dorset chiapas solidarity

June 17, 2016

Las Abejas de Acteal Request Collection for Displaced Families

Filed under: Acteal, Displacement, Indigenous, sipaz — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 5:59 am

 

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Las Abejas de Acteal Request Collection for Displaced Families

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acopioCollection during the displacement of Colonia Puebla in 2013. Photo: @Koman Ilel.

 

On May 26, a group of 14 families from Las Abejas de Acteal Civil Society, residents of Colonia Puebla, Chenalho municipality, Chiapas, were displaced fleeing the violence caused by the conflict after the elections in that municipality. The displacement happened after violent incidents between sympathizers of the recently dismissed mayor, Rosa Perez Perez of the Green Ecologist Party of Mexico (PVEM), and supporters of the new mayor, Miguel Santiz Alvarez, causing the death of two people, one of them a minor, who died from a bullet wound. The Chenalho Pedrano Movement, opponents of Perez Perez, said in a statement that they were attacked with“firearms, sticks, stones and machetes, in an ambush that was orchestrated by sympathizers of the ex-mayor.” Furthermore, there were“two houses burned, two destroyed, three vehicles destroyed and six people wounded”, according to the statement from Las Abejas.

Las Abejas noted that “until now, there are no conditions to return”, so that the displaced are currently in the headquarters of the organization. In another letter they outlined that, “the displaced from the colony are living through suffering. Therefore we ask you the favour of helping with supplies.”To this end, they have opened two collection centers for clothes in San Cristobal de Las Casas and they ask for financial support to be deposited in a bank account. According to La Jornada, the National Commission for Human Rights (CNDH) “requested the government of Chiapas to apply cautionary measures and guarantee the rights of the people who have been displaced.” The measures are aimed at guaranteeing rights to food, health, a home, physical integrity and the lives of the displaced.

It is worth noting that the disagreement following the result of the municipal elections in Chenalho, with the victory of PVEM, gave rise to the Chenalho Pedrano Movement in rejection of the elected mayor, accusing her of “corruption, abuse of power and diverting resources.” This group organized a takeover of the town hall and a number of government offices, it took over the State Congress for some hours, and it kidnapped three civil servants who were negotiating a solution to the disagreement, among them the President of the State Congress and a deputy. Having put them on public show, one dressed as a woman, Congress accepted the resignation of the mayor.

It is also worth mentioning that 17 families of Colonia Puebla were displaced by in August 2013 in the conflict between Catholics and Evangelicals in dispute over the land where Catholic hermitage was located. Almost 100 displaced people returned after eight months off their lands, denouncing the lack of law enforcement for their aggressors.

https://sipazen.wordpress.com/2016/06/15/chiapas-las-abejas-de-acteal-request-collection-for-displaced-families/

 

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June 11, 2016

Beyond Chenalhó

Filed under: Acteal, Indigenous, Zapatistas — Tags: , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 9:16 am

 

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 Beyond Chenalhó

 

acteal221214mzs4-copia-600x400                                           Members of Las Abejas of Acteal, 22nd December 2014

 

By Rafael Landerreche*

What is happening in Chenalhó (I use the present because the fire has not been put out) must be examined beyond the obvious dimension of post-electoral conflicts or of the undeniable but partial component of gender. To get to the bottom of the issue it is necessary to go back in history to something that is not about this moment nor exclusive to Chiapas, but that, nevertheless, is the deep root of what happens here and now.

The big lesson of the last century for the Mexican political class was that in order to maintain themselves in power it was necessary to make concessions to the people; not isolated and circumstantial, but rather, so to speak, of a permanent and structural character. That was the social policy of the “governments that emanated from the revolution,” which permitted the PRI to stay in power for 70 uninterrupted years of relative social stability. We all know of course the vices that accompanied and corrupted this social policy: a lack of democracy, paternalism, corporatism, electoral patronage, application of an economic model that was incompatible with those demands, corruption, etcetera. The system had its clear limits and anyone who would attempt to exceed them would have to put up with the worst consequences (Tlatelolco is not forgotten). However, that social dimension was real and one of the proofs of that is the void that appears now that it is dismantling.

The new generations of the political class formed in the rarified heights of neoliberalism, didn’t know or didn’t want to see the difference between social policy and the vices that were parasitic to it. They placed everything without distinction into the same bag, put the ambiguous label of “populism” on it and threw it in the rubbish. It is like the saying that they threw the baby out with the bathwater, but we could modify the image saying that in this case they threw out the baby and were left with the dirty water, because the social and nationalist policies have gone away, but the corruption, vote buying and lack of democracy continue. For example, the button of the SNTE: what has been combatted is every attempt at political independence –including its independence from the teacher Elba Esther– what has been maintained is the absolute political, bureaucratic and electoral manipulation.

Upon disavowing the great lesson of the 20th Century, to which it owed its stay in power, the new political class was sustained by just three props, rigid but not solid: media manipulation, colossal vote buying but in drips (in the end, vote buying on scales that reduce to insignificance the old practice of a sandwich and a soft drink) and brute force, with, as a last resort, the Army. In places like Chiapas, with high social marginalization and very incipient political awareness (lights that point in the opposite direction, like the work of the Diocese of San Cristóbal and the lightning of Zapatismo, should not prevent from seeing this sad generalized reality), the media manipulation assumes the tragic-comical characteristics of the daily exaltation of a governor in a permanent campaign, the vote buying with government supports and programmes has the subtle efficiency of a steamroller, and the Army and other forms of repression are always around the corner.

One must add to this a fact that is more specific to Chiapas. It turns out that the governor and a sector of the political class that accompanies him, with an incredible blindness which is the product of excessive ambition for power (that hubris about which Javier Sicilia speaks so much, which inevitably brings about its nemesis) decided to jettison not only the social policies of the old PRI, but even the very cover and party name, ignoring the fact that, if there was anywhere it had taken root, and anywhere they had to thank for their stay in power, it was among the indigenous communities of Chiapas. They shook the hand of the Green Party, which was born to be on the stage with others, and they converted it into the centre of their political project. So, nothing more than their pistols imposed the Green candidates on communities with old PRI roots.

Chenalhó is no more than the last in a long list: Chamula, San Andrés, Oxchuc, Chanal, Altamirano and many more. Practically all the post-electoral conflicts that have devastated Chiapas since last year’s elections are like this, the creation and exclusive responsibility of those who now suffer their consequences. In the case of Chenalhó it is complicated by a combination with the survival of the paramilitaries responsible for the Acteal Massacre, but that merits a separate analysis.

