dorset chiapas solidarity

February 5, 2017

The Freedom of ex-Political Prisoner Roberto Paciencia Cruz is at Risk

Filed under: Frayba, Human rights, Indigenous, Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 4:47 pm



 The Freedom of ex-Political Prisoner Roberto Paciencia Cruz is at Risk



San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas

February 2, 2017

Joint Bulletin:

The working group No Estamos Todxs and the centre of human rights Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas AC, express our concern regarding the risk to the freedom of our compañero Roberto Paciencia Cruz (Roberto Paciencia) who is an Indigenous Tsostil of Chenalhó, Chiapas and an adherent to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandona Jungle.

Roberto was detained August 9th, 2013 and accused of abduction. During the moment of his detention and incarceration, acts of torture, arbitrary detention and unfair trial were documented, violating the rights of personal freedom and integrity, personal security and access to due process.

Since his detention, and throughout the judicial process that lasted three years and three months, Roberto did not cease his struggle against the injustices of the corrupt Mexican political system. On November 26, 2016, he was released by acquittal under the recognition of his innocence on part of the Judge of the criminal branch of the judicial district of San Cristóbal de Las Casas.

However, the public prosecutor has filed an appeal against the acquittal, despite not having been able to sustain the accusation against our compañero Paciencia during the trial, and in spite of the mentioned violations against him.

The arbitrary and unjust detention to which Roberto was subjected has brought physical and psychological consequences for him and his family, disrupting his life and generating poverty in his family.

According to available information, the study of the case and the proposal of appeal will be under the charge of Residing Judge C, of the Regional Mixed Collegiate Courtroom Zone 3, of San Cristóbal de Las Casas. Judge Ramiro Joel Ramírez Sánchez will head the case. The judges that integrate the courtroom will vote upon the proposal in the middle of February

The probability of his acquittal being modified has generated uncertainty, stress and anxiety for Roberto, as well as for his family. During the months following his release, Roberto has moved to San Cristóbal de Las Casas, where he has tried to continue his life together with his family. Right now he is working and continuing the struggle.

During the years that he was detained in CERSS Number 5, in San Cristóbal de Las Casas, he continued to defend the right of the prisoners, showing solidarity and commitment to the imprisoned survivors of torture and politically motivated criminalization. He did not stop denouncing the many abuses committed by the authorities, like the unjust and corrupt penitentiary and judicial system that discriminates against people for being poor and Indigenous.

The working group No Estamos Todxs and the Centre for Human Rights Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas AC, reiterate our concern regarding the risk to the freedom of Roberto Paciencia and we urge the judge Ramiro Joel Ramírez Sánchez and the members of the Regional Mixed Collegiate Courtroom Zone 3, of San Cristóbal de Las Casas, to confirm the acquittal, for not having legal means to revoke the sentence.

To the adherents of the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandona Jungle and the national and internal civil society, we ask you to be attentive to the resolution of the Regional Mixed Collegiate Courtroom Zone 3, and to carry out solidarity actions for Roberto Paciencia Cruz and his family

Working Group No Estamos Todxs

Centre of Human Rights Fray Bartolomé de las Casas AC

Translated by Palabras Rebeldes



December 12, 2016

Indigenous forbid the sale of alcohol in the municipality of El Bosque

Filed under: Indigenous — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 12:40 pm



Indigenous forbid the sale of alcohol in the municipality of El Bosque



Residents of the municipality El Bosque, located in the Highlands of Chiapas, have come to the agreement, through their traditional and constitutional authorities, to ban the sale of alcoholic drinks and close all cantinas.

The agreement was supported by the Parish Council of the Diocese of San Cristobal de las Casas. In a communique released this Sunday, they expressed their concern about alcohol and drug abuse, the proliferation of cantinas, and the insecurity affecting the region.

For these reasons, they explained, they sought dialogue with the municipal authorities and on the 23rd of November, they came to a historic agreement, signed by representatives of all the barrios, Commissioners of the Ejido and Communal Goods, and by the entire town council.

Included in the agreement is the ban on selling, distributing and consuming alcoholic drinks and beer, in the municipality. They also agreed on the closure of the canteens.

It was agreed that consumers of alcoholic drinks and beer found walking around the town’s streets would be detained by the municipal police for public security, and sanctioned with a fine of 5000 pesos.

The residents of the area recognized that alcoholism is a problem that generates violence in the municipality and in the region in general. They therefore ask other municipalities to join them in taking these steps.

Translated by Ruby Zajac for the UK Zapatista Translation Service.




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



September 2, 2016

“They want to grab our land and privatise it” denounces the community of 5 de Marzo in San Cristobal de las Casas

Filed under: Displacement, Indigenous, La Sexta, Uncategorized — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 10:57 am



“They want to grab our land and privatise it” denounces the community of 5 de Marzo in San Cristobal de las Casas




The community of Cinco de Marzo, adherents to the Sixth, are vigilant and from San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas they report:

23 August 2016

Sisters, Brothers,

Compañeras and Compañeros:

We are adherents to the Sixth from the community Cinco de Marzo. We are from Tzeltal, Tzotzil and Ch`ol communities.We are simple, humble farmers and workers from below –  teachers, homemakers, students, market vendors, children, women, men and elders. We are organised with a view towards autonomy over the recovered lands which were founded through the EZLN’s 1994 uprising. We resist so as to not forget our ideals of a just struggle for all everyone.

We want to share some of the anomalies we have experienced in recent years by the three levels of bad government, along with the complicity of the Federal Electricity Commission, the community board of directors and some people from the community who want to grab and privatise our land, which is one of the greatest abuses of all.

Those who run the board of the directors, the same ones who call our community “Colonia 5 de marzo”, are harassing us again, forcing us to pay for land we recovered and so legitimately and rightfully belongs to us. According to them, they have held talks and made agreements with the supposed landowner Adrián Marenco Olabarrieta.

The incidents:

On the 7th of August of this year, they announced a plan whereby each household would have to pay $103,769 Mexican pesos, forcing the purchase of the property under a signed contract. Subsequent to signing the contract and after several advanced payments, 60 monthly payments of $1,850 Mexican pesos along with accrued interest would also have to be paid. They say that if we don’t pay according to their payment plan, they will sue us and the supposed landowner will evict us.

On the 18th of August of this year between 6 and 7 in the afternoon we realised that our community had been invaded by state and municipal police owing to the arrival of the head of the Secretariat of Agrarian, Territorial and Urban Development, Rosario Robles and other people from the bad government who came to deliver its program “Cuartos Rosas” (*).

The next day between 9 and 10 in the morning 3 federal police vans with polarised windows, a municipal police patrol unit, and two trucks with approximately 80 police officers arrived in the community. At approximately 1 in the afternoon, a further 50 police dressed in civilian clothes arrived and held a meeting in the community hall. In total, the bad government sent about 200 police officers to invade our community.

Between 3 and 4 in the afternoon, Governor Manuel Velasco Coello, Marco Cancino, Rosario Robles, Sergio Labato and others arrived apparently to deliver 220 “Cuartos Rosas”, which in actuality were only 43. As always, the bad government promotes itself by spending money, lying and then not following through. The presence of the bad government and the enormous number of police bodies provoked emotional and psychological instability.

We, women and men, as adherents of the Sixth clearly see that these people are trying to intimidate and harass us so that people who aren’t organised are afraid and pay. They are threatening our integrity and our families this way by perpetuating robbery and displacement of our community. Meanwhile the bad government tries to break up and divide us through their “support” programmes and projects which supposedly are for the benefit of the community. Despite this, the bad government has not succeeded in defeating us and we continue resisting, defending and struggling for our dignity and for Mother Earth.

