dorset chiapas solidarity

September 30, 2014

Judge adds more charges against 3 indigenous from Bachajón, who were arrested and tortured, ejido owners accuse

Filed under: Bachajon, Displacement, Indigenous, La Sexta, Political prisoners — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 6:52 pm


Judge adds more charges against 3 indigenous from Bachajón, who were arrested and tortured, ejido owners accuse

** The intention of the Chilón and Ocosingo authorities is that they cannot get out on bail, they claim

By: Hermann Bellinghausen




A judge added charges against the three indigenous from San Sebastián Bachajón, Chiapas, in order to prevent their freedom, after being tortured and threatened with a pistol during interrogation in the Ocosingo holding cell.

Their compañeros, ejido owners adherent to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle, claim that it is an act of reprisal by the Chilón municipal police and the judicial authorities of Ocosingo for the incarceration of a municipal police agent who participated in the 21 March execution of Juan Carlos Gómez Silvano, leader of Virgen Dolores community. One of those imprisoned on false charges is the murdered leader’s brother.

“The bad government is giving more punishment to our compañeros Juan Antonio Gómez Silvano, Mario Aguilar Silvano and Roberto Gómez Hernández, because now it has changed their crime from aggravated assault to the attempted murder of Chilón municipal police agent Alfredo Bernabé Aguilar Fuentes, so that they do not get out on bail and remain unjustly in prison for longer, since it is a crime they did not commit. “This is why the bad government mistreated our compañeros for nine hours, and also later the Public Ministry [1] agent, Rodolfo Gómez Gutiérrez, put a pistol to the head of compañero Mario Aguilar.”

They ask them for money

The Tzeltal ejido owners also denounce that their prisoner compañeros in Cereso 16 of Ocosingo “are being asked for money by those called spokespersons or precisos who coordinate with the prison authorities.”

They accuse Judge Omar Heleria Reyes of being “an accomplice of the bad government, because he only signs the order for formal prison because the government, his boss, orders him to do it. The judges of our peoples do not act in that way; wisdom and intelligence are needed to resolve problems, but what these people do is violate rights and protect the dirty work of the bad government.”

The indigenous demand the immediate liberation of their compañeros, “tortured and unjustly deprived of their freedom since 16 September for struggling for justice and the defence of their territory.”

They also demanded the release of Santiago Moreno Pérez, a prisoner since 2009, and of Emilio Jiménez Gómez, incarcerated since July 2014, both at the Playas de Catazajá prison, as well as Esteban Gómez Jiménez, who was moved to the El Amate prison.

“We demand that the bad government and the pro-government ejidal commissioner of San Sebastián Bachajón, Alejandro Moreno Gómez, do not continue dispossessing our people of the territory and natural resources, because we are going to continue defending it,” the authorities of the indigenous in resistance said in conclusion.

[1] The Public Ministry in Mexico is similar to the crown prosecutor in the UK.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

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



London Solidarity Action 2nd October

Filed under: Repression — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 5:33 pm





Given the events of the last days, it is urgent to show the criminal Mexican authorities that we are watching and repudiate what is taking place in Guerrero. The idea is to gather outside of the Mexican embassy at 11 am for an action in which:

1) We deliver a letter denouncing impunity and ongoing repression.

2) Cover the embassy’s fence with the names of the 58 dissapeared of the Ayotzinapa rural school, with the phrase: ‘Where are they?’

3) We bring placards with (at least) the following messages:

– The names of the 6 killed and the word Justice!

– Something about the police and the struggle for education.

– The phrase: ’46 years of impunity, October the 2nd in not forgotten.’

– ‘London’s eyes are on Mexico. No more students disappeared, no more students killed’. – ‘No to the criminalization of social protest’

4) We will take pictures of the demonstration/action and send them to independent (and not so independent) media in Mexico.

Please tell us if you can come and if you can contribute with a placard. Of course, if you have any other ideas for placards, they are very welcome.

****We will organize an event to protest the renewed plans for an airport nearby Atenco later this month, so keep alert!

See the event and spread the word on:


September 29, 2014

Yaqui Struggle for Water, “We Have to Defend Ourselves”

Filed under: Displacement, Indigenous, water — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 6:02 pm


Yaqui Struggle for Water, “We Have to Defend Ourselves


 Yaqui spokesman, Tomás Rojo Valencia at a forum in Mexico City Photo: Pablo Ramos

Yaqui spokesman, Tomás Rojo Valencia at a forum in Mexico City
Photo: Pablo Ramos

Blanche Petrich

La Jornada, 27 September, 2014
The spill of 40 thousand cubic metres of toxic substances in the Bacanuchi and Sonora Rivers from Grupo Mexico mines in northern Sonora only aggravates the dispute between state authorities and the Yaqui tribe. Despite the 800 kilometers separating the two regions, they continue to clash regarding control of the Yaqui River in the south.

In an interview, Tomás Rojo Valencia states: “Now, since the water in the Sonora River is contaminated, they’ll say there’s a shortage in Hermosillo [state capital]. This only gives them more reason to continue stealing water that belongs to the Yoremia people, or to the Yuemen, as we call ourselves. It just keeps getting worse.”

An arrest warrant hangs over Rojo Valencia’s head, a leader and member of the Vicam Yaqui Council and spokesman for the tribe. The warrant is a part of the same criminal case that continues to play out against two Yaqui leaders who have already been imprisoned, Mario Luna and Fernando Jiménez. Rojo Valencia knows that his arrest may be imminent. However, he affirms that in spite of the government onslaught, all they can do is “keep defending ourselves.”

In Sonora, he says, “today there is a real water war,” a water system crisis in a state covered by one of the most fierce deserts in North America. “And what does Governor Guillermo Padrés do in the face of this crisis? Well, with the new conflict that has opened up in the Sonora River Basin, with the riverside villages affected by pollution and in the middle of lawsuits with their own federal government, it’s not about solving problems with us. It’s the opposite. They put more pressure on us. It looks like they just went and told their operators: go and get even with the Yaquis.”

The three leaders are charged with kidnapping and robbery. However, before explaining the facts that led up to this criminal case, Rojo Valencia insists on understanding the entire context surrounding “our people’s destiny,” all the way back to the Spanish viceroyalty, when the Jesuits recognized the eight villages that today constitute their territory. He pronounces each village in his native tongue: Cócorit, meaning wild spice; Bácum, standing water or backwater; Torím, giant rodent; Vícam, arrowhead; Pótam, (where Mario Luna is from), gopher’s nest; Rahum, flowing water; Huíriris, night bird, and Belem, decanted earth.

For their contributions during the War of Independence, the Yaqui Wars, and the revolution against Porfirio Díaz, by presidential decree, Lázaro Cárdenas granted the Yaquis a territory of 485,000 hectares and control of 50 percent of the water from the Angostura Dam. “And as everyone knows, in this country, the last stronghold for the defence of natural resources are the indigenous peoples.”

La Jornada: “What specific incident led to the state government’s kidnapping and robbery charges?”

“First, I have to explain the context. For decades, our tribe has developed its own institutions, policies, forms of production, and ways of social and cultural organization. And, of most importance, a legal system, that along with everything else, is based on our identity. Among these things are internal mechanisms needed in order to maintain order.

This is what was applied to Mr. Francisco Delgado, who was Secretary of the Vícam tribe at the time. In June of 2013, he came speeding through our highway blockade in his truck, threatening the safety of the women and children standing guard in the kitchen area at the edge of the road. He was taken into custody and brought before the traditional guard at a hut, where he was fed and provided shelter. The next day he was tried in an assembly that consisted of governors, captains, commanders, young, and elderly people, in addition to the Yoreme troop, which is made up of men, women, children, and the elderly. He was subjected to public shame, this is true.”

La Jornada: “This is why they have accused you of kidnapping?”

“I don’t know if it has to do with a lack of knowledge, or simply contempt for our tribe and its laws, but what they’re doing is criminalizing our laws, and they are also violating their own laws, because we have not received due process. They are fabricating evidence and committing irregularities in the arrest and legal process.”