Division in the communities and destruction of the social fabric is now, unfortunately, an old and sad story in Chiapas, the fruit in good measure (although not exclusively) of the counterinsurgency plans for confronting the Zapatista insurgency. But with these actions, the political class has taken the division in to the heart of its own support bases and has given a new twist to the destruction of the social fabric. The confrontation in Chenalhó has nothing to do with the independent forces in the municipality, the Zapatistas, Las Abejas, not even with the relative opposition of the of so-called political parties. It is simply a matter of the old governing sectors, arbitrarily divided by their own state bosses into PRIístas and Greens, who are disputing the municipal budget booty, and that is all. But they are taking the whole municipality between the legs (not to speak of the old Secretary of Government and now leader of the Congress). Members of Las Abejas from Colonia Puebla are now displaced from their community again (for the third time since 1997) and two people, including a female minor, died there in the crossfire between PRIístas and Greens (for sure, neither the deaths nor the displaced angered the authorities as much as the teachers’ haircuts). Even the Zapatista communities, clearly outside and apart from all the party fights, feel worried by a violence that could be directed against them at any moment.

At first sight this situation looks like a product of the blindness and incredible political insensitivity of the ruling class, rather than a deliberate plan to create greater destabilization; the fate of the leader of the (Chiapas) Congress, would seem to corroborate this: they have not even been able to protect themselves. But, who knows? Chiapas is the site and destination of important megaprojects and we know about the increasing pressures throughout Latin America to bring about transnational projects, whatever the cost. Fishermen gain from troubled waters. And what about the third prop? Will it be the Army like they claimed in Ayotzinapa, right there, watching?

 

 

* Rafael Landerreche is adviser to alternative education projects in Chenalhó.

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Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

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June 9, 2016

“14 families were displaced, a total of 81 people” reported Las Abejas of Acteal.

Filed under: Acteal, Displacement, Frayba — Tags: , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 4:43 am

 

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“14 families were displaced, a total of 81 people” reported Las Abejas of Acteal.

 

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Chiapas, Mexico. June 4. On 26th May, 81 people from 14 families from the Civil Society organization Las Abejas of Acteal, from the colonia Puebla, became displaced because “in this colonia great violence and shooting arose again at 1:45 pm,” the indigenous Tsotsiles from the municipality of Chenaló denounced in a communiqué.

This latest displacement of families from colonia Puebla, is “by the political parties, through the dispute about power, in which 2 people died, 3 houses were burned, 2 destroyed, 3 vehicles wrecked and 6 people wounded,” Las Abejas communicate. “So far there are no suitable conditions for their return, because no final solution has been given,” they add.

The violence in the community in Los Altos de Chiapas arose after the resignation of the mayor of Chenaló, Rosa Pérez, and the presentation of the new administration, headed by Miguel Sántiz Álvarez. The attacks have been made on the part of the followers of Pérez Pérez, the ex-mayor, who allegedly attacked supporters of Sántiz Alvarez, the new mayor, after his return from the inauguration, local media reported.

The people of the colonia Puebla already went through a similar situation in August 2013, when they took refuge in the community of Acteal. At that time the displacement was also due to the climate of violence in the area. “As a result of the assaults, threats and harassment, 12 families (70 people), were forcibly displaced” the Fray Bartolome de las Casas Human Rights Centre reports.

 

Communiqué: http://acteal.blogspot.co.uk/2016/06/oy-esta-visualizando-claramente-cientos.html

Translation by UK Zapatista Translation Service

http://www.pozol.org/?p=12425

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June 4, 2016

2 Dead and 250 displaced after Chiapas mayor is ousted

Filed under: Indigenous — Tags: , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 10:50 am

 

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2 Dead and 250 displaced after Chiapas mayor is ousted

 

Eduardo Ramírez dressed as a Tsotsil woman listens to residents' demands in Chenalhó, Chiapas.

Eduardo Ramírez Aguilar, president of the State Congress of Chiapas, dressed as a Tsotsil woman, listens to residents’ demands in the municipio of Chenalhó, Chiapas.

 

In the midst of a militant Chiapas teachers strike, part of a national teachers strike over the education reform, some other Chiapas news tends take a back seat. The story that follows seems, however, to merit telling; first, because it reflects the violence that lies just beneath the surface in many parts of the state, and also because of the recent history of violence in Los Altos (the Highlands) of Chiapas.

On April 27, a Chiapas blog reported that 7 police were injured while in the process of evicting indigenous Tsotsils from Chenalhó who held members of the State Congress and its workers (some 300 people) hostage for eight hours on April 25. It turned out that this was the third time the commission from Chenalhó had visited the Congress to ask that it accept the resignation of Mayor Rosa Pérez Pérez of the Green Ecologist Party of Mexico (PVEM). And, for the third time the president of the State Congress, Eduardo Ramírez Aguilar, refused to approve the resignation, claiming that it was signed under duress. It was after this third refusal that the Chenalhó residents closed off the doors of Congress and held all those inside hostage.

This may not have made the news were it not for the fact that in the hour-long process of removing the Tsotsils from the Congress, some of the police were beaten up and then used tear gas. The tear gas drew the attention of people in the area near the Congress and soon there were groups looting nearby merchants, which resulted in the arrest of more than 20 people.

On May 2, the group from Chenalhó held a press conference in front of the San Cristóbal de las Casas Cathedral. They talked about what they termed the “violent” April 25 eviction and again demanded that the State Congress accept the mayor’s resignation. They accused Rosa Pérez of not completing the public works she promised during her campaign and of claiming 70 million pesos in personal expenses.

The group’s spokesperson, Tomás Pérez, stated that Chenalhó residents were determined to remove the mayor and held a plebiscite in which they voted to replace her with a current member of the municipal council, Miguel Sántiz Álvarez. He warned that if the Congress doesn’t accept her resignation on May 3, there would be thousands of Chenalhó residents from 100 towns going to the State Congress on May 5.

The next news reported was not about thousands of Chenalhó residents that marched to the State Congress on May 5. They apparently changed their minds and resorted to another and more drastic tactic: kidnapping.

La Jornada reported that on May 25, some 30 or so masked Chenalhó residents burst into the installations of the San Cristóbal Diocese and forcibly removed the president of the State Congress, Eduardo Ramírez, and the Deputy Carlos Penagos. They were meeting with Father Gonzalo Ituarte, the Vicar for Justice and Peace for the Diocese. Ituarte said that he, in the name of the San Cristóbal Diocese, members of the Peace and Transparency Commission of Chenalhó and a representation from the Legislature, headed by Ramírez, met to find a resolution to the conflict.

