dorset chiapas solidarity

March 10, 2017

“Torture and Mistreatment Continue to Be Widespread in Mexico”, Juan E. Mendez

Filed under: Frayba, Human rights, Indigenous, Journalists, Repression, sipaz, Sustainable rural cities, Uncategorized, Zapatistas — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 11:02 am



“Torture and Mistreatment Continue to Be Widespread in Mexico”, Juan E. Mendez

tortureAmnesty International campaign against torture in Mexico


On 24 February, the current UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Nils Melzer, presented the follow-up report on the mission carried out by his predecessor Juan E. Mendez in Mexico on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

The report pointed out that “torture continues to be widespread on the part of security forces and investigators”; that suffocation, sexual violence, electric shocks, death threats, beatings, and psychological torture are “commonly used for obtaining information, confessions or as a method of punishment. To this is added a context of serious impunity, where the lack of investigation into these facts is the rule.”

In his assessment of the situation, the rapporteur stated that “organized crime is a challenge for the authorities and the population.” He commented that since 2006 and under the so-called “war against drug trafficking”, “militarization of public security remains as strategy.” He expressed concern about the “extremely vulnerability” of migrants by stating that “the detention of migrants by state agents is often violent and includes insults, threats and humiliations.”

 The Rapporteur regretted to conclude in his report that since his visit two years ago the situation “has not changed”, that “torture and mistreatment are still widespread in Mexico.” He noted that the “elimination of this practice is a fundamental challenge and that is why it is important to enact the General Law on Torture, with provisions that comply with the highest international standards […] so that torture, enforced disappearances, the persecution of victims and defenders of human rights and impunity cease to be part of everyday life. “ He further requested from Mexico that there be no “exceptions to the rule of exclusion of evidence obtained through torture” in that law.




January 19, 2014

When the Earth Becomes a Commodity

When the Earth Becomes a Commodity / Cuando la Tierra Se Convierte En Mercancía

The Destruction of the Basis of Life of the Indigenous Peoples in Chiapas, Mexico.

This documentary portrays the threat to the indigenous communities in southern Mexico represented by monoculture, population resettlement projects in so-called “sustainable” rural cities, tourism projects and repression.

NB: The film is mainly in Spanish. It does not yet have English subtitles.

Production: zz-collective – Initiative for research, analysis, and social, ecological and intercultural education.

(Mexico/Germany 2013, 71 minutes)

The pillars of the campesino communities are, to this day, traditional self-organizing, community work and a subsistence economy to provide food. The land, understood as “Mother Earth” in the cosmovision of indigenous peoples, is, however, increasingly coveted by those involved in politics and economics: the common lands are progressively becoming merchandise – as a general rule without prior consultation with the people affected.

Along with the peaceful resistance of the affected population, who are defending a life of dignity and self-determination in accordance with nature, and who are building alternative structures (for example, the Zapatistas), the documentary also traces the connections with consumers in urban regions and rich countries, because the greed for palm oil and an exotic comfortable tourism are increasing.

The zz-collective film crew travelled for several months in Mexico and interviewed various affected people, journalists, academics, human rights defenders and organizations in defence of women and the environment. At the same time, people from politics and the economy were given the chance to speak.




May 7, 2013

Another Failure: Sustainable Rural Cities

Filed under: Sustainable rural cities — Tags: — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 6:14 am

Another Failure: Sustainable Rural Cities

 ** The corruption of numerous actors flourishes in Chiapas, officials as well as campesinos


Tin roofs aid brick walls.

Photo: Hermann Bellinghausen

By: Hermann Bellinghausen

Mezcalapa, Chiapas, May 3, 2013

The Emiliano Zapata Rural Village, one of the five sustainable rural cities that the previous state government promoted so much, without ever having finished it, is now found in ruins, inhabited by different groups, without any type of services but, yes, a solid brick construction, without roof and unfinished. This would be the rural city with the best construction. The failure leaps into view, and shows a history of corruption by many actors, governmental as well as campesino organizations, deliberately divided by state action.

“The government says that the rural village (RV) is now finished”, a campesino who actually lives there says ironically. “With the ruins that are here it’s already finished, some houses are falling down. They are the ruins of Juan Sabines.”

It’s not easy to avoid a certain post-apocalyptic sensation in this group of 60 half-finished houses (there were going to be 270), which would now be covered by the vegetation of this tropical zone in northern Chiapas, near Tabasco and Veracruz, if it weren’t for its current residents. Some are ex members of the Emiliano Zapata Proletarian Organization-Movement for National Liberation (OPEZ-MLN, its initials in Spanish), for whose members this housing cluster would be destined. Other families are Zoques and campesinos from the region. To the OPEZ, which for now has abandoned the place, they are “invaders.”

Before it ended, the Sabinas administration didn’t want to know about this RV, to the degree that the Institute for Population and Rural Cities, created ad hoc for the ambitious project of 25 units like that in Chiapas, ignored it since 2012 and hardly even mentions it on its official web page. In January of last year, the government still had the impetus to create a new municipality here, previously part of Tecpatán: now Mezcalapa. Months later everything went downhill. OPEZ leaders were put in prison for misappropriation of funds and the head of the previously-mentioned institute, Alejandro Gamboa, was dismissed despite being one of the people closest to Governor Sabines, formally a PRD member like all the actors of this episode and of its debacle.

History of campesino resistance

The UNAM investigator Dolores Camacho Velázquez, who studies this case, exposes in a work (currently at the printer) a resistance and struggle that modified the government’s original idea original of rural cities.”

The famous “stoppage,” the product of the fall of a hill in October 2006 onto the Rio Grijalva and several population centers, caused damages in Ostuacán and other municipalities like Tecpatán and Malpaso, where the water stopped up by the disaster ended up flooding lands of communities that are adjacent to the rivers that empty into the affected zone. “Five localities were flooded in Tecpatán: Rubén Jaramillo, Los Guayabos, Ricardo Flores Magón, Genaro Vázquez and Nuevo Limón. Excepting the first, which is on lands recuperated in 1994 after the Zapatista Uprising, the other four communities are legally recognized properties, according to OPEZ leaders.”

Those affected were installed in shelters, the investigator adds. “The governor visited them and offered to resolve the problem. Six months after the promise they remained in shelters. Due to the fact that many of those affected belonged to OPEZ, they mobilized and organized the shelters to pressure the government to comply with its offerings.”

In 2010, an OPEZ leader told Camacho: “The government obviously moved its army of officials into the shelters to control everything. We said: ‘we are an organization and we control here, the government does not have to meddle in the community’s decisions.’” They began to take actions to pressure the authorities, roadblocks and demonstrations. The media barely made note of them, “but they achieved that the government would establish work groups. The construction of rural cities had already been decided, but for some reason all the governmental and media attention was put into Juan Grijalva.” It was the most celebrated community affected, and gave way to the first rural city, Nuevo Juan de Grijalva.

The government offered one more in Tecpatán, and OPEZ conditioned it on participating in the process. It was conceded to them, and they (OPEZ) took steps to obtain the participation of architects related (to the organization), belonging to the Francisco Villa Popular Front of Mexico City, where this organization has efficiently erected large residential units in Iztapalapa. It could be the best of worlds, but it all failed.

The “village” that wasn’t

The current residents of the shell of the “rural village” swarm spectral, completely outside  the great promise. They have no work, no electric energy and no water. And they are no longer members of OPEZ. The sun is inclement now and the water vats are dry. What’s left for them is the river. The greater part of the buildings are inhabited by families that do not own anything in the world, but they hope to stay here and convert it into a town, like its neighbor, the San Marcos ejido, where they rent 20 hectares for planting some milpas.

The mayor of the new municipality of Mezcalapa, from the PVEM (political party), has also made them promises, but only gave 10 sheets of tin to each family in exchange for their vote, and so now there is a roof. “Not one would be able to buy them,” a man says in the shade of those tin roofs with bitterness. About the lack of mouldings and windows, the inhabited houses have curtains or boards nailed to the windows to avoid the inclement weather outside. There is almost no furniture, barely hammocks, wooden benches, and rustic chairs. Many sleep on the ground; “firm,” that indeed, as cement.

Some eight of the families are from the original group, now in a split from OPEZ called the Peace and Freedom Organization, A.C. The rupture was violent. One member of the new group, Luis David Sánchez Gómez, El Chocolate, was dead from a shot in 2011. “They also shot at me when I ran into the woods,” Roberto says, who laments the corruption of all, and admits:

“There is a saying that goes: ‘separate the group and you will win.’ [Divide and conquer?] They did their intelligence (from the government), they attained it and it’s better for them.” For a long time, the homeless victims lived in the Emiliano Zapata camp, on the Huimanguillo (Tabasco) highway, close to here. The authorities acquired 111 hectares so that the families would be temporarily installed, while the RV was being built. Today, that camp, although it continues inhabited by some OPEZ members and by “invaders” waiting for “something,” is an even greater ruin. It is flat terrain mined with square sections of cement where 273 wooden cabañas were, and they were demolished at the time of the debacle.

“No one could live there, everyone ‘bedeviled’ by the heat. The elderly and the children would suddenly wake up dead. There were no conditions,” Luis says, a young man in the RV. “They distributed 120,000 pesos to many and they returned to their communities. We couldn’t. The ground is flooded, one is not able to live there now,” adds Roberto, a native of Nuevo Limón. “They told us that we were going to have a clinic, school. They gave us nothing, not even a road.” In fact, to reach the RV one travels a dirt road in very bad condition, and the children completely lack a school.

