dorset chiapas solidarity

February 22, 2017

EZLN: The Cat-Dog and the Apocalypse

Filed under: CNI, Human rights, Indigenous, San Marcos Aviles, Zapatistas — Tags: , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 10:48 am

 

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EZLN: The Cat-Dog and the Apocalypse

December 29, 2016.

Science fiction.

Remember that: science fiction. You’ll see that, in your coming nightmares, it will help you to not become so distressed, or at least not uselessly distressed.

Perhaps you remember some science fiction movie. Perhaps science fiction set some of you down the path of scientific science.

It didn’t do that for me, perhaps because my favorite science fiction movie is La Nave de los Monstruosi with the unforgettable Eulalio González, known as “el Piporro,” the soundtrack for which has been unjustly excluded from the Oscars, the Golden Globes, and the local and renowned “Clay Pozol Bowl.”ii Perhaps you’ve heard talk of the movie: it’s a “cult” film, according to one of those specialized magazines that nobody reads, not even the people who edit it. If you remember the film and/or you see it, you’ll doubtless understand why I ended up lost in the mountains of the Mexican Southeast and not in the suffocating bureaucratic web that, at least in Mexico, chokes scientific investigation.

You’ll also cheer the fact that that movie is my point of reference for science fiction, instead of 2001: A Space Odyssey by Kubrick, or Alien by Ridley Scott (with Lieutenant Ripley breaking with Charlton Heston’s blueprint of the macho survivor in “Planet of the Apes”), or Blade Runner, also by Ridley, where the question “Do androids dream of electric sheep?” is the nodal point.

So you should thank Piporro and his “Star of Desire”iii and the robot Tor in love with a jukeboxiv for the fact that that I’m not on their side in this encounter.

Anyway, cinephile philias aside, let’s suppose an average film of the genre: an apocalypse in progress or in the past; all of humanity in danger; first an audacious and intrepid man as the protagonist; then, from the hand of innocuous feminism, a woman, also audacious and intrepid; a group of scientists is convoked to a super secret facility (invariably of course located in the United States); a high-ranking military official explains to them: they must create a plan to save humanity; they do so, but it turns out that in the end, they need an individual hero or heroine who, as the story goes, annuls the collective work and at the last second, with a pair of pliers that appeared inexplicably, cuts the green or blue or white or black or red cable at random, and ta-da, humanity is saved; the group of scientists applauds like crazy; the young man or woman finds true love; the respectable public vacates the theater while the free-loaders check the seats to see if anyone left any half-finished cartons of popcorn, with that delicious and unbeatable taste of sodium benzoate.

The catastrophe has a variety of origins: a meteorite has changed course with the same constancy as a politician making declarations about the gas hikes; or a tornado of sharks; or a planet spinning off its course; or an irritated sun sending one of those igneous tongues out of its orbit; or an illness that comes from outer space, or a spaceship; or a biological weapon that gets out of control and, converted into an odorless gas, transforms whoever has contact with it into a professional politician or maybe into something not quite so horrible.

That, or the apocalypse is already a done deal and a group of survivors wanders without hope, introjecting the exterior barbarity into their individual and collective behavior, while humanity struggles between life and death.

The end can vary but the constant is the group of scientists, be they the ones who caused the disaster or the only hope of salvation, if of course a handsome man or woman appears at the opportune moment.

The film’s conclusion could be open-ended, or it could be a downright “dark beating” (José Alfredo Jiménez had already warned us that “life isn’t worth anything”).

Sure, let’s take as an example any novel, movie or TV series with an apocalyptic or catastrophic theme. Let’s say one with a popular theme: zombies.

A concrete example: the TV series The Walking Dead. For those who aren’t familiar with the plot, it’s simple: due to some unspecified cause, people who die “turn into” zombies; the protagonist wanders, he encounters a group, they establish a hierarchical organization in continual crisis and they try to survive. The series’ success could be due to the fact that it shows characters who, in normal situations, are mediocre or pariahs, and they become heroines and heroes willing to do whatever it takes. Some of them are:

Michonne, a housewife ignored and belittled by her husband and siblings, who becomes a fearsome warrior with a katana (played by the actress and dramaturge Danai Jekesal Gurira and, not to make you jealous, she’s the only one whose real name I give because, in the trunk left by SupMarcos, I found a picture of her in the character of Michonne, dedicated by her own hand to the deceased. Arrrrroz con leche!v).

Daryl, a manipulated pariah transformed into a “tracker” and a fearsome crossbowman. Up until now the symbol of the refusal to submit, resistance and rebellion.

Glenn, a pizza delivery boy turned star explorer. The handyman and “thousand lives” of the series, until Rickman returned to the comic.

Maggie, a young woman whom the zombie apocalypse saves from the monotonous life on a farm and converts her into a leader, despite being pregnant.

Carol, an abused wife transformed into a female version of Rambo, but smart.

Carl, an adolescent who behind his eyepatch hides a serial killer, as Negan well deduced.

Eugene, a nerd who symbolized science and eventually goes from being a pathological liar to becoming useful to the group.

Father Gabriel, the self-serving, opportunistic religious leader who reconverts himself and becomes necessary.

Tara and Aaron, the lesbian woman and the gay man who ensure the political correctness of the plot.

Rosita, my preferred wet dream, the Latina who combines passion, skill and courage.

Morgan, the survivor in “shaolin monk” mode.

Sasha, the woman who changes from the classic romantic role to that of realistic survivor.

And in the upper part of the hierarchy, the battered symbol of order, Rick, an ex-sheriff’s deputy who barely hides the fascist inclinations of any police officer.

I don’t know what season you’re on. Since the fifth one I stopped watching because the law caught up with the movie guy who used to send me the “alternative” editions and now who knows where he is (which is a shame, because he had promised me up to season 10, though not even Kirkman knows if there will be 10 seasons). But with what I’ve been able to watch, I understand the reason for its success.

It’s not hard to follow the plot, anyway: it’s enough to look at the spoilers that filter through on the respective Twitter hashtags.

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A few moons ago, I asked a compañera what would have happened if Rick, or any member of the group, had known ahead of time that what was going to happen would happen. I choose the police officer as my example because it seems that he is the only one whose survival is guaranteed, at least in the comic of the same name.

Would Rick have prepared himself? Would he have constructed a bunker and stockpiled in it food, medicines, fuel, weapons and ammunition, and the complete works of George Romero?vi

Or would he perhaps have tried to stop the disaster?

The compañera, Zapatista to the end, answered me with the same question: what did I think Rick Grimes would have done?

I didn’t hesitate to answer her: nothing. Even knowing what was going to happen, neither Rick nor any of the characters would have done anything.

And there’s a simple reason for that: despite all the evidence, they would have kept thinking, up until the very last minute, that nothing bad was going to happen, that it wasn’t such a big deal, that someone somewhere would have the solution, that order would be re-established, that there would be someone to obey and someone to boss around, that, in any case, the tragedy would happen to other people, somewhere else, geographically distant or distant in terms of their social position.

They would think up until the night before that the tragedy was something destined not for them [ellas, ellos, elloas], but for those who survive below… and to the left.

Zombies aside, in the majority of those apocalyptic narratives, there are one or more moments in which someone, invariably the protagonist, when everyone is surrounded by a horde of zombies or the meteorite is a short distance from their heads, or in a similar situation, says, with all the serenity and aplomb, “Everything is going to be all right”.

And it turns out that for this meeting I got stuck with the role of party pooper. So I should tell you what we see: No, it’s not a science fiction movie, but rather reality; and no, everything is not going to be all right, only a few things will be all right if we prepare ourselves ahead of time.

According to our analysis (and until now, we haven’t seen anyone or anything that refutes it; on the contrary, they confirm it), we are already in the middle of a structural crisis that, in colloquial terms, means the reign of criminal violence, natural disasters, runaway shortages and unemployment, scarcity of basic services, collapse of energy infrastructure, migration, hunger, sickness, destruction, death, desperation, anguish, terror, helplessness.

In sum: dehumanization.

The crime is in progress. The biggest, most brutal and cruel crime in the brief history of humanity.

And the criminal is a system willing to go to any lengths: capitalism.

In apocalyptic terms: it’s a fight between humanity and the system, between life and death.

The second option, death—I wouldn’t recommend it.

Actually, don’t die. It’s not in your best interest. Believe me, I know something about that because I’ve died several times.

It’s very boring. Since the entrances to heaven and hell suffer from an annoying bureaucracy (though it’s not as bad as those in the universities and research centers), the wait is worse than an airport or a bus station during holiday season.

Hell’s the same, you have to organize gatherings of the arts, exact and natural sciences, social sciences, originary peoples, and other equally terrible things. They force you to bathe and comb your hair. They inject you and make you to eat squash soup all the time. You have to listen to Peña Nieto and Donald Trump in a never-ending press conference.

Heaven, for its part, is the same, just that there you have to put up with a monotonous chorus of palid angels, and they all give you the runaround if you want to talk to God to complain about the music.

In sum: say no to death and yes to life.

But don’t fool yourselves.

You’re going to have to fight every day, at all hours and everywhere.

In that fight, sooner or later, you’ll realize that only collectively will you have any possibility of triumph.

