dorset chiapas solidarity

October 25, 2015

“Throughout these 6.512 days we have been worn down with exhaustion,” say the victims of the Acteal Massacre to the IACHR.

Filed under: Acteal, Autonomy, Paramilitary — Tags: , , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 4:04 pm


“Throughout these 6.512 days we have been worn down with exhaustion,” say the victims of the Acteal Massacre to the IACHR.




“This massacre was planned by the Mexican State itself. We will not accept an amicable solution; we ask for the case to continue in process until the truth is found.” Acteal.

“We recognize that the state was unable to prevent these events or to respond appropriately after them.” Campa Cifrián.




Chiapas, Mexico. October 20th. “We were given a blow, but today we are here to seek justice,” explained Juan Vásquez Luna, a member of the Civil Society Las Abejas of Acteal, at a hearing before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in Washington DC, to demand justice for the massacre perpetrated against 18 adult women, 4 of them pregnant; 16 adolescents; 4 children and 7 men, on December 22, 1997, 6,512 days ago, in the community of Acteal, municipality of Chenalhó, Chiapas.

Vásquez Luna, a member of the board of Las Abejas, who lost nine of his relatives in the massacre, submitted to the Commission a study on the Massacre of Acteal, entitled: Psychosocial Study of the background, factors associated with the act and management of the emergency, psychosocial consequences and collective impact on the community of Acteal. “This psychosocial study will include a Forensic Expert Report,” he added.

“This massacre was planned by the Mexican State itself”, assured the indigenous of the Chiapas highlands through the voice of Vásquez Luna, for which reason they called on the Commission “to issue an in-depth report on the case of the Acteal Massacre, declaring the State responsible for the violations.” Las Abejas of Acteal were accompanied by the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Centre (Frayba), as they have been since December 1997.

“The Mexican government continues to promote impunity through their corrupt system” stated the Las Abejas Civil Society, noting that “Far from punishing those responsible for the massacre, they have rewarded them with lands, houses and even monthly pensions”. “Those directly responsible for the Acteal Massacre have been released,” they said.




The representative of the indigenous Tzotziles and of Frayba, warned that “there is no will for guarantees of non-repetition” and that “the return of soldiers to Acteal is a time bomb.” “There are military incursions into territories in resistance where people are building processes of autonomy,” added the Abejas of Acteal, and stated that “in the territory there are 72 military camps who are in a state of war.”

Meanwhile, Commissioner Ortiz questioned the representatives of the Mexican government “on what the Attorney General of the Republic (PGR) based the conclusion that the Acteal Massacre was not perpetrated by paramilitaries?” “If the state said that they did not preserve the scene of the Acteal Massacre, then what reliable conclusions could be drawn?” asked the human rights defender.

In his address to the hearing at the Commission, the envoy of the government of Mexico, Roberto Campa Cifrián, acknowledged that before the massacre in the community of Acteal, the State “was unable to prevent these events and respond appropriately after them.” And yet in spite of all this, “the Mexican State denies the internal armed conflict and low-intensity war that prevails in Chiapas,” said Frayba.

“Impunity is part of the counterinsurgency strategy, because it exhausts and divides the survivors, which has brought us great pain. The integral policy of attrition from the Mexican State is their weapon to kill our memory, thus leaving the crime unpunished,” the indigenous in resistance also expressed in a communiqué on October 2nd.




Following the hearing at the IACHR in Washington, the civil organization Las Abejas of Acteal held a press conference in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas. “The Impact of the Acteal Massacre is manifested in chronic stress, lack of justice and community exhaustion,” shared the Indians in Frayba’s facilities.

“It was mostly women who died at Acteal,” stressed Maria Vasquez, a survivor of the massacre. “The Mexican government wanted to exterminate us, but here we continue to denounce this state crime”, emphasized the Tzotzil indigenous woman.

“Two years and nine months after the submission of comments on the case of the Acteal Massacre (30th January 2013), the petitioners have not received the alleged remarks of the Mexican state,” explained Frayba. “As discussed earlier in this audience we have asked the Commissioners of the IACHR to urge the Mexican state to submit its observations and for the Commission to issue the in-depth report in to this case,” said the human rights body.

“The counterinsurgency stage, during the government of Ernesto Zedillo, was to undermine support from the civilian population for the guerrilla, in the highlands and northern areas, by means of police and paramilitary actions, under the command of the Mexican army and its Rainbow Task Force commanded by General Mario Renán Castillo,” recalled Frayba. “This strategy was unveiled by the document ‘Chiapas 94 Campaign Plan’,” they explained.

Frayba bulletin:

Hearing before the Commission on the Acteal Massacre:

We do not accept a friendly settlement with the Mexican state: Abejas of Acteal:

Photo: Susana Montes



July 3, 2015

Frayba Demands Investigation of Armed Attack on Zapatista Bases

Filed under: Frayba, Zapatista — Tags: , , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 6:24 pm


Frayba Demands Investigation of Armed Attack on Zapatista Bases

Frayba Demands Investigation of Armed Attack on Zapatista Bases

Frayba Demands Investigation of Armed Attack on Zapatista Bases

Francisco Madero Autonomous (Primary) School in San Manuel.

It accuses groups from Pojcol and El Rosario of attempting to kill a little girl

By: Elio Henríquez, Correspondent

San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas

The Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Centre (Frayba) expressed its “concern about the new aggressions and threats against support bases of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) in the communities of El Rosario and Nuevo Paraíso, situated in the autonomous Zapatista municipios (counties) of San Manuel and Francisco Villa, respectively.” [1]

At the same time, it demanded: “an urgent investigation into the acts of aggression and harassment perpetrated by armed groups from Pojcol and El Rosario, sanctioning those responsible and defining responsibilities in the attempted homicide of the 13 year old girl, which occurred on May 10.” On that occasion they shot towards where the adolescent was, but her father perceived what was happening and threw stones and injured the aggressor.

