dorset chiapas solidarity

February 5, 2017

The gasolinazo and the protests

Filed under: Corporations, Uncategorized — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 9:19 am

 

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The gasolinazo and the protests

 

010marcha_chiapas_gasolinazo_1Banner in a Chiapas march: “We are fed up with: 1. the hikes in fuel prices; 2. the cost of electricity; and 3. the price of gas. But we’re more fed up with the coward who does nothing. Wake up mother fucker!

 

By: Luis Hernández Navarro

The image has been reproduced a thousand times as a symbol of the times. At the exit of a department store sacked by a plebeian multitude, a young man carries an enormous new screen on his back.

With that screen, he recovers from the offence of being needy in a country in which being so is not only a material tragedy but also the symbol of social defeat.

Installed in the perpetual fiesta of consumption, the lords of money exhibit their fortune without modesty. They exhibit their luxuries without any modesty, as material evidence of their success in life. And, the pariahs, without an entry pass to the spectacle of extravagance, watch the ostentation and opulence of the powerful from their humble homes through the window of television programmes, until the opportunity arrives to take their revenge.

With that screen, its new owner has the illusion that he has achieved slipping into the banquet of the wealthy. The robbery’s harvest, two or three times larger than the almost 10 million television sets that the federal government gave away with the pretext of the 2015 analogue blackout, doesn’t commit either his vote or his loyalty, as happened during that year’s elections.

That television is also his personal retaliation to the politicians’ endless swindles. If the ex- governors of Veracruz, Chihuahua, Quintana Roo, Coahuila and Nuevo León embezzled from state coffers without suffering any punishment, why not keep an item without having to pay for it?

He obtained that screen by breaking the law. But perhaps those above don’t do it like that? He snatched it in a strike of luck and audacity, in an act of rage and rancour accumulated for years, which the gasolinazo took the lid off.

That is an explanation for the waves of looting that have shaken several regions of the country, like the state of Mexico, Veracruz, Hidalgo and Nuevo León. However there are those who put that explanation in doubt and offer another: that of a plot. Some say that public functionaries organized the pillage as part of a variant of the shock doctrine to justify the intervention of public force against those in disagreement with the increase in gas prices, and to discourage the popular protests.

This strategy of fear combines disinformation campaigns in the social networks, public calls to rob warehouses, the absence of public force guarding businesses, government agents and police that offer money and impunity for committing robberies, and the action of provocateurs like Antorcha Campesina.

Abundant testimony and evidence have been published in the social networks that seem to corroborate this hypothesis, above all in the state of Mexico and in Puebla. In more than one video police can be seen stealing merchandise.

Has this strategy had success? Yes and no. Yes, because in different sectors of the population a climate of fear and uncertainty has been created, which has inhibited their incorporation into the protests. Yes, because groups of impresarios that were opposed from the beginning to the gasolinazo now demand a heavy hand for calming down the protests.

No, because, despite everything, far from diminishing, the social discontent continues expanding and shows no signs of weakening in the short-term. The relationship between the number of protests and looting is, according to a recap of journalistic notes, at least five to one. And no because the pillage has expanded beyond the control of its hypothetical sponsors: more than 800 businesses according to the Concanaco (Mexico’s National Chamber of Commerce).

Then, are the robberies of large warehouses actions orchestrated by government actors or are they expressions of social rancour? They are probably both. Although in the beginning they may have been induced from some sphere of power, they are also an expression of a genuine and accumulated social discontent.

Looting is the most visible face of the popular insurrection under way, but it’s far from being the only one. Meetings, marches, liberation of toll booths on superhighways and blockages of gas stations, highways, railroads and centrals of Pemex have been carried out all over the country. Expressions of solidarity abound. The big rig drivers that in Chihuahua obstructed vehicle movement say, half in jest half seriously, that they had never eaten as well as they do now because of the popular support: meat at breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The protest against the gasolinazo is an unprecedented act, generalized, amorphous, spontaneous, lacking set direction and organizational centre. In the acts, we’re dealing with multiple regional protests, each one different than the others.

In the first line of opposition are big rig drivers, transport drivers, taxi drivers, all those whose work is directly associated with the consumption of fuel. They are the ones who have organized many of the roadblocks. They have paid a high price. Many of their compañeros have been arrested.

But, irrigation farmers, campesinos, self-convoked citizens, housewives, professionals, parish priests and teachers also participate in the days of struggle. The gasolinazo hit a part of the “middle class” at the waterline and launched it into the public squares. The awesome Monterrey demonstration tells the story.

The block in power is fractured. The governors of Sonora, Chihuahua and Tamaulipas ask to reconsider the increase in gas prices. The governor of Jalisco went even further and reached an agreement with Enrique Alfaro [1] and Movimiento Ciudadano (Citizen Movement). [2] With an even more energetic tone, the Conference of Mexican Bishops (Conferencia del Episcopado Mexicano, CEM) did the same thing. And just in case something is missing, in what is the cherry on the cake on the cake of this rupture, Coparmex (Mexican Employers Association) rejected Peña Nieto’s proposed economic package.

Disconcerted, a good part of the traditional opposition leaders, social leaders as well as political leaders, have been bypassed. Their astonishment comes from the hand of the governmental inability to comprehend what it has in front of it. New popular local leaderships have emerged in the heat of the fight.

The January 7 marches, in at least 25 states, would seem to be an indicator of the advance of national protest. In them, it went from the demand to lower the price of fuels to the demand for the President’s resignation. Those demonstrations, some large and others small, could be a point of inflection in the ability to organize resistance.

[1] Enrique Alfaro is the Mayor of Guadalajara, Jalisco and a member of Movimiento Ciudadano.

[2] Movimiento Ciudadano (Citizen Movement) is a registered political party in Mexico.

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Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Tuesday, January 10, 2016

http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2017/01/10/opinion/015a2pol

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

https://chiapas-support.org/2017/02/01/the-gasolinazo-and-the-protests/

Posted by Dorset Chiapas Solidarity

 

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November 8, 2016

CNI, All Flying Together

Filed under: CNI, Indigenous, La Sexta, Repression, water, Zapatistas — Tags: , , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 2:02 pm

 

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CNI, All Flying Together

 

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Luis Hernández Navarro 

Wine consumption in Mexico has gone up in the last ten years. Its consumers have grown significantly. The sweet nectar has ceased to be the tipple of executives with high purchasing power and more and more women and young people are drinking it. But behind a few of the glasses of wine savoured in this country, lies a bitter tale of dispossession. Nearly 30% of national production comes from Baja California, and there, one of the most important wine companies in the country, LA Cetto, dispossessed and invaded lands belonging to the Kiliwa people. It intends to claim ownership of national lands that do not belong to it.

The Kiliwa are one of the five originary peoples of what is now Baja California. The company LA Cetto intends to claim legal ownership of national lands in possession of the indigenous group. The winemakers are aided by the complicity of the Agrarian Bureau (Procuraduría Agraria), which on two occasions has “lost” the files that show that the native dwellers are in the right.

As the Kiliwa chief Elías Espinoza Álvarez denounced, the agrarian authorities themselves are the ones putting pressure on the indigenous people so that we give in to the businessmen and accept unjust and inequitable conditions in contracts. As if that weren’t bad enough, the National Water Commission (Comisión Nacional del Agua – CONAGUA) gives this company special treatment, having authorised it to dig a well for drinking water, while denying the same for the indigenous people. And on top of that, LA Cetto has blocked right of way on a route the locals have always used.

Something similar is going on with fruit and vegetables for export, cultivated thanks to indigenous labour in Michoacán, Sinaloa and Baja California. Behind the strawberries, cranberries, blackberries and raspberries, the rocket, endives and chicory, the many varieties of tomato that are used to create succulent dishes, lies a long history of grievances.

The names of the companies and businessmen who reap the riches of these feasts are well known. Until a short time ago it was the pleasure of the Secretary of Rural Development of Guanajuato, Javier Usabiaga, nicknamed The Garlic King. Or there’s the transnational Driscolls, who’ve been in and out of the dock thanks to popular boycotts.

The indigenous labourers who plant the seeds of these culinary riches suffer a level of exploitation equivalent to that suffered by their ancestors during the Porfiriato (turn of the century dictatorial regime of Porfirio Díaz). Pitiful salaries and interminable working days are the rule. They have no paid holidays, social security or days off. Instead of going to school, their small children work alongside them in the fields. They normally live packed into huts or in modest houses that lack basic amenities. Clean drinking water tends to be a luxury.