The following day, Chiapas Paralelo reported that Ramírez and Penagos were taken to Chenalhó, where Ramirez was dressed in the traditional skirt and blouse of an indigenous Tsotsil woman of Chenalhó (to represent the absent mayor) and taken to the town square where they both had to listen to the residents’ demands. They accused the mayor of diverting 50 million pesos (to her personal use) during her seven months in office and demanded not only her resignation, but also the return of the public funds. By now, we had learned the name of the dissident group: Movimiento Pedrano Chenalhó (Chenalhó Pedrano Movement). They have a Facebook page too!

It was somehow resolved overnight; the mayor submitted a request for permanent leave, her resignation was accepted and the new mayor was officially installed. Ramírez and Penagos were released and whisked back to the state capital by plane, while the Chenalhó Pedrano Movement celebrated its victory in the municipal capital. But, that’s not the end of this rather unusual Chiapas story.

When members of the Chenalhó Pedrano Movement were returning to their homes in the Colonia Puebla from celebrations in the municipal capital, supporters of the now ex mayor, Rosa Pérez, violently attacked them in the Puebla Ejido, also known as the Colonia Puebla. The attack left 2 people dead, 2 disappeared, several injured and 250 members of that movement displaced to an auditorium in the municipal capital of Chenalhó. Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission issued precautionary measures on behalf of the displaced.

As if this political tale were not already sufficiently intriguing, former mayor Rosa Pérez filed a court action on June 1 asking to be reinstated to her position as mayor, essentially claiming duress. She also asked the National Human Rights Commission to issue precautionary safety measures for herself and for all the residents of Chenalhó!

As of this writing, we have seen no reports that any Zapatistas or adherents to the Sixth Declaration were attacked, injured or displaced. The conflict appears to be another municipal political conflict involving allegations of corruption. However, this is not the first time in recent memory that the Colonia Puebla has been involved in violence, and in 2013 violence in the Colonia Puebla was directed specifically at Zapatista support bases. In an article about the 2013 death threats and displacements, La Jornada quoted members of Las Abejas as saying in reference to the Colonia Puebla: “it is where the first paramilitaries emerged, those who spread the conflict and incited paramilitarism in various Chenalhó communities in 1997.” [1]

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[1] For background on the paramilitary violence in Colonia Puebla see: Paramilitaries Re-Emerge Near Site of Acteal Massacre

 

2 Dead and 250 displaced after Chiapas mayor is ousted

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May 29, 2016

Girls dies in Chenalhó as conflict continues

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 9:13 am

 

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Girls dies in Chenalhó as conflict continues

 

chenalho-600x369

Mayor’s resignation failed to restore calm in the Chiapas municipality

An official in Chiapas said yesterday that peace had returned to the municipality of Chenalhó following the resignation of its mayor. But things took a turn for the worse just a few hours later when a 14-year-old died from a gunshot wound.

The young girl was shot in the community of Puebla during a confrontation between followers of Rosa Pérez Pérez, who was forced to resign as mayor on Wednesday, and the new mayor, who was sworn in yesterday morning.

For the last two months a faction had been trying to force the mayor, elected last year, out of office. After they kidnapped two state Congressmen on Wednesday, Pérez Pérez relented and handed in her resignation.

Chiapas Government Secretary Juan Carlos Gómez Aranda said yesterday that with her resignation all was calm in Chenalhó, most of whose inhabitants are Tzotzil Maya, and the conflict was over.

But citizens are of a different mind.

The family of the shooting victim are supporters of the former mayor; the two men charged with homicide in her death are supporters of her substitute, Miguel Santíz. According to one report, the latter faction arrived in Puebla, a stronghold of Pérez supporters, firing rifles in the air and mocking residents over the former mayor’s departure.

Later, the Pérez faction set fire to houses belonging to several Santíz supporters.

At least half a dozen people were wounded during the confrontation.

The National Women’s Institute, a federal agency, yesterday called on electoral institutions and authorities in Chiapas to protect the rights of women to participate in the political process.

In a statement it said that of the 34 women elected as mayors last year, four have since resigned and their place taken by men. In at least two of those cases the women had been put forward as candidates at the last minute in order for political parties to meet gender balance requirements.

Source: Reforma (sp), Milenio (sp)

Girls dies in Chenalhó as conflict continues

 

April 18, 2014

17 displaced families have returned to their homes in Ejido Puebla, Municipality of Chenalho, Chiapas

Filed under: Displacement — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 12:02 pm

 

17 displaced families have returned to their homes in Ejido Puebla, Municipality of Chenalho, Chiapas

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Return of the displaced to Ejido Puebla

On 14 April, 104 persons belonging to the Catholic community of Ejido Puebla, returned home to work their land and return to the social dynamics of the community.

This return has taken place as a result of the unbearable suffering being experienced by the Tsotsil ejidatarios of the municipality of Chenalho. It has taken place without justice,  for the perpetrators still remain unpunished by the three levels of government: The ejidal commissioner Agustín Cruz Gómez and his other compañeros remain unpunished despite being identified as the main perpetrators.

The displaced were accompanied by the Fray Bartolome de Las Casas Human Rights Centre, by Bishop Arizmendi Esquivel, by the pastor of Chenalhó, Manuel Perez, and by government representatives headed by Eduardo Ramírez Aguilar, secretary of government.

 

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April 12, 2014

Return of the Displaced People from Ejido Puebla

Filed under: Displacement, Human rights, Indigenous — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 2:21 pm

 

Return of the Displaced People from Ejido Puebla

CHIAPAS: Familias desplazadas del Ejido Puebla, del municipio de Chenalhó anuncian retorno para el lunes 14 de abril.

 

The 17 families displaced from Ejido (also known as Colonia) Puebla, in the municipality of Chenalhó, Chiapas, have announced at a press conference that they will be returning to their homes on Monday, 14th April. They have called on the media and members of civil society to accompany their return, which will leave from Yabteclum, Chenalhó, at 9am on Monday. Don Felipe Arizmendi, Bishop of the Diocese of San Cristóbal de Las Casas, will be present.

The families, who have been taking refuge in Acteal, say the problems in their community started a year ago with the seizure of the land where the Catholic chapel was situated. The problems in their community have not been resolved, they say, but they need to return in order to work in their corn and coffee fields so they can feed their families. However, “it is a return without justice,” and they fear that “the attacks may happen again.”

