dorset chiapas solidarity

November 20, 2015

8 months of “threats and harassment” against Tojolabales forcibly displaced from Primero de Agosto

Filed under: Displacement, Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 1:29 pm



8 months of “threats and harassment” against Tojolabales forcibly displaced from Primero de Agosto



Camp of internally displaced @ChiapasDenunciaPública

On 23 October, those displaced from the Primero de Agosto community denounced the observance of 8 months of forcible displacement due to the “omission of the Mexican State.” The community denounced that the “harassment continues without pause, while the death-threats from ejidatarios belonging to the Miguel Hidalgo ejido, being members of the CIOAC-H […] continue.” Presently, the displaced communards confront the continuous firing into the air, threats of rape against women, threats of kidnapping, and of a new displacement.

They assured that, despite the “eight long months of suffering, death-threats, harassment, injustice, looting, violence, of exposure to the elements and strong rays of the sun, below the rain, under plastic tarps,” they have also observed “8 months of blazing a new path of life. These have been 8 months of sharing our suffering with the world through meetings, visits, reflections. These 8 months have helped us to organize ourselves better.” Among their six principal demands, the communards have requested “the immediate observance of the terms agreed to during the special meeting of 25 February 2015, which mandated the equitable distribution of the lands of Primero de Agosto.”

On 23 February 2015, members of the Miguel Hidalgo ejido pertaining to the Historical Independent Centre of Agricultural Workers and Campesinos (CIOAC-H), “led by Luis Hernández Cruz and Antonio Vásquez Hernández,” violently and forcibly displaced all the residents of the Primero de Agosto community.



October 11, 2015

Displaced Tojolabal families from Primero de Agosto community denounce threats of a new displacement

Filed under: Displacement, Indigenous — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 12:37 pm


Displaced Tojolabal families from Primero de Agosto community denounce threats of a new displacement


Tojolabal men, women, and children displaced from the Primero de Agosto community @RadioPozol

Tojolabal men, women, and children displaced from the Primero de Agosto community @RadioPozol

On 1 October, in a public denunciation, the displaced Tojolabales who comprise the Primero de Agosto community denounced that “due to the omission of the official authorities, the violations of our rights, death-threats, threats of kidnapping, threats of a new displacement, and harassment continue.” On 29 September “authorities and ejidatarios from the Miguel Hidalgo ejido came to threaten us from 30 metres’ distance from where we are living displaced to tell us that they had plans to jointly kidnap six of our comrades and perform a new armed displacement with the backing of their leaders, the CIOAC-Historical, and the three levels of government.” Furthermore, on 30 September, “Armando Méndez López fired into the air with a gun, telling us that any one of these days we would be displaced and our comrades taken.” On 2 October, the Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Centre for Human Rights released an Urgent Action indicating that “the present situation is similar to that which immediately preceded the first forcible displacement. This puts at risk the lives, security, and physical integrity of the displaced families.”

These families, who have now spent seven months displaced in the 23 September community, observed that “the Chiapas state government committed itself on 25 February 2015 to make justice and distribute the lands equally […] but it has not observed its promise; on the contrary, it has allowed the situation to worsen. The Mexican State has been absent or complicit in the criminal actions taken against our people.”

It bears mentioning that on 23 February 2015, ejidatarios from the Miguel Hidalgo ejido who pertain to the Independent Historical Centre of Agricultural Workers and Campesinos (CIOAC-H) violently displaced 57 people from the Primero de Agosto community, which since 1 August 2013 had “suffered death-threats, murder-attempts, and attempted kidnappings, robbery, looting, and destruction at the hands of the ejidatarios from the Miguel Hidalgo ejido, members of CIOAC-H.”



July 3, 2015

The Primero de Agosto community completes 4 months of forcible displacement and continues demanding its forthright return

Filed under: Displacement, Indigenous — Tags: , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 6:00 pm


 The Primero de Agosto community completes 4 months of forcible displacement and continues demanding its forthright return

Displaced families from the Primero de Agosto community (@Koman Ilel)

Displaced families from the Primero de Agosto community (@Koman Ilel)

In a communique published on 23 June, the residents of the Primero de Agosto community denounced the 120 days of forcible displacement experienced by the “17 Tojolabal families because of [the actions of] ejidatarios from Miguel Hidalgo who pertain to the CIOAC-Historical organization, led by Luis Hernández Cruz,” and it adds that Elvira Méndez Pérez, who just gave birth, “is suffering greatly because of the cold and the rain, as she lacks proper shelter in which her child can grow up happily.”

In their denunciation, the displaced describe “how for the last 4 months we are awakened by raindrops that penetrate the plastic tarps which we use to cover ourselves at night. We awaken with our clothes wet and cold due to the humidity of the land on which we live, as it is the time of rain, and the government has done nothing […]. Look at where we are displaced, and you will see the face of impunity and the reality of indigenous peoples.”

Despite this suffering and the conditions in which the displaced live, the families assure that they continue “to struggle for our land, because it is the only resource we have. We are not asleep in the struggle for our land, which continues, and will live on […]. We will not become tired of denouncing until the government observes its promises. We will not tire of denouncing until there is justice, because we are in favour of justice and peace. As our ancestors say, ‘ts omanotik b’a sk’ulajel jsak’aniltik.’ That is to say, together we build life.”