Today we say again “Enough!” of this abuse, harassment and threats. We affirm who we are, where we are, and where we are going because our struggle finds itself caught up in the struggles of others who share our pain, our anger. We know that at the end the light of peace and joy awaits us. This is the hope that helps us remain standing and fighting and we will continue day after day.

For all that is happening and all that could happen in the next days, we place the responsibility on the board of directors and its leaders, Virginia Patricia Hernández Pérez, Álvaro López Penagos, Agenor Jiménez Cruz, Silmar Silvestre Trujillo Guillen and the three levels of bad government:  municipal, state and federal.

We ask human rights organisations, and our compañeros of the Sixth that they accompany us and remain vigilant about what may happen in the coming days. We send you, brothers and sisters, a hug with a rebellious beat, and it is for you because you fight against this criminal system.

The earth is not for sale!

It is to be worked, cared for and defended!

Total support for the teachers’ struggle!


Adherents to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle, the community Cinco de Marzo


For more information, you can send us an email:

Photo: Aldo Santiago

“Cuartos Rosas”(*) is a government programme run by the  Secretariat of Agrarian, Territorial and Urban Development which aims to reduce overcrowding by building an additional room onto existing family homes.



July 26, 2016

Violent Eviction of the Roadblock of Teachers from San Cristobal

Filed under: Indigenous, Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 11:12 am



Violent Eviction of the Roadblock of Teachers from San Cristobal


profes1Eviction of the teachers’ sit-in (Photo@ChiapasDenuncia Pública)


On the morning of July 20, the sit-in protest in rejection of education reform that the National Coordinator of Education Workers (CNTE) has maintained on the toll road to Tuxtla Gutierrez, was destroyed “by a group of 150 armed people.” The representative of Section Seven, Adalberto Rabanales, said the attackers belong to “two attack groups: ALMETRACH (Association of Tenants of Traditional Markets of Chiapas) which works with the Municipal President of San Cristobal de las Casas, Marco Cancino- and a group led by the mayor of San Juan Chamula, Domingo López González, a member of the Green Ecologist Party.” These groups “of attack and the Municipal Police arrived to cause damage, employed the use of firearms and tear gas, respectively.” That same day, according to Radio Regeneracion, four people were reported injured: Rumualdo Guadalupe, primary school teacher who had his body pierced from behind by a firearm projectile, Guadalupe Estrada, wounded by a bullet to the shoulder, one person by a blow with a firearm and another who was run over. The final toll has not been released. There were also attacks on the press. Dolores Rodriguez of Chiapas Network News, was assaulted and injured.

After the eviction, the teachers regrouped in the central park of San Cristobal de Las Casas and made a call to the general public for the reconstruction of the sit-in. Teachers began a demonstration to the blockade to reinstall it. “The show of solidarity was immediate and there where the camp was destroyed, the hands of teachers together with the people returned to lay the foundations of the camp.”

Regarding the dialogue with the Federal Government, a representative of the Chiapas teachers stated that, “it is not possible that being at a negotiating table, for some days they have been trying to break the dialogue. The government wants to impose education reform. We will not remain silent.” Meanwhile the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Centre for Human Rights (Frayba) spoke out against these events and declared that this attitude “does not help the process of ongoing dialogue with the Federal Government.”


Posted on 26/07/16 by Dorset Chiapas Solidarity



July 24, 2016

EZLN: Open letter on the aggressions against the people’s movement in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas

Filed under: Zapatistas — Tags: , , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 12:46 pm



EZLN: Open letter on the aggressions against the people’s movement in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas






July 21, 2016

To the current governor and the other overseers of the south-eastern Mexican state of Chiapas:

Ladies (ha) and Gentlemen (double ha):

We do not send greetings.

Before it occurs to you to try (as the PGR [i] is already attempting in Nochixtlán) to blame the cowardly aggression against the people’s resistance encampment in San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas on ISIS, we would like to provide you, at no charge, the information we have collected on the subject.

The following is the testimony of an indigenous partidista [ii] (PRI) brother from San Juan Chamula, Chiapas, Mexico:

“At 9am (on July 20, 2016) the Verde party followers were called to the governor’s palace. They went and were told to do again what they had done the other day.”

(NOTE: he is referring to the incident in which a group of indigenous people affiliated with the Partido Verde Ecologista (Green Ecology Party) put on ski masks and went to create chaos at the [teachers’] blockade between San Cristóbal and Tuxtla Gutiérrez, the capital of Chiapas. When they were detained by the CNTE’s [teachers’ union] security, they first said they were Zapatistas (they weren’t, aren’t, and never will be), and later admitted they were partidistas.




But this time they were supposed to dialogue so that the people at the blockade would let the trucks from Chamula that do business in Tuxtla go through. The municipal president (who belongs to the Verde Ecologista Party) sent police patrols and local ambulances. The municipal president of San Cristóbal sent some more police. The governing officials in Tuxtla sent a bunch more. See, they [the people from Chamula] had made a deal with the police—they already had a plan. So they went in there like they were going to dialogue but one group went into the blockade’s encampment and started destroying things, stealing or burning everything they found. Then they started shooting—the Verdes are indeed armed—but shooting like a bunch of drunks and druggies. The police were acting like their security detail, their backup. We don’t agree with what the Verdes did. Now the tourists are scared to come to the municipal centre (of San Juan Chamula) and this screws everybody over because it really hurts our businesses. It’s not the blockade but rather the fucking Verdes that are fucking us over. Now we’re going to go protest in Tuxtla and demand they remove that asshole of a president. And if they won’t listen to us, well then we’ll see what we have to do.”

With regard to that clumsy attempt to dress paramilitaries in ski masks and say they were Zapatistas, it was a total failure (in addition to being a tired old trick that has been tried before by Croquetas Albores).[iii] Questioned on whether they thought it had been Zapatistas who destroyed the blockade and committed these outrageous acts, here are the comments of two townspeople, without any known political affiliation:

A street vendor, approximately 60 years old:

“No! The people who destroyed all that stuff yesterday are people paid by the government, we all know that. They aren’t the ones that support the teachers. The teachers’ struggle is valid; the other option would be that we’d have to pay for education ourselves. And where do they get money to pay the teachers anyway? From the people. What we need is for the majority of other states to join the struggle, there are four that are already in but we don’t know how long the others will take.”

A Chamula indigenous person, a street vendor:

Naaahhh, those weren’t Zapatistas. Zapatistas don’t act like that. Plus the Zapatistas support the teachers and those people yesterday were trying to pass themselves off as Zapatistas by putting on ski masks, but they aren’t; they don’t act like Zapatistas at all.”

“So who were those people yesterday?”

“Those are other people, they get paid for that.”

“What do you think of the teachers’ struggle?”

“That we should all support them.”


We are sure that you don’t know this (either that or the stupidities that you commit are because you are in fact stupid), but the so-called “teachers’ conflict” arose because of the stupid arrogance of that mediocre police wannabe who still works out of the Department of Public Education (SEP by its Spanish acronym. Oh you’re welcome, no thanks needed). After the teachers’ mobilizations and the government’s response in the form of threats, firings, beatings, imprisonment, and death, the teachers in resistance managed to get the federal government to sit down to dialogue. This is in fact a federal issue. It is up to the federal government and the teachers in resistance to dialogue and come to an agreement or not.

