dorset chiapas solidarity

December 17, 2016

“Forum on Defence of the Earth, Life and Territory” Declares itself against Presence of Environmental Gendarmerie in Lacandon Jungle



 “Forum on Defence of the Earth, Life and Territory” Declares itself against Presence of Environmental Gendarmerie in Lacandon Jungle


forumForum in Amador Hernandez (Photo@Noe Pineda)


On December 5, the “Forum on Defence of the Earth, Life and Territory” was held in the ejido of Amador Hernandez, in the Municipality of Ocosingo, Lacandon Jungle. About 1,000 people from communities in the region analysed the problems they are experiencing, including several agrarian conflicts.

In their final declaration, they said: “We are against the introduction of the Environmental Gendarmerie and their entry into our territory. From now on we state that in the case that the corresponding authorities do not take our disagreement into account … we will carry out more actions against the introduction of the Environmental Gendarmerie until we are heard.”

They questioned whether the presence of the Environmental Gendarmerie “for the supposed care and conservation of the environment” responds to other objectives: “We know that the true objective of this security force is a strategy for the destruction of our communities, our cultures and our organizations, it represents the violation of our rights and that its true intention is to guarantee the entry of transnational corporations dedicated to the extraction of natural resources for the benefit of big capital.”

According to the authorities, the Environmental Gendarmerie will “have the mission of preventing administrative crimes and faults in environmental matters, due to its security and police operational model.” It is envisaged that it will be installed in 61 points of the country, among others, the Lacandon Jungle, Montes Azules and the monarch butterfly reserves, Pico de Orizaba, Nevado de Toluca and Tulum.

It should be noted that on the same day, President Enrique Peña Nieto was in the Lacandon Jungle in the framework of an activity, which was part of the COP (Conferences of the Parties) 13 under the heading “Integrating Biodiversity for Wellbeing”. In that context, he instructed the Secretariat of Agrarian, Territorial and Urban Development to prevent the regularization of irregular settlements; and the Secretariats of Energy and Economy, to ensure that there are no hydrocarbon or mining explorations or holdings in the region.



December 10, 2016

Insumisión: Community Self-Defense Against Narcos and the State

Filed under: Indigenous, Migrants, news — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 5:03 pm



Insumisión: Community Self-Defense Against Narcos and the State

8th December 2016, section on Chiapas from the latest edition of Insumisión

Mobilizations and Repression in Chiapas 

15135762_333477160359078_9061555226324921132_nGathering during the MODEVITE pilgrimage in Chiapas

On November 15, members of eleven municipalities in Chiapas began a twelve-day pilgrimage through communities threatened by neoliberal development projects, ending in San Cristóbal. The Movement in Defense of Life and Territory (MODEVITE) is a project of indigenous Catholic parishes practicing liberation theology, known the Pueblo Creyente, or Believing/Faithful People. “We seek to organize the peoples to construct our autonomy; that our right as original peoples to the life that we want is recognized. We need to join our voices in defence of our forests, our rivers. We demand the governments stop the extractive industry and the mega-projects that are being imposed without consulting us,” said one priest.

After traveling through 11 states, the Caravan of Mothers of Disappeared Migrants wrapped uptheir eighteen-day tour in Tapachula, Chiapas on December 3. Forty-one parents from Central America made the trip to call attention to the attacks, murders and disappearances of Central American migrants in Mexico and to denounce Enrique Peña Nieto’s Southern Border Plan, implemented at the behest of the U.S. in 2014, which has gravely increased the risk to migrants travelling through Mexico.


mothers-central-american-caravanCaravan of Mothers of Disappeared Migrants

In the autonomous indigenous communities of Ejido Tila and San Sebastian Bachajón, statements have been issued decrying attempts by local politicians to incite violence in the communities in order to justify the entrance of the state in order to crush their autonomous projects. In Bachajón, the community has identified Juan Jiménez as the one responsible. As it happens, Jiménez is a local leader of MORENA, the “leftist” party of Andres Manuel López Obrador. In Tila, the community has barricaded the entrance to the village to prevent paramilitaries or provocateurs from entering.

During a meeting to resolve a labour dispute in Ixtacomitán, four teachers belonging to the dissident CNTE branch were shot by gunmen linked to local politicians and the mainstream, sell-out SNTE union. Roberto Díaz Aguilar was killed and the three others wounded.

And of course we can’t talk about Chiapas without mentioning the Zapatistas. They’ve released four statements – two jointly with the National Indigenous Congress – in the past three weeks. The first, “It’s Not the Decision of One Person”, is an angry rebuke to mainstream critics of their proposal to run a presidential candidate for 2018. The second outlines the schedule for the conclusion of consultations and the planned announcement on the decision of whether or not to run a candidate. The third is a lengthy “Story to Try to Understand.” At over 30 pages, I have not read it yet, but it is an explanation as to how the Zapatistas arrived at the decision to propose the idea of participating in the presidential elections. The fourth statement denounces the attacks on indigenous peoples in Mexico, and gives a nod to Standing Rock, all while confirming that the community consultations over the proposal continue.




On October 11, 500 delegates from the National Indigenous Congress (CNI) and the military command of the Zapatistas (EZLN) met in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas to mark the 20th anniversary of the founding of the CNI. The opening comments from the Zapatistas were largely a call for indigenous peoples to get organized. It was the closing statement that caught everyone’s attention though. The CNI and EZLN announced they would begin consultations with their communities on the EZLN’s proposal of naming “an indigenous woman, a CNI delegate, as an independent candidate to the presidency of the country under the name of the National Indigenous Congress and the Zapatista Army for National Liberation in the electoral process of 2018.”