The Primero de Agosto community continues to demand that the three levels of government guarantee the proper conditions for return, “because there is where our happy Iives take place.” Furthermore, they call on the government to observe the accord that was signed on 25 February 2015, which stipulates that the state government commit itself to redistributing lands equally.



April 20, 2015

“Those from Cioac-h took everything, they have stolen everything and what is of no use to them, they have burned” say displaced indigenous.

Filed under: Displacement, Indigenous — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 5:11 am

“Those from Cioac-h took everything, they have stolen everything and what is of no use to them, they have burned” say displaced indigenous.


Las Margaritas, Chiapas, April 16. “In a few words, brothers: the ejidatarios of Cioac-h from Miguel Hidalgo, took everything, they have stolen everything and what is of no use to them, they have burned,” denounced indigenous Tojolabal families displaced from the community of Primero de Agosto on 23rd February by the Independent Central of Agricultural and Campesino Workers – Historical (Cioac-H). “They are are burying us alive, trying to kill us just because we want to keep our families producing from the land” they say from their camp, on the 96th anniversary of the death of General Emiliano Zapata.

At a press conference, the inhabitants of the municipality of Las Margaritas explain the background to their problems and recall that on 8th December, 2011, at a meeting with ejidatarios from Miguel Hidalgo and 17 families now from Primero de Agosto, “we gave our reasons before the assembly, petitioning thet we need to work the lands that were vacant (predio el Roble) to support our families. After several meetings, the ejidatarios of Miguel Hidalgo ended the dialogue, saying that thereafter we no longer belonged to that community.”

“Since then, a series of violent events took place towards our people and we could no longer live in peace, so the first day of August 2013, we went into the predio el Roble, to work it and for the 17 families to live in the barren area and build our collective life. According to the ejidal plan, the area now known as Primero de Agosto does not belong to the ejido Miguel Hidalgo” state those originating in the jungle border area.


Nine months later, the indigenous Tojolabals say, “on the morning of May 8, 2014, militants of Cioac-h from Miguel Hidalgo, led by the ejidal commissioner Reinaldo Lopez Perez, entered the village of Primero de Agosto with sticks and machetes and planted corn in our plots of land telling us that we do not have the courage to face them.” The provocations had begun.

The next day, Friday, 9th May in the afternoon, “the people from Cioac-h returned, they attacked us and wounded compañero Arturo Pérez López, aged 24, in the neck with a machete. To date this event remains unpunished. Arturo has lost the use of his left arm and has not received the necessary medical care,” say the indigenous who were attacked.

Seven months later, on 17th December, they say that 50 men and women, members of Cioac-h from the ejido Miguel Hidalgo, entered the village of Primero de Agosto, carrying sticks, machetes and some with heavy weapons. “We have received orders from our organization, that if you take your things and if you speak, we have orders to kill you. We are men and we are with the government,” said the commissioner Reinaldo Lopez Perez to the families of Primero de Agosto.

“In a land plot they began to destroy two houses. They left everything destroyed, including roofing materials, coffee bushes and fruit trees. They mocked us, saying that we do not have the courage to face them and defend ourselves;” they again provoked the community of Primero de Agosto in order to start a confrontation between indigenous, characteristic of the way in which the Cioac-h operates in the area, with the support of the three levels of government. One example is the attack by members of the Cioac-h on the Zapatista community of La Realidad, on 2nd May, 2014, when the Zapatista teacher Galeano was killed and the school and autonomous clinic of the support bases of the EZLN was destroyed.


“On 28th December, we met with government agencies and authorities of the ejido Miguel Hidalgo, who pledged to avoid physical and verbal abuse and to no longer carry firearms,” ​​added the families of Primero de Agosto. “Miguel Hidalgo violated the agreements signed” they later denounced, in another meeting with government agencies on 8th January, 2015.

Soon after, on 23rd February, 2015, the 17 indigenous Tojolabal families from the community of Primero de Agosto were violently displaced; these were made up of 12 minors, a newborn, 20 women and 25 men. Their coffee bushes, sowed crops and growing plants, chickens, clothing, shelter, utensils and tools were stolen and destroyed.

The displaced indigenous from Primero de Agosto demand from the three levels of government the immediate enforcement of the minutes of agreement, “particularly that which was signed on February 25, 2015 (with Deputy Secretary Gustavo Moscoso Rye), where they agreed to divide the land into equal parts; to ensure a prompt return to our village; the immediate application of justice towards the perpetrators and masterminds of criminal acts; full compensation for damages and necessary medical care for our compañero Arturo Pérez López.”


TESTIMONIES: “I want to return as soon as possible to my house, because I want my baby to be born well,” – displaced indigenous Tojolabal in Chiapas.

“We decided to resist until the end,” – indigenous children displaced in Chiapas.