La Jornada: “You have said that the current dispute is like a new Yaqui war.”

“Yes, but the only person to blame for this is Governor Padrés. In a completely unjust and arbitrary way, he wants to deprive us of our water. Between April 2013 and April 2014 they have extracted over 30 million cubic meters of water. The water they take to Hermosillo has an owner, and that owner is the Yaqui tribe.”

La Jornada: “In a recent judgment, the Supreme Court of Justice ordered that the Sonoran government reinstate the right of indigenous peoples to be heard, and to consultation. What happened here with that consultation?”

“It’s in process. But according to international standards, it has to be prior, free, and informed, and also culturally adequate and in good faith. It wasn’t prior, because the aqueduct is already in operation; nor is it free, because we are not exempt from political and legal pressure from the state government. In this context, it is extremely difficult to carry out lawful, social, and institutional exercises internally within the tribe.”

La Jornada: “Does the Yaqui tribe currently live off of agricultural activity?”

“We live off of the revenue generated by renting our land. Agricultural activity is not carried out by us, but by large agricultural groups that have greater economic capacity. More than 95 percent of our land is rented. Why? Because, let’s say a Yaqui producer possesses an average of eight hectares and they want to grow wheat, which is best suited for the climate. They would fall behind in a short amount of time, almost immediately, because of production costs. You would need to plant roughly 70-80 hectares of wheat to break even or make a profit.” “This is a great limitation for us, and it originates from the farming policies adopted in the era of Carlos Salinas of Gortari.”

La Jornada: “How did you start to mobilize?”

“We started with information, complaints, civil disobedience, and civil resistance, but also with a legal fight. Protest is important. Otherwise, it’s difficult to influence the social mood, and also the judges to correctly implement the law. And of course, the turning point was blocking International Highway 15 [to the U.S. border], in the stretch that goes from Obregón to Guaymas. We have a checkpoint there.”

Translated by: Laura Turner

September 27, 2014


Filed under: Bachajon, Frayba, Human rights, Indigenous, Tourism — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 9:35 am




To the Good Government Juntas

To the Indigenous National Congress

To the adherents to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle

To the mass and alternative media

To the Network for Solidarity and against Repression

To Movement for Justice in El Barrio from New York

To national and international human rights defenders

To the people of Mexico and the world 



Compañeras and compañeros

On September 16, 2014, at about 4 am, 40 members of the municipal police from Chilón, under the command of commander Francisco Sanchez Guzman, arrested and tortured our compañeros Juan Antonio Gómez Silvano, Mario Aguilar Silvano and Roberto Gómez Hernández, accusing them of shooting a member of the Chilón municipal police whose name is Alfredo Bernabé Aguilar Fuentes. Two compañeros from the organization who were not arrested at that time managed to get to the community of Virgen de Dolores to give news of the arrest and the compañeros being taken to an unknown destination.

At 6 am, relatives of the three detainees and authorities of the organization went to look for the compañeros in the police station in Chilón, but they denied that they were there, then we went to the Public Ministry in Ocosingo where they also denied that they were there, then we went to the office of the General Prosecutor of the Republic in Ocosingo but they also said that they knew nothing, we told them that we wanted to give them something to eat and to know how they were, by this time it was about 1.00 in the afternoon.

As no authority of the bad government was saying where the compañeros were held, we submitted an amparo concerning their detention, being held incommunicado, torture and possible forced disappearance. The families of the three detainees went to the police headquarters at Yajalón to continue looking for the compañeros around 3 pm, but they also gave them no information and so they returned to the community of Virgen de Dolores at 6 in the afternoon and the authorities went to the prison in Ocosingo, but we did not find them.

At 6pm compañeros from the organization who were still searching for the three compañeros in Ocosingo learned that they were in the cells of the municipal police in Ocosingo and their families quickly brought food and arrived at about 8 pm, but even so they would not allow the relatives to see them, but just took the food because they could not see them.

On September 17, 2014, at 10 in the morning we were able to see the three compañeros in the public ministry of Ocosingo, this was when we saw that all the compañeros had been beaten, we wanted to speak with them but they were surrounded by municipal police who kept the prosecution surrounded and only allowed the relatives to pass through but not the authorities but they were making a statement with no translator and no lawyer.

Through information from the three prisoner compañeros we know that they were tortured by Rodolfo Gómez Gutiérrez from the Public Ministry who pointed a gun at the head of compañero Mario Aguilar Silvano and put a bag over his head​​ forcing him to incriminate himself.

In the evening of the same day they were forced to sign documents without knowing their contents and the three compañeros were also informed that they could go out on bail, so for this reason the compañeros were able to communicate with compañeros from Virgen de Dolores who came to the public ministry of Ocosingo at 11 pm, but they did not want to let them see them then and a guard told them that they would not see them until 7 am the next day.

It was only on 18 September, 2014, when the relatives were able to speak to Octavio López Martínez from the Public Ministry who told them that they would have to stand bail for an amount of 35,000 pesos each. At that time members of the Frayba human rights centre also arrived with a doctor to certify the torture of our compañeros in the cells of the   municipal police of Ocosingo where they could only see Mario Aguilar Silvano, because the   term of the public prosecutor to resolve their legal status had expired, so then at about 1 pm they were taken to the prison in Ocosingo where they finally finished certificating the two compañeros Juan Antonio Gómez Silvano and Roberto Gómez Hernández.

On 19 September 2014, the Ocosingo Judge Omar Heleria Reyes set bail for our compañeros of 332,000 pesos each, and at 1.25 pm on that day his time to resolve the legal situation of our compañeros expired.

Our prisoner compañeros were able to identify among the Chilón municipal police who arrested them one by the name of Agustin Sanchez Jimenez, who is a friend and neighbour of Sebastian Mendez Hernandez who is currently in prison at El Amate for the murder of our compañero Juan Carlos Gomez Silvano in the morning of March 21, 2014, near the community of Virgen de Dolores, where he was killed with more than 20 gunshots. For this reason we consider it an act of revenge against our organization for looking for those responsible for the murder of our compañero Juan Carlos.

We demand that the bad government release immediately our compañeros JUAN ANTONIO GOMEZ SILVANO, MARIO AGUILAR SILVANO and ROBERTO GOMEZ HERNANDEZ who were tortured by the bad government and are prisoners in the prison (cereso) of Ocosingo.

Our organization will continue to fight for the defence of our territory from the bad government which has plundered it since February 2011 in order to impose world class ecotourism projects and has given over our lands to the national Commission for natural protected areas even though this is part of our lands, it is not in the decree of Agua Azul, all with the complicity of former ejidal commissioner Francisco Guzman Jimenez also known as the goyito and the current ejidal commissioner Alejandro Moreno Gómez.

We also demand the release of our compañeros SANTIAGO MORENO PEREZ imprisoned since 2009 in Playas de Catazajá for a crime he did not commit, also of EMILIO JIMENEZ GOMEZ imprisoned since July 2014 in  Playas de Catazajá for a crime he did not commit and compañero ESTEBAN GOMEZ JIMENEZ imprisoned since 2013 in Playas de Catazajá and then transferred to El Amate, for crimes he did not commit.

From the northern zone of the state of Chiapas we send combative greetings to all the compañeros and compañeras who defend the mother earth from capitalist projects of dispossession.

Never again a Mexico without us


Land and Freedom! Zapata Vive!

Hasta la victoria siempre!

Freedom for political prisoners!

Juan Vázquez Guzmán Lives, the Bachajón struggle continues!

Juan Carlos Gómez Silvano Lives, the Bachajón struggle continues!

No to the dispossession of indigenous territories!




September 26, 2014

Torture of Indigenous Tzeltal Adherents to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle

Filed under: Boca en Boca, Frayba, Human rights, Indigenous, Political prisoners — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 6:44 pm



Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Centre, A.C.

