dorset chiapas solidarity

December 14, 2016

From Mexico City, Mexico: Pronouncement From John Gibler In Support Of The Sexta Bachajón

Filed under: Autonomy, Bachajon, Corporations, Displacement, Tourism, water — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 4:49 pm

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From Mexico City, Mexico: Pronouncement from John Gibler in support of the Sexta Bachajón 

Week of Worldwide Action in Solidarity with the Ejidatarios of San Sebastián Bachajón, from 4th to 10th December 2016

 

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Capitalism and its bad governments, as is well-known, have an infamous ability to turn beauty into destruction and pain. Murder, displaced communities, fallen trees, and poisoned water and land, all for so called “luxury hotels”. Everything just to be able to sell tickets to a parade of tourists who will pay to take their picture in front of Agua Azul waterfalls, beneath the subjective gaze that seeks conquest, and further disconnection from natural life.

Also well-known is the strength of the people’s ability to live among beauty, plant their cornfield beside the waterfalls, enjoy and care for life, water, and land with the work and affection typical of farming life.

And there is the struggle. The women and men, compañeras and compañeros, from San Sebastián Bachajón, are there resisting invasion, struggling against displacement, while taking care of life.

I send you all my respect and hugs, compañeros and compañeras.

The struggle continues!

John Gibler

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October 1, 2015

‘It Was the State’: Unmasking the Official Ayotzinapa Narrative

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 6:32 am

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‘It Was the State’: Unmasking the Official Ayotzinapa Narrative

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By: John Gibler

A demonstrator with the number 43 written on her face, symbolizing the 43 students who were kidnapped on Sept. 26. | Photo: Reuters0

Journalist John Gibler investigates the disappearance of the 43 students at Ayotzinapa.

A year has passed and we still do not know the fate of the 43 rural college students from Ayotzinapa forcibly disappeared on Sept. 26, 2014 in Iguala, Mexico.

We do know now, however, more than we did last year. We know that the police attacks against the students lasted more than three hours, took place at nine different locations in and around Iguala, involved officers from municipal, state and federal police corps, resulted in six people murdered, 40 wounded—one of whom remains in a coma—, and 43 disappeared.

\We also know that the government has amassed a case file totalling 115 volumes and accused 82 people, but mostly based their investigation on three mutually contradicting confessions.

A recent report by an independent group of experts appointed by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights—the group is known in Mexico as the GIEI for their Spanish initials—debunked the government’s conclusion that gangsters confused the students for members of a rival drug trafficking gang, sent the Iguala police to capture and hand them over, and then drove them out to an isolated trash dump in near-by Cocula, killed them and incinerated their bodies on a trash and wood pyre that burned until 5 pm local time the following day.

The GIEI’s fire expert, José Torero, a Peruvian with a Ph.D. from UC Berkeley, concluded that to generate the heat necessary to incinerate 43 human bodies at the Cocula trash dump, the fire would have needed 30,000kg of wood, 60 hours to burn and would have raged so high as to have set the entire dump and surrounding forest aflame creating a plume of smoke 300 meters in the air and radiated such intense heat that anyone who approached close enough to throw more fuel on the fire—as the confessed witnesses claim they did—would themselves have been singed beyond recognition.

I travelled to the Cocula dump several times over the past year. Twice I spoke with Cocula municipal trash workers. The two men who worked on Saturday, Sept. 27 last year both told me that they went to the dump around one in the afternoon—when the killers’ fire would have still been blazing—and deposited the trash there without incident. There was no fire. No one was there, they said, and the area was still wet from the previous night’s rain.

After Marcela Turati published in Proceso magazine in October 2014 that the dump was still in use after Sept. 26, the workers told me that federal agents went to their homes, took them to Mexico City and threatened to send them to maximum security prison if they didn’t “stop telling lies.” One of the workers said that he clearly told the federal agents he is unable to read or write and still was forced to put his thumb print on “countless sheets of paper.”

The GIEI’s conclusion that the 43 students were not incinerated at the Cocula trash dump on Sept. 27, 2014 is thus supported not only by forensic analysis, but by two eyewitnesses (not to mention hundreds of Cocula residents who could not recall seeing high plumes of smoke in late September). Yet the government insists on pushing the Cocula theory, twisting and ignoring evidence, as in Attorney General Arely Gómez’s recent false claim that a second student’s remains had been positively identified.

This insistence on the trash dump scenario has diverted attention from witness testimony and documentary evidence of Guerrero state and Mexican federal police participation in the attacks against the students. Over the past year, I interviewed more than 30 survivors of the attacks in Iguala. Several witnesses identified state and federal police participating in the attacks at four distinct locations over a period of several hours.

