dorset chiapas solidarity

November 20, 2016

10 years after the Viejo Velasco Massacre impunity continues

Filed under: Displacement, Human rights, Indigenous, Lacandon/ montes azules, Uncategorized — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 6:43 pm

 

.

10 years after the Viejo Velasco Massacre impunity continues

15027481_1306111216107931_4773648644465663778_n

 

Ten years after the Viejo Velasco massacre the crime remains unpunished. On Sunday 13th November in Palenque, Chiapas, various people, some from organisations or on their own, marched together in the “Pilgrimage for Memory, Justice and Truth”

Participating in the Palenque march were communities such as Nuevo Tila, Lacanjá Tseltal, Limonar, Chamizal, Francisco León, Arroyo Granizo, Ojo de Agua, Chamizal, Nuevo Jericó and national and international human rights observers. More than 500 people came together to denounce impunity in the country.

“We march to commemorate our pain and our memory which fights and is justice.”

 

Viejo Velasco: Massacre, torture, disappearances and forced displacement

Ten years ago, on 13 November 2006, at approximately 6 o’clock in the morning, a group of about 40 civilians heavily armed and dressed in military- and Public Security-type uniforms violently entered the community of Viejo Velasco. Coming from the communities of Nueva Palestina, Frontera Corozal and Lacanjá Chansayab, they are members of the so called “Lacandona Community”.

These 40 armed civilians were accompanied by 300 agents from the Chiapas State Public Security forces, who were armed with high powered weapons that are for the exclusive use of the army and known as “goat’s horns” (AK-47) and R-15. They were also accompanied by 5 Prosecutors from the Public Prosecutor’s Office, 2 specialist detectives, the Commander of the State Investigation Agency Jungle Zone along with 7 subordinates and a representative from the Secretariat of Social Development. Displaced people’s testimony agrees that the coordination of this brutal aggression was led by Engineer Rafael Armando Arellanes (then Sub-secretary of Political Action for the Chiapas state government) and Professor Gabriel Montoya Oceguera (who was serving as a government delegate for the Lacandon Jungle).

All of these hostile parties encircled the community, where later they looted the houses and committed 4 extra judicial executions, 1 illegal detention along with torture, 4 people were forcibly disappeared, and the forced displacement of 20 men, 8 women, 5 boys, 3 girls who had to escape to the mountains to survive the attack.

 

15078510_1858139431085096_9058695910574950240_nCommunities from Palenque, Ocosingo and Chilon, and members of the X’inich organisation gather in the rain at the Mother Chol statue in Palenque from 8 in the morning to begin the Pilgrimage for Memory

 

Between the ecological pretext and the agrarian conflict in Montes Azules

 

14993295_1306111269441259_4524172630951517842_n

The goal of this massacre was to plant seeds of terror in the families living in the community of Viejo Velasco, Ocosingo municipality. The aggressors wanted these families to abandon their land, and they framed it as a regional agrarian conflict in the Lacandon Jungle. And this is also how state policy using the ecological pretext to “guarantee the conservation of the Montes Azules Biosphere Nature Reserve” has been transformed into an intense process of territorial dispossession. More than 30 indigenous villages – Tseltal, Tsotsil, Chol and Tojolabal communities – have suffered forced relocations and violent evictions. At the beginning of 2006, negotiations with this small village Viejo Velasco broke down, owing to the fact that the residents would not accept forced relocation. On the 28 of March 2006, the Secretary of Agrarian Reform announced its decision about this unjust agrarian process, and the beneficiaries were only the people belonging to the so-called Lacandon Community (whose members are Maya Caribe and Tseltal people from Nueva Palestina and Chol people from Frontera Corozal). The government then began a process of forced relocations and threats of violent eviction in all of the Lacandon Jungle. In the area of Valley of Santo Domingo and La Cojolita, the repression was concentrated in four villages:  Viejo Velasco, Flor de Cacao, Ojo de Agua Tsotsil and San Jacinto Lacanjá.

The State is Responsible

According to a denouncement before the International Tribunal of Conscience of the Peoples in Movement the state is responsible both in action and neglect.
On 4 November 2010, the Viejo Velasco massacre case was presented before the International Tribunal of Conscience of the Peoples in Movement to demonstrate and denounce the responsibility of the Mexican State in the events which took place on 13 November 2006. According to the compliant the State is responsible for:

– action, for ordering and carrying out on 13 November 2006, an operation in the community, as indeed the government itself confirms in response to an application for information by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. This operation was provoked by the failure to resolve in a just manner, and one following international law the situation recognising and regularising the community lands of Viejo Velasco and the “Zona del Desempeño”.

– omission, further, despite all the calls sent to the Federal and State government bodies by the Xi’nich Committee for the Defence of Indigenous Freedom, “Maderas del Pueblo”, and the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Centre among other organisations about the risk of violent aggression in the area, the State neglected to respond and never intervened to prevent this violence and resolve a situation which every day grew more tense. In addition to all this, after these horrendous events, the official investigations have proven to be insufficient and ineffective. There was a long, unexplained delay in sharing the findings of the analysis of the skeletal remains found 6 July 2007, as well as obstacles planted by the intervention of independent specialists.

 

15078640_1306098326109220_7146175537536653577_nSymbolic act in front of the Jungle District Attorney General’s Office. “Justice will not come from above. We, the people, are the peace-builders. Here we have only seen impunity. It was from here that the protectors of the 40 civilians dressed in official uniforms left to go massacre our brothers and sisters in Viejo Velasco.”

To finish, a communique was read:

Communique Ten Years after the Massacre

Palenque, Chiapas

13 November 2016

“…it is very hard to remember that terrible violence that we lived through, because the day it all happened, I was there.”

“…I was four months pregnant, I left running towards the mountains, in the road I met some people from Palestine community, and they began to shoot at me. I don’t know how many shots they fired at me, but thanks to God none of them hit me.” (Testimony from the families and victims)

 

vv

To the General Public:

Ten years after the cruel massacre in the community of Viejo Velasco in Ocosingo municipality, Chiapas, we are making this pilgrimage with pain and outrage in memory of our brothers and sisters who were murdered at dawn on the 13th of November 2006. This massacre was perpetrated by 40 civilian sub-comuneros from Nueva Palestina and from the Lacandon community. They were accompanied by a group of 300 agents from the Chiapas State Sectoral Police, five Prosecutors from the Public Prosecutor’s Office, two specialist detectives, the Commander of the State Investigation Agency Jungle Zone along with 7 subordinates and a representative from the Secretariat of Social Development. They carried high calibre weapons. The outcome of this injustice was the death of:  Antonio Mayor Benito Pérez, Filemón Benítez Pérez and María Núñez Gonzáles and four people missing:  Miguel Moreno Montejo, Antonio Peñate López, Mariano Pérez Guzmán and Pedro Núñez Gonzáles. All are indigenous Ch’ol and Tseltal community members who lived in Viejo Velasco.

Owing to these violent events, one day after the attack, health promoter Diego Arcos Meneses, and other good-hearted residents from the community of Nuevo Tila, which is located an hour away, came to help the victims. They cleaned the wounds of the injured; fed people with beans and fruit from the countryside. They brought clothing to cover the children and adults. During this, the community was overcome by surprise by the State Police who unjustly detained our brother Diego Arcos Meneses.  Arcos Meneses was in jail for a year accused of homicide, and arrest warrants were issued for Juan Peñate, Antonio Álvarez, Domingo Álvaro and Alejandro Álvaro, all from Nuevo Tila community.

Eight months after the massacre, in June 2007, skeletal remains along with a rope and clothing were found covered in overgrowth on the road from Viejo Velasco to Paraíso. The Public Prosecutor’s office took charge of recovering the remains. Without respect or compassion they collected the bones, treating them like animal bones. The two remains were put in a single blanket and taken away, then they denied us the right to know the truth for four years.