The leader of OPEZ, Caralampio Gómez Hernández, and his son Pablo César, were incarcerated in 2012 for alleged fraud in the amount of 20 million pesos. The organization carried out protests and occupations. Roberto, dissident of theirs, considers them guilty, “but not only them; those from the government did the real robbery, and we don’t know if the ones from Francisco Villa also did. We don’t trust anyone now.”

He mentions the case of another OPEZ leader who left the RV “and now has 500 head of cattle on his ranch, in Buenavista.”

The impressive Cerro del Mono (Monkey Hill), a famous point in the La Sepultura Reserve, of great height and an unusual shape, like a barnacle, with a summit inclined at the peak, distinguishes this locality at its back that was going to be a dignified development of the “Millennium,” impelled by the State, philanthropic corporations, revolutionary organizations and the UN, and is now one more phantom of progress.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Saturday, May 4, 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


May 6, 2013

Rural Villages and Sustainable Cities in Chiapas, Examples of Waste and Corruption

Filed under: Sustainable rural cities — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 2:45 pm


Rural Villages and Sustainable Cities in Chiapas, Examples of Waste and Corruption

 ** Projects that were announced with drum and cymbal are now abandoned

** They only provoked community divisions, the loss of lands and frustration from the campesinos

FotoView of one of the steep streets in the Santiago el Pinar rural sustainable city, which is practically uninhabited more than one year after its inauguration.

Photo: Hermann Bellinghausen



By: Hermann Bellinghausen

San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, May 4, 2013


The failed Emiliano Zapata rural village (RV), in northwest Chiapas, near the El Ocote ecological reserve, constitutes today, together with the much more publicized sustainable rural city (SRC) in the Tzotzil municipality of Santiago el Pinar, a tangible example of how the propagandistic illusion stumbles upon evidence of the acid of reality. The unfulfilled promises, community divisions, the partial or total loss of lands for the populations supposedly benefited, and above all the final non-existence or non-operation of the announced urbanizations, reveal not only the distance between the propaganda and the facts, but also imply a waste of money and work which is usually evidence of corruption.

The campesinos’ frustration is expressed in the now semi-demolished model home that, after complicated negotiations, members of the Emiliano Zapata Proletarian Organization (OPEZ, its initials in Spanish) had built with government support at the side of the highway in Tecpatán (today Mezcalapa municipality) a couple of years ago. Despite the fact that the campesinos achieved respect from the authorities for their conditions and everything seemed to start out as an unpublished experience of self-construction and self-determination of the organized communities, bad financial management and deliberate governmental “neglect” led to OPEZ’ division, 110 families remaining in the organization while another 123 preferred to submit to the official line, and formed the Peace and Freedom Association.

Confronted and defeated now, some attempt to save the remains of the ambitious project in conditions not only of disenchantment but also of increased marginalization. The “model home” was destroyed by a sledgehammer blow and frustration; now it’s a monument to failure.

La Jornada also toured the Jaltenango and Santiago el Pinar SRCs this week. The first, in the Frailesca region, was inaugurated in 2012 and, although the majority of the people don’t have work, lack medical services and the children go to school in the market (still not functioning), it is totally inhabited and the residents show that they are grateful to ex governor Juan Sabines because “he gave us a house,” as one mother of a family expressed.

On the other hand, in Santiago el Pinar the view is desolating. The SRC is abandoned, many houses sacked, and anyway it doesn’t seem appropriate for families with children. It is located on a steep slope, and the construction materials are not resisting the locality’s climate conditions.

In the study entitled “Chiapan Rural Cities: the end of dispersion and poverty, or new forms of social control,” Dolores Camacho Velázquez, an investigator from the Programme for Multi-Disciplinary Investigations about Mesoamerica and the Southeast (Proimmse, its Spanish acronym) at the Autonomous National University of Mexico (UNAM), said in 2012: “With the exception of Zapatismo, the majority of the historic campesino organizations have stopped fighting and resisting, and are absorbed in a dynamic of demanding resources for productive projects marketed as productive reconversion, which implies stopping the production of their own food and planting what the market requires. They no longer participate in the elaboration of projects according to their needs; they only demand what is offered. The Independent Central of Farm Workers and Campesinos (CIOAC, its initials in Spanish), the Emiliano Zapata Campesino Organization (OCEZ) and the OPEZ, among others, have abandoned the struggle for the right to land and the defense of traditional crops.”


The struggle of the OPEZ members affected by the Rio Grijalva flooding in 2007 in Tecpatán could be an exception. In view of what remains of the camp of displaced and of the failed RV, it is clear that wasn’t so, and the organization suffered a reverse. The project was a product of the government’s concessions to the OPEZ because of its pressures, but it was presented as an example of “democratic public policy” and citizen participation.


Rural cities, initially programmed for attending to the victims from Ostuacán and Tecpatán, were adapted to a strategy for rural development that implied a reorganization of production and population within the Chiapas government’s 2006-2012 Development Plan. The natural disaster permitted it to impel the SRC, inside of the UN’s “Millennium Development Objectives.”


In 2009, Nuevo Juan Grijalva SRC was inaugurated for more than 400 families left homeless (by flooding) that were in camps for almost two years. They finally had a house, although to receive it they had to renounce their lands. According to the official publicity, these individuals now would have access to health care, education and dignified jobs, “without taking note of the fact that the campesinos that would live there –not because of their own decision– would prefer their previous life, in simple but ample houses, in the midst of large terrains with trees and all kinds of seeds and their own fruit, and backyard animals for food, close to the farming lands where they obtained what was necessary to eat and to sell.”


Camacho found that said city “has no life,” the hothouse projects don’t function and the men return to work the abandoned lands or migrate in search of work, the clinics have no medication, the houses were built with materials inappropriate for the zone.” The new residents told her: “The city seems beautiful and we don’t scorn a house, but one cannot live that way in the countryside.”


The government maintained its enthusiasm for the project, rejected the criticisms and “wasted enormous amounts” to promote them in the media. In 2008 it created the Sustainable Rural Cities Institute, which in 2009 was fused with the State Population Council, originating the Institute of Population and Rural Cities.


Soon, Santiago el Pinar, Tzotzil municipality in the Highlands (Los Altos) was named as having the worst human development in Chiapas. “The location and the form of construction demonstrate little return on the investment. They are houses of no more than five by five metres” on mountainous land and in the rainy season “it will be complicated to live there: it is another failure.” For another SRC, practically finished in Ixhuatán, “the same destiny is expected.”

Today, in the face of the high costs invested, Camacho Velázquez asks in an interview: “What motives are there behind these projects? Why was the Santiago el Pinar SRC constructed in a place where no one seems interested in it, with construction models that don’t withstand the test of real utility? If the intention is really to stop falling behind, why do it with strategies that are clearly going to fail? The social groups that are opposed to these projects have the answer: corruption, business and the market.”

The investigator concludes that these “development” policies are “strategies for control of the marginalized groups, because in localities that depend on the market and government projects, organization and resistance turn out to be impossible.”


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Sunday, May 5, 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




February 13, 2013

Mexico’s housing development where poor people won’t live – video

Filed under: Sustainable rural cities — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 6:48 am

Mexico’s housing development where poor people won’t live – video

More than 78% of people in Chiapas, a state in southern Mexico, are considered poor and more than 30% live in extreme poverty. Yet even though the state provided new houses, they are abandoned. People do not want to live in the dilapidated homes with cracks in the wall, which cannot withstand the wind and rain. A House Without Dignity shows how policies to improve the lives of the poorest people can fail if locals are not fully involved in the decision-making process.Participate, which is seeking to get the voices of the poorest into post-2015 debates, worked with indigenous people to document their views.


October 17, 2012

ya basta: the zapatistas eighteen years on

Filed under: Repression, Sustainable rural cities, Women, Zapatista — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 5:35 pm


ya basta: the zapatistas eighteen years on
mary ann tenuto of the chiapas support committee speaks with i.t.a.

it has been eighteen years since the zapatista uprising. what is the situation like in chiapas today?

In a nutshell, what is occurring throughout Chiapas and especially in Zapatista territory is a struggle for territory. It is a struggle between the Zapatista and other campaign communities and the transnational corporations for land with resources. The corporate interests seek land and territory for mining, agro-fuel plantations, water and precious woods.

The situation in some parts of Zapatista territory becomes more difficult every day. The Zapatistas are focused on constructing autonomous governance and projects, like education, health and production. The government, in collaboration with transnational corporate interests, is waging a low-intensity war against the autonomous governments. This has two sides to it: the softer side, whereby the government entices people and communities to leave the Zapatista movement with money and economic projects or health clinics; and the violent side, where violent evictions of Zapatistas from their communities are part of the counterinsurgency.

the board of good government in le realidad has made reports of a series of unprovoked attacks and threats of land dispossession made towards ezln members as late as august this year. who is behind these attacks and what are their motives?

In August, the Good Government Board (it is commonly referred to as “the junta”) of La Realidad denounced an attack on the Zapatista coffee warehouse near the San Carlos Ejido by members of two political parties, the PRI and the PVEM. These political party members put up a fence around the warehouse and cut off its electricity in an attempt to take the warehouse away from the Zapatistas, who store and sell their coffee products there. This is part of the low-intensity war against the autonomous communities. The PRI and the PVEM took power in the July 1 elections in Mexico and have been emboldened by their victory. The controlling factor is that the government does not punish the groups that attack the Zapatistas. They have impunity.

the uprising of january first nineteen, ninety four was a movement of indigenous campesinos revolting against neoliberal capitalism. what sparked this uprising and what were the conditions that led up to it?

