dorset chiapas solidarity

July 31, 2014

Tlachinollan Centre for Human Rights: Twenty Years Sowing Community Justice

Filed under: Uncategorized — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 7:32 am

Tlachinollan Centre for Human Rights: Twenty Years Sowing Community Justice

Luis Hernández Navarro

La Jornada, 29th July, 2014

Translated by Jorge A. Borrel-Guzman 


A huge sign with the portrait of Nestora Salgado García –the chief of Olinalá’s community police, unfairly incarcerated in the maximum security prison of Tepic– demands her release. It is followed by another one from the The Nation Is First House of Justice of the Regional Coordinating Committee of Communal Authorities-Community Police (CRAC-PC,). Both signs are part of the demonstration held in Tlapa, Guerrero, to commemorate the 20 year anniversary of the Tlachinollan Centre for Human Rights.

There were more than 3 thousand Me’phaa, Na Savi, Nauas and Ñomndaa indigenous people of the Mountain Region of Guerrero, who came from 185 communities located in 13 municipalities, accompanied by five of those music bands that impart colour to community struggles. They demanded the release of incarcerated community police officers, the supply of basic grains, the construction of roads, as well as support for the rebuilding of the 20 towns damaged by the Ingrid and Manuel tropical storms.

The indigenous demonstration of July 26th in Tlapa is an unusual event in the world of civil rights organizations and civil organizations that promote development. Apart from a few exceptions, most of the non-government organizations (NGOs) that exist in the country lack both Tlachinollan’s ability to convene and its community connections.

What is common is that NGOs speak for the sake of communities without being instructed do so. That NGOs request funds from foundations and governments on behalf of popular organizations without being requested to do so. That they show up in forums and public events with a mandate that they don’t have. That they seek to negotiate the interests of peasant farmers, leaving aside any consultation. Tlachinollan doesn´t work like that. It never has.

There are a large number of NGOs that have lost the N quality. They have transformed into quasi-government organizations (QGOs). They manage government projects; they receive and use resources while serving as assistants of administrations of all political stripes. Their executives introduce themselves as non-government actors, but, very often, they turn into public officials without giving any explanations. Tlachinollan doesn´t act like that.

It is also frequent that NGOs adapt their work to financing priorities imposed by international foundations. When gender-related projects become trendy and there is money to support them, they become feminists. When global warming becomes trendy, they become environmentalists. When it’s easy to get cash by supporting micro-enterprises, they promote the creation of revolving funds and promote training in management by objectives. Tlachinollan is not one of them.

It’s already been two decades since Tlachinollan’s establishment in 1994 by anthropologist Abel Barrera and a group of activists and researchers to serve the towns of the Mountain Region. The vigorous demonstrations in Guerrero to commemorate the 500 years of indigenous resistances were still very fresh. They initially decided to document the living conditions of indigenous inmates in Tlapa’s jail.

As they pointed out, in those first years, “we had nothing to offer, only our presence and solidarity. There was an unforgettable phrase in the Tlapa jail that would haunt our minds: ‘In that cursed place where sadness governs, it´s not crime that is punished, but poverty’.”

Originally, the territory they covered was mainly the Mountain Region of Guerrero, a region in which almost 85 percent of the population is indigenous and the location for 10 of the 100 municipalities with the lowest ranking in human development in Mexico. However, it is also an area with important experiences of peasant farmers and indigenous resistance in the field of commercialization of coffee, the supply of basic products, the fight for municipal democracy, and the management of roads and utilities.

oficina_de_ayutlaAbel Barrera, president of the organization, has been justly recognized for his work in the defence of human rights by international organizations such as Amnesty International of Germany , the Robert F. Kennedy Centre for Human Rights, The Washington Office on Latin America, the MacArthur Foundation, among many others. Born in Tlapa, he pursued religious studies for 12 years in order to become a Catholic priest; he studied anthropology, and ended up returning to his homeland to get fully involved in the adventure of helping the indigenous communities in their fight for autonomy.

It soon became clear very that the founders of the project would have to go beyond the simple documentation of human rights. And that’s how they got actively involved in providing legal assistance and human rights education.

Barrera narrates: “When we began to face the violent reality inflicted by the agents of the State, we began to understand how difficult it is to live defenceless, with poverty and discrimination. That was the moment when we understood the historic resistance of indigenous peoples, their perseverance, their courage and generosity. That’s why today we know that with them we can be protectors, but without them, our work would be weak and meaningless.”

Tlachinollan’s work is exemplary. It offers counselling and help to victims who suffer from violence at the moment they file police complaints. But its work is not limited to bringing complaints before judges; they support alternative and sustainable agriculture; they serve as arbitrators in political and religious issues, and they are part of a wider NGO network that attempts to improve the living conditions of the people. Their radius of action extends throughout Guerrero.

This past July 26th, Abel made an assessment of the relationship of the Centre with the communities for the past 20 years.

“You gave us the tortilla, the coffee, the bedroll and the sombrero; and you showed us how to sow community justice. That is why these almost 20 years have no meaning without all of you. Because you are the fathers, the mothers, the founders of Tlachinollan.”

And those thousands of indigenous people that marched are the proof of such relationship.



July 30, 2014

Energy Reform: Free and Informed Indigenous Resistance Grows

Filed under: Corporations, Displacement, Indigenous, Maize — Tags: — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 6:40 pm


Energy Reform: Free and Informed Indigenous Resistance Grows

Magdalena Gómez*

La Jornada, 29th July 2014



Consolidation of the legislative route to consummate the theft of land in favour of multinational companies poses challenges to the century-long indigenous resistance. In particular, it violates the strategic goal of reconstituting indigenous peoples around the core idea of their territorial autonomy. At the national level, the precarious legal framework was expanded following the constitutional reform on human rights, which gave full recognition to international treaties, such as ILO Convention 169, among others, placed on the same level as the Constitution. Specifically, the field of hydrocarbons will undoubtedly raise the need for the Court to ascertain whether the rights of peoples to the surface of their territories includes the subsoil when it is not the State that exploits it under its exclusive domain, but companies to which [the State] has transferred such authority, thereby subverting its original meaning. There is the additional problem that the legislative process omitted the duty of guaranteeing the right to free and informed prior consultation.

In this context, it matters little that, in lieu of expropriation when the owners of the land are opposed to the plunder (in order to call things by their proper name), the federal Congress with its PRIAN [PRI + PAN] steamroller refers to the so-called ‘temporary occupation’ as a presumed palliative. However, the people’s experience indicates that the key component of their resistance is organization and the use of the law only makes sense in that context. In order to define their immediate strategy, an urgent first step is their own information campaign about the content of the energy laws, whose approval cycle is within a few days of concluding. Also about their impact in the short, medium and long term.

The peñanietismo [Peña Nieto government] has already started its campaign of disinformation, and surely it will reinforce pressures by which government crumbs, generically called ‘social programs’ for combating poverty; we know well the obstructionist component of social protest that is present and even more with an openly counterinsurgency character, as they claimed in the Zapatista regions.

6 (1)Indigenous organizations will most assuredly address these issues in the coming weeks, especially at the meeting in La Realidad, Chiapas, of the EZLN [Zapatista Army of National Liberation] and the National Indigenous Congress. Some already engaged in a first exchange last weekend in the Montaña of Guerrero, in Tlapa during the forum From the Community Heart of Resistance, organized to mark the 20th anniversary of the founding of the Tlachinollan Human Rights Centre. It was attended by indigenous Nahua, Mixtec, Tlapaneco and Amuzgo from 13 municipalities and 85 communities in the Montaña [Mountain region of Guerrero], and invited representatives from the Saving Temacapulín, Acasico and Palmarejo Committee; the Assembly of Indigenous Peoples of the Isthmus in Defense of the Land and Territory, from Oaxaca; The Council of Ejidos and Communities Opposed to La Parota Dam; the Regional Wixárika Council in Defence of Wirikuta, Júba Wajiín-San Miguel del Progreso, and the Tosepan Union of Cooperatives. At the discussion, “Megaprojects and Defence of Territory,” together they took stock of the various processes of struggle for conserving their resources.