The GIEI report confirmed these testimonies, though that confirmation has largely been unreported, overshadowed by the debate over the trash dump.

The GIEI report goes further, citing testimony from the case file by two civilian-dressed military intelligence officers who told state officials that they observed the attacks at the two locations from which the 43 were disappeared. These facts alone—state and federal police participation in and military observation of the attacks—undermine the federal prosecutor’s story of gangsters confusing the students for a rival gang.

The GIEI report also revealed major flaws in the government’s investigation: crime scenes that were never analysed; suspects that were very likely tortured; essential witnesses never interviewed; security camera footage of one of the sites of the forced disappearance that was retrieved and destroyed by an unidentified official; clothing found at the crimes scenes that was never analysed; and, perhaps most astoundingly, a missing bus.

For months both the Mexican government and the press reported that police attacked the students aboard four commandeered buses. That is incorrect: the students travelled aboard five commandeered buses that night. This fact is of fundamental importance first, because police took the 43 disappeared students from two buses (not one, as originally reported) at two distinct locations in Iguala.

At one of those locations—beneath an overpass, just in front of the Iguala office of the Guerrero state prosecutors—numerous witnesses identified federal police participating in the disappearances.

The location of the bus from which the police took them is visible from the very security camera from which the footage of that night was mysteriously retrieved and destroyed. It is also important because the GIEI report revealed that the other bus at that location, what they call the fifth bus, about 100 meters away from the overpass, is missing.

When the experts asked to see that bus, they were led to an entirely different one, made up to look like it had been attacked. The problem, though, is that that particular bus was not attacked: federal police aiming their weapons at them confronted the students, who then got off the bus and escaped into the surrounding hills. When the GIEI proved that the other bus was not the one they were looking for, federal officials were unable to produce the now famous “fifth bus.”

This conspicuous absence both in the case file and in real life led the GIEI to propose a possible motive to explain the complexity of the attacks and the overwhelmingly disproportionate use of violence against the students that night: the sandal and t- shirt-clad young men from some of Mexico’s most destitute regions had unwittingly commandeered a bus carrying a major heroin shipment en route to the United States.

If this hypothesis were to be proved true, it would be a searing indictment of both Mexico and the United States’ so-called war on drugs. For here we would have a case showing that when a major drug load is placed at risk, whom do its caretakers call to save it? The State. Not just the local “corrupt” cops, but also the state and federal police all acting in coordination and with military intelligence watching on. This would give new meaning to the Ayotzinapa protesters’ constant chant: Fue el estado, (The State did it).

John Gibler is the author of Mexico: Unconquered: Chronicles of Power and Revolt.
http://www.telesurtv.net/english/opinion/It-Was-the-State-Unmasking-the-Official-Ayotzinapa-Narrative-20150926-0022.html

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December 20, 2014

The story of September 26, 2014, the day 43 Mexican students went missing — and how it might be a turning point for the country

Filed under: Human rights — Tags: , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 9:13 am

 

The story of September 26, 2014, the day 43 Mexican students went missing — and how it might be a turning point for the country

By John Gibler
Illustrations by Clay Rodery

Source: The California Sunday Magazine

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By the first days of October, the outdoor basketball court at the Rural Teachers College in Ayotzinapa, a town in the Mexican state of Guerrero, had become an open-air waiting room of despair. Pain emanated like heat. Under the court’s high, corrugated tin roof, the families of 43 missing students gathered to face the hours between search expeditions, protests, and meetings with government officials, human-rights workers, and forensic anthropologists. Assembled in clumps at the court’s edges, sitting on the concrete floor or in plastic folding chairs formed in semicircles, they spoke in hushed tones and kept to themselves. Most had traveled from small, indigenous, campesino communities in Guerrero’s mountainsides. Many had arrived without a change of clothes. They had all come to look for their sons.

On the night of September 26, 2014, in the city of Iguala, 80 miles away, uniformed police ambushed five buses of students from the college and one bus carrying a professional soccer team. Together with three unidentified gunmen, they shot and killed six people, wounded more than 20, and “disappeared” 43 students. One victim’s body was found in a field the next morning. His killers had cut off his face. Soldiers at the 27th Infantry Battalion army base, located less than two miles away and tasked with fighting organized crime, did not intercede.

News of the attack was met initially with muted outrage, mostly because the reports out of Iguala, a highlands city of 110,000, were confusing. For several days, conflicting counts of the missing students circulated. It wasn’t until October 4, when state prosecutors announced that they had uncovered the first in a series of mass graves on the outskirts of Iguala that the national and international media descended on the region. When forensic workers confirmed that the first of the 30 charred human remains were not the missing students, anger and horror became widespread. Throughout October, marches and vigils took place across the country. In Chilpancingo, the Guerrero state capital, Ayotzinapa students smashed windows and set state government buildings on fire. In Iguala, protesters sacked and burned the municipal palace.