You sympathize with the hard-headedness of that mediocre policeman. We Zapatistas sympathize with the teachers’ demands and we respect them. This applies not only to the CNTE, but to the entire people’s movement that has arisen around their demands. As Zapatistas, we have made our sympathy public by supporting them in word and deed, with the small amount of food that we could put together from our own tables.

Do you think this movement, now taken up by so many people, is going to be defeated by evicting a few encampments, even when you disguise it as “citizen rage?” You’ve already seen that doesn’t work. Just like what happened with our brothers, the originary peoples in Oaxaca—if you destroy their camps they’ll build them back up. Time and time again. The thing is that here below there is no fatigue. Your bosses calculated that the teachers’ resistance movement would deflate over summer vacation. Now you’ve seen that you were wrong (hmmm, that’s more than three failures in one evaluation. If we applied the “education reform” in this case you would already have been fired and would be looking for work in the Iberdrola alongside the psychopath.) [iv]

The movement has been able to generate and concretize the sympathies of the people, while you all only generate dislike and repudiation.

As we were already saying as of two months ago, the movement already encompasses various social sectors and, of course, their specific demands. For example, you’re not around to hear it but people are demanding Cancino be removed from office (the supposed municipal president of San Cristóbal de Las Casas, a city in Chiapas, Mexico, in case you didn’t know) and Narciso be put in jail (the paramilitary boss of the ALMETRACH.) [v] This and the other things they are demanding can be summarized in one word: good government. How long will it take you to realize that you are just in the way, parasites that infect the entire society, above and below?

The thing is that you all are so sure of yourselves that you send your attack dogs to steal the few belongings of these people who are PEACEFULLY protesting. Well, we Zapatistas will again begin to collect the food and basic necessities you stole from them and supply them once again. And we will do so over and over again.

Instead of making ridiculous declarations (like denying having a role in that cowardly attack on the people’s encampment in San Cristóbal), you could contribute to the easing of tensions necessary for this dialogue and negotiation to take place as determined by both parties (which are, we might remind you, the Federal Government and the National Coordination of Education Workers). It would be a good idea to tie up your attack dogs (Marco Antonio, Domingo, and Narciso). Just whistle and shake a wad of bills at them and you’ll see how they come running.




And some unsolicited advice: don’t play with fire in Chamula. The unrest and division you are inciting in that town with your stupidities could provoke an internal conflict of such terror and destruction that you wouldn’t be able to quash it with social network bots or paid “news” articles or the little money that Manuel Joffrey Velasco Baratheon-Lannister has left in the state treasury.

So be calm. Be patient and show some respect. We hope the federal government will dialogue and negotiate with seriousness and commitment, not only because the teachers’ demands are just, but because this might be one of the last times there is someone with whom to dialogue and negotiate. The process of decomposition you have encouraged is so advanced that soon you won’t even know who to slander. Plus there won’t be anyone on the other side of the table. Understood?

So, do your thing. That is, go back to Photoshop, to the celebrity news, the flashy parties, the spectacle, the gossip magazines, to the frivolity of those who lack intelligence. Govern? Oh come now, not even the paid media believe you do that.

It’s better that you step aside and learn, because this is Chiapas, and the Chiapas population is a lot to take for such a lame government.


To whom it may concern:

As Zapatistas it is our conviction—and we act in accordance—that the movement’s decisions, strategies, and tactics should be respected. This applies to the entire political spectrum. It is not acting in good faith to hitch oneself onto a movement and try to steer it in a direction outside of its internal logic. And that goes for attempts to slow it down or speed it up. If you can’t accept that, then at least say clearly that you want to use this movement for your own ends. If you say so directly, perhaps the movement will follow you, perhaps not. But it is healthier to tell the movement what you are seeking. How do you expect to lead if you don’t respect the people?

We Zapatistas are not going to tell our current teachers (those from the CNTE and also from the towns, barrios, and neighbourhoods that support them) what to do and what not to do. This should be crystal clear to all noble people in struggle: ANY ACTION TAKEN BY THE ZAPATISTAS IN RELATION TO THE CURRENT POPULAR MOVEMENT (or those that later emerge) WILL BE PUBLICLY MADE KNOWN AHEAD OF TIME, always respecting the movement’s times and ways. The National Coordination of Education Workers as well as the originary peoples’ movements, neighbourhoods, and barrios that support the teachers should understand that whatever decisions they make—whether about their path, their destiny, their steps, or their company—they will have our respect and our salute.

This thing of dressing up like Zapatistas and yelling slogans that involve others is fine as a bit of entertainment and a line on your resumé, but it is nevertheless false and dishonest. We did not rise up to hand out stolen junk food, but rather for democracy, freedom, and justice for all. If you think breaking windows and stealing food that isn’t even nourishing is more revolutionary and of more help to the movement, well, let the movement decide. But clarify that you are not Zapatistas. We don’t care when people tell us we don’t understand the “conjuncture,” or that we don’t have a vision of how to use electoral advantage, or that we are petit-bourgeoisie. We only care that that teacher [maestro, maestro] that señora, that señor, that young person [joven, jóvena] feel that here, in the mountains of south-eastern Mexico, there are those who love them, respect them, and admire them. This is what we care about, even though such sentiments do not come into play in grand electoral strategies.

The teachers in resistance and, now more and more often, the people’s movement that gathers around them face very difficult adverse conditions. It isn’t fair that, in the midst of all of that, they have to deal not only with clubs, batons, shields, bullets, and paramilitaries, but also with “advice,” “orientation,” and “with-all-due-respect”-type orders telling them what to do or what not to do, or whether to advance or retreat—that is, what to think and what to decide.




We Zapatistas don’t send junk food to those who struggle, but rather non-GMO corn tostadas which are not stolen but rather homemade through the work of thousands of men and women who know that to be Zapatista does not mean to hide one’s face but rather to show one’s heart. Because reheated Zapatista tostadas relieve hunger and inspire hope. And you can’t buy that in convenience stores or supermarkets.

From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast.

Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés

Subcomandante Insurgente Galeano

Mexico, July 21, 2016

[i] Procuraduría General de la República, Mexico’s Attorney General

[ii] Refers to someone affiliated with one of the registered political parties.

[iii] “Croquetas,” or doggy biscuit, was the nickname assigned by the EZLN to Roberto Albores Guillén, governor of Chiapas from 1998-2000.

[iv] This likely refers to ex-president Felipe Calderón who recently took a job with a subsidiary of Iberdrola.

[v] La Asociación de Locatarios del Mercado Tradicional, Traditional Market Tenants’ Association.


P0sted on 24/07/16 by Dorset Chiapas Solidarity



July 8, 2016

Thousands of Faithful Hold Pilgrimages in Support of Teachers’ Movement

Filed under: sipaz — Tags: , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 6:13 pm



Thousands of Faithful Hold Pilgrimages in Support of Teachers’ Movement


 profesDuring the pilgrimage in Tuxtla Gutiérrez. Photo:@SIPAZ


On July 1, people from more than 15 parishes from the south-eastern region of the diocese of San Cristobal de Las Casas marched with their parish priests to show their support for the teachers’ movement which has been on strike since May 15 to demand the repeal of the educational reform bill and for the Government Secretary, Miguel Angel Osorio Chong, to open a negotiating table with the National Coordinator of Education Workers (CNTE).