In sum, the Prianistas [PRI + PAN] are mistaken with their cheerful accounts of what they consider mild social protest in the face of their latest legislative abuses on the subject of hydrocarbons. The fact that protest is not widely expressed outside their ostentatious enclosures means that the rupture with these spaces of supposed popular representation is deep, and they [indigenous] are not willing to waste their energy. Nevertheless, the State cannot be over-confident with its logic of national security vis-a-vis indigenous resistance. For this reason, in its Pact for Mexico, it included the complement to its so-called structural reforms, nothing less than the criminalization [of social protest].

Starting from this, and to be consistent with its priority of ensuring big business the free exploitation of natural resources, it [the Pact] proposed amending Article 29 of the Constitution [regarding suspension of rights during a national emergency] and issuing a new law that would allow regulation of the terms and conditions under which such rights are suspended (Commitment 23). In the same Pact, they also agreed to promote the federal law regarding the legitimate use of public force by indicating that “as in other countries, a law will be created that establishes clear parameters for the use of public force” (Commitment 28), which has been enacted, ominously indeed, in such states as Puebla and Chiapas.

The multinational companies who are ready to invest in our country in the field of hydrocarbons should know that the people will fight on all possible fronts to defend their territories, before becoming their peóns [day labourers; or pawns] or be banished in exchange for a few pesos only to remain in waiting for the end of the ‘temporary’ occupation. Without a doubt, the State has abandoned the national interest and continues its ancestral war against the original peoples.

*Magdalena Gómez, attorney, also earned the Master’s Degree in Political Science and a Certificate in Educational Technology. Her areas of specialization are Agrarian Law, Indigenous Rights and Law, Political Education and Society.

Translated by Jane Brundage



July 28, 2014

Guerrero Activists Are in the “Line of Fire”

Filed under: Human rights — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 5:11 pm


Guerrero Activists Are in the “Line of Fire”

La Jornada 28th July, 2014

Sergio Ocampo Arista

 On the 20th Anniversary of the Tlachinollan Center for Human Rights in the Mountain, thousands of indigenous people marched in Tlapa de Comonfort demanding the release of political prisoners  Photo: Sergio Ocampo

On the 20th Anniversary of the Tlachinollan Center for Human Rights in the Mountain, thousands of indigenous people marched in Tlapa de Comonfort demanding the release of political prisoners 
Photo: Sergio Ocampo

Chilpancingo, Guerrero – The Tlachinollan Centre for Human Rights of the Mountain [region] reported that during the administration of Governor Ángel Aguirre Rivero “serious human rights violations continue and, since the arrival of President Enrique Peña Nieto, they have increased. [Human rights] Defenders in Guerrero are in the line of fire.”

On Saturday night, in the auditorium of Tlapa de Comonfort, the 20th Annual Report, titled “Glimmers of Justice and Hope” (Destellos de justicia y esperanza), of activities from June 2013 to May 2014 was presented as a summary of the work performed by Tlachinollan in defence of the rights of indigenous, mestizos [mixed heritage, Spanish-Indigenous] and Afro-mestizos [Africans brought to New Spain to work as slaves on sugar, coffee and hemp plantations].

The report emphasized that “the criminalization, arbitrary arrests, fabrication of crimes, torture, cruel and inhuman treatment, disappearances, killings and forced displacement, are acts committed against sectors that are organized and demand respect for their rights; they should join the thousands of homicides that make Guerrero one of the three most dangerous states in Mexico.”

The report pointed out that “more people are imprisoned for being part of Community Police or resistance movements against mega-projects, than for the murders of social activists. The message is clear: in Guerrero, to participate in Community Police is more punishable than the killing of a human rights defender.”

The Tlachinollan report noted that between 2011 and 2014, there were at least 60 aggressions or attacks against social organizations, students, human rights defenders, indigenous peoples and rural communities. It shows that in the:

  • Costa Chica-Mountain region: 13 attacks;
  • Central Acapulco: 16 attacks, including criminalization, persecution and harassment of opponents to Parota Dam;
  • Coyuca Benitez: 7 attacks, including the murder of leaders of social organizations such as Fabiola Osorio and Raymundo Velázquez;
  • Tecpan: 3 attacks, including the disappearance of leading environmentalists Eva Alarcón and Marcial Bautista:
  • Atoyac de Alvarez: 3 attacks, including the execution of peasant leader Rocio Mesino;
  • Petatlán and Coyuca de Catalán: 12 attacks, including the murder of 9 members of the Santana Villa family, defenders of the forests;
  • Northern Region: 4 cases.

The Centre stressed that 44 percent of cases “are murders or executions of members of social organizations and their families; 25 percent are arbitrary arrests with fabrication of crimes, and the majority of these occur in the Costa-Montaña [Coast-Mountain] region.”

Tlachinollan reported that from June 2013 to May 2014, it granted 801 consultancies:

  • Half for individual or collective disputes;
  • 143 complaints of human rights violations; and
  • 256 complaints related to violations of women’s rights.

In addition, the Tlachinollan Human Rights Centre advised 200 communities suffering emergency situations arising from Hurricanes Manuel and Ingrid.

*Abel Barrera Hernández, Mexican anthropologist and human rights activist, founded the Tlachinollan Human Rights Centre in 1994. Amnesty International has awarded his work; in 2010 he received the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award.

Translated by Jane Brundage



News from Sipaz 28/07/2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 4:21 pm


 News from Sipaz 28/07/2014

Chiapas: New communique from Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés

July 28, 2014


Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés (@SIPAZ)


In a new communique published on 25 July, Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés reported that the support-bases from the La Realidad caracol have decided to share 59,000 pesos that have been collected for the reconstruction of the autonomous clinic and school that were destroyed in May to support the transportation of members of the National Indigenous Congress (CNI) which is soon to be held in Chiapas.  It should be recalled that from 4 to 9 August, this meeting between Zapatistas and other indigenous peoples belonging to the CNI will take place in La Realidad.

Subcomandante Moisés explained that this decision has been made public “because we cannot be like the bad governments, which say that money is dedicated to one thing but ends up being moved elsewhere.”  He expressed furthermore that “the construction of the accommodations for our indigenous brothers and sisters has now been completed, and we are finishing the last details so that everything will be ready with joy in our hearts to receive our guests.  The construction of the new school and clinic continues, also with joy.  Because while those from above destroy, we from below rebuild.”



National: thousands march in Mexico City to demand agrarian reform

July 28, 2014



On 23 July, between 25,000 (according to the government of Mexico City) and 35,000 campesinos (according to organizers of the action) marched in Mexico City to demand a comprehensive agrarian reform, in repudiation of the reform laws on energy, and in favour of respect for the rights of peoples and communities.

Protestors presented a document with their proposals for agrarian reform, to be taken into account at the national Congress, which is about to address the matter in response to a proposal made in March by President Enrique Peña Nieto.

The slogans that were uttered at the protest spoke to the principal grievances: for example, “Hunger is not combated with handouts but rather through food production in communities,” or “Mexico demands food and energy sovereignty.”

Organizations that covered the whole spectrum of politics in Mexico, including some groupings allied to the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which is at present in power.



Chiapas: denunciation of threats of possible attack on Migrant Home in Arriaga

July 28, 2014

Migrant home “All for All” in Tapachula (@Centro PRODH)

Migrant home “All for All” in Tapachula (@Centro PRODH)


On 21 July, Carlos Bartolo Solís, director of the Migrant Home “House of Compassion” in Arriaga on the coast of Chiapas denounced that he had received a threat from organized crime groups dedicated to the trafficking in migrants against the centre.  That same day, a migrant warned him that an attack was being prepared, as led by someone known as Simón N.

Bartolo Solís mentioned that police surveillance of the trains has diminished over the past several months, and that fewer and fewer patrols are seen.  He announced that he would contact federal authorities and the National Commission on Human Rights (CNDH) so that they intervene to guarantee the protection and security for the migrant home.  At present, the local authorities do nothing more than “provide promises and speeches.”

Some weeks ago, Father Ramón Verdugo, from the Migrant Home “All for All” in Tapachula, also denounced death-threats and persecution for his work as a defender of the rights of migrants.




