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EZLN Support Bases in San Marcos Avilés, Chilón, Denounce Aggressions

 ** Frayba demands that the government sanction those responsible and respect autonomy

** They have been resisting attacks, dispossession of lands and death threats from officialist groups for three years

By: Hermann Bellinghausen

San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, December 26, 2013

012n1pol-1-500x330 EZLN support bases in the community of San Marcos Avilés, municipality of Chilón, denounced aggressions, dispossession from lands and threats from officialist (pro-government) groups since 15th December : “We have been patient, we have endured and resisted all the bad things that the party members of this community have done to us. Our patience has run out and today we say ‘¡ya basta!’ (Enough!)  The time has come to defend ourselves whatever the cost, whatever may happen and in any way possible.”

The indigenous warn: “We are no longer going to allow them to disrespect us and deny us the right to live in our own community. Starting now, we hold the three levels of official government responsible for everything that may happen, for not having paid attention to the issue.”

The Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Centre (Frayba) has received reports from the international civil observation brigades about “the continuation of harassment, aggressions, death threats and forced displacements” against the Zapatistas of the community. And it points out that the governmental authorities, instead of fulfilling their obligation “to guarantee the integrity and personal security of the inhabitants and look for a solution to the conflict, as of this day their only response has been to administer the conflict.”

Frayba recalls that: “for three years the Good Government Junta of Oventic and the Zapatistas bases in San Marcos Avilés have resisted the group described as Partidista [political party supporters], which has carried out actions against education and the  project of Zapatista autonomy under cover of Chilón officials and the state government.”

Frayba reports that on 11th December, “at 6:30 in the morning, Juan Pérez Cruz and his wife María Elena Cruz, both PRI members, entered the coffee field of a Zapatista, stealing the fruit from 200 coffee bushes.” At 8:00 that same evening, from the house of Pérez Cruz, which is 50 metres from the camp of the civilian observation brigade which stays in the community, “a shot was heard, intended to intimidate the Zapatista bases.” On 12th December, at 6 am, Pérez Cruz arrived at the house of a Zapatista and said to him, literally: “I came to advise you that your coffee field no longer belongs to you, now it’s mine because you don’t pay the property tax, don’t go back to your coffee field and your milpa, because I am going to kill you there with a machete.” On the 14th, another shot was fired from Pérez Cruz’ house.

Afterwards, the civilian observers informed Frayba that: “the party members continue with aggressions against other Zapatista bases, consisting of robbing their milpas and workplaces.” The organisation expresses concern about the grave situation and demands that the state government “controls those who act with impunity in the community, sanctions those responsible for the aggressions, death threats, robberies, dispossession and displacement, and ensures respect for the EZLN support bases’ exercise of the right to autonomy, freedom of thought and expression, and right to property and possession of lands to work.”

The problem dates from September 9, 2010, when 170 indigenous of all ages, the  Zapatistas of the ejido, were violently displaced by 30 people from the PRI, PRD and the Green Ecologist Party of Mexico, “who entered with sticks, machetes and firearms” into their homes. The incidents occurred after the construction of the autonomous primary school in the ejido. That day, “so as not to respond to the aggression,” the Zapatistas took refuge in the woods and mountain for 33 days.

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La Jornada, Friday, December 27, 2013

http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2013/12/27/politica/016n1pol

 

 

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Attacks in Chiapas 

Gloria Muñoz Ramirez,

Los de Abajo

juan vasquezThis week, Chiapas was, once again, the scene of violence against the indigenous and campesinos who defend their land and practice autonomy, facts which are blurred in the electronic media, so busy struggling to spread images of the “intolerable violence” – as they call it – of the teachers from Guerrero, who are protesting against the imposition of educational reform, and the students who have taken the rectory of the UNAM.

Both attacks were directly against Zapatistas and pro-Zapatistas. The former are EZLN support bases from the community of San Marcos Avilés, municipality of Chilón, belonging to the caracol of Oventik. The second exemplify the struggle for the defense of their land in San Sebastian Bachajón, home and birthplace of the leader of the adherents of the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle, Juan Vázquez Guzmán, assassinated by five bullets.

Active in the defense of his community since 2007, Juan Vázquez had denounced on 17 April, along with other ejidatarios adherent to the Zapatista initiative, new threats to their territory from a tourism project in the region.

The climate of violence in Chiapas, a state visited last week by the president Enrique Peña Nieto to kick-start his National Crusade against Hunger, is escalating with direct threats and harassment against those who defend their territory. The attacks have never gone away, it is true, but the violent events of this week are warnings that should not be overlooked, because a political assassination has not occurred in the state for a long time.

The attacks on San Marcos Avilés are not new either, but right now the hostilities are renewed against the families of this community, which, since August 2010 – when they established the autonomous school Emiliano Zapata – have been threatened by members of the group they call “party supporters”. The core of the conflict is the intention to displace them from their land.

In a recent communiqué, the Good Government Junta based in Oventik detailed the daily violations that they have suffered for the last three years, and commented that “the three levels of official government have done nothing to stop the acts of injustice and the violations of their human rights which are being committed against our support bases of the ejido San Marcos Avilés. The response has been one of swearing, ridicule and more threats to our   compañeros.”