March 17, 2015

Faced with government indifference, communities offer solidarity to the people displaced from Primero de Agosto

Filed under: Displacement, Frayba, Human rights, Indigenous, Paramilitary — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 6:31 pm


Faced with government indifference, communities offer solidarity to the people displaced from Primero de Agosto


Las Margaritas, Chiapas, March 15. “Through our solidarity we will continue to accompany our brothers in one way or another,” say more than a dozen indigenous Tojolabal communities to the 17 displaced families from the village of Primero de Agosto, in the municipality of Las Margaritas. 20 days ago they were displaced from their lands with high calibre weapons by the Independent Union of Agricultural Workers and Campesinos – Historical (CIOAC-H); the government still has not resolved the problem.

Over 500 people on this day accompany the displaced children, women, elderly and men of Primero de Agosto, at the end of a week of prayer and fasting for the return of the families to their community. Unlike the cola, sugar and biscuits brought to them a week ago by the government to “support them”, neighbouring communities have brought kilos of maize, beans, coffee, chickens, among other foods that they are accustomed to consume.

Although the government had promised to solve the problem in three days, the displaced indigenous Tojolabales denounce that so far they have received no response to their request to return to their community. All this time they have been living on a nearby piece of land where they took refuge, having to endure the weather and unsanitary living conditions.

During a traditional ceremony in the camp of the refugees from Primero de Agosto, one of the messages from the communities in solidarity is “we do not want to continue in slavery, the dream of our grandparents was having their own land. Those in the Cioac-h think that only they have rights to the land, but the truth is that we all have the right to the land.”

“We cannot leave them alone,” said other participants in the meeting in solidarity with the displaced families from the jungle border area, and they have brought clothes, food and supportive company. “We support them because we have the confidence of years of living together,” say the neighbouring communities.

“The commissioner Reinaldo López Pérez said we were displaced because he had orders to do so,” explain those affected. “Power wants to finish us through differences between communities,” they added.

The families of Primero de Agosto report that their abusers pass through the camp where they are sheltering now. “They mock us and laugh at us” they share. “We feel that they will hurt us again,” they said.





March 13, 2015

Indigenous Tojolabales from Chiapas, victims of forced displacement

Filed under: Displacement, Human rights, Indigenous — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 7:05 am


Indigenous Tojolabales from Chiapas, victims of forced displacement

By Angeles Mariscal

Chiapas Paralelo, March 11, 2015


Camps of people displaced from the village Primero de Agosto. Photo: Angeles Mariscal / Chiapas Paralelo

Camps of people displaced from the village Primero de Agosto. Photo: Angeles Mariscal / Chiapas Paralelo


57 people, indigenous Tojolabales from the community of Primero de Agosto, municipality of Las Margaritas, Chiapas, were displaced from their village by members of the Independent Central of Agricultural and Campesino Workers – Historical (CIOAC-H), on February 23, in order to take from them 73 hectares of land.

In Chiapas thousands of people are currently victims of forced displacement, as part of the strategy to deprive them of their land and territory; while businessmen and politicians take over large areas in order to devote them to the extractive industry.


Sign in support of the displaced families of Primero de Agosto:




February 25, 2015

Forced displacement of families, indigenous Tojolabales, from the community Primero de Agosto

Filed under: Displacement, Frayba, Human rights, Indigenous — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 6:24 am


Forced displacement of families, indigenous Tojolabales, from the community Primero de Agosto



Centro de Derechos Humanos

Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas, AC.

Urgent Action No. 01

San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, México

February 23, 2015


Forced displacement of families, indigenous Tojolabales, from the community Primero de Agosto

This Center for Human Rights received reliable documentary information about the forced displacement of 57 indigenous tojolabales, 12 of which are minors, one newborn, 20 women and 25 men residents of Primero de Agosto, action perpetrated by members of the Historic Independent Central of Agricultural Workers and Peasants (CIOAC-H), who are protected in the region by the municipal government of Las Margaritas.

According to reports, today at 8:00am, 50 members of the CIOAC-H, including Reynaldo Lopez Perez, Comisariado Ejidal, Antonio Mendez Perez, Agente Auxilar; and other authorities of the Ejido Miguel Hidalgo, municipality of Las Margaritas, entered the communityof Primero de Agosto, carrying high-powered weapons, surrounding the houses of the villagers, which resulted in the forced displacement of residents who fled for the nearest road to their community where they are currently in serious conditions for women and children, as they have no shelter, food, or security against possible aggressions by people from the ejido Miguel Hidalgo.

Because of this, the Center for Human Rights demands in an URGENT manner from the federal and state governments:

First: The necessary measures are taken to ensure the human rights of the displaced individuals, in accordance with the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement and other international treaties signed and ratified by the Mexican State.

Second: The investigation and punishment of those responsible for the displacement and damage to property and belongings of the residents of the community. As well as the omission incurred by municipal and state authorities, who have not given adequate and effective attention to this matter.

Third: Provide integral attention considering the guiding principles of internal displacement in the areas of humanitarian aid and reparations and compensation to indemnify private rights and safe reintegration or resettlement of the displaced families.

Background History: 

On January 22, 2015, Governor Manuel Velasco Coello, as well as various authorities were alerted on accusations in writing of an impending displacement made by authorities of the Ejido Miguel Hidalgo against settlers Primero de Agosto, municipality of Las Margaritas, where they were literally given a deadline to leave the land.