 Indigenous organizations and peoples challenge federal reforms, considering them to be “a legalized land grab”

 July 27, 2014

(@Other Worlds Chiapas)

(@Other Worlds Chiapas)


On 14 July, upon the close of the “Water and Energy” seminar held in Oaxaca de Juárez, civil organizations and communities pertaining to the Mixteco, Chatino, Zapotec, and Mixe peoples of the state of Oaxaca as well as organizations from Chiapas and Mexico City issued a communiqué denouncing the reforms being implemented in the country.  They indicated that said reforms betray a lack of respect for humanity rights and represent “a legalized land grab,” given that they were approved to favour national and international firms.

The authors of the communiqué explained that the laws on Hydrocarbons, National Waters, Mining, Public Service of Electricity, Geothermal Energy, Housing, Foreign Investment, Expropriation, National Goods, Labour, Regulation of Energy, Public and Private Associations, the National Agency on Industrial Security, Protection of the Environment, Education, and Telecommunications “have been presented and approved without the participation of the communities and citizenry in general who live in the country.”

They denounced that “they have found the three levels of government to lie, trick, threaten with death, repress, arbitrarily arrest, forcibly disappear, and even execute communal human-rights defenders,” and they affirmed that they will continue defending their lands and territories amidst this new attempt at looting.




Chiapas: new communiqué from the Las Abejas Civil Society

July 27, 2014

Las Abejas Civil Society (

Las Abejas Civil Society (


On 22 July, during the monthly commemoration of the Acteal massacre of 1997, the Las Abejas Civil Society released a new communique positioning itself on several prevailing realities, “because it is our responsibility to say the truth and condemn lies, violence, and war.”  Las Abejas denounced that the “bad government of Mexico has coordinated with large neoliberal-capitalist interests to create plans to extract the riches of our Mother Earth.  These plans criminalize social movements; they imprison women and men who criticize the rotten system in Mexico.”  They gave as examples of such tendencies the murders of Juan Vázquez Guzmán and Juan Carlos Gómez Silvano from the San Sebastián Bachajon ejido, who adhered to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandona Jungle, in addition to the Zapatista support-base (BAEZLN) Galeano in La Realidad.

Las Abejas indicated that “we are saddened that still many of our brothers and sisters who do the dirty work of the government see us as enemies, insulting us and claiming us to be provocateurs.  All these thoughts that they have are the result of the crumbs given in the ‘Procampo,’ ‘Opportunities,’ and other welfare programs.”  They stressed the role of the “so-called leaders of a community or an organization”: “the bad government seeks to create divisions in a community or organization in resistance by offering a bit of money or a public office in exchange for providing information on what the organizations are doing.”  To illustrate this point, Las Abejas made reference to the “present conflict between the neighbouring communities of Ch’enalvo’ and Chalchihuitan regarding the land dispute that has gone on for 40 years.”  They reiterated the call to dialogue “both to the peoples of Ch’enalvo’ and of Chalchihuitan and not to take up arms.”

Lastly, they shared a message of solidarity with the Palestinian people.




Chiapas: TPP pre-audience judges Mexican State for crimes against humanity

 July 27, 2014


On 18 July in El Limonar, Ocosingo municipality, there was held the pre-audience for the People’s Permanent Tribunal (TPP), “With Justice and Peace We Shall Find Truth.”  As part of the work on “Dirty War as violence, impunity, and lack of access to justice” covered by the Mexican chapter of the TPP, the Viejo Velasco massacre was addressed.  This atrocity, which took place on 13 November 2006, resulted in the execution of four persons and the disappearance of four others.  Two of the disappeared were found dead some months later.  Furthermore, 37 residents of the community were forcibly displaced, seeking refuge in the neighbouring community of Nuevo Tila.

After having reviewed the relevant documents and the declarations of victims and witnesses, the judges declared that the “The fact that these acts of violence from the State did not solely target combatants but also the civilian, non-combatant population–including boys and girls–shows that the only common factor among the victims was that they pertained to certain ethnic groups and social organizations.  It also shows that said acts were committed ‘with the intention of destroying’ these groups ‘totally or in part,’ thus qualifying these as crimes against humanity.”  For this reason, they judged the Mexican State to be culpable of having violated the rights to life and personal integrity as well as the right not to experience forced disappearance in the cases of Viejo Velasco and Acteal in the Northern Zone of Chiapas.

In conclusion, the tribunal declared that “the State must use the appropriate means to observe its obligation to investigate the acts that have been denounced, as well as to identify, judge, and sanction those responsible and the beneficiaries of these crimes.”  It stressed that “the Mexican State is obliged to comprehensively compensate the damages caused by these crimes against humanity.”  Lastly, it recalled that the cycle of the Mexican chapter of the TPP will end in November 2014, a time in which the “grave human-rights violations committed by the Mexican State that to date enjoy impunity” will be denounced and made visible before the national and international public.



Chiapas: Believing People organize fourth pilgrimage in Simojovel


July 20, 2014

Photo (@Chiapas Denuncia Pública)

Photo (@Chiapas Denuncia Pública)

On Saturday 12 July, the Believing People of Simojovel carried out a fourth “Pilgrimage for peace.”  Thousands of persons marched to highlight the increase in violence in the municipality due to alcoholism, drug-trafficking, prostitution, and arms trading, and to denounce the death-threats received by the priest Marcelo Pérez and other members of the Council of Parishes of San Antonio de Padua.  On the same occasion, they accused municipal authorities of being corrupt and of favouring this situation which undermines peace and security for the people of Simojovel.  In a communiqué, the Believing People declared that “Amidst these death-threats, we cannot be silent or be indifferent; we cannot simply cross our arms while seeing so much suffering caused by the corruption of the authorities.”

Furthermore, they publicly demanded that the corresponding authorities re-establish peace and tranquillity for the people by closing places for drug and alcohol sales, prostitution centres, and repressing the traffic in weapons.  In this way, they specified that “We demand security for our people; enough of violating our rights.  We demand liberty and justice.”  They added: “This is our action so that peace be restored in this community.  We will not tire; if we see that there is no result, we will take other measures in the coming days and months.  The people must continue raising their voice.”



Protests against Inequality, Mining, & Dispossession in the Mexican Countryside

Filed under: Corporations, Displacement, Maize, Mining — Tags: — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 3:32 pm


Protests against Oligopolies, Inequality, Mining, & Dispossession in the Mexican Countryside (#23JMX)


 “…The rich man came and broke [my yoke-ring],

He took off with all my corn,

Without even leaving me enough to eat,

And he presented me with my ‘bills’,

… What a shameless boss!

… My beloved said to me:

Don’t work for that man any more,

He’s just stealing from us,

… Long live the revolution,

And the end of supreme government…”

 El Barzón (Mexican revolutionary song) [1]


MegaMarch_Campesinos“El Barzón” (“The Yoke-Ring”) is a civil society organisation of farmers in Mexico which takes its name from the song above (about injustice in the countryside). Formed officially in 1994, it aims to “correct the political and economic causes of the recurring crises in the country that impoverish the population and stop the nation achieving sovereign, fair, and sustainable development on the basis of true democracy”. [2] Over two decades under NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement), the group has fought to protect Mexican agricultural workers and ensure that they have not had to suffer from the economic effects of peso devaluation as much as they would have otherwise. It is considered partly responsible for the defeat of the PRI in the 2000 elections and, in December 2002, members of the group even entered the Mexican Congress on horseback along with other protesters. [3] On July 23rd 2014, El Barzón called for a protest in Mexico City (which will be discussed later in this article).

The leader of El Barzón, Alfonso Ramírez Cuellar, has warned that the Countryside Reform (Reforma al Campo) announced by President Peña Nieto is distinctly neoliberal in character. [4] Instead of dealing with the real problems in the agricultural sector, he affirms, the reforms will simply continue with the policy of hand-outs and ignore calls for profound change. He also insists that the so-called reforms will just continue to encourage the growth of inequality and the enrichment of a small number of private companies.