In a comunicado, the Frayba asserts that there is “an omission by the municipal and state governments in attending to the problem and defining responsibilities” in the acts that occurred in these two localities.

The organisation, over which the Bishop of Saltillo, Raúl Vera López presides, reminds us that last May 10 the Good Government Junta Path of the Future, with its seat in La Garrucha, reported that: “a group of 28 individuals from the Pojcol Ejido, Chiquinival barrio (official municipality of Chilón), together with another group of 21 people from El Rosario harassed and attacked Zapatista bases of this autonomous community.”

It said that on that on that occasion, “Andrés López Vázquez fired four shots at a young 13 year old girl, the daughter of an indigenous Zapatista support base, and afterwards, three armed individuals from the same aggressor group arrived at Nuevo Paraíso village and tossed out a letter in which they blame the Zapatistas base for causing the problems.”

It points out that faced with these facts, the Frayba “sent an official letter on May 14, in which it informs the Chiapas government about the armed aggressions that occurred. Carlos Leonel Solórzano Arcia, assistant secretary of government for the Lacandón Jungle Region XII answered the letter, recognizing the entry of armed individuals into El Rosario.” Nevertheless, “he does not mention any action for clarifying the facts and preventing repetitions that involves the punishment of those responsible; contrary to that, the DIF delivered supplies to the aggressor group,” besides the fact that: “in the writing no reference is made to investigating the attempted murder of a little girl.”

[1] Frayba Urgent Action:


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Translation: Chiapas Support Committee

Thursday, July 2, 2015

En español:



Risks to the lives of Zapatista support-bases (BAEZLN)

Filed under: Frayba, Zapatista — Tags: , , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 6:16 pm


Risks to the lives of Zapatista support-bases (BAEZLN)


In an Urgent Action published by the Fray Bartolomé de Las Casa Center for Human Rights (Frayba) on 30 June, the Center expressed its concern “for the new attacks and death-threats against support-bases that comprise the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (BAEZLN) in the communities of El Rosario, belonging to the Rebel Zapatista Autonomous Municipality (MAREZ) of San Manuel; and Nuevo Paraíso, MAREZ Francisco Villa (official municipality of Ocosingo), who pertain to the ‘Path of the Future’ Good-Government Council (JBG), located in the ‘Toward a New Dawn’ Caracol III of La Garrucha in the Tseltal Jungle Zone of Chiapas. Due to the omission of the municipal and state governments to attend to the problem and to take up their responsibilities, there exist risks to the life, integrity, and personal security of BAEZLN.”

On 10 May, according to information published by the “Path of the Future” JBG, a group of 28 persons from the Pojcol ejido, Chiquinival neighborhood (official municipality of Chilón), together with another group of 21 people from El Rosario harassed and attacked BAEZLN from this same Zapatista Autonomous Community. That same afternoon, Andrés López Vázquez fired four times at a child of 13 years of age, being the daughter of a BAEZLN. On 14 May 2015, Frayba responded by sending notice to the governments of Chiapas regarding the armed attacks.

On 24 June, members of the Pojcol and El Rosario groups who were carrying firearms and accompanied by Guadalupe Flores, the presumed ex-owner of recovered lands, and an engineer went to measure lands belonging to the BAEZLN. They fired ten times into the air, forcibly entered two BAEZLN homes, and robbed belongings as well roof of one of the domiciles, according to an EZLN communique published on 25 June.

Frayba calls for national and international solidarity to express support for the threatened BAEZLN.



February 28, 2015

Threats and harassment against EZLN support bases in El Rosario

Filed under: Displacement, Frayba, Indigenous, Zapatista — Tags: , , , , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 2:22 pm


Threats and harassment against EZLN support bases in El Rosario




Centro de Derechos Humanos

Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas, A.C.

San Cristóbal de Las Casas

25th February, 2015

Press Release No. 04




Threats and harassment against EZLN support bases in El Rosario

  • Pojcol armed group warns of attacks and invasion against the community of Nuevo Paraíso
  • Failure by the government of Manuel Velasco Coello

The Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Centre (Frayba,) has information on the serious situation of threats and attacks by the “Pojcol Group” against the Support Bases of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (BAEZLN) in the Community of El Rosario, Rebel Zapatista Autonomous Municipality (MAREZ) San Manuel; and threats against the community of Nuevo Paraíso, in the official municipality of Ocosingo, Chiapas, who belong to the Good Government Junta “The Path to the Future,” Caracol III, La Garrucha.

On 12th February, 2015, this Centre for Human Rights documented the destruction of a piece of land belonging to a BAEZLN in the community of El Rosario, and the tense situation that has existed for about 3 weeks due to the incursions of armed people from Pojcol, in the municipality of Chilón, Chiapas, who have fired gunshots into the air during the night.

According to the testimonies, the aggressor group has the collaboration of people from Guadalupe Victoria and El Rosario, who are facilitating the acts of aggression, threats and harassment against the BAEZLN.

On 22nd February, 2015, Frayba received information regarding two letters signed by a “representative of Pojcol group”, which warn and give a deadline to the BAEZLN: “[…] that they must withdraw the Zapatista guard from that place (El Rosario) or else we will take Nuevo Paraíso […] ” “To Avoid further bloodshed […] “

The acts of aggression and threats made by the “group from Pojcol” violate the right to autonomy and self-determination, as well as endangering the life, safety and physical integrity of the BAEZLN community of El Rosario and Nuevo Paraíso. These rights are enshrined in the Mexican Constitution and Convention 169 of the International Labour Organization (ILO), the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, as well as the San Andrés Accords.