And even so, you’ll see that you also need the arts and that you need us, too, and others [otros, otras, otroas] like us.

Organize yourselves.

As Zapatistas we are, we’re not only not asking you to abandon your scientific practice, we’re demanding that you continue it and deepen it.

Continue exploring this and other worlds, don’t stop, don’t despair, don’t give up, don’t sell out, don’t give in.

But we’re also asking you to seek out the arts. Even though the contrary might seem to be true, they will “anchor” your scientific task in what you have in common: humanity.

Enjoy dance in any of its forms. Perhaps at the beginning you won’t be able to avoid framing the movements in the laws of physics, but afterwards you’ll feel it, boom.

Go beyond geometry, color theory and neurology and enjoy painting and sculpture.

Resist the temptation to find the scientific logic to that poem, that novel, and let the words discover galaxies for you that only inhabit the arts.

Surrender when faced with the lack of scientific basis to the stories that in theater and film peer into that which is humanly imperfect, unstable, and unpredictable.

And so on with all the arts.

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Now imagine that it’s not your own daily life but rather the arts which are in danger of extinction.

Imagine people, not statistics: men, women, children, elders, with a face, a history, a culture, threatened with annihilation.

See yourselves in those mirrors.

Understand that it’s not about fighting for them or in their place, but rather with them.

See yourselves as we Zapatistas see you.

Science is not your limit, your dead weight, your useless burden, the activity you should carry out in clandestinity or hiding in the closet of the academies and institutes.

Understand what we have already understood: that, as scientists, you all fight for humanity, that is to say, for life.

-*-

Yesterday Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés was explaining to us that the communities are, and have been for decades, our teachers and tutors. That the interest in science is new in Zapatismo. That it’s been incited by the new generations, by the Zapatista youth who want to know more and better how the world works. That out of the organized communities came this newest push that has us here in front of you.

It’s true. But what’s not new in Zapatismo is the struggle for life.

Even in our willingness and plans when faced with death, we were concerned with life from the start.

Those who are older, or who are interested despite not being older, may know about the uprising: the taking of 7 municipal capitals, the bombardments, the clashes with the military forces, the desperation of the government upon seeing that they couldn’t defeat us, the civil uprising that forced them to stop, what’s followed in these almost 23 years.

What you might not know is what I’m going to tell you next:

We prepared ourselves to kill and to die—Subcomandante Insurgente Moises already summarized that for you. So then we had two options in front of us: the country as a whole would be ignited, or we would be annihilated. Imagine our bewilderment when neither the one nor the other took place. But that’s another story for which perhaps there will be another occasion.

Two options, but both had the common denominator of death and destruction. Even though you might not believe it, the first thing we did was prepare ourselves to live.

And I don’t mean those of us who fought in combat, those of us for whom knowledge of the resistance of different materials was useful for taking cover and finding shelter in combat and during bombardments; nor the knowledge that allowed the insurgent health workers to save the lives of dozens of Zapatistas.

I’m talking about the Zapatista bases of support, those to whom, as Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés explained last night, we owe the path, the pace, the direction and the destination as Zapatistas we are, just as we owe to them the interest in the arts, the sciences, and the effort to include us with the workers of the countryside and the cities, the world headquarters of struggle, resistance, and rebellion that’s called “the Sixth.”

Starting a few years prior to that apparently now distant January 1, in the Zapatista communities the so-called “reserve battalions” were formed.

The mission that was given to them was the most important one in the gigantic operation that carried thousands into combat: to survive.

For months they were given instruction. Thousands of boys, girls, women, men and elders trained to protect themselves from bullets and bombs; to gather and retreat in orderly fashion in case the army attacked or bombarded the towns; to place and locate deposits of food, water and medicine that would allow them to survive in the mountains for a long time.

“Do not die” was the only order that they were to follow.

The order that those of us who went to combat had was: “Don’t give up, don’t sell out, don’t give in.”

When we came back to the mountains and we met back up with our communities, we fused the two orders and made them into one alone: “Struggle to build our freedom.”

And we agreed to do so with everyone [todas, todos, todoas].

And we agreed that, if it wasn’t possible to do so in this world, then we would make another world, a bigger one, a better one, one where all the possible worlds fit, the ones that already exist and the ones we still haven’t imagined but that can already be found in the arts and sciences.

Thank you very much.

From CIDECI-Unitierra.

SupGaleano.

Mexico, December 2016.

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From the Notebook of the Cat-Dog.

“What’s Lacking”

I was in my hut, reviewing and analyzing some videos of plays by Maradona and Messi.

Like a premonition, a ball bounced inside. “Defensa Zapatista” arrived behind it, entering without giving notice or asking permission. Behind the girl came the notorious Cat-Dog.

Defensa Zapatista” grabbed the ball and approached to look over my shoulder. I was busy trying to keep the Cat-Dog from eating the computer mouse so I didn’t notice that the girl was watching the videos with great interest.

“Hey Sup”, she said to me, “do you think Maradona and Messi are all that?”

I didn’t answer. From experience I know that Defensa Zapatista’s questions are either rhetorical or she’s not interested in hearing my answer.

She continued:

“But you’re not seeing the issue,” she said, “for as much as they might have of art and science, they both have a serious lack.”

Yes, that’s how she said it: “lack.” There I did interrupt her and I asked, “And just where did you get that word or where did you learn it?”

She responded, indignant: “That very bad Pedrito said it to me. He told me that I couldn’t play football because girls lack technique.”

“I got mad and I gave him a slap upside the head, because I didn’t know what that word meant and what if it’s a bad word. Of course, the very bad Pedrito ran to the education promotora to make a complaint about me and they called me in. I explained to the teacher the national and international situation, as they say, that the situation with the Hydra is really messed up and everything. And since the promotora understood that we have to support each other as the women we are, they didn’t reprimand me, but they sent me to look up what “lack” means. And well, I thought it was a better punishment than if they had sent me to eat squash soup.”

I nodded understandingly as I tried to get the mouse out of the Cat-Dog’s mouth.

“Well anyway, I went to look up what “lack” means on the internet in the office of the Junta de Buen Gobierno [Good Government Council] and I found that it’s a song by the musicians of the struggle, that it’s really happy and that everyone starts dancing and jumping around as if they gotten into an anthill of leafcutter ants. So I went to the education promotoraand I told her that “lack” is a song that goes: “I wake up in the morning and I don’t feel like going to school.” She laughed and told me, “it’s ‘going to work.’” So then I told her that songs are up to each person’s taste and the problems they have. Which is to say I gave her the political explanation, but I don’t think she understood, because she just laughed. And then she sent me back to find out not about the song, but rather to look up what the word means. So I headed back and when I get there I had to wait for the guy who was on duty at the Junta to send out a denunciation. After that I was able to go in and there I saw that “lack” means you’re missing something. So I headed back to the education promotora and told her, and she said that there, now I’d seen that it wasn’t a bad word and she congratulated me. But since Pedrito was there eavesdropping I gave him another slap upside the head for going around saying that I lack technique. And then the promotora said she was going to tell my moms that I was doing that kind of thing, so I came to hide here because I know that nobody comes to see you.”

I took the jab heroically, as I was finally able to snatch the mouse back from the Cat-Dog.

Defensa Zapatista” continued her long-winded speech:

“But don’t worry Sup, before coming in, first I peeked in to make sure you weren’t looking at pictures of naked ladies that, errrr, just to get it over with, Sup, it’s really unbelievable, and anyway I’m not going to make a complaint against you with the collective “The Women We Are,” but I’ll tell you plainly that it’s no good what you’re doing, because it just means you have a lack of moms, that is, like SupMoy says when he gets angry, no tienes madre” [you have no mother].

I’d like to clarify here that it’s not true what “Zapatista Defense” says, what happened is that I was taking a correspondence course on anatomy.

Anyway, before the girl could continue airing my secrets, I asked her why she said that Maradona and Messi were seriously lacking in something.

She was almost in the threshold of the door when she answered:

“Because they’re missing the most important thing: being women.”

-*-

“An Interstellar Trip”

Among the pile of papers and drawings that the late SupMarcos left, I found what I’m going to read to you below. It’s a sort of draft or notes for a script, or something like that, supposedly for a science fiction film. It’s called:

Toward What Does the Gaze Look?

Planet Earth. Some year in the distant future, let’s say 2024. Among the new tourist destinations, now it’s possible to travel to space and go around the world in a satellite adapted “ad hoc” for that purpose. The spaceship is a scale replica of the lunar satellite, with a big window that looks out, during the whole trip, onto Earth. On the other side, let’s say the back, there’s a sort of skylight, about the size of a house window, that always looks out onto the rest of the galaxy. The tourists, of all colors and nationalities, crowd up against the window that looks onto the planet of origin. They take selfies and live-stream the images of the world, “blue like an orange,” to their friends and family. But not all the travelers are on that side. At least four people are in front of the opposite window. They’re forgotten about their respective cameras and they look out in ecstasy at the jumbled collage of celestial bodies: the snaking line of dusty light that is the Milky Way, the twinkling glimmer of stars that might not exist anymore, the frenetic dance of asteroids and planets.