The true solution, for Ramírez, is to dismantle the oligopoly of countryside businessmen, which uses its money to take ownership of resources and the means of production. As a result of this current system, he says, small producers find it impossible to compete, and therefore have to sell their produce at extremely low prices. Meanwhile, the new reforms will only ‘reorganise rules’, leaving this vicious cycle completely intact. As an alternative, Ramírez proposes the creation of a public company capable of gathering, marketing, and selling agricultural produce. This, he says, would help producers to earn a living wage and ensure that consumers were not subject to the abuse of large corporations. Business speculation, he affirms, has seen the price of beans, eggs, and chicken rise unexpectedly, and can only be dealt with through greater competition and regulation. (One criticism of Ramírez is that, although his hopes for greater justice are honourable, his plan ill-advisedly seems to believe in the capitalist system rather than in true democratic control of the economy.)

mining.07.24.14On July 22nd 2014, a movement against mining corporations raised its voice in Mexico City, protesting at the Ángel de la Independencia on the ‘World Day against Toxic Mega-Mining’. [5] Numerous organisations showed their opposition to the abuses of foreign mining corporations, claiming that the reforms proposed by Peña Nieto will simply contribute to further destruction of land and communities in Mexico. In particular, they said the changes will open the door even wider for multinational mining corporations to enter the country and take control of water, land, and natural resources. The existent laws are already too relaxed, declaring as they do the ‘preferential’ nature of the corporate mining activities over all others (Article 6 of the Mining Law of 1992), but the currently proposed reforms will simply exacerbate the situation, the protesting groups insisted.

Francisco Cravioto, from the Centro de Investigación y Análisis Fundar, affirmed that, according to official data from 2012, mining concessions exist on 16% of Mexican land (and this figure doesn’t mention whether this land is in protected areas or places where productive agricultural activities are already present). According to the current law, landowners are obliged to give their land to mining corporations for exploitation or ‘temporary occupation’. Cravioto argued that such allowances (which are given mostly to foreign companies) are unjustified, as they barely contribute to the wealth of the country – with only 114,000 jobs (of a temporary nature and only representing around 0.2% of the economically active population) being created as a result.

Organisations and communities from eight states of the Mexican Republic have presented an initiative for a new Mining Law, which would place the consent of inhabitants as a priority and would abolish harmful and polluting forms of exploitation. Unfortunately, however, the government has ignored these groups. Sergio Serrano, meanwhile, from the Pro San Luis Ecológico collective, continues in his attempt to form a citizen initiative to propose a new Mining Law and Water Law, and hopes to collect at least 110,000 signatures in order to support his proposal. He says that the most recent Energy Reform will simply facilitate increased exploitation and occupation of land by adding even more concessions to the 900 already in existence.

Meanwhile, a day after the anti-mining protest, on July 23rd, thousands of agricultural workers marched in Mexico City against the ‘privatising’ and ‘dispossessing’ reforms of President Peña Nieto. Under the motto of #ElCampoEsDeTodos (the Countryside Belongs to Us All), protesters included El Barzón members, ejido inhabitants, indigenous groups, and consumers from around the country. El Barzón claimed that it was marching because “Mexico has over 119 million food consumers and more than 30 million producers, but a tiny handful of companies control the market, paying miserable salaries to peasants and fixing high prices in the city”. [6]

These protests are simply two in a long of examples of social organisation against neoliberalism in Mexico. Yaquis have acted to defend their water in Sonora; the Wixáritari have stood up to Canadian mining companies in San Luis Potosí; communities have taken the decision to defend themselves in the absence of government support in Guerrero, Michoacán, and elsewhere; and the Zapatistas from Tojolabal, Tzeltal and Tzotzil communities have resisted oppression and dispossession in Chiapas for over 20 years, forming an alternative to the dominant political model.

With all of these popular struggles throughout the country, the protests of the 22nd and 23rd of July are not at all surprising, but they show that, after 20 years of the injustices compounded by NAFTA, there are many Mexicans who are conscious of the dangerous effects of allowing neoliberal reforms to continue. They also give us hope that awareness, dignified rage, and just resistance to the current system are growing on a daily basis. And, wherever we may be in the world, we can draw inspiration and lessons from these struggles, using them to strengthen our own resistance.



[1] Amparo Ochoa – “El Barzón”

[2] Website of “El Barzón”

[3] Protesters Enter Congress on Horseback

[4] (@RHashtag #RevistaHashtag #BocaDePoleno)


[6] El Campo Es De Todos



July 26, 2014

EZLN: Just So You Know

Filed under: Zapatista — Tags: , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 5:43 pm


EZLN: Just So You Know

JULY 26, 2014



July 2014.

To the compañer@s of the Sixth in Mexico and in the world:

To all those who supported us in the reconstruction of the school and the clinic that belong to the compañeros of La Realidad:





Greetings from the Zapatistas.

We want to inform you of the following:

1. Upon hearing that the National Indigenous Congress still lacks adequate funds to travel to the exchange in the Caracol of La Realidad, the Zapatista compañeros and compañeras from the community of La Realidad have decided to use part of the $958,646.26 Mexican pesos that they received for reconstruction in La Realidad to support this travel.

2. According to the accounts the CNI sent us, they need approximately $200,000 (two hundred thousand pesos). They already have a part of this from donations sent by musicians, compas of the Sixth in Mexico and the world, and other good people who have supported them without any self-interest. But they don’t have sufficient funds to cover the rental costs of the trucks that will take them to CIDECI in San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, which is where we are going to pick them up to bring them to Zapatista Reality [La Realidad].

3. The Zapatista bases of support in La Realidad are the ones who received the support you all sent for the reconstruction of what the CIOAC-Histórica destroyed, so we consulted them about this budget problem that the compañeros and compañeras of the CNI are having. We consulted the bases of support because that money belongs to them, not to the EZLN; we just function as their voice to ask for and receive support, which we hand over to them as it arrives. In other words, we as the EZLN cannot decide what to do with that money. We explained to the Zapatista compas of La Realidad that this money was given to support their community reconstruction, and that if it is to be used for something else we have to consult them. We can’t act like the bad government who says the money is for one thing and then uses it for another. So that’s what we explained.

4. The compas in Zapatista La Realidad got together and decided to contribute $59,000 (fifty-nine thousand pesos) to support the National Indigenous Congress’ travel to the exchange that we will hold here soon. They agreed to offer this support, and they told us to let you know about this agreement so that there wouldn’t be any deceit or misunderstandings.

5. So, according to the last report that we gave you, there remain $899,646.26 (eight hundred ninety-nine thousand, six hundred and forty-six pesos and twenty-six cents Mexican pesos). We still have to see if more comes in, but we will let you know.

I also want to tell you that we have finished the construction work for the exchange with the brothers and sisters of the indigenous peoples, and we are now putting on the finishing touches in order to have everything ready to joyfully receive our invitees.

Next comes the construction of the new school and clinic, which will also be undertaken with joy. Because what those above destroy, we below will rebuild.

That’s all the information I have for you for now.

From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast.

Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés.

Mexico, July 2014. In the twentieth year of the war against oblivion.


Translated by El Kilombo Intergaláctico 


Posted by Dorset Chiapas Solidarity 26/07/2014


July 24, 2014

Peasant Farmer Organizations Announce Rebellion Against Energy Reform

Filed under: Corporations, Displacement, Maize — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 3:02 pm


Campesino Rebellion

Campesino organisations announce rebellion against energy reform

La Jornada: Roberto Rico*

maizPeasant and indigenous farmer organizations give this warning: Do not touch communal property in the countryside. However, the government remains committed to stirring up a conflict that is already present in various parts of the country, and its spread seems imminent.After a meeting of peasant leaders in the Senate and a discussion at the Secretariat of Government Relations [SEGOB], the response by officials and legislators is the same: first they called them ‘rights of way’, now they call them ‘temporary occupations’. Their purpose is similar: the dispossession of indigenous and peasant lands. It has to do with converting transnational corporations into owners of very large estates [latifundistas]; thus, guaranteeing legal certainty for their investments through asymmetrical negotiations. The federal government will play a central role in these negotiations, since it will have the broadest powers to establish areas of exploration and exploitation that will take precedence over peasant activities and the property rights of indigenous communities and agricultural centres.