It was called by pastoral agents and the south-eastern team of Believing People and parish priests and faithful from Tuxtla, Tapachula, San Cristobal, Chicomuselo, La Trinitaria, La Independencia, Comitan, Las Margaritas, Simojovel, Pueblo Nuevo, San Fernando and others took part, amounting to more than 15 parishes. The pilgrimage took place in Tuxtla Gutierrez, beginning at the eastern entrance of the state capital and marched several kilometres to the central square where a rally was held. The Catholics were met with applause by hundreds of teachers, thanking them for their solidarity with the movement. Several parishes and civil organizations spoke at the rally. One of them, Father Marcelo Perez Perez, said that “they will take to the streets as often as it is necessary to demand that the government withdraws the educational reform and all those reforms that attack the rights of Mexican workers.” Las Abejas de Acteal Civil Society Organization also expressed their solidarity with the teachers and said in a statement that, “we cannot stay on the sidelines of this system, we cannot remain with our arms folded. […] Brutal death, repression and violence have been the daily bread for us as Mexicans. Because of all the initiatives and structural reforms that the Federal Government has proposed. It is a project of death that does not benefit Mexican society (sic).”

At the same time, the acting general secretary of Section Seven of the National Union of Education Workers, Manuel de Jesus Mendoza Vazquez, stated that, “by agreement of the permanent state assembly, the highway blockades at various points of the state will be maintained to prevent the passage of delivery trucks of transnational companies.” He sustained that the blockades will be permanent until the Federal Government responds to their demand for the repeal of the educational reform bill.


Dorset Chiapas Solidarity




July 1, 2016

Mobilizations 21 Months After the Disappearance of “The 43”

Filed under: sipaz, Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 5:00 am



Mobilizations 21 Months After the Disappearance of “The 43”


43March in San Cristóbal de Las Casas on June 26, 2016. Photo: @Sipaz.


There were national mobilizations 21 months after the disappearance of the 43 students of the Isidro Burgos Normal Rural School of Ayotzinapa, and the murder of six other people in Iguala. In Mexico City, hundreds of people marched to demand the appearance of the students alive, from the Anti-monument for the 43 to the headquarters of the Attorney General of the Republic (PGR). The mothers and fathers of the students stayed separate at all times from the silent march that was taking place near their route, which had been called by the leader of the Movement for National Regeneration (Morena), Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, in support of the struggle of the National Coordinator of Education Workers for the repeal of the educational reform. It should be highlighted that the mothers and fathers of the students denounced that the bus in which they were travelling to Mexico City was stoned as it passed through Cuernavaca, Morelos. According to Sin Embargo, “the occupant of a black car blocked them and threw stones, breaking the window of the bus they were travelling in; they said there were no injuries.”

In San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, the health sector, which is on strike over the lack of supplies, lack of staff in medical centres and for better social benefits, called a march which arrived at the cultural event in front of the old town hall, where documentaries were shown and a mural was painted. It should be noted that on June 22 the health sector also marched in about 70 cities in the Mexican Republic. According to Prensa Libre Chiapas, about 3,000 health workers mobilized along with civil society organized in the neighbourhoods. “What we are asking for is 100% supply of medicines in all medical units as this is a problem that the authorities have not solved in four years”, one of the representatives stated in La Jornada. The general secretary of sub-section 03 of the National Union of Health Workers (SNTSA) said that after two weeks on strike they did not have a positive response from the Health chief of the state.

It should be mentioned that investigations into the whereabouts of the 43 students disappeared in September 2014 have made no relevant advances. Recently, the National Institute for Transparency, Access to Information and Data Protection (INAI) ordered the Mexican Army to hand over material that a soldier from the 27th Infantry Battalion recorded the night of the mass disappearance. Although the soldier declared that he took photos and videos of the events and that he submitted them to his superior, the Secretary for National Defence (Sedena) “declared that the information is non-existent”, according to Sin Embargo. Vidulfo Rosales, attorney for the relatives of the 43 students, asserted that the PGR had dismissed a number of officials and begun an investigation against Tomas Zeron, director of the Criminal Investigation Agency. This was pointed out by the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (IGIE) as “distorting reality” as regards the diligences at Rio San Juan, where the “historical truth” -the official government version of the disappearance- was strongly questioned, which claimed that the remains of the students were scattered after they had been incinerated in a garbage dump by the organized crime gang Guerreros Unidos. For his part, Emiliano Navarrete, father of one of the 43, reproached that the government summons them “nothing more than meetings” but “hasn’t done anything” to find their missing children.


Dorset Chiapas Solidarity



June 6, 2016

Two decades later: The Muslim Indigenous community from Chamula, residents of San Cristobal de las Casas

Filed under: Indigenous, Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 3:12 pm



Two decades later: The Muslim Indigenous community from Chamula, residents of San Cristobal de las Casas


DSC05550 (1)


By Gaspar Morquecho, 19 May 2016



Twenty years ago a group of Tzotzil families from Chamula, residents of San Cristobal, decided to profess their faith in Islam and their belief in the oneness of God. This conversion meant abandoning Christianity and the Church which had for more than 500 years guided the religious practices of the indigenous communities in Chiapas. The Book and the readings changed. The Koran took the place of the Bible. Twenty years on, there is no doubt that Islam has established itself in Chiapas. The Muslim families from Chamula live it day by day. They belong to the “Ummah”, the community of Muslim people around the world.

From the original founding group, Sufis of Hispanic heritage from the Murabitun World Movement (MWM), three more communities have emerged: the Al Kautzar community; a Sunni community under the guidance of Mudhar, from Syria; and the Ahmadia community which is overseen by a young Muslim brother from Chamula, Ibrahim Chechev. The four communities are located in San Cristobal de las Casas. Nearby in the village of Teopisca, Salim has begun to establish a Sufi school, Nagsbandi.



Nafia arriving in Zapatista territory


Oddly enough, this group of indigenous families from Chamula were not the intended recipients of the message of Islam. The visitors from Murabitun were interested in talking with the rebellious indigenous communities of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation.

The rebellious indigenous Zapatista roar (January 1994) was heard loud and clear in other parts of the world and it got the attention of a range of people and groups:  politicians, religious folks and civil society, military and intelligence agencies, journalists from around the world, non-governmental organisations and other agencies, groups making up social movements like ones working for alternatives to globalisation … and let’s not forget the adventure-seekers. Notable people have also come to San Cristobal de las Casas:  winners of the Nobel prize, writers, artists, and researchers. Zapatismo caused a commotion felt by nearly all sectors of Mexican society.

IBRAHIM-Y-FAMILIA-165x300The messengers from the Murabitun World Movement (MWM) found themselves in this social rainbow. MWM was founded by Sheikh Abdalqadir as-Sufi, and this group of western Muslim brothers arrived in Chiapas with the mission of making contact with the Zapatistas and taking them the message of Islam. Aureliano Pérez Yruela – Nafia – came from Spain accompanied by a Mexican brother Sidi Ahmed.


On 6 February 1995, the MWM emissaries held meetings with the then major Moises and commander Tacho in San Pedro de Michoacán, a Rebel Zapatista municipality. This day they sent their “first message and greeting” to Subcomandante Marcos. Midway through 1995, in a document 13 pages long, directed at the Zapatista chief, the Muslim brothers of Hispanic-heritage invited consideration of the following:

“We, the Murabitun World Movement, invite you to sit with representatives of other great communities like Chechnya, Kashmir, the Basque Country who today are in the vanguard of the struggle against the tyrannical global banking order, (…)”



 Ahmadya Centre in San Cristóbal de las Casas.


The message from MWM to the Zapatista chief was explicit: “(…) the struggle for the freedom of all people must be under the flag of a transformative Islam, following the message revealed and brought to us by Mohammed the last of the prophets, the liberator of humanity.”