After several meetings of dialogue, the government of Chiapas reported in writing, on January 28, 2015, through the official document SG.SSORF/000123.004/131/017/15, signed by Lic. Jesus Esquinca Meza, Undersecretary of the Government Region XV, Meseta Comiteca Tojolabal, which said “It seems exceeded in order to find a solution to the conflict, given the complexity of the case” and also stated that “the issue was raised to the coordination of Government Undersecretaries for attention”.

Since December 17, 2014, the Center for Human Rights issued an Urgent Action of threats of displacement against residents of Primero de Agosto , which has already been perpetrated by members of the CIOAC-H.

On August 1, 2013, 17 families, indigenous Tojolabales, in need of work and access to land, took possession of a wasteland called “predio el Roble” which was not being worked or occupied. The families of Primero de Agosto have been assaulted and threatened by ejidatarios of the Ejido Miguel Hidalgo since they took possession of the land.

We ask the national and international civil society to join in solidarity by disseminating the allegations, signing and sending this urgent action to the authorities listed here. Thank you in solidarity, please send appeals to:

for names and addresses, please see:

 Send a copy to:

Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas, A.C.  Calle Brasil 14, Barrio Méxicanos, CP: 29240 San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, México  Tel: 967 6787395, 967 6787396, Fax: 967 6783548  Correo:




July 22, 2014

Philosophising from Indigenous Communities: An Urgent Necessity

Filed under: Ethics, Indigenous — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 3:21 pm

We Need to Philosophise from an Indigenous Framework

Philosophising from Indigenous Communities: An Urgent Necessity


20AIn Mexico, one of the main tasks for philosophers today is to deal with the country’s social reality, which in many ways finds itself in crisis. Mexican philosophy, therefore, unlike others, is situated within the socio-political context – which both conditions and facilitates the task.

The philosophy of indigenous communities in Mexico, however, has not been recognised, and has even been rejected, much like their ways of life and their right to autonomy. Below, we will discuss why their philosophies have been ignored or dismissed, and why this must change.

The recuperation of indigenous culture concerns us all, not just philosophers. In taking an interest, we discover numerous examples of inspirational resistance, such as: the defence of water in Sonora by the Yaqui tribe; the exploitation of the Wixárika territory in San Luis Potosí by Canadian mining companies; and the self defence of communities on the coast of Guerrero, where Community Police Forces have stepped up in the absence of a competent or interested State. And finally, we have the example of Zapatista communities in Chiapas which have defended their land since the agrarian crisis of 1974 and continue to build autonomous forms of societal organisation. But one recurring factor in all these campaigns is the discrimination of the government, landowners, and businessmen towards such indigenous peasant organisations.

In each case, questions arise regarding the legitimacy of these groups (as philosopher Enrique Dussel considered [1]), and regarding the philosophical basis behind such forms of organisation. In many cases, mestizos have learned about other cultures, but they have also looked down on them, having adopted a “Western” way of thinking. As a result, the idea of embracing and rescuing indigenous culture can be quite unsettling for them.

By encouraging the recognition of the diversity within the Mesoamerican cultures present in Mexico, we do not necessarily mean that everything “Western” should be overlooked or forgotten. However, we do need to start off with the correct conceptual framework. For example, we first need to accept the existence of a unique indigenous culture and challenge all doubts about the human condition of indigenous people. In México Profundo (‘Deep Mexico’), Bonfil Batalla helps us to develop this framework by deciphering what is presented to us as ‘reality’.

The attack on indigenous culture began with the Spanish Conquest, so we first need to look at how colonisation distanced the colonisers from the colonised. We also need to consider how the continued domination and centralisation of knowledge by Western philosophy in society has ensured that this ‘distance’, to a certain extent, persists today. From the very start, for example, Western ideologues claimed that indigenous inferiority was natural, and this idea soon turned into real social inferiority.

A fundamental characteristic of all colonial societies is the ideological affirmation that the invaders, who belong to a different culture from those who are being invaded, are in some way superior in all aspects and that, as a result, the culture of those whose land has been colonised must be rejected and excluded. And this is precisely the process that took place in Mexico, and continued after independence from Spain. As there was never a true decolonisation, the internal colonial structure simply remained, and the dominant class which took power after 1821 never renounced the Western ‘civilising project’ or the distorted view of Mexico held by the colonisers.[2]

An imaginary Mexico was soon created, with the idea of a “unique Mexican culture”, and the differences between the diverse communities within the nation were overlooked. As a result, the new ‘civilising project’ saw social groups which had been westernised (whether through heritage or circumstance) reject the place of Mesoamerican civilisation in their culture. The world views of the colonising and colonised civilisations, including their perceptions of nature and humans, were different, and their disagreements were intensified by the fact that westernised groups had considered indigenous communities inferior for centuries. The original inhabitants of Mexico which had failed to assimilate into the culture of the colonisers would have no part to play in the continuing Western project.