But the inhuman exploitation which the indians suffer goes unnoticed in Mexican society. It’s “normal”. From time to time, as with the strike by agricultural labourers from San Quintín, the world realises they exist. Once in a while, it is reported that Rarámuris or Mixtecos live in conditions comparable to slavery in ranches in Jalisco, Colima or Ensenada. But more often, they are as imperceptible as Garabombo, Manuel Escorza’s famous character.

As in the case of the wine or the blackberries, behind a cup of coffee it’s not unusual to find a story of dispossessed originary peoples. 70% of cultivators of the bean in Mexico are indigenous people, who generally have plots of no more than two hectares. Coffee-growing is their way of life and the backbone of their existence. But transnational companies, colluding with the government, are trying to have these coffee producers abandon their livelihoods, or plant low quality types of coffee.

Recently, Cirilo Elotlán and Fernando Celis, of the National Coordinator of Coffee-Growing Organisations, decried the fact that poor provision of agricultural support is trumped by government and businesses encouraging growers to lose heart and abandon their crops, so that the companies can monopolise production and the market. “We’ve had no end of threats from the big commercial brands”, they explain, “largely because they want production to go up, sacrificing the work of the growers, our fields and biodiversity, to the interests of transnational businesses.”

The old coffee plantations are being flattened by a combination of plagues and voracious businesses. Until recently, coffee plantations were protected by the shade offered by other plants (chalahuites, citrus trees, ixpepeles, gourds, banana plants and jinicuiles). Today they are but a shadow of their former selves.

Amongst others, there are two main big companies involved: Nestlé and Coca-Cola. Apart from coffee, Nestlé sells artificial flavourings and promotes the substitution of arabica for robusta, a poorer quality bean they need for their blends. Coca-Cola, through the brand Andatti, sold in their 10,000 Oxxo shops, has inundated the market with poor coffee.

In the third forum of originary peoples of the Tarahumara sierra in defence of their territories, Rarámuris and Odamis recognised that their main problems are the dispossession of their lands, the exploitation of their natural reserves and the intervention of transnational and local businesses. They agreed the need to all fly together (all the indigenous peoples), to be collectively stronger. The Kiliwas and agricultural labourers have come to similar conclusions, as have the small-scale coffee growers and hundreds of communities all over the country.

Made invisible by the powerful, the organised originary peoples together with the National Indigenous Congress (Congreso Nacional Indígena; CNI) and EZLN will today discuss whether to support the candidacy of an indigenous woman in the 2018 presidential elections. A candidacy that forces Mexican society to take a look at itself. A candidacy that speaks not only of poverty and inequality, but of exploitation, dispossession and discrimination. A candidacy that allows them all fly together, to be collectively stronger.

Twitter: @lhan55

Translated by Ruby Zazac for the UK Zapatista Translation Servive

http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2016/11/01/opinion/016a1pol

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October 22, 2016

The EZLN, the CNI and the elections

Filed under: CNI, Indigenous, Zapatistas — Tags: , , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 12:26 pm

 

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The EZLN, the CNI and the elections

 

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Luis Hernández Navarro

La Jornada, 18th October, 2016

The EZLN and the CNI [Indigenous National Congress] agreed to consult with peoples and communities about the nomination of an indigenous woman as candidate for the Presidency of the Republic in the elections of 2018. The decision has raised a huge debate. Some see it as a complete u-turn; others as an entry into politics; and yet others, as a manoeuvre in the formation of a coalition against Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

These three opinions are not only mistaken but also prejudiced. They are based on misinformation and an analytical scheme that has as its starting point: who is not with me is against me. These views ignore the history and political trajectory, of both the EZLN and the indigenous organizations that are part of the CNI.

Since the EZLN emerged into public life it has not been a force for abstention. It has not called for abstention or electoral boycotts, but to organise and struggle. And, at least on one occasion, it promoted the vote for a candidate.

In presidential elections on 21 August 1994, it called for a vote against the PRI, as part of its fight against the state-party system and presidentialism. Moreover, on 15 May of that year, in Guadalupe Tepeyac, the Zapatistas and Subcomandante Marcos received the PRD candidate Cuauhtemoc Cardenas and his entourage. The rebels welcomed them and recognised that the then candidate had listened to them with attention and respect. Incidentally, they criticized the Aztec Sun.

A few days later, in the Second Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle, they called a National Democratic Convention leading to provisional or transitional government, either through the resignation of the federal Executive or by the electoral process. This process – they then said – should lead to the drafting of a new constitution and the holding of new elections.

Soon, the EZLN supported the nomination of journalist Amado Avendano as a civil society candidate for governor of Chiapas. And, following the electoral fraud that blocked his triumph, they recognized him as governor in absentia and treated him as such.

In late 2005 the Zapatistas called for the organisation of a large national movement to transform social relations, develop a national programme of struggle and create a new political constitution. In this context, they launched the other campaign, an initiative of popular politics from below and to the left, independent of official political parties and with an anticapitalist stance.

Although the other campaign never called on people to abstain or boycott the elections, it sharply criticised the candidates of the three main political parties, including Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. In the run-up to the elections of 2 July, 2006, and following the repression in San Salvador Atenco (on 3 and 4 May of that year) which changed the dynamics of this political initiative, at a ceremony at the Revolution cinema in Mexico City, Subcomandante Marcos personally opposed any questioning of people who were thinking of voting. Whoever wants to vote, let them vote, he said.

Some wanted to hold the Zapatistas responsible for the final outcome of the 2006 elections and even for the fraud that snatched victory at the polls from Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. A few days ago, the leader of Morena reported that in those days, the EZLN and the progressive church had recommended not voting for him (which never happened), indirectly helping to steal victory from him. Since then, the debate has been bitter and intense. It has not ceased to be this way although more than 10 years have passed.

For years, the position of the Zapatistas did not change. This was corroborated by what  Subcomandante Moises said in the communique entitled On elections: Organise, dated April 2015. There he warns: “These days, each and every time there is this thing they call ‘electoral process’, we hear and see people saying that the EZLN calls for abstention, in other words the EZLN says not to vote. They always come out with that and other kinds of nonsense.”

Later on, he clarifies the rebel position on the electoral situation of that year: As Zapatistas we do not call on people to vote or not to vote. As Zapatistas what we do, whenever possible, is to tell people to organise to resist, to struggle, to have whatever is needed.

The recent joint document from the EZLN and the CNI, ‘May the earth tremble at its core’ [quote from Mexican national anthem] represents a change in the rebels’ position. But not 180 degrees, because they have never been abstentionists.

The document calls for a new form of action, whose central theme is direct participation in the electoral context, as a form of resistance, organisation and struggle. Placing indigenous people and their problems at the centre of the national political agenda. Making visible the attacks against indigenous peoples. Building the power of those at the bottom. The decision does not mean the entry of the EZLN in the political struggle. The Zapatistas have always been there. They have never stopped doing politics since they burst into public in the armed uprising of 1994. One may or may not agree with the politics they have done, but to reduce political participation to electoral activity is nonsense.

The same can be said of the organisations that make up the CNI. The mobilisation of the Purepecha people of Cheran (a key experience in the new course of the indigenous struggle) for recognition of their self-government and autonomy is essentially political. Also the experience of self-defence by Nahuatl people in Ostula, or the Otomi community’s defence of its territory and natural resources in Xochicuautla.

Nobody has a monopoly of political representation of the Mexican left. This representation is won day by day in the struggle. Accusing the Zapatistas and the CNI of playing the government’s game because they intend to participate in the 2018 elections, outside the political parties, it is a sign of arrogance and intolerance. Ultimately, it will be Mexican society in general and indigenous peoples in particular who will decide whether this path is useful or not in order to transform the country.

 

http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2016/10/18/opinion/017a2pol

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August 18, 2016

The children of Nochixtlán

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 1:51 pm

 

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The children of Nochixtlán

 

oaxaca-1-960x500A funeral in Nochixtlán

 

By: Luis Hernández Navarro

When the helicopter flies over Casa Xitla, in southern Mexico City, the children from Nochixtlán who are temporarily housed there run to hide, terrified. The sound of the iron bird over their heads revives the fear and desperation that they experienced in their town on June 19, when the police massacred their friends and relatives.

Almost two months have passed since the attack, and the little ones haven’t forgotten what happened. The police violence appears in their drawings and in their dreams, in their conversations and in their future. When he’s big, says one of the boys, he wants to be a policeman so he can kill the men in uniform who gassed him and crushed his relatives to death.