One of the people is an artist; they’re not immobile, in their brain they imagine rhythms, lines and colors, movements, sequences, words, inert or mobile representations; their hands and fingers move involuntarily, their lips mumble incomprehensible words and sounds, their eyes open and close continuously. The arts see what they see and they see what could come to be seen.

Another one of the people is a scientist; their body doesn’t move at all, they look fixedly not at the closest lights and colors but rather at the most distant ones; in their brain they imagine unthought galaxies, inert and living worlds, stars being born, insatiable black holes, interplanetary vessels without flags. The sciences see what they see and they see what could come to be seen.

The third person is indigenous, of short stature, with dark skin and ancestral features. They look at and touch the window. Their mind and body press upon the solid, transparent material. In their brain they imagine the path and the pace, the speed and the rhythm; they imagine a destination that’s constantly changing. The originary peoples see what they see and they see the life that could be created in order to be seen.

The fourth person is Zapatista, of changing color and features. They look through and delicately touch the glass with their hand. They take our their notebook and start writing frenetically. In their brain they begin to make calculations, lists of tasks, jobs to start, they trace maps, they dream. Zapatismo sees what it sees and sees the world that it will be necessary to build so that the arts, sciences, and originary peoples can realize and fulfill what they see with their gaze.

At the end of the trip, while the other travelers acquire their last souvenirs in the “duty free” shops, the artist runs to their studio, or whatever it is, so that others [otros, otras, otroas] can see and feel what they see; the scientist immediately convokes other scientists because there are theories and formulas that need to be proposed, demonstrated, and applied; the indigenous person gets together with their fellow peoples and tells them what they saw in order that, collectively, the gaze can define the path, the pace, the company, the rhythm, the speed and the destination.

The Zapatista person goes to their community and in the community assembly explains and details everything that must be done so that the artist, the scientist, and the indigenous person can travel. The first thing the assembly does is critique the story or the tale or the script or whatever it’s called, because it’s missing the workers of the city and the countryside. It is proposed then that a commission write a letter to the deceased SupMarcos so that he puts the fifth element in the story, that is, the Cat Dog, because it already ate the internet cable and two flash drives belonging to the Tercios Compas, and it spends all its time chasing around the computer mouse, so better that they take it with them; and so that he also adds, as the sixth element, the Sixth, because without the Sixth the story isn’t complete. Having approved this, the assembly proposes, discusses, adds and subtracts, plans the timetables, distributes the tasks, votes to determine general agreement and names the commissions for each task.

Before the assembly is adjourned and everyone goes to start the tasks assigned to them, a little girl asks to have the floor.Without coming up to the front, standing almost at the back of the communal house, the girl strains to raise her voice and says: “I propose that on the list of things to take, that they include a soccer ball and a whole lot of pozol.” The rest of the assembly laughs uproariously. SubMoy, who’s sitting on the panel that’s coordinating the meeting, calls for order. Having achieved silence, SubMoy asks the girl what her name is. The girl responds, “My name is Defensa Zapatista,” and she puts on her best “you’ll never get past me, not even if you’re aliens” face. SubMoy then asks Defensa Zapatista why she is proposing this.

The girl climbs up on a wooden bench and argues: “The ball is because if they aren’t going to be able to play, then it’s pointless to go there where they want go. And the whole lot of pozol is to give them strength so they don’t faint along the journey. And also so that way out there, far away, where the other worlds are, they don’t forget where they came from”.

The little girl’s proposal is approved by popular acclaim. SubMoy is about to adjourn the meeting when “Defensa Zapatista” raises her little hand asking again for the floor. It is conceded to her. As the girl speaks, in one arm she holds a soccer ball and in the other hugs a small animal to her. It seems to be a dog… or a cat, or a cat-dog: “I just want to say that we haven’t filled out the team yet, but don’t worry, soon there are going to be more of us, sometimes it takes a while, but soon there are going to be more.”

I testify.

Woof-meow.

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i “La Nave de los Monstruos” (1960) or “The Ship of the Monsters,” a Mexican science fiction comedy film.

iiPozol de Barro,” prize to be awarded by the EZLN to the winning team in a 2005 soccer (football) competition between the Zapatista team and the FC Internationale de Milán.

iii Musical number by Piporro that appears in “La Nave de los Monstruos.”

iv Tor the robot and his jukebox lover are characters in the film.

v Literally “rice with milk,” a sweet rice dessert, but in this context an exclamation after a suggestive comment or as a general exclamation of excitement, as in “Yeehaw” or “Woohoo”

vi Director of cult classics Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead among many other horror films.

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February 20, 2017

The announcement of the creation of an Indigenous Council of Government (CIG)

Filed under: CNI, Displacement, Ethics, Human rights, Indigenous, Uncategorized, Zapatista — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 2:16 pm

 

 

.The announcement of the creation of an Indigenous Council of Government (CIG)

 

Ruby Zajac

UK Zapatista Translation Service

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The announcement of the creation of an Indigenous Council of Government (CIG), on the 1st of January this year, has generated a great deal of debate in the Mexican Left and excitement in the international ranks of the Sexta. Indeed, the debate has been underway, in parallel to the consultations in 523 indigenous communities, since the proposal was first made by EZLN and the CNI (National  Indigenous Congress) during the first half of the 5th CNI, in October last year. Here, we consider some of the reactions to the proposal and its implications in the wider context of the Mexican left. In order to locate the proposal in the broader landscape of political struggle in Mexico, we must first establish the historic relationship between the CNI and EZLN.

The CNI is a transitory body; it has never existed permanently, but rather in the moments its delegates have come together. The first National Indigenous Congress took place in 1996, when, in the midst of debating the San Andrés Accords, with Zedillo’s government, the Zapatistas called the different indigenous peoples of the country together to share the progress of this crucial dialogue with the State about indigenous rights. It enabled the revolutionary group to adopt a more representative posture, in so far as they were arguing for indigenous rights, not Zapatista rights. Ten years later, in 2006, the CNI met for the 4th time, in San Pedro Atlapulco, State of Mexico, where it announced its affiliation to the Sexta. The Sextathe colloquial name for the extended community of Zapatista supporters and associates in Mexico and the across the world, which originated in 2005 with the release of the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle. The San Andrés Accords remained, and remain, unfulfilled.

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In October 2016, ten years after they joined the Sexta, the CNI met once more. Again, the Zapatistas would play an important role. On the 13th of October, the congress decided to adopt the Zapatistas’ proposal to form an Indigenous Council of Government, led by an indigenous woman, who would run as an independent candidate in the 2018 presidential elections. Between October and December last year, the proposal was up for debate in indigenous communities across Mexico, before delegates met again to report back. The significance of EZLN for the CNI and the over 60 indigenous peoples in Mexico can be summed up in the words of Álvaro Sebastián Ramírez, a political prisoner who wrote in an open letter to the CNI and EZLN, that the colonisers “may have chopped down the trunk of our tree, but they couldn’t pull out its roots, and it began to sprout again with the Indigenous Uprising of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation”.

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So, it’s the eve of 2017, Trump is soon to be inaugurated and Brexit is on its way; from where we’re sitting in the UK it seems this year is already destined to turn politics as we know it on its head. With that in mind, this unprecedented event in Mexican politics doesn’t seem quite so incredible. The so-called ‘post-truth’ age might actually just be the revealing in the West of “Democracy’s” longstanding shortcomings, which in Mexico they know only too well. Indeed, that is part of the drive for this new strategy of those from below; Trump was hardly mentioned while I was at the Zapatista science conference ‘ConCiencias’ and surrounded by supporters of the Zapatistas and the CNI over Christmas, which I think says something about the distance of the alternative left from mainstream Mexican politics and the absence of the state. The moment was marked by the oppression of indigenous environmental defenders, the eviction of autonomous cultural centre Chanti Ollin in Mexico City and the challenging, inspiring dialogue between the Zapatistas and academics like Kirsten Vogeler and Pablo González Casanova, and community science projects like Colectivo Alterius, in ConCiencias. On the 1st of January 2017, with all of this and more in the background, the CNI took centre stage and voted in the proposal.

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For those who followed the Otra Campaña (Other Campaign) in 2005/6 (the first call for Mexicans to think outside the political box, embodied in a nationwide consultation by the Zapatistas that ran parallel to the 2006 general elections), this new proposal will set some bells ringing. It will also flag up some pretty fundamental differences. Didn’t EZLN always claim to be against participating in the electoral process? Didn’t they adopt the poignant slogan of a collective of the Sexta, ‘Our dreams don’t fit in your urns’? Haven’t they always insisted that they will not become a political party?

Yes, all of this is still true (although John Gibler writes that the Zapatista position on abstention has been treated with carefully chosen words). That’s why it is so important to recognise the germination of this proposal as a collaborative effort “EZLN–CNI”, which is ultimately to be spearheaded by the CNI not EZLN. Members of the collective Indigenous Council of Government will be elected through a consultation in all of the communities who send delegates to the CNI, including the female spokesperson. She will run as candidate in the elections because the system demands individual candidacy, but ultimately, and crucially, she will be representing the collective body; and if elected, Gustavo Esteva writes, the council as a whole must undertake the mammoth task of dismantling the state apparatus.