As a first attempt, we pushed our petition to the Public Prosecutor that they give us the studies of the skeletal remains that they had found. They only thing they told us was that the disappeared from Viejo Velasco massacre had gone to the United States to work. On top of that, they give us bones with bits of fresh flesh on them, which did not match what we had found in June 2007. For us, this was a complete mockery, and what the Public Prosecutor has done is not respectful. Denying these families their legitimate right to the truth is abuse on the part of the Public Prosecutor.

Faced with the neglect and inability of the three levels of government:  Federal, State and Municipal, in 2011 the communities, families and victims succeeded, with the support of the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team, in having the studies from the remains found in the massacre zone identified as  Pedro Núñez Gonzáles and Miguel Moreno Montejo. We gave them a Christian burial in November 2012. The other two brothers remain missing until now.

Ever since the first days after the massacre, we have gone to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to request precautionary measures to ensure that the Mexican State look for our disappeared brothers and protect all those affected in the attack. From that time until now, in all of 10 years, we have not had any result. In 2010 the IACHR raised the precautionary measures to a formal complaint against the Mexican government, who now must respond about their responsibility.

Owing to all this, we demand:

  1. The return of our disappeared loved ones alive, “You took them alive, we want them back alive.”
  1. The clarification of the massacre which took place in the community Viejo Velasco, in Ocosingo municipality, Chiapas.
  1. Investigation and punishment of the intellectual and material authors of this crime, among them Professor Gabriel Montoya Oceguera (who was serving as a government delegate for the Lacandon Jungle), Engineer Rafael Armando Arellanes (then Sub-secretary of Political Action for the Chiapas state government), the 2006 Special Commissioner of Agrarian Reform Marta Cecilia Díaz Gordillo and the sub-comuneros of the communities Nueva Palestina and Lacandona.
  1. An end to the harassment of families and survivors of this case by the office of the Chiapas Procurator of Justice

Consequently:

  1. We place the blame for the 2006 massacre in Viejo Velasco on the three levels of government.
  1. We ask that national and international civil society remain informed about the case before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
  1. We invite all Mexicans to open your eyes to the terror and crime which comes from the three levels of government.
  2. We call on the National Indigenous Congress to keep informed about what happened, and to echo our struggle for memory and truth.

Sincerely,

Families of victims and survivors of the Viejo Velasco massacre,
Coordinating team of social organisations  CDLI- Xinich’, Tsoblej Yu’un Jwocoltic, UCISECH and Misión Santísima Trinidad.

Posted by Dorset Chiapas Solidarity

http://espoirchiapas.blogspot.com.es/2016/11/a-10-anos-de-la-masacre-de-viejo.html

.



.

November 22, 2015

Ninth anniversary of the Viejo Velasco massacre

Filed under: Human rights, Indigenous, Lacandon/ montes azules, sipaz, Uncategorized — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 1:21 pm

 

.

Ninth anniversary of the Viejo Velasco massacre

 

viejovelasco

 

Beginning at dawn on 13 November, members of the XINICH organization, which belongs to the National Indigenous Congress (CNI) and adheres to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle, in their own communities began a day of prayer and fasting that will last for 13 Sundays in commemoration of the nine years since the Viejo Velasco massacre. Relatives of victims and survivors of the massacre called on “all brothers and sisters from civil society to join this action so that, with your families, organization, and communities, you carry out symbolic actions to accompany us.”

Nine years after the massacre, they manifested that they have not “found justice. The government has not punished those responsible, and there has been no effective or efficient investigation of those intellectually and materially responsible for these human-rights violations.” Beyond this, they denounced that the “bad government has not sought out and thus does not know the whereabouts of our brothers Antonio Peñate López and Mariano Pérez Guzmán, who continue to be forcibly disappeared.”

On 13 November 2006, at 6am, in the community of Viejo Velasco, Ocosingo, Chiapas, adjacent to the Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve in the Lacandon Jungle, a group of 40 persons from the New Palestine community, accompanied by 300 units from the sectorial police, invaded the community and attacked its indigenous Tseltal, Tsotsil, and Ch’ol residents, leaving four dead, four others disappeared, and 20 men, 8 women, and 8 children forcibly displaced, being survivors of the assault.

 

https://sipazen.wordpress.com/2015/11/21/chiapas-ninth-anniversary-of-the-viejo-velasco-massacre/

.



.

 

June 22, 2015

Visit from the relatives and colleagues of the disappeared and assassinated students from Ayotzinapa to the communities of the CNI in Chiapas: Palenque

Filed under: Indigenous — Tags: , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 6:47 pm

.

Visit from the relatives and colleagues of the disappeared and assassinated students from Ayotzinapa to the communities of the CNI in Chiapas: Palenque

pa2

pa1

On 18th June the delegation from the caravan of parents, relations and compañeros of the disappeared students from Ayotzinapa came to Palenque to meet with the organised peoples of the Indigenous National Congress in the northern part of the state of Chiapas.

Members of the organization Xi’nich, ejidatarios from the ejido San Sebastián Bachajón, students, organizations and civil society walked with the parents through the streets of Palenque demanding justice for Ayotzinapa and for the case of the community of Viejo Velasco. Later in a rally in the central square of Palenque, organizations were able to express their solidarity with the families and fellow students from the Rural Normal School of Isidro Burgos from Ayotzinapa, Guerrero.

.



.

March 10, 2015

“Faces of Dispossession” – Campaign in Solidarity with the Displaced from Viejo Velasco, Banavil, and San Marcos Avilés, Chiapas

Filed under: San Marcos Aviles — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 7:44 pm

 

“Faces of Dispossession” – Campaign in Solidarity with the Displaced from Viejo Velasco, Banavil, and San Marcos Avilés, Chiapas

“What we want is to return. Because our lands and homes are there; all of our belongings are still there.” Petrona López Girón, displaced from Banavil

“I can see that the government has no desire to resolve our problems, and that’s why we will demand justice. We will not give up; we will continue the struggle.” Miguel López Girón, displaced from Banavil

On 13 November 2014, more than 600 people observed the eighth anniversary of the Viejo Velasco massacre by engaging in a pilgrimage in Palenque, Chiapas. On this same day in 2006, 40 civilians from the Lacandon community and sub-communards from Nueva Palestina, as well as a group of approximately 300 armed members of the former State Sectorial Police, entered the Viejo Velasco community in the municipality of Ocosingo. It became clear to the residents that they would have to flee from their homes and lands. The attack resulted in the death of four indigenous people, the disappearance of another four, and the displacement of thirty-six individuals. Among the disappeared, two were later found dead, while the whereabouts of Mariano Pérez Guzmán and Antonio Peñate López continue to be unknown. During the march, Beyond calling for the disappeared persons to be returned alive, the protestors also demanded an end to impunity. The Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Center for Human Rights (CDHFBC) has reported that, “the line of investigation from the Chiapas State Attorney General has been ineffective.”

Launch of the “Faces of Pillage” Campaign, Palenque, November 2014 © SIPAZ

Launch of the “Faces of Pillage” Campaign, Palenque, November 2014 © SIPAZ

This pilgrimage also marked the beginning of the “Faces of Dispossession” campaign, organized by 12 Mexican organizations, in conjunction with international groups from Spain, Germany, the United States, and Russia. In discussing the Viejo Velasco case alongside two others, the campaign seeks to generate a movement of national and international solidarity to make human-rights violations visible in Chiapas, to exercise pressure, and demand the observance of the obligations of the Mexican State. At the website http://www.rostrosdeldespojo.org information is provided regarding news, updates, video documentaries, and a petition presenting the aforementioned demands addressed to the appropriate authorities. Beyond this, it calls for local events that would give voice to “Faces of Dispossession,” as well as action-days for international solidarity. The second such day will begin on 8 March, International Women’s Day, to call attention to the especially vulnerable situation of displaced women and children.

