dorset chiapas solidarity

October 24, 2016

Zapatistas Respond to Criticism Regarding Election Proposal

Filed under: CNI, gal, Indigenous, Marcos, Other Campaign, Zapatistas — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 3:24 pm



Zapatistas Respond to Criticism Regarding Election Proposal


submarcoshorsefromafar-jpg_1718483346EZLN Subcomandante Marcos, now known as Galeano, in Chiapas in 1996. | Photo: Creative Commons


The Zapatista response appeared to reaffirm that their goal in presenting a candidate would be to expose the contradictions of the Mexican political system.

Not long after the Zapatista National Liberation Army and the National Indigenous Congress resolved to present an Indigenous woman as an independent candidate for the 2018 presidential elections, the rebel group began to receive criticism.

The decision made at the Fifth National Indigenous Congress caught many by surprise, as the Zapatistas had long rejected any formal participation in electoral politics.

One of the first to respond was leftist former Mexico City Mayor Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador who suggested the EZLN, as the Zapatistas are also known, were trying to divide the left.

Lopez Obrador is widely expected to run for president a third time in the upcoming election and an “independent candidate” could draw away votes that might otherwise go to him.

In the 2006 election, Lopez Obrador lost in a disputed, though tightly contested, election. That year the Zapatistas organized “The Other Campaign,” which called on Mexicans to participate in political activity that went beyond voting.

During “The Other Campaign,” Zapatistas — including the group’s most recognizable figure, Subcomandante Marcos — travelled throughout Mexico meeting with activists and social movement leaders in order to build a broad front against capitalism.

In a letter posted online, Marcos, now known as Subcomandante Galeano, responded to the criticism.

“How solid can the Mexican political system be, and how well-founded and reliable the tactics and strategies of the political parties, if, when someone says publicly that they are thinking about something, that they are going to ask their peers what they think of what they are thinking, the entire political party system becomes hysterical?” read the letter.

When the decision to consider running a candidate was first announced by the Zapatistas, they specified that it was not being done as a means of securing power.

“We confirm that our struggle is not for power, we do not seek it,” read the joint statement from the National Indigenous Congress and the Zapatistas.

Galeano’s letter appeared to reaffirm that their goal in presenting a candidate would be to expose the contradictions of the Mexican political system.

Referring to Margarita Zavala, the wife of ex-president Felipe Calderon and likely candidate for the presidency in 2018, Galeano presented a juxtaposition.

“You who are reading this: would you be bothered by watching and listening to a debate between the Calderona (Zavala) from above, with her ‘traditional’ luxury brand clothing, and a woman below, of Indigenous blood, culture, language, and history? Would you be more interested in hearing what the Calderona promises or what the Indigenous woman proposes? Wouldn’t you want to see this clash of two worlds?” asked Galeano.

The letter gave no indication the EZLN and the National Indigenous Congress intend to withdraw their proposal.

The idea of running a candidate must still, however, be approved by the grassroots of the organization.



February 13, 2016

Road of Resistance

Filed under: Autonomy, Bachajon, Displacement, Other Campaign, Paramilitary, Repression, Uncategorized, Zapatistas — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 2:13 pm



Road of Resistance




By Telesur

A fresh, humid breeze was blowing. It was the dawn of the 1st of January of 1994 and fog still covered the mountains of southeast Chiapas, in Mexico. Juan Vázquez Guzmán was only 13 when he saw how thousands of men and women, hooded and armed, emerged from the mist of the Lacandon Jungle. “We declare war our bad government”, they said. No one expected it, although Juan had seen them prepare since he was a baby.

“We are the product of 500 years of battles. We, the deprived, are millions and today we say, enough!”. That is how the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) was born. This guerrilla force from the Mexican state of Chiapas rebelled to reclaim work, land, shelter, food, health, education, independence, freedom, democracy, justice and peace.

As most Tzeltal indigenous young men, Juan Vázquez worked with his father in the cornfields and coffee plantations located at the common lands –  in San Sebastián Bachajón, Chiapas. They had strong hands and empty stomachs. They ate whatever the soil and their sweat gave them. “We depend on our land; an ancient legacy from our ancestors and a legacy for the future generations”, ponders Juan. Since he was an adolescent he has walked on the side of the Zapatistas. He is committed to the fight for their rights as Mexicans and as indigenous people, in a region where institutions have been absent and the citizens forgotten.



The imbalance of land ownership has always been the focus of the Mexican uprisings. In 1910 only 1% of the population owned 97% of the land. In Chiapas a handful of families had taken over the land of the indigenous communities. The indigenous people from Chiapas worked as slaves in those ranches, which were mainly farms raising livestock. After the Revolution, led by Emiliano Zapata, there was an agrarian reform that established the concept of “ejidos”, State land whose ownership and use belongs to the “ejidatarios”. The journalist Luis Hernández Navarro says that “The Mexican Revolution did not reach Chiapas. Some land was distributed, but the land ownership structure remained untouched. This way the power has stayed in the landowners’ hands”.

“Even if they try to turn it into private property, we will not allow it”

“Our Ejido San Sebastián Bachajón was established in 1980 and is one of the largest in the country” assures Juan. He warns “Even if they try to turn it into private property, we will not allow it”.

The Zapatistas made an agrarian reform from below. They seized lands and distributed them. Years of negotiations with the Mexican State came, seeking the recognition of indigenous rights, culture and land. However, the main parties in the country did not comply with the various agreements reached with the movement. Meanwhile, the Zapatistas chose to build their autonomy. They created their own self-government by organizing health, education, justice and production plans in their territory.




In 2006, the EZLN started a new political initiative called “the Other Campaign”. They were trying to join forces with other movements around Mexico and the world. “Zapatismo worked as an umbrella, inspiring and covering different communities”, points out Hernández. That is what happened to the San Sebastián Bachajón ejidatarios, who decided to join the fight led by Juan Vázquez, far away from the weapons but with the same demands. “This is a project where we all fit, and where we want to defend what we are”, he stated. He became the General Secretary of the organization and later on its Human Rights Promoter. The ejidatarios were inspired by the Zapatistas’ words: “Build from below, get away from electoral calendars, fight for your land”. The greatest threat to them remains large economic projects of the Federal Government. In the end, mining, infrastructure and tourism threaten their source of life –  the land.




“Te yo taln ten nanatil lux cuxul sol xchulel ten lumaltic”

The heart of our Mother Earth lives in the spirit of our people.

National Indigenous Congress, August 2014



“What we’re experiencing is a dispossession”, explains Juan Vázquez while looking at a map. He is in one of the organisation’s offices that were built in an area “recovered” by the EZLN in 1994. “Before, the chiefs were the ones who took away our land, now it is the interests and investments of the government that threaten us”. The plans for the building of a super-road threaten the ejido where they live, San Sebastián Bachajón. The road would cross and destroy their crops and communities. “The government wants to attract foreign investors to build hotels”, says Juan. “They are trying to connect the two main tourist cities of San Cristóbal de las Casas and Palenque, as well as exploiting other areas like the waterfalls of Agua Azul.


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“Chiapas is poor, poor because of bad governments”

EZLN, june 2014

“They want to dispossess us unfairly from almost 600 hectares of land that belong to us by decree, violating our rights as ejidatarios”. The former common land commissioner, Francisco Guzmán, had assigned those 600 hectares to the Government of Chiapas and to a Commission for the protection of natural areas.

He defended the tourist development of the area: “New businesses will come, and more investment. It benefits me”. The walls of his house evidence his good relations with the regional and national authorities. He poses in photographs next to governors and senior officials. Meanwhile, he reminds us that there needs to be an investment in infrastructure to progress. Francisco Guzmán had given away the common land without the authorisation of the Ejido Assembly, the main decision-making governing body. Faced with this, the ejidatarios, led once again by Juan Vázquez, filed a protection claim in the State court.


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Juan Vázquez Guzmán


“Corruption is found in the three levels of government: local, state and federal. And we only want to protect our natural resources”, reports Juan Vázquez.  The National Fund for Tourism has been trying to develop tourism in the area for more than a decade with a project including luxury hotels, golf courses and shopping areas. It was originally planned during the former State legislature of Juan Sabines and continues as part of the agenda of the current Chiapas governor, Manuel Velasco.

Manuel Velasco won the Chiapas state elections in 2012 after spending millions of dollars on campaign advertising. The poorest state of Mexico was heavily indebted by the end of the former governors’ tenure, yet Manuel Velasco spent 10 million dollars on personal promotion in his first year in office alone. The Mexican media speculates that he is preparing to run for president in the 2018 national elections. He has been dogged by many financial scandals: the Chiapas Organization of Independent Builders has reported cases of privileged treatment he gives to some businesses, most of them recently founded by family members and friends. They assure us that these companies have received multi-millionaire contacts for paving works.

“Chiapas has everything that tourists can look for. Whatever they’re looking for they’ll find here together with the warmth of the Chiapas people”, announced Velasco in a speech promoting private investments. “They want to use us as cheap labour: waiters taking orders from the tourists”, answers Juan Vázquez, “It isn’t true that this project will benefit us, they’re just trying to legitimize their plans”.

The Agua Azul waterfalls are turquoise and transparent. On the horizon you can see the dense, green jungle of this Chiapas paradise. A few tourists walk along the jungle trails, while others enjoy the fresh water. According to the project, miles of accommodation will be built here for elite tourism. “The super-road is for private vehicles, for tourists that will pay tolls”, says Juan, “It doesn’t benefit us because we do not depend on the road, but on the fields”.


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Different worlds breed different views of Chiapas: where some see money and development, others see water and land, as a continuation of their culture, history and existence. In an area rich in natural resources, the focus of the project are big hydroelectric plants, mining concessions and tourist development. Many transnational companies are trying to implement Velasco’s plan through Mexican government institutions while the people of Chiapas are excluded from their natural wealth.  According to official data from 2014, 76.2% of the population of Chiapas is poor, and 31.8% survives in extreme poverty. Malnutrition and death are commonplace, especially amongst indigenous people.

Money is just part of human ambition, but land isn’t. 

“Tourism in Chiapas has become a strategy of the rich and the government to break the resistance of the Zapatistas and other communities organised in “the Other Campaign”- the political initiative to defend indigenous rights- to facilitate the dispossession of their land”, explains Hermann.