In Chiapas there is a latent threat of forced displacement against the Zapatistas, and a new political assassination.

http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2013/04/27/index.php?section=politica&article=012o1pol

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Denunciation of attacks on families in Chilón in order to take their land

Caravan of observation has presented a report of their visit to the area

Hermann Bellinghausen

La Jornada, Friday April 26, 2013

San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, April 25

manta-sanmarcos1Death threats, threats of rape, attacks and robberies are continuing against Zapatista families in San Marcos Avilés (Chilón). The Network for Peace in Chiapas has released a report about the situation in the community, after a caravan of observation visited last Monday.  “The main source of the aggression is the dispossession of their workable lands by members of the PRI, PVEM and PRD”. There are also threats of displacement “prompted by the disagreement of the party supporters with the progress of the project of autonomy of the EZLN”, the report added.

The women of the community denounced that the party supporters harassed them on a daily basis. One described how: “we are harvesting the coffee with fear. One day when I returned to the house they had stolen the chickens, poisoned the pigs, and robbed other items. They say that if we go out alone, they will rape us. Two years ago my daughter died at the age of 10 of sadness, because they told her many times they were going to rape her.” Children “are constantly asking why they cannot go out and play, they feel the anxiety of their parents”. The psychological consequences “are severe”, the report said. According to another witness, “now we do not sleep on account of the risk”. The discrimination and exclusion against the Zapatistas “is evident”, and provocations “are constant”.

They documented a number of death threats. “For example, on March 27 the ejidal and municipal authorities met in a private place to share information about a Zapatista man and decide if they would kill him. They agreed that once they had done this, they would do the same with the other bases of the EZLN”.

During their stay in the ejido, the caravan experienced “a climate of hostility”, and the party supporters threatened to seize the vehicles of the observers.

Subsequently, the mission of 10 civil organizations met with the Chilón municipal authorities. While the Mayor Leonardo Rafael Guirao Aguilar (PVEM) did not attend, observers met the government delegate Nabor Orozco Ferrer, the receiver (síndico) Francisco Guzmán Aguilar and other municipal officials.

Faced with the documentation of human rights violations, the receiver “acknowledged the displacement and dispossession of land from the bases of the EZLN since 2010, commenting that ‘what is certain is that the Zapatistas bought the land, but it was taken from them because they do not pay property taxes, or pay for their light and water’, but he denied the existence of a situation of violence today”. The Government delegate “admitted that there are political interests behind these events on the part of some people which might be causing the conflict”.

The mission found “food insecurity” among the EZLN families. “This does not allow them to live a full life, among other situations that might constitute acts of torture due to constant and widespread violence committed against them”.

“We regret the lack of action from the government of Chiapas, which has tolerated the constant human rights violations”, the Network for Peace declares, and demands guarantees of health, education, housing and freedom of movement for the EZLN support bases. “There is an imminent risk that, for the second time (the first was in 2010), a forced displacement may be carried out by people from the same ejido who are affiliated with the PRI, PVEM and PRD. We make clear to the government the seriousness and urgency of the situation, and ask them to take immediate action to prevent irreparable harm to the life and personal integrity of the indigenous belonging to the EZLN”, the report concludes.

http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2013/04/26/index.php?section=politica&article=028n2pol

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Zapatistas Denounce Aggressions from PRI and PVEM Supporters

 ** They threaten the civil mission from the Chiapas Network for Peace

By: Hermann Bellinghausen

San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, April 23, 2013

pic2zapatistasThe Good Government Junta (JBG) of Los Altos, based in the Zapatista Caracol of Oventic, has denounced the numerous aggressions that the support bases of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) in the San Marcos Avilés ejido (Chilón) have been suffering, particularly this year. The aggressors are identified as “party members” of the PRI and PVEM.

The context in which the communiqué was released is that the civilian mission of the Chiapas Network for Peace was threatened last Sunday, during its visit to the Tzeltal community to document the constant violations of the rights of the Zapatista bases.  Frayba, one of the 10 participating organizations, denounced that: “the party members threatened the ‘Civil Observation Caravan’ with taking away its vehicles,” and warned that if they did not give them up (the vehicles) “the good” would become “the bad, and if blood flows, it is going to flow.” The threats did not materialize, but they give an idea of the climate in San Marcos Avilés. The caravan concluded without further incidents, and announced [it will present] a report in the next few days.

Meanwhile, the Junta recalls that “it has been denouncing all the shameful acts of these party supporters” who provoke problems among the indigenous of the same community. They are “organized by the governors Juan Sabines Guerrero and, now, Manuel Velasco Coello.” The three levels of government “have done nothing to stop the injustices that they are committing against our compañeros.” And he points out: “The response to our denunciations has been swearing, jokes and more threats.”

The communiqué details more than 20 attacks against the Zapatista families from July 2011 until last week, when a Zapatista was dispossessed from a plot of land by the mayor of Chilón, who, on April 17, “sent a tractor to level a 32 by 25 meter plot owned by Javier Ruiz Cruz, which started to work, guarded by 120 people from the different political parties.” “Our compañero was not able to do anything to defend his property.”

The next day “the tractor continued working in the plot, surrounded by the same number of party supporters and seven dumper trucks to carry gravel.” Earlier, last January 29, Ruiz Cruz had reported to the Junta that the land, on the banks of a lagoon, “was circled by the aggressors,” among “rumors that we are dealing with the construction of a military camp.”

The threats and harassment “have not stopped” since 2011, usually headed by the municipal police and the PVEM member Lorenzo Ruiz Gómez. The Junta describes various attacks against the autonomous families: seizure of land, robbery of crops and animals, sacking of coffee fields, death threats, false accusations, suspension of electric service and attacks with arms and with rocks, together with the arbitrary actions of Chilón’s municipal officials, openly colluding with the PRI and PVEM aggressors in San Marcos Avilés.