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But the proposal is about more than the 2018 presidential elections. It is challenging Mexicans to come together and struggle for freedom side by side with the 16 million indigenous people of their society, giving them a bastion around which to organise, a common purpose that will unite them, a purpose that neither beings nor ends in those urns, but which, as Josefa Contreras so astutely points out, is a “direct confrontation with an asymmetric political logic” (Ojarasca, La Jornada).

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Or as Subcomandante Galeano, the Zapatista spokesperson-come-double translator, put it in a November communiqué: “We told them that it didn’t matter if they won the presidency of the Republic or not, that what mattered was the challenge, the irreverence, the revolt, the total rupture with the image of the indigenous as object of pity and charity […] What mattered was that their audacity would shake the entire political system and that they would hear echoes of hope not from one but from many of the Mexicos below… and the belows of the world.”

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Of course, the leader of recently-formed leftist party MORENA, the Movement for National Renewal, the self-professed ‘hope of Mexico’, born out of the 2006 left-wing coalition for the presidency, isn’t a fan. Andrés Manuel López Obrador, quickly denounced the proposal, accusing EZLN and the CNI of playing the government’s game, and highlighting their inconsistency, since they detracted from his campaigns in 2006 and 2012, encouraging abstention from what, despite the end of single-party rule in 2000, is still widely considered to be the electoral farce.

But since the last general elections, Ayotzinapa has shaken civil society to its core and put a spotlight on the chronic, systematic human rights abuses of the Mexican state. Political observers said it was the straw that broke the camel’s back, causing the Mexican public to explode out onto the streets in protests that reached the 10,000s in November 2014.

But it didn’t, and the impunity has continued.

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The teachers’ strikes against the supposed ‘educational reform’, which many maintain is really a neoliberal and neocolonial labour reform led, in June 2016, to the death of at least ten people (although some sources say eleven) in a confrontation between police and protesters in Nochixtlán, Oaxaca, reminiscent of the oppression of mass protests in the same state in 2006. Three months before Ayotzinapa, 22 civilians were victims of extrajudicial execution by members of the army in Tlatlaya. The community of Atenco, where 2 young men were killed, 27 women raped and over 200 locals injured and arrested in 2006 continues to resist the building of a new airport on their land and state actors continue to commit acts of sexual violence. This incident was what put the breaks on the Other Campaign, as adherents rushed to protect the community in resistance.

 

Political commentators reason that the new proposal will undermine Obrador and MORENA. The counterargument, of course, is that any change brought about through MORENA would be superficial. For various historical reasons including the collaboration of the institutional leftist party the PRD with the PRI and PAN in governorship coalitions and corruption scandals, most activists I’ve come across from within the alternative left consider all professional politicians to be as bad as each other. An esteemed Mexican intellectual from the Sexta told me the same, that to save the future of the country the people must look towards a completely new avenue of change, one that comes from their millenary cultural heritage.

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Seemingly embodying a middle ground, the poet and activist Javier Sicilia recently called for a Popular Front for 2018; the coming together of various leftist elements in Mexico ranging from the solidly institutional (Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas – first leader of the ‘leftist’ institutional party, the PRD, in 1989) to the openly anti-systemic (EZLN) and including potential brokers between these two poles such as migrant advocate Father Alejandro Solalinde. Obrador would neither lead nor not be excluded from this front, Sicilia insisted, tapping into concerns about Obrador’s charismatic leadership. The charismatic leader model of populist leftism has come under significant critique recently, in cases like Venezuela and Bolivia, and it is important to recognise just how much the EZLN-CNI collective governance proposal veers away from this path, proposing a much more fundamental change to the system than MORENA does. But although Sicilia evoked similar collective ideals, he made no explicit mention of the EZLN-CNI proposal.

It may be early days to be analysing the response to the EZLN-CNI proposal; the candidate to lead the CIG is to be chosen and announced in May, which I imagine will provoke further comment and debate. One thing that did jump out at me while researching this article was the lack of coverage of this historic event in the English speaking international press (the Guardian, BBC, NY Times and Washington Post haven’t run articles on it for a start) – everyone’s news on Mexico has been Trump-related. The EZLN-CNI proposal is a world away from mainstream politics; will it galvanize interest and support from across the political spectrum or remain in the network of resistance from below? We will have to wait and see.

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February 8, 2017

Believing People Pilgrimage

Filed under: Displacement, Human rights, Indigenous, Uncategorized — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 4:44 pm

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Believing People Pilgrimage

believing-popleBelieving People Pilgrimage in San Cristóbal, 2016 Photo: El Heraldo de Chiapas

On January 25, members of Believing Peoples of the Diocese of San Cristóbal de Las Casas held a pilgrimage on the fifth anniversary of the death of Jtatik Samuel Ruíz and also for the commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the Diocesan Coordination of Women (CODIMUJ).

About 4,000 people came from the municipalities of Comitan, Frontera Comalapa, Chicomuselo, Altamirano, Tila, Las Margaritas, Ocosingo, Chilon, La Trinitaria, La Independencia, San Cristóbal, Chenalho, San Juan Chamula, Larrainzar, Oxchuc, among others. They met in the Cathedral Square of San Cristobal de las Casas to remember Jtatik Samuel in prayer.

As Believing Peoples, they proposed building autonomy in the communities, recovering the structure of government, resisting the projects and recovering the autonomous and community governments, facing the 2018 elections, as the political parties are already controlling and organizing their people in communities.

Believing Peoples denounce “the poverty that is increasing through the rise of [the price of] gasoline, gas, electricity, tortilla, transportation and everything. We denounce the nationalist egotism of the new government in the United States, which excludes emigrants and who only look out for their economic interests, without solidarity with less developed countries. 

https://sipazen.wordpress.com/2017/02/05/chiapas-believing-people-pilgrimage/

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UNO Special Rapporteur Visits Mexico to Evaluate Human Rights Situation

Filed under: Human rights, Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 10:53 am

 

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UNO Special Rapporteur Visits Mexico to Evaluate Human Rights Situation

February 5, 2017

 

unoMichael Forst, UNO Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders. Photo@MuralChiapas

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Michel Forst, visited Mexico from January 16 to 24 with the aim of assessing the situation of human rights defenders and evaluating the efforts made by the Mexican authorities for their protection. After traveling the country from Mexico City to the states of Chihuahua, Guerrero, Oaxaca and the State of Mexico, and meeting more than 800 defenders from 24 states, 60% of whom were women, the UNO Rapporteur noted “high levels of insecurity and violence faced by defenders in the country” in a “complex context marked by organized crime, corruption and state repression.”

Based on his observations, Forst points out that, “the situation of human rights defenders is marked by the criminalization of their activities through the undue and deliberate use of criminal law and manipulation of punitive power by both state and non-state players, to prevent and even avoid the legitimate activities of defenders to promote and protect human rights.” He also added that “the use of arbitrary arrests and detentions as an instrument to silence dissident voices and to curb social movements is also worrying (…) in many cases, those who defend human rights by reporting violations committed by the authorities are criminalized and face indirect reprisals through attacks or criminal proceedings directed against their families or people close to them.”

The Special Rapporteur expressed concern about the fact that “98% of crimes in Mexico are not solved”: “The low rate of successful investigations and solution of crimes committed against human rights defenders has generated a generalized sense of impunity.” He continued and warned that, “The lack of investigation and sanction of the aggressors sends a dangerous message that there are no consequences for committing such crimes. This creates an environment conducive to the repetition of violations.”

“Impunity has become the cause and effect of the general insecurity of human rights defenders in Mexico,” the Special Rapporteur warned at the close of his official visit to the country and presented a preliminary report with a series of recommendations to the authorities and other players to strengthen the protection of human rights defenders and facilitate their important work. Forst concluded by reaffirming his willingness to provide assistance to all players interested in combating impunity and ensuring the protection of defenders in Mexico.

 

https://sipazen.wordpress.com/2017/02/05/national-uno-special-rapporteur-visits-mexico-to-evaluate-human-rights-situation/

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Urgent Action: Rarámuri Indigenous Leaders Murdered

Filed under: Displacement, Human rights, Indigenous, Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 10:22 am

 

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Urgent Action: Rarámuri Indigenous Leaders Murdered

Sign the urgent action here on-line:  http://redtdt.org.mx/?p=7884

 

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The National Network of Civil Society Human Rights Groups, All Rights for Everyone (in Spanish:  ‘Red Nacional de Organismos Civiles de Derechos Humanos, Todos los Derechos para Todas y Todos’ and known by the acronym Red TDT)

2 February 2017

  • This is an urgent call to action to protect the safety and integrity of members of the Choreachi community following the murder of indigenous leader Juan Ontiveros Ramos, 15 days after the murder of Isidro Baldenegro, another indigenous leader from the same municipality.
  • We demand that the investigation begun into these events be diligently integrated into this case, in order to identify, prosecute and punish all those responsible; and to ensure the non-repetition of similar events.

 

Recent Events Prior to the Murder

Red TDT has received information from the Alianza Sierra Madre A.C. and the Women’s Human Rights Centre about the murder of the human rights defender Juan Ontiveros Ramos.