 

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March 14, 2014

Violence persists against the people forcibly displaced from ejido Puebla

Filed under: Displacement, Frayba, Human rights, Indigenous — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 7:03 pm

25 años Frayba caminando con los Pueblos Centro de Derechos Humanos  Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas, A.C

25 AÑOS CAMINANDO CON LOS PUEBLOS

San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, México

12 de marzo de 2014

Boletín No. 08

Violence persists against the people forcibly displaced from ejido Puebla

They burn the home of a displaced family

According to information documented by the Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Centre (Frayba), today, in the ejido Puebla, Chenalhó, at approximately 01:30 hours, the house of the family of Normelina Hernández López and Macario Arias Gómez – forcibly displaced since August 23, 2013, along with 17 other families, totalling 100 people, who are now in the community of Acteal, Chenalhó – was totally burned down. A few days earlier, on March 7, 2014, at 06:30 hrs, José Gómez Cruz, found the door of the catechists’ room burned. It is noteworthy that these events occurred despite the presence of about 30 members of the State Preventive Police who did not realize what had happened.

Following these events, the Centre for Human Rights expresses its concern about the persistent climate of violence and the risky situation in which the forcibly displaced families find themselves. Given the seriousness of recent events, their return will be more difficult.

We hold responsible for this situation, through failure to act, the government officials who, instead of seeking justice, maintain and allow the impunity which creates tension and violence1.

To mention a few examples of impunity: on July 20, 2013 , the same authorities of ejido Puebla arbitrarily arrested two support bases of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation: Mariano Méndez Méndez and Luciano Méndez Hernández, and another person from the ejido: Juan Lopez Méndez, with the false accusation of having poisoned the water of the community2; on August 21, 2013 , Manuel Pérez Gómez, pastor of Chenalhó, was arbitrarily deprived of his liberty for seven and a half hours3, and on 21 August, 2013, due to the level of violence reached, 17 families were forcibly displaced4.

Frayba has expressed, repeatedly, our concern about the lack of access to justice which causes increased violence and the status of forced displacement of the 100 people. This signifies a continuing violation of the rights: to personal integrity, freedom of movement, residence and housing, established under universal instruments promoted, signed and ratified by the Mexican government, including: the American Convention on Human Rights articles 5 ° and 22 °, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights article 11, first paragraph, as well as the non-implementation of the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement.

Background:

On February 26, 2014, in the ejido Puebla, Eduardo Ramírez Aguilar, General Secretary of Government and Victor Hugo Sánchez Zebadúa, Secretary for Religious Affairs, officially handed over the estate of the Catholic chapel to the Diocese of San Cristobal de Las Casas, in this act Agustín Cruz Gómez, ejidal Commissioner, was present as the legal representative of the ejido Puebla.

Beginning of the events:

On April 7, 2013, in the ejido Puebla, Chenalhó, 32 believing families of the Catholic religion made an agreement to start the refurbishment and reconstruction of the new chapel, because the former was deteriorating, resulting in a risk to the population. From that day there have been a series of acts of physical aggression, arbitrary detentions, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, destruction, theft and forced displacement against 17 families.

1 Impunidad ante desplazamiento forzado de 98 personas del ejido Puebla, available at: http://frayba.org.mx/archivo/boletines/131017_pronunciamiento_puebla.doc.pdf

2 Escala la violencia en el ejido Puebla, available at: http://frayba.org.mx/archivo/acciones_urgentes/130720_au_02_ejido_puebla.pdf; http://frayba.org.mx/archivo/acciones_urgentes/130721_act_au_02_puebla.pdf

3 Liberan bajo presión al párroco de Chenalhó Manuel Pérez Gómez, available at: http://frayba.org.mx/archivo/boletines/130823_boletin_22_ejido_puebla.pdf

4 Desplazamiento forzado de 70 personas del ejido Puebla, available at: http://frayba.org.mx/archivo/acciones_urgentes/130823_au_04_desplazados_chenalho.pdf

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March 9, 2014

Attack on Catholic installation in Chenalhó, Chiapas is denounced

Filed under: Acteal, Displacement, Indigenous — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 7:47 pm

 

Attack on Catholic installation in Chenalhó, Chiapas is denounced

 ** “Peace and harmony do not exist,” in the Puebla colonia, they say

By: Hermann Bellinghausen

Chiapas: Ante nuevas agreciones desplazados del ejido Puebla exigen a los tres niveles de gobierno el cumplimiento de los acuerdos firmados el pasado 15 de febrero.A door of the Catholic group’s premises in the Puebla ejido, in Chenalhó, Chiapas, was sprinkled with gasoline and burned this Friday, “which confirms one more time that peace and harmony do not exist in the Puebla colonia,” representatives of the Pueblo Creyente organization denounced.

Catechists and their coordinators, representatives of pastoral zones, the parish council and the pastoral agent of the San Pedro Apostol Mártir Parish said: “At dawn on March 7 one of the doors of the catechists’ room, where there are images of Catholic saints, appeared burned with gasoline.”

“We believed that tranquility and harmony among brothers would return in the Puebla colonia when the Secretary General of Government of Chiapas, Eduardo Ramírez Aguilar, and the assistant secretary of Religious Issues, Víctor Hugo Sánchez Zebadúa, handed over the Catholic chapel’s plot of land to the Diocese of San Cristóbal de Las Casas on February 26.”

In this transfer of the plot, they add, an act of agreement was signed that says “verbatim” in its second point that “Agustín Cruz Gómez, president of the ejido commission, representing the ejido and its assembly, signs with the intention of keeping the peace, unity and social harmony.” That occurred during the act in which “formal delivery of the plot of land” was made. The municipal president of Chenalhó, José Arias Vázquez, and the council member Andrés Vázquez Gómez were present at this “event.”

 

Pueblo Creyente asks: “Where is that tranquility, that social harmony to which Commissioner Cruz Gómez committed himself?”

The Tzotzil Catholics, displaced since August, thus denounce: “once again, that in the conflict over the plot stirred up since April 29, 2013, the municipal and state authorities have not had the will to definitively resolve it.” The burning of the door to the catechists’ room “is the consequence of the impunity enjoyed by the attackers of our brothers and sisters and sisters who currently live displaced in Acteal.”

They maintain: “We have always insisted on the application of justice, because peace can only exist when there is justice. Nevertheless, the Chiapas government, the Secretary of religious issues and the commissioner Cruz Gómez, on several occasions asked us to forget the attacks of which we were victims; in other words, to be accomplices of the violence.”

They give notice that the displaced families “had been thinking about returning in these days, but, due to the violence in the Puebla colonia, they have decided not to do so until conditions for security exist.”

And they conclude: “We demand that the three levels of government act immediately to apply justice to the aggressors and in compliance with the agreements signed on February 15, when the government promised to do justice. We will not allow more impunity.”