According to his analysis, tourism is the first action in evicting the indigenous communities from their land, which will end their resistance and pave the way for other transnational companies to enter the area. “Of what use is a road like that to us?” asks Juan, “We do not have money to buy a pair of shoes and less even for a bike or a scooter. Money is just part of human ambition, but land isn’t. Someday I’ll be gone, but the land will remain forever”.



Violent evictions, threats, blows… Since the beginning of the resistance, the battle at Bachajón has had plenty of critical moments and more than 100 members of the movement have been incarcerated. According to Ricardo Lagunes, lawyer for the defence of Ejidatarios’ rights, Juan Vázquez was arrested in 2011 without a warrant, at the request of a former authority in the ejido. After a couple hours he was released without any legal documentation. “The government is authoritarian. There’s been harassment. We’ve been targets of repression because this organisation in defence of natural resources does not suit the government”, explains Juan, “They are trying to provoke a confrontation between indigenous people”.

“Our efforts are for peace, their efforts are for war”

EZLN, May 2014, Chiapas, Mexico

Since the first years of the uprising, armed groups related to political parties and businessmen have arisen. They have maintained a permanent low-intensity conflict and counter-insurgency. Some of the methods that they use to spread terror among organized communities include trespassing, death threats, torture, rape, enforced disappearance and murder. The Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Centre has documented decades of the Chiapas conflict, including the forced displacement of over 12,000 people. According to their reports, “The Mexican government implements counter-insurgent strategies designed to erode autonomous organizations and deepen the expropriation of indigenous land”. The counter-insurgent tactics range from military strategies to economic ones. The first include the creation of paramilitary groups, according to the Plan Campaña Chiapas 1994 of the Ministry of Defence. The latter involve the targeted use of government grants to divide the Zapatista communities.
In 1997 the Acteal Massacre took place, setting a bloody milestone in the long history of paramilitary attacks in Chiapas.  According to the investigator Gilberto López, the counter-insurgency “became a clandestine arm of the army, able to undertake tasks that they cannot perform in the open. Zedillo was the one to push it forward, but the USA were the ones that showed him how to do it”. In 2006 there were 79 military bases in Mexico, with 56 of them located in Zapatista area. In spite of a truce with the EZLN, the pressure around the autonomous territory has intensified.




“The land saw us be born, gave us life and, finally, we rest in it eternally”

EZLN, August 2014


On the night of the 24th of April of 2013, tragedy hit San Sebastián Bachajón. Juan Vázquez had returned home late, after a long day’s work. He made himself a hot cup of coffee in his wooden kitchen, with a dirt floor and a tin roof. He heard a van pass by on the nearby street. Someone knocked on the door. He opened it and was greeted with six high-calibre bullets. Upon hearing the gunshots, his father and his brother ran out to see what was happening. They found Juan’s body in the yard, covered in blood. They could not hear his last words. He was already dead, at 32 years old.

 Authorities failed to respond to first-hand testimony warning of the threats directed at Juan.

No one has been arrested since. Authorities failed to respond to first-hand testimony warning of the threats directed at Juan “They said that he had to quit rallying the people or they’d kill him”, says lawyer Ricardo Lagunes. “Francisco Guzmán, the former Bachajón commissioner, told him in front of a large group of people”.

A mound of coffins pile up in Francisco Guzmán’s business. Just like in a noir novel, the former commissioner owns a funeral home called “El Triunfo”, the triumph. When we talked to him, far from regretting Juan Vázquez’s death, he justified it: “They didn’t rule an arrest warrant against him [Juan], and even if they had they wouldn’t have caught him.

He was free, so people say: there is no other solution. That is why there’s been death”. Simulating the action of loading a gun, he adds “There’s no other option but to… shoot at once”. Less than a year later, the organization lost another member. Juan Carlos Gómez, the 22-year-old regional coordinator, was ambushed and killed by more than 20 gunshots. Direct links between a paramilitary group (the OPDDIC) and Mexican authorities and army have been proved. The ejidatarios of Bachajón and the Zapatista people of the area have repeatedly reported harassment from this organization.



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On May of 2014, around 15 people attacked a Zapatista meeting with machetes, sticks and assault weapons in La Realidad. The armed group chased and killed José Luis Solís, a zapatista member. Another 15 Zapatistas were injured. The clinic and the community school were destroyed. “The paramilitaries from La Realidad are paid for, organized, directed and trained by the three levels of the “bad governments” in order to divide and provoke the Zapatista people and the Zapatista autonomous government”, reports the “Junta del Buen Gobierno”, the Zapatista “Good Government Council”, in a statement released a few days later. The attack on La Realidad was perpetrated by a different paramilitary group, Cioac-H, linked to the PRD (Democratic Revolutionary Party). According to an investigation made by the journalist Luis Hernández, “this organization has agreed on all kinds of agreements with the different governments of Chiapas”.


“We are the guardians of this land, of this country, Mexico, of this continent and of the world”

EZLN, August 2014

Despite this war against them, they continue to build an autonomous political proposal. The ejidatarios from San Sebastián Bachajón organized in “the Sexta” continue resisting. “They thought that if they killed Juan they’d finish us. But there’s many of us supporting this fight. We will continue defending our land”, reiterates Domingo Pérez, the current leader. The building of the road has been paralyzed for now, but the interests and the businesses that promote the project do not falter. It is a battle between two ways of living and feeling the land. It is a fight that, as Juan repeated, wants to “build a single where many worlds can fit”.






June 21, 2014

Marcos, the unnecessary Subcomandante

Filed under: Ethics, Indigenous, Journalists, La Sexta, Marcos, Other Campaign, Zapatista — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 5:37 pm


Marcos, the unnecessary Subcomandante

marcos_gibler_PORTyAP1 (1)

Yes, there is a place called La Realidad (Reality.)

Reality is a caracol (snail.) And caracoles, as everyone knows, are spirals. Like life, like death, like reality.

In the Caracol of La Realidad, in the early morning of May 25, 2014, Subcomandante Marcos, spokesperson and military leader of the Zapatista National Liberation Army for 20 years, revealed his own unreality and announced that, from then on, he was ceasing to exist.

The previous day hundreds of women and men from many parts of Mexico and the world and thousands of Zapatista support bases arrived in La Realidad. We carried, all of us, pain and rage over the brutal murder of José Luis Solís López, the teacher “Galeano”, the wounding of 15 other Zapatistas and the destruction of the school, the clinic and several vehicles during a paramilitary attack on May 2 orchestrated by the government of Chiapas.

The caravan, in which more than 600 people travelled in 55 vehicles, stretched for over a mile on the road that leads to the heart of the Lacandón Jungle. During the long journey, the word that was present in the minds of all was “justice.” In The Brothers Karamazov, by Dostoevsky, Ivan tells the story of an eight year old boy who throws a stone and accidentally hits the leg of the landowner’s favourite dog. As punishment, the landowner orders him to undress, makes him run and sets his hunting dogs on him, which destroy him in front of his mother’s eyes. Justice? Asks Ivan. What justice can there be? What punishment, however terrible it may be, can make up for the child’s suffering and the pain of the mother? But then, if there is no possible punishment, what is justice? Does it exist?

The General Command of the EZLN said days before that justice would be done, but also made it clear that justice and vengeance are not the same. That morning, shortly before ceasing to exist, Marcos said: “Small justice looks so much like revenge. Small justice is what distributes impunity; as it punishes one, it absolves others. What we want, what we fight for, does not end with finding Galeano’s murderers and seeing that they receive their punishment (make no mistake this is what will happen). The patient and obstinate search seeks truth, not the relief of resignation.” But if “great justice” is not punishment, as Ivan Karamazov understood well, what is it? Where is this truth?

It is a philosophical question, but in La Realidad, philosophy is made by walking and is written with the blood of the dead. In La Realidad and in reality. Because, before the death count of the alleged “war on drugs” (120, 130, 150 thousand killed, depending on who is counting … how many are too many?), before the privatization of all common ownership and the dispossession of land, resources and lives, before impunity and the use of the “rule of law” for the exclusive benefit of capital, before the repression and criminalization of protest, before the systematic destruction of the environment and of dignified ways of life, before the simulation of empty illusions mounted by the mass media, it is necessary and urgent to ask what is and what can be justice.

From the beginning of their struggle, the EZLN has asked that question. When they took up arms in 1994, they had been preparing for war for ten years as the only option to 500 years of dispossession, oppression and misery. The war allowed them to reclaim large tracts of land which were in the hands of by landowners who kept the indigenous in conditions of semi-servitude, and in this way began the construction of dignified ways of life in territories under their control. Without the war, nothing that was built afterwards would have been possible.

But twelve days after, a ceasefire was agreed and the Zapatistas never again returned to the use of arms. The response of most of the Mexican population to the uprising was one of surprise. At the height of the neoliberal project, many people identified with the Zapatista demands, and it was largely thanks to the citizen movement that it was possible to stop the massacres committed by the Mexican army. But what the people were calling for was life, not war, and the EZLN knew how to listen. “And rather than dedicating ourselves to training guerrillas, soldiers, and squadrons, we developed education and health promoters, who went about building the foundations of autonomy that today amaze the world,” Marcos said on this morning of 25 May. Since then, the message was clear: justice has to do with life, not death.


Subcomandante Marcos in the Other Campaign. Tlapa, Guerrero (2006).

Subcomandante Marcos in the Other Campaign. Tlapa, Guerrero (2006).

In February 1996 the San Andrés Accords, guaranteeing the self-government of indigenous peoples and their control over natural resources, were signed. But the government of Ernesto Zedillo had no intention of fulfilling them, and constitutional reforms were never made. In the following years, the EZLN dedicated itself to pressurising the government to oblige it to comply with the agreements. These efforts culminated in 2001 with the March of the Colour of the Earth, an unprecedented mobilization in Mexico: 6000 kilometres in 37 days with the participation of millions of people in more than 70 events. The response of the three political parties: the adoption of a constitutional amendment that ignored the San Andrés Accords.

From that moment, the EZLN turned its back on the government and devoted itself to the construction of autonomy without asking anyone’s permission. In 2003, they announced the creation of the Caracoles, – the administrative centres and meeting places of the five large areas of Zapatista territory – and the Good Government Juntas, perhaps the boldest experiment in participatory democracy in the world. The Zapatistas proved, in practice, that yes there are alternatives to electoral democracy and the liberal system. They then speeded up the construction of autonomous education and health, productive projects, the participation of women, the politicisation of difference. It is impossible to give Zapatista autonomy the importance it deserves in a few lines. And yet, this phase is also the least visible because, when the EZLN broke the connection with those from above, the media turned their backs: the Zapatistas went out of fashion.