This Human Rights Centre has been informing the government of Chiapas about the situation of risk that exists in el Rosario since July 2014, but to date they have taken no effective measures to resolve the conflict.

Therefore, this Centre for Human Rights demands from the Mexican government:

  • That the autonomy of the Zapatista Peoples is respected, particularly of the communities of El Rosario and Nuevo Paraíso.
  • That the necessary measures are adopted to safeguard the lives and integrity of the people living in the communities of El Rosario and Nuevo Paraíso, preventing the conflict from escalating.
  • That the necessary measures are effectively implemented to stop the violence against the BAEZLN.
  • That they investigate and punish the offenders of the self-identified group Pojcol, which since July 2014 has harassed and assaulted the BAEZLN and residents of the region.


On Friday 25th July 2014, 19 armed persons entered the land for regional collective work of the MAREZ of San Manuel, leaving a sign which read: “territory of Pojcol” and threatening the Autonomous Communities of El Rosario and Egypto that they would dispossess them of their lands; later, on 1st August people from the ejido Pojcol forcibly displaced 32 people from the community of Egipto. 1

On 6th August, 2014, 15 people from Pojcol entered the lands of the BAEZLN from the MAREZ previously referred to, where they felled trees and fired shots into the air. The same day, they also fired shots into the air in communities of El Rosario and Kexil. Due to these facts, the Centre for Human Rights issued an Urgent Action on 7th August, 2014 and updated it on 15th August of that year. 2

1  Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Centre, press release 22, August 4, 2014. Available at: file / newsletters / 140803_ boletin_22_desplazamiento_ baez.pdf

In English:

2  Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Centre, urgent action 03 and upgrade, 7th and 15th August, 2014 respectively. archivo/acciones_urgentes/ 140613_au_3_bazeln.pdf and archivo/acciones_urgentes/ 140815_au_03_actualizacion_ baezln.pdf

In English:










BRASIL 14, BARRIO MEXICANOS, CP 29240. SAN CRISTÓBAL DE LAS CASAS, CHIAPAS, MÉXICO. TELEFAX + 52 (967) 678 3548, 678 3551, 678 7395, 678 7396




March 30, 2014

Frayba began to speak 25 years ago with the words “This shouldn’t be like that!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 5:55 pm


Frayba began to speak 25 years ago with the words “This shouldn’t be like that!

 ** Although it started in Chiapas, its action has contributed to local and national evolution

** With the Zapatista Uprising, the centre was in the eye of the human rights hurricane

By: Hermann Bellinghausen,

San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, March 28, 2014

The Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Centre (Frayba) is the pioneer in Mexico in the exercise of this defense, which today no State that calls itself democratic can ignore. Founded in March 1989, by Bishop Samuel Ruiz García, in 5 de Febrero Street of this city, the centre was born in a local context of alarming inequality, discrimination and exploitation towards the Maya peoples of a still feudal Chiapas. The life of an Indian was worth no more than that of a chicken, according to the expression of a cattle rancher at the end of 1993. Until very recently, serfdom, the droit de seigneur, deliberate brutalization and slavery existed here.


Demonstration of Zapatista support bases in Chiapas against the “drug” war undertaken by the Felipe Calderón government in the last six-year term. Photo: Moysés Zúñiga Santiago

But an every day less isolated process was also developing, of conscience, organization, vindication of identities and collective rights among the Tzotzil, Chol, Tzeltal and Tojolabal peoples. The bishop and the very original organization of his diocese were key players in this process, in the initiative from the Vatican II Council that in time would be known as “of liberation”; also independent campesino organizations linked to national movements. Another actor, controversial, were the Christian Churches, the majority initially spread through US missionaries, promoting the search for prosperity under individualistic values, in contradiction to the ancestral communitarianism that Catholicism did not eradicate.

Presided over by the combative Raúl Vera López, former auxiliary bishop to Samuel Ruiz and now the bishop of the Diocese of Saltillo, Frayba has become independent of the church structure and inserted itself into the citizen space in the mountains of Chiapas without betraying its original objective of 1989: “the defence of the rights of persons in their individual and community dimensions, with a preference for the poor.” The six-year term of Carlos Salinas de Gortari begins, and in Chiapas also the term of Patrocinio González Garrido.

The first thing that Frayba denounces is “the undemocratic and unconstitutional character of the December 1988 reforms to the penal code” in Chiapas, and describes the situation of the hour, taking as a turning point the National Indigenous Congress held in San Andrés Larráinzar in 1974, where many analysts place the beginning of the process of liberation of the peoples. It cites the reprisals: “This situation finds its high point at the beginning the decade of the eighties, when the population in Wolonchán is savagely repressed resulting in several deaths (there is no one to count them) and injuries. In El Paraíso, Venustiano Carranza, nine campesinos are cruelly massacred.”

The “black history” of Chiapas, Frayba said on its first day, “is difficult to measure.” According to “public sources,” just between January 1974 and July 1987 “4,731 cases of repressive actions were presented: of the murdered, injured, wounded, detained and imprisoned, kidnapped and tortured, disappeared, attacks, expulsions of families, rapes, beatings, evictions, home break-ins, looting of offices and archives, police cordons, robbery of agrarian documentation, repression of marches and meetings, destruction of houses, churches and schools;” all on a theme. The work would be to combat the silence.


Señor José Torres López shows the photo of his murdered son, José Tila García, when participating in the Permanent Tribunal of the Peoples, which met last December in the community of Susuclumil, municipality of Tila, where the paramilitary group Paz y Justicia perpetrated crimes against the Chol population. Photo: Moysés Zúñiga Santiago

Indignation and Rebellion

“We face an unjust and dehumanizing reality which provokes an indignation and a rebellion in us that makes us say: “That cannot be, it should not be like that!” These are the first words of Frayba 25 years ago, when a team, in which Concepción Villafuerte, Gonzalo Ituarte and Francisco Hernández de los Santos participated, begins to tell the stories and awaken memories of the offence and illegality of power.