The other examples that are considered in the campaign are the forcible displacements in Banavil and San Marcos Avilés. On 4 December 2011 in the Banavil community, Tenejapa municipality, members of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) attacked families which sympathize with the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) using firearms. The assault resulted in the death of Pedro Méndez López and the forcible disappearance of Alonso López Luna, whose arm was later recovered. Six other people were injured and two arbitrarily arrested. Thirteen others are still among the displaced in San Cristóbal de Las Casas, robbed of their lands, their means of their economic survival, and their cultural lives.

San Marcos Avilés, Chilón municipality, was founded after the Zapatista uprising in 1994. In 2010, the Zapatista support bases (BAEZLN) agreed to build an autonomous school for their children, but they soon faced a confrontation with a group from the same community that has been identified as “partisan.” In September 2010, the threats became so intense that they resulted in the displacement of the Zapatista group for more than a month. In October, they were allowed to return to their homes, but since then, they have not been able to work their lands, due to persistent harassment on the part of their aggressors.

These three cases share several features: territorial plundering and systematic impunity. According to data presented in the book Internal Displacement Induced by Violence, there were more than 25,000 people displaced in Chiapas in 2014, 70% of them displaced either directly or indirectly by the ongoing armed conflict in the state. The root of the conflict in Viejo Velasco has to do with the presidential decision of 1972 that provided 614,000 hectares of the jungle to 66 Lacandon families, this without taking into account the thousands of people of other ethnicities who had also been living in this region and who have lived under the constant threat of being displaced during the past four decades. In the case of those displaced from Banavil, it should be stressed that this community is located on the path that has been outlined for the highway between San Cristóbal and Palenque, a project based in state and federal investment to improve the tourist infrastructure in Chiapas. “That would mean that they would destroy our lands, and we cannot defend them,” denounced women who were expelled from the community.

The wealth of biodiversity and natural resources in Chiapas attracts many projects and investment schemes that generally do not correspond with the interests and traditions of the state’s indigenous residents. In its report “Human Rights Debate: Between Official Cynicism and the Dignity of the People,” the CDHFBC denounces that “The federal and state governments have demonstrated term after term their disparagement of indigenous peoples in Mexico. At present they expand their policies of plundering toward the end of cleansing the land and for the implementation of strategic plans that would lead to the disappearance of the social, political, and cultural forms of organization among communities and peoples that are the very spirit of human diversity.” In this sense, the displacement does not only mean territorial plundering and economic suffering for those affected, but also destruction of their cultures, traditions, and ideologies.

http://www.sipaz.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=503:article-faces-of-pillage-campaign-in-solidarity-with-the-displaced-from-viejo-velasco-banavil-and-san-marcos-aviles-chiapas&catid=124:informe-sipaz-vol-xx-no-1-febrero-de-2015&Itemid=54&lang=en

 

.

********************************************************

.

January 29, 2015

Controversial arrest warrants in the case of the Viejo Velasco Massacre

Filed under: Displacement, Frayba, Indigenous — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 8:17 pm

 

Controversial arrest warrants in the case of the Viejo Velasco Massacre

2015-01-08_10-47-56-300x222

 

by SIPAZ

In a bulletin issued on January 8, the Human Rights Center Fray Bartolomé de las Casas (CDHFBC) reported that the new arrest warrants against those allegedly responsible for the Viejo Velasco Massacre, Ocosingo municipality, “violate the right to fair trial, including the presumption of innocence”.

It noted that in September 2014, the suspects, members of the Xi’Nich organization and support bases of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN), obtained Court Protection. However, the District Judge of Ocosingo dictated new arrest warrants, although the prosecution has not collected sufficient elements to establish the existence of the alleged crimes nor the responsibility of those indigenous persons.

The CDHFBC complained that “the investigation of the Attorney General of the State of Chiapas has been ineffective: they have accused the victims as if they were the perpetrators”, and they have been “criminalized and judicialized “. It warned that from the beginning, the investigation “of this crime against humanity” was distorted.

Giving more context to this new facts, the CDHFB recalled that “on November 13, 2006, in Viejo Velasco, Ocosingo municipality, about 40 people from Nueva Palestina, Frontera Corozal and Lacanjá Chansayab, communities of the Lacandon Community, accompanied by 300 elements of the State Police of Chiapas, five Prosecutors of the Public Ministry, two experts, the Jungle Zone Regional Commander of the State Investigation Agency (with 7 more persons) and a representative of the Ministry of Social Development, assaulted the Viejo Velasco community. They broke into the houses, stole people’s belongings, and caused the forced displacement of 36 people, the extrajudicial killing of four persons and the forced disappearance of four others. “

The day of the incident, the alleged perpetrators were in the ejido Nuevo Tila, where actually arrived the displaced persons from Viejo Velasco. The inhabitants provided them support and organized a brigade of observation.

https://sipazen.wordpress.com/2015/01/29/chiapas-controversial-arrest-warrants-in-the-case-of-the-viejo-velasco-massacre/

.

*************************************************

.

November 22, 2014

Faces of Dispossession Campaign Launches in Chiapas

Filed under: Displacement, Ethics, Frayba, Human rights, Indigenous, San Marcos Aviles — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 5:51 pm

 

 

Faces of Dispossession Campaign Launches in Chiapas

By Elio Henriquez correspondent

La Jornada, 13 November 2014

 

In the picture, Alma Padilla from the Centre for Women's Rights in Chiapas; Azalia Rodriguez, spokeswoman for Frayba and Victor Hugo Lopez, director of Frayba. Photo Elio Henriquez

In the picture, Alma Padilla from the Centre for Women’s Rights in Chiapas; Azalia Rodriguez, spokeswoman for Frayba and Victor Hugo Lopez, director of Frayba. Photo Elio Henriquez

 

San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas. Seven organizations which defend human rights in Chiapas and different indigenous communities, today launched the Faces of Dispossession campaign, which seeks to “make visible the ways in which native peoples are violently evicted from their territories.”

Víctor Hugo López Rodríguez, director of the Fray Bartolome de Las Casas Human Rights Centre (Frayba), one of the groups involved in the campaign, said it also aims to “reflect the serious human rights violations which cause the forced displacement, extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances and lack of access to justice” which “constitutes a pattern of impunity resulting from the implementation of the Plan Chiapas 94 as a strategy of war against the people who build alternatives to the neoliberal system of death.”

At the press conference, he said that among the actions to be performed are sending letters and documents to the federal and state governments to “remind them that many cases of forced displacement have gone unpunished.”

He added that there is planned for 10th December  a “simultaneous worldwide international action include letter writing, demonstrations in Mexican embassies abroad, marches and pilgrimages.”

He said that actions are planned through social networks with the dissemination of information, communication of the families with individuals and groups from other parts of the world, a graphic campaign with posters; visits to embassies and offices of the federal government together with the forcibly displaced.

He said that the campaign will last for about six months, during which time there will also be pilgrimages, marches, days of prayer and fasting performed, organized by communities affected by forced displacement, which “try to visualize their case and make a bridge with what is currently happening in the country, like the chaos in Ayotizanapa, Guerrero.”

He said that in March or April the second phase of the campaign will begin with the theme of projects and infrastructure, those who “seek to dispossess the territory of indigenous communities.”

López Rodríguez said that the campaign started today because it coincides with the eighth anniversary of the “massacre” which occurred on November 13, 2006 in the community of Viejo Velasco, Ocosingo, where six people were murdered, 36 remain displaced and two more are reported as missing.