 San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico

24 September 2014

Press Release No.26

Torture of Indigenous Tzeltal Adherents to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle




The Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Centre (Frayba) has documented acts of torture and cruel, inhuman and/or degrading treatment committed by members of the Chilón Municipal Police against the Tzeltal indigenous Juan Antonio Gómez Silvano, Roberto Gómez Hernández and Mario Aguilar Silvano (hereinafter Juan Antonio, Roberto and Mario), adherents to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle. The events occurred on 16 September, 2014, in the county seat of Chilón, Chiapas, Mexico.

According to information in the possession of Frayba, on September 16, at approximately 04.00 hrs, while they were heading home, Juan Antonio, Roberto and Mario were arrested by a group of approximately 40 municipal police from Chilón.

From that moment they were beaten with fists and kicked, had gas sprayed in their eyes,  were handcuffed and each was put into a truck belonging to the Chilón municipal police;  already subdued, and face downwards they trod on their backs and hands to immobilize them. At the headquarters of the Municipal Police the beatings and spraying of gas in their eyes continued, while interrogating them on the carrying of two firearms and injuries to a municipal policeman. The three Tzeltal indigenous indicated that they knew nothing about the acts the police were questioning them about.

On 17 September, now in the Prosecutor’s Office of the Public Ministry in Ocosingo, Chiapas, they were again beaten in the presence of Rodolfo Manuel Gomez Gutierrez, officer of the Public Ministry. According to documentation they tried to asphyxiate Mario with a plastic bag and beat him on the head with the palm of the hand insisting that he confess with regard to the firearm and that he incriminate himself for having shot and injured a policeman. Meanwhile Roberto was pressured psychologically to accuse the two compañeros, with the argument that they had incriminated him.

The three indigenous were forced to put their fingerprint on the ministerial statement, which was not read to them. It is important to state that none of the three can read or write, and in addition their native language is Tzeltal. There is information that the detainees did not have a translator, nor a lawyer they trust to assist them during their ministerial statement. They were committed on 18 September to appear before Judge Omar Heredia Reyes for the crime of aggravated assault.

On giving their initial statement before Judge Omar Heredia, it was achieved that he would give judicial testimony as to their injuries, asking the prosecutor from the Public Ministry to initiate appropriate investigations in to probable acts of torture, sustaining them in the State Law for the Prevention and Punishment of Torture. Given what has just been told, Frayba is concerned about the performance of the Municipal Police of Chilón and the Public Ministry of Ocosingo, for the use of torture as a method of police investigation.

We request the Attorney General of the state of Chiapas conduct the appropriate investigations against the municipal police of Chilón and the Prosecutor of the Public Ministry, Rodolfo Manuel Gómez Gutiérrez, for the crime of torture as it is defined in the Criminal Code the state of Chiapas, and the other crimes that result.

Also, the judge hearing the case of Juan Antonio, Roberto and Mario must put aside the legal evidence obtained under torture.

Background: During the celebrations of the Mexican independence festival, on the morning of 16 September, in the county seat of the municipality of Chilón, several gun shots were heard when a member of the Chilón municipal police was injured. Juan Antonio, Robert and Mario attended these celebrations and were walking home when they were stopped and accused of shooting the injured policeman.



Ocosingo Judge Omar Heleria Reyes issues detention order against Tzeltal indigenous who were forced to testify under torture

Filed under: Bachajon, Political prisoners — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 5:01 am


Ocosingo Judge Omar Heleria Reyes issues detention order against Tzeltal indigenous who were forced to testify under torture 

cartel-y-mesa-bachaj-333x500Chiapas, Mexico. September 24. Ocosingo Judge Omar Heleria Reyes has issued a detention order against three ejidatarios from San Sebastián Bachajón, despite the Fray Bartolome de Las Casas Human Rights Centre (Frayba) documenting acts of torture and cruel, inhuman and/or degrading treatment committed by members of the Chilon Municipal Police against the Tzeltales. “The three Indians, who cannot read or write, were forced to put their fingerprint on the ministerial statement which was not read to them, and they also did not have a translator,” denounces the Human Rights Centre.

Frayba also requests the General Prosecutor of Justice of the state of Chiapas to “conduct the appropriate investigations against the Chilón municipal police and the prosecutor of the Public Ministry, Rodolfo Manuel Gómez Gutiérrez for the crime of torture”, as Mario Aguilar , one of the detainees, denounced that they tried to asphyxiate him with a plastic bag and gave him blows to the head with the palm of the hand, insisting that he make a confession regarding the firearm and incriminate himself with having shot and injured a Municipal policeman.

Moreover, in a press conference the indigenous from San Sebastián Bachajón, along with their legal representative, denounced that in the case of their compañeros, the prisoners Juan Antonio Gómez Silvano, Mario Aguilar Silvano and Roberto Gómez Hernández from the Virgen de Dolores community “the law was not respected, because they were not presented to the prosecutor from the public ministry who is 5 minutes away from the place of their arrest.” “They were nine hours in police custody without being brought before him” they reveal.

The three Tzeltal indigenous were arrested on September 16, by Commander Francisco Sánchez Guzmán, who accused them of shooting at police from Chilón municipality, even though the sodium radizonate chemical tests were negative. The arrests were made at 4:30 am and the officer presented them to the public ministry of Ocosingo at 1:30 in the afternoon, the defence lawyer reports.

“They were very badly beaten, on the face and body, with internal injuries that were certified by the prosecution” adds the lawyer. When the police were questioned about the reason for the delay in presenting the detainees, they replied that it was because they had to keep doing patrols in the county seat and because of the bad weather in the region, the human rights defender also explains and adds that the supreme court determines that all the elements resulting from an arrest like that of the Tzeltal indigenous are illegal.

During the press conference it was reported that they had reclassified the offence of the ejidatarios from Bachajón, from aggravated wounding to attempted murder, so they cannot get bail. The defence states that they will apply for an indirect amparo (order for legal protection or injunction) against the order for imprisonment, due the serious crimes invented against the indigenous.



September 25, 2014

3 Tzeltal Indigenous imprisoned in Chilón on false charges

Filed under: Bachajon, Political prisoners — Tags: , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 5:45 pm


 3 Tzeltal Indigenous imprisoned in Chilón on false charges

** Frayba accuses the use of torture to obtain confessions

** They are accused of injuring a police agent at the festivities on Sept 16

By: Hermann Bellinghausen



The Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Centre (Frayba), along with the Tzeltal ejido owners of San Sebastián Bachajón, Chiapas, denounced the detention, torture and imprisonment on false charges of Juan Antonio Gómez Silvano, Mario Aguilar Silvano and Roberto Gómez Hernández. The Frayba documented “cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment, committed by members of the Chilón municipal police against indigenous adherents to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle.

The organisation reports that on September 16, towards 4 o’clock in the morning, some 40 police arrested the 3 men while they were heading home. “From that moment they were punched and kicked, they sprayed gas in their eyes, they were handcuffed and put in a municipal police truck, already submitted and face down they stepped on their backs and hands to immobilize them.” The blows and the gas spray continued at the command post, “interrogating them about two firearms and injuries to a police agent.” The accused said that they knew nothing about the acts.

On September 17, now in the office of the Public Ministry (Ministerio Público, MP) [1] in Ocosingo, they were beaten in the presence of Rodolfo Manuel Gómez Gutiérrez, an MP agent. “They provoked the asphyxiation of Mario with a plastic bag and punched him in the head with the palm of their hand, insisting that he confess with respect to the firearm and incriminate himself with having shot and injured a police agent.”

The indigenous were obliged to put their fingerprint on a statement which they did not read to them. Frayba emphasizes that they don’t know how to read or write, also that their language is Tzeltal. “They didn’t have a translator or a trustworthy lawyer.” On September 18, they were assigned to prison. “On rendering their preparatory statement before Judge Omar Heredia, they achieved that he would take judicial notice of their injuries, asking the MP’s prosecutor to initiate appropriate investigations in to probable acts of torture, supporting them with the State Law for the Prevention and Punishment of Torture.” Frayba questions the behaviour of the Chilón municipal police and the MP’s agency in Ocosingo “for the use of torture as a method of police investigation.”