On June 19, 26 little ones saw their fathers go out to defend their town from the aggression of the police officers and then run and hide. For days, in the esplanade of the Nochixtlán temple, two cardboard signs bore the names of the children who lost their fathers in the Federal Police attack.

That day, in the humble district of November 20, which doesn’t have water or electricity, some 30 police launched gas at houses constructed of metal sheets, cardboard, aluminium cans and scanty materials. 32 children were there, none older than 11. The little ones, seated on a mat told Arturo Cano how they felt suffocated and vomited from the smoke of the tear gas.

One of them talked to him about how they heard the police shouting: “Come here, you’re going to get fucked over here.” Another told him that they were shouting vulgarities and were provoking the teachers. Another one described how “they used their pistols and started to kill people.” And another boy said that they tossed a round thing behind a house, which “exploded, caught fire.”

In total, about 70 minors were direct victims of the police attack. The psychological damage that they suffered is raw and always present. One must add to the count of the child victims the children of those murdered and disabled by the police attack. From now on, without anyone to bring sustenance to the house, they and their mothers will have to work to earn a living.

The Nochixtlán Massacre left the tragic result of eight civilians murdered (11 in Oaxaca), 94 wounded by bullets, 150 direct victims and between 300 and 400 indirect ones. Those who suffered major injuries, who still have bullets in the stomach, how will they live now? It certainly won’t be from cultivating the fields.

The vast majority of the Nochixtlán victims are humble people, who live without savings and with very few resources. Faced with the government’s refusal to offer them medical attention, and the fear of being persecuted, they have had to spend their small incomes on poor quality treatment from private doctors.

Pain upon pain, tragedy upon tragedy, the families of the eight murdered today suffer not only the loss of a loved one, but also the weight of heavy economic debt. They buried their dead as tradition directs, feeding those who for days accompanied them in their grief. A funeral like that costs, at the least, between 100 and 150 thousand pesos, an expense that can only be paid with loans on which they must pay enormous interest rates.

Dozens of those victims gathered last July 31 in the emblematic Plaza de las Tres Culturas, in Tlaltelolco, with their crutches and bandages. With rage and courage, they narrated to the press their pain and showed their wounds. “We are here –they said– we have a name, we have a face, we are afraid. We are here, we have come to demand justice, not money.”

Enraged by the signals from PRI deputies like Mariana Benítez (assistant prosecutor when the 43 Ayotzinapa rural teachers’ college students were disappeared, and co-author of the “historic truth”), they denounced that: “there were bullets that entered through the mouth and came out through the ear; shots that impacted in the legs, the ankles, the groin, as well as the stomach, the chest, the back, the feet and the toes.”

The anger of the Nochixtlecos towards Deputy Benítez and the other members of the special legislative commission, for their investigation of the facts of Nochixtlán, comes from the huge contempt with which they (the commission members) have treated them. Their word is worthless. Although this commission has been formed since last July 6, its members have still been unable to meet with representatives of the Victims Assembly. They have talked to the PGR, the president of the CNDH [National Human Rights Commission] and the Oaxaca ombudsman, but not to those directly affected.

Moreover, various legislators have questioned the account of the facts given by the victims. This is what happened, for example, last July 26. That day, the titleholder of the position of Head of Human Rights of the People of Oaxaca, Arturo Peimbert, challenged before the commission the clarity of what the Federal Police (Policia Federal, PF) operation was pursuing in Nochixtlán, because “if they wanted to achieve the eviction of the superhighway in 15 minutes, they succeeded,” and he asked: “Why did they enter and raid the urban zone, the districts like November 20?” Several members of the commission responded angrily, placing his version in doubt.

Almost two months have passed since the Nochixtlán Massacre, and the federal government has been unable to offer a coherent and credible report of what happened. Nevertheless, versions have been leaked to the press that exonerate the Federal Police and the Gendarmes for the repression, at the same time as blaming five popular organizations in the region. A new ‘historic truth’ is underway.

It’s urgent to know the truth about what happened in Nochixtlán, to punish those responsible and to repair the damage. It’s urgent for the children and those affected to be healed. As the victim say: “if the government invested so much in murdering us, they should now invest it in healing us.”

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Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

En español: http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2016/08/16/opinion/017a1pol

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

Posted with minor edits by Dorset Chiapas Solidarity on 18/08/2016

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March 26, 2016

Government prepares big offensive against the Zapatistas

Filed under: Indigenous, Repression, Zapatistas — Tags: — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 9:21 am

 

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Government prepares big offensive against the Zapatistas

 

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JOSÉ ANTONIO ROMÁN

La Jornada

Wednesday 2 March 2016

The Government prepares for a big offensive against the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) who despite persecution and harassment have dedicated themselves to building autonomous spaces and development through the unprecedented work of the Councils of Good Government.

 

In a panel discussion ’20 years after the San Andrés Accords’ organised by Casa Lamm and La Jornada, various researchers, writers and specialists in indigenous law warned about the threat already denounced by the Zapatistas.

“When the Zapatisas speak, they are not playing around, and as they said in their last communique the threat is real,” stated Luis Hernández Navarro, coordinator of the Opinion section of this newspaper and EZLN advisor during the San Andrés negotiations. He emphasised “The warning signs are flashing.”

Similarly, Magdalena Gómez Rivera, a lawyer specialising in indigenous law, commented that in this new phase of aggression the State “views the Zapatistas as being alone” and she urged society and social movements to become aware of the looming risk of attack on the Zapatistas.

12801545_175719459481250_2708846574001961454_nAlong with Gómez and Luis Hernández, the politician and anthropologist Gilberto López y Rivas and Francisco López Bárcenas, one the most renowned theorists on indigenous law, analysed the significance of the San Andrés Accords in terms of the rights of indigenous communities. Although they were signed on the 16th of February 1996, the Government has never fulfilled the agreement, betraying the EZLN and other indigenous communities.

Hernández Navarro said the Government always behaved as if they wanted to derail the negotiation process.

López Bárcenas highlighted that the Zapatista proposal is comprised of three main concepts:  a return to being humans as the core of our actions, setting material goods aside; reestablishing solidarity amongst humanity; and building a new relationship with nature.

 

Translated by the UK Zapatista Translation Service

http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2016/03/02/index.php?section=politica&article=009n2pol

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October 8, 2015

Human Rights: time to tell the truth

Filed under: Human rights — Tags: — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 3:03 pm

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Human Rights: time to tell the truth

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By: Luis Hernández Navarro

One blow after another! Hard and to the head! The provisional report on the Human Rights situation in Mexico, elaborated by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), caused tremendous discontent in the Enrique Peña Nieto administration.

It’s one more strike at the tiger. Since a year ago, one after the other, the Peña Nieto administration has lost all the relevant diplomatic battles about the condition of human rights in the country. His policy of contesting harm in international forums seems strained. His ability to pressure multilateral agencies is extremely diminished. His manoeuvres have not been able to impede the grave human rights situation that prevails in the country from being known.

Members of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights give a report on their 5-day visit.

Members of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights give a report on their 5-day visit.

The IACHR delegation was in Mexico between September 28 and October 2. Its arrival was preceded by multiple tensions with the federal government. According to what the director of the Pro Human Rights Centre, Mario Patrón, reported at a session in Washington held the last week of July, in which they discussed prolonging the mandate of the GIEI, Mexico’s ambassador to the OAS, Emilio Rabasa, and the executive secretary of the IACHR, Emilio Álvarez Icaza, had a confrontation.

Finally, the Secretary of Foreign Relations (SRE, its initials in Spanish) felt forced to extend an invitation at the IACHR plenary in order to avoid the organisation including Mexico in the fourth chapter of its annual report. A State is included in the fourth chapter if the organisation (the IACHR) assembles information from multiple sources that show evidence of grave and systematic violations of human rights, including the conclusions of other international human rights agencies about the country’s situation.

Rabasa, who, during the time of Ernesto Zedillo headed, with more pain than glory, coordinating the dialogue in Chiapas, wanted to paint favourably in the media his differing with the IACHR. Nevertheless, several sources maintain that effectively the clash was presented and regarded much as being terse. The angry governmental response, accompanied by a media barrage against Emilio Álvarez Icaza, shows that the pulse among both was not exactly hunky-dory.