He noted that in addition to this case, the campaign will include that of Banavil, municipality of Tenejapa, where four years ago 7 people were displaced, who to date have been unable to return, and that of San Marcos Avilés, Chilón, where over a hundred people who returned four years ago, continue to receive threats of expulsion.

The organizations leading the campaign are: la Casa de la Mujer Ixim Antsetic, A.C; el Centro de Derechos Indígenas A.C; el Centro de Derechos de la Mujer de Chiapas, A.C; el Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Pedro Lorenzo de la Nada, A.C;  Frayba; el Comité de Defensa de las Libertades Indígenas (CDLI–Xi´nich) and Salud y Desarrollo Comunitario A.C.

 

Dorset Chiapas Solidarity

http://www.jornada.unam.mx/ultimas/2014/11/13/inicia-campana-rostros-del-despojo-en-chiapas-1501.html

 

 *****************************************************

 

 

 

November 15, 2014

Different Faces of Dispossession: the case of Viejo Velasco

Filed under: Displacement, Frayba, Human rights, Indigenous, Uncategorized — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 11:42 am

 

Different Faces of Dispossession: the case of Viejo Velasco

 

The Campaign was launched on the anniversary of the massacre

The Campaign was launched on the anniversary of the massacre

Context

In 1954, the Lacandon Jungle in the state of Chiapas was first settled by indigenous families (of Tseltal, Tsotsil, Chol, and Tojolabal communities, among others), who arrived looking for land on which to survive. In 1972, then-President Echeverría granted to 66 indigenous “Lacandon” families 614,321 hectares of land in the Lacandon Jungle. The Decree in favour of the Lacandon people affected the different communities that had been claiming their rights to the land. Since then, the communities have suffered forced displacements, losing their homes as well as their material and cultural possessions. The violence sharply increased with the implementation of the Chiapas ’94 Campaign Plan, based on the military strategy of the federal and state governments that had the goal of furthering their interests of territorial plunder and national and international investment. In spite of the negotiations between the communities and the government, the dialogue broke down due to the government’s refusal to recognize the communities’ agrarian and collective rights, causing the forced relocations and violent evictions in the region.

 

 

 

What happened in Viejo Velasco?

On November 13th, 2006, in the community of Viejo Velasco, in the municipality of Ocosingo, Chiapas, at 6 am, 40 civilians from the community of Nueva Palestina, Frontera Corozal, and Lacanjá Chansayab (from the Lacandon Community), violently entered Viejo Velasco. They were armed with machetes, sticks, shotguns, and .22-caliber rifles, some dressed in police and military-type uniforms. These individuals were accompanied by 300 officers of the State Police of Chiapas, and were carrying high-calibre weapons: AK-47s and R-15s. They were also accompanied by 5 attorneys from the office of the Public Prosecutor, 2 specialist investigators, the Regional Commander for the Jungle Zone from the State Investigative Agency and 7 of his officers, and a representative from the Secretary of Social Development. Immediately, they all surrounded the community to later raid the houses and take the residents’ belongings, causing the forced displacement of 36 people, the extrajudicial executions of 4 people, and the forced disappearances of another 4 people.

The victims

Viejo-V-3-e1415888708348As a result of the serious events that transpired in the community of Viejo Velasco, in the municipality of Ocosingo, the following individuals were extrajudicially executed: Filemón Benítez Pérez, Antonio Mayor Benítez Pérez, María Núñez González, Miguel Moreno Montejo Pedro Núñez Pérez and Vicente Pérez Díaz (the latter a member of the attacking group).

The forced disappearances of Mariano Pérez Guzmán and Antonio Peñate López continues without any clarification. 36 people (20 men, 8 women, 5 boys and 3 girls), survivors of the attack are remain forcibly displaced. Diego Arcos Meneses, from the community of Nuevo Tila, was arbitrarily deprived of his liberty and imprisoned for a year.

Currently, the following individuals have active arrest warrants: Alejandro Álvaro Álvaro, Domingo Álvaro López, Antonio Álvarez López, Juan Peñate Díaz, from the community of Nuevo Tila, as well as Roberto Núnez González (son of Pedro Núñez Pérez – who was executed – and brother of Petrona Núñez González – who was deprived of her liberty by the attacking group on the day of the aforementioned events, tortured, with an arrest warrant, and who later passed away from post-traumatic stress in April of 2010).

Current situation of the case:

The investigations begun by the Mexican State have turned out to be ineffective in clarifying these human rights violations. According the Chiapas State Attorney General, those responsible for this crime were the victims themselves and their families. As a result, members of the Xinich Organization (to which the victims belong) and the Zapatista National Liberation Army now have arrest warrants issued against them. However, none of the 40 civilians, 300 police officers, or other officials or public servants involved in these events has been investigated. Those responsible for the extrajudicial executions have not been determined, nor have the whereabouts of those forcibly disappeared. The displacement continues, leaving the affected persons in situations of vulnerability. Faced with this lack of access to justice in Mexico, the families involved have appealed to the Interamerican Commission on Human Rights demanding justice.

Impunity in the Viejo Velasco Case

We demand the following from the Mexican Government:

  • Adopt all of the necessary measures that can guarantee the return of the members of the Viejo Velasco community – as they have the right to property, free circulation and residence, to the enjoyment of their lands and the natural resources found on them. They must guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of all of these inhabitants.
  • Carry out a complete, impartial, effective, and swift investigation with the goal of identifying and punishing the intellectual and material perpetrators of the events that occurred in Viejo Velasco.
  • Provide material and immaterial restitution to all of the victims who have suffered due to these serious incidents.
  • Carry out all necessary measures to ensure that these serious human rights violations are not repeated.

 

http://www.rostrosdeldespojo.org/cases/viejo-velasco/

 

********************************************************************

November 14, 2014

Sign the Different Faces of Dispossession Petition

Filed under: Displacement, Frayba, Human rights, Indigenous, San Marcos Aviles — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 6:44 pm

 

Sign the Different Faces of Dispossession Petition

1505090_873200769378263_5567208873524881858_n

Mr. Enrique Peña Nieto, President of the Republic,
Mr. Miguel Angel Osorio Chong, Secretary of the Interior,
Mr. Jesús Murillo Karam, Attorney General’s Office of Mexico,
Mr. Manuel Velasco Coello, Governor of the State of Chiapas,
Mr. Oscar Eduardo Aguilar Ramírez, Secretary General of the State Government of Chiapas,
Mr. Raciel Lopez Salazar, Attorney General of Chiapas,

The Faces of the Dispossessed is born in the context of governmental policies throughout the last decades that have commercialized the natural resources of the ancestral territories of the Peoples of Chiapas. They are part of the Mexican government’s historical refusal to recognize the collective rights of Indigenous Peoples.

One of these Faces is the situation of internal displacement in Chiapas, part of the territorial dispossession that is occurring systematically. The Mexican government is one of the persistent violators of human rights.

For many years now communities have been building the defense of their rights, demanding justice, and the return of their lands and territories, without a satisfactory response from competent authorities.

We join the Faces of the Dispossessed Campaign that in its first phase shines light on the displacement of three communities:

Viejo Velasco, in the municipality of Ocosingo; Banavil, in the municipality of Tenejapa; and San Marcos Avilés, in the municipality of Chilón. These three cases are related to the causes and the consequences of the Internal Armed Conflict in Chiapas, from the time of the armed uprising of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation on January 1st, 1994.