The Sixth Declaration, in mid-2005, marked another watershed. With autonomy walking in the communities (although what is missing is missing), the Zapatistas opened themselves to the world with a radical political proposal: the globalization of resistances. The formation and consolidation of a multiplicity of local autonomies, each one according to their ways and times, and their articulation in an organic and non-hierarchical way, to thereby form a counter-hegemonic global political subject. To build in practice “a world where many worlds fit” out of the logic of capital. And it was in the Sixth – “the boldest and most Zapatista of the initiatives which we have released so far” – where, finally, the EZLN found true partners, “With the Sixth at last have found those who look us in the eye and greet and embrace us, and so we welcome and embrace.”


The first initiative of the Sixth was the tour of the Other Campaign. In 2006, Subcomandante Marcos travelled around the country, meeting with organizations and individuals “from below and to the left” in a “anti-campaign”, which did not seek to obtain adherents to the Zapatista movement, but to encourage, through the meeting of sorrows, the emergence of autonomous movements. It was also during this tour that for the first time they turned their back on the commercial media, and strongly encouraged the “free, alternative, independent media or whatever they’re called.” If what was being built was a movement from below, communication would also be from below.

Seven years later, the “Little School (Escuelita) of Freedom according to the Zapatistas” emerged, perhaps the most innovative of all their initiatives. In the three sessions held so far, thousands of people from all over the world have lived together with families in Zapatista rebel communities, learning in practice the experience of building autonomy, to return to their places of origin with the responsibility of going about building “other possible worlds.” The students are directly invited by the EZLN or request an invitation based on their vision and political work. Once they have been accepted, they present themselves on the agreed day in San Cristobal de Las Casas, from where great caravans leave for the five caracoles. Once in the caracol, each person meets with the family they will live with for five days and a “votán,” or guardian, who will accompany them all the time. They depart from there the next day heading towards communities that often are hours away – in vans, walking on trails, by boat -in the forest or in the mountains. The generosity of this initiative is immeasurable: the impressive logistics, the care for the safety and health of thousands of people over a wide area, feeding, preparation of teaching materials, the effort and the heart of thousands of Zapatista support bases, asking nothing in return, for the simple desire to share their life experience and to sow hope.

In this context, the “death” of Marcos begins a new phase of the Zapatista project.  Marcos –said Marcos – was invented by the Zapatistas faced with the racist blindness in the world which prevented (and prevents), not only the right but also the intelligentsia of the left from seeing the Indians. The genius of Marcos the communicator was instrumental in revealing to the world a movement governed by ethics. His analytical ability, the sagacity and irony of his pen, and his handling of the media allowed many people to see the Zapatista struggle and make it their own. At the same time, Marcos became a “distraction.” For many, Zapatismo is Marcos and Marcos is Zapatismo. While power and the mainstream media were concentrating their efforts on raising and then destroying the image of Marcos, the people were advancing in the construction of autonomy.

But now the character is no longer necessary. If years ago the politics of above stopped being interested in the movement, if its appearance in the mainstream media is no longer relevant, if construction from below is advancing in the communities and between organizations of the Sixth and many autonomous movements in the world, what need is there … for Marcos to continue to exist? The “death” of Marcos marks several fundamental changes. Gone is the interlocutor of mestizo and urban origin of an indigenous and campesino movement. Instead, the new military leader and spokesman is Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés, a brilliant indigenous Tzeltal with a long career, member of the EZLN since 1983. The world can no longer reduce Zapatismo to “love or hate Marcos.” Whoever wants to see it, will have to see the people and their construction of life. This change is also reflected in the communication strategy, which began with the Other Campaign. In the event at La Realidad on 24 and 25 May, no paid media were admitted, and the world learned of the “death” of Marcos through the “free, alternative, independent media or whatever they’re called.” From now on, the Zapatista reality can only be viewed from below.


These changes arise in the context of an articulated and precise project of the state to take over all the resources, lands and territories for the benefit of capital, and of reviving a war against the Zapatistas and all the organized resistances. In Chiapas, it has tried for years to exploit the riches of the state – the richest in natural resources -, but the resistance of indigenous communities, especially the Zapatistas, has prevented this. Now the federal, allied to the state, government has given clear signs that that this is over. In February this year President Enrique Peña Nieto inaugurated the Palenque International Airport, a key element for the megatourism development around the waterfalls of Agua Azul and in the Montes Azules Natural Reserve. At the same time, he confirmed that now the San Cristóbal-Palenque highway, delayed due to indigenous resistance, would be built and announced that the blueprint would be ready in May (the same month as the attack on La Realidad). He also announced the start of the construction of the hydroelectric dam Chicoasén II, and mining concessions have multiplied. Meanwhile, paramilitarisation increases. In January this year, 300 members of the organization CIOAC (Independent Central of Agricultural Workers and Campesinos – Democratic) attacked the Zapatista ejido of 10 de Abril, leaving several injured, some seriously. In March, a Tseltal pro-Zapatista activist from the ejido Bachajón, which opposes the construction of the highway, was brutally murdered. And on May 2. CIOAC – Historical attacked the Caracol of La Realidad.

This paramilitarisation comes on the heels of projects of “development” and “poverty alleviation,” which channel public funds to benefit organizations opposed to the Zapatistas. It is no coincidence that the “Crusade against Hunger” has been launched precisely in the municipality of Las Margaritas, territory controlled by CIOAC. In La Realidad, Subcomandante Moisés detailed the links discovered by the Zapatista investigation between the leaders of CIOAC and different levels of the state and federal government. Neither is it a coincidence that the attack of May 2 occurred just when the EZLN were announcing the “sharing” with the original peoples, – a special version of the “escuelita” for the organised indigenous peoples around the country, and an international seminar on “Ethics in the Face of Dispossession.” Both events had to be cancelled due to the attack. Although the paramilitarisation is not new, this aggression differs from the previous ones in the fact that it was a direct attack on a caracol – the first and most symbolic of all – and destroyed that which symbolizes the peaceful construction of another possible world: the school, the clinic, vehicles used in productive projects. One thing is clear: the government is much less intimidated by arms than by the construction of life outside the logic of profit and dispossession.

The murder of Galeano (teacher at the Zapatista Escuelita), as Marcos well said, was an attack on this construction of life. Faced with such violence, the Good Government Junta requested the General Command of the EZLN to take action on the matter, and they said that justice would be done. But the punishment of the perpetrators is just a “small justice,” leaving unpunished the real culprits and the system that gives rise to them. “True justice,” said Marcos, “has to do with the buried compañero Galeano. Because we ask ourselves not what do we do with his death, but what do we do with his life.” Therefore, the Zapatistas decided to “dig up” Galeano.

When Marcos stopped speaking, he lit his pipe, got up, walked to the bottom of the platform and vanished into the darkness. The applause of thousands of hands that followed was a farewell, a tribute and so much more. Afterwards, Subcomandante Moisés announced that another compañero was going to say a few words, and then the voice was heard through the speakers that until a few moments before had belonged to Subcomandante Marcos:

-Good early morning compañeras and compañeros. My name is Galeano, Subcomandante Galeano. Is anyone else called Galeano?

And thousands of voices: “I am Galeano! We are all Galeano!”

-Ah, that’s why they told me that when I was reborn, it would be collectively. And so it should be. Have a good journey. Take care of yourselves, take care of us. From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast, Subcomandante Insurgente Galeano

The teacher Galeano had risen. His resurrection as a collective being is nothing more than the need for life to re-emerge, more dignified each time, from the debris of destruction and death. It is the big justice which looks beyond individual death to combat systemic destruction through the collective struggle for life. It is hope in the face of the desolation of a system lost in the madness of its own greed.

By Alejandro Reyes
Photos: John Gibler

Translated and posted by Dorset Chiapas Solidarity 21/06/2014




May 15, 2014

Latin American Campesinos repudiate the assassination of the Zapatista Galeano

Filed under: Other Campaign, Zapatista — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 6:06 pm


Latin American Campesinos repudiate the assassination of the Zapatista Galeano

 ** They place responsibility for the attack on the government

By: Hermann Bellinghausen, Envoy

San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, May 13, 2014

After the attack on EZLN support bases in the La Realidad Caracol, at the beginning of the month, the 13 injured belonging to the CIOAC received attention from the Red Cross –some of them in the image– and three were transported to the Guadalupe Tepeyac Hospital. Photo: Moysés Zúñiga Santiago

After the attack on EZLN support bases in the La Realidad Caracol, at the beginning of the month, the 13 injured belonging to the CIOAC received attention from the Red Cross –some of them in the image– and three were transported to the Guadalupe Tepeyac Hospital. Photo: Moysés Zúñiga Santiago

The Via Campesina organizations in the North American and Latin American regions, “faced with the aggressions that ended the life of the teacher Galeano, a brother and a Zapatista compañero, in La Realidad, Chiapas,” maintained that: “these aggressions against the Zapatistas, like all the previous ones, start with the bad government, the impresarios and imperialism, which seek to annihilate those who struggle for liberty and justice; they seek to eliminate those who sow hope.”

The declaration of solidarity, also signed by the Latin American Coordinator of Organizations of the Countryside (Coordinadora Latinoamericana de Organizaciones del Campo, CLOC) points out that: “that hope grows and multiplies in the struggles and experiences of the peoples of the whole world faced with a capitalism that has been demonstrated countless times as being the cause of the injustices;” and the answer that it finds is “violence and death.”

The Via Campesina and the CLOC reiterate something that they have already said before: “The violence against the humble, against indigenous and campesino brothers, only answers to the egotistical logic of empire, capital and their governments. To serve this logic, is to betray us as a class, to betray the peoples, the working men and women; it is to betray our very selves. It’s not important under what organization, or of what kind, those acts are produced, they only serve the plans of the enemy that gloats in its ambition and greed.”

They repudiate the assassination, aggressions and damages in the community, as well as “the false stories and lies that attempt to conceal the aggression, which talk about confrontations and internal disputes in the community as the origin and cause of the assassination, as a justification. There is no justification.”