The organisation asks the state’s Attorney General of Justice to investigate the behaviour of the police agents and of agent Gómez Gutiérrez of the MP “for the crime of torture, described in the Chiapas Penal Code.” Besides, it warns, “the judge who is hearing the case against Juan Antonio, Roberto and Mario, must throw out the illegal evidence obtained under torture.”

During the Independence Day festivities in the early morning of September 16, shots were heard in the municipal capital of Chilón and a police agent was wounded. Juan Antonio, Roberto and Mario were at the festivities and were walking to their homes when they were arrested and accused of shooting the injured police agent, Alfredo Bernabé Aguilar Fuentes.

The Tzeltal ejido owners say that the apprehension and torture of their compañeros were carried out on the orders of the municipal commander Francisco Sanchez Guzmán. For several hours, no official agency acknowledged having the detainees. They were able to see them on September 17 in Ocosingo: “They were all beaten. We wanted to speak with them but the municipal police had surrounded the legal office and only allowed family members to pass through, not the community authorities.” They were tortured by the MP; he pointed a pistol at Mario’s head “so that he would incriminate himself.”

The prisoners identified among their captors the police agent Agustín Sánchez Jiménez, “a friend and neighbour of Sebastián Méndez Hernández, currently imprisoned for the murder of Juan Carlos Gómez Silvano (on March 21, near Virgen de Dolores, where they fired more than 20 shots at him).” The ejido owners consider that: “it is in revenge for seeking those responsible for the murder of our compañero.”

The ejido owners also demand the release of Santiago Moreno López and Esteban Gómez Jiménez, incarcerated at Playas de Catazajá (since 2009 and 2013, respectively) on false charges, as part of the continuing persecution of the ejido owners.


Translator’s Note: [1]. The local Public Ministry is a local Prosecutor’s office.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Thursday, September 25, 2014

En español:




Arrest of second human rights defender from the Yaqui Tribe

Filed under: Displacement, water — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 4:28 pm




Mexico – Arrest of second human rights defender from the Yaqui Tribe

10620824_707367122652185_6149717697185887211_nEarly on 23 September 2014, human rights defender Mr Fernando Jiménez Gutiérrez was arrested as he made his way to work in the town of Vícam, Sonora State. At 6:50 am. as he walked on Benito Juárez Street, individuals dressed in grey got out of two unmarked white vans, and captured the human rights defender. A lawyer, who has had access to Fernando Jiménez Gutiérriz at the Third Tribunal of the Criminal First Instance Court of Hermosilloes, reports that the human rights defender informed him that once inside the vehicle he had a black hood placed over his head and he was questioned in an intimidating manner.

Fernando Jiménez Gutiérrez is a spokesperson for the Yaqui Tribe, which is the same tribe as fellow human rights defender Mr Mario Luna Romero. Fernando Jiménez Gutiérrez had been participating in meetings on the conflict of Aqueduct Independence on behalf of the Yaqui Tribe en Mexico City. He speaks for his community in the context of the construction and operation of the Independence Aqueduct. The Yaqui Tribe has been working to prevent the diversion of water from the Yaqui river, over which the tribe has 50% ownership, to the Independence Aqueduct.

Fernando Jiménez Gutiérrez faces the same allegations as Mario Luna Romero; namely “illegal deprivation of liberty” and “theft of a motor vehicle”. These accusations arose out of the events of 8 June 2013, when, during a road block maintained by the Yaqui, a member of the indigenous group committed an infraction while driving his car and, in accordance with the practices and customs of the tribe, was detained, transferred to the Commissary and sanctioned. Article 2 of the Constitution states that, as members of an indigenous community with practices and customs, the community’s autonomy to apply its own norms is recognised, and allows for the use of an indigenous legal system to resolve internal disputes within the indigenous communities and towns.

Subsequently, arrest warrants were issued against various members of the Yaqui Tribe who oppose the Independence Aqueduct. Both Mario Luna Romero and Fernando Jiménez Gutiérrez have been arrested within a matter of weeks.

Front Line Defenders is concerned by the pattern of arrests of Yaqui Tribe members who have been involved in the peaceful and legitimate campaign against the Independence Aqueduct. Front Line Defenders calls on the Mexican authorities to guarantee the space for human rights defender to operate in order to protect and promote the rights of communities in the face of extractive industries.


September 24, 2014

Mario Luna Romero and the Struggle for Water

Filed under: Corporations, Displacement, water — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 6:50 pm


Mario Luna Romero and the Struggle for Water

Luis Hernández Navarro

La Jornada, 23 September, 2014

10703989_744538848943876_7044520943013365799_nScandal on top of scandal, about 16 months after the arrest warrant was issued against him, Mario Luna Romero, the secretary of the Yaqui tribe, was arrested. Plainclothes policemen aboard four unmarked vehicles seized him on September 11.

The arrest and imprisonment of the indigenous leader–who, according to the state attorney, PAN member Carlos Alberto Navarro, is a person “immersed in a struggle against state authority”–was executed in the midst of the battle between the federal government and Governor Guillermo Padres over the poisoning of the Bacanuchi and Sonora Rivers by Grupo Mexico mining company. There is also the legal complaint that the governor built on his 8,900 acre family ranch a reservoir with a dam over 100 metres wide, capable of storing more than 4 million cubic metres of water.

Mario Luna is a translator and representative of the Vicam Yaquis, one of eight villages that make up the tribe. He has led protests and lawsuits to stop the construction and operation of the Independence Aqueduct, which takes water from the Yaqui River’s El Novillo dam. The aqueduct directly threatens the survival, traditional culture and livelihood of the tribe. Just on September 4, a week before he was arrested, he had travelled to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to present the case.

Luna Romero is accused by the prosecutor of “illegal, aggravated deprivation of liberty and auto theft” against Francisco Antonio Delgado Romo and Deonicio Luzania Valencia, both Yaquis.

Francisco Antonio Delgado Romo is an indigenous teacher known to be a political operator for Governor Padres within the tribe. In the early hours of June 8, 2013, he began drinking and picking fights in Vicam. Hours later, with another individual, completely drunk, driving a black car, he rammed into a protest on the International Highway against the construction of the Independence Aqueduct. He almost ran over a woman and her small son.

The torocoyis (traitors to their people) tried to flee but, after a chase, were arrested and judged according to Yaqui laws. A hearing was conducted by the traditional rulers of the tribe, senior men in charge of exercising justice. The authorities severely reprimanded Francisco in front of his older sister and the car was impounded until those driving it paid for the damages caused by their flight.

Days later, Francisco filed a criminal complaint against several members of the Yaqui tribe, including Mario Luna and Tomás Rojo, for robbery, kidnapping, assault and torture. Neither of the two was present either at the trial or the sentencing.

tribu-yaqui-yoemem-300x201The Yaqui tribe has a history of more than 2,500 years. It has its own institutions, its own laws, its own rules of community life. To ensure a healthy coexistence among its members, harmony within the community, the integrity of its people and mutual respect, they have means for applying punitive measures when the rules are violated. When that happens, traditional authorities–the only ones with permission to exercise justice–apply the internal law. Mario Luna is secretary of the tribe, and secretaries have no authority to apply punitive measures to Francisco Antonio Delgado Romo.

The history and continuous existence of the Yaqui tribe has been questioned by the authorities. During the full-blown conflict over the aqueduct, the PGR [federal Attorney General’s Office], controlled by the PAN, attempted to deny the existence of the Yaqui tribe, cleverly using an opinion of the INAH [National Institute of Anthropology and History]. Authorities and researchers of the institution were forced to send a formal letter to the federal prosecutor supervising agrarian lawsuits, Augusto Lezama González, making clear that “it is possible not only to confirm their existence (of the Yaqui tribe), but also the contemporary continuing existence of the traditional eight villages, as well as their well-known territorial claim.”