The conditions that led up to the Zapatista uprising were, for the overwhelming majority of the Zapatistas, conditions of extreme poverty partially caused by a lack of land for growing the food with which to feed their families. Another cause was extreme racism against indigenous peoples in Mexico and Chiapas, which is now 80% indigenous. Plantation owners first enslaved the indigenous peoples and later used them as serfs. The state was still emerging from a form of feudalism with indigenous peoples as the serfs. 50% of indigenous children died before reaching 5 years of age because of malnutrition and a lack of health care. Armed private security guards working for plantation owners were stealing what little land the indigenous peoples had with violence. The government provided virtually no public services, like health care for example.

much has been made of the zapatistas’ usage of the internet at the time of the uprising which allowed them to connect with ngo’s across the globe who gave them support. did this lead to the initial success or is there more to it than that?

I think the usage of the Internet permitted the Zapatistas to spread the word effectively and continuously after the corporate media tired of Zapatista news and/or figured out that the Zapatistas were against their corporate interests and those of Wall Street. Perhaps the “more than that” has to do with their analysis of neoliberalism, previously not even heard of in some parts of the world. As the movement evolved, their construction of autonomy provided an alternative for changing the system or opting out of the system without an on-going violent revolution to take power; in other words, an alternative for the Left.

what were the original objectives of the ezln and how have these changed over time?

Initially, the Zapatistas made certain basic demands of the Mexican government: land, housing, jobs, education, health care, roads, electricity, sewage systems, etcetera; in other words, all the government services that the government had failed to provide. But, during the first year of the rebellion, the Zapatistas formed 38 autonomous municipios (municipalities) and in the peace talks that began in 1995, the first topic for discussion was indigenous autonomy for all indigenous territories of Mexico. An agreement was reached on that issue. It is known as the San Andrés Accords. The government of Vicente Fox presented it to the Mexican Congress, which did not pass the accords that were agreed upon. It watered them down to be almost completely meaningless. Since the congressional betrayal, the focus of the Zapatistas has been on their internal construction of autonomy.

does the ezln consider itself a marxist, anarchist or a unique type of movement. what is their basic ideology? how does this organization differ from others?

This is a question on which people don’t always agree. My personal perception of the Zapatista “ideology” is that it a mixture of ideas and principles taken from various Mexican revolutionaries (Zapata, Villa, Flores Magón), liberation theology and some of the lessons from other Latin American countries and adapted to their specific situation of oppression and indigenous culture. Indigenous culture plays a dominant role. It would seem like their style of autonomous governance and direct participatory democracy is compatible with some anarchist principles, while their internal economy is socialist. I believe they adapted these various principles to their cultural values.

an internal uprising occurred within the ezln ranks in nineteen ninety three when a revolutionary law for women was implemented by women. how is life for women within the zapatista movement and how does it differ compared to women living in other similar communities?

Life for women within the Zapatista movement has changed. They are now allowed to vote in community assemblies, hold positions of responsibility in the Zapatista organization, attend school and women’s health care is a priority. These are big changes. They can also choose their own husband and decide how many, if any, children they want to have. The implementation of the Women’s Revolutionary law has been easier in some Zapatista areas than in others. I don’t know how to compare it to non-Zapatista communities because in those I am familiar with women have those same rights because they are part of an independent campesino organization. In some traditional communities women do not have those rights.

the figure of subcomandante marcos looms over the zapatista movement; he is their revolutionary spokesman who himself is not an indigenous person. what occupies the subcomandante at present and what is he working on in twenty twelve?

I have no inside information about what “El Sup” is doing. However, the security of the Zapatista communities is a major concern now. The CCRI (the Zapatista movement’s commanders), which includes Marcos, is most likely focused on protecting the communities against an expected onslaught from the PRI. The CCRI is the Zapatista political/military governing body. (The good government juntas are the civilian governing bodies.) Marco may also be involved in plans for January 1, 2014, their 20th anniversary!

in two thousand and three the good government committees (juntas de buen gobierno) were established in chiapas. how are these operate and how do they co-ordinate the autonomous regions?

The Juntas are the regional civilian government in the 5 Zapatista regions. They resolve disputes that cannot be resolved at the local level (community or municipal level). They resolve disputes between husbands and wives, land disputes, disputes between Zapatistas and non-Zapatistas. They also oversee the distribution of funds received from NGOs and collectives. They decide who is and is not permitted within Zapatista territory.

in two thousand and six subcomandante marcos, in the guise of delegado cero, toured mexico in what became known as the other campaign. what were the objectives of this campaign and how successful was it?

The objective of the Other Campaign was to form a national civilian campaign to politically support the EZLN and hold a meeting to decide on a new constitution for Mexico. It was timed to draw a contrast to the presidential electoral campaigns of 2006. Initially, the Zapatista delegation drew enormous crowds and many people joined. However, the police terrorism against San Salvador Atenco unleashed violent repression on one of the Other Campaign’s most active and admired members and put a stop to the Other Campaign tour. After the new president (Felipe Calderon) took power in December 2006, he sent the Mexican Army into the streets to perform police functions and that led to the violent and deadly “Drug War,” which made safe travel impossible for the Zapatita commanders. In the short term, I think the Other Campaign had some success in uniting folks who shared Zapatista ideas. However, in the long term, I’m not sure it accomplished what the Zapatistas hoped for: a large national social movement led by the Zapatistas to peacefully transform Mexico.

after all these years what do you see as the significance of the zapataista revolt?

The first and by far the most significant gain to the Zapatistas is the recuperation of somewhere between 750,000 to one million acres of land for distribution to land-hungry indigenous campesinos belonging to the Zapatista movement. This has enabled Zapatistas to have enough land on which to grow food for their families and thereby decrease malnutrition and death. There is also enough land on which to grow a cash crop to provide income with which to buy other basic needs. Although the communities are still poor, the horrendous conditions in which they previously lived have been somewhat alleviated.

The second significant influence is the implementation of autonomy. Their construction of autonomous self-government provides the Left with an alternative to violent armed struggle for the purpose of taking power.

in what way have they influenced other movements and in which movements has their influence been felt?

The Zapatista analysis of neoliberalism has inspired movements around the world, as well as their analysis of government, political parties, “democracy” and most recently wars. The Zapatistas are believed to have inspired the formation of a World Social Forum. They are clearly the inspiration for indigenous movements in Mexico and the entire American continent (both hemispheres). Their influence is seen in the US Occupy movement and the new #YoSoy 132 movement in Mexico. Many European movements have also been inspired by the Zapatistas and they maintain relations with many important movements around the world.

what are the challenges for the zapatista movement in the future and what changes do you anticipate?

The July 1, 2012 election returned the PRI to power. The PRI is expected to respond more violently to protest from social movements than the PAN has for the past 12 years. The PRI thinks it has a score to settle with the Zapatistas on whom it blames the 2000 election defeat of its 70-year rule in Mexico. Many in Mexico believe that the Zapatistas are in for a violent counterinsurgency against them under the PRI. I expect security to tighten in Zapatista communities and the need for national and international solidarity to increase.

mary ann tenuto, thank you for speaking with us and a shout out of solidarity from powder

Introduction to the Chiapas Support Committee

The Chiapas Support Committee (CSC) is a grass-roots all-volunteer collective in Oakland, California founded in 1998. We serve as a center for information about Chiapas, the Zapatistas, Mexico and the Other Campaign. Our mission is to provide information on human rights issues in Mexico and to provide financial assistance to communities that are victims of human rights abuse.

In the Bay Area, and elsewhere in California, we provide public information by sponsoring community events and attending community festivals. Our newsletter, our information list and our blog ( provide information not only to the Bay Area, but many parts of California, the United States, Mexico and throughout the world. At the end of each month we send out a summary of key news items from that month to our info-list.

We organize a human rights delegation to Chiapas each year and we are authorized to accredit US applicants who wish to study Spanish or a Mayan language (Tsotsil) at the Zapatista language school in Oventik, Chiapas. Proceeds from the language school help support students at the autonomous Oventik secondary school (middle school)


In Mexico, we support and accompany indigenous and campesino communities. We have a partnership (hermanamiento) with San Manuel autonomous zapatista municipality in the region of the Caracol of La Garrucha. We are currently working with the Good Government Council in La Garrucha on an education project that encompasses all four autonomous municipalities in the region. The project’s purpose is to provide the funding for building schools and buying school supplies and teaching equipment. Our delegations visit the schools that have been constructed.

We have supported (since 1998) and continue to support the internally displaced Zapatistas in refugee camps located in San Pedro Polhó autonomous municipality in the Highlands. We buy artesanía and other products from the women’s weaving cooperative in Polhó, as well as from other Zapatista cooperatives, to support Zapatista production efforts.

Internationally, we are part of the international segment of the Other Campaign.



September 15, 2012

Crece alarma por agresiones a comunidades zapatistas

Filed under: Paramilitary, Repression, Sustainable rural cities, Uncategorized, Zapatista — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 8:05 pm

Crece alarma por agresiones a comunidades zapatistas

ONG internacionales piden a autoridades detener violencia

Es una guerra que se intensifica todos los días, afirma Gustavo Esteva

Hermann Bellinghausen

Periódico La Jornada
Sábado 15 de septiembre de 2012, p. 14

Ante la agresión abiertamente paramilitar que se desarrolla contra comunidades del municipio autónomo La Dignidad en la zona norte de Chiapas, crece la preocupación entre los grupos de solidaridad con el movimiento zapatista y colectivos de la Otra Campaña en México y el mundo por el alarmante grado que está alcanzando la escalada contrainsurgente.