Similar centres emerged in the country’s capital. The same “modernizing” government had to establish its National Human Rights Commission. But the defence in Chiapas was almost as dangerous as the struggles and the mere existence of the Indian peoples. Without the umbrella of the Catholic Church it would not have been viable. In January 1994 the centre’s circumstances changed dramatically with the EZLN Uprising and the Bishop’s participation in the mediation between the rebels and the government. Frayba, directed by the then priest Pablo Romo, was in the eye of the hurricane. Now it had to defend the rights of the peoples in the middle of a war which, while the fighting lasted 12 days, the militarization and covert war had been developing without respite for 20 years on multiple fronts.

In recent days Gonzalo Ituarte, a close collaborator with don Samuel, celebrated Frayba’s contribution “to the evolution of Chiapas and of Mexico, to the action and thinking of the peoples, the communities, civil society and the Church itself.” Besides covering the field of the promotion and defence of human rights, “it has contributed with its action to the strengthening of popular initiatives, non-governmental organisations, mediation efforts –particularly with the Conai (National Commission of Intermediation)–, with a very relevant and not sufficiently analyzed role in the complexity of the unresolved armed conflict in Chiapas and its multiple collateral effects.”

Increasing legitimacy

Since 1996, Frayba is made up only of lay people, some of them indigenous. Two women in succession (Marina Patricia Jiménez and Blanca Martínez Bustos) directed it. It faced the great tragedies of the period (Chenalhó, El Bosque, the Northern Zone) and increased its legitimacy with the poor, including the Zapatista peoples. The State is obliged to take it seriously and it becomes an obsession of successive governors, like everything that comes from their propaganda radar. Roberto Albores Guillén, Pablo Salazar Mendiguchía and Juan Sabines Guerrero, as well as the federal intelligence services, spare no effort to watch, threaten and defame it. The attempts at co-optation are intense and two former directors (Marina Patricia Jiménez and Diego Cadenas) join the state governments, which only reinforces the independence of the collective project as voice, companion, advisor, legal defender of peoples and individuals determined to shake off oppression, abuse and humiliation.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Saturday, March 29, 2014

En español:

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






Frayba is another actor in a process of liberation: Víctor Hugo López

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 12:13 pm

Frayba is another actor in a process of liberation: Víctor Hugo López

 ** The director of the NGO recognizes the role of Bishop Samuel Ruiz, founder of the centre

** The largest number of denunciations it receives today are from women “hooked” by loan sharks



Ethno-sociologist Andrés Aubry and Bishop Samuel Ruiz García, during the presentation of a Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Centre report, in April 2006. Photo: Courtesy of the Frayba Centre

By: Hermann Bellinghausen

San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, March 28, 2014

“Frayba is one actor more in a process of liberation,” says Víctor Hugo López, director of the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Centre. He makes clear that the defence of guarantees is an action of commitment, and their violation as well as denunciation and action in search of justice is essentially political. After a quarter of a century of unceasing activity at a state level, Frayba’s influence and range has a national and international scope.

Bishop Samuel Ruiz García, the founder of the centre in 1989, and its first president, “encouraged its independence from the Church hierarchy in 1996,” López recognizes. But the constructive role of the historic bishop of the indigenous diocese of Chiapas gave Frayba a participative and educational character in the same communities. “Don Samuel trained many of the current human rights promoters, and they constitute an invisible network of observation and denunciation which documents, telephones, comes to our door and guides us in the communities; people committed to their own liberation.”

He admits: “Today we have all fronts open, defence of territory, militarization and paramilitarization, justice,” and what he calls “structural violence” derived from inequality and poverty. He offers an unexpected example. Currently, the largest number of denunciations Frayba receives are from women “hooked” with loans from stores like Elektra or from illegal “loan sharks” who, protected by government offices, frequently public servants, grant loans and charge stratospheric interest. “Let’s say, they give 20,000 pesos to the women, and they have to repay 100,000.” The number of reports of sexual assaults, intra-family and gender violence is also increasing. “That is the case with teachers who abuse or violate minors, but the authorities hide them, and if they feel pressure they make an arrangement with the teacher and change his place.”

Does this mean that “political” issues are no longer the centre’s principal work? he is asked. “Everything is political,” he answers. Poverty, structural violence and bureaucratic corruption seem as political to him as counterinsurgency, induced division, electoral manipulation, judicial persecution of innocents, execution of representatives, or evictions.


Zapatista women in the Caracol of Morelia, June 7, 2007. Photo: Moysés Zúñiga Santiago

In assessing the current state of the armed conflict, which has largely determined the work of Frayba work since 1994, he states: “Here we think that the State has not forgiven the Zapatista National Liberation Army for the declaration of war. In Chiapas, all the constitutional reforms, social policies and programmes, including the (National) Crusade against Hunger, have a counterinsurgency function. Maybe in other places they have a palliative function, but here they always operate to stir up the conflict. The crusade against hunger has, in Ocosingo alone, some 1,000 committees,” he illustrates. Those committees, coordinated by Martín Longoria, ex PRD member with counterinsurgency experience in the region, “stipulate that their members should not be in resistance, should have their papers in order and not hold any autonomy; thus, they are added to those who are in officialist (pro-government) ranks, or those coopted by public resources at any price.” The supporters “are obliged to fight against their brothers who are in any form of resistance: the recuperation of land, not paying for electricity, opposition to highways or tourist centres.”