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Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Sunday, March 9, 2014

En español: http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2014/03/09/politica/014n1pol

 

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

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March 1, 2014

They return the church in the Puebla ejido, Chenalhó, Chiapas, to the town’s Catholics

Filed under: Acteal — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 7:56 pm

 

They return the church in the Puebla ejido, Chenalhó, Chiapas, to the town’s Catholics

 ** Las Abejas warns that displaced families will not return “until there is justice”

** It lacks reconstructing the church, repairing the burned houses and indemnifying for robberies, it clarifies

By: Hermann Bellinghausen

 

The Las Abejas civil society organization reported that last Wednesday, February 26, the church of the Puebla ejido in Chenalhó, Chiapas, was returned. It had been snatched from the community’s Catholics last April. Nevertheless, the organization’s directors specify: “That is not the priority solution for those displaced; the church’s construction, repair of the burned houses and indemnification for stolen belongings are all lacking.”

Also “the application of justice to those responsible for the violation of the Catholic religion’s property rights, according to the international law that says there will not be any right to permit trampling on the law, if not attained must be applied in conformance with the weight of the law.” They are also responsible for the displacement of twenty Catholic and Presbyterian families, a situation that continues without being resolved.

One hundred indigenous people from the ejido have been sheltered in the Las Abejas camp in Acteal for seven months, “and they will continue displaced, because the bad government of Chiapas does not have the will to resolve the problem, it doesn’t speak about justice,” added Antonio Gutiérrez Pérez, Martín Pérez Pérez and Simón Pedro Pérez López, directors of the Tzotzil organization.

The human rights violations, the indigenous representatives pointed out, “began with torture, home invasions, evictions, robbery of belongings, destruction of the church, house burnings, fabrication of crimes for poisoning the water, accusing Juan López Méndez, Mariano Méndez Méndez and Luciano Méndez Hernández, who were transported to the state’s Public Ministry without evidence that the water was poisoned.”

According to Las Abejas, “the government seeks a pretext to not resolve the problem, wanting to make us sign papers, like in 2001, when the memorandum of mutual agreement was signed that only provoked the organization’s division; now it is being repeated with the Puebla case, without taking the word of the displaced into account, manipulating as always, deceiving us with their promises, without fulfilling anything.”

On Wednesday, the Catholics displaced by the Evangelical group which controls the Puebla community, received the plot of land, which was invaded last April 29. The assistant secretary for religious issues in the state Secretariat of Government delivered the land to the auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of San Cristóbal de las Casas, Enrique Díaz Díaz, in the presence of the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human rights Centre, the parish priest Manuel Pérez Gómez and members of the parish council of the municipality.

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Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Saturday, March 1, 2014

En español: http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2014/03/01/politica/017n1pol

 

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

 

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February 26, 2014

Mexico: Paramilitary Action Continues

Filed under: Acteal, Displacement, Frayba, Paramilitary — Tags: , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 5:50 pm

 

Mexico: Paramilitary Action Continues

By Orsetta Bellani

The front porches of the homes in Ejido Puebla, in the southern state of Chiapas’ Chenalhó municipality, are covered with coffee beans. Since October, the residents of this indigenous Tzotzil Maya community in a corner of the Chiapas highlands have been harvesting the seeds that are now drying under the sun.

On January 17, after five months of exile, 14 of 17 Catholic families from the community who were displaced returned to Ejido Puebla, accompanied by international observers.

“In April 2013, the Presbyterians knocked down the chapel we were building and in July 2013, without proof, the commune’s commissioner [of the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI)] Agustín Cruz Gómez accused the two Zapatistas in town of poisoning the communal water tank. Since then, the priístas [members of the PRI], started harassing us,” Nicolás Cruz Pérez, spokesman for the displaced residents, told Latinamerica Press. “Today we returned to our community and found our land and our homes ransacked.”

The displaced families of Ejido Puebla — a base of support for the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN), and members of Pueblo Creyente and the Civic Organization Las Abejas de Acteal, both Catholic pro-Zapatista organizations — sought refuge in the town of Acteal. There, in Dec. 1997, approximately 100 militants from PRI affiliate group Máscara Roja, or Red Mask, attacked about 300 indigenous Tzotzil. Forty-five of them were killed: 9 men, 15 children, and 21 women, four of whom were pregnant.

The region was in upheaval at the time due to paramilitary violence following the uprising of the EZLN on Jan. 1, 1994, in defense of the rights of the indigenous communities; the landowners, known as hacendados, had organized vigilante “shock groups” to confront them.

The killers next door

According to a petition filed in 2005 before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) by Las Abejas and the Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Center (Frayba), which was accepted in November 2010, Public Security Police operatives were 200 meters from the chapel and did nothing to stop the massacre in 1997. Moreover, the complainants denounced the existence of a state policy “designed to commit widespread and systematic attacks against civilians carried out by paramilitary groups financed, trained and protected by national authorities to weaken the bases of the EZLN and the communities that have expressed their sympathy.” The government has always denied a role in the massacre, instead claiming the event was the result of religious conflicts between indigenous groups.

Of the 75 Máscara Roja paramilitaries imprisoned for the Acteal massacre, 69 were freed in Aug. 2009 due to irregularities in due process, such as suspects arrested without warrants. Many of them returned to the area, according to Las Abejas; the group is concerned they could attack again.

“Some of the paramilitaries who participated in the Acteal massacre are originally from Ejido Puebla. Among them is Jacinto Arias, who at that time was president of the Municipality of Chenalhó; he was incarcerated for 14 years, today he is free and returned to the town,” Víctor Hugo López Rodriguez, director of Frayba, told Latinamerica Press. He believes there is a link between Arias’s return to the community and the displacement of Catholic families.

Likewise, the residents of Chiapas’ Zona Selva Norte, about 120 miles north of Acteal, must live alongside their relatives’ killers: paramilitaries from the group Development, Peace and Justice, who have operated in the area since the 1990s. Armando Díaz, an ex-paramilitary with the group, provided a statement to Frayba in 2004, saying that the irregular militia is portrayed as an organization of farmworkers, therefore receives government subsidies, which it in turn uses to buy arms.

Low-grade war

From Dec. 6-7, 2013, in the Chiapas community of Susuclumil, the pre-trial hearing of the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal (PPT) took place — an international, non-governmental court that sets out to denounce the perpetrators of human rights violations, although their decisions are not binding, in its chapter devoted to the low-grade ongoing conflict in Chiapas.

Speaking to the PPT, Frayba attorney Pedro Faro claimed that from 1995 to 1999 — a period in which the militias were most active — Development, Peace and Justice and other paramilitary groups were responsible for 81 extrajudicial killings, 36 disappearances, and the displacement of more than 3,500 residents of communities around Tila, Sabanilla, Tumbalá, Yajalón and Salto de Agua, in northern Chiapas.