The document finishes with a radical slogan: “Victory or death!” and is signed “Murabitun World Movement, Mexican community.”

It is unlikely that the Murabitun messengers had any response from the rebels, which may have contributed to their change in plans.

In the second half of 1995 the Spanish Muslims by chance got to know Salvador, an indigenous man from Chamula who belonged to the Council of Indigenous Representatives of the Highlands, Chiapas, which was founded in 1988. Most of the membership were non-Catholic Christian people who had been expelled from their communities for their beliefs. Salvador was a trader and he sold bananas in the San Cristobal de las Casas city market. Salvador went to a meeting called by Amado Avendaño, then Governor in Rebellion in Chiapas.

“I went to a meeting at Amado Avendaño’s house. Aureliano and Ahmed were there, and they heard about the Indigenous Market project. As I was leaving I spoke with Aureliano who invited me for coffee … and that’s how we got to know one another, and became friends. For three or four months Aureliano spoke to me about Islam. In 1995 I began to practice and then in 1996 I converted to Islam. They were organised as Sufis and later I understood they were from the Murabitun movement and that they were looking for people.”

Salvador was the first convert to Islam from Chamula, and he then became known as Muhammad Amin. Nafia immediately honoured him as the first indigenous emir. Amin pulled together the core group of Tzotzil people who would be initiated into Islam and become the foundation for the construction of a the Murabitun community in San Cristobal de las Casas. In 1998 there were Muslims living in the neighbourhoods of La Hormiga, Nueva Esperanza, Palestina, Revolución Mexicana, La Selva, Natividad and El Molino de los Arcos. These are humble squatter settlements, and the residents are by and large indigenous people expelled from San Juan Chamula. “La Casa Grande” in the Molino de los Arcos neighbourhood is used as a mosque. On Fridays some 200 believers gather to pray and spend time together. Numerous members of the Chechev family have joined the Murabitun community.


13327643_1116864058377340_6063528395224117145_nMosque in Chiapas.


The growth of the Murabitun community was made possible through the establishment of various guilds, that is to say, the same productive economic structure that the Muslims introduced in Spain. One of the first guilds was the bakers and the opening of La Alpujarra restaurant. Following that came the carpenter’s guild and the seamstress guild. All workers, men and women, receive a weekly economic “support” (300 Mexican Pesos) and food during the work day. The Murabitun established a Development Centre for Muslims and founded the first madrassa in the southeast of Mexico. In 1998 the Muslims of Spanish-heritage registered with the Da’wa Mission as a civil association.

It’s important to highlight that it is the work done by the Muslim women which has created the foundation for the Murabitun community. In addition to being woman-mother-wife, they are involved in the bread production, baking bread for sale, and for their restaurants. The women also prepare other food on the menu. They also do the daily cleaning and shopping. They prepare the food for all the workers in the guilds, and those who join a meal after prayers in the mosque or Islamic religious holidays. Women are the ones responsible for shaping other women into indigenous, Islamic women. Mothers have the responsibility of raising daughters and sons in ways prescribed by Islam.

At the beginning of 2000 the Murabitun began their expansion plans. In the city of Comitan they established another Murabitun venue, however they had the first of their splits, leading to the formation of other Muslim communities in San Cristobal de las Casas. The Chechev clan would be a central protagonist throughout this process.


chiapas-por-palest-701795-600x400Demonstration in support of Palestine.

The root of the division was the rigidity of the Emir in the conduct of the Murabitun community. Nafi was authoritarian and disdainful, he expected: a) the Muslims to leave their homes and live in the  Cultural Centre for Muslim Development; b) that children would stop going to public schools; c) that indigenous Muslims would cut off contact with “kafirs” (non-Muslims) and their families; d) to Nafi the Bible, Christians, tortillas and the Indigenous way of life were “shit”.

For six years the indigenous people heard that there was no Muslim community in Mexico other than the Murabitun. Yahia, a young Muslim from Chamula, met by chance some other Muslim people in the city of Puebla who told him about the Islamic Cultural Centre of Mexico, founded by the Sunni Omar Weston. At that first meeting, Yahia invited Ismael, a Sunni, to San Cristobal de las Casas. Yahia’s growing closeness to the Islamic Cultural Centre of Mexico and the arrival of Ismael irritated Nafia. Abdul Haqq, a Chamula Muslim, gives his version: “When Ismael arrived, Nafia didn’t speak to him, and he treated us poorly. Aureliano said to us that only Muslims could be in this place, and if we weren’t then we should leave.”

These tensions led to the separation of a group of Chamulas from the Murabitun community and the strengthening of their relationship with the Islamic Cultural Centre of Mexico, which then founded the Al Kautzar community, the first indigenous Sunni community in Chiapas. A good number of the Chechev clan formed the base of this community.




To unite the community, the Murabitun organised two pilgrimages (hajj) to Mecca, this way the pilgrims achieved one of the five pillars of Islam. In March 2001 25 Murabitun community members of Hispanic and Chamula heritage went on hajj, and 22 people went in February 2002. Without a doubt the greatest impact of hajj was felt by the indigenous pilgrims. They left their country for the first time, and some of the women had never travelled beyond Chiapas, and there in “God’s land” they gathered together with millions of Muslims from all over the world.

Meanwhile on 17 March 2003, the Chamula Sunni community Al Kautzar received a Tabligh delegation, whose mission was to strengthen the group’s faith to Islam. The delegation was made up of a Mexican person of English heritage, a Spaniard, a Pakistani, a Nigerian and a sheikh from India. In the Al Kautzar mosque the Chamula Muslims and the Tabligh visitors prayed in Arabic. The imam spoke in English, and it was translated into Spanish and Tzotzil, thanks to Yahia’s interpreting. In this little space, borders disappeared.

In the second half of the decade 2000 to 2010, Muhammad Amin built another mosque in this place and called it Al Medina. Another group of families who had also separated from the Murabitun community came there to pray. In this mosque there were some 200 Chamula Muslims. In May 2011, Andrés Patishtán Pérez – Mujaheed, who was originally from San Juan Chamula and had studied with the Sunni community in the United States for more than 10 years was elected emir of his community. Mudhar, a Sunni Muslim of Syrian origin, came to them and assumed the role of Imam, the religious guide of the group. In 2012 they left the Al Medina mosque and began to pray in the home of a Chamula Muslim located in the Tlaxcala neighbourhood.

In 2006, part othumbnail_MOL-CHECHEVf the family of Hajj Idris – Imam Murabitun – returned to Granada, Spain. Joining them was the family of Ibrahim Chechev, a young Chamula Muslim married to Yanna, a young Spanish woman. In Granada, Ibrahim continued his training in Islam, and travelled to South Africa where he met Sheikh Abdalqadir as-Sufi, a guide of the World Murabitun Movement who reiterated the mission of bringing Islam to the Chamula community in Chiapas. In 2012, Ibrahim and his family returned and established the Molino de los Arcos, which is how part of the Chechev clan continued to follow Murabitun without subordinating themselves to the emir Nafia. The family’s return reunited most of the Chechev clan and they prayed in the Al Kautzar mosque.