De distintos países llegan expresiones de apoyo, demandando la intervención de las autoridades federales y estatales para detener la violencia y los hostigamientos contra las comunidades Comandante Abel, San Marcos Avilés y otras, en los municipio oficiales de Sabanilla, Tila, Ocosingo, Las Margaritas y Chilón, principalmente.

Para el escritor Gustavo Esteva, eshora de resistencia y solidaridad. En referencia a Francisco Sántiz López, base de apoyo del EZLN en Teopisca, actualmente preso sin otro motivo que no sea la persecución política, y la asediada comunidad San Marcos Avilés, dice: “Son frentes de batalla de esa gran guerra que se intensifica todos los días en las comunidades zapatistas porque su resistencia camina, porque todos los días se afirman en su autonomía, consolidan sus logros y los llevan más lejos. El mal gobierno observa cómo se enriquece la resistencia zapatista, cómo se extienden sus formas propias de aprender y sus formas de justicia y sus formas de sanar y todas sus formas de vivir, y cómo, a pesar de todo lo que hacen contra ellos, la nueva realidad social, la que funda una forma de existencia diferente, se contagia y afirma.

Los ataques no van dirigidos contra la debilidad, contra lo que está triste o muerto. Se ataca lo que florece, lo vigoroso, lo que es fuente de inspiración y sirve de ejemplo. Los demonios están sueltos. La guerra anda por todas partes. Y por todas partes anda también la solidaridad, la decisión de estar juntos en esta lucha común que ya no respeta territorios.

Colectivos del Estado Español, Francia, Italia y Reino Unido manifestaron conjuntamente su indignación ante la represión que vive Comandante Abel y señalaron que en las semanas recientes hemos sido testigos de los múltiples agravios y pisoteos que han recibido los compañeros del ejido San Carlos, municipio autónomo San Pedro de Michoacán, ubicado en el Caracol de La Realidad, y del ejido de Moisés Gandhi, región Che Guevara, municipio autónomo Lucio Cabañas, en el Caracol de Morelia.

El Comité Noruego de Solidaridad con América Latina apunta que Comandante Abel es una comunidad de dignos y valientes compañeros y compañeras hostigados, agredidos, cazados y asesinados desde los años 90 por paramilitares del Paz y Justicia y posteriormente miembros del PRI y UCIAF.

A un año de la última invasión de sus tierras, en septiembre de 2011,los paramilitares volvieron con lujo de violencia y soltando disparos hacía los hombres, mujeres y niños que pacíficamente e indefensos resisten debajo de los árboles y bejucos para defender la tierra y sus vidas.

En Alemania se anunció la fundación del Comité de Berlín en Apoyo de los Zapatistas en San Marcos Avilés, en donde un grupoleal al gobierno los expulsó de la comunidad en 2010. Sus milpas fueron ocupadas o quemadas, sus casas y haberes devastadas y destruidas. Después de una odisea de un mes, los habitantes regresaron, habiendo sufrido hambre severa durante el desalojo. Aunque ahora hay un campamento civil internacional por la paz en la comunidad, los zapatistas enfrentan regularmente amenazas, robo, destrucción de sus milpas o ataques físicos.

También se han dado pronunciamientos en Uruguay, Estados Unidos y Argentina. La Red contra la Represión y por la Solidaridad de la Otra Campaña llamó hoy en San Cristóbal de las Casas a crear una red de acopio de víveres para Comandante Abel que operará hasta el próximo enero, así como la organización de brigadas de observación.



July 4, 2012


Filed under: Bachajon, Other Campaign, Paramilitary, Political prisoners, Sustainable rural cities, Tourism — Tags: — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 5:26 pm
The struggle for territory in San Sebastián Bachajón is once again met with repression

 The indigenous peoples of San Sebastián Bachajón once again tried to exercise their rights over their territory by taking back the ticket booth at the Agua Azul waterfalls; the government’s response was the same as always: repression and paramilitaries.

Chiapas, México. This past June 19, members of the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle (SDSL in Spanish) of the San Sebastián Bachajón Ejido (SSB) in Chiapas took back the Agua Azul Waterfalls ticket booth. The response from the government of Juan Sabines’ Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) was the same as always: a violent and repressive removal and a flagrant violation of the human and collective rights of the members of the San Sebastián Bachajón cooperative.

Taking back what is legitimately theirs, and solidarity with national demands 
During the early morning of this past June 19, members of San Sebastián Bachajón, tired of suffering so much injustice, entered the “Agua Azul Waterfalls” complex to take back the ticket booth located at the entrance. As a native tzetzal village in the region, the booth rightfully and legitimately belongs to them, but Juan Sabines’ government in Chiapas took it from them on February 2, 2011. At the same time, the members set up a roadblock near Agua Azul, where they distributed flyers and demanded the release of three political prisoners from the San Sebastián Bachajón cooperative, as well as the immediate release of Alberto Patishtán Gómez and the Zapatista Francisco Sántiz López. This action took place within the framework of a disjointed national and international action called for June 19, with the goal of demanding the release of Alberto Patishtán Gómez—on the twelfth anniversary of his detention—and the rest of the political prisoners in the country.

One of the San Sebastián Bachajón cooperative’s spokespeople explained during the mobilization: “This current movement is part of a process that we are carrying out to take back a part of the cooperative’s land, which the government has been trying to violently strip us of since last February 2. And so we as organizations and members of the San Sebastián Bachajón cooperative want to retake this piece of land that Juan Sabines’ government wants to take away from us.

Another violent removal under Juan Sabines’ PRD government 
Hours later, at approximately six-thirty in the morning, the scene around the entrance to Agua Azul was very different. Twelve trucks carrying 800 state police troopers arrived, directed by the cooperative’s former commissioner, Manuel Jiménez, identified by the members as the main informant and collaborator with Juan Sabines’ government and the secretary of government, Noé Castañon. According to reporters present, they used excessive violence to forcibly remove the members, beating women and men, causing bodily harm and leaving “bruises everywhere.” Two people needed medical attention to treat injuries resulting from the beatings.

No respect for the current protection: one more rights violation
The spokesperson for San Sebastián Bachajón admits that those affected by the removal were surprised by the attitude of Juan Sabines’ government. “They removed us violently. The only thing that we wanted was to take back the part of the land that the state government is stripping us of, and to keep its plans for the transnational project from gaining strength. There is a document from 2010 that states that nearly a hectare of land was donated to the organization. And in 2011, Francisco Guzmán Jiménez, the cooperative’s current commissioner, gave it to the governor of the state.”

The Bachajón spokesperson is referencing protection 274/2011, which was promoted by the members of San Sebastián Bachajón—who were advised by the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Centre for Human Rights—to defend the territory that belongs to them and houses the ticket booth. The request for protection is being processed, but for some reason it is taking longer than normal and there still hasn’t been a response. Nonetheless, under the protection there shouldn’t be any police presence in the area. There is information that says that the operation was ordered by Noé Castañón, at the request of Francisco Guzmán Jiménez. “The governor of the state, with the aid of the secretary of government, Noé Castañon, are above the law, and so they are ignoring the ruling. They are also not respecting the laws that they themselves have passed. We the indigenous people are demanding our rights as cooperative members,” says the spokesperson.

A little context
The cooperative—a plot of communally owned land—is located in the centre of the jungle region in Chiapas, an official municipality of Chilón in the autonomous Zapatista region of San José en Rebeldía. It is home to some of the most beautiful natural landscapes in the world: the Agua Azul Waterfalls. A tourism complex has been built at Agua Azul, and has been the target of financial speculation by large hotel consortia for more than 20 years. Ever since the six-year presidential term of Carlos Salinas, government authorities have raised their expectations to convert the Agua Azul Waterfalls into the centre/nucleus of a tourist corridor to compete with Cancun: the Fully Planned Centre-Agua Azul Waterfalls (CIP-CAA in Spanish). Today, the CIP-CAA is linked to the Mundo Maya tourism project, which brings together Central American and Mexican investors and governments in their quest to speculate even with the last of the land still belonging to the indigenous peoples of Mesoamerica, who have protected them for centuries.

Defending the jungle means defending life itself
Ever since 2008, the members of the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle of the San Sebastián Bachajón Cooperative have been fighting tirelessly. Their struggle is one to defend their legitimate and recognized right, as an indigenous tzetzal people, for free determination on the territory where they live, for the land and resources. The members are opposed to the state and federal governments’ strategy of removing them from the territory where the Agua Azul Waterfalls are located for economic reasons having to do with the great touristic potential of the region. But the members of the cooperative aren’t “simply” defending the territory in order to survive as families and villages; given the magnitude of the foreseeable impact of the tourism project, the struggle of the members of Bachajón represents an important defence against the irreversible destruction of the jungle itself and the biodiversity that exists in Chiapas.

Taking back the booth 
In 2008, the members took back the ticket booth at the entrance of the Agua Azul tourism complex. According to the members of Bachajón, the booth generated income for 2 thousand families in 192 communities. It represented a step towards the fulfilment of the goals of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the ILO’s Convention 169 (1), since both international agreements stipulate that natural resources must benefit the indigenous people themselves, and that the income generated serve to strengthen their own political, cultural and economic institutions.

However, the act of taking back the booth has had serious consequences for the members of San Sebastián Bachajón, as Juan Sabines’ government has violently stripped them of the booth on multiple occasions. On February 2, 2011, party members paid and co-opted by the state government provoked a clash which resulted in the arbitrary detention of 117 people, and the ticket booth being removed. Some of those who were detained on that day spent more than 5 months in prison. And so the mobilization this past June 19 to take back the ticket booth occurred a year and a half after it was taken from them. At the same time, the aforementioned request for protection is ongoing, but there has still been no response.