He recognizes that the panorama in the communities has had “a complex evolution.” The situation “is not black and white, there is a strong social antagonism directly promoted by the State.” And cites two current events: “The attack on 10 de Abril, a community of the Caracol of Morelia, on January 30, by members of the CIOAC-democratic, could have been avoided. Prior to the acts, a group from the Frayba interviewed with officials in the government palace, and warned them that the Zapatistas were not going to permit people who suddenly have official roles to take their land away; that the agrarian authority was giving the green light to a provocation. They told us that there was a commitment not to attack or invade. They broke it within a few days.”

He remembers the role played by former Secretary of Government, Noé Castañón León, linked directly to the conflicts in some Zapatista communities; in others he even “recommended” the expulsion of those that were in resistance (San Sebastián Bachajón, Venustiano Carranza). “Today, the state government attempts to present the community conflicts as between private parties and minimizes them in the voice of the new secretary, Eduardo Ramírez Aguilar.”

Frayba today

López delineates Frayba’s functioning, which has varied in the course of years. Today, as strange as it may seem, its basic function is not the defence, but rather the strengthening of the organizational processes and the work of orientation with affected individuals, involving victims in their own defence. “We did not take the lead in the Alberto Patishtán case, he made his own strategies. But we helped to make his struggle visible, we were a platform for his defenders.” He adds an astounding reality: “There are some 11,000 cases in the country of indigenous prisoners that could be similar. They have to learn to get organized and defend themselves.” He also clarifies that the Frayba “continues the litigation of unresolved “historic cases:” the massacres of Acteal, the Northern Zone and Viejo Velasco Suárez.

“To work in the Chiapas context it is necessary to know the actors.” He mentions the number of times that in recent years alleged “comandantes” or “junta members” have presented themselves in Frayba’s offices with writings directed to the governor demanding something. “At times with seals of some good government junta, or signatures of ‘the commanders.’ Although the seals could be identical to those of a caracol, the falsification was recognisable. And the authentic Zapatistas don’t act like that.” It’s appropriate to wonder how many of these fakers arrive before governors or federal commissioners and make them believe that they are Zapatistas.

Frayba, which maintains contact with the five rebel caracoles, only disseminates denunciations and statements authenticated by the Juntas. López emphasizes that they (the Juntas) have very efficient documentation teams, “they support the denuncias with convincing evidence,” but they always try to avoid public denunciation; “they prefer to conciliate with the other parties.”

Cooptation is a tradition in Chiapas. The government has pressured, besieged, threatened, courted, spied on, infiltrated and attacked Frayba throughout the years. “For the current government secretary, who unlike his predecessors shows only disdain, we would be organized only to ‘boycott’ the state government.” That’s how much the official mentality has advanced in the comprehension and respect of human rights. But Frayba does not stop evolving and deepening its imprints on the communities.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Saturday, March 29, 2014

En español:

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






March 24, 2013

Patishtán and Solidarity with the Voice of el Amate, a cry for justice

Filed under: Political prisoners, Uncategorized — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 2:11 pm

Patishtán and Solidarity with the Voice of el Amate, a cry for justice

March, 2013

“We are governed by injustice”:  Alberto Patishtán Gomez,

 Prison No. 5 San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas

patishtancartel_normalNow hope of a just intervention by the Mexican courts has disappeared, due to the refusal of the Supreme Court to take Patishtán’s case, national and international solidarity remains as an alternative.

On March 6th, the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN) decided not to resume [its jurisdiction] in the case of Alberto Patishtán Gomez – by three votes against, from the Ministers José Ramón Cossío, Jorge Pardo and Alfredo Gutiérrez Ortiz Mena, and two in favour, from Olga Sanchez Cordero and Arturo Zaldivar -. They refused to hear the case which was raised with them by Strategic Defence of Human Rights team, which consists of Leonel Rivero and Sandino Rivero. The SCJN has delegated the case to the Tribunal Court in Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas, which has already ruled against the release of the political prisoner previously.

Leonel Rivero states that he is dismayed because it is a setback in terms of the fundamental rights of people. The lawyer claims that if the Court had decided in favour of the thesis of jurisprudence which now reinterprets the evidence (matters which a few years ago were regarded as legitimate and are now considered illegal), it would have opened up the possibility for thousands of people like Alberto – who were judged inconsistently and never had their fundamental rights and rights to due process respected – to have qualified for that precedent.

Alberto Patishtán, meanwhile, commented, “it was a chance to see justice done in Mexico, the prisoners are going to continue the struggle”. The members of the Voice of el Amate and Solidarity with the Voice of el Amate (la Voz del Amate and Solidarios de la Voz del Amate) noted that “we are outraged because the judges had it in their hands to give freedom in an act of justice. We are very determined to fight with everything needed. We will not surrender or be discouraged. ”


Historical background to the Voice of el Amate

“One of the messages we want to get across is that all you are going to see around us, you  don’t have to just watch, we should not only look at any prison we go to, there is always a reason to fight for the truth”  

Alberto Patishtán

This group of indigenous political prisoners was formed in 2005 from a story interwoven years ago and with its background in groups like the ‘Voice of the Plains’, the ‘Voice of Cerro Hueco’ and now the ‘Voice of el Amate’. They are the voices of a collective, like their history itself.

In Chiapas and Mexico, the jails are full of poor indigenous prisoners, who have been excluded and have no access to legal support, and no one respects their basic rights. But there have been times when these prisons were full of leaders, teachers and farmers, who encouraged collectives and initiatives inside the prisons.

“The most dangerous people were taken to Cerro Hueco, which was the largest prison in Chiapas. In 1998, with the dismantling of the autonomous municipalities, the jails started filling with more than a hundred people under allegations of ‘usurpation of power’; this was when The Voice of Cerro Hueco was set up, a group of prisoners who made denuncias and undertook several initiatives”, says Cecilia Santiago, of the Ik Collective.