Already, in March 2012, the PRI member Ernesto López Núñez boasted: “that those in his party have a new plan” to evict the Zapatistas, and that there would be a “second phase of taking away their rights.”

On March 3, “aggressors and authorities of the PVEM met with the principal ringleader” (the above-mentioned Ruiz Gómez), who would have said: “that there is no other way than to murder the children of our compañeros,” and then asked his accomplices “to murder Juan Velasco Aguilar and the rest of the Zapatistas.” His fellow believers, according to the Junta, said they were “ready” to do it and that they have “sufficient weapons”.

The Oventic Junta “blames” the above-mentioned Ruiz Gómez and López Núñez “directly,” as well as the former’s sons, Socrates and Ismael Ruiz Núñez. It adds the PRI members José Cruz Hernández, Santiago Cruz Díaz, Vicente Ruiz López, Manuel Vázquez Gómez and José Hernández Méndez, besides the Greens Rubén Martínez Vásquez, Manuel Díaz Ruiz, Victor Núñez Martínez, Victor Díaz Sánchez and another 30 individuals. These aggressors do not allow the Zapatista bases, who were already temporarily evicted in 2010, to live in peace.

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Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2013/04/24/politica/022n2pol

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Civil Mission in Chiapas in response to threats to EZLN support bases

Hermann Bellinghausen

La Jornada
Sunday April 21, 2013

San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, April 20

_____SanMarcosAviles-SOLIDARIDADMembers of the Network for Peace in Chiapas have reported that this Sunday 21st and Monday 22ndApril, they will undertake a civil mission of observation and documentation to the community of San Marcos Avilés, in the municipality of Chilón, “in order to collect  testimonies, following recent threats to forcibly displace the support bases of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN), made by the inhabitants of the same ejido who are affiliated to different political parties.”

The 10 civil agencies involved in the action, who have repeatedly expressed their concerns about the Zapatista population of this community, said they also hope to meet with the municipal president of Chilón, Rafael Leonardo Guirao Aguilar, and the government delegate for the area, Nabor Orozco Ferrer.

They also called on human rights defenders, the media and the public “to remain alert as to what might happen in the context of the mission”. At the end of this visit to the Tzeltal families under threat, the observers will present a report.

Threats

They emphasized the importance of the observation and the meetings with officials “in order to halt the escalation of threats and their possible realization, especially considering that 170 Zapatista bases from the ejido San Marcos Avilés have already been displaced, between August and October 2010, and that today they are still living in a precarious situation, remaining displaced from the lands they work, and with their integrity and personal safety under constant threat.”

The Network for Peace in Chiapas, established in 2000, describes itself “a space for reflection and action composed of 10 civil society organizations, which maintains an ongoing analysis of the local and national context, along with specific actions such as statements about matters of gravity or observation missions.” The network is made up of: Fray Pedro Lorenzo de Nada Human Rights Committee (CDHFP), Centre for Indigenous Rights, A.C. (CEDIAC), Services and Consultancy for Peace, A.C. (SERAPAZ), Support Committee for Community Reconciliation and Unity, A.C. (CORECO), Economic and Social Development of Indigenous Mexicans, A.C. (DESMI), Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Centre (Frayba), Education for Peace, A.C. (EDUPAZ), LINK, Communication and Training, A.C. (ENLACE CC), International Service for Peace (SIPAZ), and Chiapas Centre for Women’s Rights, A.C. (CDMCH).

http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2013/04/21/index.php?section=politica&article=016n1pol

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Harassment Worsens Against EZLN Support Bases in San Marcos Avilés Ejido, Chiapas

** “Party members” threaten to incarcerate the Oventic Junta if it intervenes in the matter of the displaced

Photo

Indigenous Tzotzil support bases of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation, in the Municipality of Oventic, located in the Highlands of Chiapas.  [Photo archive/ La Jornada]

By: Hermann Bellinghausen, Envoy

San Cristóbal de las Casas, March 5, 2013

Every day the situation of threats, harassment and tension becomes more serious against the support bases of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) in the San Marcos Avilés ejido (municipality of Chilón), from followers of the PRI, PRD and the Green Ecologist Party of Mexico, whose ringleaders have even threatened to “incarcerate” the Good Government Junta (JBG) of Oventic, if it should intervene.

According to “trustworthy” information, the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Center (Frayba) says that this situation has worsened since February 23, when the “party members” met with an unidentified local Chiapas deputy in Ranchería Yoc’ja, Chilón. “After this meeting an assembly was held in San Marcos Avilés, where the “party members (partidistas)” stated: “There will be war against the support bases because there is no longer another way of resolving the problem.”

On February 24, strong rumors were generated that “in the coming days” the “party members” would evict them together with other communities, for this reason the community of Zapatistas bases was on alert.

On February 26, at 8:00 at night, the ejidal commissioner, Ernesto Pérez Núñez, announced through the community’s sound system an assembly meeting the following day, which the 70 ejido members would have to attend, along with the residents who are not (Zapatista). The commissioner also warned: “No one from another place will have the right to come to settle the ejido’s problems, and if anyone from the JBG comes, we are going to incarcerate them.”

From February 27 until the present time, the Zapatista families “are living in a situation of grave tension, under direct threat and harassment of a forced displacement by the party members”.

Frayba “considers it urgent to address the situation of harassment as it is resulting in grave human rights violations, related to personal integrity and security, residency and free transit, among others.” Besides affecting coexistence and harmony in the community and family, it has repercussions in a potential humanitarian crisis “with possible consequences difficult to repair if a forced displacement is carried out for the second occasion against the Zapatista bases,” as already occurred in April 2010.