As a result of the meeting between authorities and peasant leaders at the SEGOB, on June 19 a meeting was held with the committee for reform of the countryside headed by the Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food (SAGARPA). The Secretary, through the person in charge of the official forums, gave a report, which was followed, in turn, by remarks made by representatives of farmer organizations (Conorp, CAP). Two legislators and the representative of the government of Sinaloa also spoke.
The secretary solemnly announced the official proposal: sign a framework agreement with the President on August 8. In order to prevent anyone from breaking that framework, the proposal was submitted to a vote by over 25 officials and organizational representatives.The peasant movement responded to the fictitious consultation for reform of the countryside convened by the federal government by organizing their own meetings for discussion and debate. They called on the State to negotiate based on full respect for their demands.

In Torreón, Coahuila, producers of corn, beans, sorghum, wheat, meat, milk, apples, melons and chiles met. They came from Chihuahua, Zacatecas, Durango, Sinaloa, Sonora, Nuevo León and Tamaulipas. They agreed to march together to the Zócalo in Mexico City [on July 23] for a:
  • Fair price for their products;
  • Reduction and freeze on the price of diesel, electricity, seeds and fertilizer; and that the
  • Mexican State might form an enterprise for warehousing and marketing [agricultural products].
Meetings held in Playa del Carmen, Campeche; Zaachila, Oaxaca, and Celaya, Guanajuato, formulated ​​similar demands, among which are:

First. Adopt a general law of consultation and free and informed prior consent for indigenous peoples and communities. The law should establish a system of safeguards and protection of forests and their inhabitants, following international agreements for indigenous peoples signed by the Mexican government.

Second. Remove from discussion the articles of the presidential initiative for the hydrocarbons law that establish legal easements and temporary occupations.

Third. [Specify] that the special concurrent program be multi-year, in order to accommodate strategic planning with outcomes for indigenous and peasant development.

Fourth. [Institute] a program of support and subsidy for diesel, natural gas and gasoline for farmers.

Fifth. [Recognize] that organized peasant and indigenous communal entities are to be considered bodies of public interest owing to the contributions that the countryside has made in developing and strengthening the country.

Sixth. [Institute] an enterprise of a statist nature that would act directly in the agricultural and food market through price regulations and compensatory public policies for both producers and consumers, thereby lowering the prices of basic food products. In order to assure full food sovereignty: No transgenic maize [corn] and no [agricultural] monopolies.

Seventh. Release, by means of an amnesty law, political prisoners, whose sole responsibility has been defense of their territories and their communities in opposition to megaprojects that undermine and devastate the natural resources in their territory.

Eighth. Create a bank for agriculture and rural development with first and second level functions, an entity with its own assets and functional autonomy whose mission would be to finance the production of staple foods, promote chains of value, foster sustainable development and encourage rural financial intermediaries operated by producers.

These organizations know that the current situation, permeated by violence both by organized crime and that unleashed by the State, requires an extensive unification. The first proposal is to carry out the great mobilization on July 23 in Mexico City, as well as actions in the states, particularly on the international bridges.A legitimate, peaceful and legal peasant uprising provoked by the attempted looting of their lands can have a greater political and social impact than that generated by the original actions of the self-defense groups in Michoacán.

*Roberto Rico, peasant leader, is also author of the book “The Return: Union of Peoples’ Communities in the Valley of Mexico” [i.e., Mexico City] [El retorno: la Unión de Colonias Populares del Valle de México].



Farmers Groups Protest Energy Reform With ‘Mega-March’ in Mexico City

Farmers Groups Protest Energy Reform With 'Mega-March' in Mexico City

Peasant farmer organizations marched Wednesday to protest expropriation of their land under Energy Bill

On Wednesday, members of campesino [peasant farmer] organizations participated in a mega-march from different parts of Mexico City to the Zócalo to protest the energy reform and to demand a reform of the countryside [agrarian reform] and protection of the rights of campesino and indigenous peoples.

On Wednesday morning, members of agricultural associations gathered near the Angel of Independence, the Stele of Light and the headquarters of the Secretariat of Government Relations [SEGOB] to carry out the march whose route followed Reforma Boulevard to Bucareli [SEGOB headquarters] and then end up in the Zócalo [Mexico City’s main square].

The Secretariat of Public Security for the Federal District (SSPDF) told CNNMéxico that there had been no reported incidents during the march, and they estimated that 60,000 people participated…. News reports citing campesinoorganizations themselves, suggest that there were between 10,000 and 30,000 demonstrators. …

Among the organizations protesting were: the Movement for Food Sovereignty, Defense of the Earth and Water, Natural Resources and the Territory; the Permanent Agrarian Congress; the National Council of Peasant Organizations; the National Confederation of Small Farmers; the Mexican Agrarian Confederation; Antorcha Campesina [Peasant Firebrand]; El Barzón; the National Movement of 400 Pueblos, and the Francisco [i.e., Pancho] Villa 21st Century Popular Front, among others.

The campesino farmers are seeking dialogue with federal authorities with the intent of discussing issues important to their industry, such as a farm bill and the rights of indigenous and peasant people. Another point that concerns agricultural organizations are provisions of the energy reform regarding the use of land for the exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbons.

The legislation, which has already been passed by the Senate and is now under review in the Chamber of Deputies, establishes that when a property held by individual or communal landowners might have oil or gas, it will be possible to put it into voluntary service, or temporary occupation, by means of an agreement between the owners and the individuals who want to exploit the energy resources. For the organizations, this amounts to an expropriation of land and affects property rights.

MV Note: the legislation gives priority to hydorcarbon extraction over any other use of the land and makes possible the “temporary occupation” of land for exploration and extraction in which the government can override the wishes of the owners and grant concessions to private companies.

Translations by Jane Brundage



July 23, 2014

Legal Setback for Monsanto

Filed under: Corporations — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 4:14 pm


Legal Setback for Monsanto

La Jornada: Editorial: srep04022-f3
Yesterday, a judge in the Yucatán District Court overturned a permit issued to the multinational company Monsanto that allowed the commercial planting of GM soybean in that state. According to the judicial body, such activity puts at risk the production of Mexican honey in states like Campeche, Quintana Roo and Yucatán.To put the event in context, it should be noted that the permit revoked by yesterday’s court order was issued by the Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food [SEGARPA] on June 6, 2012, counter to the express views of environmental institutions within the Mexican State itself (National Commission for the Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity; National Commission of Natural Protected Areas; National Institute of Ecology), and despite repudiation by hundreds of researchers articulated in the Union of Concerned Scientists Committed to Society.

According to opposing arguments, the necessary and sufficient conditions for ensuring coexistence of honey production and cultivation of Monsanto GM soybean do not exist in the country. To the scientific reasons are added economic ones: the aforementioned permit puts at severe risk the sale of honey produced in the identified states to the European market (where 85 percent of Mexican honey is exported), given that a decision issued in 2011 by the Court of Justice of the European Union prohibits the sale of honey containing pollen from GM crops.
Taken together, these elements might seem to lend particular significance to the judicial determination: This is a setback for the largest transnational producer of modified foods, whose presence has grown in our country in recent years; moreover, it constitutes an extremely valuable victory for the peasant and indigenous, environmental, scientific and civic organizations opposed to these crops for constituting a risk factor for the health and nutrition of both populations and for biodiversity.027n1est-1To the contrary, the fact remains that they [activist organizations] had to resort to a court of law to reverse a permit that obviously revealed an improper and irregular attitude by the country’s agricultural and food authorities. Indeed, counter to what is happening in Europe, where the majority of national governments take a cautious approach when faced with scientific evidence of the risks to health and biodiversity posed by genetically modified organisms, their Mexican counterparts have chosen to open the national agriculture to these crops. To top it off, they have done so while by-passing the guarantees of native communities–such as the right to be consulted regarding operations of individuals that affect their territories–and abandoning them to their fate in legal battles against the powerful multinationals.
Despite its importance, the judicial setback dealt to Monsanto on this occasion is clearly insufficient to reverse the damage caused by opening [the country to] the free production of genetically modified crops. In any event, it would be preferable that yesterday’s ruling might lead to a review by agricultural and food authorities of their current conduct; that is, in favor of the large transnationals of modified foods and against the country’s traditional farmers and food sovereignty.
If it is true that the eradication of hunger is a priority of the current federal government, then the starting point must be recognition of the relationship between this scourge [genetically modified crops] and the model of food policy that has been imposed on the entire population: a model based on the conversion of the right to food into the private business of a few companies.
Translated by Jane Brundage



July 22, 2014

The Zapatista Women’s Revolutionary Law as it is lived today

Filed under: Women, Zapatista — Tags: — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 6:59 pm


The Zapatista Women’s Revolutionary Law as it is lived today

This essay on the Zapatistas’ Women’s Revolutionary Law twenty years on, draws on Zapatista women’s reflections, together with a decades-long engagement with indigenous feminism and Zapatismo. Engaging difference through respect rather than negation can also move us beyond impasses within contemporary feminism, political theory, and rights-based activism.