Before that, the activist explained, there was a very large group of Zapatista prisoners who were freed in exchange for the former General Absalon Castellanos. “The Voice of Cerro Hueco were not the first Zapatista prisoners, but they identified themselves by this name”, says Cecilia, “and later in the same prison a new group emerged called ‘The voice of Rebel Dignity’ with community leaders and teachers who were organized towards the year 2000”. The last prisoners from the autonomous municipalities left prison in 1999. A group called ‘The voice of dignity’ remained inside; among them was the Tzotzil Professor Alberto Patishtán.

On July 1, 2004, this group were taken on lorries, handcuffed and huddled like cattle, to the Social Rehabilitation Centre (Cereso) 14, known as El Amate [1]. This is where the group began to be known, to understand their basic rights and to organize. Inside, they went several days without food and in poor conditions. The authorities wanted to send them to the federal Centres (CEFERESOS), but the people would not allow it; between 2004 and 2005 they rebelled, mutinied, threw out cameras, doors and locks, and achieved a less rigid system.

In 2005, Alberto comments, in church and performing the devotions of the Catholic Church, they met and became more aware. They decided to form another organization and the Voice of dignity became the Voice of El Amate.


The Voice of el Amate and Those in Solidarity (Los Solidarios)

The Voice of el Amate was founded in 2005 by Alberto Patishtán and Antonio Diaz, along with 12 other prisoners. That same year they declared themselves to be adherents to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle, even though they made themselves publicly known as the Voice of el Amate in January 2006 and a series of protests began.

From 2006 to 2008 they remained on a protest for two years inside the prison, and held a hunger strike. As a result, a reconciliation panel was set up in 2008, with the purpose of enabling the prisoners to present their cases for review. Due to the panel, the hunger strike, and to mediation from the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Centre (Frayba), all the prisoners of the Voice of el Amate, except Alberto Patishtán, were released in the course of 2008.

Inside prison and on the recommendation of the Pueblo Creyente (Believing People), Patishtán met Rosario Díaz Méndez, already a supporter of the Voice of el Amate, so that the Voice brought the two members together. In April 2009, it was decided to transfer him to the CERESO number five in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas. Alberto brought together another group, who would not be members of the Voice of el Amate but supporters or those in solidarity, because the Voice defines who is a political prisoner. Those in solidarity were prisoners who were unjustly incarcerated, but were not defined as political prisoners because although they were fighting inside the prison to defend their rights, the reasons for their imprisonment were not political ones.

Currently, the group consists of eight people. Francisco Sántiz López, support base of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation, was welcomed by this group, which gave him a bed and food at the time. Although during his year and nearly two months in jail he did not belong to the group, their relationship was one of unity and solidarity.


Political Activities and denuncias (complaints)

Cecilia Santiago notes that Los Solidarios “defined itself as a leftist movement, made itself visible within the prison and declared itself in total rebellion against the authorities”. She adds that it earned the respect of the authorities and inmates, and “suffered countless hardships and disasters through being outdoors.” Conducting a sit-in in prison, says Cecilia, requires a high level of organization and cohesion.

Los Solidarios, which became a moral benchmark for conflict resolution, was sought out to resolve issues that the prison itself could not resolve. Another of its characteristic modes of operation – in which it often combines politics and religion – is to send out public letters, through which it has become known outside, but it does not rely on a representative or spokesperson; its level of politicization and organization can be seen through these letters. The members themselves appear as actors, who do not delegate their representation.

The hunger strikes have been another means of making the group heard, even though they sometimes go unnoticed by the public. In 2008, Zacario, a catechist from the Pueblo Creyente, held a hunger strike which Los Solidarios joined days later.

The group are mainly Catholics, from the mystic religious tradition of the Tzotzil Maya of Chiapas. They have held fasts and prayers at various times to demand their freedom, better treatment or to improve conditions inside.

Cecilia Santiago claims the group has changed the prisons; it has celebrated its anniversary “rallies in places where speeches are given, the Zapatista hymn is sung and political statements are made, over a hundred people came to their seventh anniversary. For the rest of the inmates, added Cecilia, it is also an event and a lesson in how the isolation they are in can be broken if “as a society if we mobilize and participate,” Santiago said.

Supports and national and international solidarity

Alberto has received very many letters at a national and international level in solidarity with his demands for freedom. His social support is found among the Pueblo Creyente, teachers, the Tzotzil people, adherents to the Other Campaign, local, national and international solidarity groups, and the ecumenical world.

Pueblo Creyente, which, from a clear evangelizing position achieves political commitment from believers, has sympathized with the Voice of el Amate since 2008, and they in turn sympathized with Zacario Hernandez, a catechist from Pueblo Creyente arrested for a crime he did not commit, and whose freedom was achieved after a few weeks. Since then, Pueblo Creyente has held days of prayer, pilgrimage and a letter to the ministers of the Supreme Court to seek Alberto’s release.


Recognition Jcanan Lum in prison

Recognition Jcanan Lum was an initiative of several organizations. “Alberto Patishtán, beyond being a Catholic, is an ecumenical within Christianity” says Cecilia. He was appointed Minister of the Eucharist by the Diocese of Tuxtla when he was held in the CERESO 14, and likewise, was invited to lead pastoral retreats by this diocese.

Meanwhile, the Voice of el Amate and Los Solidarios are still fighting for their freedom, despite this unfair system, always supported by the hand of their legal defence, Frayba and the thousands of people in solidarity from various countries. The freedom of Alberto Patishtán and of Solidarios de la Voz del Amate depends on strength, support and solidarity. We, who are outside, continue to demand and spread the word for your freedom.