Although it was neither an isolated event nor the largest massacre in recent years, what occurred in Iguala has struck at the core of Mexican society. Perhaps it was the scale of the violence, or the sheer brutality, or that the victims were college students, or that the perpetrators were mostly municipal police, or that the mayor of Iguala, his wife, and the police chief were probably behind the attack, or that the state and federal governments were deceptive in their investigation and callous in their treatment of the mothers and fathers of the murdered, wounded, and disappeared. Whatever the cause — and it was likely a combination of all these reasons — it is impossible to overstate the effect of the attacks on the country. Mexicans speak of Iguala as shorthand for collective trauma. Mexico is now a nation in mourning, and at the heart of that grief are those 43 families on the Ayotzinapa basketball court and their agonizing demand: Bring them back alive.

Every year, 140 first-year students arrive at the all-male Raúl Isidro Burgos Rural Teachers College from some of the most economically battered places in the hemisphere, where elementary schools are often single-room, adobe structures without electricity, running water, or indoor plumbing. These are among the most committed youth of their communities for whom the system says there is no place: The ones apparently destined to enter the lowest ranks of the drug-warring armies or to scramble across the Arizona desert and pick bell peppers in California or wash dishes in Chicago. The teachers college, known as Ayotzinapa, offers them a different route: a profession. Ayotzinapa says to them, “You belong here.”

Tuition and board are free. The state government provides a meal budget that amounts to $3.70 per student per day, which usually means a diet of eggs, rice, and beans. The students do all the cleaning, tending, and a large part of the cooking. The first-year dorm rooms are windowless concrete boxes with no furniture. As many as eight sleep to a room, laying out cardboard and blankets for bedding. Some fasten empty milk crates to the walls to use as dressers.

Rural teachers colleges were created after the Mexican Revolution to promote literacy in the countryside. By the mid-1900s, they numbered as many as 36. In 1969, the federal government closed numerous schools, and now only 14 remain. Ayotzinapa was founded in 1926, and, like all the colleges, has a long tradition of left-wing student organizing. Murals on school buildings depict not only internationally renowned revolutionary figures like Che Guevara and Zapatista rebel Subcomandante Marcos but also ’70s-era guerrilla leaders Lucio Cabañas and Genaro Vázquez, both Ayotzinapa graduates. Several murals memorialize two students who were killed by police in 2011 during a protest demanding an increase in the school’s enrollment and meal budget.

One of the most common “activities,” as the students call their actions, is commandeering buses. Traveling to observe teachers in rural areas is an essential part of the curricula, but the school has never owned many vehicles or had a budget to rent or acquire them. (In early September, the college had only two buses, two vans, and a pickup truck at its disposal.) The students have long secured transportation by heading to nearby bus stations or setting up a highway blockade, boarding a stopped bus, and informing its driver and passengers that the vehicle would be used for “the educational purposes of the Ayotzinapa Teachers College.”

Government officials decry the students’ actions as outright robbery. The students insist they are not thieves and that they always “reach an agreement” that includes payment. The bus drivers don’t abandon the vehicles; sometimes they camp out at the college, with meals provided, for weeks and occasionally months. When the students block highways, they typically do so at tollbooths. Surrounded by the students, drivers are inclined to “donate” the toll to the college’s transportation fund. None of these tactics is unique to Ayotzinapa, but what distinguishes them is that they have become integrated into the basic functioning of the school.

In May 2013, Televisa reporter Adela Micha interviewed Guerrero Governor Ángel Aguirre. She asked him how it was possible that the Ayotzinapa students had made a habitual practice of stealing buses. Aguirre responded that Ayotzinapa “has become a kind of bunker. Neither the federal nor the state governments can access the school. It is a place that has been used by some groups to indoctrinate these youths and cultivate social resentment amongst them.” Micha asked, “Who is indoctrinating them?” Aguirre responded, “A few insomniac guerrillas.”

The plan for September 26 was never Iguala. “We were interested in Chilpo,” Iván Cisneros, one of the second-year students who coordinated the activities that evening, told me, referring to Chilpancingo. “We always go to do our activities in Chilpo, but things had heated up there, and we didn’t want to put people at risk, so we opted to head toward Iguala.”

(The following account of what occurred on the night of September 26 is based on interviews with 14 students who survived the attacks and with more than ten residents, including four journalists, who also witnessed them. The names of the surviving students are pseudonyms.)

 

Read the rest of this excellent article here: http://radiozapatista.org/?p=11373&lang=en

 

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