The reactions were immediate. Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the darling of the liberal electorate, was furious. He blames the Zapatistas for his losses in 2006 and 2012, and now they seem poised to interfere again with his presidential plans. Meanwhile, some anarchists pointed out that this proves the Zapatistas aren’t anarchists and that those who support the EZLN have been duped. Never mind that the EZLN has never claimed to be an anarchist group. On the authoritarian left, Mexico’s Socialist Workers Party could barely contain its glee over the news, emphatically endorsing the EZLN’s proposal.

The Zapatistas responded with a defensive and irritated statement largely arguing that this proposal is valid due to the impact it would have on the spectacle of electoral politics in laying bare the racism and sexism inherent in that process. A few days later, another statement communicated that the CNI and EZLN will announce the decision to run a candidate or not on January 1. They also said the “Zapatistas and ConSciences for Humanity” gathering will begin in Chiapas on December 25.

In reading and discussing these developments with compas in Mexico, the generally attitude seems to be to wait and see what happens. Some feel it is a publicity stunt, designed to provoke just the sort of reaction it did, and that this will be made clear on January 1. On the other hand, if a joint CNI-EZLN candidate is put forward, then a re-evaluation by many anti-authoritarians would have to occur. While some of what they are proposing is interesting – to have an indigenous woman as president guided by the decisions of an assembly – to consider entering the electoral arena strikes many as a betrayal and is difficult to reconcile with the EZLN’s strident critiques of the system and power. To flirt with electoral politics even with the goal of détournement is to engage with a system fundamentally opposed to liberation, designed to consolidate power and legitimize repression. Such a move seems more akin to Michael Moore and his ficus plant than the Zapatistas and their uncompromising, decades-long struggle for autonomy and self-determination. Stay tuned.

In related news, a member of the CNI from the autonomous Tzeltal community of San Sebastián Bachajón was detained and severely beaten by a group led by a local government official. Two days later, on October 19, 800 police and 400 paramilitaries positioned themselves on the outskirts of that community. Fearing a raid, the alarm was sounded, but it appeared to just be an intimidation tactic. For other Chiapas news, be sure to check out Dorset Chiapas Solidarity’s Zapatista news summaries for September and October.



December 5, 2016

Modevite Demand Respect for Self-Determination over their Territory and Agree to Construct Community Governments

Filed under: Dams, Displacement, Human rights, Indigenous, Mining — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 2:29 pm


Modevite will consult their communities about EZLN proposal

They Demand Respect for Self-Determination over their Territory and Agree to Construct Community Governments

modevite-3Movement for the Defence of Life and Territory Photo: Chiapas Paralelo

By: Angeles Mariscal

 In this state of the Mexican Southeast, the mining industry has been granted concessions to almost 20 percent of the territory, and there are more than 30 governmental authorizations to use tributary rivers for the installation of mini-hydroelectric dams, five projects for constructing dams and an open solicitation for extracting hydrocarbons from 12 wells; the project to construct a gas pipeline is also in the works, and through the decree for creation of the Special Economic Zones they are granted eased tariffs so that corporations consolidate their businesses linked to the extractive industry.

This is the scenario that thousands of indigenous face in Chiapas; and this is why in this month of November residents of the municipios of Salto de Agua, Tumbalá, Yajalón, Chilón, Ocosingo, Altamirano, Oxchuc, San Juan Cancúc, Tenejapa, Huixtán and San Cristóbal de las Casas left their communities to tour the region and demonstrate their rejection of these projects that threaten stability in their territory.

They are from the Tsotsil, Chol and Tseltal indigenous ethnicities, who make up part of the faithful of the Diocese of San Cristóbal de las Casas, grouped together in the Pueblo Creyente (Believing People), and who for four years have been members of the Movement for the Defence of Life and Territory (Movimiento por la Defensa de la Vida y el TerritorioModevite).

On their 15-day tour, Modevite members met with more than 20,000 different indigenous peoples, with whom they dialogued about the common problems that cross through their territories.

“We have walked to listen to the problems of our communities and the risks that threaten our culture and our Mother Earth with mega-projects and super-highways. We walked to unite us in one single voice. We have been able to converse, reflect and dream as one people,” they explained in a joint pronouncement.

Mines, hydroelectric dams and wells on indigenous lands

“We are at a strategic place regarding the mega-projects. This territory is one of the objectives of extractivism,” they pointed out upon arriving in San Cristóbal de las Casas, in a plaza full of indigenous and mestizos.

There, in the plaza, they said that’ according to the Secretary of Economy, in the last three six-year presidential terms 99 concessions for exploiting minerals that are found on 1.5 million hectares –almost 20 percent of Chiapas territory- have been delivered to corporate investors, the majority lands belonging to indigenous groups that would have to be displaced to make way for the mining industry.

They also said that the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) has identified Chiapas as a state with great hydrology potential, and plans to construct 90 hydroelectric dams with different capacities. Four of those stand out that would directly affect indigenous territory: the Altamirano Dam on the Tzaconejá River; the Livingstone Dam on the Tzaconejá River; the Santo Domingo Rapids Dam (previously Huixtán I) on the Santo Domingo River; and the Santa Elena Dam (previously Huixtán II) on the Santo Domingo River, among others. They emphasized that investors have asked the Secretariat of the Environment and Natural Resources (Semarnat) for the installation of at least 32 “mini-hydroelectric” dams.

They also said that the perforation of 12 wells for the extraction of gas and oil has been projected for 2017 in the indigenous Zoque zone. This project will affect 845 square kilometres located in two areas within the municipios of Tecpatán, Francisco León, Ixtacomitán and Pichicalco.