As a result of the subsequent homogenisation, our journey towards understanding the complexity of our own condition will be a long one. Colonisers and Western ideologues have long ensured that a process ‘deindianisation’ distances us from our roots – a tactic characterised by Batalla as the ‘loss of collective identity to make domination possible’. In summary, people were displaced and their ways of thinking and living were suppressed, all in order to create a fictitious Mexico that denies its own history and is even embarrassed by it.

In the process of recuperation, though, it is not only the mestizo who needs to reflect. Some indigenous communities have managed to conserve their identities in spite of the presence of the dominant culture, but there are also many who do not try to recognise themselves in the history of the ‘Deep Mexico’. Having been ‘deindianised’, both mestizo and indigenous citizens may be confused about their identities, unaware of their history, and therefore ignorant to the reasons behind the problems facing them and their communities today. Upon seeking to “recuperate the Indian” and “possess their own I”, mestizos in particular are likely to “see their reality divided”. Rather than this division being imposed upon them by the dominant culture, however, this division will now reside inside them, “in their own spirit”.[3]

When the mestizo approaches the indigenous, they begin to see how they are in a similar situation – that of exploitation. In this way, they learn to recognise themselves within this circumstance, and act in a different way as a result. They no longer see indigenous communities in the framework of the oppressor, and start to understand that ‘Indian’ was just a pejorative word used by colonialists to homogenise all that was ‘non-Spanish’ (or, today, ‘non-Western’). They also recognise that, by doing this, colonisers sought to declare the inferiority of all that was ‘different’.


So, in what way have philosophers approached indigenous cultures in the last century?

Before answering this question, it is important to emphasise that ‘indigenous communities’ are not one group alone – and that such a categorisation would place us in the same framework as the colonisers and their ‘Indians’. Instead, we could talk about the Nahuas, Purépechas, Tojolabales, Tzeltales, Huicholes, Chichimecos, Otomíes, Paipais, Kiliwas, Mazatecos, or Ixcatecos – to name just a few. To recognise the differences between these groups in this way is to respect their individual identities and give them each the place they deserve.

It is essential that we look at the world through the framework of a ‘Deep Mexico’. We could mention historical figures or groups, but that would only be to understand why different groups exist today. Instead, we should try to place ourselves within the conceptual framework of other cultures – such as the Tojolabales,Tzeltales and Tzotziles, who called themselves Zapatistas in their fight to defend their land and sovereignty in Chiapas. We should also look at the world through the framework of their construction of a new form of political organisation – totally different from that present in the West. By looking at the world in the way they do, we can begin to understand that their circumstances are ours too.

Carlos Lenkersdorf especialIn “Philosophising in the Key of Tojolabal”, Carlos Lenkersdorf affirms that politics, for this community, must be looked at from the “we” (or -tik). At birth, mothers are surrounded by family members as they go into labour, and the new-born child is passed into the arms of each one. The place of the baby on the back or chest of the mother in the first few months represents the incorporation of the child into the “we”, as it observes and becomes a part of its mother’s daily activities. In this way, learning is a collective process from the moment of birth in the Tojolabal context.

Meanwhile, the problems set out at school are always related to what happens in the community, and the problems are solved by the whole community. The presence of “WE” is essential, and education here is therefore referred to as “we-centric”. This is the basis of both the community’s politics and organisation.

The “–tik” is key in understanding Tojolabal philosophy, as it is central whenever the community refers to experiences, thoughts, or decisions. It represents a “large number of components or members, including animals and nature” and, without “losing their individuality”, each member is considered a part of all that surrounds them.[4] Although the different opinions of individuals are heard, an attempt is always made to reach a consensus – with the common good in mind. And the impact of decisions on nature, from animals to rocks, is of great importance – hence the Tojolabal commitment to defending land and subsequent conflict with Western philosophy, whose project of neoliberalism does not consider the impact of its actions on the Earth.

In a socio-political framework, the “we” is an organisational principle. It is the community organisation in assemblies which does not resemble the form of political association dominant in the world today. It considers the combination of intelligence, feelings, and reason when making decisions, but is propped up by judgements based on experience and on the will to act. And all members of the community are considered in these decisions.

In the Tojolabal context, the key is cooperation and collaboration – both based on organisation. Their Mexico – one example of ‘Deep Mexico’ – brings all citizens together to reach a consensus, respecting differences of opinion in the process. The other Mexico – the fictitious one – does not.

As we have seen, the dominant schools of philosophy and politics are not the only ones. There are others to consider, and we must open ourselves up to them. By reflecting on the knowledge of our indigenous communities, and asking ourselves how we can create a “we” space like in Tojolabal communities, we can visualise and create new horizons. Upon considering the quantity and distribution of citizens, however, along with the structures used when they relate, we see that the possibilities for creating these new horizons vary. In a place with thousands of inhabitants, for example, where people are unaccustomed to discussing every decision that affects them, such a task would be incredibly difficult. And many citizens are unused to such dialogue precisely because ‘democratic’ procedures have minimised participation to elections or ‘majority’ decisions (however slight the margins). This is the norm today, and it makes understanding other forms of organisation a significant challenge.