“ The capitalists had us believing this idea … that women are not valuable”
– The Participation of Women in the Autonomous Government[i]We know that the Women’s Revolutionary Law was passed by consensus within the ranks of the Zapatista Army for National Liberation (EZLN) many months before their public emergence twenty years ago on January 1, 1994. From one of Subcomandante Marcos’ letters, we know that reactions to it were varied within EZLN ranks, and that its acceptance had to be defended vigorously as a central objective in the Zapatistas’ struggle for justice.

Both Comandanta Ramona and Comandanta Susana spent over four months travelling throughout those then-Zapatista communities. They visited each and every community dialoguing with the Zapatistas collectively through community assemblies, as is the custom of the people of the region. Once accepted in each Zapatista community and village, it was proposed that the Law be included in the EZLN publication, El Despertador Mexicano, Organo Informativo del EZLN (México, No 1., Diciembre 1993).

I remember the novelty of it, in that December of ’93, when I came across this publication, the first of a revolutionary social movement or “guerrilla” movement, which has included as an integral part of its first public appearance – its “letter of introduction” so to speak – its demands for women’s rights. This was truly innovative at the time. One could hardly believe it, and much less so when the first images appeared confirming the undeniable presence of women in positions of authority. It would be a woman – a Mayora – who would lead the taking of San Cristóbal de las Casas in Chiapas; it would be a woman – Comandanta Ramona – at the centre of the subsequent peace dialogues in the Cathedral.

Ever since, this Law has expressed itself through the Zapatistas’ own practices. If there is something that has given Zapatismo its distinctive characteristic, its colour and its flavour, it has been its emphasis on including and defending women’s rights as defined through the Women’s Revolutionary Law.


For the rest of this article, go to:



Philosophising from Indigenous Communities: An Urgent Necessity

Filed under: Ethics, Indigenous — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 3:21 pm

We Need to Philosophise from an Indigenous Framework

Philosophising from Indigenous Communities: An Urgent Necessity


20AIn Mexico, one of the main tasks for philosophers today is to deal with the country’s social reality, which in many ways finds itself in crisis. Mexican philosophy, therefore, unlike others, is situated within the socio-political context – which both conditions and facilitates the task.

The philosophy of indigenous communities in Mexico, however, has not been recognised, and has even been rejected, much like their ways of life and their right to autonomy. Below, we will discuss why their philosophies have been ignored or dismissed, and why this must change.

The recuperation of indigenous culture concerns us all, not just philosophers. In taking an interest, we discover numerous examples of inspirational resistance, such as: the defence of water in Sonora by the Yaqui tribe; the exploitation of the Wixárika territory in San Luis Potosí by Canadian mining companies; and the self defence of communities on the coast of Guerrero, where Community Police Forces have stepped up in the absence of a competent or interested State. And finally, we have the example of Zapatista communities in Chiapas which have defended their land since the agrarian crisis of 1974 and continue to build autonomous forms of societal organisation. But one recurring factor in all these campaigns is the discrimination of the government, landowners, and businessmen towards such indigenous peasant organisations.

In each case, questions arise regarding the legitimacy of these groups (as philosopher Enrique Dussel considered [1]), and regarding the philosophical basis behind such forms of organisation. In many cases, mestizos have learned about other cultures, but they have also looked down on them, having adopted a “Western” way of thinking. As a result, the idea of embracing and rescuing indigenous culture can be quite unsettling for them.

By encouraging the recognition of the diversity within the Mesoamerican cultures present in Mexico, we do not necessarily mean that everything “Western” should be overlooked or forgotten. However, we do need to start off with the correct conceptual framework. For example, we first need to accept the existence of a unique indigenous culture and challenge all doubts about the human condition of indigenous people. In México Profundo (‘Deep Mexico’), Bonfil Batalla helps us to develop this framework by deciphering what is presented to us as ‘reality’.

The attack on indigenous culture began with the Spanish Conquest, so we first need to look at how colonisation distanced the colonisers from the colonised. We also need to consider how the continued domination and centralisation of knowledge by Western philosophy in society has ensured that this ‘distance’, to a certain extent, persists today. From the very start, for example, Western ideologues claimed that indigenous inferiority was natural, and this idea soon turned into real social inferiority.

A fundamental characteristic of all colonial societies is the ideological affirmation that the invaders, who belong to a different culture from those who are being invaded, are in some way superior in all aspects and that, as a result, the culture of those whose land has been colonised must be rejected and excluded. And this is precisely the process that took place in Mexico, and continued after independence from Spain. As there was never a true decolonisation, the internal colonial structure simply remained, and the dominant class which took power after 1821 never renounced the Western ‘civilising project’ or the distorted view of Mexico held by the colonisers.[2]

An imaginary Mexico was soon created, with the idea of a “unique Mexican culture”, and the differences between the diverse communities within the nation were overlooked. As a result, the new ‘civilising project’ saw social groups which had been westernised (whether through heritage or circumstance) reject the place of Mesoamerican civilisation in their culture. The world views of the colonising and colonised civilisations, including their perceptions of nature and humans, were different, and their disagreements were intensified by the fact that westernised groups had considered indigenous communities inferior for centuries. The original inhabitants of Mexico which had failed to assimilate into the culture of the colonisers would have no part to play in the continuing Western project.

As a result of the subsequent homogenisation, our journey towards understanding the complexity of our own condition will be a long one. Colonisers and Western ideologues have long ensured that a process ‘deindianisation’ distances us from our roots – a tactic characterised by Batalla as the ‘loss of collective identity to make domination possible’. In summary, people were displaced and their ways of thinking and living were suppressed, all in order to create a fictitious Mexico that denies its own history and is even embarrassed by it.

In the process of recuperation, though, it is not only the mestizo who needs to reflect. Some indigenous communities have managed to conserve their identities in spite of the presence of the dominant culture, but there are also many who do not try to recognise themselves in the history of the ‘Deep Mexico’. Having been ‘deindianised’, both mestizo and indigenous citizens may be confused about their identities, unaware of their history, and therefore ignorant to the reasons behind the problems facing them and their communities today. Upon seeking to “recuperate the Indian” and “possess their own I”, mestizos in particular are likely to “see their reality divided”. Rather than this division being imposed upon them by the dominant culture, however, this division will now reside inside them, “in their own spirit”.[3]

When the mestizo approaches the indigenous, they begin to see how they are in a similar situation – that of exploitation. In this way, they learn to recognise themselves within this circumstance, and act in a different way as a result. They no longer see indigenous communities in the framework of the oppressor, and start to understand that ‘Indian’ was just a pejorative word used by colonialists to homogenise all that was ‘non-Spanish’ (or, today, ‘non-Western’). They also recognise that, by doing this, colonisers sought to declare the inferiority of all that was ‘different’.


So, in what way have philosophers approached indigenous cultures in the last century?

Before answering this question, it is important to emphasise that ‘indigenous communities’ are not one group alone – and that such a categorisation would place us in the same framework as the colonisers and their ‘Indians’. Instead, we could talk about the Nahuas, Purépechas, Tojolabales, Tzeltales, Huicholes, Chichimecos, Otomíes, Paipais, Kiliwas, Mazatecos, or Ixcatecos – to name just a few. To recognise the differences between these groups in this way is to respect their individual identities and give them each the place they deserve.

It is essential that we look at the world through the framework of a ‘Deep Mexico’. We could mention historical figures or groups, but that would only be to understand why different groups exist today. Instead, we should try to place ourselves within the conceptual framework of other cultures – such as the Tojolabales,Tzeltales and Tzotziles, who called themselves Zapatistas in their fight to defend their land and sovereignty in Chiapas. We should also look at the world through the framework of their construction of a new form of political organisation – totally different from that present in the West. By looking at the world in the way they do, we can begin to understand that their circumstances are ours too.