Another risk to indigenous territories –they reminded- is the planting of genetically modified seeds (GMOs). From 2010 to the middle of 2016 the Monsanto Company planted genetically modified soy in 13 Chiapas municipios.

They call for strengthening community governments

The inhabitants of the zones where these extractive projects are located pointed out that accepting them would mean being displaced from their territory, and with that also losing their roots.

They started to organize four years ago and since then they have achieved suspending the construction of the San Cristóbal-Palenque Super-Highway. “Now we see that our fight is bigger; we have the job of defender our life, our culture and the commons that there are in our territory,” they underscored.

They said that throughout their tour through indigenous territory, there was agreement that not only must they denounce the affectation to their territory because of the extractivist projects, “but we must also care about the land.”

They said that if the federal, state and municipal governments support and promote the extractive industry, their option is to create community governments that respond to the interests of the indigenous peoples that are being affected.

Therefore, the indigenous agreed to add themselves to the proposal of the National Indigenous Congress (Congreso Nacional Indígena, CNI) and the Zapatista National Liberation Army (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, EZLN), to consult with their communities about the decision to participate in the next national elections with an independent indigenous candidate.

“We share the same objective (as the CNI and EZLN), we believe that it is necessary to strengthen the voice of our indigenous peoples on the political agenda, and therefore we want to take this initiative to our communities and municipios. We can no longer work divided but rather it’s necessary to unite for our peoples, for our territories,” they said.

Modevite members announced that they would strengthen the initiative for constructing autonomous governments as a measure for conserving their territories and their culture. “It’s our right to decide the use of and destiny of our territory,” they said.


Originally Published in Spanish by Chiapas Paralelo

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Re-Published with English interpretation and edits by the Chiapas Support Committee

Posted with minor edits by Dorset Chiapas Solidarity



December 4, 2016

Movement in Defence of Life and Territory 12-Day Pilgrimage Ends in San Cristobal de Las Casas

Filed under: Displacement, Indigenous — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 11:37 am



Movement in Defence of Life and Territory 12-Day Pilgrimage Ends in San Cristobal de Las Casas




On November 25, after a 12-day walk through 11 indigenous municipalities in the North, Jungle area and Highlands of Chiapas, thousands of pilgrims arrived in San Cristobal de Las Casas, where they denounced the threats and insecurity that they live with in the villages where they come from.

The members of the pilgrimage belong to the Movement in Defence of Life and Territory (MODEVITE in its Spanish acronym) and the Believing Peoples of the parishes of Candelaria, Huixtan, Cancuc, Tenejapa, Oxchuc, Ocosingo, Altamirano, Chilon, Sitala, Yajalon and Salto de Agua: “We are the Movement in Defence of Life and Territory (MODEVITE), composed of ten parishes from 11 municipalities and 1 ejido. We are located in the highland region of Chiapas. We started more than four years ago from the Believing Peoples of the Diocese of San Cristobal de Las Casas to stop the clandestine sale of alcohol in our communities but also our struggle stopped for a time the megaproject of government to build the San Cristóbal – Palenque highway. What are we looking for? Our goal is to organize and encourage the indigenous peoples of the area to build our autonomy as indigenous peoples and thus defend our Mother Earth; we want good living from our culture and that is why we say NO to everything that damages the lives of our children and our communities, NO to bad government and NO to the megaprojects that want to take away our territory.”

They declared: “We walk to unite with one voice, to give voice to the earth that calls for respect and protection, which demands from all an attitude of care and gratitude. This pilgrimage has been a moment of grace for us, because we have been able to converse, reflect and dream as one people.” They emphasized that as indigenous peoples they feel that their community belonging to Mother Earth “is our spirituality, so we believe that not only do we have to denounce the destruction of our territory by the ambition of extractivists, but we must take care of it. That is why strengthening our community roots is the way to take care of our common home.” In Oxchuc, a community torn by post-electoral conflict, the pilgrims also spoke of their right as indigenous peoples to govern themselves.

In one of the communiqués published during these days, MODEVITE announced that it will join the proposal of the National Indigenous Congress (CNI) to consult its communities on the appointment of an independent indigenous candidate for the next elections: “A change is needed among us and that is why we join the proposal of the National Indigenous Congress to consult our communities about the decision to participate in the next national elections with an independent indigenous candidate. We share the same objective, we believe that it is necessary to strengthen the voice of our indigenous peoples on the political agenda and that is why we want to take this initiative to our communities and municipalities.”

When they entered San Cristobal de Las Casas on November 25, they met with the women’s organizations that were taking part in the International Day against Violence against Women and arrived together to the centre of the city: “Today, for example, being International Day against Violence against Women, we remember that women continue to be victims of sexism, alcoholism and the assistance-based government programmes. The women of MODEVITE claim the right to exercise our self-determination as indigenous women to care for Mother Earth and the life of our communities.”


Posted by Dorset Chiapas Solidarity



November 30, 2016

International Day to Combat Violence against Women

Filed under: Women — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 1:04 pm



International Day to Combat Violence against Women


mujeres1Beginning of the march in Plaza de La Resistencia. Photo@SIPAZ


November 25 is International Day to Combat Violence against Women. In Chiapas, many activities were organized within this framework. From the 21st to 24th of the month the First National Feminist Congress was held in San Cristobal de Las Casas. At a press conference on the first day, activists and organizations questioned the Declaration of a Gender Violence Alert (GVA) issued on November 18 by the federal government for seven municipalities in the state (San Cristobal de Las Casas, Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Comitan  de Dominguez, Villaflores, Tonala, Chiapa de Corzo and Tapachula), calling it “incomplete, discriminatory and insufficient.” For this reason, the Popular Campaign against Violence against Women and Femicide in Chiapas declared itself “in a permanent and civic alert to continue to carry out short, medium and long-term actions to prevent femicidal violence.” It should be remembered that women’s organizations in the state have been requesting a GVA for three years.