Violence is becoming a part of daily life for the inhabitants of the region 
While there are plans for expanding the tourism industry in Chiapas, paradoxically promoted as “ecotourism,” the policy of Juan Sabines’ government is causing a lot of suffering and—perhaps irreversible—damage to the social fabric of the region. Repeated arbitrary detentions, forced disappearances, the extensive use of torture, daily threats, attacks carried out by the paramilitary organizations Opddic and Uciaf and people affiliated with the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and the Ecologist Green Party of Mexico (PVEM) have been serious. The region is turning into a veritable “red flag” signalling the intensity of the repression in Chiapas (2).

Then there are the political prisoners Antonio Estrada (in the Centre for Social Rehabilitation –CERSS—17), Miguel Vázquez (in CERSS 16) and Miguel Demeza (CERSS 14), with fabricated charges against them. This past May 10, members of the paramilitary group Uciaf and militants of the PRI and the Green party carried out an armed ambush on the residents of San Sebastián Bachajón, leaving the minor Javier Pérez Jiménez in serious condition (3). While there is violent repression against those opposed to the financial plans, the government is also implementing economic assistance programs. This is the counterinsurgency strategy that was developed once the Secretary of National Defence’s (Sedena) 1994 Campaign Plan was implemented in all of Chiapas. It would seem like this is a never-ending story. With the elections only 1 month away, the PRD and Juan Sabines Guerrero are attempting to clear the territory so that their colleagues can continue with the policy of wealth accumulation at the cost of the future of the indigenous peoples and mother earth.

1. United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (articles 4 and 20). ILO Convention 169 (articles 14.1 and 15.1)

2. The attacks carried out by the paramilitary groups and the government repression have been documented since 2008 by various media and statements and reports by the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Centre For Human Rights. For more recent information, refer to Paramilitares atacan a ejidatarios de San Sebastián Bachajón; uno agoniza, dicen, Bellinghausen, Herman. 1May 11, 2012. [1]; or the Informe Especial: Gobierno crea y administra conflictos para el control territorial en Chiapas, Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Bartolomé de las Casas,

3. Ibid.

Originally published in Spanish by Desinformemonos

Americas Program Original Translation by David Feldman
See Spanish Original


June 10, 2012


Filed under: Sustainable rural cities — Tags: — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 4:12 pm

Sustainable Rural Cities – “Violated rights, campesinos forcibly urbanized”

From: SIPAZ Report Vol. XVII Nº 2 – May 2012

CRS Santiago El Pinar<br /><br /><br /><br />
                                              © SIPAZIn May 2012, the member-organizations of the Peace Network in Chiapas and the Collective for Kollective Analysis and Investigation (CAIK) published a report summarizing a Civil Mission of Observation in the Sustainable Rural Cities (CRS) Programme that took place in October 2011. This article highlights several parts of this report. According to the government, the CRS Programme has as its central objective “To concentrate the dispersed population that resides in small marginalized communities into a nucleus that does not disrupt their lives, respects their identity, and strengthens their citizenship.” Regardless, the Civil Mission was able to prove that this objective has not been fulfilled and it argues that instead the Programme “has violated and continues to violate the right to self-determination of the peoples and communities and has resettled them by displacing them from their territory.” Furthermore, it stresses that other interests are part of the efforts to displace the people from their communities under the pretext that this is the only way of improving their access to basic services and of rescuing those who live in “risk zones.”

Photo: CRS Santiago El Pinar © SIPAZ

Rural cities as “response to poverty”

The Chiapas state government sees the principal cause of poverty as being the dispersion of populations in a state that without a doubt occupies second place in level of marginalization at the national level, preceded by Guerrero and followed by Oaxaca (National Institute on Statistics and Geography, INEGI 2010). According to the argument of the government, that rural communities find themselves far from populated centres makes complicated their access to basic services like electricity, potable water, education, and health. As a response, during the six-year term of the present state government, the CRS Programme has been developed. Instead of providing services to people in their own communities, these peoples are moved toward existing services and concentrated in rural cities. In the majority of the observed cases, affected peoples have neither been consulted nor informed in a correct, complete, and anticipated fashion regarding these radical changes in their lifestyles.

Millennium Development Goals in the Chiapas state Constitution

Chicken farm,<br /><br /><br /><br />
                                              Santiago El Pinar © SIPAZThe CRS Programme can be included within the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that were established by the United Nations in 2000. The MDGs prioritize combating extreme poverty. Despite the fact that there are challenges regarding the MDGs—the most important one being that the necessities of different peoples across the globe cannot be standardized—the Chiapas state Congress included the MDGs in its Constitution in July 2009. In the case of Chiapas, it has been observed that for the same reason a distortion was generated in seeking better specific rates without addressing the structural character of poverty (for example, the case of maternal mortality, as has been illustrated by researcher Graciela Freyermuth).

Photo: Chicken farm, Santiago El Pinar © SIPAZ

Sustainable Rural Cities in Chiapas

Presently there exist 7 CRSs in different stages of planning, construction, or inhabitation in Chiapas. The two rural cities that already have people residing in them are Santiago el Pinar and Nuevo Juan del Grijalva. In September 2009, Felipe Calderón, President of the Republic, inaugurated the “first sustainable rural city in the world”: Nuevo Juan del Grijalva(1). Santiago el Pinar, the second rural city located in the Highlands of Chiapas, was also inaugurated by Calderón in April 2011. Two other rural cities are currently being constructed, named Ixhuatán and Jaltenango, together with two sustainable rural villas: Jitotól and Emiliano Zapata. Another CRS in the planning stages—Soconusco—will be located on the Coast. There exists contradictory information regarding the possibility of building a CRS in Copainalá, although the first stone has already been set.

Human-rights violations committed by the CRS Programme

The report made by the Observation Mission affirms that several human rights are violated by the CRS Programme, with the consequence of generally violating the right to self-determination. Several testimonies suggest that, during the planning stages of relocation, state officials employed both promises and threats to remove all the support communities had if they chose not to accept resettlement. This pressure has caused many people finally to accede to being transferred to rural cities, given that they come to see it as their only choice.

CRS Santiago El Pinar<br /><br /><br /><br />
                                              © SIPAZThis transfer implies a radical change in the lives of those it affects, debilitating the food sovereignty that in one way or another the majority of people could enjoy in their communities of origin: “In the cities we must buy everything,” summarized someone interviewed by the Observation Mission. For his part, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food observed after visiting Santiago el Pinar and Nuevo Juan de Grijalva in June 2011 that the CRS Programme does not improve access to food for its residents. He also called for “an independent and comprehensive evaluation of the experiences of Nuevo Juan de Grijalva and Santiago el Pinar before the establishment of new settlements following the same model”(2).

Photo: CRS Santiago El Pinar © SIPAZ

CRS Santiago El Pinar<br /><br /><br /><br />
                                              © SIPAZIn the different stages of the Programme’s development, those directly affected were not consulted as to how it was that they would like to live in their new communities. In terms of types of homes, for example, residents of Nuevo Juan del Grijalva reported that “They didn’t ask for anyone’s opinion; experts from Mexico City came, and they were the ones who planned it all.” In the end, residents have been granted fairly small plots of land, and homes are 36 square meters in size (and also often made up of prebuilt materials that do not resist rain well) for families that are at times large. Former residents of the Sayula community who were then displaced to Nuevo Juan del Grijalva stressed that “the government told us that it would give us a larger and more comfortable house, but these are rats’ nests.” On another hand, in their communities, they were accustomed to cooking with firewood, but in the CRS homes they do not have separated kitchens, such that to cook with firewood would be dangerous.

Photo: CRS Santiago El Pinar © SIPAZ

Regarding the right to land, the rural cities generally are located many hours of travel from communities of origin. Due to lack of labour options, though, men often travel to their former lands, staying there for a week or two so as not to spend too much on transport. This situation also leads to family breakdown. In some cases, the move to the rural city has implied the loss of titles to land. The residents of Nuevo Juan del Grijalva, for example, were promised compensation for losing their lands following landslides in 2007. However, they never received this money, and in fact some were incarcerated for having protested this situation. Some of these lands were expropriated by the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE), which then started to work the lands, possibly to build a new dam.(3)

The violation of the right to work is related to the right to land, given that campesinos/as are accustomed to living in this way. In their new surroundings they do not have the chance to continue working in this manner. A central part of the CRS Programme, according to its own objectives, is to provide employment to its residents. Regardless, the options that exist do not generate enough income to sustain families, nor are there sufficient jobs for everyone. The chicken farm and the greenhouse for flowers in Santiago el Pinar, or the dairy plant in Nuevo Juan del Grijalva, do not generate enough money, such that people come to see it as necessary to return to their lands to continue sowing crops or seeking other options outside the CRS. As a resident of Nuevo Juan del Grijalva notes, “the government promised us much work, employment, and all that. But what has happened is that until now we have not had work.”

The supposed beneficiaries have made criticisms of even the central aspects of the programme: access to services. Several commentators for example noted that the proximity of a hospital did not guarantee the quality of the services provided. In an article in the weekly Mirada Sur (5 March 2012), a picture was painted of the situation in Santiago el Pinar that is perhaps even more distressing than that which was seen during the Observation Mission’s visit. It notes that in that time, of the more than 2000 residents of the CRS, only 10 families were actually residing there. In an interview, Domingo Gómez Gómez, a municipal official for Santiago El Pinar, reported that the water-treatment plant was not functioning, and so there was no water. Due to the debts owed to the Federal Electricity Commission (more than 1.6 million pesos), there was no electricity. For this reason, the hospital could not operate 24 hours a day, nor was there potable water.