The campesino organizations, with a presence throughout the continent, expressed their solidarity “with those injured, with the attacked community, the families, the compañeras and compañeros, and we say to them that they are not alone, that we are not alone.” We place responsibility “principally” on the Mexican State and the Chiapas government “and its counterinsurgency campaign,” as well as “the organizations and paramilitaries that lend themselves to their interests of dividing, murdering and destroying for the gifts that those above offer them.”

On the local level, the organs of ejido representation from the Tila ejido and the ejido owners (that are also) adherents to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle (Sexta declaración de la selva Lacandona) said this Tuesday that: “Compañero Galeano will continue living among us, in our hearts and minds, because he is an example of struggle for his people that we must follow.” The Chol ejido owners demanded that:  “injustice does not reign in our own land,” because “we know very well that everything that is happening is due to the anomalies of the bad government.”


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

En español:


English translation by the Chiapas Support Committee for the:

International Zapatista Translation Service, a collaboration of the:

Chiapas Support Committee, California

Wellington Zapatista Support Group

UK Zapatista Solidarity Network




April 5, 2014

Va Por Kuy: Deadly “Non-Lethal” Weapons and Disappearance Under Peña-Nieto’s Reign

Filed under: Other Campaign — Tags: — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 4:26 pm


Va Por Kuy: Deadly “Non-Lethal” Weapons and Disappearance Under Peña-Nieto’s Reign

Written by Andalucia Knoll

On December 1st, 2012 Mexican president Enrique Peña-Nieto took power and tens of thousands of people were in the streets protesting inauguration the historically corrupt Institutional Revolutionary Party’s (PRI) return to power. In the middle of the protests tweets started to circulate on the internet that someone had been killed in the streets by a rubber bullet.

Photo of tweets commenting on Kuy’s shooting

Later in the day it proved to be just a rumour and while many had been beaten and arrested,  it appeared that no one had been killed. Fourteen months later the original rumour regained its veracity when Juan Francisco Kuykendall Leal, a teacher and activist who had been hit in the head by a police projectile at the inauguration protest passed away. Kuykendall Leal known as Kuy by his friends had spent more than a year in a fragile existence between life and death. Hospitals extended a revolving door to him but never gave him proper treatment and the government refused to acknowledge their role in his injury and illness, did not assist with his medical bills and refused to investigate the case.

Had Kuy been assassinated on inauguration day, his death most likely would have been on the cover of most Mexican newspapers and would have hit the international press. Instead he suffered a long drawn out death that made it easier for media outlets to ignore his assassination and allowed government impunity to prevail.

Return of the PRI: Ushering in Repression


To put Kuy’s death in context it’s important to examine why thousands of people took to the streets to protest his inauguration. President Enrique Peña-Nieto was formerly governor of Mexico State and is responsible for ordering a police operation against a protest of flower vendors who were defending their right to sell their goods, in conjunction with the People’s Front in Defence of the Land of Atenco. This brutal police operation involved 2,500 Federal Preventative Police, State and Municipal police, left a death toll of two unarmed students, more than 47 women sexually assaulted by police, and over 200 people detained, some of whom served four-year prison sentences.

During his election campaign the student-run movement Yo Soy 132 emerged, mobilizing thousands of people in the streets to protest Peña-Nieto. As a non-partisan movement the protests mostly focused on criticizing his history of repression and close connections with the media monopoly Televisa who continually published favourable stories about him. When the election results were declared on July 1, 2012 with Peña-Nieto as the winner, tens of thousands more people took to the streets claiming fraud, denouncing violence at the polls, and the alleged purchase of votes which they believed allowed the PRI to return to power.

1vaporkuysanlazaroNaturally, Kuykendall would be among the tens of thousands protesting on inauguration day, December 1st, 2012. At the age of 67 he had a long trajectory of participation in social movements both as a professor actor and theatre director. He took to the streets that day with his friend and fellow activist Teodulfo “El Tio” Torres. Shortly after they had arrived at the police barricades surrounding the House of Representatives building in the centre of Mexico City, police opened fire on the protestors. A projectile hit Kuykendall in the head at close range and blood poured from his head. El Tio along with other protesters carried his body in search of medical assistance. They used police barricades as a stretcher to try and stabilize him.

Later in the day university student Uriel Sandoval was hit in the face with a rubber bullet and lost his right eye. Dozens of protesters and bystanders were arrested, some spending close to a month in jail on bogus charges. Kuy entered an induced coma in the hospital.

Kuy Survived Police Bullets in ‘68 to be Killed by “Non-Lethal” Weapons in ‘12

Kuykendall was no stranger to government repression and December 1st, 2012 was not the first time that he had been on the receiving end of police projectiles. He was a survivor of the famous and tragic Tlatelolco massacre when police snipers opened fire on a non-violent student protest in a public plaza, one week before Mexico was to host the 1968 olympics. He escaped the barrage of bullets, by taking refuge in the apartment of a Cuban doctor who lived in one of the apartment buildings surrounding the Tlatelolco Three Cultures plaza. To this day there’s still no official number of how many people died but the estimates depending on who you talk to are between 25 and 1500 people.

The student movement of ‘68 erupted just one year after he moved to Mexico City from the northern state of Tamaulipas. According to his partner, Eva Palma, it was just the start of his life dedicated to social struggle. Speaking to Upside Down World she commented that Kuykendall “was an artist of the people” and that as an actor and director of the theatre company Mitote he “focused his activism on producing theatre pieces on social issues and bringing these plays to marginalized communities, workers on strike, women, and children among others.” Eva and Kuy met working together on a theatre piece shortly after the ‘94 Zapatista Uprising. When the Zapatistas launched the Other Campaign in 2006, they signed on as adherents of the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle, denouncing all institutional parties and focusing on a politics from below. They formed La Otra Cultura, or The Other Culture dedicated to creating and performing theatre pieces related to the Zapatista struggle. In an article in the weekly Mexican Magazine El Proceso, writer Juan Carlos Cruz Vargas commented that Kuykendall brought theatre to “places where the streets were made of dust, the buildings grey and poverty is the daily bread” and that Mitote “offered a window into other realities using popular art, far away from the misery.”

Just ten days before his assassination, Kuy performed the play Es hora de hacernos agua for the 29th anniversary of the birth of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation.

Speaking in front of the Monument of the Revolution in Mexico City, Kuy introduced the play stating “we have to keep struggling every day for a better world” and discussed the significance of a refrain about cauliflower written by Subcomandante Marcos about how each rebellious compañero inspires the next to stop being apathetic and continue on in the struggle.

Even though Kuy had health insurance, his partner Eva Palma commented that he never received proper medical care. She said the hospitals treated him as a “hot potato” that no one wanted to attend to and were continually trying to release him to her care; a care that she says she was unable to provide. “It’s as if they just wanted him to die faster, and ensure that it didn’t happen within their hospital,” commented Palma. She says from the beginning he developed infections from his catheter within the hospital and they released him before these infections were resolved. They claimed that they he was more likely to be re-infected in the hospitals, but Palma asked “if they were so insistent that I care for him at home, why didn’t they send me a nurse to help me care for him?” In the end Eva commented that his bed sores had become so deep and infected that they eventually led to his death in the hospital on January 25th, 2013.

Amnesty International demanded “a full and impartial investigation” as well as of “other abuses on December 1, 2012, which ensure that people responsible accountable to justice. Fernanda Kuykendall, daughter of Juan Francisco, revealed that the Public Prosecutor has initiated an investigation into the murder of her father.

“Finally, the MP (Public Ministry) determined that it was a homicide, and the authorities will have to clarify the facts (…) It’s on the death certificate,” Fernanda stated in a radio interview. However, the government declared that it was homicidio culposo which translates to manslaughter, implying that his murder was not intentional. Activists have questioned how it could have been unintentional where there are numerous videos that have been released which show that police officers fired a projectile at him at close range.

The campaign “Va Por Kuy” released a statement after his death declaring President Peña-Nieto, The Head of National Security, and Mexico City’s mayor Miguel Ángel Mancera. Va Por Kuy also wrote that “from above they are preparing to deal us such a hard blow that we won’t rise up for a long time. But they will not achieve this because we know how to re-articulate and respond in an organized way.”

Peña-Nieto’s presidential term ushered in a wave of repression that was unforeseeable to even those most of critical of the PRI. It is hard to go to a protest these days and not find numerous people wearing bicycle helmets, not because they came on two wheels but because they fear that they will meet the same fate as Kuy. Since the inauguration, there have been numerous arbitrary detentions, assaults on the press and protesters at nearly every large mobilization including marches commemorating student massacres, protesting transit hikes, education reform or privatization of natural resources. Police have upped their weapons arsenal and increasingly used water cannons, black hawk helicopters, tear gas and rubber bullets.

The government has also passed a protest law regulating the hours in which you are allowed to protest and obliging protesters to comply with good customs. Additionally they have approved an anti-terrorist bill which would increase prison sentences and label any activists who are accused of attacking private or public institutions even as a means of social protest as terrorists.

El Tio, the friend of Kuy who was beside him when he was shot, disappeared in March 2013, days before he was set to go and testify about what happened on December 1st. It is unknown whether it was a forced disappearance motivated by political means but many of his friends and family believe that is the case. They say that repeatedly mysterious people have appeared in front of his house to take pictures. While it is unknown what happened to El Tio, it is known that the government has been completely inept in their investigation of the case. Mexico City has one of the highest quantities of security cameras in the world, yet their footage has not been used to discover the whereabouts of Teodulfo nor the occurrences of December 1st.

Claudia is part of the collective Mujeres en la Sexta and has helped organize events in public plazas and protests in front of government buildings demanding justice for Kuy and Teodulfo.

“We have to keep making links of what happened to Kuy, which is a public assassination and the disappearance of Teodulfo which is part of the same case. The struggle is to bring these cases to the general public so that they know that the repression has risen to such levels,” commented Claudia.

“Non-lethal” Weapons- A Global Instrument of Repression

Mexico’s repression of social movements and increased usage of chemical weapons is hardly an isolated incident. Governments across the world, particularly in the Middle East and Latin America, are approving measures which grant them more authority to crack down on protests. Companies that produce “non-lethal weapons” are the ones to profit as governments increase their arsenals.

On March 11, 2014, Berkin Elvin passed away at the age of 15 after spending 269 days in a Coma. He had left his house to buy bread and was hit in the head by a tear gas canister fired by police cracking down on Occupy Gezi protests. Thousands of people took to the streets across Turkey and across the world to protest his death.