From a framework of Western concepts and experiences, other forms of organisation appear strange and inaccessible, and it is therefore crucial that philosophers engage with the ‘Deep Mexico’, and the diversity that lies within. The same is true throughout Latin America (and other former colonies), where different forms of philosophising, knowing, and existing are present. And they are all within our reach, as parts of our nations, even though they may be buried, ignored, or rejected.

Reflecting on alternatives is an urgent task for philosophers, and a great worry for the current generation. The taking of water in Sonora, displacements in Chiapas, or invasions of Canadian mining companies are risks to us all. We may be a combination of different ethnic groups, but we all share the same condition. We are all exploited.

We must therefore assume the task of counter-hegemonic philosophy, of embracing and understanding the different traditions that have been hidden for too long. In order to bring about change in the concrete situations we experience on a daily basis, we must open up the discussion, philosophising not from the dominant ideologies, but from the framework of our own indigenous communities. By doing so, we can set out potential solutions and transform both our way of thinking and our way of life.



[1] Dussel, Enrique. “¿Son legítimas la policía y la justicia comunitarias según usos y costumbres?” en La Jornada [en línea], publicado el 15 de enero del 2013.

[2] Bonfil Batalla, Guillermo. México profundo: una civilización negada. Editorial Grijalbo, México D.F, 1989. p. 11

[3] Villoro, Luis. Los grandes momentos del indigenismo en México. México, CIESA-SEP, 1987. p. 225

[4] Lenkersdorf, Carlos. Filosofar en clave tojolabal. Edición de Miguel Ángel Porrúa, México, Porrúa, 1ª edición, 2002. p. 29


Translated and adapted by Oso Sabio for Dorset Chiapas Solidarity  from a text originally posted in Spanish on July 18th, 2013 at (@FilosofiaMexico) by Luz María León (






May 22, 2014

Conclusions of academics about the situation in Las Margaritas are challenged by recent events

Filed under: Zapatista — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 5:26 pm


Conclusions of academics about the situation in Las Margaritas are challenged by recent events 

 ** The violent acts, particularly the murder of Galeano, are not neutral 

** Their investigations gave Zapatismo up almost for dead, the fate of “ideological myth”

Hermann Bellinghausen

San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, May 20, 2014

10312983_141184046051971_9192975151893081096_nThe social researchers who, with institutional cover, documented the Tojolabal Canyons of Las Margaritas between 2001 and 2012 from an openly anti-Zapatista perspective should be reviewing their interviews and field notes, comparing the names of their informants with the central actors in the recent violence in La Realidad, above all with the names of the murderers of the Zapatista Galeano.

With “deserters” as informants, “opponents” or false followers of Zapatismo who the studious celebrate in different academic publications, because they helped to “prove” their thesis with “impartiality and honesty,” their research gave Zapatismo up almost for dead, the fate of ideological myth that would be impervious to the truth. Today, cruelly, their zeal for purity is exposed by the acid proof of reality.

Crisis of counterinsurgency policies 

The aggression against Zapatista bases and the Good Government Junta, which led to a premeditated murder with malice, marks a crisis of the recent counterinsurgency policies directed at the always-besieged autonomous Zapatista communities. In its military origin alone (since 1994) the combat against Zapatismo and its social influence (or “contamination”) evolved into very violent situations in the Chol and Tzotzil zones, which included massacres and the displacement of thousands of rebel families or sympathizers under a conventional, although dissimulated, paramilitary scheme. The worst years were from 1996 to 1998, when the Federal Army participated in lethal actions against the Zapatistas (at least in San Juan de la Libertad, El Bosque), following direct orders of President Ernesto Zedillo.

After changes in the federal and state government, new counterinsurgency branches begin to flourish in 2001. With the withdrawal of some significant positions within the “zone of conflict,” above all those bordering on the Caracoles (then called Aguascalientes), the Army and the government of Vicente Fox create the media mirage of a troop withdrawal in the indigenous regions of Chiapas, which in fact never occurred.

Without ever making mention of the massive military operation in the Cañadas and Los Altos (no less than a constant in the community life of hundreds of towns), a research current from the Colegio de México formed in the middle of the last decade, under the charge of the researcher Marco Estrada Saavedra, as well as in some academic circles of San Cristóbal de Las Casas. Closely linked with the then federal commissioner for Chiapas, Luis H. Álvarez, this current “enters” into the “Zapatista zones” conducted through official channels. Its first product is the extensive book La comunidad armada y el EZLN (El Colegio de México, 2006), of the same Estrada Saavedra, exclusively dedicated to the Tojolabal canyons of the Lacandón Jungle, whose rebel epicentre is in La Realidad.


The author develops the concept of an “armed community” for opposing the Zapatistas with the rest of the region’s political groups, in their majority ascribed to the government (including the formerly “independents”) and continuous target of the educational, economic and propagandistic counterinsurgency. It is with these latter groups that Estrada Saavedra and his helpers related for their fieldwork.