In November 2013, Sheikh Dr. Abdalqadir as-Sufi held his annual gathering in Cape Town, South Africa. A newspaper report highlights this event taking place:

“(…) travelers of all races and from all over the world have gathered together, from Indonesia to Mexico, they have come via numerous European countries and Africa. These people carry the same light and the same science and are the brave defenders of the “Din” and “sunna” in this time of turmoil and conflict for Muslims: Mouley Murtada Alboumashouli, the Sheikh of the “tariqa” (school) in the Maghrib, Kalat Maghouna, Morocco; Sheikh Abdalhaqq Bewley and his wife Hayyah Aisha Bewley, from Norwich, United Kingdom; Sheikh Ali Laraki from Morocco and resident in Leicester, United Kingdom; Sheikh Muhammad Iqbal, from Dar es-Salam, Tanzania; Sheikh Muhammad Amin Fakier, from Cape Town, South Africa; and Sheikh Muhammad Kassbi, imam from the Great Mosque in Granada, Spain.”

At this meeting, Sheikh Abdalqadir as-Sufi appointed Sheikh Mouley Murtada as the head director of the tariqa (school) Qadiri-Shaddili-Darqawi and his first action was to name as a Sheikh Hayy Nafia Perez Yruela: “emir and pioneer of Islam in Mexico, who over the past 15 years has called Latin American people to Islam and through these efforts hundreds of new Muslims, mainly families and whole clans of indigenous people from Chiapas have joined the family of Allah.”

Once back in San Cristobal de las Casas, Sheikh Nafia Perez Yruela called Ibrahim Chechev to visit. The young man came with his brothers and Sheikh Nafia greeted them all. He let them know that he had been named “Sheikh of Latin America” and because of that they had to obey him. This attitude drove the Chechev to separately definitively from the Murabitun and continue their lives with the Al Kautzar community.

In August 2014 the Chamula Muslims from Al Kautzar expressed their solidarity with the Palestinian people. Men wore “djellabas” (long loose-fitting outer robes) and the women were veiled. They marched from the Plaza de la Caridad to the Plaza of the Cathedral, walking down the pedestrian street Eclesiástico. Their demands were: “Peace for Palestine”. Other placards read: “the Muslim Community of Chiapas is with Palestine”, “Palestine, the world cries for you”, “Stop the genocide”, “No more murders of the innocent. We want peace.” After the solidarity march, they gathered for the noon prayer (Zuhr) in the plaza, almost in front of the cathedral of San Cristobal de las Casas. It was the first public demonstration and public prayer of the Chamula Muslim community in this city named after the Dominican friar Las Casas.

At the end of 2013, Ibrahim made contact with David, a Muslim from the Ahmadia community. Ibrahim Chechev and his wife Yanna travelled to London and participated in the 47th International Annual Convention of the Muslim Ahmadia Community. In December 2014, a group of Tzotzil Chamula Muslim families from the Al Kautzar community, with Ibrahim as head, attended the Annual Convention of the Muslim Ahmadia Community in Guatemala City. This event marked the breaking of the weak ties with the Sufi Muslims of the Murabitun World Movement and their formally joining the Sunni Al Kautzar community that the Syrian brother Mudhar guides. At the root of this break-up is a certainty that the Ahmadi movement is “apostate and heretic.” The Muslim World League, at the 1974 annual conference, declared the Ahmadi community was not Muslim.

The Ahmadi movement was founded by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad 23 March 1889 in India, and currently the movement has a presence in 195 countries in Africa, North and South America, Asia and Australia and Europe.

Ibrahim Chechev’s slide towards the Ahmadia movement led his cousin Yahia Chechev to stop him from praying in the Al Kautzar Sunni community mosque. Ibrahim Chechev and the Ahmadi community returned to what was the first mosque located in the neighbourhood of Nueva Esperanza. On the front of the building they have hung a big banner which reads: “Ahmadia Muslim Community,” “Love for all”. The paradox is that this place of prayer is almost in front of the new big mosque constructed by Sheikh Nafia, the Muslim of Spanish descent who two decades ago brought the message of Islam.


DSC00105-600x450Muslim woman.


Amid these rearranging relations the presence of the Naqsbandiya Sufi Muslims was weak in Chiapas. Jalil, a North American Sufi from the Naqsbandiya school, lives in Teopisca. In San Cristobal there is Salim, a Tzotzil man educated by the Murabitun who then had further training in Argentina, the headquarters of Naqsbandi in Latin America. At the beginning of 2015 the Argentine Sheikh Adbu Rauf, a Sufi Naqshbandi leader, arrived in San Cristobal de las Casas with a “message of peace.” The meeting, “journey to the heart”, was attended by Yamaluddin, the Mexico City Sheikh and the Tzotzil Brother Salim, and without a doubt they intend to establish a presence there.

In August 2015, Muhmmad Chechev -Ibrahim’s father – and Mrs. Munira travelled to London to take part in the 49th Annual Convention of the Ahmadia Community.

In the Sufi communities of Murabitun and Naqsbandi, in those of the Sunni Al Kautzar and the Syrian Mudhar, and in the Ahmadia community, Islam is recreated. There are 200 to 300 Chamula Muslims – everyone from men, women, young people, girls and boys – in the Muslim communities.


Photos: Gaspar Morquecho Archive

Translation: UK Zapatista Translation Service



April 11, 2016

Legal Protection Granted Against the San Cristobal-Palenque Highway Project

Filed under: Indigenous, Lacandon/ montes azules, sipaz — Tags: , , , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 9:37 am



Legal Protection Granted Against the San Cristobal-Palenque Highway Project


highwayThe San Cristobal-Palenque super-highway has been met with massive rejection, Photo @ Espoir Chiapas


On April 3, the inhabitants of the Tsotsil communities of Los Llanos and San Jose El Porvenir in the municipality of San Cristobal de Las Casas, made known in a statement that on January 18 of this year they were granted legal protection against the San Cristobal-Palenque highway project. In the sentence for legal protection 16/2014, the judge orders the cancellation of the outlines of the construction project or any other programme for the highway on the stretch between the municipalities of San Cristobal-Huixtan, in particular on the lands of the communities, by the Secretariat of Communications and Transport and the Secretariat of Infrastructure of the State of Chiapas.

In the statement, the ejido demanded that, “the authorities should respect our community’s right to free consultation, previous and informed, through its representatives and traditional authorities, providing information in good faith, including the possible environmental and health risks resulting from the construction of operation of the highway project.” They also underlined that their “land is not for sale, now or in the future, and we completely reject the San Cristobal-Palenque highway project because it dispossesses the indigenous communities of the most sacred thing in this life which is land.” It should be mentioned that since its beginning, many communities and those possibly affected expressed their concern about the construction of the highway, whose cost would be around ten billion pesos and would reduce the journey from San Cristobal to Palenque, two of the zones most visited by overseas and domestic tourists, from five to less than two hours.




April 10, 2016

An amparo is granted against the Project to build a motorway from SanCristóbal de Las Casas to Palenque

Filed under: Indigenous, Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 9:30 am



An amparo is granted to the Ejido Los Llanos and San José El Porvenir against the Project to build a motorway from San Cristóbal de Las Casas to Palenque

The cancellation of the section of the Palenque-San Cristobal highway between San Cris and Huixtan is ordered

While the state government of Chiapas seeks to promote the motorway from Palenque to San Cristobal, as a tool for economic development and a source of employment, the people of Chiapas in resistance against this megaproject achieve a big step, winning a protective order (amparo) against the project.




3rd April, 2016

To the media

To national and international civil society

To all indigenous peoples and communities

To the general public

We would like to make public that on the 18th of January 2016, Los Llanos, our Tsotsil community in the municipality of San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, was awarded a protective order (amparo) against the project to build a motorway from San Cristóbal de las Casas to Palenque. This is a project that the government, through the municipal council and the general secretariat of the government of Chiapas, has tried to force upon us, using threats and intimidation, since November 2013.