On November 23 and 24, the Third Assembly of the Movement for Defence of the Earth, Territory and for the Participation of Women in Decision-making was also held in San Cristobal de Las Casas in order to “share information and denunciations, but also proposals and alternatives to defend our lands, territories and organize as women, as we face the same neoliberal and patriarchal system.”

 In a statement, participants in the Assembly demanded, among other things, from the government, the ejido and community authorities, and society in general:

– “To respect women’s rights fully, to live free of violence, to really have land, to be sure that we will not be deprived of our territories, and to participate in decision-making in our communities.”

– “Cessation of femicide, femicidal violence; to release indigenous and non-indigenous women who have been unjustly imprisoned “

– That the government respects and enforces the self-determination and autonomy of the people, and stops nourishing community division, co-opting and buying leaders.”

-“The government and transnational corporations stop persecuting, intimidating, and murdering those who defend our lands and territories.”

– “To the government and the private media, stop criminalizing social protest. We are not criminals, we are women and men defending our rights, our lands and territories, which is where we live and want to continue living with respect for Mother Earth. “




On November 25, both groups met to march, coinciding also with the pilgrimage of thousands of indigenous people from the Movement in Defence of Life and Territory (MODEVITE). In a joint communiqué, they reaffirmed: “We are firmly hopeful that with our struggles the situation of violence will not be prolonged or intensified. That is why, women and men, we raise our voices calling to all the peoples of Mexico and the World to defeat the capitalist, neoliberal, heterosexual, racist state and to build another world of PEACE WITH JUSTICE AND DIGNITY where there is room for EVERYONE.”

Posted by Dorset Chiapas Solidarity



November 28, 2016

Chiapas: Indigenous Pilgrimage shows the “Green” Government how to care for the Earth

Filed under: Indigenous, Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 5:09 pm


Chiapas:  Indigenous Pilgrimage shows the “Green” Government how to care for the Earth




Chiapas, México. 18 November. “We invite children, young people to teach them how to plant corn, beans, everything that we have in our lands. So that we don’t forget the Mayan altar which is all we have. At the Mayan altar we can thank God. We are millionaires because of the riches from our seeds and our lands.” These are the words of the original people from Tseltal, Tsotsil and Ch’ol communities as they arrived in the city of Ocosingo. on the fifth day of their pilgrimage

“We have to care for our lands, and no longer use agrochemicals because they kill everything which is in the land. Our grandparents did not use agrochemicals, they worked and it was their sweat of their labour that bore fruit, and that is what we must show young people, that it still can be done that way today,” shared Maria, a member of “Canan Lum Qu’inal” (The Carers and Protectors of Mother Earth) from the community of Bachajon.

Ana, also from “Canan Lum Qu’inal”, talked about some of the work she does in her village:  “I don’t know how to read or write, and I buy nothing. With my sweat, and alongside my husband, I work, and we have everything.” I grow 4 types of beans. My children study, and they like to work the land. They have their own corn and beans, which they plant themselves. They are on a diploma-course. From the very beginning they have been taught that we must work the land. Although I don’t know how to read, I understand what we’ve been told, what we’ve been given, and I am grateful to God. Now we continue with the other diploma-students, we are teaching them to plant and grow food.”

This pilgrimage of indigenous peoples denounces the extractive mega-projects in Chiapas just as the state executive Velasco Coello from the “Ecologist ‘Green’ party” delivered a letter of intention that “Puerto Chiapas be established as a Special Economic Zone. According to social researcher Mateo Crossa, “Big foreign and national capital are already in the southern part of the country. They over-exploit the labour force, strip the indigenous people of their lands.”  The Special Economic Zones serve to rejuvenate this model, and add fuel to the motor of exploitation and dispossession.

Pilgrims from the the parish of San Jacinto de Polania in Ocosingo said in a statement.“We denounce the influence of government agencies such as CONAFOR, FANAR (RAJAS at present) and in general of all government projects in the indigenous communities of the jungle. The end result is serious confrontation and irreparable division among the inhabitants, and this causes misery in our communities. The indigenous peoples of this area are once again demonstrating for the non-eviction of our communities of the Lacandon Jungle,” they added.

The pilgrimage in Defense of Life and our Land, which is taking place from 15 to 25 November isn’t the only signal of people’s actions demonstrating opposition to the extractive mega-projects in the state. In the past month of October, the Zoque community held mega-marches in town centre of Tecpatan, the administrative head town of the municipality. Similarly since the 26th of September coastal communities in Chiapas are occupying Acacoyagua to stop the operation and continuing work of new mining projects.

This Saturday the 19th the pilgrimage will arrive in the city of Altamirano, where a public meeting about the situation of alcoholism in indigenous communities will be held and, on Sunday the 20th in Oxchuc, the administrative head town, an exchange of community government experiences will be held.

Ocosingo, Chiapas, 18 November 2016: Statement from the “pueblo creyente” of the Parish of San Jacinto de Polonia, Diocese of San Cristóbal de las Casas.


Translated by the UK Zapatista Translation Service



November 19, 2016

Indigenous begin a 12-day pilgrimage against mega-projects in Chiapas.



Indigenous begin a 12-day pilgrimage against mega-projects in Chiapas.





By: Isaín Mandujano

More than a thousand indigenous Choles, Tseltales and Tsotsiles left this Tuesday morning from Salto de Agua, in a pilgrimage that will tour 11 municipalities (municipios) to denounce and protest against the mega-projects that threaten their lands and the life of their communities.