In a recent essay, the sociologist and philosopher elaborates the disjunctive: “Commitment or knowledge?” and justifies his work –which he supposes to be impartial, objective and scientific– in the Tojolabal canyons, disqualifying the “commitment,” as ideological and partial, if not fanciful. He writes there:

“Do not the others deserve –that is to say, those with which one is not in agreement politically– to be treated with impartiality and honesty? Of course they deserve it. Inclusively this affirmation turns out to be politically convenient and more than necessary for supporting popular struggles. Being occupied only with subordinate actors making history, anthropology or sociology ‘from and with those below,’ turns out to be as unilateral and insufficient as dedicating the view exclusively to the dominant groups. The relations are of both, and not only their positions, which explain the domination and subordination. The real practice of the ‘committed scientists’ fancies the mere populist arrogance of logócratas (sic).” [1] (Relaciones 137, El Colegio de Michoacán, winter 2014).

The path of the researcher and his colleagues to reach these conclusions has been long and winding, now unmasked by the events in that region.


1. This word does not appear in any Spanish dictionary. It is the title of a book in Spanish and appears to relate to a type of bureaucratic or ideological researcher.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

En español:


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




May 18, 2014

Galeano: to struggle, grow and transform reality

Filed under: Indigenous, Zapatista — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 6:17 pm



Galeano: to struggle, grow and transform reality

Juan Trujillo Limones

1012586_705780122796995_375785156875615761_n“There will come a day when we walk together, when there will be no more bosses nor will there be exploitation in our mother earth,” said the Tojolabal Alberto with enthusiasm on that rainy afternoon, when speaking of members of civil society sympathetic to the struggle. This man, who organized the peoples of the region during the years prior to December 31, 1994, said this with great confidence.

The cold-blooded murder of José Luis López Solís, Galeano, teacher from the Zapatista Escuelita, on May 2, constitutes not only an attack on a family, on the caracol of La Realidad and on the indigenous region of the Lacandón Jungle, but also on the project of autonomy of the communities in Chiapas in resistance and their relationship with national and international civil society. What is the relevance and significance of the murder of Galeano? What will be the implications for the organization and for the students who have attended the rebel initiative?

The ambush by the paramilitary group operating under the name of Independent Central of Agricultural Workers and Campesinos Historic has caused the indefinite suspension of the events planned for May and June, as well as the intention of the communities in resistance to share, directly, not only their political project of autonomy, but also the indigenous and campesino other world (altermundo). That is, the transmission of indigenous knowledge which awoke awareness, mobilization and insurgency since 1974, 1984, 1994. That effort which was consolidated in the Good Government Juntas in 2003, and which has achieved something unprecedented in the region and perhaps in the world; to sustain ejidal, spiritual, military and civil authorities. The teacher Galeano was a guardian and heart of the people, charged with protecting and planting the collective memory. In his work he translated the ‘ab’al, which in Tojol’ab’al means the word listened to, so that the students and, therefore, the people of the urban world, could learn from the indigenous resistance and culture. Galeano, and the other teachers, are the “bridges” of kentik, of us, between these two worlds, and in response to national and international social destruction currently underway, makes the dialogue between the two cosmovisions both relevant and necessary.

With the assassination of one of the hearts of the indigenous resistance in Chiapas, the 5000 students from multiple cultures and countries are also attacked. It stops indefinitely the process of transformation through the altermundo where lives and resists that which the     Tojolabales (and the other Maya peoples in their own languages) call the lajan lajan aytik; that is to say, the ‘we are partners’, the balance in a family, group, community. For them, it is here where is built, in the daily struggle, solidarity, brotherhood, fellowship within the community, revealed as jlekilaltik, our common good. It is a unique process of education for those who are open and willing to approach a living experience in the indigenous world, not as a political option or the luck of the charlatan, but as a source of knowledge, wisdom and commitment.

For this reason, almost nine years ago the rebel organization prepared the members of their communities and those from outside who were following their actions and words. This was called: the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle and the Other Campaign. To open the doors of communities is not at all easy without an already existing process of understanding between indigenous and non-indigenous. Thus, for those who were not born in the indigenous world, the challenge has been learning to listen to the story of the rebels, to feel like the campesinos and respect their culture. People from the cities entered the communities and realized that in order to understand the indigenous world in resistance it is necessary not only to open the eyes and ears, but also the mind and feelings. A group of students, despite stumbling inside and outside the communities, is willing to take a humble attitude and grow in the heart of the resistance, in “reality”. Searching for what? What for? There are probably more questions than answers; however, notes taken in notebooks have been just a few seeds which promote a process of liberation from oppression, exploitation, domination and discrimination. These larvae, which have been eradicated from families in resistance, which continue to live and reproduce with different masks and colours in the dominant society and which are endured by most of the world’s population: the modern capitalist mode of production.

It takes the blindfold and the chaff from the eyes, said Alberto while the fire which was boiling the corn on the stove lit up half his face, on that cold and rainy autumn night. The metamorphosis, which is now pending, involves putting aside the urban world and its square structures for a short time, for immersion in the rural life of the Maya campesino villages. The experiences of life in community humanize, sensitize and trigger radical and irreversible change. Simply, structures are broken, new ones are born and moulded to reality.