Economic and political interests behind the CRS Programme

According to the member-organizations of the Civil Mission, behind the official objectives for social and economic development of marginalized populations, one finds economic interests of national and international firms and political interests of the governments that are also being served through the dislodging of the present residents from their lands.

Mining and electrical energy

The growing number of concessions granted to Canadian, U.S., and British mining companies in Mexican territory is relevant to the context of the CRS Programme. In the last 2 six-year terms an estimated 28,000 concessions have been awarded in Mexico with hundred-year terms. A December 2008 report by the Centre for Economic and Political Investigation for Communal Action (CIEPAC) stressed that “from the view of the government and the firms, the Rural Cities can ‘solve’ the question of what to do with thousands of families that will be forcibly displaced from their lands to give way for mineral extraction and the dams that would be built to satisfy the needs of mining corporations.” For example, in the case of Ixhuatán, the area of mining interests is the same as that of the construction of the rural city. The residents of Nueva Esperanza who will be displaced to Ixhuatán commented in detail to the Civil Mission regarding the work that the mines carry out and how these operations deal with the ejido so that it allows them to work freely: “They entered, began to drill and blast; when they were blasting, they gave us 200,000 for the ejido […]. They are foreigners, from Canada.” The displacement of the population could give a free pass to the Cangold Limited mining firm that also could use it for cheap labor.

Beyond this, the Federal Electricity Commission announced in July 2010 its plans to build a new hydroelectric dam on the Grijalva River, called Copainalá Dam or Chicoasén II. To compensate the communities that would have to be moved, there are plans to install clinics and schools. In the case of Nuevo Juan del Grijalva, peoples were resettled in the rural city after a 2007 landslide. Nonetheless, there exist strong suspicions(4) that the landslide was not caused by rains but was instead provoked by dynamite. Shortly after the landslide, the CFE built two tunnels in the zone to generate electricity, according to the words of residents.

Rural Cities and<br /><br /><br /><br />
                                              Resource Priorities. ©<br /><br /><br /><br />
                                              CIEPAC, A.C.

Rural Cities and Resource Priorities. © CIEPAC, A.C.

Productive reconversion and cultivation of agro fuels

The project Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Environmental Degradation REDD Plus (REDD+) is related to the CRS Programme, given that residents are encouraged toward a productive reconversion that forces them to abandon the production of their own food. For example, in the case of the planned CRS in Copainalá, governor Juan Sabines requested that agricultural producers switch to alternative crops such as that of pine varieties that are used to produce biodiesel. In the Acapetahua municipality, where the rural city of the Soconusco region will be built, the greatest concentration of the production of African palm in the state is located. This crop also serves as an agro fuel. Regarding these questions, the Las Abejas Civil Society noted in September 2010 that the government “now does not want us to have our milpas and cultivate other ancestral foodstuffs, but rather to sow African palm and agro fuel pine. With the milpa and beans we feed ourselves. Palms and pine trees produce agro combustibles to feed cars.”(5).

The ‘ecological’ interests of the plans for state and federal development imply that the communities residing within biological reserves be resettled, or that they not use these lands for agricultural activities. Communities in the El Triunfo biosphere, for example, see it as necessary to resettle in the Jaltenango CRS because the Chiapas state government has entered the carbon-trade market, using this ecological reserve.


Journalist Hermann Bellinghausen notes that the “creation of these urban ‘poles’ is promoted by large-scale firms in the consumer universe: Televisión Azteca, its banking and retail trade firm and Elektra, Telcel, Coppel, a chain of ‘convenience’ stores, and the largest consortiums for paint and cement.”(6) He affirms furthermore that the CRS Program “serves a function in systematic counterinsurgency, given that it is developed in indigenous communities of southeastern Mexico to disrupt their lives and expel them from their territories.” During the forum “Exclusion… neoliberal inclusion” organized by research and university centers in May, Marcos Arana, investigator for the Salvador Zubirán National Institute for Medical and Nutritional Studies, compared the project with the strategic hamlets established in Vietnam in 1962 toward the end of dismantling communities and their links to the land and collectivity. In the case of Santiago el Pinar, the location presumably responds also to political interests. In 1999, the government created this municipality to arrest the growing presence of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) in the area. The CRS is located in this same municipality, close to the Zapatista caracol of Oventic as well as the autonomous municipalities of San Andrés Sakamch’en de los Pobres and San Juan de la Libertad.

Mobilizations against “death projects” and looting

Press Conference of<br /><br /><br /><br />
                                              the Peace Network on the<br /><br /><br /><br />
                                              Civil Mission of<br /><br /><br /><br />
                                              Observation in the<br /><br /><br /><br />
                                              Sustainable Rural Cities<br /><br /><br /><br />
                                              (CRS) Program, May 2012 ©<br /><br /><br /><br />
                                              SIPAZAs has been previously mentioned, the CRS Programme from the beginning has been strongly criticized by organized civil society. On 19 November 2010, for example, more than a thousand Catholics from 11 municipalities of the Chiapas Highlands carried out a pilgrimage in San Cristóbal de Las Casas to manifest their opposition to mineral exploitation and the construction of dams and rural cities, all projects they consider to be “death projects.”

Photo: Press Conference of the Peace Network on the Civil Mission of
Observation in the Sustainable Rural Cities (CRS)
Programme, May 2012 © SIPAZ

Beyond this, following the Regional Forum for the Defence of Human Rights carried out in San Cristóbal de Las Casas in December 2011, participants pronounced themselves in opposition to “the continuation of policies of construction of rural cities, because these affect the traditional forms of production and modes of life of the local population; beyond this, the new cities do not provide better access to services, as had been promised.” They indicate that this policy of resettlement that is promoted with the rural cities “is a veiled form of forced displacement that favours economic interests that are foreign to the communities”

Furthermore, nearly two years ago, in August 2010, in a communiqué released by the San Pedro Chenalhó parish, believers associated with this community expressed their rejection of the possible construction of a rural city in their municipality. In the communiqué they clarified that “We are concerned that the rural cities project will be imposed and not be consulted with the people, whether they are in agreement or not […]. This leads us to the conclusion of definitively rejecting the construction of rural cities, because it is clear that this plan is made so that we abandon our lands, thus allowing transnational firms to occupy them. Once our populations are concentrated, they can control us better, forcing us to cultivate other crops that will not be those of the milpa, beans, and so on.”

    1. Inauguró el Presidente de la República la Ciudad Rural Sustentable Nuevo Juan del Grijalva
    2. Declaración final de la misión, Naciones Unidas Alto Comisionado para los Derechos Humanos
    3. De la tierra al asfalto, Informe de la Misión Civil de Observación de la Red por la Paz Chiapas y CAIK al Programa de Ciudades Rurales Sustentables, 2012
    4. These suspicions are based on the testimony of peoples in the area obtained during the Observation Mission as well as in a study carried out by the Mexican League for Human Rights (LIMEDDH).
    5. Chiapas: opening of new Sustainable Rural City in Los Altos
    6. Adiós a la tierra, La Jornada Suplemento Ojarasca

May 31, 2012


Filed under: Sustainable rural cities — Tags: — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 6:12 pm

On the 10th of May 2012 the Network for Peace in Chiapas and the Collective of Analysis and Information CAIK presented the report of the Civil Mission of Observation to the Sustainable Cities Programme.

In October 2011, the member organizations of the Network for Peace in Chiapas and the Collective of Analysis and Information (CAIK) conducted a civil monitoring mission of the two already inhabited Sustainable Rural Cities, and four that are under construction or planning, in order to document the current situation in terms of human rights in which the population is directly affected by the Sustainable Rural Cities Programme (CRS Program) that the government of Chiapas is developing in the state.

Following the Civil Monitoring Mission, we present: From land to asphalt. Report of the civil monitoring mission of the Network for Peace in Chiapas and CAIK to the Sustainable Rural Cities programme.

The main conclusions of the report were:

In September 2009, President Felipe Calderón inaugurated the first Sustainable Rural City in the world, called “Nuevo Juan de Grijalva”, a body which, according to officials of the government was the final answer to poverty and dispersion. Under this pretext and that the villages are in the danger zone, and without being consulted and reported previously, communities were or will be relocated to Sustainable Rural Cities.

However, this response of ‘development’ to poverty in the countryside has been strongly criticized by the people who have to be displaced as well as by individuals and civil society organizations. The attention to communities doesn’t seem to be the first aim of this programme, since the interests of private companies often play an important role, as well as certain political interests of the state and federal governments.

Behind the Sustainable Rural Cities Programme there is an underlying territorial restructuring process that is carried out through State structures responding to interests dictated from multinational financial institutions to establish a new social order. The federal and state governments have implemented a number of projects and programmes which portray the goal of eradicating poverty and contribute to the development of people, but in the background they are processes of community disintegration and cultural and territorial dispossession . This process of uprooting dismantles any possibility for people to exercise their right to self determination.

The testimonies of those affected, as reflected in this report, demonstrate the different ways in which the SRC programme violates several internationally recognized human rights of displaced persons to such population centres, including the right to self-determination.

The human rights violations documented by the organizations that participated in this mission testify that people were not involved nor consulted in any phase of this project. On the contrary, most were displaced by threatening to dismantle the infrastructure of services in their communities, or by provoking fear of living in risk zones declared by the government. These violations of the people’s rights are against international conventions on human rights signed and ratified by the Mexican government.