Throughout 12 days, the indigenous will be added to in each one of the municipios through which the march will travel until arriving in San Cristóbal de Las Casas. Today, they left Salto de Agua for Tumbalá where a traditional celebration will be held. They will spend Wednesday night in Yajalón, where they will hold the forum “The Original Peoples’ Fight” from the experience of Pueblo Creyente of Simojovel.

 On Thursday they will be in Chilón, where they will participate in the forum “The fight for the defence of water.” On Friday, the caravan will depart for Ocosingo, where the forum “Care of Mother Earth” will be held. On Saturday, they will be in Altamirano where they will hold the forum “Alcoholism in the indigenous communities.” On Sunday, November 20, the marchers will spend the night in Oxchuc where they will hold the forum “Community Governments.”

On Monday the 21st, they will be in Cancuc, where a traditional indigenous ceremony will be celebrated. On Tuesday the 22nd they will arrive in Tenejapa, where the auxiliary bishop of the San Cristóbal de Las Casas Diocese, Enrique Díaz Díaz, will head a traditional religious ceremony. On Wednesday the 23rd they will be in Huixtán to celebrate the forum “Government projects in the indigenous communities.”

On November the 24th, they will arrive in La Candelaria, a rural community within the municipio of San Cristóbal de Las Casas, where they will celebrate another traditional indigenous ceremony and dialogue about the situations that threaten their community life. On Friday the 25th, they will finally arrive in the central plaza of San Cristóbal de Las Casas, where the gathering of thousands of marchers that have added themselves to movement is expected.

The Movement in Defence of Life and Territory (Modevite) called for this march and pilgrimage, composed of 10 parishes of 11 municipios. For the las four years, the Pueblo Creyente of the Diocese of San Cristóbal have organized in defence of their territory. They have achieved the stopping of the construction of the Palenque-San Cristóbal superhighway, which would have crossed through their territory. Their objective now is to decide the use and destiny of their territory, principally in the face of threats from the extractive industry and the mega-projects.

“We know our rights as original peoples. We seek to unify our voices and our efforts against the ambition of the impresarios and the government that covet our natural resources,” says Father Marcelo Pérez Pérez.

“We are in a strategic place for the mega-projects. This territory is one the objectives of extractivism,” he added.

For example, Father Marcelo says, in the Tulijá (River) Valley they plan to construct an artificial lake that will flood 396 square kilometres of forests and indigenous lands. The lake would have the capacity of 24 billion 540 million cubic meters, which contemplates the construction of “modern industrial, small farming and aquifer population centres” on the sides of the dam.”

“We don’t want projects that only benefit some, we don’t want projects without consulting us, we don’t want improvements for the rich while the poor continue in the same condition,” another indigenous Ch’ol speaker said today before departing for Tumbalá.

“We seek to organize the peoples to construct our autonomy; that our right as original peoples to the life that we want is recognized. We need to join our voices in defence of our forests, our rivers. We demand the governments stop the extractive industry and the mega-projects that are being imposed without consulting us,” Father Marcelo Pérez Pérez stated.


Originally Published in Spanish by

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Re-published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

Posted by Dorset Chiapas Solidarity




May 10, 2016

Declaration by Original Peoples, Organisations and Communities in Defence of Mother Earth and Our Territory

Filed under: Corporations, Dams, Displacement, Indigenous — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 4:03 pm



Declaration by Original Peoples, Organisations and Communities in Defence of Mother Earth and Our Territory 


From the ‘Taller/Encuentro Sur de México’ (Workshop/Meeting for Southern Mexico)



Photo: Chicoasén (Alberto Arellano, Cortesía Frayba)


April 15th 2016

Chicoasén, Chiapas, México


To those fighting deadly projects in defence of Mother Earth and their territories

To peoples and organisations in defence of their way of life

To groups and individuals working against the capitalist system

To organisations and individuals who adhere to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle

To honest and independent national and international centres for human rights

To independent and alternative national and international media outlets

To the general public


For the protection of our territories, we found ourselves beneath the hot sun in the Ejido Chicoasén, for the Workshop/Meeting for the Non-Violent Transformation of Conflicts in Defence of our Territories, from the 12th to the 15th of April. Native peoples, Zoques, Tsotsiles, Tseltales, Tojolabales, Zapotecos, representatives of the Believing People of the Diocese of San Cristóbal de Las Casas, civil and social organisations of Chiapas and Oaxaca attended. We were accompanied by the Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas A.C. Centre for Human Rights, the International Service for Peace (SIPAZ), the Digna Ochoa A.C. Centre for Human Rights, from the parish of Chicomuselo, the Guadalupe Mission, and were there under the protection of Pax Christi International.


Throughout the days spent in the workshop and meeting, we were subject to surveillance and harassment by a spy for the Federal Commission for Electricity (CFE): Juan Manuel Cruz, geographer and employee of the CFE. We denounce the bad government on all three levels – municipal, state and federal; the CFE; the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT); the Federal Attorney’s office for Environmental Protection (PROFEPA); the Ministry of Economy (SE); and the National Water Commission (CONAGUA), who have supported and conceded mining rights to hydroelectric companies through pressure, fraud, and manipulation in our communities. This has resulted in migration, forced displacement, death, unemployment, divided families, people being stripped of their land and the loss of our indigenous culture. All this down to the vested interests of politicians and national and international businesses, who ignore not only our rights as native peoples, but their environmental impact – effects on our ecosystems and the life cycles of the flora and fauna, even rivers, in our territories, as a well as on our own ways of life. We’ve seen how these projects provoke illnesses such as cancer, which leave us nothing but sons and daughters, ejidatarios and ejidatarias, and fellow citizens to bury. We have already denounced the activity of the Chiapas University of Arts and Sciences (UNICAH), who arrived in our communities to carry out development plans, altering our environment in the interest of their development plan. This plan was a joint project with the CFE, to build the 2nd Chicoasén dam. It promised investment and benefits, none of which have materialised. Recently, we have also denounced the National Institute of History and Anthropology (INAH), who have given permission for the ransacking of our Maya and Zoque archaeological sites found on either side of the Grijalva river.