We demand that the Mexican government respond to the following petitions:

  • Adopt all of the necessary measures to guarantee the return of community members who have suffered forced displacement; who have the right to their property, freedom of movement and residence, and the true enjoyment of their lands and the natural resources found within them.
  • Guarantee the safety, the psychological and physical integrity, and the very lives of the displaced families.
  • Conduct a complete investigation that is impartial, effective, and immediate with the goal of identifying and sanctioning those intellectually and materially responsible for forced displacement and other human rights violations.
  • Justice and reparation within the framework of international treaties signed and ratified by the Mexican government, as well as the application of the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement.
  • Implement all measures necessary to ensure that these grave human rights violations are never repeated.

 

Sign the petition here: http://www.rostrosdeldespojo.org/participate/petition/

 

**********************************************************

“The Different Faces of Dispossession” Campaign

Filed under: Displacement, Frayba, Human rights, Indigenous, San Marcos Aviles — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 6:29 pm

 

 

The Different Faces of Dispossession” Campaign

 img_1694-1024x767

 

The Different Faces of Dispossession

Http://Www.Rostrosdeldespojo.Org/En/

Our Lands, Our Rights 

Native and Indigenous peoples of the state of Chiapas, Mexico speak out against the Different Faces of Dispossession they experience on a daily basis.

Native Peoples and their territories ARE AT CONSTANT RISK due to forced internal displacement and infrastructure projects that put their community, lives, and their identities as peoples at risk.

They organize to exercise their collective and individual rights through the right to justice and the collective defence of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The Different Faces of Dispossession are stories and events from native and indigenous communities that are fighting for justice and against impunity. It also identifies and makes visible those responsible for human rights violations in order to demand that the Mexican state comply with its human rights obligations.

 

“The Different Faces of Dispossession” Campaign

Introduction

DSC5167-500x333The reason behind the Campaign “The Difference Faces of Dispossession” is that governments and national and international investors are determined to commercialize the Land and Territory of Native Peoples.

These same Peoples are today confronting dispossession from indigenous communities that refuse to be accomplices in investment projects that prioritize the production of biofuels, the concession and exploitation of mining projects, dams, the reactivation of the Mesoamerica Project’s infrastructure plans, and energy reform as a platform on which to legalize territorial looting and pillaging. All of this brings with it the destruction of the human and biological diversity of their ancestral lands.

The different faces of dispossession are framed in the government policies that, over the course of the last few decades, have commercialized the natural resources of Native Peoples’ lands in Chiapas. These policies are all part of the long-standing refusal of the Mexican State to fully recognize the collective rights of indigenous Peoples.

Forced displacement in Chiapas

One of these Faces is the situation of internal displacement in Chiapas, which is due to systematic territorial dispossession, and in which the Mexican government is one of the most consistent violators of human rights.

For several years community defense projects have been constructed to demand justice – the restitution of their lands and territories. The repsonse from the Mexican government has been unsatisfactory.

The Different Faces of Dispossession campaign’s first stage begins by exposing the forced displacement resulting from three events in the indigenous communities of: 1) Viejo Velasco, in the municipality of Ocosingo; 2) Banavil, in the municipality of Tenejapa; and 3) San Marcos Avilés, in the municipality of Chilón. The causes of these human rights violations are related to the Armed Internal Conflict in Chiapas.

  • The first event is related to a paramilitary-type action which, along with the actions of Chiapas government officials, casused the Viejo Velasco Massacre of November 13, 2006. The results were six extrajudicial executions, two forced disappearances, and the forced displacement of 36 people: 20 men, eight women, five boys, and three girls.
  • The second event ocurred in the community of Banavil. Here, because members of this community were Zapatista sympathizers, they were attacked by members of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), with the complicity of the municipal authorities of Tenejapa. The result was the forced disappearance of one person and the forced displacement of four families who, since December 4th 2001, continue to live in a situation of vulnerability.
  • The third event ocurred in the community of San Marcos Avilés, with attacks at the hands of members of the following major political parties: Mexico Green Party (PVM), National Action Party (PAN), and the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). Along with the municipal government of Chilón, they perpetrated a systematic attack against a project for autonomy being built by the Support Bases for the Zapatista National Liberation Army (BAEZLN). On September 9th, 2010, this culminated in 170 people being forcibly displaced: 50 women, 43 men, and 77 boys and girls. Currently they remain displaced from their arable lands.

These events of forced internal displacement have one factor in common: they are caused by the widespread violence generated by the effects of the unresolved Armed Internal Conflict. The displaced individuals were never attended to under the legal category of internally displaced persons, the issue of justice was never addressed, and this situation of total impunity is preventing them from returning to their communities. Because of this, their safety, personal physical integrity, and lives remain at extreme risk. The Mexican state permanently violates international human rights instruments, and likewise fails to observe the United Nations’ Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement (Guiding Principles -UN).

The majority of the displaced population is made up of women, girls, and boys […], displacement disproportionately affects women. Therefore they are in a situation of greater vulnerability because, in addition to being displaced, they face the historical domination through which they live due to their gender, ethnicity, age, and social status.

Conclusion

Federal and state governments have demonstrated in administration after administration their contempt for Mexico’s indigenous Peoples. They are currently deepening their policies of dispossession in order to cleanse the land to facilitate the implementation of strategic projects that necessarily imply the disappearance of social, political, and cultural forms of organization carried out by communities and peoples that are the very source of human diversity.

http://www.rostrosdeldespojo.org/dispossession/

Why this Campaign?

10473734_873244392707234_7621337813822943091_n

The Different Faces of Dispossession campaign aims at promoting human rights in Chiapas through social advocacy. It aims to capture the attention of civil society in Mexico as well as other parts of the world. This includes men, women, collectives, organizations, movements, organizational processes, groups that know about and/or are interested in the situation of risk and impunity that daily affects the indigenous communities of Chiapas. These communities are facing displacement and their ancestral territories are being affected by various infrastructure projects.

With The Different Faces of Dispossession campaign, we hope to generate movement and public acts of solidarity on a national and international level that identify and make visible those responsible for human rights violations. We hope that these actions assert pressure and demand that the Mexican government fulfil its obligations.

Go to the petition.

Follow us on Facebook

http://www.rostrosdeldespojo.org/campaign/

 

 

******************************************************************

July 21, 2014

There has been State violence against the Zapatistas, concludes the Permanent Tribunal of the Peoples

Filed under: Human rights, Zapatista — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 4:41 pm

 

 

There has been State violence against the Zapatistas, concludes the Permanent Tribunal of the Peoples

 

** It [State] is obliged to fully compensate for damages, it [TPP] resolves in the pre-hearing

** There is sufficient evidence available “to presume the commission of crimes against humanity”

By: Hermann Bellinghausen, Envoy

San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, July 19, 2014

GetAttachmentIn El Limonar community, in the jungle north of Ocosingo, they held a pre-hearing this Friday of the Permanent Tribunal of the Peoples (TPP, its initials in Spanish), an international body whose Mexico chapter will culminate next November, when “it will denounce and make visible to national and international public opinion the grave human rights violations which the State committed,” to date unpunished.

The tribunal considers that there is sufficient evidence “to presume the commission of crimes against humanity” by the Mexican State, which “identified certain populations that constituted or were able to constitute a social base for the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN, its initials in Spanish) and, based on that, defined an ‘internal enemy,’ the object of a counterinsurgency strategy, which included thousands of Tzotzil, Tzeltal, Chol and Zoque civilians, belonging to Las Abejas, Xi’nich [1], and sympathizers and support bases of the EZLN.”

The pronouncement emphasizes that State violence was not directed “only against combatants, but also against the non-combatant civil population, including children,” which “demonstrates that the only factor common to all the victims was their belonging to certain organizations,” and shows that these acts were committed “with the intention of totally or partially destroying” such groups.