On February 1, 2017, Juan Ontiveros Ramos was found dead after he and his brother Isidro were attacked the day before by armed individuals. On January 20, Juan took part in a meeting with personnel from the Human Rights Section of the Ministry of the Interior and other authorities. There were two rounds of analysis discussing the community’s security situation and dispossession of their territory.

 

In October 2015 Juan Ontiveros had also presented his testimony about the local problems in a video that was given to the IACHR (Inter-American Commission on Human Rights) in a meeting implementing precautionary measures. The aggressions suffered by the communities and human rights defenders of the region have been a trend identified by organizations working in the region.

What happened

The Choréachi community in the municipality of Guadalupe and Calvo, Chihuahua has a grave history of attacks on human rights defenders, as well as general harassment of villagers. This is due to the approximately 40 years of occupation of their territory by groups of organized crime and others. In such a context of reoccurring serious violence, it is imperative to issue an emergency call to protect the life and integrity of the rest of the inhabitants of the Choréachi commuinty.

The homicide of Juan Ontiveros Ramos took place 15 days after Isidro Baldenegro, another indigenous leader from the same municipality, was also assassinated. These two cases bring to 18 the total number of homicides that the community has suffered since 1973. Four of these murders took place last year, and this reveals that territorial dispossession in the Tarahumara Sierra continues without being addressed.

The aggressions against the Choréachi community are a longstanding problem. Since two years ago, an emergency situation had already been reported. On 20 February 2014 several organizations in the region sent a request for precautionary measures to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in support of Prudencio Ramos Ramos and Ángela Ayala Ramos and their respective families. After determining the seriousness of the case, the commission requested Mexico to take the necessary measures to preserve life and to enable them to carry out their human rights defence work without being subjected to violence. It also requested that the facts of the case be investigated so as to avoid the situation repeating.

Again, we value the words Rapporteur Forst delivered in his report on the closure of his mission of January 24:

‘During my visit to Chihuahua, I became familiar with the situation faced by human rights defenders protecting the rights of the Rarámuri indigenous people, in particular the risks posed by organized crime and the lack of protection by the authorities.’ For these reasons, the expert ‘Call[ed] on the federal and state authorities to ensure that all crimes against the defenders of the rights of the Sierra Tarahumara peoples are properly investigated.’ The signatory organizations of this communiqué make the same call as Michel Forst and urge the state and federal authorities to act accordingly.

Given these facts we demand the following:

  1. Protect the Choréachi community and provide security for the life and natural and cultural heritage of the Rarámuri people.
  2. Guarantee the physical and moral integrity of Juan Ontiveros Ramos’s family.
  3. Follow through and act on the arrest warrants pending in connection with the murder of Jaime Zubías and Socorro Ayala as they relate to these events.
  4. That the investigation initiated by these events be diligently integrated, in order to identify, prosecute and punish all those responsible; and to ensure similar events do not happen again.
  5. That the agreements adopted at the different rounds of meetings be complied with and result in both the guarantee that the community recovers its territory, and the compliance of the precautionary measures adopted by the IACHR result in the safety of those who are under the protective mechanisms of human rights defenders and journalists.
  6. That the contingency plan drawn up from the preventive alert, to support human rights defenders and journalists in Chihuahua, and adopted by the government representatives of the protective mechanisms be put into action.

 

Translated by the UK Zapatista Translation Service

https://www.centrodemedioslibres.org/2017/02/04/accion-urgente-ante-asesinatos-de-lideres-indigenas-raramuri/

 

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February 5, 2017

The Freedom of ex-Political Prisoner Roberto Paciencia Cruz is at Risk

Filed under: Frayba, Human rights, Indigenous, Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 4:47 pm

 

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 The Freedom of ex-Political Prisoner Roberto Paciencia Cruz is at Risk

 

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San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas

February 2, 2017

Joint Bulletin:

The working group No Estamos Todxs and the centre of human rights Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas AC, express our concern regarding the risk to the freedom of our compañero Roberto Paciencia Cruz (Roberto Paciencia) who is an Indigenous Tsostil of Chenalhó, Chiapas and an adherent to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandona Jungle.

Roberto was detained August 9th, 2013 and accused of abduction. During the moment of his detention and incarceration, acts of torture, arbitrary detention and unfair trial were documented, violating the rights of personal freedom and integrity, personal security and access to due process.

Since his detention, and throughout the judicial process that lasted three years and three months, Roberto did not cease his struggle against the injustices of the corrupt Mexican political system. On November 26, 2016, he was released by acquittal under the recognition of his innocence on part of the Judge of the criminal branch of the judicial district of San Cristóbal de Las Casas.

However, the public prosecutor has filed an appeal against the acquittal, despite not having been able to sustain the accusation against our compañero Paciencia during the trial, and in spite of the mentioned violations against him.

The arbitrary and unjust detention to which Roberto was subjected has brought physical and psychological consequences for him and his family, disrupting his life and generating poverty in his family.

According to available information, the study of the case and the proposal of appeal will be under the charge of Residing Judge C, of the Regional Mixed Collegiate Courtroom Zone 3, of San Cristóbal de Las Casas. Judge Ramiro Joel Ramírez Sánchez will head the case. The judges that integrate the courtroom will vote upon the proposal in the middle of February

The probability of his acquittal being modified has generated uncertainty, stress and anxiety for Roberto, as well as for his family. During the months following his release, Roberto has moved to San Cristóbal de Las Casas, where he has tried to continue his life together with his family. Right now he is working and continuing the struggle.

During the years that he was detained in CERSS Number 5, in San Cristóbal de Las Casas, he continued to defend the right of the prisoners, showing solidarity and commitment to the imprisoned survivors of torture and politically motivated criminalization. He did not stop denouncing the many abuses committed by the authorities, like the unjust and corrupt penitentiary and judicial system that discriminates against people for being poor and Indigenous.

The working group No Estamos Todxs and the Centre for Human Rights Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas AC, reiterate our concern regarding the risk to the freedom of Roberto Paciencia and we urge the judge Ramiro Joel Ramírez Sánchez and the members of the Regional Mixed Collegiate Courtroom Zone 3, of San Cristóbal de Las Casas, to confirm the acquittal, for not having legal means to revoke the sentence.

To the adherents of the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandona Jungle and the national and internal civil society, we ask you to be attentive to the resolution of the Regional Mixed Collegiate Courtroom Zone 3, and to carry out solidarity actions for Roberto Paciencia Cruz and his family

Working Group No Estamos Todxs

Centre of Human Rights Fray Bartolomé de las Casas AC

Translated by Palabras Rebeldes

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January 7, 2017

Chile: Jailed Mapuche Leader Faces Death as Health Worsens

Filed under: Human rights, Indigenous, Marcos, Uncategorized — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 12:28 pm

 


Chile: Jailed Mapuche Leader Faces Death as Health Worsens

 

mapuche_francisca_linconao-jpg_1718483346Indigenous leader Francisca Linconao was detained in 2013 and remains a suspect under an anti-terror law. | Photo: Mapuexpress

 

The hunger-striking Indigenous leader is under a great risk of vital functions failure, according to a new medical report.

A new medical report warns that jailed Chilean Indigenous Mapuche leader Francisca Linconao is at risk of dying as her hunger strike to demand her freedom continues to weaken her already-fragile health.

“The severe deterioration of her health condition can become irreversible and even cost her life,” says the report completed on Dec. 31, 2016, by a certified medical and psychological team. “Among the risks to which the patient is exposed with the hunger strike are permanent consequences in various vital functions, such as neurological, liver, cardiac and renal functions.”

According to the doctors, the detained leader not only suffers physical deterioration, but spiritual loss of strength as she is deprived of freedom “which prevents her from accessing what she considers her main source of energy, the one that comes from nature, its sacred ceremonies and its mission to offer health.”

The 60-year-old activist has been on hunger strike since Dec. 23 and only consumes liquids. She was detained in 2013 and accused of arson in an incident that led to the deaths of two powerful landlords and still awaits trial.

According to an interview by the medical team, the Machi or Mapuche leader said she is willing to continue the strike until she can’t go any further.

“I want to live, but I am willing to risk my life,” said Linconao. “I am very depressed because I can’t fulfil my spiritual mission, which is to heal others, to give health and well-being to those who need it.”

Linconao has no access to media and claims that she has been threatened and humiliated by prison officials, according to a statement given inside the Mapuche Medical Centre, where she is guarded by six armed policemen.

“When I started the hunger strike, after the third day, they gave me a document from the warden of the women’s prison in Temuco, who said they would sanction me for seven or 30 days after I finish my hunger strike,” said Linconao.

According to the doctors, if Linconao dies during the hunger strike, it would worsen conflicts with Indigenous groups in the country and “would mark a serious precedent in terms of human rights at national and international levels.”

Finally, the medical team recommended alternative measures of imprisonment, such as house arrest, based on the agreement signed by the Chilean state in 2008, which gives this preference to members of Indigenous groups.

According to the report, the Chilean justice system has approved this type of prevention for Linconao, but the ruling has not been fulfilled due to the country’s anti-terror laws.