We hereby demonstrate our total rejection of the projects to build hydroelectric dams and open mining seams. These are projects they try to impose on our territories, foregoing any free, informed consultation in advance of the construction and violating our autonomy and self-determination as original peoples. We also demonstrate our strength and solidarity with all those affected – representatives of the individual ejidatarios, inhabitants and neighbours of Chicoasén and members of the Ejidal committee, who would all be affected once again by the construction of the 2nd Chicoasén dam. In November 2015, our lawyer Arturo Ortega Luna, associate of the Ejidal Committee, was unlawfully detained and imprisoned for three months. He was freed only after our hunger strike put pressure on local government. This was the action of six adult members of the Committee, who suffered dizziness and fainting during the strike.


We demand the revocation of the 10 false arrest orders against ejidatarios of Chicoasén. The government has called for these arrests so that we will not denounce the 2nd Chicoasén dam. These individuals cannot go to work because of these arrest warrants. We are familiar with the case and experiences of the town of Usumacinta, 5km from Chicoasén, which 40 years ago was flooded by the 1st Chicoasén dam and ultimately submerged. Barrio Nuevo, which neighbours the Chicoasén municipality, and part of the municipal capital, would suffer the same fate, information hidden by the CFE and state government. Our findings suggest that the 2nd Chicoasén dam would cause devastation, with residents having to flee the rising waters.


We wish to show our solidarity and grief for the loss of our murdered compañeros, Berta Cáceres and Nelsón García. These Lenca fighters for Mother Earth from the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organisations of Honduras (COPINH) are examples of what the bad government does when we speak out. We will never forget all the men and women who have fallen in the fight for their people and their land, since all of us, men and women, have lost compañeros in the battle.


We invite national and international human rights organisations to accompany us and stay alert to the reality in Chiapas and Oaxaca, in the south of Mexico: we will defend our land, whatever it takes. As such, we all need to put pressure on the Mexican government to put an end to mining, damming and all other projects that affect our life, culture and Mother Earth. We demand an end to the harassment, surveillance, searches and all aggressive behaviour towards the ejidatarios who form part of the Ejidal Committee of Chicoasén and those affected and who are here as representatives in this Workshop/Meeting. We hold all three levels of government responsible for any physical antagonism subjected to us and our families.


To all the communities, ejidos, peoples and organisations that defend their territory, we implore you not to let national, foreign and transnational, companies onto your land. Do not sell out for a few pesos; if you do, it will make it very difficult to get rid of them. Resistance and defence will only, and always, come from below.










Ejidal Committee of individual ejidatarios, inhabitants and neighbours of Chicoasén

Believing People, Diocese of San Cristóbal de de Las Casas

Movement in Defence of Life and Territory (MOVITE)

Representatives from the Believing People of Simojovel

Coordinator of the United Peoples of the Valley of Ocotlán, Oaxaca

Diocesan Coordination of Women, Diocese of San Cristóbal de Las Casas (CODIMUJ)

Autonomous Council of the Coastal Zone Region of Chiapas (CARZCH)

Colonia La Trinidad, Municipality of Las Margaritas

Guadalupe Mission


The men and women who participated and are affected, present on behalf of:


Those affected by the San Ramón mine in the Grecia ejido in Chicomuselo

Those affected by the 1st and 2nd Hydroelectric dams at Chicoasén

Those affected by the mining explosion in San José del Progreso, Ocotlán, Oaxaca

Those affected by the Hydroelectric dam at Hitzantun en Huitiupan

Those affected by the amber mines in Simojovel

Those affected by the gas pipelines in the Gustavo López community, by the mining project in the community of Unión Pijijiapan and the hydroelectric dam at Pijijiapan

Those affected in the community threatened by the 1st and 2nd Huixtan dams in the Santo Domingo river, in the municipality of Las Margaritas

Those affected by the hydroelectric dams on the course of the Chacté River in San Juan Cancúc, and in the municipality of Salto de Agua, on the Tulijá River.




Translated by Ruby Zajac for the UK Zapatista Translation Service.
Original Spanish:




April 11, 2016

Pilgrimage in defence of Mother Earth denounces dispossession in Chiapas

Filed under: Indigenous — Tags: , , , , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 12:06 pm



 Pilgrimage in defence of Mother Earth denounces dispossession in Chiapas



The pilgrimage in defence of Mother Earth and in Memory of the Massacre at Viejo Velasco, arrived on 5th April at Pamalhá, Chiapas, as part of its aim to denounce the territorial dispossession suffered by communities and indigenous peoples.

During the pilgrimage they witnessed deforestation “caused by the ambition of the chiefs and the government” which destroys the hills, for the past three years they have been dedicated to selling off all the natural resources in the region.

One of the objectives of the pilgrimage is to set a precedent for the defence of and struggle for our Mother Earth, which is constantly being threatened by already-planned megaprojects which will affect the peoples of the area, as in the case of the 30 communities around the Usumacinta river, who have not been consulted about the construction of the Boca del Cerro hydroelectric dam.

Neverthless, the pilgrimage is moved forward with solidarity, joy and motivation, looking to win the struggle in favour of all forms of life in this country.