In NY the War Resisters League is coordinating the Facing Tear Gas campaign, aimed at uniting movements across the world who have borne the brunt of increasing chemical warfare. Ali Issa, one of the coordinators of the campaign commented on the governments usage of rubber bullets and tear gas, “‘Nonlethal weapons’ are in fact quite lethal, to people like Juan Francisco Kuykendall as well as to their movements. In this moment of global uprisings, their increasing presence in the hands of the police means that we must roll back militarization if we are ever to see the world that Kuy was trying to build for all of us.”

Investigating Kuy’s Death

Kuy’s lawyer Barbara Zamora commented that the government refused to properly investigate his death. She commented that family members of Kuykendall filed a complaint with the government following his injury, demanding an investigation into the excessive use of police force.  The government responded by saying that the weapon that injured Kuy was not in the arsenal of the police forces and therefore had to come from fellow protesters. However, they refused to state what kind of weapon it was.  Zamora says that “it is absurd that the government would blame protesters when they were the only ones using weapons that could have caused this type of injury.” Along with Kuy’s family members, Zamora is filing a petition with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to denounce the Mexican government’s assassination of Kuy. “We have to believe in these international human rights bodies because we are not left with any other option here to demand justice,” remarked Zamora.

Recognizing that often this process takes years, family members and friends of Kuy say they will continue to Mobilize for justice in the streets. In the coming months members of the Va Por Kuy campaign are organizing various events to commemorate Kuy’s life and his tragic death. Claudia commented that “we cannot accept this as a normal state of being and we have to keep living Kuy’s legacy and continue the struggles that he was involved in.”


Andalusia Knoll is a freelance multimedia journalist residing in Mexico City. You can follow her on twitter @andalalucha



April 25, 2013

Murder of Compañero Juan Vázquez Guzmán from Bachajón‏

Filed under: Bachajon, La Sexta, Other Campaign — Tags: — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 6:58 pm

Murder of Compañero Juan Vázquez Guzmán from Bachajón‏


It is with profound sadness and outrage that we share the news of the murder of our compañero Juan Vázquez Guzmán, former Secretary General of the adherents to the Sixth Declaration from the ejido of San Sebastián Bachajón.

La lucha sigue
Colectivo Radio Zapatista

San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chiapas

April 25, 2013

Frayba Urgent Information Note

Ejidatario from The Other Campaign in Bachajón Chiapas is Murdered

The Centre for Human Rights condemns the assassination of Juan Vázquez Guzmán, former Secretary General of the adherents to the Other Campaign (La Sexta) in the ejido of San Sebastián Bachajón, who was noted for his active participation in the defense of Land and Territory against the government plunder of the Agua Azul Waterfalls and the imposition of the Toll Booth at the entrance.

According to information given to this Centre, on Wednesday April 24 at 23:00 pm persons unknown shot Juan Vázquez five times, killing him instantly.

Neighbors say that Juan was attacked just as he was arriving home, the attackers immediately fled in a red van, with a double cab, taking the road to the municipal headquarters of Sitalá, thus also having access to the roads to the municipalities of Ocosingo, Cancúc and Chilón.

Since 2007, Juan Vázquez had been active in the defense of the Land and Territory of San Sebastian Bachajónone, a situation for which they held an order for legal protection (amparo) which is currently being reviewed in the Third Collegiate Court, based in Tuxtla Gutiérrez, under case number 118/2013.

On April 17th the ejidatarios of San Sebastian Bachajón, adherents to the Other Campaign of the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle, publicly denounced two that their Territory is being threatened by the official policy of territorial dispossession which is continuing under the current  state government.

1 Video of the struggle for the defense of the Territory, available at: #!

2 See note and statement available at:


April 1, 2013

Zapatistas in New York? Another way of doing politics

Filed under: La Sexta, Movement for Justice in el Barrio, Other Campaign, Zapatista — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 3:13 pm

Those from below are organizing………

Zapatistas in New York?  Another way of doing politics


March 23, 2013. The Zapatista movement isn’t only growing in Chiapas. Its example and its ways are contagious, and they even reach places as inhospitable to non-capitalist ways as New York. There, Mexican migrants are organizing from building to building. This is their powerful story.

The Movement for Justice in El Barrio (MJB) has 750 members and 72 committees, one per building. It is an adherent to the Zapatista Sixth Declaration.

By Marta Molina

Listening is one of the basic qualities of an organizer. This is what made a group of Mexican migrant women, in December 2004 in East Harlem, known as El Barrio, New York, go from door to door, building by building, listening and understanding the problems of their new neighbours, and then think together how they could solve them. They had never before participated in a social struggle in Mexico, and could not speak English, but what they did know was that many were in the same situation. Now they have been organizing for eight years for decent housing and against neoliberal displacement to prevent it making them – as happened in their home country – have to leave their homes “because of the imposition of the culture of money of those from above”.

So the Movement for Justice in El Barrio (MJB) was born, and today has 750 members and 72 committees, one per building. All are autonomous and meet periodically in the lobbies of their homes where they consult together on the problems faced by each neighbour and decide what strategies to follow so as to live dignified lives.

The Zapatistas are their inspiration, and they are adherents to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle. They define their movement as urban Zapatismo, and they see it as “another way of doing politics with all of those from below, with those being oppressed by capitalism and abused by bad governments. Only in this way can we return dignity to our communities”, said Juan Haro, an organizer from the MJB.

Sharing their struggle

From Mexico, we managed to collect the testimonies of Óscar Flores and Diana Morales, two Mexican immigrants. They now live in East Harlem and are organizers with the MJB.

“They want to make us leave our homes in El Barrio. We, the most screwed, are tired of living in these conditions with broken windows, collapsing roofs, leaks in the kitchen and bathroom, no heating or hot water in winter. They, the landlords and local government force us to live so badly until, in despair, we decide to move to another place. Then the landlords can renovate their buildings and rent the apartments to rich people”, says Oscar.

“We fight so that: The oceans and mountains will belong to those that live in and take care of them. Homes and cities will belong to those who live in and take care of them. No one will own more homes than they can live in.” This is one of the slogans of the MJB. We first heard it in a video message entitled “Another world, another path, another barrio, below and to the left”, through which we heard the word of resistance from the neighbours of East Harlem to Chiapas (Mexico), within the framework of the third seminar on anti-systemic movements. So far, members of MJB have shared this video only in small spaces for meeting and reflection and it is not available online.

The messenger is Juan Haro, one of the organizers of MJB. He is the only member of his community who has been able to travel to Mexico, because most of his compañeros in El Barrio are migrants and do not have the documents to do so. Through him, El Barrio, their struggle, their strategies and tactics are made present in San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chiapas.

“Being migrants we know that the political and economic system that drove us from our home country is the same one that now seeks to displace us from our homes, but we struggle against multinational corporations, against politicians and “those from above”, and we are organized so this does not happen”, said Haro.


Their inspiration: the Zapatista consultas and encuentros

“They inspire us and teach us how to organize better in our neighbourhood,” said Juan Haro in interview. According to Haro, so that one day there will be justice and freedom and the opportunity to live in dignity “it is necessary to build another world, a world where many worlds fit, and to do this, it is paramount to listen, consult, meet and create effective strategies”.

In 2005, when the EZLN (Zapatista National Liberation Army) issued the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle, they shared it in El Barrio and decided to ask to become part of the Other Campaign, a Zapatista initiative that sought to “listen to the Mexican people, both those who are organized and those who are not, to all those who, from below and to the left, seek to change the current state of society”.

“As Mexican immigrants, we are in The Sexta so that no more Mexicans will be forced to leave the country to seek a way of life for our families, and eventually, so that those who want to go back can do so, and can stay in our birthplaces with our own people”, says Oscar.

Zapatistas consultas (consultations) also inspired the MJB. The major issues in El Barrio first came out through a consulta and community vote, these then became the basis for developing their strategies. “We practice real democracy, our form of struggle is based on the decision of the people, and it is the community who says the word”, said Haro.

From the Zapatistas they learned to struggle at the local level, with their neighbours and in their communities, but also to look beyond their barrio, and they began a series of encuentros (gatherings, meetings), inspired by the Intercontinental Encuentro for Humanity and Against Neoliberalism organized by the EZLN.

The encuentros are central to what the residents of El Barrio define as a form of urban Zapatismo. They see it as a moment of exchange which the Zapatistas have designed as another way of doing politics, below and to the left, to share struggles and to learn. First they organized an encuentro at the city level in New York, and then at the national and intercontinental level. “For us it is essential to know our neighbour, to unite and fight together, to make decisions horizontally, but it is also essential to build bridges with other marginalized communities, of migrants, women, lesbians, gays, transgenders, people of colour and to build relationships with these organizations”, said Haro.

They celebrate their encuentros with groups that share their struggle for justice, dignity and democracy, and they do it in the heart of El Barrio. Everyone participates, from the elderly to the children, who close these encuentros with the symbolic act of breaking “the neoliberal piñata”.

Winning motivates the struggle

When a social movement wins a battle, it inevitably earns the trust of more people who also want to win. This happened in 2006 in El Barrio, when following an attempt to displace poor tenants from their housing, Movement forced Steve Kessner – multi-millionaire and owner of 47 buildings – to sell his property and move out of El Barrio. Rather than him throwing tenants out of their homes, they managed to throw him out of the neighbourhood. It was a battle won after two years, a victory that earned them recognition in the city and, perhaps most importantly, gave encouragement to the members of Movement to continue fighting, in the words of Haro, “against neoliberalism, objectified in multinational corporations and capitalist landlords”.

But Steven Kessner was replaced by a multinational company from London called Dawnay, Day Group. This triggered the start of another strong campaign in 2008 against the British multinational corporation that owned property in several continents, and who decided to make their first American purchase in El Barrio. Oscar tells us how they sent a delegation to five European countries, “because there are groups and individuals there who support our struggle”. Finally, Dawnay, Day Group collapsed and now faces foreclosure for their inability to pay the mortgages on what were their properties. “Meanwhile, the families who live in these properties are ready to continue fighting for our dreams”.