Witnesses and survivors of acts of great violence in Chol communities of the Northern Zone participated in El Limonar (Jolnixtié Sección I, Miguel Alemán, Usipá, El Limar, Saquil, Susuclumil, Masojá Shucjá, Masojá Grande y Chuctiejá); Tzotziles of Chenalhó, members of Civil Society Las Abejas of Acteal, and those displaced from Viejo Velasco, all “victims of the war strategy of counterinsurgency and of extermination contemplated in the Chiapas 94 Campaign Plan and implemented by the Mexican government at the start of the EZLN’s armed uprising, which yielded as a consequence dozens of forced disappearances, murders, forced displacements, sexual violence and massacres: crimes against humanity that continue unpunished,” the pronouncement of the pre-hearing makes clear.

The pre-hearing was convoked by 50 national and international popular, student, social and human rights organizations, as well as the 74 organisations that make up the National Network of Civil and Human Rights Organisations All Rights for All, the Network of Community Radios (AMARC, its initials in Spanish) which groups together 35 radio projects, the 42 organizations from the National Campaign Against Forced Disappearance in Mexico, and the Chiapas Peace Network, made up of 10 organizations.

Alejandro Cerezo Contreras, Alejandro de Jesús Martínez Martínez, and the Tzeltal arrangers Carlos Núñez Ruiz and Juan Méndez Gutiérrez, Joel Heredia and Rubén R. García Clark participated as national judges. They decided that the three cases examined “are framed within the social and political struggles of the peoples and communities for the recognition and vindication of identity and indigenous rights.”

The tribunal resolved that: “violations were committed of the human rights of the indigenous peoples in the Northern Zone, Viejo Velasco [2] and Acteal, by conduct which derived from the behaviour of paramilitary groups like Paz y Justicia, or of residents of the Nueva Palestina community, or in Chenalhó, always “organized by the federal, state and municipal authorities.” [Emphasis added.]

The Mexican State “is obliged to fully repair the damages,” the tribunal determined. It recognized in the witnesses firmness, dignity, certainty of memory, and a search for justice and truth. It also recognized “their bravery faced with the threats that can emerge after pre-hearings.”

Finally, the TPP said it observed with concern the events in the La Realidad community, “where José Luis Solís López (Votán Galeano) was extra-judicially executed, signifying the continuity of the counterinsurgency policy in Chiapas.”

 

Footnotes:

[1] Xi’nich means “The ants” in Chol, a Mayan language. It originated as an indigenous Catholic campesino organization, similar to Las Abejas (the Bees). Its members lived in Viejo Velasco.

 

[2] For background on the Viejo Velasco Massacre in Chiapas, please see: http://compamanuel.wordpress.com/2014/02/05/murder-in-the-lacandon-jungle-background-on-viejo-velasco-massacre/

————————————————————————————

Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Sunday, July 20, 2014

En español: http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2014/07/20/politica/017n1pol

 

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

Minor editing by Dorset Chiapas Solidarity. Posted 21/07/2014

 

*********************************************************************************

 

July 17, 2014

They will take the Viejo Velasco Massacre to the Permanent Tribunal of the Peoples

Filed under: Human rights, Indigenous — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 6:23 pm

 

They will take the Viejo Velasco Massacre to the Permanent Tribunal of the Peoples

 ** Survivors accuse that the authors of the massacre in the Chiapan community remain unpunished

** The aggression was within the framework of the struggle for agrarian rights, they say; Fox “didn’t do anything to avoid it”

By: Hermann Bellinghausen, Envoy

San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, July 16, 2014

Palenque March for the Freedom of Diego Arcos

Palenque March for the Freedom of Diego Arcos

The Permanent Tribunal of the Peoples (TPP, its initials in Spanish) announced in a press conference the pre-hearing With Justice and Peace We Find Truth, which will be held on Friday in El Limonar community, in the northern part of the Lacandón Jungle.

The event “seeks to construct another justice from the collective memory of the peoples in the face of the impunity promoted by the Mexican State.” Survivors, witnesses and relatives will present especially the case of the Viejo Velasco Massacre, which occurred in that zone eight years ago and remains unpunished.

Diego Moreno Vázquez, representing family members of the victims and the massacre’s survivors, confirmed that the case will be presented at the TPP’s pre-hearing. That deadly attack “came to a head in the context of the struggle for agrarian rights inside the so-called ‘Lacandón Community’ during the government of President Vicente Fox Quezada; despite the denunciations about harassment and threats of eviction that the communities were suffering, the government didn’t do anything to avoid these grave acts.” The mode of the aggressors’ behaviour “is framed within the counterinsurgency strategy implemented by the government since 1994, with putting its Chiapas 94 Campaign Plan into effect, when the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) rose up in arms.”

The Chol representative exposed: “Eight years after the massacre the family members continue demanding justice, punishment of the intellectual and material authors of these grave acts and our right to know the truth about what happened, as well as the whereabouts of our disappeared family members. The only thing that the Mexican government has done is to continue nourishing the impunity.”

He remembered that the attack occurred on November 13, 2006: “Some 40 people from the community of Nueva Palestina, very well armed, some with uniforms of the military or Public Security, violently entered Viejo Velasco.” 300 members of the Sectorial Police accompanied them with high-powered weapons “known as ‘goat horns’ and R-15s.” At times, other authorities accompanied them. “They all surrounded the community to later enter homes and steal our relatives’ belongings.”

Filemón Benítez Pérez, Antonio Mayor Benítez Pérez, María Núñez González and Vicente Pérez Díaz (the latter from the aggressor group) died in the acts. Four more were disappeared: Mariano Pérez Guzmán, Miguel Moreno Montejo, Pedro Núñez Pérez and Antonio Peñate López. The survivors fled into the mountains and afterwards were given refuge in the neighboring Nuevo Tila community.

Moreno Vázquez adds: “Faced with the lack of justice we took on the task of looking for our disappeared and on July 6, 2007 with a Civilian Observation Commission we toured the route that goes from Paraíso to Viejo Velasco and we found two bones, which turned out to be from Miguel Moreno Montejo, my father, and Pedro Núñez Pérez. The government said that our family members ‘had grabbed their backpacks and had left for the north.’ It wasn’t until November 2011 that they delivered the remains to us and we gave them a Christian burial.”

Mariano Pérez Guzmán and Antonio Peñate López remain disappeared. The displaced “are borrowing lands or working in different places.” Four Nuevo Tila residents “continue with (pending) arrest warrants, accused of the death of our family members, while to the contrary, they received those displaced that day.”

They run the same risk as Diego Arcos Meneses, who stayed in prison for almost a year “accused of the death of our family members, being that he is a health promoter, like I am, who only offered support” to the displaced.

—————————————————————

Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Thursday, July 17, 2014

En español: http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2014/07/17/politica/021n1pol

 

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

********************************************************************

June 8, 2014

Xi’Nich distances itself from the conflict in the Lacandón Community Zone

Filed under: Lacandon/ montes azules — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 7:13 am

 

Xi’Nich distances itself from the conflict in the Lacandón Community Zone

 ** It classifies them as a violent organization and differs with their methods

** It says their leader, Gabriel Montoya, is responsible for the massacre in Viejo Velasco

By: Hermann Bellinghausen

CXhiapas_selva_Lacandona_44

The Xi’Nich organization, made up of indigenous communities in the northern Lacandón Jungle of Chiapas, distanced itself from the protests of the Jungle’s different organizations because of the agrarian conflict in the Lacandón Community Zone (CZL, its initials in Spanish) and the incarceration of the CZL advisor, Gabriel Montoya Oceguera, who Xi’Nich considers the intellectual author of the Viejo Velasco Massacre in 2006, while placing responsibility for the material execution of that violent attack, which left eight dead and two disappeared, on the Lacandón comuneros and the sub-comuneros of Nueva Palestina.