In the 16/2014 protective order, the judge orders the Chiapas State Secretariat of Communications and Transport and the Secretariat of Infrastructure to cancel the demarcation of the route and any other preparations for the construction of the San Cristóbal de las Casas-Palenque motorway falling within the San Cristóbal de las Casas-Huixtán municipalities, particularly on land belonging to our community.

The protective order also indicates that, in compliance with the international and constitutional norms identified in it, the authorities must respect our community’s right to freely consult external bodies, through our representatives and the established authorities, to ensure we are fully informed and prepared. They, in turn, are expected to provide the information in good faith, including the possible health hazards and environmental risks presented by the construction or operation of the motorway.

Our community celebrates the announcement of the order to protect our land and we would like to send a message to all three tiers of government that our land is not for sale; not now, not ever. We wholeheartedly reject the project to build a motorway between San Cristóbal de las Casas and Palenque because it would strip the indigenous communities of that which is most sacred in this life: the earth.

As an indigenous community we demand total respect for our rights, which are recognised in the Federal Constitution, international treaties and the San Andrés Accords.

This land has been home to our community for generations; we are its rightful inheritors. That is why we demand respect for the life of our community and that of all indigenous peoples who live under threat of private and state interests, eager to strip them of their land in order to exploit the area’s natural resources. We know that the government has always looked for ways to strip us of our land and that is why we urge all indigenous peoples and communities to defend their territory as one and shy away from divisionism.

We would like to thank you for reading and send you our best wishes from the men, women, children and elders of the Los Llanos and San José El Porvenir community, we who have walked and fought together, in defence of the earth.


Comisario Ejidal,

Los Llanos, San Crístobal de Las Casas, Chiapas

Andrés Gómez Díaz, President

Javier Gómez López, Secretary

Pedro Jiménez Díaz, Treasurer

Surveillance Council

Los Llanos, San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas 

Guadalupe Díaz López, President

Domingo Marcelino Jiménez Pérez, First Secretary

Rogelio Jiménez Pérez, Second Secretary

Authorities of the Community, San José El Porvenir, Huixtan, Chiapas 

Domingo de la Cruz Gómez, Community Representative

Salvador de la Cruz Gómez, Auxiliary Agent

Translated by Ruby Zajac for the UK Zapatista Translation Service



March 31, 2016

Indigenous leader murdered in San Cristobal de Las Casas

Filed under: Indigenous, sipaz, Uncategorized — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 7:47 am



 Indigenous leader murdered in San Cristobal de Las Casas



Commemoration in Peace Square. Photo: @El Universal

On March 24, Juan Carlos Jimenez Velasco, leader of the Independent Confederation of Organizations of Civil Association (Confederación Independiente de Organizaciones Asociación Civil – CIO-AC) and member of the National Coordination of Education Workers (CNTE), was found dead in San Cristobal de Las Casas. According to a CNTE report, the 35-year-old teacher was murdered by a group of hooded persons while in his vehicle. Jimenez Velasco “led the struggle of 50 families expelled from the Santa Catarina Colony in San Cristobal de Las Casas, by members of the Association of Leaseholders of the Traditional Market of that city (ALMETRACH) and the Coordination of Organizations for the Environment for a Better Chiapas (COMACH).” The CNTE indicated that the expulsion of the families was the result of an order from the Town Hall. Jimenez Velasco took part in the takeover of some 20 hectares of land of the former Indigenous National Institute (INI) more than three years ago. This resulted in a dispute over these lands and some months ago the victim and his family received various death threats. According to official sources, “the authorities had set up a negotiating table to try to find a solution to the dispute over the lands, but the groups against Jimenez Velasco broke [the dialogue] and threatened him with death, so they had him in their sights until they killed him.”

The Attorney General for Justice for the State has made no arrests nor identified the killers to date. Teachers from Chiapas blamed ALMETRACH along with the Town Hall of San Cristobal and the state and federal governments for the events. Rebeca Silvia Perez Lopez, widow of Jimenez Velasco and who is seven months pregnant, blamed the crime on members of COMACH. While demanding justice, she said that she feared for her safety. On March 26 last, social organizations, democratic teachers from the region, and the family of Jimenez Velasco said their last goodbyes to a teacher who demanded justice and protested against all types of violence.




March 2, 2016

Visit of Pope Francis to Mexico and San Cristobal de Las Casas

Filed under: Indigenous, Uncategorized — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 5:54 am



Visit of Pope Francis to Mexico and San Cristobal de Las Casas



Photo @ Alejandra Carrilo


A few days ago the bishops of the diocese of San Cristobal de Las Casas published a letter about the visit of Pope Francis on February 15, including criticisms of the organization of the event: “it still pains us in our hearts that many of you, indigenous and mestizos, from near and far, could not enter the place where mass was celebrated, in spite of having arrived very early, having your entrance ticket, and having made a great effort to come. We do not know if it was only disorganization of the Presidential General Staff, on whom entrance depended, of if there were other perverse and exclusive intentions. What happened was unjust, inhumane, inexplicable, and very painful. This did not depend on the diocese, but on the federal civil authorities. We express our solidarity with those who couldn’t enter and make our word known to those responsible.”

On another note, it is important to mention that during the Pope’s mass in San Cristobal, which included some common rituals in the indigenous religious ceremonies and which had parts in regional languages such as Tsotsil, Tseltal and Ch’ol, religious celebration in indigenous languages was formalized by papal decree.

Another act of Francis, which had very little media coverage, was the visit to the tomb of Samuel Ruiz Garcia, who was bishop of San Cristobal for 40 years. “This visit, even if short and undervalued, is a very important sign to understand the type of church that Pope Francis wants to promote. With this visit, Francis is supporting the more than 40 years that Samuel had as bishop promoting an autochthonous church in Chiapas, a church where being Catholic does not imply ceasing to be indigenous. This church, more coherent with the message of the gospels than with the dogmas of Rome was criticized and attacked by his ‘brother’ bishops for a long time. With this visit Francis says Samuel and his episcopal practice were correct, five years after his death.”

The other notable locations that the Pope visited during his trip to Mexico from February 12 to 17 were the State of Mexico, with high levels of femicide; Ciudad Juarez, also known for its high levels of femicide and the exploitation of workers in sweatshops; and Michoacan, which stands out for violence related to organized crime.



February 21, 2016

On the Occasion of the Pope’s Visit, Remembering Don Samuel Ruiz

Filed under: Indigenous, Uncategorized — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 3:24 pm



On the Occasion of the Pope’s Visit, Remembering Don Samuel Ruiz

By Laura Carlsen


Pope Francis, with Bishop Raul Vera, visits the tomb of Bishop Samuel Ruiz


A Man of Peace: Don Samuel Ruiz 1924-2011

Note: On February 15, Pope Francis visited the southern state of Chiapas. It was here that indigenous peoples rose up against the neoliberal system and centuries of injustice on Jan. 1, 1994.  In another gesture that showed that this Pope is not the traditional Vatican company man, the Argentine pope visited the grave of Don Samuel Ruiz, the Bishop of San Cristobal de las Casas, who took up the indigenous cause for justice as his own and as an obligation of the church. Who was Samuel Ruiz? And why did the Catholic Church’s highest authority pay reverence to a man who in many ways defied the church hierarchy? I attended the mass on the death of Don Sam in 2011. Here is the account:

It was a remarkable mass for a remarkable man.