MJB not only wins battles, it also wins organizers. Diana Morales, for example. She is an indigenous Mixteca who is now organizing in El Barrio. She was born in Tlapa de Comonfort, Guerrero and “because of the bad government I was forced to leave my country. Now in New York I am facing daily discrimination for being a migrant. So I decided to join my neighbours and fight for justice”.

When her mother rang and told her there was an attempt to displace them, she left Mexico and joined the movement. Her inspiration is the Zapatistas. “At the first meeting I listened to compas talking about the Zapatistas and saw that they continue in the struggle and that they live autonomously, without relying on the bad government”.

At first Diana did not believe that there could be migrants in NY who dared to take to the streets to protest and denounce those responsible for the problems they face, but she did it, and now she is one of the spokespersons for the organization.

“I never imagined that one day I would fight with my community, but now I do. Struggling together is the way we will be heard and it is how we will change the world”.

The MJB also undertakes solidarity campaigns to support struggles in Mexico. They did so in 2006 when they spoke out against repression in San Salvador Atenco under the slogan “We are all Atenco”. They also created what were known as “Committees of the True Word”, organizational cells in more than 24 countries as part of a campaign to raise awareness about the situation of the Zapatistas. Last year, 2012, they also started campaigning for the release of political prisoners in Chiapas.

Continue to listen to us. Train organizers

Today, the residents of El Barrio are still struggling against displacement, this is their daily struggle. “When you organize, you realize that you suddenly have a huge family and if one of us is affected, all of us are affected”, says Haro. Just now they are in the process of forming new committees because there are three buildings which want to join the movement. The only criterion for joining the MJB is organizing your building.

“The idea is to work with them so as to increase their interest and their passion for struggle. That motivates them. Sometimes they find it very difficult to organize because they have never done it, it makes them feel uncomfortable to knock on the door of a neighbour they do not know, and they wonder ‘what will they think of me?’ So some more experienced compas  accompany them and help them to become organizers. ”

We asked Juan Haro to tell us what the silent marches of 21st December, and the subsequent Zapatista communiqués, meant to the people of El Barrio. “It was a demonstration of dignity from the compañeros “, he says, “they showed their moral and organizational capacity, their ability to do. We have not yet met to talk about it but we are going to talk about it calmly. The compas from El Barrio have listened to them and are waiting for what comes next”.

The ‘other way of doing politics’ of the people of El Barrio reminds us of the reflection of old Antonio, a wise old collector of the stories and experiences of the people, “the Maya time- made-man”, known through the tales of Subcomandante Marcos: “The first three of all the words in all the languages ​​are democracy, freedom and justice. The true men and women guard those three words as their inheritance so they will never be forgotten, they walk them, they fight for them, they live them”.

And this is what the organizers of the MJB are doing. As the Zapatistas say, walk, do not run, because we have far to go. They walk asking and listening, building and organizing in their form of urban Zapatismo, in order to struggle against neoliberal displacement, for dignified housing and for a world where many worlds fit.


February 2, 2013

Call for Solidarity: For Kuy, in Coma Following Mexican Presidential Inauguration Protest

Filed under: La Sexta, Other Campaign, Repression, Zapatista — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 7:19 am


Call for Solidarity: For Kuy, in Coma Following Mexican Presidential Inauguration Protest



In a recent communique, the Zapatista National Liberation Army called upon their supporters to donate money to help with the medical expenses of Juan Francisco “Kuy” Kuykendall, who was injured by a police projectile during the protests against Enrique Peña Nieto’s presidential inauguration on December 1, 2012. Kuy is in a coma and has undergone multiple surgeries. He’s lost portions of his brain due to the attack and subsequent surgeries, including a recent one where surgeons had to cut out infected brain tissue.

As the communique from the Network Against Repression and For Solidarity states below, supporters within Mexico are asked to deposit donations in a Mexican bank account. If you’re not in Mexico, you can do that, or you can donate through my Paypal account. If you want to make a very large donation (more than a few hundred dollars), it’s probably cheaper to make an international wire transfer directly to that account from your bank. If you want to make a smaller donation, donating through my Paypal account is almost certainly cheaper. Paypal charges thirty cents USD + 2.9% of the overall donation. Any questions? Email me. I’ll email all donors receipts of cash deposits into the Mexican bank account designated for Kuy’s medical expenses. Please use this special button to donate:


Here is the complete Call to Action from the Network Against Repression and for Solidarity, whom the EZLN designated to coordinate Zapatista supporters’ donations in Mexico.

Call to Action: For Kuy

Them and Us Part 4: The Pains from Below by Subcomandante MarcosOn December 1, 2012, Enrique Peña Nieto’s first day as president, was the day of his administration’s first repression against those who protested against his imposition. That repression, that attack which was planned and approved by the outgoing administration of Felipe Calderón Hinojosa, executed by Peña Nieto’s administration and supported by the outgoing and incoming [mayoral] administration in Mexico City of Marcelo Ebrard and Migual Angel Mancera respectively, still continues. The attack continues in a hospital bed and carries the name of Fancisco Kuykendall, a compañero of the Other Campaign, now known as the Sixth, who was seriously injured in the head by the cowardice of those above who believe they are untouchable.

Almost two months since the attack, Kuy is still hospitalized and fighting for his life, now forgotten by the cameras and reflectors that that December 1st condemned the protests in order to legitimize, voluntarily or involuntarily, the ignorance, banality, and violence of the recently named president. Kuy is still alive thanks to the strength and conviction and camaraderie of those who collectively work with Otra Cultura [“Other Culture”] and other collectives, organizations, groups, and individuals who are adherents to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle.

But compañero Kuy continues to resist, thanks to the strength and conviction and the camaraderie of those who collectively work with Otra Cultura and other collectives, organizations, groups, and individuals who are adherents to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle.

Kuy resists and needs the solidarity of all of the honest and simple people on this planet in order to be able to keep being treated and so that he recuperates, so that as a cultural worker he can continue saying “no” to the above that oppresses, plunders, disdains, and exploits us, and to build that other form of expressing life and dignity, that Other Culture.

From the Network Against Repression and for Solidarity, we call for all those honest and supportive people to support compañero Kuy, demanding justice for him and for all of those who were injured on December 1; and that the harassment through the prosecution of those who protested on that day against injustice cease. We asked that you also support the indispensable fundraising efforts for the hospitalization and rehabilitation of the compañero Kuy.

Due to the above, we call for:

Campaign: For Kuy

We call on all of the compañeros in the Network against Repression and For Solidarity, in the Sixth, and good-hearted people to protest, organize, and mobilize all over Planet Earth according to your time, means, and methods, to carry out:

  • A campaign of solidarity, denouncing the attack our compañero was subjected to, demanding justice for him and for all of those injured on that date, and to demand unconditional freedom for all of those detained in Mexico City and in Guadalajara during the protests against the imposition of Enrique Peña Nieto as head of the federal executive branch.
  • According to each of your methods, time, means, and spaces, join us with local, national, and international activities on Sunday, February 17, 2013, as part of the Political-Cultural Day of Action for Kuy. In Mexico City we will join the cultural-artistic act in front of the Palacio de Bellas Artes, beginning at noon.
  • Ongoing fundraising campaign, to be deposited in the following bank account: 2824024214 BBVA Bancomer, in the name of Eva Palma Pastrana.
  • In the Mexico Valley, take shifts guarding the hospital where our compañero is located, and take up collections as needed.
  • Support a political-artistic-cultural act [on a date to be announced] that will denounce the Mexican State and demand justice, as proposed by the compañera Eva [Kuy’s partner].

It is important to emphasize that each act should highlight the compañero Juan Francisco Kuykendall’s life’s work, his organizational work in art and culture, elements of which should be present in our protests and mobilizations. As well as the demand for unconditional freedom for all of our compañeros who were arrested on December 1, 2012, and the repeal of Article 362 of Mexico City’s penal code, which permits the incarceration and persecution of activists and any other person who travels on the streets of Mexico City under the pretext of “disturbing the peace,” that was promoted and approved during Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s administration; the law includes what [Dirty War president] Gustavo Díaz Ordaz called “social dissolution.”

For Kuy…

Against plundering and repression:
Network Against Repression and for Solidarity [Red Contra la Represión y por la Solidaridad]

January 27, 2013

Chilón Indigenous Demand Rights in Lawsuit for Protection from Dispossession of Lands

Filed under: Bachajon, Indigenous, Other Campaign, Tourism — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 4:51 pm

Chilón Indigenous Demand Rights in Lawsuit for Protection from Dispossession of Lands

 ** In a letter to Juan N. Silva Meza they denounce state and private tourist projects


FotoPhoto by Cristina Rodríguez: Juan N. Silva Meza, during the welcome for new ministers of the Court, last December

By: Hermann Bellinghausen, Envoy

San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, January 25, 2013

The ejido owners (ejidatarios) from San Sebastián Bachajón, Chilón municipality, yesterday directed themselves to Minister Juan N. Silva Meza, president of the Federal Judiciary, in relation to the conflict that the community is going through because of a “governmental land grab,” whose purpose, they maintained, “is the implementation of state and private up-market tourist projects, without consulting or taking into account our rights as indigenous peoples recognized in the Constitution and in international human rights treaties.”

Adherents to the Other Campaign of the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle, the ejido owners write to the magistrate: “Last January 18, the seventh district judge in Tuxtla Gutiérrez held the constitutional hearing on the lawsuit for protection (amparo) 274/2011, and we are hoping for a just resolution, protective of the rights of our people, to avoid unfortunate acts difficult to repair.”

“The situation of our protective order” remains in the hands of the authorities “because we are not disposed to permit authorities to trample on the imparting of justice,” they added. “We have contributed all the evidence to demonstrate the injustice of which we have repeatedly and continuously been the object, as well as the legitimate and legal right that we have as ejido owners and members of the Tzeltal people to defend and enjoy our ancestral territory.”

The document was also sent to the executive secretary of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in Washington and the Office of the High Commissioner of the United Nations for Human Rights in Mexico, “for your knowledge and intervention.”

Mariano Moreno Guzmán, Mariano Moreno López and Miguel Álvaro Deara, representatives of the ejido owners, affirm that on February 2, 2011, different federal authorities and those of Chiapas “arbitrarily and in an authoritarian manner took possession of an area of our common use lands, located on the land grant, by means of the use of public force and the participation of armed civilians.”