July 22, 2012


Filed under: Political prisoners, Uncategorized — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 12:44 pm

Authorities have 24 Hours to return Alberto Patishtán to a Chiapas prison

 ** They seek to delay the fulfillment of the federal judge’s order, considers the defence

** In the Guasave Cefereso they point out that they have not physically received the agreement

By: Hermann Bellinghausen

Friday, July 20, 2012

The federal government and the government of Chiapas must respond, within 24 hours, to the federal judge’s decision that ordered the return of Professor Alberto Patishtán Gómez to a state prison. The agreement is now published online, and appeared in the Official Journal of the Federation last Tuesday. Nevertheless, authorities have opted to delay the issue arguing that they have not physically received the agreement, sent by ordinary mail to the ministries of Interior and Federal Public Security, as well as to the prison in Guasave, Sinaloa, where the Chiapan teacher is being held in seclusion, and to the state prison authorities.

In the follow up to the protective order filed by the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Center (Frayba) against Patishtán’s unjustified transfer to a federal prison in Guasave last October, that same Centre reports that the Collegiate Circuit Tribunal of the Eighth Region’s Auxiliary Centre, based in Cancún, Quintana Roo, affirmed the decision in which the protective order was conceded, now one month ago, to the Tzotzil professor, an adherent to the Other Campaign and a member of the Voice of El Amate (la Voz del Amate) prisoners’ organization.

On July 17, Frayba adds, “the fifth district judge in Chiapas announced that he asked the responsible authorities to report within a period of 24 hours about the compliance which is being given to the execution of the decision,” which obliges the authorities to return the prisoner to the State Centre for Social Reinsertion of those Sentenced (CERSS) Number 5, in San Cristóbal de Las Casas.

The Tzotzil teacher, who has spent 12 years behind bars, was sent to the Federal Center for Social Reinsertion (Cefereso, its Spanish acronym) Number 8, in Guasave, at the request of the Chiapas government, when he was participating in a fast and hunger strike by prisoners who were demanding their freedom, because they consider they have been unjustly incarcerated. Their demand has attained national and international reputation and support, together with the demand to also free Francisco Santiz López, a support base of the Zapatista National Liberation Army.

Frayba declared this Thursday: “it considers that the mandate emitted by the judicial authority will be complied with so that the Interior Ministry, by means of the federal penitentiary system, will make effective Professor Patishtán’s transfer to San Cristóbal, to thus avoid the grave violations of his personal security and integrity continuing, as well as in compliance with judicial protection.”

Until now, neither the federal authorities nor the Chiapas government has responded in that regard, much less obeyed the decision. The defence for the prisoner of conscience and promoter of the prison population’s human rights considers that the authorities seek to delay as much as possible their compliance with the judicial order. They allege that they must receive the notification by ordinary mail, and then respond by that same means. If each sending takes at least 5 days, two weeks or more can easily pass before the judge’s order becomes effective. The 24 hours would begin to run as of then.

The basic demand, that is, the definitive release of Patishtán, will continue pending for an undetermined time.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Friday, July 20, 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


July 16, 2012


Filed under: Political prisoners — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 5:46 pm

Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Centre for Human Rights (AC)

San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chiapas

Bulletin No. 11, July 13th 2012

Federal Court confirms judgement of protection for Alberto Patishtán. 

We demand the immediate return of the political prisoner to CERSS No. 5, SCLC.

After nine months the federal agency, through the First Collegiate Court of the Twentieth Circuit in the State of Chiapas, released the statement  today, issued a month ago (on 14 June 2012)  by the Second Circuit Court of the Assistant of the Eighth Central Region, based in Cancun, Quintana Roo, which resolves the appeal supported by the Fray Bartolome de Las Casas Centre for Human Rights  (Frayba), in favour of the tsotsil teacher Alberto Patishtán Gomez (hereafter Alberto Patishtán) and against his unwarranted and forced removal to the Federal Centre for Social Rehabilitation (Cefereso No. 8), in Guasave, Sinaloa, Mexico, on 20th  October 2011. At the time Alberto Patishtan was on hunger strike, along with a group of unjustly {imprisoned} prisoners called “Solidarity with the Voice of el Amate”, demanding their freedom.

The Court has confirmed the amparo under which Alberto Patishtán is to be returned from Cefereso No. 8 to the National Centre for Social Reintegration of the Convicted No. 5 (CERSS No. 5), where he was before.

It took nine months for the process to be completed, on the grounds of “complying with institutionally established procedures” due to the appeal lodged by the Director of the Unit of Legal Affairs and Human Rights Decentralised Administrative Offices for Prevention and Rehabilitation, under the Ministry of Public Federal Security.

During the trial, Frayba documented actions against the right to personal integrity, breach of the right to liberty, to health, and to a simple, fast and effective judicial trial, as well as the obstruction of an adequate defence.  The Mexican State is obliged to comply with such rights by signing and ratifying several international instruments.

As mentioned above, the Frayba demands effective enforcement of the appeal, so Alberto Patishtán must be taken immediately to CERSS No. 5 San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chiapas.  We urge the authorities to promptly comply with their legal duty without delay.

Also, we demand the immediate release of Alberto Patishtán, because the allegations made against him are inconsistent and unfair, since he did not commit any of the crimes that he has been accused and which have kept him for 12 years in prison.

Finally, we thank all the people, groups national and international, for their solidarity and participation; we invite you all to continue supporting the worthy cause for the immediate release of tsotsil Professor Alberto Patishtán.



June 30, 2012


Filed under: Human rights, Indigenous, Political prisoners, Repression — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 5:16 pm

Torture Has Been Institutionalized In Chiapas as a Method of Control: Frayba

** The NGO reports that the torments are implemented by ministerial police and police from the PGJE

By: Hermann Bellinghausen

A clear result at the end of the six-year presidential term in Mexico, and particularly in Chiapas, is that torture is the preferred mechanism of police investigation and control utilized by state agents, despite the fact that effective regulations exist at the state, national and international level to prevent and punish it, maintains the broad report De la crueldad al cinismo, (From Cruelty to Cynicism) by the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Centre (Frayba), which demonstrates that torture is a generalized practice legitimized by Chiapas authorities.