March 14, 2016

“Enough of Deceit and Division in Our Communities”: Women in Defence of the Land

Filed under: Indigenous, Women — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 11:25 am



“Enough of Deceit and Division in Our Communities”: Women in Defence of the Land




Second Assembly of the Movement in Defence of the Land and Territory and for the participation of women in decision-making.

To the government of Mexico

To the governments of Chiapas and Oaxaca

To the organized peoples

To civil society

To the alternative media

San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas; March 8th, 2016

To mark International Women’s day, the members of the Movement in Defence of the Land and Territory and for the participation and recognition of women in decision-making, gathered on 6th and 7th March in the University of the Earth, in our second assembly. We see that extractivism at the national and international level is cruelly dispossessing the people from their lands and territories, and excluding women from making decisions in regards to these problems, therefore WE AGREE:

  • We condemn the cowardly murder of the compañera Berta Cáceres (human rights defender and companion of the struggle of the indigenous peoples) that occurred on 3rd March, in La Esperanza, Intibucá, Honduras; we hold the government of that country responsible for the acts. We demand that the murderers are punished; and that guarantees are given to those in their just rights to reject the megaprojects;
  • We demand respect for the right of the peoples to live on their land and territories; to their autonomy and self-determination;
  • We demand the state recognise the right of women to joint ownership of the land and to the rights to make decisions over the land and territory;
  • To construct and modify the ejidal rules and communal statutes so they recognize the right of the women to be co-owners of the land, to participate in assemblies and to decide over their territory in equality with men;
  • To make agreements to declare our territories free of megaprojects and free of extractivist activities, and to present them before the appropriate authorities.


Because the capitalist, neoliberal, patriarchal and extractivist system has the objective of enrichment from natural resources and taking control of the lives of the people, directly affecting the women:

  • We say enough of the deceit and division in our communities through programmes and government projects disguised as welfare programmes. We demand the respect of our time, bodies, economy and family
  • We demand the exit of the armed forces (military, marines, police, and paramilitary groups) from our territories because we are the principal victims of the violence that they generate
  • We call for an end to the imposition of programmes, projects, and government policies that violate the right to information and consultation since they do not consider our realities, needs and interests. Furthermore, these programmes condition and obligate the people in our communities to approve of their infrastructure projects
  • We demand that the state complies with the obligation to guarantee and fulfil the human right to health, since hospitals, clinics, and casas de salud do not have staff who can address the particular needs of women, nor do they have medicines or medical equipment. Furthermore, under the PROSPERA programme, we are forced to undergo various medical examinations but they do not give us the results, leading us to the conclusion that they are meant only to serve an image that the state is giving that they provide healthcare, but in reality the right to sexual and reproductive health for the women is not effectively provided
  • We demand the closure and departure of the extractive companies because they contaminate our springs, rivers, streams, water sources, air and crops, causing skin disease, miscarriage and infertility in women. All of these effects are under the auspices of the state, because it grants concessions and permission without considering the impact that these activities have on the environment and the lives of human beings
  • We reject the privatization of social property, because we know it is the culminating point of the structural reforms led by the energy reform, so that in this way the state can privatize our communal lands, legally dispossessing the people and communities. And with no land, we would not be able to grow our food, nor plant our medicinal plants
  • We demand the recognition of our participation in the struggle in defence of the land and territory and that our work be taken into account in the assembles and in all of the decision-making processes.
  • We reject the power of macho men who support violence again women, which is also the result of the capitalist monster inside our hearts and our communities
  • We openly oppose the commodification of life and territory and we demand the end to the repression and killing of human rights defenders and activists. We demand guarantees for the safety of our compañero Gustavo Castro and his immediate return to Mexico
  • We demand that the federal government and the government of Chiapas cancel the extractive and infrastructure projects, like the highways from San Cristóbal-Palenque and San Cristóbal- Frontera Comalapa, that threaten our mother earth and the lives of men and women
  • We demand that the government of Chiapas respect the autonomy of the Chimapalas and of the Ejido Tila; we also demand the cancellation of the arrest warrants that are issued in the criminal case 326/2015 against the inhabitants of the Ejido Tila
  • We demand that the agrarian court, district fifty-four, resolve the case of the ejido of Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas, Palenque, Chiapas.
  • We demand that the Federal Government immediately issue a Declaration of Gender Violence Alert for Chiapas, because femicide hasn’t stopped, and femicides keep increasing


Not One More Killing!

Berta Cáceres Lives! The Stuggle Continues!

Stop the Violence Against Women!

Stop the Mine in Chicomuselo!

Stop the Invasion of Chimalapas!

Stop the Infrastructure Projects That Affect the Indigenous Territories!

Respect for the Autonomy of the Ejido of Tila!

Respect for the Autonomy of the Chimalapas!

The Land is Not for Sale, The Women Defend it!

Movement in Defence of the Land and Territory and for the participation and recognition of women in decision-making

8th March, 2016


Translated by Palabras Rebeldes



February 26, 2016

Chiapas communities organize to protect sacred lagoon from tourist highway

Filed under: Frayba, Indigenous, water — Tags: , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 11:50 am



Chiapas communities organize to protect sacred lagoon from tourist highway



Candelaria residents erect a fence around the Suyul Lagoon to help protect it from intruders. (WNV/Sandra Cuffe)


Sandra Cuffe

The reeds and grasses are as tall as Sebastián Pérez Méndez, if not taller. The vegetation is so thick it’s hard to see the water in the Suyul Lagoon that he and other local Maya Tzotzil residents are working hard to protect. Pérez Méndez crosses the road to point out where aquatic plants serve as a natural filter for the water as it flows out the lagoon, located in the highlands of Chiapas, in southern Mexico.