The news spread rapidly yesterday morning of the death of Bishop Samuel Ruiz. He died at the age of 86, the day that marked 51 years since his ordination as Bishop of the Diocese of San Cristobal. By 2:30 the Mexico City church had filled with an unusual group of religious leaders, peace activists and figures who have marked Mexican politics over the years. All recalled their work alongside Tatik (“father” in Tzeltal) with a bittersweet blend of loss and gratitude.

I sat in the pews, listening to the first strains of “métale a la marcha, métale al tambor, métale que traigo un pueblo en mi voz…” (Join the march, join the drum, join in, I carry the people in my voice…) watching the faces of hundreds of committed people who in various moments of a long and full life walked alongside Don Sam, El caminante. A history that changed Mexico forever flooded into the room.

Bishop Raúl Vera recalled that Samuel Ruiz arrived in the state of Chiapas to face a reality he had not imagined, a reality that many in Mexico didn’t know existed. He set out to travel to the far corners of the region– not an easy task–and saw with his own eyes the scars of the plantation-owners’ whips on the backs of indigenous men and heard the accounts of how young girls were routinely forced to have their virginity “tested” (lost) by the owners when they decided to marry, among other terrible examples of the feudal conditions his new parishioners suffered. He encountered a system of oppression and brutality that changed his life and he decided the system had to change, through the word of God and an intense social commitment.

It’s worth mentioning that Bishop Raúl Vera came to know his counterpart when the Church sent him as a “coadjutor” to Ruiz in 1995, presumably to temper his radical influence. The opposite happened. In what Vera describes as a conversion experience, he encountered the conditions that led Don Samuel to embrace a church of and for the poor. He soon became a partner in bringing the church down to the people and building a movement for its indigenous members to gain their rightful place in the church, and in society. To this day, Don Raúl remains a successor to the work of Don Samuel. Now based in Coahuila, his is a strong voice in defence of human rights as Mexico suffers a new phase of violence and repression.

Father Heriberto Cruz recounted that the discussion among some members of the church, initiated in large part by Don Samuel based on his experience in Chiapas in those early days, did not just centre on the ecclesiastical concern of how the church could alleviate the burdens of its members. Ruiz and others began to ask themselves what role the church itself played in their oppression, and how to break that oppression. A deep critique of the role of traditional methods of evangelization in suppressing indigenous culture followed. Ruiz learned to speak Tzotzil and Tzeltal and became conversant with other indigenous languages of the region. He insisted on respect for indigenous cultures–another factor that would bring him into conflict with some elements of the Church that criticized what they viewed as the excessive syncretism of his theology and practices.

Don Samuel Ruiz formed part of and led a movement within the Roman Catholic Church that based its theology on the Vatican II commitment to greater lay participation and the “option for the poor” that shifted attention to the need to serve the historically downtrodden. It also put forth the idea that the church cannot ignore injustice without being complicit.

These would become the principles Don Sam acted on.  As mediator in the Zapatista indigenous uprising of 1994, Ruiz helped create the conditions for the new indigenous movement that marked not only Mexico but the world. His work as leader of the National Mediation Commission (CONAI) led to an unprecedented dialogue that resulted in the San Andrés Accords on Indigenous Rights and Culture, signed and later violated by the federal government.

Today, the Accords stand as a tribute to his work and the work of scores of indigenous leaders. They also stand as a tragic reminder that the word of the powerful cannot be trusted. But the spirit of emancipation and peaceful dialogue codified in the Accords survives in the individuals who gathered at the mass for Don Samuel Ruiz, one of the principal architects of the peace process. It also lives among the thousands of indigenous people who awaited to receive his remains in his beloved state of Chiapas.

Don Samuel insisted that the church of the poor needed a human rights organization in Chiapas, faced with the extreme human rights violations taking place. In 1989, he founded the Fray Bartolome de las Casas Centre for Human Rights. The Centre’s mission is to “walk alongside and at the service of the poor, excluded and organized people who seek to overcome their socioeconomic and political situation, by taking direction and strength from them to contribute to their project of building a new society where people and communities fully exercise and enjoy their rights.” The mission embodies the strong belief that the church cannot be separated from the struggle for social justice and that it should play a supporting role rather than pronouncing from on high.

These beliefs often put Bishop Ruiz at odds with the powers-that-be in government and the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church. They also made him a target of the local caciques, or rural bosses, who ran Chiapas with an iron hand and lorded over the lives of indigenous peoples. He faced aggressive attacks on his character with magnanimity, and patiently continued to build from below. The Diocese became an example of the leadership role of indigenous peoples in defining a new church and empowering communities. The 1994 Zapatista uprising catapulted his patient labour onto a world stage, as the long-ignored demands of indigenous peoples became the lens through which to conceive of a new society.

There were, of course, efforts to dismantle the deep processes of empowering indigenous people within the church and within society. The Mexican government sent in troops and launched military offenses against the communities well after the so-called truce with the EZLN. Meanwhile, the Vatican began to attack the practice of making indigenous men deacons within the church–a centrepiece of efforts to break down the distance between indigenous communities and a distant and privileged hierarchy, to literally change the face of the church.

When the Roman Catholic hierarchy decided not to name Bishop Vera to the San Cristobal diocese following the retirement of Don Samuel, which would have been a natural choice but for the politics involved, it was seen as an indication of the desire to suppress the progressive religious movement in Chiapas. More recently a plan to divide the San Cristobal diocese has led to suspicions that the hierarchy seeks to weaken Mexico’s only diocese guided by the Second Vatican Council’s decision to promote a closer relationship to the social and political context of parish members.

There was a deep sense of loss among the those attending the mass, but few tears. Over the years, many people feared that Don Samuel would become a martyr rather than die a natural death. He received death threats and created enemies among those who abhorred the idea of a church that championed the rights of the poor and indigenous peoples, since their own power and wealth rested on preserving near-slavery conditions.

Bishop Ruiz accepted the risk to his own life. His death at 86 ended a journey on earth that was consistent and effective in following his convictions, and that touched and inspired thousands of people who will carry on. The liturgy on Monday did not dwell on the loss, but rather emphasized the meaning of his life and the Catholic belief that he passed into a higher realm.

Bishop Samuel Ruiz’s remains have been sent to San Cristobal, Chiapas to be buried in the Cathedral. He will be welcomed there by the indigenous people he walked alongside over the years. Some fifteen thousand indigenous people came down from the mountains to bid him farewell in 2000 when Ruiz left Chiapas, in a testament to the relationships he forged and his role in their lives and their movement for liberation.

This final farewell reminds us that Don Samuel’s deep commitment to indigenous rights and social justice is not some folkloric moment in Mexico’s colourful past, nor is his life merely a chapter neatly written into our religious and social history. His is not a legacy. Something that hasn’t died leaves no legacy.

Although many of the people present at his mass have gone on to other battles and fronts, Don Sam’s death is a reminder of the enormous tasks still pending. Bishop Vera began the mass by stating “in these dark times, a star has been lifted.” Sombre nods from the congregation–mostly human rights defenders and Catholics who work with the poor–reflected agreement that Mexico faces one of the worst moments in recent history for the poor, indigenous and vulnerable, and that Don Sam’s example gives hope and strength.

This reminder brings a renewed sense of responsibility to act. It encourages us to see through the darkness of the times and seek each other out, just as he helped bring together the many diverse individuals that went out to honour him yesterday. The passing of the “Bishop of the Poor” urges us to keep walking the path he cleared and to forge new paths of peace and justice.



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