Carlos Lenkersdorf especialIn “Philosophising in the Key of Tojolabal”, Carlos Lenkersdorf affirms that politics, for this community, must be looked at from the “we” (or -tik). At birth, mothers are surrounded by family members as they go into labour, and the new-born child is passed into the arms of each one. The place of the baby on the back or chest of the mother in the first few months represents the incorporation of the child into the “we”, as it observes and becomes a part of its mother’s daily activities. In this way, learning is a collective process from the moment of birth in the Tojolabal context.

Meanwhile, the problems set out at school are always related to what happens in the community, and the problems are solved by the whole community. The presence of “WE” is essential, and education here is therefore referred to as “we-centric”. This is the basis of both the community’s politics and organisation.

The “–tik” is key in understanding Tojolabal philosophy, as it is central whenever the community refers to experiences, thoughts, or decisions. It represents a “large number of components or members, including animals and nature” and, without “losing their individuality”, each member is considered a part of all that surrounds them.[4] Although the different opinions of individuals are heard, an attempt is always made to reach a consensus – with the common good in mind. And the impact of decisions on nature, from animals to rocks, is of great importance – hence the Tojolabal commitment to defending land and subsequent conflict with Western philosophy, whose project of neoliberalism does not consider the impact of its actions on the Earth.

In a socio-political framework, the “we” is an organisational principle. It is the community organisation in assemblies which does not resemble the form of political association dominant in the world today. It considers the combination of intelligence, feelings, and reason when making decisions, but is propped up by judgements based on experience and on the will to act. And all members of the community are considered in these decisions.

In the Tojolabal context, the key is cooperation and collaboration – both based on organisation. Their Mexico – one example of ‘Deep Mexico’ – brings all citizens together to reach a consensus, respecting differences of opinion in the process. The other Mexico – the fictitious one – does not.

As we have seen, the dominant schools of philosophy and politics are not the only ones. There are others to consider, and we must open ourselves up to them. By reflecting on the knowledge of our indigenous communities, and asking ourselves how we can create a “we” space like in Tojolabal communities, we can visualise and create new horizons. Upon considering the quantity and distribution of citizens, however, along with the structures used when they relate, we see that the possibilities for creating these new horizons vary. In a place with thousands of inhabitants, for example, where people are unaccustomed to discussing every decision that affects them, such a task would be incredibly difficult. And many citizens are unused to such dialogue precisely because ‘democratic’ procedures have minimised participation to elections or ‘majority’ decisions (however slight the margins). This is the norm today, and it makes understanding other forms of organisation a significant challenge.

From a framework of Western concepts and experiences, other forms of organisation appear strange and inaccessible, and it is therefore crucial that philosophers engage with the ‘Deep Mexico’, and the diversity that lies within. The same is true throughout Latin America (and other former colonies), where different forms of philosophising, knowing, and existing are present. And they are all within our reach, as parts of our nations, even though they may be buried, ignored, or rejected.

Reflecting on alternatives is an urgent task for philosophers, and a great worry for the current generation. The taking of water in Sonora, displacements in Chiapas, or invasions of Canadian mining companies are risks to us all. We may be a combination of different ethnic groups, but we all share the same condition. We are all exploited.

We must therefore assume the task of counter-hegemonic philosophy, of embracing and understanding the different traditions that have been hidden for too long. In order to bring about change in the concrete situations we experience on a daily basis, we must open up the discussion, philosophising not from the dominant ideologies, but from the framework of our own indigenous communities. By doing so, we can set out potential solutions and transform both our way of thinking and our way of life.



[1] Dussel, Enrique. “¿Son legítimas la policía y la justicia comunitarias según usos y costumbres?” en La Jornada [en línea], publicado el 15 de enero del 2013.

[2] Bonfil Batalla, Guillermo. México profundo: una civilización negada. Editorial Grijalbo, México D.F, 1989. p. 11

[3] Villoro, Luis. Los grandes momentos del indigenismo en México. México, CIESA-SEP, 1987. p. 225

[4] Lenkersdorf, Carlos. Filosofar en clave tojolabal. Edición de Miguel Ángel Porrúa, México, Porrúa, 1ª edición, 2002. p. 29


Translated and adapted by Oso Sabio for Dorset Chiapas Solidarity  from a text originally posted in Spanish on July 18th, 2013 at (@FilosofiaMexico) by Luz María León (






Palestine on our Lips (RvsR)

Filed under: Zapatista — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 7:14 am


Palestine on our Lips (RvsR)



From the Network for Solidarity and against Repression’s Statement on Palestine

Once again, Palestine is on our lips, and Gaza pierces our hearts. The Zionist State of Israel has intensified its acts of extermination against the Palestinian population over the last few weeks and, in Nablus, Ramallah, and Jerusalem, Palestinians have been indiscriminately pursued, detained, and assaulted. In Gaza, the Israeli bombardment has been relentless, and has intentionally targeted the Palestinian people with its criminal attacks. It is clear that Israeli Zionism is a conscious crime against human beings of a different ethnicity. Just like Nazism, it is a crime against life that, in every sense, is an act of genocide……….

………The Zionist State of Israel feels no remorse. It is conscious of its crimes, and accepts that children are among the dead. The hatred it feels towards “the other” is so strong that it believes they also had to die. Former Israeli Prime Minister Menachen Begin captured the essence of this merciless, ethnic Zionism when he said: “We are gods on this planet. We are different from inferior races just as they are different from insects… Other races are like human excrement. Our destiny is to govern our inferiors”.

The Palestinian people, however, who affront the Israeli State with their mere existence, remind it that no human has supremacy over another – and that no people have supremacy over another. In the face of humiliation, they show dignity. And in the face of hatred, disdain, and death, they show life, resistance and, just like our Zapatista comrades, Dignified Rage.

So from Mexico (and the numerous corners of Mexico where the “Network against Repression and In Favour of Solidarity” is found), we express our solidarity with the dignified Palestinian people. We unite our Dignified Rage with yours, and our voice speaks with outrage alongside yours. We feel the pain in Palestine and Gaza, and we shout from our territory, against Zionism: “Palestine Will Resist!”

July 2014 – Network against Repression and In Favour of Solidarity (RvsR)

Translated and adapted by Oso Sabio from an article originally written in Spanish at: and



July 21, 2014

Across Latin America, a Struggle for Communal Land and Indigenous Autonomy

Filed under: Indigenous — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 4:53 pm


Across Latin America, a Struggle for Communal Land and Indigenous Autonomy

Sunday, 20 July 2014 00:00By Renata Bessi and Santiago Navarro F., Truthout | News Analysis



One evening in the community of Capulapam Mendez. (Photo: Santiago Navarro F.)

One evening in the community of Capulapam Mendez. (Photo: Santiago Navarro F.)

The elements that sustain the organizational community structure are the knowledge and values that have prevailed throughout their history. “We must understand what we are, not the ‘I’ or the ‘you,’ but the ‘we,’ and we should hold onto these principles in order to stop the interference of the vulgar and shameless principles of individualism. We shouldn’t enter into competition except to reproduce that which will be shared,” said Jaime Martínez Luna, an indigenous Zapotec anthropologist. “We are against development because it is linear and requires growth; we consider ourselves to be circular, in a spiral, and it’s because of this that men and women are not the center of the natural world. We are not owners of nature; we are owned by nature.”

Additionally, “Earth is considered to be our mother and we cannot do violence to her because she gives us life. We respect seeds because our grandparents taught us that they cry if they are not cared for; the grandparents say that the Mother Earth gives us food and when we die she receives and hugs us,” said Silvestre Ocaña López, of the indigenous group Tlahuitoltepec Mixes in Oaxaca, who does not hesitate to mark the difference between the way of thinking in her town and Western thinking. “Within the Western worldview, the earth is a product,” Ocaña López said. “For us in indigenous towns, we see it as our mother. She does not belong to us; we belong to her.”


Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.