There is also a concern that any collective capacity to decide how to organize a community, and any attempt at social construction coming from indigenous people and peasants and which diverges from the state’s interests, seems to be destined to fragmentation, cancellation or criminalization.

Red por la Paz Chiapas
Educación para la Paz (EduPaz)
Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Bartolomé de las Casas (Frayba)
Enlace Comunicación y Capacitación
Servicio Internacional para la Paz (SIPAZ)
Servicios y Asesoría para la Paz (SERAPAZ)
Comisión de Apoyo a la Unidad y Reconciliación Comunitaria (CORECO)
Desarrollo Económico y Social de los Mexicanos Indígenas (DESMI)
Comité de Derechos Humanos Fray Pedro Lorenzo de la Nada
Centro de Derechos de la Mujer Chiapas
Centro de Derechos Indígenas (CEDIAC)
Colectivo de Análisis e Información Kolectiva (CAIK)

Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas A.C.
Calle Brasil #14, Barrio Mexicanos,
San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, México
Código Postal: 29240
Tel +52 (967) 6787395, 6787396, 6783548
Fax +52 (967) 6783551

May 23, 2012


Filed under: Lacandon/ montes azules, Other Campaign, Political prisoners, Sustainable rural cities, Zapatista — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 7:59 pm


 Beginning of the “Week for Global Struggle for the Release of Patishtán and Sántiz López: To Tear Down the Walls of the Dungeon”By means of a press-conference carried out in the offices of the Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Centre for Human Rights (CDHFBC) on 14 May, there began the “Week for Global Struggle for the Release of Patishtán and Sántiz López: To Tear Down the Walls of the Prison.” This campaign, from 15 to 22 May, demands the release of the teacher Alberto Patishtán, a member of the “Voz del Amate,” an organization of prisoners who are adherents to the Other Campaign, who was 8 months ago transferred to a high-security prison in Sonora.

Ignacio del Valle, director of the Front of Peoples in Defence of the Land of San Salvador Atenco and a former political prisoner, initiated the event by reading the final pronunciation of the “Forum against political prison and for the release of Alberto Patishtán,” which took place some days previously. This pronunciation says that “We see that repression is constant, a means by which those from above use that does not end and that is an intrinsic part of the system that causes violence to be polarized in the extreme, as the exclusive monopoly of the State. The prison is the dissuasive tool with which the government maintains social and political control.”

At the event there was projected a video-address from the Movement for Justice in the Barrio of New York, and there was read a communiqué from the Oventik Good-Government Council that addressed the case of Francisco Sántiz López, a Zapatista support-base who was “unjustly detained six months ago and who continues to be incarcerated.”

In other news, there were reports regarding the struggle in Alberto Patishtán’s birthplace, El Bosque, where residents declared themselves in support of his release, as well as regarding the present situation in Guasave, Sinaloa. The conference ended with the words of his daughter: “nearly eight months after his transfer, we demand justice and the return of our father–free.”

 Forum against political prison and for the release of Alberto Patishtán Gómez

On 12 and 13 May there was held in the CIDECI-Unitierra of San Cristóbal de Las Casas a Forum against political prison and for the release of Alberto Patishán Gómez that was organized by the Network against Repression and for Solidarity. More than 200 people of different nationalities and members from more than 50 organizations participated in the Forum, in addition to representatives of communities and collectives from around Mexico as well as other countries.

The words of the prisoners arrived by means of speeches given by relatives of theirs, as well as human-rights centres, members of the Other Campaign, community representatives, and teachers from El Bosque as well as civil organizations from Oaxaca, Veracruz, Guerrero, Mexico state, and Mexico City. Also the voice of the prisoners was present via audio recordings made in the Ceferezo, the maximum-security prison in Guasave, Sinaloa, where Patishtán is being held, that of those in Solidarity with la Voz del Amate from CERSS No. 5 of San Cristóbal de Las Casas, and that of Máximo Mojice from Guerrero. Also video-presentations were shown, including one made by comrades of the Movement for Justice in the Barrio (New York), and letters written by international solidarity organizations were read in addition.

On 13 May, there were held different work-tables toward the end of creating a calendar of struggle regarding political prison and the struggle to liberate Alberto Patishtán, putting special attention on the imprisoned comrades who were represented at the forum.

These are some of the actions that were carried out later and which come during the Global Week for the release of Alberto Patishtán and Francisco Sántiz “To tear down the walls”: On 15 May begins the global week to demand his release and that of Francisco Sántiz López, and on 18 May there will be a mobilization in El Bosque to demand the return of Patishtán. Collectives from different countries have agreed to join the actions of that week.

Chiapas: March to commemorate Itzel Méndez Pérez and to resist feminicide

In observation of the day against feminicide and violence against women, some 1200 persons in San Cristóbal de Las Casas and more than a hundred in Tuxtla Gutiérrez mobilized in a simultaneous protest on 14 May with banners denouncing feminicide and violence against women in Chiapas. They declared the two cities to be “insecure and violent.”

The march in San Cristóbal left from the Department of Social Studies of the Autonomous University of Chiapas, directing itself toward the Sonora Fraccionamiento, where on 14 April was murdered Itzel Janet Méndez Pérez, of 17 years of age. From there it came to the Cathedral Plaza, where it demanded that authorities ensure security protocols and professional investigations that not be tainted by gender prejudice.

Roberto Méndez and Lucía Pérez, the parents of Itzel, lamented that there are not conditions of security and protection for the citizens of San Cristóbal, where violence against women has steadily increased. “We cannot do nothing; we cannot even walk safely through the streets […]. We request that the state and federal governments do something,” said Lucía Pérez, Itzel’s mother. Roberto Méndez, her father, demanded justice “for all raped and murdered women. I want justice not just for Itzel but also but all other women who they have been murdering in this country and in Chiapas. I demand justice because to lose a daughter is a pain that cannot be imagined. I demand justice because our beautiful city of San Cristóbal is full of evil.”

Martha Figueroa Mier, from the Mercedes Olivera Feminist Collective, assured that in accordance with press reports, from January to April there have been 20 feminicides in Chiapas, and no justice has been made in the any of the cases. “In 2011, the State Attorney General’s Office reported more than 100 murders of women in Chiapas. We have requested that the Office establish protection protocols for women. We have requested that it create a scientific police to investigate the murders, because in the investigations they establish that the women are murdered for going out at night, or for dressing provocatively. With this, no one is found responsible for the violence against us,” she expressed. She added that on average there are 5 women murdered each month. The activist recalled that tourist women have also been raped by taxi drivers, and that municipal police have also attacked European tourists.

Regarding the number of cases of feminicides in Chiapas, this varies according to the source. According to the data of the Chamber of Commerce and associations of the tourist sector of San Cristóbal de Las Casas, “there were two murders of women in 2011.” So in what has passed of 2012 the case of the youth Itzel Méndez Pérez is the first such case, according to Cuarto Poder.

Chiapas: Las Abejas seek godfather for a survivor of the Acteal massacre

In a communiqué published on 15 May 2012, the Las Abejas Civil Society made a call to national and international society to find a godfather or godmother for Catarina Méndez Paciencia, 34 years of age, “one of the people who was injured in the Acteal massacre, a survivor.” They explain that they seek a person “who could cover the economic costs implied by her medical visits and her specialized rehabilitation in Mexico City, toward the end of improving her physical and psychological conditions.”

In the same communiqué, Las Abejas explain that after the division of their organization in 2008, the State stopped providing medical attention to the injured “as a punishment for not allowing the federal and state governments to manipulate us regarding justice for the Acteal case.” They detail that “since then we have had to ourselves attend as an organization to our comrades who were injured, using the voluntary cooperation of those in solidarity with our struggle and organization. But this dynamic is not effective, as it is with difficulty that we have been succeeding in raising enough for all of Catarina’s medical appointments. For this reason, we call out to those of good will to help our comrade to sense accompaniment and to be happy and assured that she can have medical attention whenever she should need it.”

If you have the means for this, do not hesitate to communicate with the Las Abejas Civil Society:

Women march against militarization

On 11 May around 400 persons, a majority of them women, carried out a march from the Teopisca municipality to Amatenango del Valle to protest against militarization, high electricity-prices charged by the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE), and mineral exploitation.

The members of different organizations and municipalities denounced that on 2 February, members of the Secretary of the Navy and the Army took ejidal lands to install a camp without authorization from the owners in the Madronal neighborhood of Amatenango del Valle. They met in a rally in the central park of Amatenango, where they read several communiqués, one of which notes that “We do not understand what you are doing; you have entered our homes seeking arms and at night you patrol other communities; you take our lands and do not know what you are doing there; we do not need the Army to come care for us. What we demand is that our autonomy, languages, and cultures as indigenous be respected.”

Pronunciation by the Mission for Observation to communities threatened with displacement from the Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve

From 29 April to 4 May there was held a Civil Mission of Observation and Solidarity organized by the Rural Association for Collective Interests (ARIC UU ID) which visited the communities of Salvador Allende, Ranchería Corozal, and San Gregorio in the Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve (RIBMA). These communities are threatened with possible eviction, despite having possessed their lands for more than 3 decades, on the charges that they are deteriorating the environment and so no longer have the right to their land.

The objectives of the Mission were to document the commitment of the three communities to caring for the land and the environment, the possible human-rights violations against these peoples before the conflict, and to express solidarity from civil society as well as to reject the prospect of their displacement.