In the field, the IACHR proved the grave human rights crisis that the country is experiencing, characterized by a situation of extreme insecurity and violence, a lack of access to justice and impunity. What happened to the 43 Ayotzinapa students –the commission concluded– is not an isolated tragedy, but rather part of a pattern of violating human rights.

derecvRegarding the disappeared students from the Raúl Isidro Burgos Rural Teachers College, the Commission’s president, Rose-Marie Belle Antoine, said that in the investigation in charge of the PGR the organism is obliged to determine corresponding criminal responsibilities. Besides –she pointed out– the attorney general’s office must adopt as soon as possible the measures requested by the GIEI: designating a special counsel in charge of the investigation, renewing the whole team, reorienting the investigation and permitting the experts to interview all the witnesses, including the soldiers from the 27th infantry battalion.

The federal government, through the assistant secretary of Governance, Roberto Campa Cifrián, turned to saying that the document of the IACHR “does not reflect the country’s situation,” and that the Ayotzinapa case is “absolutely extraordinary.” He questioned the objectivity of a preliminary report made in just five days, based on their tour through only five federated states and the Federal District.

The arguments of assistant secretary Campa were not very original. They are almost the same as those that were used to fence with the presentation of the first human rights reports in our country in 1986. One of them is titled Mexico, human rights in rural zones: exchange of documents with the Mexican government on human rights violations in Oaxaca and Chiapas; the other was titled: Amnesty International’s Concerns about Mexico. Miguel de la Madrid was president then. Both reports –like those that would come afterwards– were objected to with the same reasoning that Campa is using now.

The official ignorant stubbornness in the face of the assignations about the grave situation in the matter of human rights in the country from the beginning of the Enrique Peña administration is not limited to the case of the IACHR. An embarrassing incident also occurred with the UN’s special relator against torture, Juan Méndez, with whom the SRE entered into direct confrontation. Nor did the assignations of the United Nations Committee against Enforced Disappearance and those of the relator against extrajudicial executions, Christof Heyns, sit well with the federal government.

The IACHR’s report was given in the preamble to the visit of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Hussein, which started on October 4. Together with other pronouncements emitted in the UN, they set a precedent about the orientation that the visit of this functionary could have.

The Inter-American Commission’s report put on the table the need to create an organisation against impunity in the country, or for investigating the case of the 43 disappeared Ayotzinapa students, similar to the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (Cicig, its initials in Spanish). A great variety of voices, both national and foreign, were heard demanding an exit in this direction.

Immediately, Campa Cifrián hushed them saying that the “outside institutions do not substitute for the Mexican ones, because outside solutions are easy exits that lead to failure… history also assures that Mexicans have to find the country’s solutions.

The governmental version about the human rights crisis has become unsustainable on the international terrain. Its diplomatic manoeuvres for concealing what is evident function less and less each time.

The German dramaturge Berthold Brecht wrote: “When the hypocrisy begins to be of very bad quality, it’s time to begin telling the truth.” In human rights matters that time has come for Mexico.

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Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Translation: Chiapas Support Committee

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

En español:http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2015/10/06/opinion/015a2pol

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September 23, 2015

Family Members of 43 Disappeared Students Steadfast in Their Search

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 6:22 pm

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Family Members of 43 Disappeared Students Steadfast in Their Search

   Jhosivani Guerrero de la Cruz Photo: ayotzinapasomostodos.com [WeAreAllAyotzinapa]


 
Jhosivani Guerrero de la Cruz
Photo: ayotzinapasomostodos.com [WeAreAllAyotzinapa]

Luis Hernández Navarro

La Jornada, 22nd September, 2015
A portrait of Jhosivani Guerrero de la Cruz is painted a few meters from his house on the outside walls of the tele-middle school [distance learning] in Omeapa. Next to him are the faces of two other friends from the pueblo. They grew up and studied together. Together they entered the rural normal school of Ayotzinapa. Together they disappeared.

Omeapa is about 15 minutes drive from Tixtla de Guerrero, the municipal seat. Omeapa has fewer than 400 residents, some of whom still speak an indigenous language. They live in ninety modest houses, many with dirt floors. More than forty of them over the age of 15, can neither read nor write.

Jhosivani is the youngest of seven children in a family that works in farming. As a child he loved to play with cars. His relatives say that he is a potential little genius. Before entering the normal school [teachers college], he passed the time inventing all kinds of instruments. He wanted to be a chemist, but going to college was impossible. His parents keep his room just as he had it before the tragic September 26. The wires he used in his creations are still there.

His parents first called him Efraín, but the name did not suit him. After several attempts, they named him Jhosivani. With a slender face, his classmates nicknamed him The Korean. When they disappeared him, he was 20 years old. He entered the teachers college to have a profession, to get ahead and help his community.

On September 16, Arely Gómez, Attorney General of the Republic, declared that forensic experts from the University of Innsbruck in Austria had concluded that there is a 72-to-1 probability that a bone fragment analyzed by them belonged to someone (genetically) related to the student’s mother [rather than to any other person]. The remains were found inside a bag that, according to experts with the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team (EAAF), was discovered without following steps established [to assure] the chain of custody. With utter lack of sensitivity, rather than first informing Jhosivani’s family members of the finding and conclusions, the Attorney General publicly announced the results.

Members of the EAAF gave the Attorney General’s version an unusual reprimand by explaining that the conclusion of the analysis performed by the Innsbruck laboratory on the remains is that there are indications, but not certainties.

Anayeli, Jhosivani’s sister, thinks that after so many lies the government has told them about the disappeared youths, it is difficult to say now what might be true. Anayeli, Pedro Juárez (her husband), Margarito (her father)—whom they call Don Benito—and her mother, Doña Martina, have searched tirelessly for Jhosivani.

At first, Anayeli was distressed to tell her mother, whose health is very delicate from so much grief, about the new claims by government officials. Deeply upset, Anayeli said: “We can only hope and trust in God. It is a profound pain and an anguish so great that I’m living through for my little brother right now!”

When Doña Martina finally heard the news, she did not believe the government.

For the Guerrero de la Cruz family and other family members of the 43 disappeared, life changed dramatically on the night of September 26. The search for their boys became the centre of their existence. Everything changed. For them nothing is the same.

Many family members have moved to the Raúl Isidro Burgos Rural Normal School. Their days and nights take place within its walls. There they sleep, eat, wash and dress themselves, inform and organize themselves, meet with supportive groups. From there they face the new challenges that lie ahead, keep abreast of what is happening, keep searching for their loved ones and set out for their committees and meetings.

Not just a few have had to leave behind crops, care of animals and preparation of the land for new plantings. Others have lost their jobs. The work of maintaining properties and houses has been abandoned. The family dynamic has profoundly changed. In some families, members take turns participating in meetings and marches.

Putting themselves into movement as an organized community, they honour their sons. Nothing else has mattered to them—not the distance between their houses and the school, not their health, not their economic insecurity. Searching for their sons is central to their lives. It is an urgency that permits neither pause nor rest. They dream about them, think about them, speak with them, dedicate their memories to them, feel with them.

Networks of solidarity and bonds of affection able to withstand adversity and despair have been woven among the relatives of the disappeared. One year together, united by a common tragedy, has tempered them as a group and allowed them to deal with the natural diversity of their views.

The family members expect nothing from the government. The authorities have deceived them. They have transmitted false expectations about their sons’ whereabouts. They have broken promise after promise. Several officials have insulted them by trying to bribe them, divide and discredit them. The official versions—distorting and misrepresenting the facts, then using the power of the media at their service to propagate [the distorted, misrepresented facts]—have generated enormous frustration and distrust. Again and again, repression has been the response to their demand for truth and justice.

When on September 24, almost one year after the tragedy, parents of the 43 Ayotzinapa students are to meet once again with President Enrique Peña Nieto, they will do so with great distrust, suspicion and anger. Doña Martina, Jhosivani’s mother, says:

“I feel bad not having my son close to me. I love him so much. He knows that wherever he might be, I am going to look for him. I want him back with me. They took him alive, and I want him back alive.”

In many different ways, the other parents and relatives of the disappeared say the same thing. They are going to the meeting with the President demanding the safe return of their young men.

Translated by Jane Brundage

http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2015/09/22/opinion/017a1pol?partner=rss

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September 9, 2015

Ayotzinapa: The Fire and the Ashes

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 7:00 pm

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Ayotzinapa: The Fire and the Ashes

Luis Hernández Navarro

La Jornada, 8th September 2015
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The official story about the tragedy of Iguala was reduced to ashes. The “historical truth” of ex-attorney general, Jesus Murillo Karam, was engulfed in the flames of the evidence. The report from the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (IGIE) of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) demolished the foundation of the government’s version of events. As one mother said, “We knew that was a lie.”