The new escalation against the autonomous families has already been denounced in recent days (La Jornada, 02/24/13). State authorities have been conspicuous for their inaction to avert possible violence against the Zapatistas of the Tzeltal community.

Amicus curiae on behalf of Patishtán

The University of Minnesota in the United States submitted to the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN) an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief in which it argues that in the case of Alberto Patishtán the evidence should be dismissed from the beginning, “since it was wrongfully obtained and as a result his fundamental rights were violated, which existed since before the publication of the new thesis and jurisprudence of the SCJN.” The Mexican State was obliged to protect and guarantee the rights of the prisoner.

Patishtán’s defense validated the argument developed in the writing (in an amicus curiae, experts on a topic unrelated to a judgement express their opinion with respect to a particular case, supporting elements that can be transcendent in the court’s decision). This, because “it maintains judicial elements for which the SCJN ought to assume its jurisdiction and take up the fundamental issue on the strict question of violations to  guarantees and judicial protection, rights that were trampled at all times in the criminal proceeding.”

Meanwhile, those in Solidarity with the Voice of El Amate, members of the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle detained in the San Cristóbal de las Casas prison, also spoke out in this respect: “After almost 13 years of unjust imprisonment of our compañero Alberto, the time has come for the anomalies and irregularities in his case to be discovered.” This Wednesday “there will be a hearing to discuss the SCJN’s resumption of jurisdiction in the matter. We trust that when the ministers discover all the lies in our brother’s case, they will dictate his immediate liberation.”

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Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

En español: http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2013/03/06/politica/033n1pol

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Political party militants and police demand that Zapatistas pay predial tax

They are at imminent risk of expulsion from the Chilón ejido, warns the Frayba centre

We will not pay; the government does not respond to complaints made: EZLN support base

Hermann Bellinghausen

La Jornada
Sunday February 24, 2013

newsmapic4San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, February 23. The Zapatista families of the ejido San Marcos Avilés, in the municipality of Chilón, are at imminent risk of displacement by the inhabitants of the same ejido who are affiliated to the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), Party of Democratic Revolution (PRD) and Mexican Green Ecology Party (PVEM). The Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Centre (Frayba) today issued an Urgent Action to demand guarantees for the threatened indigenous from the federal and state governments.

On Tuesday 19, ejidal authorities and police from the community aggressively delivered a letter to the support bases of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN), demanding the payment of the predial tax. The Zapatista civilians explained their reasons for not participating in any area of the state and federal governments: We have suffered very much as a result of all these aggressions from groups of (political) party members, and the government has done nothing. Now is not the time to pay, because we are in resistance and we demand respect for our right to our lands. If we do not receive anything from the government, we are not going to pay taxes.

The ejido authorities replied that they had to pay because it was an order from the municipal president and (the secretariat) of Finance. Otherwise they would be evicted. We will arrest you ourselves and take you to the authorities. We are going to cut off the light and water, they said.

On the 20th the party supporters met to agree actions against the bases of the EZLN. According to testimony gathered by Frayba, they drafted a memorandum of agreement in which they agreed to seek the way to displace them, as well as addressing the municipal and state governments to seek strategies for the eviction of the Zapatistas from the community.

On the 21st the party supporters left San Marcos Avilés very early in order to fulfil the agreement and speak with the municipal president and the Agrarian Procurator in Ocosingo, so as to enable the eviction, also sending letters to the municipal, state and federal governments.

The bases of the EZLN reported that the ejido authorities informed them of this. That night, around 9 o’clock, the officialist (ie government-supporting) ejidatarios threatened the Zapatistas, saying that the municipal president of Chilón had given the eviction order and that on Monday 25 they would request intervention by the state government in Tuxtla Gutierrez .

The Frayba centre makes clear its concerns about the imminent risk to the life, integrity and personal safety of the Zapatista bases of San Marcos Avilés, based on the death threats and acts of intimidation which have increased in recent weeks.

To this they add forced displacement and the dispossession of their lands and livelihood since April 9, 2010, a situation that has led to a food crisis and a constant threat to their process of autonomy.

The Frayba centre emphasizes the responsibility of the government of Chiapas, which through deliberate omission has not acted to ensure the integrity and personal safety of the Zapatista bases and their access to their lands, despite several interventions sent by the organization itself to the Mexican government demanding the necessary measures to ensure the integrity and personal safety of the threatened indigenous, along with their right to the fundamental freedoms of free speech and thought, and their right to their dispossessed lands and to the autonomous process which they are building under the right to the free determination of peoples.

It should be remembered that on September 9, 2010, the Good Government Junta from Oventic denounced the forced displacement of 170 Zapatista men, women and children from the ejido, following the building by the Zapatistas, in August of that year, of the first autonomous school in the ejido.

On that day, 30 people from the ejido, led by Lorenzo Ruiz Gómez and Vicente Ruiz López, entered violently, with sticks, machetes and guns, into the homes of the Zapatistas and attempted to rape two women, who managed to escape. So as not to respond to this aggression, the Zapatista families took refuge in the woods. After 33 days of displacement, the 27 families returned to their community on October 12. For more than two years they have remained in a precarious situation, deprived of their lands and under constant threats, which now could be fulfilled.

http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2013/02/24/index.php?section=politica&article=019n1pol

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After 13 Months in Prison, the Tzeltal Accused of Homicide is freed for Lack of Evidence

 ** “They know that I am innocent, that they made up my crime,” the Zapatista says as he leaves

** Sántiz López denounces that a PGR public servant confirmed to him that he was forced to apprehend him

By: Hermann Bellinghausen,

San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, January 25, 2013

__ZAP_Solidaridad-2012Francisco Sántiz López, support base of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN, its initials in Spanish), was released from the San Cristóbal prison this afternoon, due to the absence of evidence for the charges that kept him in prison for 13 and a half months.

