Zapatista News Summary for January 2017
1. CNI and ConCiencias: With the second phase of the Fifth National Indigenous Congress finishing on January 1st at Oventic, and the Gathering “the Zapatistas and ConCiencias (ConSciences) for Humanity,” coming to an end on January 4th at Cideci, the news for January tends to be dominated by the outcome of these two events, especially the decision to set up an indigenous council for government (CGI) in whose name an indigenous woman will run as a candidate for president in 2018. A great deal of analysis and discussion takes place, with inevitable misunderstandings and opposition.
2. Closing words: The closing words of the 5th CNI are given by SCI Moises on 1st January, 2017. He speaks of the need for their project, “Today, the conditions of the Mexican people in the countryside and in the city are worse than they were 23 years ago. Poverty, desperation, death, and destruction are not only wrought on the people who originally populated this land. Now, misfortune finds everyone.” Therefore “The National Indigenous Congress has decided to fight to heal our land and our skies, and has decided to do it through civil and peaceful means.” Everyone can join together in this struggle. “Now is the time of all people, from the countryside and the city,” to struggle together for peace and justice and to create an autonomous parallel government for the country. The CGI will be formally constituted on May 18th.
3. Declaration of the Fifth National Indigenous Congress: Also on 1st January, with a joint statement from the CNI and the EZLN “And The Earth Trembled! A Report from the Epicentre”, the Declaration of the 5th CNI is released from Oventic. It announces the decision:
“WE AGREE to name an Indigenous Governing Council with men and women representatives from each one of the peoples, tribes, and nations that make up the CNI. This council proposes to govern this country. It will have an indigenous woman from the CNI as its spokesperson, which is to say a woman who has indigenous blood and who knows her culture, and this indigenous woman spokesperson from the CNI will be an independent candidate for the presidency of Mexico in the 2018 elections.” 1st January was, of course, the 23rd anniversary of the Zapatista uprising, which is symbolized in their new strategy.
4. The Zapatistas and ConSciences for Humanity: This well-attended event brings together scientists and adherents to the Sexta from many parts of the world, along with 200 Zapatiata support bases who will take their new learning back to their communities, after debating over a period of ten days. Moises says at the beginning “We don’t conceive knowledge as a symbol of social status or a measure of intelligence (…) We don’t want to go to the university, we want the university to be erected in our communities, to be taught and to learn together with our people.”
5. “Joint Pronouncement From The CNI And The EZLN For The Freedom Of Our Mapuche Sister Machi Francisca Lincolao Huircapan” On 6th January, the CNI and EZLN issue a joint communique demanding freedom for the woman healer, religious leader and Mapuche political prisoner in Chile. This is part of the repression committed by the Chilean government against the indigenous Mapuche people. 60 year-old Francisca Linconao’s state of health is very weak following a hunger strike. She is “on a hunger strike to demand the justice that the bad government of Chile has denied her by keeping her imprisoned for the crime of continuing to defend the natural resources, sacred places, and cultural rights of her people.”
1.Anniversaries in Chiapas: January 25th, 2017 marks the 6th anniversary of the death of the belovedJtatik Samuel, Bishop Samuel Ruiz Garcia, in San Cristobal de las Casas, and the 25th anniversary of the foundation of El Pueblo Creyente (the Believing People). During that time they have been walking towards the construction of alternatives, denouncing the projects of death. A big march is held by the Pueblo Creyente. 5,000 people walk in procession to the cathedral in San Cristobal for a mass in memory of Bishop Samuel, seeking to construct their own autonomy. The occasion also marks 25 years since the creation of the Area of Women.
2.Activist murdered: Isidro Baldenegro López, a subsistence farmer and leader of the Tarahumara (Raramuri) community in the Sierra Madre mountain area is shot dead for his resistance to illegal logging and deforestation in the northern region. His father was previously assassinated for the same reason. At least 122 activists were murdered in Latin America in 2015 while trying to protect natural resources from environmentally destructive mega-projects such as dams, mines, tourist resorts and logging, according to research by the NGO Global Witness. In all, 2015 was the deadliest year on record for environmental activists globally with at least 185 killed.
3. Atenco – more attempts to impose the airport: On 21st January members of the FPDT and inhabitants of the eastern shore of Lake Texcoco share with representatives of the United Nations their experience of human rights violations. The very next day crews of workers with two bulldozers enter the ejido of Atenco to carry out the construction of the highway Pirámides-Texcoco. With the protection of a military tank and federal police, the companies again violate the definitive suspension awarded against this project that is part of the new airport of Mexico City. The ejidatarios demand the removal of the machinery. Members of the FPDT continue to block the highway from Texcoco-Lechería to denounce the dispossession of more than 500 hectares of their cultivated lands.
4. Monsanto struggles to impose GM corn in Mexico: A Mexican court upholds a late 2013 ruling which had temporarily halted even pilot plots of GMO corn following a legal challenge over its effects on the environment. While Mexico is self-sufficient in white corn used to make the country’s staple tortillas, it depends on imports of mostly GMO yellow corn from the United States for its livestock. Several years ago, Monsanto submitted two applications for the commercial planting of GMO corn in Mexico. Progress with these has been very slow.