 

http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Chile-Jailed-Mapuche-Leader-Faces-Death-Risk-as-Health-Worsens-20170104-0009.html?utm_source=planisys&utm_medium=NewsletterIngles&utm_campaign=NewsletterIngles&utm_content=10

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December 29, 2016

Frayba Presents its Annual Report “Paths of Resistance”

Filed under: Frayba, Human rights, sipaz, Uncategorized — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 11:54 am

 

 

Frayba Presents its Annual Report “Paths of Resistance”

 

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On December 19, the Fray Bartolome de las Casas Centre for Human Rights (CDHFBC) presented its “Annual Report: Paths of Resistance”, in an event attended by Marina Pages, coordinator of the International Service for Peace (SIPAZ); Ana Valadez Ortega, member of the Centre for Studies for Change in the Mexican Field (CECCAM); Rafael Landerreche Morin, member of the Pastoral Team of Chenalho; Marcelo Perez Perez, parish priest of Simojovel and coordinator of the Social Pastoral of the Chiapas Province, as well as Pedro Faro Navarro, director of CDHFBC.

 The objective of the book is to “make visible the men and women, people and communities organized in the construction of dreams and hopes that crack the system, generate life and dignity, ways of resistance to this cruel and bloodthirsty reality that we live in Mexico.”

It has five chapters: “Detention and Megaprojects, Impacts on Human Rights”, “Forced Displacement in a War Context”, “From Discredit to Repression” (focused on human rights defenders), “From Internal Armed Conflict to Widespread Violence”, and “In the Midst of the Whistling of the Mountains, the Call to Truth and Justice ” (on historical memory and the “Other Justice “).

 

Posted by Dorset Chiapas Solidarity

https://sipazen.wordpress.com/2016/12/28/chiapas-frayba-presents-its-annual-report-paths-of-resistance/

 

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December 14, 2016

Communities in Chiapas Say No to the Environmental Gendarmerie.

 

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Communities in Chiapas Say No to the Environmental Gendarmerie.

 

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They consider it a strategy to destroy their communities.

Mario Marlo, Noe Pineda

Ocosingo, Chiapas, 8th of December 2016.

As a result of the Forum for the Defence of the Earth, Life and Territory, which took place on the 5th of December 2016, communities of the Lacandon Jungle and Montes Azules rejected the introduction of the Environmental Gendarmerie in their territory, as they consider it to be just another way Transnational companies are trying to make an inroad into the area. The communities Amador Hernández, Galilea, Benito Juárez, Pichucalco, Chapultepec, Candelaria, San Gregrorio, Betania, Santa Lucía, Nueva Ibarra, San Jacinto, San Francisco, San Salvador, Israel, Barrio Guadalupe and representatives of the 23 regions of the municipality of Ocosingo argued that the real objective of this security force is the destruction of their communities, cultures and organisations, as well as the violation of their rights and the beginning of the destruction of the Lacandon Jungle and Montes Azules.

They say that the Gendarmerie allow entry into the area to Transnational companies whose principal objective is the extraction of natural resources for the benefit of big business. They explained that the real contamination that exists on the planet comes from the world’s big cities, because of vehicle pollution, chemical substances, forestry exploitation and big monopolies that produce on an irrational scale.

In light of this, they questioned the step taken by the Government since they explained that the activities that they carry out in this area simply obey the subsistence needs of the people who live there. “Since the foundation of each of the communities located in the Lacandon Jungle and Montes Azules, we have created our own means of environmental conservation, such as the implementation of rules that include fines for those residents who cause unjustifiable harm to the ecosystem.”

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They suggested that if the authorities concerned do not take their inconformity into consideration, they will take action against the Environmental Gendarmerie until they are heard.

The Gendarmerie plans to set up in 61 locations throughout the country, including the Lacandon Jungle, the reserves at Montes Azules and of the Monarch Butterfly, the Pico de Orizaba (the highest mountain in Mexico), the Nevado de Toluca (the largest stratovolcano in central Mexico) and Tulum.

 

Translated by Ruby Zajac for the UK Zapatista Translation Service

 

http://www.somoselmedio.org/article/pueblos-de-chiapas-dicen-no-la-gendarmer%C3%ADa-ambiental

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December 5, 2016

Modevite Demand Respect for Self-Determination over their Territory and Agree to Construct Community Governments

Filed under: Dams, Displacement, Human rights, Indigenous, Mining — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 2:29 pm

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Modevite will consult their communities about EZLN proposal

They Demand Respect for Self-Determination over their Territory and Agree to Construct Community Governments

modevite-3Movement for the Defence of Life and Territory Photo: Chiapas Paralelo

By: Angeles Mariscal

 In this state of the Mexican Southeast, the mining industry has been granted concessions to almost 20 percent of the territory, and there are more than 30 governmental authorizations to use tributary rivers for the installation of mini-hydroelectric dams, five projects for constructing dams and an open solicitation for extracting hydrocarbons from 12 wells; the project to construct a gas pipeline is also in the works, and through the decree for creation of the Special Economic Zones they are granted eased tariffs so that corporations consolidate their businesses linked to the extractive industry.

This is the scenario that thousands of indigenous face in Chiapas; and this is why in this month of November residents of the municipios of Salto de Agua, Tumbalá, Yajalón, Chilón, Ocosingo, Altamirano, Oxchuc, San Juan Cancúc, Tenejapa, Huixtán and San Cristóbal de las Casas left their communities to tour the region and demonstrate their rejection of these projects that threaten stability in their territory.

They are from the Tsotsil, Chol and Tseltal indigenous ethnicities, who make up part of the faithful of the Diocese of San Cristóbal de las Casas, grouped together in the Pueblo Creyente (Believing People), and who for four years have been members of the Movement for the Defence of Life and Territory (Movimiento por la Defensa de la Vida y el TerritorioModevite).

On their 15-day tour, Modevite members met with more than 20,000 different indigenous peoples, with whom they dialogued about the common problems that cross through their territories.

“We have walked to listen to the problems of our communities and the risks that threaten our culture and our Mother Earth with mega-projects and super-highways. We walked to unite us in one single voice. We have been able to converse, reflect and dream as one people,” they explained in a joint pronouncement.

Mines, hydroelectric dams and wells on indigenous lands

“We are at a strategic place regarding the mega-projects. This territory is one of the objectives of extractivism,” they pointed out upon arriving in San Cristóbal de las Casas, in a plaza full of indigenous and mestizos.

There, in the plaza, they said that’ according to the Secretary of Economy, in the last three six-year presidential terms 99 concessions for exploiting minerals that are found on 1.5 million hectares –almost 20 percent of Chiapas territory- have been delivered to corporate investors, the majority lands belonging to indigenous groups that would have to be displaced to make way for the mining industry.

They also said that the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) has identified Chiapas as a state with great hydrology potential, and plans to construct 90 hydroelectric dams with different capacities. Four of those stand out that would directly affect indigenous territory: the Altamirano Dam on the Tzaconejá River; the Livingstone Dam on the Tzaconejá River; the Santo Domingo Rapids Dam (previously Huixtán I) on the Santo Domingo River; and the Santa Elena Dam (previously Huixtán II) on the Santo Domingo River, among others. They emphasized that investors have asked the Secretariat of the Environment and Natural Resources (Semarnat) for the installation of at least 32 “mini-hydroelectric” dams.

They also said that the perforation of 12 wells for the extraction of gas and oil has been projected for 2017 in the indigenous Zoque zone. This project will affect 845 square kilometres located in two areas within the municipios of Tecpatán, Francisco León, Ixtacomitán and Pichicalco.

Another risk to indigenous territories –they reminded- is the planting of genetically modified seeds (GMOs). From 2010 to the middle of 2016 the Monsanto Company planted genetically modified soy in 13 Chiapas municipios.

They call for strengthening community governments

The inhabitants of the zones where these extractive projects are located pointed out that accepting them would mean being displaced from their territory, and with that also losing their roots.

They started to organize four years ago and since then they have achieved suspending the construction of the San Cristóbal-Palenque Super-Highway. “Now we see that our fight is bigger; we have the job of defender our life, our culture and the commons that there are in our territory,” they underscored.

They said that throughout their tour through indigenous territory, there was agreement that not only must they denounce the affectation to their territory because of the extractivist projects, “but we must also care about the land.”

They said that if the federal, state and municipal governments support and promote the extractive industry, their option is to create community governments that respond to the interests of the indigenous peoples that are being affected.

Therefore, the indigenous agreed to add themselves to the proposal of the National Indigenous Congress (Congreso Nacional Indígena, CNI) and the Zapatista National Liberation Army (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, EZLN), to consult with their communities about the decision to participate in the next national elections with an independent indigenous candidate.

“We share the same objective (as the CNI and EZLN), we believe that it is necessary to strengthen the voice of our indigenous peoples on the political agenda, and therefore we want to take this initiative to our communities and municipios. We can no longer work divided but rather it’s necessary to unite for our peoples, for our territories,” they said.

Modevite members announced that they would strengthen the initiative for constructing autonomous governments as a measure for conserving their territories and their culture. “It’s our right to decide the use of and destiny of our territory,” they said.