According to the IMIC report, the attacks in Iguala, on normal school students from Ayotzinapa on September 26th of last year, sought to stop the three buses seized by young people in Iguala [rural normal school students have a long-standing practice of seizing commercial buses to use to get to demonstrations], and the two that they had arrived in, from leaving the city. As well as punish the young people.

It is untrue that—as Murillo Karam said—the students tried to sabotage the ceremony of María de los Ángeles Pineda [wife of the mayor, José Luis Abarca] as president of the Iguala Comprehensive Family Development Programme. When they arrived in the city, the event had ended an hour previously.

The aggression against the students was massive, staggered and indiscriminate. It was carried out in nine different places and at different times (over a three-hour span), under direction and coordination.

The magnitude and sophistication of the attacks required complex levels of communication, infrastructure, and coordination, which did not remotely correspond to those that the Warriors United cartel have in the area. In Iguala, there is no record of an operation of this magnitude, nor are there records of murders, disappearances, or concealment of human remains in graves. Someone else, with more resources, knowledge and ability to act in the area, must have been responsible for this.

The operation against the students had two distinct stages: two heads of the same coin. On the first, the attack on the buses and on those who participated in the press conference to denounce the initial attacks, the attackers did not hide their identities nor did they mind the presence of witnesses. On the second, the enforced disappearances of the students, the perpetrators sought to conceal and erase any traces of the crime or their identity. The decision to enforce the students to disappear was a continuation of the violence unleashed against them from the start. Both were part of the same operation.

According to IACHR experts, a qualified and independent expert showed, conclusively, that the government’s version, where the 43 students were murdered by a group of hitmen and their remains were incinerated in a Cocula Municipal garbage, is unverifiable. Thus, the centre of the government’s account is a total wreck.

The report not only shows that the “historical truth” was a lie, but also raises serious questions about the responsibility of public officials and security institutions in the extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances and attacks on the students of the Raúl Isidro Burgos Rural Normal School.

State, municipal and federal police, as well as the army, were immediately informed, practically all the time, of the tragic events of September 26, 2014 in Iguala. Security forces were aware through the State Control, Command, Communication and Computing Centre (C-4) of what the Ayotzinapa students did since their departure from the school, missing a moment at 6pm, until they were attacked and arrested.

Despite officers of various security forces or the army knowing that the Ayotzinapa students were being violently attacked by uniformed personnel and armed civilians, they did nothing to prevent it. Although police and soldiers found themselves in the same place as the events, they allowed the young people to be barbarically assaulted.

However, there are two moments when C-4 communications disappeared. Interestingly, this lack of information coincides with the time after the first attack in Juan N. Álvarez Street and the time when they perpetrated the second attack in the same spot. In accordance with an official document of the Civil Protection Coordination of Chilpancingo, the information transmission from C-4 was interrupted at certain periods because the communication was blocked by the Secretariat of National Defence.

That means that, for some unknown reason, the Army blocked C-4 communication at the exact moment when the two key attacks against the students were carried out. Why they did this is a question without an answer.

These are not the only cases where the report highlighted military participation on that night in Iguala. Parts of the 27th infantry battalion were present at various crime scenes, unsuccessfully looked for detained students at police headquarters and interrogated (and threatened) the young people that were found in the Cristina Clinic asking that one of their peers be taken care of.

The Iguala tragedy is today a battle ground between memory and oblivion. The government bet on putting the attacks, extrajudicial executions and enforced disappearances of the students behind them. Relatives of the victims have not given up on uncovering the truth and getting justice. The IGIE report is one point in favour of memory; a step forward in the search for truth and justice.

Translated by Amanda Coe

http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2015/09/08/opinion/018a2pol

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August 8, 2015

The blitzkrieg against the teachers

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 2:01 pm

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The blitzkrieg against the teachers

Oaxaca teachers block access to Pemex (the state-owned oil company) facility.

Oaxaca teachers block access to Pemex (the state-owned oil company) facility.

By: Luis Hernández Navarro

Pursued by the public ridicule provoked by El Chapo Guzmán’s escape, the uneven devaluation of the peso, the stagnant economy, the failure of the first oil round and the incessant violation of human rights, the government of Enrique Peña Nieto decided to spread a cloud of smoke over its misfortunes and move forward by giving a slap on the hand to the Oaxacan teachers.

As if the teachers were a threat to national security, the Los Pinos [1] blitzkrieg moved thousands of uniformed forces to Oaxaca: 4,000 federal police, three brigades of military police with 660 members each, besides the 4 thousand soldiers from the Military Zone.

And if that was not enough, they occupied public buildings and strategic infrastructures, flew helicopters over the state’s capital, illegally froze the bank accounts of the teachers’ union and of some of its leaders and hung the sword of Damocles (possible detention) over their heads.

On the way, they disappeared by decree, without any notification, the State Institute of Public Education of Oaxaca (Ieepo, its initials in Spanish) and unilaterally broke the promises that regulated labour and professional relations between the state government and the teachers.

The Ieepo is the equivalent of the secretariats of Education that exist in other states. It was created in 1992, during the government of Heladio Ramírez, within the framework of the signing of the National Agreement for the Modernization of Basic and Normal [2] Education (Anmeb), impelled by then President Carlos Salinas in order to try to resolve the problems of gigantic growth and bureaucracy in the Secretariat of Public Education (SEP).

Despite the fact that the Section 22 teachers opposed the federalization of teaching, they accepted the institute’s formation as a decentralized body. On October 28, 1992, they signed the principal memorandum. It is false that it (Section 22) has taken power over the institution. The governor has always designated the institute’s director and its board of directors. The teachers chose some of the mid-level directors, using academic and professional criteria.

Los Pinos presents the disappearance of the old Ieepo as the measure that would allow the state government to recover the stewardship of education. This is false. It has already lost it to the hands of the federal government. In fact, the new body abrogates the federalization of education and inserts its leadership group into the SEP. On the way, it incorporates into its leadership people as well informed in educational issues as the secretaries general of Government, Health, Finances, Administration, Social Development, Cultures and Arts, Controllership and Transparency.

Ironically for the education reform, the director of the new Ieepo is the same person who has been at the front of the old Ieepo since October 2014: Moisés Robles Cruz. Trained as a lawyer, a member of the group close to ex-governor Diódoro Carrasco –with whom he collaborated as coordinator of Documentation and Management Control of the office when he was Secretary of Governance–, the man now responsible for basic and normal public instruction in Oaxaca is ignorant of the world of pedagogy.

Rather than heading up teaching, his career makes him more suited to being the chief of police: he was an agent of the Public Ministry in the Oaxaca State Attorney General of Justice and, afterwards, director general of Legal Issues for the Federal Police, in the times of the ineffable Genaro García Luna.

According to the government’s media campaign, the representation of the leaders of Section 22 comes, not from the mandate of its bases, but rather from the alleged control that they have over the Ieepo. They have spread the idea that the strength of the National Coordinator of Education Workers (CNTE) depends exclusively on Oaxaca. And, on the way, they have made allusions to the fact that, following the current actions against the Oaxaqueños, protests in the rest of the country will stop.

But that is not going to happen. The blitzkrieg will not stop teacher discontent on a national scale. The current uneasiness of the teachers is not limited to the CNTE, nor is the strength of the Coordinator (CNTE) constrained to Oaxaca, although its most consolidated contingent is there. It is false that the legitimacy of the leadership of Section 22’s education workers depends on their influence on the Ieepo.

The democratic movement in the state emerged in May 1980. Between 1980 and 1992 –the date on which the Ieepo was formed– it acted on the state and national political scene with much vigour and capacity to convoke. It did so despite the fact that, at different times, it did not have formal representation, because, between 1985 and 1989, Carlos Jonguitud was opposed to the realization of its congress. The union did not have one cent of union dues for moving. And, despite that, it continued acting and was a headache for the governors. Having or not having Institutional support was not an impediment to its protest.

The current leadership of the union in Oaxaca is transitory; in fact, all of them have been ever since the first democratic committee was named in 1982. No representative is re-elected. At the end of their period in union office, they return to their school. Throughout the 35 years of life that the movement has had, it has formed hundreds of leaders. Putting some of them in prison can be a misfortune, but it doesn’t decapitate the organization.