The action, which imposed a governmental ticket booth for visitor access to the Agua Azul Cascades, in the neighboring municipality of Tumbalá, had the support of the ejido’s commissioners and the vigilance council, “instructed by authorities of different agencies of the state government,” according to “information obtained through an informant, whose name was not mentioned for fear of acts that put his physical integrity in danger.” They point out to the magistrate that on various occasions they denounced it without obtaining an answer.

Faced with that, and “despite the strong threats against them,” they filed the mentioned petition for a protective order “for the protection of our territory and the collective rights over our common use lands.” In your capacity as president counselor of the Federal Judiciary Council, the indigenous ask Silva Meza “that he watch over and guarantee” that the lower court in Tuxtla Gutiérrez “has the conditions of impartiality, objectivity and independence to resolve the petition for a protective order that was presented approximately two years ago.”


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Saturday, January 26, 2013

En español:



English translation by the Chiapas Support Committee for the: International Zapatista Translation Service, a collaboration of the: Chiapas Support Committee, California, Wellington Zapatista Support Group, UK Zapatista Solidarity Network


January 21, 2013

San Sebastián Bachajón ejidatarios hope that their lands will be protected

Filed under: Bachajon, Indigenous, Other Campaign — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 6:45 pm

Chiapas Ejido Owners of Chilón Hope that their Lands will be protected

** The corresponding constitutional hearing had to be held on the 18th January

** They reiterate their determination to resist the dispossession they have suffered

By: Hermann Bellinghausen, Envoy

San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, January 19, 2013

agua_azulThe ejido owners of San Sebastián Bachajón, an ejido located in the Chilón municipality, who are adherents to the Other Campaign, announced that they are awaiting the resolution next Monday of the protective order (amparo) filed in 2011 with the authorities in defence of their territory. They also reiterated their determination to resist the plunder of their lands and territorial rights which they have suffered for years due to action by the government in collaboration with officialist (pro-government) ejido owners and groups from the neighbouring ejido and spa at Agua Azul.

The constitutional hearing on their protective order (amparo), case number 274/2011, had to be held on Friday (December 18), although the ejido owners were not able to confirm this. If the hearing was held, the seventh district court in Tuxtla Gutiérrez would have to publish the reason for their decision on the 21st, or whether they had deferred it to a new date. “For one year we have respected the legal process for our protective order (injunction), and demonstrated with documents the illegality of the acts that were being carried out unjustly on the ejido lands.”

They pointed out that on several occasions they have documented that the National Commission for Natural Protected Areas “is altering the coordinates of the 1980 presidential decree.” The protective order must proceed; if it does not, the authorities “would be passing over their own laws.” The mentioned proceeding “puts the plunder (dispossession) of our lands into evidence, we are very clear about what the bad government seeks to do with the indigenous”.

And they added: “We want to let the three levels of government know that we continue alive despite the fact that they attempted to destroy us, to buy us off, to make us surrender, and that they attacked us militarily and politically. They did not succeed, we remain alive.” This, “even though they had pledged to dispossess us, as they did on February 2, 2011 at the entrances to the Agua Azul Waterfalls ecotourist centre.” The “unjust plunder” realized “in complicity with authorities from different agencies” by the pro-government ejido authorities of San Sebastián Bachajón, who “seek to alter the ejidal documents” in favour of the ecotourist project, remains unresolved.

Foto de archivo de BachajonThe Tzeltal ejido owners of the Other Campaign, who have suffered prison, attacks, permanent police vigilance and governmental media campaigns to pass them off as criminals, warn: “We are not leaving here, we want to continue being what we are,” though there are even ejido owners who “for lack of a conscience” and “because of the ambition of the PRD, PAN, PRI and PVEM parties,” want “to deliver our lands into the hands of the bad government.”

They point out that: “the political parties do not need us to fail in their counterinsurgency policy; nor do we need them, because of the impunities we are learning to survive and seeking alternatives for governing ourselves as indigenous peoples.”

They reaffirm their commitment to struggle with “the other organizations and collectives from below and to the left to together demand that the three levels of government fulfil the San Andrés Accords, signed by the federal government in 1996, on indigenous rights and culture.”

Appealing to the national and international Other Campaign, the ejido owners concluded: “Our first step will be to continue constructing our autonomy without losing identity. We are not going to permit that they continue violating our rights. We are fed up with the fact that the authorities continue intimidating us for defending our Mother Earth; that is our only crime, for which we are persecuted.” They said that seeking “other alternatives in our communities is the hope that we have, the path that our Zapatista brothers and sisters taught us to follow.”


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Sunday, January 20, 2013

En español:

English translation by the Chiapas Support Committee for the: International Zapatista Translation Service, a collaboration of the: Chiapas Support Committee, California, Wellington Zapatista Support Group, UK Zapatista Solidarity Network.


January 19, 2013

From San Sebastian Bachajón

Filed under: Bachajon, Indigenous, Other Campaign — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 12:14 pm

Denuncia from The Other Campaign San Sebastian Bachajón

San Sebastian Bachajón, adherents to the Other Campaign and the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle, Chiapas, Mexico. January 18, 2013.

To the people of Mexico and the world

To the compañer@s of the national and international Other Campaign

To the mass and alternative media

To defenders of national and international human rights

To the Good Government Juntas

To public opinion

DSC02491-600x450Sisters and brothers: from the north of Chiapas, San Sebastian Bachajón, Chiapas, Mexico.

Our message is from the men and women, ejidatarias and ejidatarios, adherents to the Other Campaign, after a year of repression, deprivation, injustice, harassment and wrongful imprisonment. We want to let the three levels of government know that we are still alive even though they tried to destroy us, buy us, make us surrender and attacked us militarily, politically and ideologically.

To all the people who followed the current of the political spectrum of the bad governments, which have done their best to destroy us politically, militarily, and ideologically. Well, they did not succeed, we are still alive.

Despite their determination to make the entire political spectrum believe that we no longer exist, despite the party political campaign to disintegrate society, we are still alive, and that is what strengthens us to continue our struggles.

It is very evident that political parties do not need us to fail in their counterinsurgency policy, nor do we need them[i]; because of the impunity, we are learning to survive and looking for other alternatives to govern ourselves as the indigenous peoples we are, continuing our struggles always, we are accompanying the people with a greater awareness of the path to follow.

We reaffirm our commitment to struggle for other organizations and groups from below and to the left, so that together we can demand that the three levels of government fulfil the signed agreement: The San Andrés Accords, signed by the federal government in the year 1996, for indigenous rights and culture.

Because we are not leaving here, we want to remain what we are, we are indigenous. Even though they have are determined caseta de cobroto displace us, as they did last February 2, 2011 at the entrance to the ecotourism centre at the Agua Azul waterfalls in Chiapas, there currently exists an amparo[ii], number 274/2011, awaiting resolution, for this unjust dispossession, in complicity with the authorities of various agencies and the official ejidal authorities of San Sebastián Bachajón, who tried to alter the ejidal documents so as to give away our lands.

Those who are doing such acts are ejidatarios themselves, through political party ambition, the PRD, PAN, PRI, PVEM, we as victims continue to suffer injustice from the bad governments, through ignorance and lack of awareness they are handing over our lands into the hands of the bad government .

For a year we have respected the legal process under our amparo 274/2011 in the charge of the Seventh District Court in Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas. The facts demonstrate with documents the illegality of what is being done unjustly on ejido lands, we have objected on various occasions when CONAP was altering the coordinates of the 1980 decree.

Currently our amparo has not been determined by the authorities in charge, the constitutional hearing is on January 18, 2013, they are bypassing their own laws. Because the amparo no. 274/2011 highlights the theft of our lands we are very clear about what the bad government intends to do to us, as indigenous peoples.

From all this, we reaffirm our commitment to struggle with the compañer@s of the national and international Other Campaign, that we are ready, since we are ejidatarios adherent to the Other Campaign, to try alternative ways of struggle, we are going to take our first step in building the road to autonomy without losing our identity, from below and to the left, because we are not going to allow them to continue violating our rights, we are now fed up with the authorities continuing to intimidate us for defending our mother earth, which is the only offence for which we are being persecuted.

Enough of injustice, repression, unjust imprisonment and dispossession. We will follow the path of building alternative ways of struggle in our communities. This is the hope that we have, the path that our Zapatista brothers and sisters taught us to follow.

Together we can build a possible world.

Brothers and sisters, our combative greetings.

From the north of Chiapas, Mexico.

Adherents to the Other Campaign of the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle.


Land and Freedom

General Coordinator of the Other Campaign

[i] This echoes the recent EZLN communiqué

[ii] An order for legal protection, here perhaps a protective injunction pending resolution of the case.


November 10, 2012

Judge to Decide Today on Legal Protection for Ejidatarios against the Taking of their Lands in Chilón

Filed under: Human rights, Indigenous, Other Campaign, Tourism — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 3:40 pm


Judge to Decide Today on Legal Protection for Ejidatarios against the Taking of their Lands in Chilón

** They accuse the Chiapas government of attempting to control access to the Agua Azul Waterfalls

** There is no record of an expropriation decree or of a “donation,” lawyers point out

By: Hermann Bellinghausen

Ejidatarios of San Sebastián Bachajón, in Chilón, Chiapas, are awaiting this Friday the resolution by a district judge in Tuxtla Gutiérrez for the restitution of lands alienated by the state government, which the indigenous consider to have been taken without legal basis.

The constitutional hearing will have to resolve amparo case number 274/ 2011, filed by the ejido owners of the Other Campaign for the taking away of part of their land by diverse state and federal authorities, “with the complicity of the ejidal commissioner Francisco Guzmán Jiménez, in order to control the access to the Agua Azul Waterfalls ecotourist centre (Tumbalá municipality), and to fragment their [Other Campaign] organization.”

According to the lawyer for the ejido owners, Ricardo Lagunes, “the authorities have sought to justify their acts in diverse and contradictory ways,” arguing that the acts “are being executed on a general roadway under federal administration; that the surface area was ‘donated’ to the state government by the ejido owners, and that it is inside the Agua Azul Waterfalls Natural Protected Area (ANP, its initials in Spanish), according to the April 29, 1980 decree, and that the surface area was donated by the general assembly of the ejidos of San Sebastián Bachajón and its neighbor Agua Azul.”