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Originally Published in Spanish by Chiapas Paralelo

Thursday, December 1, 2016

http://www.chiapasparalelo.com/noticias/chiapas/2016/12/en-chiapas-indigenas-rechazan-proyectos-extractivos/

Re-Published with English interpretation and edits by the Chiapas Support Committee

Posted with minor edits by Dorset Chiapas Solidarity

https://chiapas-support.org/2016/12/04/chiapas-modevite-will-consult-their-communities-about-ezln-proposal/

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November 27, 2016

After Three Years of Unjust Imprisonment, Indigenous Tsotsil Obtains His Freedom, Thanks to National and International Solidarity

Filed under: Human rights, Indigenous — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 10:25 am

 

 

After Three Years of Unjust Imprisonment, Indigenous Tsotsil Obtains His Freedom, Thanks to National and International Solidarity

 

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San Cristóbal de Las Casas, November 24th, 2016

To the Zapatista Army of National Liberation

To the Councils of Good Government

To the National Indigenous Congress

To the Sexta,

To the Free, Alternative, and Autonomous Media

To Those that Struggle From Below and to the Left

Today, our hearts are filled with joy and we want to share the happiness of receiving our compañero Roberto Paciencia Cruz in liberty. It has been three years and four months of struggle and resistance inside and outside the prison walls. Moments like this demonstrate that walking and planting the seeds of social and collective justice will end giving a harvest of the fruits of liberty.

Roberto, ex-prisoner and adherent of the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandona Jungle of the EZLN, is one of those people who will not remain silent, who will not legitimize barbarism, and who is willing to assume the consequences of his scream of consciousness and rebellion. Through his voice, Roberto has denounced the violations of human rights that the incarcerated population suffers at the hands of the prison authorities and he has inspired the awakening of other prisoners inside the prison walls.

This was another case of the racist and classist state justice system for which being poor and indigenous is a crime sufficient to be incarcerated. But also, it is an example of how prison can be another trench of struggle, where one can continue the work of those who have struggled before, and set an example for those that continue struggling for their freedom.

This week various events have taken place to spread information and accompany the case of Roberto. This was particularly important, as tomorrow was the deadline for the judge to give his sentence of conviction or acquittal. Yesterday an event was held where families and compañerxs of Roberto gave testimonies, inviting the people that move below and to the left to maintain alert to the impending judicial resolution. Today, since 9am, a concentration of people was maintained in front of the cathedral in San Cristóbal de Las Casas to make the case visible. Simultaneously, a commission was sent to the Central Estatal de Reinserción Social de Sentenciados (CERSS) No. 5 to accompany Roberto in person, and to provide pressure before the resolution of the judicial process. At one in the afternoon, the judge acquitted our compañero and at 5:30 they opened the doors for him to leave the prison behind, and to newly recover his freedom.

Amongst screams of “Freedom, freedom to the prisoners in struggle”, tears of excitement, happiness, and the sound of the Zapatista hymn, Roberto Paciencia arrived at the Plaza of Resistance at 6pm to reunite with his family, compañerxs, and friends. Today we managed to overcome a serious obstacle, but still, we reaffirm our commitment to struggle until everyone obtains their freedom.

Until all the walls are torn down!

For freedom to everyone!

Down with the prison walls!

FREEDOM!

Working group “No Estamos Todxs”

 

http://www.pozol.org/?p=14108

Translated by Palabras Rebeldes

Posted by Dorset Chiapas Solidarity

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November 23, 2016

Judge to Deliver Sentence for Roberto Paciencia

Filed under: Frayba, Human rights, Indigenous — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 11:57 am

!24 de Noviembre, 2016. Roberto Paciencia ya esta libre!

Judge to Deliver Sentence for Roberto Paciencia

 

 paciencia1Press conference for Roberto Paciencia Cruz. Photo@ChiapasDenunciaPublica

On November 10, relatives of Roberto Paciencia Cruz, Sympathizers with The Voice of Amate and the Working Group “No Estamos Todxs” (GTNET in its Spanish acronym) announced at a press conference at the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Centre (CDHFBC or Frayba) that on November 26, William Hernandez Ovando, Judge of the Criminal Law Section of San Cristobal de Las Casas District, will deliver a sentence on the case of Roberto.

Roberto Paciencia, indigenous Tsotsil, campesino and adherent to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle; “Victim of Torture, Cruel, Inhuman and/or Degrading Treatment, Arbitrary Deprivation of Liberty and Violations of Due Process” was arrested on August 7, 2013, in the municipality of Pantelho, Chiapas, and transferred to the premises of the Specialized Prosecutor against Organized Crime’s Office (FECDO in its Spanish acronym) in Tuxtla Gutierrez. In this place, Roberto was physically and psychologically tortured for two days and locked in a punishment cell. He was later transferred to the State Centre for Social Reintegration of Sentenced Persons (CERSS) No. 5 of San Cristobal de Las Casas, where he is currently held, without sentence.

According to the CDHFBC, Roberto Paciencia, as a result of torture, “has physical and psychological scars, without receiving adequate medical care, and his prolonged detention has affected his life project, especially his family.” On numerous occasions “he has used his voice to denounce the injustices that the prison population lives in the prison where he is held” and the existence of other cases of human rights violations in CERSS No. 05. Relatives, the Sympathizers and the GTNET stated that regarding the delivery of a sentence, “the compañero’s innocence has been legally demonstrated on various occasions: the only prosecution witness has not appeared at any of the numerous hearings, and, on the contrary, there are witnesses who stated that Roberto was not present at the time at the scene of the crime of which he is falsely accused.”

In Chiapas, human rights violations committed against vulnerable populations “is a daily practice in the system of administration of justice, which keeps persons whose right to personal integrity and security is violated in jail in inhuman conditions.” Due to this, the relatives, Sympathizers and the GTNET denounced “the injustice of the deprivation of liberty of Roberto Paciencia and we make a call to stay alert to the judicial decision of the next few days demanding that finally justice be done for our compañero.”

https://sipazen.wordpress.com/2016/11/22/chiapas-judge-to-deliver-sentence-for-roberto-paciencia/

 

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November 20, 2016

10 years after the Viejo Velasco Massacre impunity continues

Filed under: Displacement, Human rights, Indigenous, Lacandon/ montes azules, Uncategorized — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 6:43 pm

 

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10 years after the Viejo Velasco Massacre impunity continues

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Ten years after the Viejo Velasco massacre the crime remains unpunished. On Sunday 13th November in Palenque, Chiapas, various people, some from organisations or on their own, marched together in the “Pilgrimage for Memory, Justice and Truth”

Participating in the Palenque march were communities such as Nuevo Tila, Lacanjá Tseltal, Limonar, Chamizal, Francisco León, Arroyo Granizo, Ojo de Agua, Chamizal, Nuevo Jericó and national and international human rights observers. More than 500 people came together to denounce impunity in the country.

“We march to commemorate our pain and our memory which fights and is justice.”

 

Viejo Velasco: Massacre, torture, disappearances and forced displacement

Ten years ago, on 13 November 2006, at approximately 6 o’clock in the morning, a group of about 40 civilians heavily armed and dressed in military- and Public Security-type uniforms violently entered the community of Viejo Velasco. Coming from the communities of Nueva Palestina, Frontera Corozal and Lacanjá Chansayab, they are members of the so called “Lacandona Community”.

These 40 armed civilians were accompanied by 300 agents from the Chiapas State Public Security forces, who were armed with high powered weapons that are for the exclusive use of the army and known as “goat’s horns” (AK-47) and R-15. They were also accompanied by 5 Prosecutors from the Public Prosecutor’s Office, 2 specialist detectives, the Commander of the State Investigation Agency Jungle Zone along with 7 subordinates and a representative from the Secretariat of Social Development. Displaced people’s testimony agrees that the coordination of this brutal aggression was led by Engineer Rafael Armando Arellanes (then Sub-secretary of Political Action for the Chiapas state government) and Professor Gabriel Montoya Oceguera (who was serving as a government delegate for the Lacandon Jungle).

All of these hostile parties encircled the community, where later they looted the houses and committed 4 extra judicial executions, 1 illegal detention along with torture, 4 people were forcibly disappeared, and the forced displacement of 20 men, 8 women, 5 boys, 3 girls who had to escape to the mountains to survive the attack.

 

15078510_1858139431085096_9058695910574950240_nCommunities from Palenque, Ocosingo and Chilon, and members of the X’inich organisation gather in the rain at the Mother Chol statue in Palenque from 8 in the morning to begin the Pilgrimage for Memory

 

Between the ecological pretext and the agrarian conflict in Montes Azules

 

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The goal of this massacre was to plant seeds of terror in the families living in the community of Viejo Velasco, Ocosingo municipality. The aggressors wanted these families to abandon their land, and they framed it as a regional agrarian conflict in the Lacandon Jungle. And this is also how state policy using the ecological pretext to “guarantee the conservation of the Montes Azules Biosphere Nature Reserve” has been transformed into an intense process of territorial dispossession. More than 30 indigenous villages – Tseltal, Tsotsil, Chol and Tojolabal communities – have suffered forced relocations and violent evictions. At the beginning of 2006, negotiations with this small village Viejo Velasco broke down, owing to the fact that the residents would not accept forced relocation. On the 28 of March 2006, the Secretary of Agrarian Reform announced its decision about this unjust agrarian process, and the beneficiaries were only the people belonging to the so-called Lacandon Community (whose members are Maya Caribe and Tseltal people from Nueva Palestina and Chol people from Frontera Corozal). The government then began a process of forced relocations and threats of violent eviction in all of the Lacandon Jungle. In the area of Valley of Santo Domingo and La Cojolita, the repression was concentrated in four villages:  Viejo Velasco, Flor de Cacao, Ojo de Agua Tsotsil and San Jacinto Lacanjá.