Faro said the counterinsurgency plan from the Secretariat of National Defense, named “Campaña Chiapas 94,” took root locally and expanded into the highlands, favoring “paramilitary action with the goal of crushing the increasing influence of the EZLN, [by] committing systematic attacks against the civilian population.” The paramilitary groups, he added, were made up largely of indigenous campesinos that belonged to the PRI, and their crimes included extrajudicial killings, forced disappearances, threats, robberies, forced displacements, and arson.

After 2000, when the right-wing National Action Party (PAN) came to power, the counterinsurgent strategy shifted and focused on government assistance projects with the objective of dividing communities and buying off their leaders, added Faro.

The TPP, which will next hold a session in May 2014 in the city of San Cristóbal de Las Casas, concluded that the Mexican government and the Armed Forces are responsible for human rights violations committed in Chiapas since 1994, following the EZLN uprising, because it covered up and contributed financially to the paramilitary groups.

From: Latinamerica Press

 

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February 25, 2014

Today marks 16 years and two months of impunity for the Acteal Massacre

Filed under: Acteal, Displacement — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 7:51 pm

Today marks 16 years and two months of impunity for the Acteal Massacre

Civil Society Organization Las Abejas

Sacred Ground of the Martyrs of Acteal

Municipality of Chenalhó, Chiapas, Mexico.

February 22, 2014 

To Social and Political Organizations

To Human Rights Defenders

To the Alternative Media

To the National and International Press

To National and International Civil Society

To Adherents to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle

Brothers and Sisters

Acteal Chiapas: A 16 años y dos meses de la matanza de indígenas en el municipio de Chenalhó, la impunidad continúa.

We are in the second month of 2014; today we reach 16 years and two months of impunity for the Acteal Massacre in 1997. Three days ago we learned that a court in the United States stated that “Zedillo is exempt from liability … for the death of 45 indigenous in 1997.” The next day, President Obama of the United States was in Mexico to visit President Peña Nieto to thank him for the energy reform which will allow multinational companies to take over Mexico’s oil, as they did before Article 27 of the Mexican Constitution was applied by Lázaro Cárdenas to recover the oil for the Mexicans.

We, the members of the Civil Society Las Abejas, have already said that we were not the ones who filed the lawsuit against Zedillo in America. Neither did we agree when, in 1993, PEMEX wanted to invade our lands in Chenalhó to extract oil. But in any case we realize that the neoliberal governments of Mexico are handing over a patrimony of the nation to the neoliberal governments of the United States, so it makes us angry, but does not surprise us when in the United States they declare that Zedillo is innocent of the Acteal massacre. Would they condemn him if they are from the same mafia? As Peña Nieto is handing over the oil, Zedillo gave the national railways to the United States. And it was Salinas de Gortari who opened the door to such betrayals with the reforms to Article 27 and the signing of NAFTA.

The United States Court which decided that it could not judge Zedillo for the Acteal Massacre said “We have considered all the remaining arguments of the plaintiffs and concluded that they are without merit.” So the demands of the victims of a massacre against a former president are worthless. All that matters to them is money and power. Neoliberalism feeds on land dispossessions, killings, violence and drugs, femicides, discrimination, repression, massacre. But they think prisons are only for social activists and the poor. For them there are no prisons, and it is they who are bathing their hands in the blood of men, women and children.

For neoliberalism has committed massacres in every corner of our country. And for neoliberalism there have been wars in many parts of the world. Through greed for oil the United States made war against Iraq a decade ago and now they want to provoke a war in Venezuela for the same reason. In our country they do not have to make war to keep the oil because the presidents of Mexico are from their same neoliberal mafia. So they defend Zedillo, so the U.S. magazines say that Peña Nieto is saving Mexico, but he is not saving it, it is sinking still further. Our world is in total crisis because of a few, greedy for money and power, who want to acquire and control everything at the cost of the work of the poor and the blood of the innocent. So we see it in the word of God, which confirms that this is the cause of wars:

What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and you do not have, so you murder. You covet and you cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. (James 4: 1-2)

While the neoliberal governments are robbing everyone, what they do with the people? They keep them deceived with demagogic speeches, misinformation and welfare projects.

How sad and shocking that the use and custom of the official authorities of the Bad Government is, instead of applying justice, to offer little gifts and crumbs in order to leave in impunity actions from a simple misdemeanour to a crime against humanity such as the massacre of Acteal!

Neoliberalism is built on injustice. So all its officers must be corrupt and no one dares to do justice because if they do their bosses will chase them. Now we see in Michoacan, where there was so much violence by criminal groups that Peña Nieto came to visit and offered a lot of money for government programmes. But the brothers there told him that what they want is justice. And they have even had to arm the self-defence groups there because the government does not do justice. We, the Civil Society Las Abejas, do not agree with the use of weapons but we understand that people have the right to defend themselves when the government does not want to do justice. We disagree with the use of weapons because of what happened after the massacre of Acteal. Paramilitary groups organized by the government of Ernesto Zedillo in different municipalities of Chiapas acted in burning houses, stealing belongings, evictions, obligations to take up firearms, obligations to co-operate with financial resources to purchase weapons. Because we did not want to co-operate with weapons the massacre took place.

In 2001 the displaced members of Las Abejas returned to their communities and some had to relocate to different communities. It was a return through need but without justice, because the intellectual authors were never tried and just a few of the perpetrators went to prison until the Supreme Court of Unjust Judgements freed them. Now in 2013 the same people who were asking for arms cooperation in 1997 provoked the displacement of our brothers and sisters from Ejido Puebla who had been displaced for 6 months this February 23rd, who left abandoning their belongings. The government does not accept that they are forcibly displaced, it says they are voluntarily displaced, do you leave your house and all you own for fun? Of course politicians do not know what the poverty and suffering of living in a camp for displaced people is like. What kind of government do we have which does not know or think about the life of Humanity?

On the 15th of February a dialogue was held in the community of Yabteclum, to address the issue of displacement from Ejido Puebla. The state government, through the Undersecretary for Religious Affairs, pledged to make restitution for all the damages caused by the Presbyterians brothers who caused this violence against the Catholic brothers, the government would compensate for the stolen belongings, the destroyed church, the burned houses. It appeared that the Catholics brothers would soon be able to return to their homes. But it seems to be, like in 2001, a return without justice or, at best, with only partial justice. For those who caused the displacement of 1997 and 2013 remain unpunished. And as we have already seen, problems repeatedly occur when there is impunity. For the beating of Juan Mendez and the two brother support bases, for whom they fabricated the crime of poisoning the water, for the kidnapping and beating of Father Manuel Pérez Gómez, we analyse that justice is being trampled by criminal groups, as is happening in the Acteal case.