Contradicting each argument, Lagunes points out: “We’re not dealing with a general roadway, because neither the National Agrarian Registry (RAN, its initials in Spanish), nor the Agrarian Reform Ministry, nor the Official Journal of the Federation have informed the judge that there is proof of an expropriation decree for the road or that it was donated by the ejido for such purpose. The ejidatarios who ‘donated’ the land to the state government, by not having full ownership, according to the RAN, would not be able to donate to a third party.” The road at issue, four kilometres in length, leads to the Agua Azul River through San Sebastián; the spa resort is in the neighboring ejido, which has charged a toll for years.

The regulations of common use of these lands, ratified through an act of the ejidal assembly in December 2004, makes “the ‘donation’ null and fraudulent, as an independent expert from an UNAM interdisciplinary team confirms. It determined that the affected surface area is not inside the ANP.” Besides, the official plan exhibited by the National Commission for Natural Protected Areas (Conanp) “was altered in its coordinates so that it would include the surface area under litigation, and is therefore not valid.” Nor does an act of the ejidal assembly exist inscribed in the RAN about the alleged donation to the government. The state Secretary of Government and the officialist (pro-government) commissioner of San Sebastián exhibited before the judge an act signed only by this commissioner and some community authorities, “but its validity was challenged because of evident irregularities and because of violations of the requirements of the Agrarian Law.”

The agrarian injunction (amparo), promoted on March 3, 2011, requested “the official suspension of the acts complained of because of dealing with collective agrarian rights.” The judge admitted the demand, but denied the suspension. The demand for guarantees has been extended twice: the first against the Attorney General of the Republic, the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources and the Conanp; and the second against the State Human Rights Council for emitting an unfounded precautionary measure that led to a new violent eviction in Bachajón by the state preventive police last June 19.

With respect to the act exhibited by the Agua Azul residents, the San Sebastián ejidatarios challenge its validity since “reassessing the government’s reports, Agua Azul is an irregular settlement, it does not have title to the land or plans that mark off its possession, as the reports of the RAN and the Yajalón Public Registry of Property have corroborated.” Besides, it was shown that the surface area in question “is located in the area of the San Sebastián land grant and therefore is found inside its (SSB) territory.”

Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Friday, November 9, 2012

En español: 

English translation by the Chiapas Support Committee for the:

International Zapatista Translation Service, a collaboration of the:

Chiapas Support Committee, California

Wellington Zapatista Support Group

UK Zapatista Solidarity Network






October 3, 2012

Escalation of paramilitary activity against Zapatistas in Chiapas denounced

Filed under: Other Campaign, Paramilitary, Repression, Zapatista — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 6:11 pm


Escalation of paramilitary activity against Zapatistas in Chiapas denounced

83 people have been displaced for three weeks from the indigenous communities of Commander Abel and Union Hidalgo

Sent by Hermann Bellinghausen
Posted: 01/10/2012 13:39

San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas.

The Good Government Junta of the Zapatista Caracol of Roberto Barrios, in the Northern Zone of Chiapas, denounced the direct participation of the state’s Secretary of Government, Noé Castañón León, in the planning and implementation of an escalation of paramilitary activity against the community of Comandante Abel and against the Zapatista support bases in Unión Hidalgo, which has led to the displacement of 83 indigenous who have now spent three weeks taking refuge in other communities.

In response to the government denial through a note to the press that police agents had fired on Comandante Abel, the Junta reiterated that on September 18, at noon, police deployed there by the state government fired two shots “to intimidate, just like the paramilitaries.”

The Junta maintains in a communiqué that: “the attacks, evictions, threats, robberies, intimidations and displacements continue.” They hold the federal government of Felipe Calderón Hinojosa and the state government of Juan Sabines Guerrero responsible for the attack now in progress. The Junta states: “It is an act of cowardice to use people of the same race, in order to justify it as intercommunity conflicts.” The communities attacked belong to La Dignidad autonomous municipality, in the Chol region. On September 6, “paramilitaries from Unión Hidalgo and San Patricio took possession to invade and displace our compañeros from their lands,” the Junta says.

On September 12, paramilitaries looted the collective milpa (cornfield), “while others were on guard with high-caliber weapons.” The same day, a total of 11 vehicles arrived in San Patricio with police and judicial agents “to see where to set up their camp.”

The Junta details: “On September 13, Noé Castañón, Secretary General of Government, and Maximiliano Narváez Franco, assistant secretary, arrived in the Sabanilla municipal headquarters to meet with the invaders from Unión Hidalgo and the PRI members from San Patricio to confirm to them that the lands are theirs, justifying (it) with their legalization projects, undertaking to provide security by sending police patrols to take care of the invaders and to support them with materials for constructing their houses, like sheet metal, including delivering food supplies to the paramilitaries.

They began patrolling the recuperated land. On September 16, the police distributed sheet metal to the invaders from Unión Hidalgo and the PRI members from San Patricio who at the same tine remained in possession of the recuperated land, and they “immediately constructed their police encampment.”

On September 26, there was another meeting with state officials in Sabanilla: “they made a work minute between the representatives of the paramilitaries from Unión Hidalgo and the PRI members from San Patricio, with the theme of legalization in the name of the paramilitaries, leading them to believe that they are the rightful owners. They are using them to appropriate and displace our Zapatista support base compañeros from their lands.”

The theft of corn has continued and it intensified on the 27th and 28th September. “Since the invasion, the losses equal 22 tons of grains with a global price of 132,000 pesos, valued at 6 pesos per kilo.” They also denounce that the compañeros displaced from Unión Hidalgo “are strongly threatened by the paramilitaries who are organizing to appropriate their plots of land.”

The thefts “have been constant” in spite of the police presence. “It is seen clearly that the bad government has prepared these criminal acts,” says the Junta. “We have every reason to defend the lives and integrity of our compañeros,” adding, addressing themselves to the state and federal governments: “You are the real culprits and the masterminds of the criminal acts that our support bases suffer. It is you who will be guilty of the consequences that may result, and who will have to account for and (be) judged before the history of the people of Mexico.”


300 days in prison

In other news, Francisco Lopez Santiz, Zapatista support base from Tenejapa, completed his 300th day in prison for no reason on Saturday, in the prison of San Cristobal. Initially he was accused of participating in an attack in the community of Banavil last December, without foundation, as was recognized by the judge.

However, a sudden new indictment, issued as he prepared to leave prison, prevented his departure and bogged down his case, with the charge of possession of a prohibited weapon, not only late but also unfounded, but very useful to keep the indigenous Zapatista as a virtual hostage on federal charges that no judge has dared to ratify.



September 23, 2012

Pressure for the Liberation of the Zapatista and Other Campaign Political Prisoners

Filed under: Other Campaign, Political prisoners, San Marcos Aviles, Women, Zapatista — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 5:34 pm


Pressure for the Liberation of the Zapatista and Other Campaign Political Prisoners


** The situation has not been resolved a few weeks before the state and federal governments change

Hermann Bellinghausen

The Zapatista and Other Campaign “political prisoners”in Chiapas insist on their liberation, a few weeks from when the state and federal governments change, without the situation of injustice and abuse experienced by these indigenous having been resolved. They continue to receive expressions of solidarity from different parts of the world.

Rosario Díaz Méndez, a member of the Voice of El Amate (la Voz del Amate) in the San Cristóbal de las Casas prison, denounced the negligence and corruption of “social advocates” who the authorities assign to the prisoners: “they are not satisfied with their salaries and seek personal benefits on the side from their sponsors” to fulfill their duties. He relates the experience of his wife in the mixed court of Simojovel, where she was treated with arrogance and contempt by the defender, who denied her information about her husband’s case. Rosario asserts that such treatment is common for the indigenous in Chiapas courts.

“The laws are made to exploit those who do not understand them, or for those who cannot respect them because of the harsh necessity that they suffer”, stated Miguel Demeza Jiménez, from San Sebastián Bachajón ejido, also an adherent to the Other Campaign. Addressing himself to “the unjust authority of the Chiapas government and to the political prisoners who are found in different prisons in the state and the country,” the Tzeltal farmer, detained in the El Amate Prison, maintained that he is deprived of his freedom “without foundation,” while “the rich entrepreneurs commit crimes and are not in prison.” The authorities “take advantage based on torture” of the indigenous who do not speak Spanish.

Collectives and organizations which demand the freedom of the Zapatista and Other Campaign prisoners, as well as an end to the attacks against the autonomous communities, confirmed that they will protest in the coming days in Mexican embassies and consulates in Tokyo, London, Buenos Aires, Madrid, Berlin, Montreal and New York.

The writer, analyst and feminist Sylvia Marcos joined the demand for the freedom of Francisco Santiz López, Zapatista support base imprisoned since December without legal foundation. She demands “an end to the acts of aggression from the enemies of the Zapatista educational, social and political project which gives hope, especially to  women, who see in the Zapatista women the model of being a woman who defends her rights without forgetting to support the collective rights of her people”.

Their project “is the hope and the light on the road to the construction of an “other” world, where it can become a reality that “we are equal because we are different”, as you yourselves have said”, the researcher said to the rebel women. “We hope that the cry, emanating from around the world, will stop the attacks,” in particular against the Zapatista bases in San Marcos Avilés, where the hostility is systematic, because of an alleged official rejection of autonomous education.

On another matter, the Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Center (Frayba) denounced: “acts of harassment from members of the federal Army at the Indigenous Centre for Integral Capacity Building – University of the Earth (Cideci-Unitierra) in San Cristóbal de las Casas last September 17 and 19. On Monday, at 7:50 PM, a military truck with armed soldiers “slowly toured” the front of Cideci-Unitierra on the Viejo Camino (Old Road) to San Juan Chamula, turned off its lights and withdrew.

On Wednesday morning, September 19, ten soldiers descended from the federal Army’s truck Number 8003150 “and carried out a patrol on foot with weapons in their hands, in an attitude of clear harassment.” The act “put the youth of the educational community on alert, as well as the participants in a Gathering on Sustainable Agriculture and Food Sovereignty organized by Social and Economic Development of Indigenous Mexicans (Desmi, its initials in Spanish). Frayba “asks the Mexican State to cease the acts of harassment against this educational centre, whose task is to construct alternatives for living well within the framework of cultural diversity and autonomy.”


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Sunday, September 23, 2012

En español:


English translation by the Chiapas Support Committee for the: International Zapatista Translation Service, a collaboration of the: Chiapas Support Committee, California, Wellington Zapatista Support Group, UK Zapatista Solidarity Network







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