The State is Responsible

According to a denouncement before the International Tribunal of Conscience of the Peoples in Movement the state is responsible both in action and neglect.
On 4 November 2010, the Viejo Velasco massacre case was presented before the International Tribunal of Conscience of the Peoples in Movement to demonstrate and denounce the responsibility of the Mexican State in the events which took place on 13 November 2006. According to the compliant the State is responsible for:

– action, for ordering and carrying out on 13 November 2006, an operation in the community, as indeed the government itself confirms in response to an application for information by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. This operation was provoked by the failure to resolve in a just manner, and one following international law the situation recognising and regularising the community lands of Viejo Velasco and the “Zona del Desempeño”.

– omission, further, despite all the calls sent to the Federal and State government bodies by the Xi’nich Committee for the Defence of Indigenous Freedom, “Maderas del Pueblo”, and the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Centre among other organisations about the risk of violent aggression in the area, the State neglected to respond and never intervened to prevent this violence and resolve a situation which every day grew more tense. In addition to all this, after these horrendous events, the official investigations have proven to be insufficient and ineffective. There was a long, unexplained delay in sharing the findings of the analysis of the skeletal remains found 6 July 2007, as well as obstacles planted by the intervention of independent specialists.

 

15078640_1306098326109220_7146175537536653577_nSymbolic act in front of the Jungle District Attorney General’s Office. “Justice will not come from above. We, the people, are the peace-builders. Here we have only seen impunity. It was from here that the protectors of the 40 civilians dressed in official uniforms left to go massacre our brothers and sisters in Viejo Velasco.”

To finish, a communique was read:

Communique Ten Years after the Massacre

Palenque, Chiapas

13 November 2016

“…it is very hard to remember that terrible violence that we lived through, because the day it all happened, I was there.”

“…I was four months pregnant, I left running towards the mountains, in the road I met some people from Palestine community, and they began to shoot at me. I don’t know how many shots they fired at me, but thanks to God none of them hit me.” (Testimony from the families and victims)

 

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To the General Public:

Ten years after the cruel massacre in the community of Viejo Velasco in Ocosingo municipality, Chiapas, we are making this pilgrimage with pain and outrage in memory of our brothers and sisters who were murdered at dawn on the 13th of November 2006. This massacre was perpetrated by 40 civilian sub-comuneros from Nueva Palestina and from the Lacandon community. They were accompanied by a group of 300 agents from the Chiapas State Sectoral Police, five Prosecutors from the Public Prosecutor’s Office, two specialist detectives, the Commander of the State Investigation Agency Jungle Zone along with 7 subordinates and a representative from the Secretariat of Social Development. They carried high calibre weapons. The outcome of this injustice was the death of:  Antonio Mayor Benito Pérez, Filemón Benítez Pérez and María Núñez Gonzáles and four people missing:  Miguel Moreno Montejo, Antonio Peñate López, Mariano Pérez Guzmán and Pedro Núñez Gonzáles. All are indigenous Ch’ol and Tseltal community members who lived in Viejo Velasco.

Owing to these violent events, one day after the attack, health promoter Diego Arcos Meneses, and other good-hearted residents from the community of Nuevo Tila, which is located an hour away, came to help the victims. They cleaned the wounds of the injured; fed people with beans and fruit from the countryside. They brought clothing to cover the children and adults. During this, the community was overcome by surprise by the State Police who unjustly detained our brother Diego Arcos Meneses.  Arcos Meneses was in jail for a year accused of homicide, and arrest warrants were issued for Juan Peñate, Antonio Álvarez, Domingo Álvaro and Alejandro Álvaro, all from Nuevo Tila community.

Eight months after the massacre, in June 2007, skeletal remains along with a rope and clothing were found covered in overgrowth on the road from Viejo Velasco to Paraíso. The Public Prosecutor’s office took charge of recovering the remains. Without respect or compassion they collected the bones, treating them like animal bones. The two remains were put in a single blanket and taken away, then they denied us the right to know the truth for four years.

As a first attempt, we pushed our petition to the Public Prosecutor that they give us the studies of the skeletal remains that they had found. They only thing they told us was that the disappeared from Viejo Velasco massacre had gone to the United States to work. On top of that, they give us bones with bits of fresh flesh on them, which did not match what we had found in June 2007. For us, this was a complete mockery, and what the Public Prosecutor has done is not respectful. Denying these families their legitimate right to the truth is abuse on the part of the Public Prosecutor.

Faced with the neglect and inability of the three levels of government:  Federal, State and Municipal, in 2011 the communities, families and victims succeeded, with the support of the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team, in having the studies from the remains found in the massacre zone identified as  Pedro Núñez Gonzáles and Miguel Moreno Montejo. We gave them a Christian burial in November 2012. The other two brothers remain missing until now.

Ever since the first days after the massacre, we have gone to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to request precautionary measures to ensure that the Mexican State look for our disappeared brothers and protect all those affected in the attack. From that time until now, in all of 10 years, we have not had any result. In 2010 the IACHR raised the precautionary measures to a formal complaint against the Mexican government, who now must respond about their responsibility.

Owing to all this, we demand:

  1. The return of our disappeared loved ones alive, “You took them alive, we want them back alive.”
  1. The clarification of the massacre which took place in the community Viejo Velasco, in Ocosingo municipality, Chiapas.
  1. Investigation and punishment of the intellectual and material authors of this crime, among them Professor Gabriel Montoya Oceguera (who was serving as a government delegate for the Lacandon Jungle), Engineer Rafael Armando Arellanes (then Sub-secretary of Political Action for the Chiapas state government), the 2006 Special Commissioner of Agrarian Reform Marta Cecilia Díaz Gordillo and the sub-comuneros of the communities Nueva Palestina and Lacandona.
  1. An end to the harassment of families and survivors of this case by the office of the Chiapas Procurator of Justice

Consequently:

  1. We place the blame for the 2006 massacre in Viejo Velasco on the three levels of government.
  1. We ask that national and international civil society remain informed about the case before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
  1. We invite all Mexicans to open your eyes to the terror and crime which comes from the three levels of government.
  2. We call on the National Indigenous Congress to keep informed about what happened, and to echo our struggle for memory and truth.

Sincerely,

Families of victims and survivors of the Viejo Velasco massacre,
Coordinating team of social organisations  CDLI- Xinich’, Tsoblej Yu’un Jwocoltic, UCISECH and Misión Santísima Trinidad.

Posted by Dorset Chiapas Solidarity

http://espoirchiapas.blogspot.com.es/2016/11/a-10-anos-de-la-masacre-de-viejo.html

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November 14, 2016

Commemoration of 20 Years of Crimes against Humanity in Northern Zone

Filed under: Frayba, Human rights, Indigenous — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 2:27 pm

 

Commemoration of 20 Years of Crimes against Humanity in Northern Zone

 

norteVictims’ relatives continue to seek justice 20 years later. Photo@SIPAZ

On October 22, victims’ relatives and survivors of the “counterinsurgency strategy operated in the northern zone of Chiapas” met in the community of Susuclumil, Tila municipality, to denounce “the lack of justice for crimes against humanity committed by the paramilitary group Peace and Justice (Paz y Justicia), with the complicity and responsibility of the Mexican State.”

The Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Centre for Human Rights, (CDHFBC, also known as Frayba) recalls in its press bulletin No. 21 that with the emergence of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN), on January 1, 1994, violence increased in the northern zone. It explains that the Mexican State implemented a strategy of counterinsurgency war against the civilian population, through the Chiapas Campaign ’94 plan, with the objective of eliminating support bases of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation. From 1995 to 1999, paramilitary groups responsible for crimes against humanity were formed: “In the north of Chiapas, paramilitary groups such as the Peace and Justice Development Organization (Paz y Justicia) appeared, with the training and protection of different levels of government, and who between 1995 and 1999 systematically committed serious human rights violations. “

The CDHFBC recorded a total of “22 cases of serious human rights violations in the north, of which 37 were forced disappearances and 85 extrajudicial executions and more than 4,500 people were forcibly displaced, followed by arbitrary detention, torture, sexual torture, harassment, intimidation, destruction of property, among others, committed by the paramilitary group Peace and Justice.”

Victims’ relatives and survivors continue to denounce, “constant harassment, intimidation and persecution with unjust arrest warrants and subpoenas, with threats of fines, by the justice administration system in Chiapas.” They request that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) continue its monitoring and determine the responsibility of the Mexican State for human rights violations committed in the context of the Internal Armed Conflict.

Posted  by Dorset Chiapas Solidarity

https://sipazen.wordpress.com/2016/11/10/chiapas-commemoration-of-20-years-of-crimes-against-humanity-in-northern-zone/

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