“Their inefficiency in eradicating it is clear,” maintains the document of around 100 pages. Between January 2010 and December 2011 alone the organisation documented 47 cases of torture in Chiapas, eight women and 39 men, who Frayba considers “survivors of this crime against humanity.” The La Jornada reader may also remember that dozens of indigenous prisoners in the state who have struggled for their freedom during these six years, both those who have attained their freedom and those still in prison, were tortured, on occasion for political motives.

The report identifies the federal, state and municipal police, officials of the Public Ministry, soldiers on duty, and judicial and prison authorities as routine practitioners of torture, with an obvious method. In certain cases, civilians from “officialist” (pro-government) organizations, some characterized as paramilitary, also participate.

In Chiapas, “the acts of torture, cruel treatment or punishment, inhuman or degrading, have become a ‘normal’ practice, accepted by the authorities for the procuring and administration of justice, and tolerated by the state’s Executive.” This means that “the majority of the denunciations presented to the Public Minister do not go forward or encounter obstruction to their inclusion,” and therefore remain unpunished. This conclusion is based on documentary information in the possession of Frayba, checked against the information provided by the same state government  which in 2010 listed 11 cases of “alleged torture,” out of which, of those responsible, only one was assigned to a judge, and [only] two of the five officials detained were accused. For June 2011, the government only had one case under investigation.

From Cruelty to Cynicism: Report on torture in Chiapas (Jovel, June 2012) describes in detail “the patterns of torture carried out by officials and public servants of the Juan José Sabines Guerrero government, as well as the psychological and medical effects that they cause.” The cases documented in the two previous years are included, “as well as a schematic analysis of the methods and patterns of action by the perpetrators.”

The experiences of 47 victims in 15 municipalities are described and analyzed. The 15 municipalities are: Acala, Bella Vista, Comitán, Chilón, Huixtla, El Porvenir, Motozintla, Ocosingo, Palenque, Pueblo Nuevo Solistahuacán, San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Tapachula, Tonalá, Tuxtla Gutiérrez and Villaflores. The situation is the same for indigenous as for mestizos. The majority of the cases “are produced in activities related to the procurement of justice and the implementation of a public security policy within the context of the war declared on organized crime by President Felipe Calderón.”

The cases known by Frayba indicate that this act “persists above all” among members of the Ministerial Police assigned to the State’s Attorney General of Justice (PGJE), in order to obtain information or a signed confession. Due to these facts “the State is responsible for direct action and for omission, since once the torture is perpetrated it does not intervene to punish the guilty parties,” thus ensuring impunity and legitimizing this violation of human rights.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Friday, June 29, 2012

En español:


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



June 21, 2012


Filed under: Political prisoners — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 5:30 pm

Possible release of Alberto Patishtán: Bishop Raul Vera

Elio Henriquez


La Jornada
Thursday June 21, 2012, p. 44

San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chiapas.

The Bishop of Saltillo, Coahuila, Raul Vera Lopez, confirmed that spaces for dialogue have been opened with the Ministry of Interior (Secretaría de Gobernación) as to the possible release of the indigenous Tzotzil Alberto Patishtán Gomez, adherent to the Other Campaign, who yesterday completed 12 years served unjustly in prison. “I believe that opening a legal way to prove his innocence has been made possible by national and international pressure”, he said at a news conference in this city, in which he demanded the release of the teacher. There are expectations that he may be released because spaces for dialogue are open with the Interior Ministry, through the intervention of Services for Peace (Serapaz), and also the Inter-American Human Rights Commission has asked the Mexican government about this case, he said. He noted that the Fray Bartolome de Las Casas Human Rights Centre, of which he is president; Serapaz, founded by the late Bishop Samuel Ruiz Garcia; the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity; and international solidarity are all pressing for Patishtán Gomez to be released.



Filed under: Political prisoners — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 1:24 pm

We are living in a country that we have to sort out ourselves

SCLC, 20 June 2012

We are paying officials, and it ends up that we, ourselves must be the builders of justice; because those who are paid to impart justice are those who commit the injustice.”

Words of Raul Vera Lopez, Bishop of the State of Saltillo, President of the Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Centre (Frayba), at a press conference marking twelve years of the unjust imprisonment of Alberto Patishtán.

During his account and analysis of the situation of the political prisoners in Mexico, in the context of the actions for the freedom of Alberto Patishtán, the Tzotzil indigenous teacher, Raul Vera ranked Mexico as a country that is upside down, because “here criminals are left in total impunity while human rights defenders are persecuted and sent to prison (…) they lock them away so they cannot disturb the State structure”.

Alberto’s case is a clear example that the justice system does not work, because it is the families, civil society and organizations that are taking action, because there is no justice.

He also mentioned that “the Prof “ is a person known for his integrity and for his defence of human rights both inside and outside the prison, and for this they want him broken and without hope. The criminal process “is not delaying justice, it is obstructing justice.”

As a result, it is notable that there are around thirty countries who, together with national civil society and the village of El Bosque, have spoken out in support of the release of Patishtán.

In summary, Frayba recognizes that “the best [actions in] defence of Alberto are those he has taken himself” through the acts of denouncement and social struggle which he makes from inside prison.

To this day Alberto Gomez Patishtán remains in Guasave, in the state of Sinaloa, in Cefereso no 8, where he continues to talk to the other prisoners about the unjust imprisonment they are experiencing, and denouncing the prison conditions such as food, health and total isolation.


English translation by the UK Zapatista Solidarity Network for the:

International Zapatista Translation Service, a collaboration of the:

Chiapas Support Committee, California

Wellington Zapatista Support Group

UK Zapatista Solidarity Network

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