The forthcoming tributes to the teacher Galeano on May 24 are an opportunity not only to denounce the murder, name the fallen and demand justice, but also to express creatively texts and art which bear witness to what was learned in the Escuelita. These will be the little seeds which in the time of the rain, entering into “reality” once again, will open the lands, doors and hearts of the Galeanos and communities in resistance of the jungle and the highlands of Chiapas. Then yes, that growth, peace and hope which humanity so badly needs, will continue “in reality” and in the rebel geography.


 Translation: dorsetchiapassolidarity


February 22, 2014

The singing of a Tojolabal sister of light: María Roselia Jiménez

Filed under: Indigenous — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 5:38 pm

The singing of a Tojolabal sister of light: María Roselia Jiménez

Roselia_JiménezThe universes of María Roselia Jiménez are full of beetles in trance, healing chants of crickets and sisters of light, the fireflies. Roselia is a native of the place of the nine stars, the old Balún Canán, house of the Tojolabal people, seated in the shelter of Ixk’inib’, the hill whence the grandparents brought back apple, sugar cane, papaya, orange and limes, as abundant as if coming from a mystery, in the highlands of Chiapas.

Roselia finds herself in the singing. She began writing in her native language as a political exercise, nourished from the living root, the Tojolabal speakers closest to her heart.  I became a song writer at a late age, truly, because we began with a movement in 1993, a movement headed by Natalio Hernández and Jacinto Arias in Chiapas. A movement of indigenous writers; then we started to investigate and prepare using our alphabet, because even the researchers, for example the German Carlos Lenkesdorf, (1926-2010), who came to the state of Chiapas and lived along with the Tojolabal culture for thirty years, he was the only one who was writing in Tojolabal, and also other linguists who were not Tojolabales. And some catechists, and then there was a need for us to have a common alphabet to work on, so I took writing as a tool to write about the culture of our people, our ancestors, our grandparents, and my dad, who had just died at the age of 106, and had great knowledge of traditional music, and my mum who is 90 years old, she provides me with a lot, I think her thoughts should be put in writing so that they can nourish and be used again.

Their struggle is not only for the land, the transmission of the native language of the Tojolabal people is vanishing; it is a painful experience every day, crossed by discrimination and the domination of monolingualism in Spanish: We witness it, we are experiencing it, I am realising that many communities are ceasing to be speakers of the language, especially children and young people. The main speakers are the elderly, it is a very difficult situation to solve, because no action has been taken, there are no plans about how to feed the linguistic root. Partly discrimination has a lot to do with this, because young people say they are embarrassed to speak in Tojolabal and prefer a thousand times to speak in Spanish, and all of them in all the schools in the region read better in Spanish than in their own language.

The loss saddens her very much and she says without hesitation that the only time we had the opportunity to be respected and considered and were able to speak out was during the uprising of the Zapatista movement, because there was blood involved, because our own people died.

Roselia’s poetry is a task of linguistic rescue, of the revitalization of the language, for her this work goes beyond the organisation of events, there have to be long-term projects. As a cultural promoter, she has encouraged the formation of youth choirs in Las Margaritas, which has awoken an interest in creating their own groups; she has also reached out to children who she has managed to amaze through her oral narration. Her singing has became a ritual invocation through which the Tojolabal people can find a new home in their ancestral language: I have written to the mother earth, I have written to the sacred elements of our universe, corn, beans, the fruits of the earth. To the sacred musical instruments, the drum, the violin, the guitar. Our musical instruments have been abandoned, the drums are sacred music for the Tojolabal people but are no longer played; there are communities which have completely forgotten the drums, they are now only played by the elders; and already in some communities when they hold their ceremonies, have to ask other communities and pay for their drum players to come.

Roselia sings to women as they are born, welcomes and blesses them, and to women who have shared their lives with her. Although she acknowledges that the role of women in the communities is currently changing, she does not put aside the stories of the grandmothers, or those of the closest person to her, her mother, who still cries when she tells her story … when she did everything possible not to be thrown to the dogs, because she was the fourth female.

Being indigenous and being a woman, in an adverse context which does not always see them as masters of their own decisions, is hard. Forced marriage at an early age is part of a recent past which is gradually being transformed: I still remember that in the nineties, in the early nineties, (women) were still handed over and forced to join together with a man, without their consent at the very young age of thirteen or fifteen years old. That was the situation of most women. We find very sad stories of women, stories of forced marriage, not marriage for love, and they had their children, of course they are very loving towards their families, but in their story there is this sad memory…

Mobility of women outside their community is not generally well received, even though, for Roselia, the experience of migration, to Mexico City or the United States, provides other knowledge and other experiences which help women to realise that things can be different: Previously women used to say, we feel buried alive, our lives have no meaning, we would rather die. But I think there are women now who have left their communities, and are fighting back and I think they will slowly move forward and especially supporting their daughters … there are some women already who are transcending, for example, some are speakers,  masters of their own thinking, and now have some freedom to do and discover things.

Although the situation of violence which indigenous women experience, is for Roselia a harsh reality, there are also brave women who give hope – that’s how story is written – she tells me: That’s what it takes to be able to work, to be brave, and not to lose heart … (there are women who) also say I have my rights … and are very brave, things change for them.

By Lulu Barrera

Translated by Nélida Montes de Oca


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