Read the full article:



There has been State violence against the Zapatistas, concludes the Permanent Tribunal of the Peoples

Filed under: Human rights, Zapatista — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 4:41 pm



There has been State violence against the Zapatistas, concludes the Permanent Tribunal of the Peoples


** It [State] is obliged to fully compensate for damages, it [TPP] resolves in the pre-hearing

** There is sufficient evidence available “to presume the commission of crimes against humanity”

By: Hermann Bellinghausen, Envoy

San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, July 19, 2014

GetAttachmentIn El Limonar community, in the jungle north of Ocosingo, they held a pre-hearing this Friday of the Permanent Tribunal of the Peoples (TPP, its initials in Spanish), an international body whose Mexico chapter will culminate next November, when “it will denounce and make visible to national and international public opinion the grave human rights violations which the State committed,” to date unpunished.

The tribunal considers that there is sufficient evidence “to presume the commission of crimes against humanity” by the Mexican State, which “identified certain populations that constituted or were able to constitute a social base for the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN, its initials in Spanish) and, based on that, defined an ‘internal enemy,’ the object of a counterinsurgency strategy, which included thousands of Tzotzil, Tzeltal, Chol and Zoque civilians, belonging to Las Abejas, Xi’nich [1], and sympathizers and support bases of the EZLN.”

The pronouncement emphasizes that State violence was not directed “only against combatants, but also against the non-combatant civil population, including children,” which “demonstrates that the only factor common to all the victims was their belonging to certain organizations,” and shows that these acts were committed “with the intention of totally or partially destroying” such groups.

Witnesses and survivors of acts of great violence in Chol communities of the Northern Zone participated in El Limonar (Jolnixtié Sección I, Miguel Alemán, Usipá, El Limar, Saquil, Susuclumil, Masojá Shucjá, Masojá Grande y Chuctiejá); Tzotziles of Chenalhó, members of Civil Society Las Abejas of Acteal, and those displaced from Viejo Velasco, all “victims of the war strategy of counterinsurgency and of extermination contemplated in the Chiapas 94 Campaign Plan and implemented by the Mexican government at the start of the EZLN’s armed uprising, which yielded as a consequence dozens of forced disappearances, murders, forced displacements, sexual violence and massacres: crimes against humanity that continue unpunished,” the pronouncement of the pre-hearing makes clear.

The pre-hearing was convoked by 50 national and international popular, student, social and human rights organizations, as well as the 74 organisations that make up the National Network of Civil and Human Rights Organisations All Rights for All, the Network of Community Radios (AMARC, its initials in Spanish) which groups together 35 radio projects, the 42 organizations from the National Campaign Against Forced Disappearance in Mexico, and the Chiapas Peace Network, made up of 10 organizations.

Alejandro Cerezo Contreras, Alejandro de Jesús Martínez Martínez, and the Tzeltal arrangers Carlos Núñez Ruiz and Juan Méndez Gutiérrez, Joel Heredia and Rubén R. García Clark participated as national judges. They decided that the three cases examined “are framed within the social and political struggles of the peoples and communities for the recognition and vindication of identity and indigenous rights.”

The tribunal resolved that: “violations were committed of the human rights of the indigenous peoples in the Northern Zone, Viejo Velasco [2] and Acteal, by conduct which derived from the behaviour of paramilitary groups like Paz y Justicia, or of residents of the Nueva Palestina community, or in Chenalhó, always “organized by the federal, state and municipal authorities.” [Emphasis added.]

The Mexican State “is obliged to fully repair the damages,” the tribunal determined. It recognized in the witnesses firmness, dignity, certainty of memory, and a search for justice and truth. It also recognized “their bravery faced with the threats that can emerge after pre-hearings.”

Finally, the TPP said it observed with concern the events in the La Realidad community, “where José Luis Solís López (Votán Galeano) was extra-judicially executed, signifying the continuity of the counterinsurgency policy in Chiapas.”



[1] Xi’nich means “The ants” in Chol, a Mayan language. It originated as an indigenous Catholic campesino organization, similar to Las Abejas (the Bees). Its members lived in Viejo Velasco.


[2] For background on the Viejo Velasco Massacre in Chiapas, please see:


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Sunday, July 20, 2014

En español:


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

Minor editing by Dorset Chiapas Solidarity. Posted 21/07/2014




July 20, 2014

EZLN: Almost Five Times As Much

Filed under: Zapatista — Tags: , , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 4:08 pm


EZLN: Almost Five Times As Much

JULY 19, 2014


July 2014.

To the compañer@s of the Sixth in Mexico and the world.

Dear compas:



Zapatista greetings to all those who supported our compañero and compañera bases of support. We send an embrace to all those who helped generate funds for the reconstruction of the school and clinic in the Zapatista La Realidad that were destroyed by the bad governments via their paramilitaries from the CIOAC-Histórica.

Today, July 18, 2014, we want to give you an updated report of the funds generated to date. Since the last report we sent, more money has come in which hadn’t arrived before due to lack of adequate means to send it. For example, our compas of the Sixth in Europe had problems getting the money here, but they resolved that issue and those funds have now arrived in full. The same happened to other compas and collectives in Mexico and in the world.

So here is the total amount, including what we reported in June, of what has, to our knowledge, been raised. Some of it is not actually here yet but is in good hands and sure to arrive safely.

From collectives from all over the world, a total (including the $344,612 that we listed in the last report) of: $937,922.26 (nine hundred thirty-seven thousand, nine hundred twenty-two pesos and 26 cents).

From individuals from all over the world, a total of: $20,724.00 (twenty thousand seven hundred twenty-four pesos).

All together, this comes to a total of $958,646.26 (nine hundred fifty-eight thousand six hundred forty-sixpesos and twenty-six cents).

The strength of your collective efforts together with individual contributions has raised five times the amount budged for the reconstruction. That is, the amount is almost quintuple what we asked for, which was $200,209.00.

This doesn’t include the money we are told will be raised at the concert to be held tomorrow, July 19, 2014, at the SME-Coapa sports complex, where musicians in struggle will perform, including Ideología Vigente, MC Lokoter, Sonora Skandalera, El Aarón, Barricada Sur, NARS MC, Mexikan Sound Sytem, Su Merce, To Ciuc Libre, Sound Sisters, Kori Fyah, Los Zopes, Resistencia de México. You’ll have to forgive me if the names aren’t exactly right, because we’re looking at them on a poster on twitter; it says that the music starts at 11:30 and ends at 7:30. That is, there will be 8 hours of musical resistance.

With these funds the compañeras and compañeros of La Realidad Zapatista will be able to buy both supplies and medicines.

In the name of our compañeras and compañeros bases of support of the EZLN, all we can say is thank you for your conscientious struggle and support.

With this support it is clear that the “big heads” that say we are alone and forgotten are mistaken.

Soon we will begin reconstruction work and then it will be clear that those who are against us did not manage to destroy nor to detain the struggle for a new world. The newly constructed school and clinic are going to be even better than they were before.

And so it goes, compañer@s of the Sixth, because those of us who say we are below and to the left and part of the anticapitalist Sixth have to be good and decided in what we are doing.

Look at the compañero Galeano: he wasn’t murdered because he stole or because he didn’t pay his debts in dollars or euros to the capitalists. He didn’t steal and he didn’t have any debts to anyone even in his own town. On the contrary, people owed him money.

He was murdered for being below and to the left and anticapitalist.

Those who carried out the murder are still free, only a few of those who planned the murder are in jail. Justice has not been done.

We are remembering him these days because we are in meetings about the exchange that is coming up with the compañer@s of the National Indigenous Congress. As we were going over the list of coordinators, his name came up and all of the compañer@s who were there, upon hearing the compañero Galeano’s name, shouted “presente!



Thus the work goes on and the struggle continues.

There is little time left to support the compañeros of the National Indigenous Congress in their travel to the exchange.

But each person’s art of struggle will help us find a way.

So, onward compañer@s.

Because the anticapitalist struggle below and to the left continues.

That’s all for now. We will keep you updated.

From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast.

Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés.
Mexico, July 2014. In the twentieth year of the war against oblivion.


Translated by El Kilombo Intergaláctico

Posted by Dorset Chiapas Solidarity 20/07/2014



Older Posts »

Create a free website or blog at