Oaxacan teachers have a political culture of struggle many decades long. It was nourished in part and developed through centuries of resistance from the indigenous communities. Its actual behaviour has little to do with the caricature that power has made of the movement. It knows how to advance and recede, to pressure and to negotiate intelligently.

The police and the Army are now in Oaxaca. How much time will they be able to stay in the state? It is holiday season. Are they going to send a gendarme to each one of the schools when classes resume? The government has a lot of fronts to attend to. It cannot concentrate forces there indefinitely. This movement has had 35 years of life, and has survived everything they have wanted to do to it. The party is not over.

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Translator’s Notes

[1] Los Pinos (The Pines) is Mexico’s presidential residence, like the White House is in the United States.

[2] A “normal” in Mexico means a rural teachers college, like Ayotzinapa.

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Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Translation: Chiapas Support Committee

Friday, July 24, 2015

En español: http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2015/07/24/opinion/007a1pol

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May 14, 2015

Baja’s day labourers suffer police repression

Filed under: Repression — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 6:21 am

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Baja’s day labourers suffer police repression

by Chiapas Support Committee

Police repression in Baja

Police repression in Baja

 EZLN is in solidarity

Baja California state police attacked farmworkers on strike in that state for better wages and working conditions. On May 9, twenty patrol cars full of police agents entered the Triqui community of Nuevo San Juan Copala, in the San Quintín Valley, under the mistaken impression that members of the Alliance of Organizations for Social Justice were there to incite some of the community’s residents to set a farm on fire. The police started to detain one person; community members came out to defend him and a few threw stones and used sticks to repel the police. The police, in turn, used rubber bullets. Police originally detained 17 people, but 12 were released. Five remain in police custody. 70 people were injured, 7 of them gravely. At the close of the Seminar on “Critical Thought versus the Capitalist Hydra,” the EZLN expressed solidarity with the jornaleros (day labourers.) Below is a La Jornada article regarding the federal government’s handling of the strike.

A small tank is set on fire in the San Quintín Valley of Baja California

A small tank is set on fire in the San Quintín Valley of Baja California

SAN QUINTÍN: IRRESPONSIBLE INDOLENCE

Luis Hernández Navarro

From exhaustion to repression, from indolence to joke, that’s how the strategy that the federal government has traced for “resolving” the conflict of the San Quintín jornaleros[1] can be summarized.

Almost two months have passed since March 17th, when thousands of farmworkers from this agro-exporting enclave broke out in a general strike to denounce the savage labour exploitation that they suffer and to demand a dignified salary increase. Instead of resolving the movement’s demands, the government of Enrique Peña Nieto first gambled on its  weakening and discouragement and, later, on violent contention.

Nevertheless, neither of those manoeuvres has been effective for disarticulating the day labourer protest. Despite the eight weeks of struggle transpired, it maintains itself fed with the combination of moral indignation in the face of a savage model of exploitation and a cohesive and vigorous associative base community fabric.

The May 9 repression shows it. That day, using the pretext that they wanted to set fire to an agricultural unit, the state preventive police beat residents of the Triqui settlement Nuevo San Juan Copala when some of its residents were exhorting the farmworkers to maintain the strike. Residents responded by confronting the police with rage.

Nuevo San Juan Copala is a colonia of San Quintín, which in 2010 had little more than 1,600 inhabitants, the majority Triquis. It took the name of the community of origin of its founders in Oaxaca. It was formally established in 1997 on lands occupied by jornaleros who were seeking dignified housing and fleeing from the oppressive agricultural camps. Since then, the collective action of its residents achieved obtaining services and basic infrastructure: orderly subdivision of land, public lighting, safe drinking water, schools and improvement of the streets. Simultaneously, it installed a figure of the Triquis’ political representation.

Its residents have developed –according to what Abdel Camargo explains in Asentamiento y organización comunitaria– [2] a form of political and community organization that combines traditional organs of authority based on its places of origin with newly created institutions. This re-invention of tradition has permitted them to appropriate new spaces of residence, to develop collective practices that generate a strong cultural identity and to strengthen their management capacity.

The standard life of the settlement, explains Camargo, is organized around three traditional figures, natives of their communities of origin. These are: the traditional authority, the community’s political representative and mediator; the council of elders, which orients and gives its opinion on the settlement’s relevant issues, and the system of majordomos, in charge of the organization and realization of the fiestas in honour of the patron saint.

Thus, when last May 9 the state police repressed the residents of Nuevo San Juan Copala to discourage their struggle and send a signal to the striking San Quintín jornaleros about what awaited them, they butted heads with a vigorous community organization, constructed and forged from the heat of the struggle for almost two decades. The result of this manoeuvre was counter-productive.

The violence against residents of Nuevo San Juan Copala was the last link of a failed strategy. At first, the federal government gambled on confining the struggle to the state ambit, hoping that it would die out. When the conflict was nationalized and internationalized, it had to accede to installing a negotiating commission, headed by the assistant secretary of Governance, Luis Miranda.

Police fired rubber bullets on striking day labourers

Police fired rubber bullets on striking day labourers

Far from seeking solutions, the negotiating (dialogue) table between the jornaleros and the authorities last March 24th was a manoeuvre to gain time. The official retinue, which consisted of the governor of Baja California, Francisco Vega de la Madrid, and the heads of the IMSS, the STPS, senators and deputies, came without any proposal. First it impeded the press passage to the meeting. Then it behaved as if it knew nothing about the origin of the conflict. Mockingly, the governor –according to what Arturo Alcalde wrote– said to the jornaleros: “You have the word; we are here now. Tell us what your requests are.”

The public functionaries dedicated themselves to confusing the work. Finally, assistant secretary Miranda put into effect operation surprise attack: without having convened a meeting between the parties, he announced a future meeting on May 8th, in which he would give an integral solution to the demands; he invented that an agreement had been reached, unilaterally closed the meeting and brought the journalists into the meeting. The jornaleros rejected that anything was agreed upon in that negotiation.

The official retinue abandoned San Quintín hurriedly. Even the representatives of the Legislative Power, who supposedly attended the session invited by the strikers, acted like employees of the government and shamefully added themselves to the Executive’s entourage.

Assistant Secretary Luis Miranda arrived on May 8 and left the agricultural workers in the lurch. More than 4,000 of them were waiting for him in order to hear his answer to their demands. When Fidel Sánchez Gabriel, the leader of the Alliance for Social Justice, warned him that they would stay in front of the state government offices, the functionary replied: “You don’t know me.” The next day they felt the clubs and rubber bullets of the police.

Despite the nearly two months that have transpired and the repression against them, the movement of the San Quintín day labourers doesn’t show signs of physical or spiritual tiredness. It resists, fed by the conviction that one must put an end to a barbaric model of exploitation and by decades of community struggles. For the time being, it is willing to confront official indolence by organizing the international boycott of the Valley’s vegetable and fruit producers Valle.

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Notes

  1. Day labourers
  2. Settlement and community organization

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Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Translation: Chiapas Support Committee

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2015/05/12/opinion/015a2pol

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April 30, 2015

Ayotzinapa and the International Caravans

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 6:58 pm

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Ayotzinapa and the International Caravans

Luis Hernández Navarro

La Jornada, 28th April, 2015

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In an effort to never forget, parents of the 43 missing young people from Ayotzinapa and students from the rural normal school have in recent weeks launched a vigorous and intense international campaign. On March 16 they began a 45-day tour to more than 40 U.S. cities; between April 12 and May 2 they are crossing Canada from west to east, and on April 16 a delegation left for Europe to visit more than 13 countries.

It’s not the first time that parents and teachers college students have left the country to publicize their demand that their children and colleagues be returned alive.

In late January, a delegation went before the UN’s Committee on Enforced Disappearances in Geneva to denounce the absence of justice perpetrated by the State in Iguala and demanded that the military be investigated. On February 18 parents met with members of the EU’s Joint Commission, which is dedicated to analyzing relations with Mexico, asking for support in order to continue with the investigations and that they be opened to hypotheses about what happened that are distinct from the historic truth decreed by the federal government.

One may recall that on January 28, Jesús Murillo Karam, then Mexico’s attorney general, concluded that the 43 missing youths in Igualla were deprived of freedom, murdered and burned and their remains were tossed into a river by members of the organized criminal group Guerreros Unidos [Warriors United]. Murillo described the government’s account of historical truth and tried to sweep the matter under the rug.