Currently neither the President of Mexico nor the Government of the State of Chiapas think anything of justice for our 45 innocent brothers, who fell at the hands of the paramilitary groups. They have already been forgotten. But for the Organization of Las Abejas, we can never ever forget a drop of the Innocent Blood of our brothers when they were fasting and praying, and we will increasingly continue to denounce it as is our right and obligation to defend human rights. And also, we will not stop denouncing the injustices suffered by our displaced brothers of Colonia Puebla.

FOR PEACE WITH JUSTICE AND DIGNITY. No to Impunity!

Attentively

The Voice of the Civil Society Organization Las Abejas

For the Board:

Antonio Gutiérrez Pérez                                    Martín Pérez Pérez

Nicolás Arias Cruz                                             Simón Pedro López Pérez

 

Dorset Chiapas Solidarity

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February 9, 2014

We will return when we see Real Signs of Justice: the Displaced of Chenalhó

Filed under: Acteal, Displacement, Human rights — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 12:03 pm

We will return when we see Real Signs of Justice: the Displaced of Chenalhó

 ** They return to Acteal after harvesting coffee on their land plots

By: Hermann Bellinghausen

After harvesting coffee on their plots of land, those displaced from the Colonia Puebla, municipality of Chenalhó, Chiapas, returned this Thursday to the camp in Acteal where they have been sheltered since August 26th, and declared: “The necessary conditions have not been given for us to remain with peace and tranquility” in their native community.

“Perhaps some think that because government officials have now gone, including the governor himself Manuel Velasco Coello, the problem is already resolved,” but that is not so. “Our conditions for returning, as we already told the government, are the recognition of the Catholic Church’s ownership of the plot of land, the recognition and reparation of the damages, as much communitarian for the destruction of the temple’s work and the destruction of community houses,” as “the personal damages for robberies and destruction” in their homes.

“We would like to believe that the governor’s visit is a sign of his will to resolve the problem, but like President Enrique Peña Nieto does in Michoacán, it’s not enough to have one’s photo taken and make promises so that now the problems are resolved. While they want to solve everything with promises of support (money) but do not do justice, it is not going to be resolved.”

The 17 families (98 people) who are in Acteal agreed to go to cut the coffee from January 17 to 27. Later, seeing that “a lot was lacking,” they decided to stay 10 more days. So today, after 20 days of harvesting and drying the coffee, they decided to return to the “Tierra Sagrada de los Mártires de Acteal” encampment, where they have been since August, when, they say, “we were forcibly displaced by the attacks of the group headed by Agustín Cruz Gómez, ejidal commissioner of Puebla.”

The Tzotzil families demand that: “the different crimes that have been committed against us, and the kidnapping of the priest Manuel Pérez Gómez, are not left unpunished.”

Last week they denounced verbal aggressions and stoning during their stay in the ejido over the last few weeks. Now they reiterate: “What concerned us the most during the days we were in the Colonia Puebla is that the harassments against us did not stop, especially against some like Juan López Méndez, towards whom they have lot of a lot of anger because not being Catholic he didn’t want to support the attacks against the Catholics.”

Staying in his community, the Evangelicals “went to falsely accuse him of having blocked a road and they have also fought against his family.” On February 2nd, they cut the water supply to the mother of López Méndez. “They provoke crimes violating the rights of society without anyone saying anything to them.”

Francisco López Santiz, Pedro Jiménez Pérez and Simón Pedro Pérez López, in the name of the displaced, from the Chenalhó Parish Council and Civil Society Las Abejas, maintained: “We want that there to be peace and reconciliation in Puebla and in all the communities. We are open to dialogue, but we cannot accept impunity and that the crimes continue to be repeated, because that’s how we were displaced in 1997, how we were again in 2013, and all because of the same people, because they have not been punished, and if they are not (punished) they are going to continue repeating the same (crimes) and are going to continue displacing (people).”

The governments “do not apply justice to the criminals, and for this reason we are not able to stay peacefully in our homes.” And they warn: “we will return when we see that there are at least some real signs of Justice.”

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Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Saturday, February 8, 2014

En español: http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2014/02/08/politica/014n1pol

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

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January 31, 2014

EZLN Sympathisers Migrate Due to Harassment

Filed under: Acteal, Displacement, Frayba, Human rights, Indigenous, water — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 7:03 pm

 

EZLN Sympathisers Migrate Due to Harassment

In the last three years, aggression towards EZLN (Zapatista) sympathisers in Mexico has intensified. As a result, displacement has increased, with many finding refuge in Acteal.

Agustín Cruz Gómez in front of the church he is building in Ejido Puebla.

 

EJIDO* PUEBLA, Chiapas – At 2pm on 20th July 2013, the Ejido Puebla’s PRI commissioner  Agustín Cruz Gómez released a warning to the community in the Tsotsil language via loudspeaker: “Someone has poisoned the communal water tank”. The community, deep in the Chenalhó municipality, was also warned that the lives of a hundred people were at risk.

Four hours later, Cruz (also a Presbyterian minister) claimed that the only two Zapatista militants in the community – Mariano Mendéz and his son Luciano – were to blame. He also led the mob that went to their house, beat them, tied them to a post in the basketball court, and threatened to set them on fire.

Cruz doesn’t exactly have common interests with the Zapatistas. The Fray Bartolomé de la Casas Centre for Human Rights (Frayba) points out that he blessed the weapons used to perpetrate the Acteal Massacre of 1997.

The mob also arrived at the house of the Baptist Juan López Méndez – a Zapatista sympathiser. His wife, five months pregnant at the time, tried to stop them from entering, but they pushed her aside and tipped over the furniture. In the commotion, a table fell on their one-and-a-half-year-old daughter. López himself, 26 years of age, was dragged out of the house.

The mob told his wife that they were attacking him because he had poisoned the community’s water. López, subsequently also tied to a post, heard people in the crowd saying “bring petrol” and “let’s burn him”.

The three accused were eventually sent to the official authorities, accused of possessing illegal firearms, drug dealing, and gang membership. Although they never received payment for the damage done to their property, they were soon set free due to the lack of evidence regarding each claim made.

A Series of Attacks

99 people, from 17 families, have taken refuge in Acteal.

These accusations represent just one part of a series of violent events that led to the forced displacement of 17 families (18 men, 19 women, and 62 children) from the Puebla Ejido. These families were given refuge by the civil society group Las Abejas (a pacifist group linked to the Zapatistas) in Acteal. The majority of the exiles now belong to this group.