The father of eight and grandfather of 12, Tzeltal campesino and businessman, who has been an active member of the Zapatista support base for more than 20 years, declared, upon taking his first steps on the other side of the bars: “We are going to continue the struggle there in the EZLN, to follow the path, we are going to win.”

The demand for his freedom had generated an international solidarity movement in close to 30 countries, which was expressed throughout 2012 in public places and in front of Mexican consulates and embassies in the five continents. In these mobilizations the freedom of Alberto Patishtán Gómez, adherent to the Other Campaign, who has been in prison since 2000, was also demanded.

“They know that I am innocent, that they made up my crime,” Sántiz López declared to the press who were waiting for him outside the State Center for Social Re-insertion of the Sentenced Number 5. “First they accused me of murder, and I got out on bail but I [had to] stay for carrying weapons.”

It’s appropriate to remember that the original motive for his incarceration was the quickly contradicted accusation that he participated in violent acts in Banavil community (Tenejapa), when a PRI group attacked families sympathizing with the EZLN on December 4, 2011. One of the attackers and one of those attacked lost their lives in the acts. The remains of the man attacked have not been located, except for an arm. As a result of those acts, as of this date six indigenous families are still displaced.

Three months later, a judge exonerated Sántiz López, but a new accusation on the part of the Attorney General of the Republic (PGR), for allegedly carrying a prohibited weapon, held him in the San Cristóbal prison until today. At six o’clock this afternoon, surrounded by twenty sympathizers who embraced and applauded him, carrying a bouquet of flowers in his hands under the drizzle and fog, Sántiz López stated: “In Banavil the director of indigenous representation cleared me of the accusations.”

From the beginning, none of the charges against him could be substantiated, while numerous witnesses existed who said he was not at the scene of the crime and was not carrying any weapon when he was detained in the municipal headquarters of Tenejapa the same day.

Today he relates that last January 16 there was an escape of two prisoners from this prison, and they carried out searches. “One of the PGR agents” approached me and said: “You are here? I told him ‘there is no crime’ and he told me ‘I was forced, they obliged me, we are going to talk Francisco, hold on we are going to talk very well, I am going to report which one of us obliged me to make your accusations.’ The PGR told me clearly; it is the public minister (prosecution) together with the Tenejapa judge, Alonso Méndez Guzmán.”

The liberation of the civilian Zapatista was precipitated yesterday when Magistrate Leonel Jesús Hidalgo ordered the resolution of his legal situation in 24 hours, “considering that all the existing evidence in favor of Sántiz López which indicates that he was not a participant in the acts that they impute to him has not been taken into account.”

For his part, the professor Alberto Patishtán Gómez, in the name of the prisoners of the Other Campaign, announced that this morning they made a pilgrimage and a religious ceremony to join the mobilization of the Believing People in the city of San Cristóbal, on the second anniversary of the death of Bishop Samuel Ruiz García.

Patishtán denounced the new prison director, Wenceslao Urbina Gutiérrez, and the accountant Flaviano Clemente Avendaño, for denying him the medication that he needs to be given since he had his operation for a brain tumor at the end of 2012. He also denounced that now the custodians harass and intimidate the family members of the Other Campaign prisoners, and take away the food that they bring to the prisoners.

Lastly, he demanded his freedom and that of the rest of the members of the Voice of El Amate and those in Solidarity with the Voice of El Amate.

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Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Saturday, January 26, 2013

En español: http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2013/01/26/politica/019n1pol

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Celebrations of the anniversary of the founding of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation

In San Cristóbal they commemorate the birth of the EZLN: November 17, 983

On this day the latest phase of the Campaign Worldwide Echo in support of the Zapatistas culminates.

Photo: December 31, 2007, the EZLN militants salute the flag on the anniversary of the uprising on 1 January 1994 –

Victor Camacho

Hermann Bellinghausen

La Jornada

Saturday November 17, 2012, p. 17

This Saturday, November 17, marks the 29th anniversary of the founding of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN); it also marks the completion of the new phase of the Campaign Worldwide Echo in support of the Zapatistas, which at this time was joined by groups and social organizations from 24 countries and many localities. During the last week protest actions were held at Mexican consulates and embassies in London, Amsterdam, New York, Bilbao and Florence, among others.

In recent months a group of intellectuals from Latin America has come to support this campaign for the Zapatistas in Chiapas with messages and analysis, and this has unwittingly become a public dialogue about Zapatismo today. The most persistent have been Raul Zibechi, Hugo Blanco, Sylvia Marcos and Gustavo Esteva.

Also this Saturday, the Festival of Remembrance will be held in San Cristobal de las Casas, to commemorate the beginning of the political-military organization of the EZLN, which happened on November 17, 1983 in the Lacandon jungle, a date which, since the public appearance of the EZLN in January 1994, has become memorable in many parts of the world.

The therapist and feminist Sylvia Marcos said for the anniversary: “I try to imagine the profound creative process that those extraordinary beings went through, those who first committed to meet with the struggles for justice already existing in the Chiapas jungle. No, they did not get the chance to “teach them” how to make the revolution. Neither did they teach them how to seize power by force of arms. They managed to put their previous training aside, the strict frameworks of the theories and practices of struggle which they had learned before arriving. Here with the unsubmissive and rebellious Maya, it was necessary to learn other ways.”