Before what recently occurred in that region of Chiapas, Xi ‘Nich points out, “a dozen organizations and human rights defenders, including the Diocese of San Cristóbal de las Casas, have issued statements in favor of peace and reconciliation of the parties in the conflict.” In that regard, the indigenous are in agreement; but not with the following part: “they sign and vouch for the movement directed by Montoya Oceguera, a leader who defends the political and economic interests of the Lacandóns and his own personal interests.”

Eight years ago –Xi’Nich adds to its interlocutors of the Diocese– “you condemned the massacre; it surprises us, it angers us that you ask with shouts for the liberation of Montoya Oceguera, principal orchestrator of the Viejo Velasco Massacre, as well as the liberation of the comuneros of Nueva Palestina incarcerated for violent acts” like the 2006 massacre and “kidnappings” like that of Julia Carabias this year.

Xi’Nich defines itself as an organization in resistance and part of the National Indigenous Congress (Congreso Nacional Indígena, CNI), composed of Chols, Tzeltals and Zoques. “We have been very respectful and in solidarity –the Network for Peace expresses, to the independent organizations and the authorities of the diocese– in the defense of the rights of the indigenous peoples.” It distinguishes the differences between the different actors in the current conflict. “We know the long history of crimes and outrages against our peoples on the part of the Lacandóns and the sub-comuneros of Nueva Palestina, with the approval of the governments.” And it asks: “What interest is there in reviving an agrarian conflict which is supposedly resolved?”

Such conflict dates from 38 years ago, and was falsely “resolved” in March of 2006 when Governor Pablo Salazar Mendiguchía and the Secretary of Agrarian Reform (SRA), represented in Chiapas by Martha Cecilia Díaz Gordillo, “with drum and cymbal” announced “the end” of the problem, and delivered 10 cheques to the CZL for a total of 172 million pesos, for the benefit of 25 communities, including those that are now to be evicted, which belong to the ARIC Union of Unions Democratic. On that occasion Flor de Cacao, Ojo de Agua Tzotzil, San Jacinto Lacanjá and Viejo Velasco were “strangely” left out. On November 13 of that year, the latter (Viejo Velasco) “was massacred.”

The comuneros and sub-comuneros of the CZL “did not act alone” in the “criminal and savage acts,” because “they have been protected by the State, and it has responsibility, as the state Prosecutor testified at the time.” Besides, Xi’Nich points to the residents of the Tzeltal community of Nueva Palestina as “the region’s most violent group,” which “has burned dozens of people alive,” among other cases in Flor de Cacao in 1976, and they have participated in the eviction and relocation of more than 20 communities before 2005. This, “with the intervention of Montoya Oceguera, then the Government delegate (2000-2006) in Benemérito de las Américas (Marqués de Comillas).” “Now he has been rewarded by being an advisor of the Lacandóns,” “for having massacred the Viejo Velasco community.”

Xi’Nich sets itself apart from the CZL. “We do not share nor do we support their struggle, nor are we part of their movement. They have used our name in their struggle; they have used blackmail, violence, force and roadblocks. We roundly condemn their violent method.”

The organization expresses support for the three communities threatened with relocation and is in solidarity with the Zapatistas, condemning the death of professor Galeano in La Realidad one month ago.

——————————————————-

Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Saturday, June 7, 2014

En español: http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2014/06/07/politica/015n1pol

 

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

Dorset Chiapas Solidarity

***********************************************************************

February 6, 2014

Background on the Massacre at Viejo Velasco Suárez

Filed under: Displacement, Human rights, Indigenous, Lacandon/ montes azules, Repression — Tags: — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 7:11 am

Background on the Massacre at Viejo Velasco Suárez

This article, written in 2007, has been reissued to provide background to a recent  Update on the Viejo Velasco Massacre, 7 years later, published in La Jornada.

Murder and Other High Crimes in the Lacandón Jungle

By: Mary Ann Tenuto-Sánchez

Viejo Velasco Displaced Return to Look For Belongings

Viejo Velasco Displaced Return to Look For Belongings

 

On November 13, 2006, an armed attack occurred against the indigenous community of Viejo Velasco Suárez, in the Lacandón Jungle of Chiapas.  Four people died as a result and another four people are disappeared and presumed dead.  Two people were detained by police, one of them a health promoter from a neighboring community who had gone to help, the other, one of the attackers.  Information about the political organization of those attacked was confusing.  The state government claimed those attacked were affiliated with Xi Nich, an independent Chol organization usually friendly (sympathetic) to the EZLN.  Xi Nich claimed those attacked were affiliated with the EZLN.  The EZLN finally released a statement clarifying that those attacked were not Zapatistas. That clarification did not, of course, reveal the political affiliation of the victims.

The attackers were members of the Lacandón Community from Nueva Palestina, recipients of a communal land grant to a group of Indigenous people whose origins are in dispute, but today are known as Lacandón Maya.  After much protest, some Chol and Tzeltal Maya were also included in this communal land grant.  The history is that during the 1950s and 1960s, the Mexican government encouraged land-hungry campesinos from other parts of Chiapas to migrate to the Jungle with a promise of land.  This was done to get those campesinos and their militant organizations off the backs of the mestizo landowners.

After enticing them into the Jungle, the government turned around and in 1972 gave the land to a different group of indigenous people known now as the Lacandóns, placing the land of all the others who lived there in jeopardy.  We are talking about more than one million acres of land given to just 66 Lacandón families (several hundred people), who had not even asked for it.  The government’s treachery caused such an uproar that it soon had to offer some of the other Mayan language groups, specifically Chol and Tzeltal peoples, a chance to relocate within what the government called the Lacandón Community and to own a little piece of the communal wealth.  This offer was on the condition that they would live in specified settlements.  Some accepted.  Other settlers belonged to campesino (peasant) organizations that resisted resettlement and struggled for years to legalize those communities that had already existed prior to the creation of the Lacandón Community.

It was partly from those communities that resisted resettlement and their campesino organization that the EZLN was born.  Not only were those existing communities endangered; all the settler communities, whether inside or on the outskirts of the Lacandón Community were threatened.  Their ability to expand as their population grew was cut off forever by that government decision.  What was the government’s motive for such an apparently stupid decision?   The answer is greed; greed for the precious wood in the rain forest!  The Lacandóns and those Chol and Tzeltal people who accepted living in settlements also agreed to give the government the legal right to cut down mahogany and cedar trees within the Lacandón Community (for a price, of course).  Speculation is that one of the motives for the violent attack on Viejo Velasco is that the community’s land contains a large grove of mahogany forest.  The attackers from the Lacandón Community claim that they are the legal owners of the land on which Viejo Velasco is located and that they want to evict the “invaders.”  This, in spite of the fact that negotiations with Mexico’s Agrarian Reform agency were close to legalizing Viejo Velasco. Plainly, someone did not want that community legalized.

Among the group of attackers were armed men wearing several types of uniforms. Some wore state police uniforms and carried high-powered weapons.  In other words, they carried very expensive weapons only legal for use by police and military.  Where did indigenous peasants get the money to buy such weapons?  At least one human rights group identified them as members of the Opddic, a group of PRI members, allegedly organized and funded by local cattle ranchers and the municipio of Ocosingo, belonging to the PRI. Opddic is the acronym for the Organización para la defensa de derechos indigenas y campesinos (Organization for the Defense of Indigenous and Campesino Rights, in English).

In spite of the fact that the EZLN had clarified that it was not involved, articles soon began to appear in the Mexican press about some Lacandóns fleeing to a museum in San Cristóbal de las Casas, saying that they feared reprisals from the EZLN!