The Zapatistas have frequently denounced the intensified harassment and dispossession suffered in 20 communities in five of its Caracoles – autonomous Zapatista regions. In the Ejido, meanwhile, Cruz denies the acts of violence, sustaining that the 99 people are “self-displaced’, having “left voluntarily” and not because anyone forced them out. “They say I’m a paramilitary [but] I don’t [even] know what that means”, he asserts.

Víctor Hugo López, director of the Frayba Centre, says this was not an isolated case, but simply one more in an aggressive campaign of threats, kidnappings and dispossessions against Zapatistas and their sympathisers. He affirms that these actions “have displaced 200 people in the last three years from communities like San Marcos Avilés, Comandante Abel, and Banavil”.

No Going Back

Virginia López Sántiz

In the dark, wooden room used as a kitchen by the displaced families in Acteal, a pan boiling beans sits on top of glowing pieces of coal. Virginia López Sántiz watches over the group’s only meal with a sorrowful expression: looking downwards with her body reflecting a feeling of defeat.

Virginia arrived in Acteal on August 26th 2013, with six children between one and sixteen years of age. Her husband, Nicolás Arias Cruz, is the representative of the seventeen exiled families who, exiled from their homes, spend cold nights sleeping on sacks, sharing the few blankets they possess.

The family fled after a series of events which began when Agustín Cruz ordered the destruction on April 19th 2013 of a chapel being built by a group of Catholics. Nicolás was one of the members of the group, and he also belonged to Las Abejas. He was one of the people who reported the actions of the politician. Cruz, meanwhile, claimed they hadn’t asked for permission to demolish the old chapel and that, because it was on Ejido land, he reserved the right to destroy the one they were building in its place, later fencing off the land.

After July’s accusations, the accused, along with four others who acted as witnesses in the lawsuit against Cruz, could not return to the town. Although the state government had established a ‘round table’ (mediated by the federal government and the media) to encourage reconciliation, the seven exiles saw their vehicles attacked with stones by youngsters when they were returning. As a result, they felt they had to pull back.

Nicolás explains how “they burned two houses; a dog; our pozol (fermented corn dough) and beans; our firewood; and five crosses we had in storage”.

A day later, the parish priest of Chenalhó, Manuel Pérez Gómez, went to the Ejido Puebla along with the state authorities to verify the integrity of the Catholic group. A crowd detained him, beat him, tied him up, and threatened to douse him in petrol. Only after five hours in captivity did they release him.

This was the moment when it became clear that the inhabitants would have to leave their homes behind permanently and head into exile in Acteal.

Justice denied

Displaced in Acteal

The lawyer from Frayba, Irma Vázquez, says that the conflict does not have religious roots. She explains that ten days before the conflict broke out on April 29, the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN) ordered the release of Jacinto Arias Cruz, former municipal president of Chenalhó, who has been accused of being the main instigator of the Acteal massacre, in which 19 women, 18 infants, four unborn and eight men, who all belonged to the organization Las Abejas, were executed. All were Zapatista supporters.

Irma Vázquez states that Jacinto accompanied the ejidal commissioner on a short protest he made in Mexico City, demanding the land of the chapel. There, the pastor circulated a statement against the Zapatistas and Las Abejas:

“This is a call to violence, the youth are angry and their blood boils, and their young people are educated in violence, with a military training and structure, they are militants (milicianos),” says the lawyer.

Vázquez confirms that the displaced families have filed three criminal complaints against those responsible for the destruction of the new chapel, for the assaults and death threats, and for kidnapping the priest, and demanding that they publicly determine who was responsible for the deception about the water poisoning.

A Clean Conscience

This afternoon, the newspaper El Universal travelled along the rough dirt track to this small community surrounded by wooded mountains. Cruz showed them the pile of rocks left behind after the demolition of the 38-year-old Catholic chapel. He then revealed the remnants of the reconstruction effort that the politician had allegedly stopped in its tracks. When asked who had destroyed the building before its construction could advance, Cruz replied that “some kids” had done it, trying to deny any responsibility for the act.

When the commissioner showed the paper around the town as part of his first official interview with the media, youngsters looked down at them from their roofs, while the municipal police (who had arrived in the town after August’s unrest) stayed inside their outposts.

Cruz made it clear that, in his town of around three thousand inhabitants, there are people from ten religious denominations, including Catholics, Baptists, and Pentecostals. However, his own church is clearly the brightest and most colourful – even though it is still under construction.

With his church in the background, the minister denied the aggressions and death threats suffered by the displaced families, saying “there are no threats – nothing – they left voluntarily”. When asked if they could return, he said “sure, let them return. This is their Ejido. They were born here. Why do they want to suffer far away from here? We want a peaceful solution. Why would we want so much trouble?” At the same time, however, he rejects the exiles’ demands of punishment for those responsible for the crimes committed against them. “Right now, we’re not asking for justice. It is better that there is peace. And if they want peace, they’ll need to calm down too!” The tour then moved on, towards the basketball court where the three people accused of poisoning the water supply had almost been burned alive.

El Universal asked if Cruz had “blessed the arms used in the Acteal Massacre”, as the Frayba Centre claims, and if his conscience was clean. He replied to the first question, saying “If Frayba has a witness who can testify, let them speak up. The fact is that it’s pure gossip.” To the second, he answered “Of course! That’s why I’m seeking peace – so people calm down. As a minister, I love both God and my neighbours in the Ejido.”

A Government Counterinsurgency Strategy

Víctor Hugo López

Víctor Hugo López, meanwhile, considers the forced displacement of the exiled families to be part of the State’s counterinsurgency plan against the Zapatistas – a campaign aimed at “fighting against the civil society bases so that any EZLN expansion or territorial control is prevented”.

He also points out that there is a recurring pattern of “harassment; displacement; arbitrary deprivation of life or freedom; and kidnappings – all of which are executed by members of the community who are affiliated to a political party”. He also says that these communities are suffering a gradual or total dispossession of their land and crops, alleging that the government gives ‘support’ to “whoever is prepared to fight against civil and Zapatista resistance”.

In the case of Ejido Puebla, the “return of the PRI”, in his opinion, “means the return of the perpetrators”.

*Ejido = System of communal farming

 

http://ososabiouk.wordpress.com/2014/01/30/ezln-sympathisers-migrate-due-to-harassment/

Translated and adapted by Oso Sabio from an article by Laura Castellanos, published in Spanish at: http://www.eluniversal.com.mx/nacion-mexico/2014/ezln-a-20-anios-migran-por-hostigamiento–976881.html Friday 3rd January 2014

 

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