As a result of that mutual opening between indigenous and guerrillas, and their subsequent meeting with civil society, “the search for justice became more complex, it became peaceful, expressed through Mayan symbols, and Mayan expressions translated into Spanish” (by Subcomandante Marcos), she adds. The author asks several questions, which she describes as crucial: “Why is there so much fear, on the part of the powers, both governmental and de facto? Why this concentration on aggression, this excess of violence?”

Given the fact that the paramilitaries (in Chiapas) are armed with the consent of the three levels of government, Sylvia Marcos asks: “What is the danger from the proposal, the resistance and the survival of the Zapatistas for the prevailing capitalist order? Is it because they show positively that other forms of life, in justice and dignity, are possible? That the satisfactions of life and the joy of being need not be governed by consumerism and commodification? That we can “live well”, as they say in the Andean communities of South America, with other ways of organization, government and campesino production, in which the best way of living is not the accumulation of material goods, but community solidarity and sharing what there is?”

The Uruguayan writer, journalist and analyst Raul Zibechi trusts that the attacks on the Zapatista communities will not succeed in uprooting the seed, due the strength of the communities which have sustained for decades their project of life, despite repression, death, hunger and isolation.

The thinker Gustavo Esteva in his turn said: “As we celebrate the anniversary of the founding of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation, we must not forget the extraordinary actions of those who created it. It is important, in particular, to highlight a central legacy of Zapatismo: it was from the beginning an intercultural creation which was built through interaction. The Zapatistas have created a community which is always learning and which is continually transformed by linking with others.

At this anniversary celebration, honouring especially the memory of those who lost their lives in this undertaking, we need to emphasize that the Zapatista communities today need our solidarity. At the same time as they are consolidating their achievements, the bad governments are intensifying their actions to undermine their successes, to dismantle their institutions, to block their path. They are increasingly using paramilitary groups which carry out direct attacks, supported by local groups of campesinos, indigenous and non-indigenous, who try to seize the assets of the Zapatista communities and even their land. The repressive actions of the bad governments are passed off as inter-community conflicts,” concludes Esteva.

http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2012/11/17/index.php?section=politica&article=017n1pol

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Junta Denounces Damage to Toniná Archaeological Zone; asks for director’s resignation

 ** A collective artesanía store, the pretext for issuing an arrest warrant for Alfonso Cruz

** Octavio Albores, municipal president, accused of destroying Maya tombs to construct a bridge

HB Tonina wood“Julissa Camacho Ramírez, director of the Toniná site, transports wood for constructing her house in Ocosingo in official INAH vehicles”

Photo: Hermann Bellinghausen

By: Hermann Bellinghausen

The Good Government Junta Path of the Future, based in the caracol  Resistance Toward a New Dawn, in La Garrucha, Chiapas, denounced the “strategy of persecuting and imprisoning our innocent compañeros, support bases of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, EZLN).” On this occasion the one persecuted is Alfonso Cruz Espinosa, of San Antonio Toniná, a pueblo adjacent to the Toniná archaeological zone and next to the municipal headquarters of Ocosingo.

The authorities of the Junta denounce the acts that occurred in Francisco Gómez autonomous municipality; “in our territory,” they specify. “According to reports, the compañero Cruz Espinosa has an arrest warrant against him.” This warrant would have been issued “on the simple pretext that the autonomous municipality constructed a collective artesanía store in that place, on our recuperated land, for the benefit of our compañeros in resistance.”

The Junta demands that: “the three levels of the bad government respect the agreements signed January 28, 2006 in the office of the Francisco Gómez autonomous council, because we do know how to respect the agreements.” It points out that the Zapatistas “are respecting the land that” Sra. Socorro Espinosa Trujillo and her daughters Berenice and Dalia Maribel Cruz Espinosa “are working.” Since years ago, the former state government of Juan Sabines Guerrero and (PAN) municipal government of Arturo Zúñiga manouevered to turn the Cruz Espinosa family against Alfonso, the legitimate owner of the lands that surround the archaeological site, for the purpose of removing them from autonomous Zapatista territory and using them for commercial advantage.

The Junta also denounces that the current municipal president of Ocosingo, Octavio Albores Cruz (PRI) “is destroying Maya mounds and tombs for the construction of a bridge for the benefit of ex Mayor Zúñiga and other ranchers of that zone,” and it asks: “Is it not a crime to destroy the nation’s patrimony?”

They demand the resignation of the resident archaeologist Juan Yadeum

The Junta and the Francisco Gómez autonomous municipality are demanding the resignation of the resident archaeologist Juan Yadeum and the director of the Toniná site, Julissa Camacho Ramírez, “as had been agreed and signed by the three levels of the bad government on February 28, 2009, because they are the ones that continue provoking and continue generating more problems.” Both have been pointed out as accomplices, at least by omission, of the illegal works that affect and damage the archaeological heritage.

Director Camacho Ramírez has also been denounced for multiple irregularities, like using official vehicles of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, INAH) for transporting wood –illegally cut on the Campo Alegre plot– which she uses in the construction of her house in Ocosingo, without the intervention of the INAH, which Emilio Gallaga Murrieta is in charge of in Chiapas. Those same vehicles are used to transport the children of the military personnel who reside at the base at Toniná.