On 9 May, members of the mission announced that they would compile a report detailing the visit, revealing that “We could expect that the drive to unjustly deprive them of their livelihoods by forcibly displacing them on ‘ecological’ grounds would violate their most basic rights to life, land, territory, conservation of communal natural resources, and their human rights in general.”

They affirmed that “As national and international observers, we observe with alarm and indignation that environmental pretexts are used to cover up the reality of so-called ‘green business’ so as to approve a new action of looting against indigenous peoples in Chiapas. It is for this reason that we will maintain ourselves attentive to whatever intent there may be of forced relocation or violent displacement against these communities.”

The Peace Network presents report regarding Sustainable Rural Cities

On 10 May, the Peace Network, a space for action and reflection made up of 10 organizations that have since 2001 sought to support processes of peace and reconciliation in Chiapas together with the Collective for Kollective Analysis and information (CAIK) presented the document “From Earth to Asphalt, Report of the Civil Mission for Observation of the Peace Network and CAIK on the Sustainable Rural Cities Programme.”

In October 2011, these organizations carried out a Civil Mission of Observation in two Sustainable Rural Cities already populated by persons as well as 4 others that are in the construction or planning stages, with the goal of documenting the present situation in terms of the human-rights situation in which the population finds itself directly affected by the Sustainable Rural Cities Program (CRS) that the Chiapas state-government has been developing. Another key reason for the report is that the CRS Program leads to the forced displacement of people from their communities, given that behind the official objectives to combat poverty are found hidden interests seeking economic and political profit.

The testimonies of the affected persons, presented in this report, illustrate the different means by which the CRS Program violates several internationally recognized human rights, including the right to self-determination of peoples. During the event also was presented the “Until there you go” documentary that examines the same subject, the product of CAIK.

Two ejidatarios are ambushed in San Sebastian Bachajón

In a communiqué released on 10 May, ejidatarios from San Sebastián Bachajón who are adherents to the “Other Campaign” denounced that on 6 May, members of the Indigenous Campesino and Forest Union (Uciaf) who are affiliated with the Green Ecologist (PVEM) and the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) used firearms in an ambush of two residents of the ejido, leaving Javier Pérez Jiménez gravely injured, being 17 years of age. He is now suffering in a hospital in San Cristóbal de Las Casas. His brother, also present, survived the attack without injury and identified one of the four aggressors as Manuel Vázquez Ruíz, leader of Uciaf, and one of the “principal agitators of the society of this community, a product of the intense campaigns taken by these political parties which have caused several violent incidents.”

They indicated furthermore that in a previous event on 29 April 2011, the same Vázquez López fired on Florentino Pérez Gómez and that “there exists in this sense an arrest-order against Vázquez López and those who are responsible, regarding whom the authorities have been negligent.” They noted that Pérez Gómez “had the opportunity to be able to demand justice for what had happened to him, but this never arrived. As they are people with few resources, one day they came to the offices of the State Attorney General’s Office in Yajalón toward the end of soliciting aid from the authorities to request an arrest-order against those responsible. To their surprise, these authorities said to the indigenous family that to go arrest the responsible would require 6,000 pesos, insisting that justice requires money.” This is the reason for which the communiqué identified as principally responsible for the violence in the zone the authorities supposedly imparting justice.

They warned also that “It is very clear who it is that is responsible; if the relevant authorities do not take on this affair we will do it ourselves, because this is not the first time that we have been victims of injustice that seeks only to degrade our organization and intimidate us so that we give up our struggles for defence of territory and land. This is yet another example of how the political parties are generating violence, confrontations, and social alienation with their projects.”

May 22, 2012


Filed under: Corporations, Indigenous, Lacandon/ montes azules, Sustainable rural cities — Tags: , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 6:10 pm

Turning Chiapas Forests into Merchandise 

The Commodification of Forests is the Motive for Removing Communities in Chiapas

 ** El Triunfo, the reserve with which the state government entered the carbon credit market

** Accusation that the conservation arguments consist of stopping planting corn in the area

By: Hermann Bellinghausen,

San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, May 20, 2012

Among the main economic motives for removing communities from the forests they inhabit is the sale of carbon credits, maintain civil organisations belonging to the Network for Peace in Chiapas (Sipaz, Desmi, Frayba and others). At COP 16 (Conference of the Parties) in Cancún, in December 2010, Mexico joined the programme Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Environmental Degradation (REDD Plus), whose basic idea is that countries which are willing and able to reduce the carbon emissions coming from deforestation should be financially compensated.

In a 122-page report, critical of the rural cities project and the environmental policy in Chiapas, released this week, the civil agencies point out that, simultaneously, the governor signed an agreement with his then counterparts from California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Acre, Brazil, Arnobio Márques de Almeida, which started “a market for buying and selling carbon credits that is part of the project known as REDD Plus.”

In 2009, the Action Programme on Climate Change in Chiapas (PACCCH, its initials in Spanish) had been established with support from the British Embassy, Conservation International, a conservationist NGO (“that they use as an intermediary with the communities”) and academic institutions like the Southern Border College (El Colegio de la Frontera Sur), which has collaborated to implement the REDD Plus Project with the National Forestry Commission; although recently it has attempted to distance itself publicly, it has not done so with sufficient clarity.

The governor of Chiapas, the report emphasizes, “is convinced that adding on to the ‘payment for environmental services’ is a project for life,” and it quotes the governor: “Your children and grandchildren are going to thank him because they are going to live, they are going to receive money for taking care of it, let’s gamble for them, those who are little, so that you have the certainty that your children are going to live in the future, are going to live from conservation of the reserves, from tourism and the production of rubber or oil palm.”

The “ecological” interests of the development plans imply the commodification of the forests, for which the authorities consider it necessary “that the communities inside the reserves be relocated or not use the lands for small farming activities, like occurs in the El Triunfo Reserve with which the Chiapas government entered the carbon market.” But the crown jewel in this market, as will be seen in the following reports, would be the Montes Azules Reserve, in the Lacandón Jungle.

The report of the mission of the Network for Peace points out: “As is well known, for the indigenous peoples corn, which has been cultivated in Chiapan lands for thousands of years, has a great nutritional and cultural importance.” Nevertheless, one of the government’s arguments for “conserving biodiversity” consists of stopping the planting of corn. The governor has said that: “it does a lot of damage to the planet, while the reserve, the great wealth that its residents have, would be finished.”

REDD Plus promotes a “productive reconversion” so that the campesinos stop producing their own foods, like corn, and cultivate products for fuels or construction materials (rubber, African Palm). The sale of carbon to transnationals which they seek to establish in the forests of Chiapas also “implies the displacement of the communities for carrying out another government project: sustainable rural cities.”


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Monday, May 21, 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



May 14, 2012


Filed under: Sustainable rural cities — Tags: — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 6:41 pm

Plan for Social Disintegration through Sustainable Rural Cities is Denounced

** NGO presents conclusion of an observation mission in Chiapas last October


San Juan del Grijalva, 2009

Photo: Moysés Zúñiga Santiago

By: Hermann Bellinghausen

San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, May 13, 2012

“Behind the Sustainable Rural Cities Programme lies a process of territorial reordering, through State structures, which responds to interests dictated by multinational financial organisations, for the purpose of installing a new social order. The state and federal governments have implemented projects and programmes which in their discourse propose to eradicate poverty and contribute to the peoples’ development, but which are in essence processes of community disintegration, territorial plunder and cultural dispossession. This process of expulsion dismantles any possibility that the peoples can exercise their right to self-determination.”

This is the main conclusion of the report by the Chiapas Network for Peace (formed by nine important civil organisations) and the Colectivo de Análisis e Información Kolectiva   (CAIK), which is the product of the civil observation mission made through the rural cities of Chiapas last October.

The organizations visited two already inhabited rural cities (Juan de Grijalva and Santiago El Pinar) and four more under construction or planning, for the purpose, they say, of documenting the current situation in matters of human rights of the population directly affected by the Sustainable Rural Cities Programme (CRS in its Spanish initials) that the government is developing in the state.

Among its principal conclusions, the report asserts that in September 2009 President Felipe Calderón inaugurated “the world’s first sustainable rural city,” called Nuevo Juan de Grijalva, an entity that according to officials “was the final answer to the poverty-dispersion binomial.” Under that pretext, and another that the villages at which the plan is directed “are in a risk area”, communities were, or will be, relocated to rural cites without having been adequately consulted.

This “development” answer to rural poverty, the report emphasizes, “has been strongly criticized by the peoples who had to be displaced, as well as by individuals and civil society organizations”. The first motive of these works “does not always seem to be that of attention to the communities, since the interests of private corporations play an important role, as well as the political interests of the state and federal governments.”

The stories of the people affected, gathered in the report, “demonstrate the different ways in which the CRS Programme violates internationally-recognized human rights,” among them the peoples’ right to self-determination. The violations documented by the organizations reveal “that the peoples did not participate nor were they justly consulted in any of the phases of the project, and indeed, to the contrary, the majority were displaced with threats of dismantling the infrastructure of services in their communities, or by instilling fear of living in zones declared at risk by the government.” These violations, the report adds, fail to fulfill the international conventions in matters of human rights signed and ratified by the Mexican government.

The report considers it “worrisome” that the collective capacity of deciding how to organize, “as well as any attempt at social construction that emanates from indigenous and campesino peoples that differs from the state pattern,” seems to have as its destiny “fragmentation, annulment or criminalization”.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Monday, May 14, 2012

En español:

English translation by the Chiapas Support Committee for the:

International Zapatista Translation Service, a collaboration of the:

Chiapas Support Committee, Oakland, California

Wellington Zapatista Support Group

UK Zapatista Solidarity Network

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