Tours in several countries by the parents of the missing 43 and teachers college students make up the last effort in the fight against the official determination and their commitment to its being abolished. By internationalizing the conflict, they have broken the information blockade surrounding their demands for justice within the country and have established alliances with movements, organizations and institutions that are putting pressure on Mexico’s government. Some have made efforts to lobby parliamentarians and government institutions; others, like the current trip to 13 European nations, are explicitly declining to do that.

So far, these actions’ preliminary results have been favorable to the families and painful for Mexico’s government. The presence and testimonies of the families of the 43 in Geneva at the session of the UN’s Committee on Enforced Disappearances were central to the group’s delivering a resounding defeat to President Enrique Peña Nieto’s administration.

Like much that has resulted since Ayotzinapa, the Security Agreement between Germany and Mexico is stalled. Christoph Strässer, the German government’s Commissioner for Human Rights, recommended that the Security Agreement negotiations between Germany and Mexico be suspended until there is a national strategy for the fight against impunity and protection from enforced disappearances.

Strässer apologized to the families of those killed and the enforced disappeared of Ayotzinapa because, during the attacks of September 26-27, 2014, Iguala’s municipal police used weapons of German origin.

On February 28, upon leaving Mexico following an official visit, Commissioner Strässer warned:

“There is a structural absence of the rule of law throughout the country. It begins with poor access to justice and continues with torture in prisons, disappearances and corruption.”

Strässer is not the only representative of a foreign government who has expressed concern about the human rights situation in the country. Mexico—according to Tom Malinowksi, Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor of the United States—is under strong international scrutiny.

The tours by the victims have succeeded in getting various parliaments, government commissions and human rights organizations to pronounce for keeping the case open, conducting a full and transparent investigation, and exploring new areas of investigation. Just on April 20, the group of experts from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (CIDH) in charge of investigating the case demanded continuing the search for the disappeared youth and opening areas of investigation. That means, quite simply, that the experts are suggesting reopening the legal terrain, and that the official version of events isn’t being believed and much less so the “historical truth”.

The caravans have drawn the attention of local media outlets that are continuing to cover the tragedy, a news feat given that it’s been seven months since the events. In the United States, journalists and prestigious publications like Amy Goodman from The New Yorker and The Nation have covered the matter extensively. Universities like Pomona [California], Cornell, York (in Canada), Duke and North Carolina (among others) have organized conferences on the subject.

But beyond this impact on institutions, parents and teachers college students have touched the hearts of hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. As they have passed through various cities, they have been welcomed by the generous solidarity of many organizations, individuals and resistance groups. For them, the true Mexico is the one being described by the families of the disappeared, not the one being propagated by the embassies.

The clumsy offense of Mexico’s undiplomatic diplomacy in trying to stem damage to Enrique Peña Nieto’s image is floundering at the success of the simple, genuine words of Guerrero’s farmers, students and teachers as they travel the world sharing their pain and hope.

Led by the parents of the victims of Ayotzinapa, these international tours have been an effective tool in the struggle against forgetting what really happened and have provided much-need visibility to the critical human rights situation in the country. Also, they have—according to Roberto González Villareal—named a cursed modality of the State’s repressive technology and recently returned enforced disappeared to the political realm with an unexpected centrality.

Translated by Danielle M. Antonetti

http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2015/04/28/index.php?section=opinion&article=018a2pol&partner=rss

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March 25, 2015

‘Disposable’ Farmworkers in San Quintín Valley Rise Up

Filed under: Human rights — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 9:00 pm

‘Disposable’ Farmworkers in San Quintín Valley Rise Up

Luis Hernández Navarro

La Jornada, 24th March, 2015

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The uprising of the day farmworkers in the San Quintín Valley could very well be a new chapter of México bárbaro. The working conditions that they suffer, the work stoppage and the seizure of highways in which they have played a leading role, are every bit as good as the dramatic narratives in John Kenneth Turner’s book, in which he documented the savage exploitation and slavery to which peasants and indigenous were subjected and recounted the labour strikes in Mexico during the Porfiriato.

The protests in San Quintín began on March 17 at three in the morning. In the boroughs that make up the valley, thousands of farm workers, led by their community leaders, headed out on the highway that crosses the Baja California Peninsula amid cries of “In struggle for the dignity of day labourers!” and “The people united will never be defeated!”

More than twenty videos uploaded to the Internet narrate in a piecemeal way the long, fast walks that men and women, summoned by the Alliance of National, State and Municipal Organizations for Social Justice, carried out on long stretches of federal roads, and how they set up small roadblocks with burning tyres and tree branches.

Recorded by the strikers themselves, this account bears witness to how along the way some young people threw stones at the windows of pawn shops and department stores, while others knocked down signs for farm names. Others—several of them children—throw themselves into looting shops, while the movement’s leaders condemn the excesses. One of the leaders warns: “We are poor, but we know respect. We come to win this struggle. We did not come to fight. We did not come to wreak havoc.”

Finally, moments can be seen when the police, supported along some stretches by a motor vehicle, fire rubber bullets at the protesters, breaking the roadblock, beating and arresting workers. The strikers—as Olga Alicia Aragón wrote in La Jornada—maintained the blockade for 120 kilometres [75 miles] of highway for 26 long hours.

San Quintín’s day farmworkers labour in humiliating conditions on farms that grow produce for export: tomatoes, strawberries, blackberries. In exchange for starvation wages, they work up to 14- hour days without a weekly day of rest, let alone holidays or social security. Foremen sexually abuse the women, and they are forced to take their children to the premises to perform work.

The farmworkers usually live in makeshift settlements that have become permanent. The settlements are overcrowded, lacking basic services; the houses have tin roofs and dirt floors. Many are indigenous migrants from Oaxaca (Mixtec and Triqui), Guerrero, Puebla and Veracruz, who have made San Quintín into another of their communities. Three generations of Oaxacalifornianos live there. They suffer constant police harassment. They rely on a single hospital [run by the] Mexican Social Security Institute [IMSS].

The farms on which they work are equipped with irrigation and high-tech equipment. These farms generate four-fifths of the value of the state’s agricultural production. Most of them are owned by 15 families and transnational consortia. Their owners are part of the state government.

These agricultural companies intensively exploit a cheap, abundant, easily replaceable manual labour pool; therefore, [they see them as] disposable. They have no need to take responsibility for ensuring decent conditions. If a worker becomes ill, dies or is exhausted, he is replaced by another at no cost. They squeeze the labourers as if they were oranges from which they need to extract the juice until they leave them converted into shells.

The companies do not respect the labour laws. They enjoy the willingness to please of the labour authorities and of unions of protection affiliated with the CTM [Confederation of Mexican Workers] and CROM [Regional Confederation of Mexican Workers]. In order to resist, agricultural workers were organized into groups like the Oaxacan Binational Indigenous Front (FIOB) and other ethno-political associations.

The revolt of the day farmworkers shows the unsustainability of this model of labour exploitation. The migrants’ settling down in the region, the development of forms of resistance and unprecedented class consciousness, and the total exasperation with employer abuse announce a new cycle of class struggle in the region. Precursor of the current struggle was the 1996-1997 agricultural work stoppage over three weeks’ non-payment of wages.

The Alliance of National, State and Municipal Organizations for Social Justice warned owners and government officials in every possible way of the imminent social explosion. Since last October, they have been saying that dialogue was necessary. Arrogant and insensitive, the state government never agreed.

Instead of understanding that this model of exploitation has now bumped up against the dignity and strength of the day farmworkers, government officials have wanted to discredit the strike movement by spreading the most absurd explanations of its origin. It is said, without providing a shred of evidence, that narcotrafficking is driving the protest, that it is organized by agitators from other states to create political instability, and that it aims to create problems for the governor ahead of the upcoming elections.

To the east, the uprising of the Baja California farmworkers has set off alarm bells among the horticultural entrepreneurs in Sinaloa. Guillermo Gastélum Bon Bustamante, president of the Culiacán River Farmers Association, has warned against the threat of what he calls “a type of virus that can replicate” in the Culiacán Valley.

Throughout this week, the day farmworkers of San Quintín have demonstrated that, contrary to what businessmen and politicians believed, they are not disposable. They are not just a labour force. They are, as they affirm, people of flesh and blood, indigenous workers proudly aware of their origin.