The rebel authorities demand that: “the three levels of the bad government immediately cancel the arrest warrant against our compañero Alfonso, because he has committed no crime. We say very clearly: we are not going to permit more injustice against the support bases of our EZLN, although the three levels of the bad government look for ways and strategies to harm us and weaken our struggle and resistance. We continue and we are firm in defending ourselves from any provocation against our bases.”

The Junta warns: “We will continue to watch for what may happen and place responsibility directly on the three levels of the bad governments, Julissa Camacho Ramírez, Juan Yadeum,” as well as María del Socorro Espinosa Trujillo and her daughters.

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Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

En español: http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2012/12/11/politica/018n1pol

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Zapatista Support Bases Inaugurate Artesanía Shop in Toniná, Chiapas

** Despite actions against the project, they persisted in their determination to open the place

** Authorities attempted to impede the placement of a sign announcing the opening

By: Hermann Bellinghausen,

Toniná, Chiapas, December 4, 2012

This morning, hundreds of support bases of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, EZLN), from different communities in Francisco Gómez autonomous municipality, opened an artesanía (craft) shop on the outskirts of the Toniná archaeological site, in the Ocosingo Valley. The ceremony was given a flourish by fireworks and featured the presence of the embroiderers and artisans, mostly Tzotziles, whose works will be sold in the new establishment.

After certain regional turbulence in recent weeks, rumour campaigns and municipal police aggressions against the Zapatista shop, it opened its doors without incident. In the local press and radio they were saying that it was “a blockade,” “an illegal ticket booth” or an attempt to “obstruct tourism” (which is, for sure, more numerous every year). Some state dailies also printed more objective versions. And while the Ocosingo police came to scatter the sand that the Zapatistas were using in building their store days ago, the new municipal president, Octavio Albores Cruz, a long time PRI member but elected as a Green candidate, introduced himself to the indigenous rebels to be set apart from the police aggression and replace the sand.

Much of the situation of conflict is due to the former PAN mayor Arturo Zúñiga Urbina, who before leaving office secured the spending of 9,165,000 pesos to construct an “Ocosingo-Toniná tourist walkway” on land he and two of his associates own, paid for with state and federal money from the Calderón and Sabines administrations. To do this, they destroyed mounds and tombs from the archaeological site and used stones from the ancient Maya city to pave “a tourist viewpoint, restaurant, access place, bridge, parking, portico and walkways,” according to the official description.

A wide cobblestone causeway with a sidewalk has opened in the middle of the rural site. It is foreseen that it will lodge an “artesanía market” and places to eat, controlled by the owners of the installations but worked by indigenous in the condition of employees. Today the workers and machines of a private construction company, owned by Manuel Albores Cruz, the new mayor’s nephew, but also his rival, are very active. His father, and the mayor’s brother, Héctor Albores, was the losing candidate for the PRI in the last elections.

This way, everything stays in the family, while authorities of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH, its initials in Spanish) abstain from intervening, despite the fact that its regional director, Emilio Gallaga Murrieta, has knowledge of the situation. INAH’s workers have shown their disagreement with these tourist works “that privatize a zone that is the property of the nation and the patrimony of humanity,” and besides “they damage it irreparably.”

With all this, the Zapatistas families, lively and diverse, toured the large pyramid today, and initiated the work of their establishment, on a piece of recuperated land right at the entrance to the archaeological site. A discrete sign made with wooden boards says, from today, with a red star in the centre: “Autonomous Zapatista Artesanía Shop, rebel territory. EZLN, Caracol III, La Garrucha, Francisco Gómez autonomous municipality.” With this small detail, and its privileged location, they have lit up the red lights of the state government, now in its last hours of life. The store is okay, the sign is not, officials have wanted to make a condition for the autonomous indigenous, but they, as they have done for the last 18 years, do “what they said they were going to do” because “they are within their rights,” an argument that no official here has been able to refute up to now.

Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

En español: http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2012/12/05/politica/019n1pol

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Despite His Exoneration, the Zapatista Francisco Santiz López Completes One Year in Prison

** “He is only guilty of struggling for justice,” the Other Campaign cries out from New York

** The government of Juan Sabines did not honour its commitments to political prisoners: Patishtán

By: Hermann Bellinghausen,

San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, December 5, 2012

Francisco Santiz López, Zapatista support base from Tenejapa, completed one year in prison this Monday, despite the fact that the judge already exonerated him months ago.

“The government of Juan Sabines Guerrero did not honour its commitments to political prisoners,” Alberto Patishtán Gómez declared to La Jornada. Patishtán Gómez is the spokesperson for the prisoners of The Voice of El Amate and those in Solidarity with The Voice of El Amate (La Voz del Amate), adherents to the Other Campaign in the San Cristóbal de las Casas prison. The prisoners themselves released a brief message, and the Other Campaign in New York, highlighting the date, reported solidarity and protest actions in 29 countries in favour of those prisoners.

“The compañero Francisco Santiz asked me to say: ‘I will not tire of asking for justice,’” Patishtán added. “He is an important example of the crimes that are ‘imposed’ on the innocent who are in Mexican prisons.” The Movement for Justice in El Barrio from New York, for its part, put it this way: “Francisco is only guilty of fighting for justice, dignity, and democracy. And as he reminded us in July, in a letter from prison, ‘to fight is to live.’”