“The water is under threat,” he said. Pérez Méndez is the top authority of the Candelaria ejido, a tract of communally-held land in the municipality of San Cristóbal de las Casas. “We’re not going to allow it.”

Communities in Chiapas are organizing to protect the Suyul Lagoon and communal lands from a planned multi-lane highway between the city of San Cristóbal de las Casas and Palenque, where Mayan ruins are a popular tourist destination. Candelaria residents continue to take action locally to protect the lagoon. They also travelled from community to community along the proposed highway route, forming a united movement opposing the project.

It all started back in 2014 when government officials showed up in Candelaria looking for ejido authorities, including Pérez Méndez’ predecessor. It was the first residents had heard about plans for the highway. The indigenous inhabitants had not been consulted and were not shown detailed plans.

“They realized that [the government officials] were only seeking signatures,” Pérez Méndez said.

No one person or group is authorized to make a decision that would affect ejido lands, however, and there are strict conditions in place to ensure elected ejido leaders are accountable to members, he explained. An extraordinary assembly was held to discuss the highway project.

The Candelaria ejido was established in 1935, a year after a new agrarian law enacted during the Lázaro Cárdenas administration led to widespread land reform throughout Mexico. More than 2,000 people live in the 1,600-hectare ejido, and more than 800 of them WNV.Cuffe_.Photo-2-615x461

Candelaria residents paint over graffiti to fix up a roadside sign proclaiming their opposition to the highway project. (WNV/Sandra Cuffe)


“The ejido said no,” said Guadalupe Moshan, who works for the Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Centre, or FrayBa, supporting Candelaria and other communities in Chiapas. “They didn’t sign.”

Candelaria leaders sought assistance from FrayBa in 2014, after they were approached by government officials and pressured to sign a document indicating their consent to the highway project that would involve a 60-metre-wide easement through communally-held lands. Officials told community members that the highway was already approved and that they would be well compensated, but that there would be consequences if they refused to sign, Moshan said.

“They told them they would suspend government programmes and services,” she explained. In the days following the extraordinary ejido assembly rejecting the project, there was unusual activity in the area, according to Moshan. Helicopters flew over the ejido, unknown individuals entered at night, and trees were marked, she said.

Protecting the Suyul Lagoon remains at the heart of Candelaria’s opposition to the planned highway. The lagoon provides potable water not only for Candelaria, but also for several nearby communities, said ejido council secretary Juan Octavio Gómez. Aside from the highway itself, project plans eventually shown to the community leaders include a proposed eco-tourism complex right next to the lagoon. That isn’t in the communities’ interest, Gómez explained.

“Water is life. We can’t live without it,” he said. “Without this lagoon, we don’t have another option for water.”

Fed by a natural spring, the Suyul Lagoon never runs dry. Local residents are careful to protect the water and lands in the ejido, where the majority of residents live from subsistence agriculture, sheep rearing and carpentry. They engage in community reforestation, but have plans to plant more trees, Gómez said.

The Suyul Lagoon is also sacred to local Maya Tzotzil. Ceremonies held every three years in its honour involve rituals, offerings, music and dance.

“It is said that it’s the navel of Mother Earth,” Pérez Méndez said.

Candelaria residents didn’t sit back and relax after rejecting the highway project in their extraordinary assembly. They have been organizing ever since. The Suyul Lagoon lies just outside the Candelaria ejido, but it belongs to ejidatarios by way of an agreement with the supportive land owner. Aside from the highway project and potential eco-tourism complex, the lagoon has caught the attention of companies, whose representatives have turned up in the area expressing interest in establishing a bottling plant.

It’s cold in February up in the highlands, but community members have been out all day, erecting a fence around the Suyul Lagoon to protect it from intruders. White fence posts are visible under the treeline across the sea of reeds. Like so many other local initiatives, fence materials are collectively financed by the ejido and the labour is all voluntary, communal work.

While residents continue stringing barbed wire from post to post, others take paintbrushes to one of their roadside signs. Locals have erected large signs next to roads in and around their ejido, announcing their opposition to the tourist highway.



A sign along the road leading to Candelaria informs passers-by of opposition to the planned super-highway. (WNV/Sandra Cuffe)


“We’re also already organized with the other communities,” Pérez Méndez said. “All the communities reject the super-highway.”

After they were approached by government officials, Candelaria ejido residents travelled from community to community along the entire planned highway route. Some communities hadn’t heard of the project at all, while others said they were pressured into signing documents indicating their consent, Pérez Méndez said. As a result of Candelaria’s visits, community organizing along the highway route led to the formation of a united front of opposition, the Movement in Defence of Life and Territory.

Candelaria also recently got together with other indigenous communities in the highlands to issue a joint statement rejecting the tourist super-highway and a host of other government and corporate projects and policies.

“Our ancestors, our grandfathers and our grandmothers have always taken care of these blessed lands, and now it’s our turn to [not only take] care of the lands, but also to defend them,” reads the February 10 communiqué.

“The neoliberal capitalist system, in its ambition to exploit natural assets, invades our lands,” the statement continues. “The government and transnational companies are violently imposing their mega-projects.”

Back along the edge of the Suyul Lagoon, Candelaria residents continue to string barbed wire from post to post. They’ve been at it for a while now, according to Pérez Méndez, but they’ve now stepped up their efforts and hope to finish the fence by the end of the month.

Pérez Méndez surveys the progress, protected from the unrelenting sun and icy wind by his hat and white sheep’s wool tunic. He becomes pensive when asked if he thinks communities will be able to defeat the highway project.

“Yes,” the ejido leader said, after giving it some thought. “We can stop it.”




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