The plot thickened a week after the Viejo Velasco murders when the Opddic announced that it would no longer recognize the authority of the Zapatista Good Government Juntas and that it intended to take back vast quantities of land in four official Chiapas counties (municipios), land now belonging to the Zapatista Caracols of Morelia and La Garrucha.  This is an ominous sign for both independent organizations and for the Zapatista communities. It is very close to being a declaration of war over land and territory.  In the Lacandón Jungle, it’s all about land; who uses it and who controls it.  Mother Earth is the essence of life itself and, like their namesake Emiliano Zapata, the Zapatistas believe that the land belongs to those who work it.  The entire incident in Viejo Velasco and its aftermath reek of a counterinsurgency move.

Several Zapatista Juntas responded to the Opddic threat by saying that they were prepared to defend the land they “recuperated” on January 1, 1994. Then, another player upped the ante even further.  Approximately one month after the Opddic statement, shortly before the Encuentro Between the Zapatista Peoples and the Peoples of the World, an organization calling itself the “Fundación Lacandona, A.C.” (Lacandón Foundation) introduced itself by sending a document to the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Center. The document is entitled “The Face of the Lacandón Community” and written by the Fundación Lacandona and the Opddic.  For openers, the document admits that the signers are responsible for the murders in Viejo Velasco!  However, it points to several human rights organizations and the director of Maderas del Pueblo del Sureste and an ecologist, Miguel Angel Garcia, as being murderers of their members.  The human rights organizations targeted by the “Fundación Lacandona” are among those that investigated the Viejo Velasco killings, including Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Center.  That human rights center has petitioned the Inter-American Human Rights Commission to ask the Mexican government to take precautionary measures to protect those involved; especially, Miguel Angel Garcia and his family.

According to an article in La Jornada, Opddic grew tremendously during the six-year presidential term of Vicente Fox and the governorship of Pablo Salazar (2000-2006), “occupying territorially spaces before covered by the paramilitary groups MIRA (Canyons Region), Chinchulines (Chilon), and Paz y Justicia (Tila, Sabanilla, Salto de Agua and Palenque).”

The Opddic, which exhibits some characteristics of a paramilitary group, now seems to have all kinds of money with which to entice others into joining.  In the Zapatista autonomous municipios within the two Caracols specified in the Opddic’s document, there are indigenous people who belong to different political organizations living together in the same canyons. There are members of independent organizations, often friendly to the Zapatista communities.  There are also PRI members who cooperate with the Zapatistas, as well as hostile PRI members who do not always cooperate.  There are people of different religions.  Now, some of the independents and many of the friendly PRI members are joining the Opddic. The hostile PRI members have been part of Opddic for as much as four or five years.

This new alliance of forces is worrisome. The Opddic has been causing problems since at least August 2002 when some 200 of its members led an armed attack on Nuevo Guadalupe Quexil. Since then, it has been starting disputes over land with Zapatista communities, threatening to kill Zapatista authorities, entering Zapatista communities and damaging houses.  So far, the Zapatistas have been able to resist without resorting to violence.  As for the Lacandón Community, its relations with other organizations living in the Jungle have not been friendly since the Mexican government and international conservation NGOs allegedly encouraged its members to assert their property “rights” over the more than one million acres of land granted to them by the federal government.

On February 8, Subcomandante Marcos, on behalf of the General Command of the EZLN, made public a strongly-worded communique responding to the Opddic’s threats, alleging that Opddic is a criminal organization which engages in the illegal cutting and trafficking of precious woods, as well as in drug trafficking and stolen vehicles.  The Zapatistas also stated plainly and forcefully that they are prepared to defend all their land against the Opddic.

There is great concern in Chiapas about the imminence of further attacks like the one on Viejo Velasco. The unholy alliance between the Opddic and the “Fundación Lacandona” has specifically threatened the communities of Flor de Cacao, Nuevo Tila, San Jacinto, Ojo de Agua Tzotzil with violent eviction if those communities are not abandoned. The communities threatened are composed of indigenous people belonging to independent organizations and some Zapatista support bases.

These are not interethnic squabbles as some, including the Mexican government, might lead you to believe. This is a continuation of the struggle for land and natural resources that has gone on ever since the Spanish Conquistadors took the land away from its indigenous owners. Those pulling the strings and doling out the money to the Opddic have economic interests in the jungle’s natural resources; such as, precious woods (mainly mahogany and cedar), water (for generating electricity and bottling), oil and other minerals, ecotourism and biodiversity.

———————————-

Mary Ann Tenuto-Sánchez

Chiapas Support Committee

February 2007

********************************************************************

February 4, 2014

Two people accused of the Viejo Velasco massacre ask for amparo (legal protection)

Filed under: Displacement, Human rights, Indigenous, Lacandon/ montes azules — Tags: — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 7:54 pm

Two people accused of the Viejo Velasco massacre ask for amparo (legal protection)

*Although they are free, they have arrest warrants against them

*They point out that the real culprits have been protected by the government

Hermann Bellinghausen

La Jornada
Saturday 1 February 2014

Palenque, Chiapas Jan. 31

Antonio Álvarez López and Juan Peñate Díaz, from the ejido Nuevo Tila, municipality of Ocosingo, who have arrest warrants hanging over them for the Viejo Velasco massacre in 2006, have asked for an amparo [order for legal protection]. They helped the victims. The attackers came from the Lacandón community, and encouraged by the authorities decided to expel the families of Viejo Velasco, arguing that they were their lands since the government gave the Lacandónes 614,000 hectares of the jungle in 1971.

The day of the incident, November 13, 2006, Álvarez López had been working in his milpa since dawn, in Nuevo Tila. “My compadre came, and told me to go back because they were going to massacre us, that the comuneros from Nueva Palestina, Frontera Corozal and Lacanjá Chansayab (known by the government as the Lacandón community) were attacking Viejo Velasco.

Before arriving at Nuevo Tila “I met my wife with all my children, saying that we must flee.” Antonio tried to reassure her, but they stayed in the place. “On reaching my village, there were the other inhabitants with some survivors who were fleeing. They explained that the ‘comuneros’ had arrived with firearms, including shotguns and high calibre rifles; that the majority were in uniforms of the Ministry of Public Safety and the Military; that there were over 300. Then we found out about the dead and missing.” Indeed, seven people were killed and two more were never found.

“In Nuevo Tila we organized to go and see the bodies, but first we awaited the arrival of a commission of human rights organizations. And we went to Viejo Velasco. We found María Núñez found shot dead in her house, when suddenly a helicopter began to chase us and another landed while the first was flying over. Diego Arcos Meneses did not escape because he was with his wife and young grandson.” The public safety officers forced him to help them move the body to the aircraft. And he was also taken away.

In Palenque they beat and tortured him saying he was the one who came to kill. He was put in prison and was held for three months in arraigo (solitary confinement without charge) in Chiapa de Corzo. Then he was held for a year in prison in Playas de Catazajá, “accused of a crime he did not commit, a crime they also tried to link to us, who are asking for amparo.”

The authorities have not investigated or solved the crime, but seven years ago arrest warrants were issued against four residents of Nuevo Tila. Antonio says: “Since then we have been threatened that wherever they see us they are going to stop us and submit us to the authorities. Fear has deprived us of our freedom in our own community. I am innocent, I have been falsely accused of the crimes of homicide and organized crime. They know that I belong to Xi’Nich organization, like the slain and the missing. They also accuse us because we have been very active in the defence of our lands. Until now, the real culprits enjoy their freedom, protected by the government.”

Juan Peñate relates that on that day he and his family dedicated themselves to assisting the families of Viejo Velasco: I am innocent, my hands are not stained with the blood of my brothers.” He adds, “my wife and my community” are witnesses. According to the survivors, the comuneros, arrived accompanied by the police and the Army, and threatened that they would also come to Nuevo Tila,” but that did not happen.

http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2014/02/01/index.php?section=politica&article=015n1pol

 

Dorset Chiapas Solidarity

************************************************************

Older Posts »

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.