Gov. Guillermo Padres Elias has made the construction and operation of the Independence Aqueduct a personal crusade. He has sought to justify the work as a righteous measure to supply water to Hermosillo, the state capital. The truth is that, before stealing water from the Yaqui, the governor was able to resolve the water supply by other means. Nearly 40 percent of the drinking water in the city is wasted by the poor state of the distribution system. It would have been enough to repair the network. Likewise, it was perfectly feasible to build desalination plants to quench the thirst of the Sonoran capital.

But the governor, himself a cattle rancher and ally of business leaders in the state, chose to strip the Yaqui of their blue gold while he was building a dam on his ranch. And, rather than providing the vital liquid to the people of Hermosillo, the pipeline is aimed at supplying large companies that have been established in the region: Ford Motor Company (each car produced requires between half and one million litres of water), Holcim, Heineken, Big Cola, Coca Cola and Pepsico.

Mario Luna Romero is one more political prisoner. His struggle is for a tribe that seeks to preserve its territory, natural resources and water, its existence as a people. Mario Luna Romero should be released now!


Translated by Reed Brundage



Mexican Activists and Intellectuals Ask for Release of Indigenous Leader, Mario Luna

Filed under: Displacement, water — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 6:35 pm


Mexican Activists and Intellectuals Ask for Release of Indigenous Leader, Mario Luna

La Jornada, 23 September, 2014, Alfredo Méndez


 Historian Adolfo Gilly speaks at forum seeking release of Yaqui leader Mario Luna Photo: Carlos Ramos Mamahua

Historian Adolfo Gilly speaks at forum seeking release of Yaqui leader Mario Luna
Photo: Carlos Ramos Mamahua

Activists, intellectuals and human rights advocates led by Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas gathered together yesterday in order to demand the immediate release of Mario Luna, a leader of the Yaqui tribe, which is opposed to the Independence Aqueduct; Luna was arrested on September 11 in Obregón City, Sonora. The activists and intellectuals were participating in a forum called Solidarity with the Yaqui People and for Mario Luna’s Release, held on Monday at the Museum of the City of Mexico.

Historian Adolfo Gilly said that from the moment Enrique Peña Nieto was announced as the PRI candidate for president, “it was generally expected that we would eventually see a barrage of power against the people,” what academic communities have identified as the “Atenco method.”

MV Note: This refers to how, in May 2006, state and federal police responded when San Salvador Atenco residents, in the State of Mexico, blocked the highway to Texcoco, adjacent to Mexico City, after flower vendors reached out to Atenco residents in response to police preventing vendors from selling at the Texcoco local market. Peña Nieto was governor and ordered the police action. The confrontations were very violent. A National Human Rights Commission report called attention to the excessive use of force and firearms by state and federal police in the confrontations. The report found that more than 200 people were victims of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, more than 140 were arbitrarily arrested and more than 20 women were victims of sexual assault.

Alberto Patishtán, an indigenous leader of the Tzotzil tribe who was imprisoned for more than 13 years and who was pardoned by President Peña Nieto, stated that authorities are behaving in a perverse manner and are capable of concocting crimes in order to arrest indigenous leaders and activists who are merely defending their territories.

Poet Javier Sicilia, from the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity [MPJD], said that currently there are political prisoners all over the country, including Mario Luna in Sonora and José Manuel Mireles, former leader of the self-defence groups in Michoacán.

He added that abuses against the Yaqui tribe on the part of the Sonora government show a failure to comply with the San Andrés Accords and are clear evidence of a violation of Article II of the Constitution.

Meanwhile, Cárdenas said it is an expropriation by the federal government that comes from its desire to “replace the reservoir and hand over the land.” The former candidate for president added, “We are here to petition for Mario Luna’s freedom. There are clear political overtones for his detention; there is no reason or justification to suggest his arrest was anything other than a crime. It is clearly a political act, a repressive one, because of the demands the tribe and many others in Sonora are making.”

César Cota, chief of the Yaqui tribe, railed against the governor of Sonora, Guillermo Padrés, for having built a private reservoir on his property. Cota said that the politician cannot govern only part of the state, but must include all municipalities. He stressed that Padrés is stealing water allocated to the Yaqui tribe by means of the Independence Aqueduct.

In turn, Gilly pleaded for the Mexican people to not allow themselves to be subjugated by the political class. In front of members of the Yaqui tribe, he declared, “From here, from the steps of the Museum of the City of Mexico, I demand the immediate release of Mario Luna. I demand respect for the waters that do not belong to the lords of power and money.”

Finally, Alberto Vizcarra, director of the Citizens’ Movement for Water in Obregón City, said that what is in dispute is the management of water and the criteria that will be used to distribute it throughout Mexico.


Translated by Danielle M. Antonetti



September 23, 2014

San Salvador Atenco Fights for Land, Resists Proposed Airport

Filed under: Corporations, Displacement — Tags: , , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 6:37 pm


San Salvador Atenco Fights for Land, Resists Proposed Airport


Written by Jessica Davies

Monday, 22 September 2014

10622729_705446822837406_3281236860135135756_nPlans recently announced for the building of a new international airport in Mexico City, a “new national symbol,” will seriously affect the lives of more than 1 million people, according to local documentary-maker Salvador Díaz. The Peoples’ Front for the Defence of the Land from San Salvador Atenco have renewed the struggle that never went away, to defend the lands of their forefathers from dispossession and destruction. While Forbes Magazine speculates that it “will most likely be Peña Nieto’s crown jewel infrastructure project,” RT News asks “has the nightmare just taken off for Peña Nieto?”


In 2001, the indigenous communal landholders of the municipality of San Salvador Atenco, Mexico, were issued with an expropriation order to dispossess them of 104 square kilometres of their ancestral territory, amounting to more than 80 percent of their lands, in order to build a new airport for Mexico City. This would have resulted in the displacement of 56,243 people. The government offered the farmers very little money in return for their displacement; just something to make ends meet until they found work, not nearly enough for them to move to other lands and become farmers again.

For the people of Atenco, their whole identity, customs, traditions, history and existence are bound up with their land. The airport project to them means the destruction of their entire social fabric, their cultural history, collective identity and community life as indigenous people. They say “the project to us is death,” and that “they didn’t even ask us, they just imposed a project for the benefit of huge national and international corporations.” The community rejected the offer and set up the Peoples Front in Defence of the Land (FPDT).  With national and international support, the Front succeeded, after a long 9-month struggle for justice, in having the expropriation order withdrawn. The iconic symbol of the machete, an essential tool of those who work the land, became symbolic of this struggle and of the FPDT itself.

The aftermath

Governments and corporations do not take defeats lightly. In May 2006, the government seized an opportunity to punish the community for defeating the megaproject when a government dispute with flower vendors in the nearby town of Texcoco arose. The FPDT responded to a request for support from the flower vendors and blocked the road. Events developed rapidly, culminating in an attack infamous for the extreme police brutality, as 3,500 officers from the local, state and federal police and the army surrounded the town of Atenco. The violent repression resulted in two young people dead, 26 women raped by the military police, 217 people arrested, and many injured. Nine leaders of the Atenco farmers were illegally sentenced to 31 years, two for 67 years, and one for 112 years. The people organized and a national and international campaign for the liberation of the prisoners was launched with the support of the Zapatista-inspired Other Campaign; the prisoners were finally absolved and freed after four years and 59 days.

The man responsible for ordering and overseeing this repression and the rape of women was the former governor of the State of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto, now president of Mexico. The Atenco issue was the shame of his presidential campaign, and haunts him still – as he was greeted at the September 2014 Mexican Independence Day celebrations with cries of “murderer.” It was no surprise to the people of Atenco when he announced in his State of the Union address on September 2, 2014, the plans for a new international airport in the lakebed of Lake Texcoco, to the east of Mexico City, in the municipalities of Atenco, Ecatapec and Texcoco. The architects will be the well-known British architect Sir Norman Foster and the Mexican Fernando Romero, a son-in-law of Carlos Slim, the richest man in the world. It is believed locally that one of Carlos Slim’s companies will also likely win the contract to build the airport, however the whole process has so far been shrouded in secrecy.

