to 2018. He was also a guardian during the Zapatista Little School.

Around midday, Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos arrived on a horse, wearing an eye patch on his right eye, like all the Zapatista insurgents and commanders that day. (This, I couldn’t help think, must be to see the world from the left.) As Marcos explained, his whole spokesperson character had been a performance, which he characterized as “a terrible and marvelous magic trick.” In Marcos mind, this character was an elaborate act of creative resistance. “Indigenous wisdom challenged modernity in one of its own bastions: in the media,” he explained.

Throughout the years, Marcos has been notorious for playing tricks on the mainstream media, in part to create distractions in order to give the movement time and space to grow. In one of his most recent stunts, Marcos faked terminal illness, which sent rumors through the media for years. But the trick wasn’t only on the corporate-owned media; it was also on many of the movement’s supporters. In Marcos’ words, “They had hated and loved a hologram. Their loves have then been useless, sterile, vacuous, empty.”

Justice, not vengeance

The day was also an opportunity for Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés, who became the group’s new spokesperson in 2013, to brief the community about the ongoing attacks by paramilitaries and the progress being made in the investigation of Galeano’s assassination. Moisés told the crowd that a woman “hit him with a machete across the mouth” and another woman “dragged the body” of the murdered Zapatista. Despite the violence, Moisés also reiterated the movement’s decision to respond to this violence by asking for justice, without vengeance or deaths. “As warriors, we understand that we will die either due to sickness or in this war,” said Moisés. “But they will never be able to destroy our autonomy or our struggle for freedom… We will use our anger against the capitalist system.”

Moisés warned the crowd that the Zapatistas anticipate further government-sponsored violence. “We have to prepare to defend ourselves because this will not be the last paramilitary attack,” said Moisés, who explained that the assaults would likely come from paramilitaries belonging to Manuel Velasco Coello, the conservative Green Party governor of the state of Chiapas, and “the ultimate paramilitary” President Enrique Peña Nieto. “In light of this plan,” Moisés warned, “we should resist provocations from organizations controlled by those bad governments … and those who sate their ambitions accepting large quantities of money.”

Despite the threat, Marcos’ final communiqué also spoke to the group’s decision to pour energy into creation, rather than destruction.

“Rather than dedicating ourselves to training guerrillas, soldiers and squadrons, we developed education and health promoters, who went about building the foundations of autonomy that today amaze the world,” he said. “Instead of constructing barracks, improving our weapons, and building walls and trenches, we built schools, hospitals and health centers; improving our living conditions. We chose to construct life. All this in the midst of a war that was no less lethal because it was silent.”

The final act

By the time night fell amidst the rain, Marcos executed his biggest trick of all: the disappearing act. For years, this figure who wears a disguise and a public face has been a useful “distraction” so that the organization could continue to be clandestine as the Zapatistas built their own schools, houses, autonomous hospitals and justice system, and as they cultivated their land and their liberty, which is to say, their autonomy.

“The EZLN will no longer speak through my voice,” Marcos said, explaining that Moisés will assume the role of spokesperson. “Cheers and until never,” he said. “Or until always — whoever understood will know that this no longer matters, and it never has.”

Posted by Dorset Chiapas Solidarity with thanks to Marta Molina 21/06/2014



Older Posts »

Blog at