Translated by Jane Brundage

http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2015/03/24/index.php?section=opinion&article=014a1pol&partner=rss



February 27, 2015

Murders, threats and duopoly: the state of press freedom in Mexico

Filed under: Journalists — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 7:26 pm

 

Murders, threats and duopoly: the state of press freedom in Mexico

LHN

Deadly attacks on journalists are on the rise in Mexico, and perpetrators operate largely with impunity

In June 2011, Mexico was named the most dangerous country in the Americas for communicators. Photograph: Reuters

Luis Hernández Navarro  Wednesday 25 February 2015

On 2 January, journalist Moisés Sánchez was kidnapped by an armed group. Nine people with covered faces stormed into his house in Medellin de Bravo, a town in the wealthy eastern state of Veracruz. They searched and grabbed documents, and took Sánchez, along with his camera, laptop, mobile phone and tablet. The police took hours to come to the house. Sánchez was found dead 23 days later on the outskirts of the town.

Sánchez, editor of La Unión, is the eleventh journalist to be murdered in Veracruz since Governor Javier Duarte de Ochoa took office on 1 December 2010. As well as murders, four media professionals have gone missing and there have been 132 attacks against the local press in the same period.

Events in Veracruz state are serious, but they are far from exceptional. In vast zones of Mexico, especially on the United States border and in areas where drug trafficking prevails, journalists at all levels have been threatened or attacked. Victims include some of the most nationally well-known commentators but more frequently are reporters writing for regional and local media, online and on social media.

The free press defence organisation Article 19 documents three chilling facts: attacks against communicators are rising in Mexico, in most cases impunity prevails, and in more than half of cases the perpetrators are linked with the state.

During the investigation into Sánchez’s disappearance, the entire police force of Medellin de Bravo was detained by state prosecutors. A former police officer confessed to participating in the murder, claiming he did so “by direct order” of Martín López Meneses, deputy director of the municipal police in Medellin. Sánchez had been threatened by the mayor three days before being kidnapped.

In June 2011, Frank William La Rue – then UN special rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression – warned that Mexico was the most dangerous country in the Americas for communicators. La Rue documented 66 cases of murders against journalists between 2000 and 2010, and 12 disappearances between 2005 and 2010, of which few have been solved.

As with diseases that have a new outbreak after they were believed eradicated this evil came back to life eight years ago, when then-President Felipe Calderón, of the conservative PAN party, declared a “war on drugs”, with logistical support and funding from the US. Violence against the press walks hand-in-hand with the violation of human rights, the criminalisation of social protest, and the so-called war on drugs. Impunity gives criminals carte blanche. Organised crime and its networks of complicity with those in political power have further aggravated the tense situation in Mexico.

Many reporters and media organisations are terrified. With increasing frequency, journalists are seeking asylum in the US. Others choose to publish anonymously and many avoid writing about events that could endanger their lives.

“There is a border where dirty money becomes apparently clean … and it is on that border where the journalist runs a greater risk,” states a report by Article 19. “It is not the consummate criminals who threaten the journalists. It is the apparently legal powers and seemingly reputable businesses that feel most threatened by the journalist’s work, precisely because it is on that border where the journalist may denounce the politician, policeman, soldier, or businessman that is in collusion with organised crime.”

On April 2012, a new law, Ley para la Protección de Personas Defensoras de Derechos Humanos y Periodistas, was approved and certain mechanisms to protect journalists were implemented, including the adoption of cautionary actions and, in some cases, police protection of individuals under threat.

But far for diminishing, violence against journalists keeps growing. In 2013 alone 330 attacks against journalists, media workers and offices were documented, making it the most violent year for journalists in Mexico since 2007.

On 3 February, the Washington Office on Latin America and Peace Brigades International described the new legislation as insufficient, and said it does not provide for timely responses to demands of protection. They blame the Mexican government for discrediting and criminalising human rights defenders and organisations, and highlight the levels of impunity enjoyed by perpetrators of crimes against journalists and human rights defenders.

The flip side of the lack of freedom of the press in Mexico is the high concentration of mass media ownership and control. Almost all (96%) of Mexico’s commercial television channels are in the hands of two corporations, Televisa and TVAzteca, and 80% of radio broadcasters are owned by 13 commercial groups. Some of those groups control dozens of networks.

This duopoly simultaneously provokes an enormous absence of information as well as great scepticism about the news broadcast in Mexico. During the general election campaign in 2012, thousands of young people mobilised outside the studios of Televisa and TVAzteca to protest the manipulation of information. The government passed new legislation but the rules of the game essentially did not change.

A new federal law of telecommunications and radio broadcasting was enacted in 2014, aiming to break down the media duopoly by creating a new private television network. It has not yet materialised. Civil society organisations were strongly critical of the new law, stating that it limits the powers of the regulating body (which should be autonomous), avoids the necessary mechanisms to fight monopolies efficiently, restricts public and social media, and ignores the rights of audiences.

Press freedom in Mexico faces severe obstacles. To give guarantees allowing journalists to exercise their profession, to fight impunity, limit the power of monopolies and open spaces to public communication media are important challenges. International attention is essential. More murders like that of Moisés Sánchez must be prevented.

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2015/feb/25/press-freedom-mexico-murder-threat-duopoly

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February 7, 2015

Indigenous Resistance at Bachajón against a tourist megaproject

 

Indigenous Resistance against a tourist megaproject at Bachajón 

 

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Ricardo Lagunes and Jessica Davies

La Jornada, 7th February, 2015

The dignified struggle of the indigenous Tseltal peoples of the ejido San Sebastián Bachajón, adherents to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle, in defence of their ancestral lands, culture, tradition and identity has become almost legendary. They have suffered the assassination of two of their community leaders –Juan Vázquez Guzmán, on 24th April, 2013, and Juan Carlos Gómez Silvano, 21st March, 2014–, along with violence, torture, unjust imprisonment, forced disappearance, attacks, threats, harassment, intimidation and a continual police presence, but their determined resistance against the dispossession of their territory for the construction of a tourist megaproject continues.

On 21st December, 2014, more than 400 ejidatarios peacefully recuperated their common lands which had been illegally stolen from them on 2nd February, 2011 by the three levels of government and their local supporters. The date of the recuperation was highly symbolic: the second anniversary of the Silent March of the Zapatistas, and the day of the inauguration of the World Festival of Resistances and Rebellions, convoked by the CNI and the EZLN.

The lands dispossessed by the government are crossed by the access road to the ecotourism centre at the spectacular Agua Azul waterfalls, located in the Tumbalá municipality, which are surrounded by beautiful jungle rich in wildlife and natural resources. For this reason, the governments and corporations are desperate to get their hands on these lands, so that they can create an elite tourist development with luxury hotels, golf courses, and a superhighway. But the lands legally and legitimately belong to the ejidatarios as indigenous peoples who work them communally.

The lands of Bachajón are legally protected by the suspension of the plan granted under amparo 274/2011. The legal resolution of this amparo is to be decreed in the coming weeks, and is very likely that a judgement will be issued which is favorable to the protection of the collective rights of the indigenous. It is important to emphasise that the ejidatarios have chosen to take the legal and peaceful route, and that they have always sought dialogue within the local communities.

For 18 days and nights, in rotation, 500 women, men, young and old people, formed cordons guarding their recuperated territory. They faced threats and intimidation, and a continual fear of attack and eviction by the security forces and paramilitary groups organised by the ejidal commissioner Alejandro Moreno Gómez and the vigilance councillor Samuel Díaz Guzmán.

In the early morning of 9th January, 2015, more than 900 members of the state and federal forces violently evicted the ejidatarios from their lands, forcing many to flee to the hills and forests. Denouncing the attack, the ejidatarios confirmed that it would only strengthen their resistance.

On 11th January, 2015, the indigenous from San Sebastián Bachajón, as a sign of protest and peaceful resistance, blocked the road from Ocosingo to Palenque  at the Agua Azul turning. The Chiapas state police fired shots at the ejidatarios for twenty minutes with rubber and heavy calibre bullets. Three people were wounded. In spite of this, after an hour of resistance, the ejidatarios succeeded in driving back the government forces, and have maintained their presence up to now.

The ejidatarios and their compañeros throughout the world have stated that they hold the three levels of government responsible for any aggression against their lives or personal integrity as a result of their actions in defence of the mother earth. They are currently standing firm in their dignified struggle, and are calling for national and international solidarity and actions of support. An example of these actions is the Worldwide Forum held on 18th January at Cideci Unitierra, in San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas.

In a communique of 10th January 2015, the ejidatarios explained clearly what drives their struggle: “We want to tell the bad government (…) that our lands are not for sale; they will not conduct their great ecotourism businesses and super highways on our territory, we will not allow them to displace communities and increase poverty just so they can become richer at the expense of our suffering.”

http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2015/02/07/opinion/013a1pol

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