The new airport, which will be one of the biggest and most expensive in the world, will ultimately have six runways and be able to handle 120 million passengers a year, four times the capacity of the existing airport. It will cost an estimated $9.2 billion (£5.6 billion.) The airport will have an associated large scale urbanisation project of hotels, mall and services, known as Future City, which will include a metropolitan transport network, commercial centres, urban developments, an industrial corridor and “ecological reserve areas.”

Ecological implications

10658759_833409430024983_5211887751128187311_oAs well as being “futuristic” and “transformational,” the design of the building is being promoted in terms not normally associated with airports, such as “green” and “sustainable.” In fact, it will be “the world’s most sustainable airport,” according to the architect Norman Foster.

He added that it will be “outfitted with innovative systems to collect rainwater and sunlight to produce energy. The structure itself will function like a giant solar farm and rainwater collection system, with a natural ventilation pattern which will not need heating or air conditioning for most of the year.”

The terminal will host art exhibitions and performances and its entrance will feature a garden of cacti and symbols of the eagle and snake.

Given all this, it may seem somewhat incongruous to learn that the new airport will be sited on an ancient lakebed, in an area which is prone to frequent subsidence, flooding and earthquakes, and that the site will also encroach on the Lake Texcoco nature reserve.

“It is not ideal to build an airport in a flood zone,” pointed out Senator Alejandro Encinas. He explained that a 1995 study, by the National Autonomous University of Mexico, concluded that Lake Texcoco was an extremely bad site for an airport because it would have “significantly adverse” impacts on the Valley of Mexico’s environment.

“It is estimated that more than 120 native species would be in danger of extinction” due to the airport project, Encinas said, adding that the current airport’s Terminal 2, which was built seven years ago, is sinking “up to 30 centimetres each year.” The airport project, he said, would be “ecological suicide.”

The construction of the airport would involve the destruction of wildlife, ecology, biodiversity and archaeological and palaeontological remains. The flora and fauna of the Nabor Carrillo lake and the entire Alcohua region would be seriously affected, as would the last remaining natural area of the ancient Lake Texcoco, Xalapango lagoon, where spirulina occurs naturally, and which is a haven for migrating birds, including many species of duck from Canada.

There are already problems with the water supply in the area. The primary teacher in Atenco says, “We are already experiencing water shortages. Conagua is cancelling wells for irrigation which means we cannot sow our land and there is no provision in the communities, which pressures us to sell our land. If they build the airport the water will go to industry, and building projects.” Problems with the water supply already affect the whole of the Valley of Mexico, which is experiencing difficulties regarding the availability of groundwater. Already 50,000 litres of water are extracted per second from the existing aquifer. The increased demand for water is one of many issues which do not seem to have been adequately addressed.

Alternative sites have long been proposed for the airport. For example, Andrés Manuel López Obrador has proposed that the government build the new airport in Tizayuca, a town with less population and more space for urban development. Texcoco, he said, is “overcrowded, does not have enough water and utilities, and building it there would further promote the ecological imbalance and urban gigantism.” Another proposal, from the Chairman of the River Basins Commission, is for a network of smaller airports, linked by high speed trains. If, of course, a new airport is necessary at all.

San Salvador Atenco

10624562_755326964508998_3194890395199266670_nThe land is very fertile, “you can grow anything here,” locals say. Atenco means “water’s edge,” and some farmers have started cultivating spirulina, one of the new super foods, in the old lake. Now the authorities intend to privatize all this land in the interests of capital and business. In 2001, the government wanted to take 1,100 hectares, now the project envisages taking 1,500 hectares from San Salvador Atenco, which will affect 80,000 people in Atenco alone. The people there have known this was coming for a long time. For years the National Water Commission (CONAGUA) has quietly been using deception, “fooling people from door to door,” and pressure tactics, “purchase of people’s free will,” to convince people to sell their lands, “saying it was for an ecological project.” They have been “dividing communities and manipulating assemblies.” On their way to a hearing on 22 August, the FPDT were physically attacked by hired thugs, resulting in fifteen people being wounded. The violence has never gone away.

With the cries of “land yes, airplanes no!” and “Atenco is not for sale!”, the FPDT have polished their emblematic machetes and their resistance and taken to the streets again in “Defence of the Land, Water and Life.” They have symbolically reclaimed their lands, and have marched and demonstrated in Mexico City. They and their lawyer are denouncing the illegal changing of the titles to the lands from social (communal) to private, as a means to evict the original inhabitants, through doing away with the concept of the ejido or communally owned lands. This has partly been done through the manufacture of an illegal assembly, packed with people who did not belong to the ejido. The FPDT are currently involved in a legal struggle to reverse the decision, full of anomalies, taken by this illegal assembly on the titling and sale of 1,000 hectares of common land within the ejidal nucleus of Atenco. Their initial attempt to overthrow the decision was rejected, and the Front are now trying to remove the ejidal commissioner. “We continue in our struggle, we will exhaust all legal remedies,” they say.

Call for solidarity: “All of Mexico Should Feel That Atenco Is Ours”

lands not airplanes“The land is not for sale; she is to be loved and defended,” say the FPDT.

The FPDT know that they succeeded before because they had worldwide support. So, calling again for solidarity, they say, “We need the hands of everyone,” adding that,  “We know that we alone cannot free ourselves from the infamy perpetrated against us and refute the lies told by Enrique Peña Nieto … and that is why we ask for your solidarity with our peoples and communities.”

The indigenous peoples of Mexico, through the Indigenous National Congress, have recognized the need to work together and share their struggles against the destruction, not only of the communal system of landholding, but also of the lands themselves. The land is their history, and their whole identity is tied in with the soil, the seasons, the cycle of sowing and harvest. The land has no price, it is sacred.

The struggle and resistance of the people of San Salvador Atenco is symbolic of the struggles going on throughout Mexico and Latin America, with the indigenous peoples defending their lands, their mother earth, against megaprojects being set up by their governments for the benefit of transnational corporations. They are struggling for land, life, freedom, for communal and collective values. They are defending their ancestors, their history, their rights and freedoms, and even more, as we are coming to realise, in doing this they are defending the planet and the future of humanity.


Further information:


Current situation:!en/video/interviews-from-mexico-282557

Universal Jurisdiction: Rape as Torture:

FPDT blog (in Spanish):

Latest information in English:

Call for Solidarity with the People of Atenco:



Here’s What It’s Like To Live With The Zapatistas, 20 Years After Their Attempted Revolution In Mexico

Filed under: Zapatista — Tags: — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 6:27 pm


Here’s What It’s Like To Live With The Zapatistas, 20 Years After Their Attempted Revolution In Mexico


Twenty years ago, in direct protest against the then-recently signed North American Free Trade Agreement, a makeshift uprising of Mayan farmers seized a collection of cities and towns in Chiapas, in Mexico’s remote southeastern corner. They were demanding rights for Mexico’s indigenous people, who they thought had long been treated unfairly and would suffer even more under the landmark economic deal.

Naming themselves the Zapatistas after Emiliano Zapata, a principal leader of the Mexican Revolution of 1910, they emerged as a populist left-wing movement that openly called for a new revolution in Mexico, one that would replace a government which they argued was completely out of touch with the needs of its people.

While that revolution never came to pass, the Zapatistas and their ideologies have remained a presence in Chiapas and in Mexico. They continue to vocally oppose and resist the government, and have broadened their rhetoric to include larger issues of globalization and social justice. To this day, they live by their doctrine of upholding, at all costs, the importance of “work, land, shelter, food, health, education, independence, freedom, democracy, justice and peace.”

In January, photographer Giles Clarke was invited to travel to Chiapas and immerse himself in the culture of the Zapatistas, staying with a family high in the mountains.

“I was honored to live off-the-grid with my appointed family and witness just a glimpse of this dignified, self-governed collective,” Clarke says.

That glimpse was both at times illuminating and strange, heartening and conflicting.

(Captions by Giles Clarke and Christian Storm)

Much of Chiapas is over 7,000 feet above sea-level, and the area can be shrouded in fog for weeks on end. “We drove through mountains without seeing anything for hours,” Clarke says.



Clarke stayed with a family in the town of La Illusion, one of the Zapatistas’ 35 or more autonomous communities high in the mountains of Chiapas. La Illusion is 5 hours from San Cristobal de las Casas, the state’s major city. The Zapatistas wear masks and cover their faces as a form of protest and resistance, calling themselves “the Faceless” and turning anonymity into a source of power. When asked about the masks, leaders are famously quoted as saying, “We cover our faces in order to be seen; we die in order to live.”




“K”, Clarke’s guardian and guide for the week in Chiapas, is pictured here. Clarke visited the Zapatistas as one of 1,500 people invited to travel to Chiapas and learn about the Zapatista social experiment — immersing themselves in the ways, culture, and teachings of the movement.




Zapatista art and murals has long depicted cultural heroes of resistance, like Emiliano Zapata or Che Guevara, seen here. A sign on the outskirts of one of the towns reads, “‘Here, the people give the orders and the government obeys.”




The Zapatista communities rely heavily on bananas, a plantation for which is seen below, as well as coffee beans and amber, which they trade through self-governed co-operatives overseen by a “junta” that distributes the resulting profits within these poor but self-sustaining villages.




The coffee bean is another important crop that is traded through these Zapatista-run cooperatives, which make around 130 tons of coffee a year.




Education is one area of focus for the Zapatistas. Reading classes happen every morning.




Each community runs its own medical centre that is partly funded through the profits from coffee and banana cooperatives, as well with the proceeds from the local Zapatista-run corner store. Recreational drugs are totally shunned, as is alcohol. Commerce in guns, as well as illegal firewood, is forbidden as well.



each-community-runs-its-own-medical-center-that-is-partly-funded-through-the-profits-from-coffee-and-banana-cooperatives-as-well-with-the-proceeds-from-the-local-zapatista-run-corner-store-recreational-drugs-are-tota (1)


The “Office for Women and Dignity” is pictured here. The Zapatista women have a strong say in the running of community affairs, as both men and women are equal according Zapatista doctrine. Women hold many positions of leadership in the organization, including as military commanders.




This year, Subcomandante Marcos, the charismatic and mysterious former leader of the Zapatistas and depicted in the painting on the right, stepped down as the spokesman of the movement, saying, “I declare that the one known as Insurgent Subcomandante Marcos no longer exists.” This further added to the mystery and confusion around his persona.




After a series of drawn-out and failed peace talks with the Mexican government in 1996, the group decided to become completely autonomous, forming the “Councils of Good Government,” which organize the various autonomous municipalities. The revolving group changes every two weeks and duties are carried out by anyone within the Zapatista community over the age of 12.




While the Zapatistas have attempted to create a life on their own terms in the mountains of Chiapas, things are far from utopian. In May 2014, a school was burnt down by other combined militant factions, leaving 15 injured and one prominent Zapatista teacher dead. Due to the isolated nature of the Zapatista regions, news coverage of this event and ones like it are scarce. Tensions still remain high.





September 22, 2014

Opposition to Chiapas Super-Highway Indians of Chiapas in Defence of Life and Territory

Filed under: Corporations, Displacement, La Sexta — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 7:52 pm


Opposition to Chiapas Super-Highway

Indians of Chiapas in Defence of Life and Territory

By: Gaspar Morquecho

Laguna Suyul, San Juan Chamula, September 7, 2014

This shows the route of the super-highway from San Cristobal to Palenque.

This shows the route of the super-highway from San Cristobal to Palenque.

A little more than 2,000 people, between boys and girls, men, women and elderly people met in Laguna Suyul, convoked by the ejido members of La Candelaria. They were Tzotzils, Tzeltals, Chols and Tojolabals from the municipalities of San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Zinacantán, San Juan Chamula, Huixtán, San Pedro Chenalhó, San Pablo Chalchihuitán, San Juan Cancuc, Tenejapa, Amatenango, Chilón, Tila, Salto de Agua, Comitán and Las Margaritas. In this assembly of peoples they demonstrated their rejection of the San Cristóbal de Las Casas to Palenque super-highway project.

The activities started at 8 o’clock in the morning when Principales (traditional religious authorities) of La Candelaria ejido met to hold a ceremony at the Suyul Lagoon and in the temple which they have constructed every year to celebrate the Holy Cross. They burned incense, lit dozens of votive candles, played their music and prayed, “to give us strength, to not get tired in this struggle and to talk to Mother Earth so that it doesn’t let them come to destroy her.”

The place is a hollow with an environment of pines and some milpas. A small hillock stands in the centre- an islet with trees and surrounded by waters from the place’s springs, the majority covered aquatic plants. At 10 o’clock in the morning, hundreds of people were waiting for the start of the assembly in that place.

The assembly started with the speech of a representative of La Candelaria ejido: “This is a very important meeting for us. We are in a sacred place and the government’s project comes to destroy it. They want the super-highway to pass close to this lagoon, like 500 metres away and we are not going to permit it. We will not let the government crush us. We have to join our voices and think what we are going to do to stop the government’s plans.

Two speeches followed him with information about the big neoliberal projects in Mexico, Central America, Chiapas, and in indigenous territories. Several of them are underway: mines, dams, ecotourist centres, exploitation of oil fields, highways, ports, airports; planting of GMOs and biofuels and the containment and counterinsurgency programs that started in Chiapas in the 1970s.

The work could not continue without holding community prayer. They planted a small cross, decorated with flowers. They planted a dozen candles and prepared the incense burner. They burned the candles and the burned incense perfumed the place; an offering to their God. There was the murmur of hundreds of people praying, of the petitions to their God, made from that space, from their sacred place… a place of communion.

laguna sayulThat moment full of symbolism gave way the concrete. The figure of the Ejido and its ejido authorities that were made invisible for decades by the indigenous and campesino social movements once again occupied the place that is due them in this conjuncture. It is the organization of the farmworkers with the legal standing to defend land and territory, just like the Communal Lands and Communal Land Commissions are. The representatives of the Salto de Agua ejidos gave their word this way: “I come representing the San Miguel ejido, a place with Chol Maya speakers. On June 1, 2014, gathered together in an ejido assembly, we agreed to reject the super-highway project.” The representative of the Francisco I. Madero ejido continued: “God has given the land to us. We are not birds that live in the air, nor fish that live in the water. We live on the land and we must and we are going to defend it.” The representatives of Adolfo Ruiz Cortines ejido, also from Salto de Agua, affirmed that last September 15, the 70 ejido members of that place agreed: “to defend the indigenous peoples’ lands” and called for “joining efforts,” and proposed the construction of “a front of struggle” and raised the demand for a “consultation with the peoples.” In their speeches they reported that they have updated their internal rules to better guaranty the interests of the ejido owners.

The representatives of the San Jerónimo Bachajón ejido reported that in those hours, hundreds of their compañeros carried out a mobilization in Temó and that by agreement of their assemblies they reject the super-highway project. They added that they have named a commission to take the documentation and agreements from their assemblies to the Chiapas government and that “if they are not taken into account they will carry out new protest actions.” He called for unity and “to not let the big corporations conquer us.” They also reported that the ejido owners of San Martín Cruz have wanted to humiliate them for not signing the agreement for the super-highway and that in response the ejido owners took two municipal patrol cars that guard their community. He denounced that they are watched, persecuted and threatened for not accepting the super-highway project.

For their part, Indigenous representatives from Pueblo Creyente (Believing People) of Tenejapa announced that 52 communities in their municipality are not going to permit the super-highway’s passage; that the municipal authorities have called them but, they affirmed, “as Pueblo Creyente we are not going to fall into the deceit, we are not going to permit the passage.” Representatives of Huixtán and Chenalhó parishes agreed. Representatives of Matzam in the municipality of Tenejapa, denounced that “the super-highway is going to pass very close to their sacred mountain and they want to leave it as a tourist zone.” They warned they will not give passage to the highway and that they would continue: “to attend the meetings.”

The San Juan Cancuc representatives reported that: “their municipal authorities may be in agreement with the construction of the super-highway (but) we are against it” and they added that on September 16, in compliance with the agreement with the Movement in Defence of Life and Territory, they placed banners in “opposition to the government project,” and that the police pursued they and, nevertheless, they said: “we are going to continue united, because there are many communities in Cancuc struggling.”

Pueblo-creyente-3The Ejido Commissioner of San Antonio Las Rosas, neighbor of La Candelaria warned: “We stay united with Candelaria. We are going to stay strong like all the communities that are here (present).”

In his talk the representative of La Candelaria ejido said: “We are seeing communities and ejidos that are willing to defend our life and our Mother Earth. It’s about defending it for our children. We invite the Bishop (Felipe Arizmendi) to place himself at the side of the poor; that he may defend the men and women that are in this union. We also call on all the pastors of the other churches to not abandon their faithful. May the pastors care for their sheep! May we not be divided by parties or religions! The government’s project affects all of us, without distinguishing. We are gathered together here to begin walking although threats exist. They are not going to kill this movement. They cannot kill our spirit. We see that we can do it with the unity of the communities.

The assembly agreed to report: “the true word of the original peoples of Los Altos of Chiapas.

From the heart of the peoples we make known the true word of boys, girls, youth, the elderly, men and women in defence of life.

Mother Earth is the millennial gift that our grandparents have cared for and defended for generations. They cared for it and now it’s our turn to take care of it and defend it, if necessary with our own life.

We will defend the environment, the fabric and veins of Mother Earth, rivers, lakes, water holes, mountains, trees, caves, hills, the life of the animals, the sacred places, the ecosystem of mother nature and the life of human beings.

Our Mother is not for sale, the land is not for sale and has no price.”

Pueblo-creyenteThe comunicado denounces: “the government’s lies to the peoples.” The offer of the “transnational mega-projects that bring death” that: “make the rich richer” and “the poor poorer.” They warn that they will not permit that: “they continue violating their rights.” They demanded respect for Convention 169 of the ILO, the “precise declaration on the collective and individual rights of indigenous peoples; their rights to land, wealth, vital resources, territory, culture, identity and language, to employment, education, and to freely determine their political condition and their economic development.”

They called on their brothers “to stay alert” facing the eventual government “repression, the purchase of leaders, and the threats;” alert facing a government that “murders” and “disappears people.”

“From this moment we hold the federal, state and state governments responsible for what can happen to us for defending our life, for caring for what is ours, for preserving what is the source of our food and our life. For our Mother Earth and Life.”

The Tzotzils, Tzeltals, Chols and Tojolabals concluded their communion planting 260 trees on the outskirts of the small slope. The Zinacantecos’ outfits, and those of the Chamulans and the Tenejapans were confused there with the clothing of non-Indians. They left the place in a long line crossing the lagoon over a small wooden bridge and misty waters of Suyul.


Originally Published in Spanish by Chiapas Paralelo

Friday, September 19, 2014

Translation: Chiapas Support Committee




EZLN Editorial: Beyond the Sharing

Filed under: Indigenous, Zapatista — Tags: , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 7:29 pm


EZLN Editorial: Beyond the Sharing


[The] Sharing is something beyond.[i]


10612698_852809608071924_2536410806418129798_nCompañeras and compañeros of the Sixth in Mexico and the world.

For us, the exchange was a way to take each others’ hands, to see one another and how we are doing and what we are thinking.

It was a chance to get to know each other, those of us who are below and who are the originary peoples of these lands.

And it wasn’t an exchange for representatives or leaders, but for the [community] bases of our peoples, nations, and tribes who hadn’t had the chance to take each others’ hand and get to know each other and touch each others’ hearts for the last 520 years.

In the Zapatista Caracol La Realidad, our desire to be together, to exchange our words as indigenous men and women, became a reality.

When we speak to each other as [community] bases, not as leaders, we understand each other, we feel that we live in common.

And what allows us to understand each other so quickly is the life that we are living, a bad life, and a life that is no longer only ours but is now also that of poor men and women in the cities.

We talked about how capitalism has us cornered, how and why it has imposed itself on us, and what will happen to us if we continue on as capitalism has dictated.

In 5 days and across the 28 languages spoken among those who gathered, we came to agreement on what our path will be with the exploited people of the city and the countryside.

Our gaze became wide and we agreed that we must unite with people from the cities and countryside. We need to share with the compañeros of the Sixth in Mexico and the world in order to know about their struggles of rebellion and resistance. We want those compañeras and compañeros who are the actual [community] bases to come share with us.

We say the actual community bases from below because they are the ones who know how a new society will be born. They do not come from the political parties, nor the new political parties, nor from politicians and political personalities, who are all servants of capitalism.

Peoples, nation, tribes, poor neighborhoods, poor workers, the exploited of the countryside and the city: these are the people who know how a new world should be, how a new system of governance could work. Why? Because they are the ones who have suffered injustice, poverty, inequality. They have suffered sadness, pain, bitterness, loneliness. They have suffered imprisonment, torture, and disappearance. They have suffered century after century of deceit, discrimination, horrible things, inhuman cruelties, humiliation, dispossession, and displacement. They have suffered centuries of mockery and a life without peace because of those above—the capitalist system. The political parties of the politicians are covered in the mud of that system. Our backs have been used as ladders for politicians to climb to power; we are well-trodden from so much climbing up and down by that mafia.

thumbs_contraWe talked about many other things; there were hundreds of proposals and we have agreed on the most important one to work on: to return to our peoples, nations, and tribes and multiply and make this first exchange bigger; and to prepare another exchange with the compañeras and compañeros of the national and worldwide Sixth.

Many other things, rich, clear and true, came from this exchange between the community bases of our peoples, nations, and tribes.

In the exchange it was said that there has always been someone else speaking for us, claiming to fight for us, during 520 years of lies and exploitation.

It was said that the struggle of the poor in Mexico in 1810 and 1910 was used by large landowners in order to bring themselves to power, and it is their great grandchildren that are in power today, damaging and destroying our mother earth in this country that we call Mexico.

All of us returned to our homes with strength and dignity, like our compañeros GALEANO [José Luis Solís López] and DAVID [Ruiz Garcia], who will both always be with us. Like all of our compañeros fallen in the struggle.

We returned with new tasks so that we may find a better path for our future.

We have met each other and learned, learned a lot, and there is much more to do to get to know each other as original peoples of this land, as well as nationally and internationally. That is where this path is headed.

We want to struggle together also with those who aren’t indigenous, with the compañeras and compañeros of the Sixth, brothers and sisters of the countryside and the city. We want to struggle together, because no one is going to struggle for us.

So prepare yourselves, compañeras and compañeros, for the World Exchange to be held December 22, 2014, through January 3, 2015.

There in that exchange our wisdom will tell us how our struggle will go forward.

Let it be our bases who run this exchange; let them be the ones who have the floor, who talk and explain our struggles in each place where we live, work, and struggle.

We have seen that it is best that the bases speak. This isn’t what we Zapatistas say; it is what became reality during the exchange in the Caracol of La Realidad. Let the people rule.

Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés

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

[i] Footnote: “The Sharing” (which might also be translated as “The Exchange”) was the name given to the event held jointly between the EZLN and the National Indigenous Congress from August 6th to 11th of this year. We have decided to use “sharing” or “exchange” interchangeably in this translation in order to create a more readable English language text. The reader should however bear in mind the specificity of the Zapatistas word choice and the difficulty of finding equivalent concepts in English.




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