On December 4, 2011, at 12 noon, Santiz López was detained in the municipal headquarters of Tenejapa, accused of participating in some violent acts that same day in Banavil, where one of the PRI attackers died and one of those attacked, who were sympathizers but not Zapatista bases, disappeared. It has never been shown that he was present at the acts; to the contrary, all the testimonies placed him far away from Banavil. A judge exonerated him because of that, but at the moment of his liberation, the authorities presented a new accusation against him, for the (federal) crime of carrying a prohibited weapon. The charges are unfounded, but have served to keep him in the State’s power.

The indigenous prisoners of the other campaign stated: “There has been one more six-year term of the federal and state government, which has left imprints that society will never be able to forget: deaths, disappearances, incarcerations and a high incidence of violence. In spite of this, they make public declarations that every problem or question of justice ‘is concluded,’ as Governor Juan Sabines Guerrero declared recently.”

“Due to this erroneous version we are totally contradicting that publication (a governmental insertion, La Jornada, November 17), because in spite of showing our innocence, as of today we continue prisoners, they have not given us justice for our unjust imprisonment. It is for this reason that we publicly denounce these outrages and violations of our human rights. We demand justice and our immediate and unconditional freedom,” concludes the collective of prisoners in San Cristóbal de las Casas, to which belong Santiz López (base of the EZLN), Patishtán Gómez and Rosario Díaz Méndez (The Voice of El Amate), and those in Solidarity with The Voice of El Amate: Pedro López Jiménez, Alfredo López Jiménez, Rosa López Díaz, Juan Collazo Jiménez, Juan Díaz López and Alejandro Díaz Santiz.

Nonconformity in the Iron City

From New York, the organization of Mexican immigrants from the Other Campaign, which has been very active in organizing protests and expressions of solidarity which found an echo in the five continents, maintained today: “His detention and the time that he has remained behind bars have been absolutely unjust, since Francisco never committed any crime. In addition, throughout this year that he has lived in prison, we have seen multiple violations of due process and other legal irregularities in his case.”

The Movement [for Justice] in El Barrio points out: “This is how the so-called ‘justice’ system that controls our Mexico functions. It is used by those above to repress those below in movement.” And it trusts: “The walls that enclose our brother Francisco cannot (do so) against memory. With time, every wall crumbles, but the memory of a people who struggle for their dignity will never end.”

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Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Thursday, December 6, 2012

En español: http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2012/12/06/politica/019n1pol 

English translation by the Chiapas Support Committee for the International Zapatista Translation Service, a collaboration of the Chiapas Support Committee, California, Wellington Zapatista Support Group, UK Zapatista Solidarity Network

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PVEM militants contrive dispossession of land in Chiapas

** Junta denounces “acts of provocation”

Zapatista support bases facing injustice and acts of provocation in Motozintla

[Archive image. Photo: José Carlo González]

By: Hermann Bellinghausen

The Good Government Junta Towards Hope, from the jungle border zone of Chiapas, with its seat in the Caracol of La Realidad, denounced “acts of injustice and provocation” against the EZLN’s support bases of Tierra y Libertad autonomous municipality. One case involves two Zapatistas, residents of the San Ramón section in the official municipality of Motozintla, who have been imprisoned for five months under false accusations, The other is an attempted land grab by members of the Green Ecologist Party of Mexico (Partido Verde Ecologista de México, PVEM) against the town of Che Guevara, located in Belisario Domínguez, also in Motozintla. “The bad government’s injustices give us rage, they are provoking us everywhere.”

On false charges, and therefore without evidence, the brothers Aníbal and Carlos López Monzón, Zapatista support bases from San Ramón, are in prison, detained by state police last June 20th, together with two other brothers, Jacobo and Juan.

The acts that gave rise to this situation occurred on May 15, 2011, when the first three were returning from work on board a truck. “Along the road, Elfego Díaz Velásquez, César López de León (father and son), Argelio Díaz López, Javier Díaz López, Julio Díaz López, Alba López de León, Alida López de León, Bulmaro Santiso López and Vidal López Velásquez were waiting for them. They got them out of the truck and brutally beat them with sticks and stones, attempting to kill them.”

Aníbal, the Junta adds, was beaten more [than the others]. “He remained unconscious, almost dead. At that moment a Tapachula patrol car was passing by, with Commander Victoriano López Aguirre and five auxiliary police, and when they saw that our compañeros were being beaten up they did not intervene and withdrew, becoming accomplices of the aggressors.” Other neighbours gave aid to those who were beaten up. “A patrol car arrived at midnight to pick up the aggressors, not to punish them, but to protect them. With the complicity of the lawyers Juan Antonio Gómez Coello and Antonio López de León, as well as of the Motozintla Public Ministry (MP, its initials in Spanish), they invented false crimes against our compañeros and their brother.”

Their “only crime” is being Zapatistas, says the Junta. “The criminals are organized and paid by the bad government to pursue the Zapatistas; corrupt officials like the Motozintla MP (Ministerio Publico) Rodolfo Cruz Martínez, and the MP for Tapachula, get the process going, and together with the actors begin to invent crimes”: alleged robberies, injuries, damages, break-ins. In the same fashion, six non-Zapatista neighbours who aided them on the day of the attack are accused of similar crimes.

On June 20, Aníbal and Carlos, with their brothers Juan and Jacobo, headed to Tapachula. By that date “the gang of delinquents had already been inventing crimes with their accomplices, and so the ministerial police now detained the four.” The Junta continues: “We have tried to solve the problem, and the bad government has not wanted to do so.” The intervention of the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Centre was requested. They asked that the aggressors rectify their statement. “The bad lawyers justify their criminal clients saying that ‘they weren’t there.”

The State Human Rights Commission “has been looking at the case without results, pure justification of the bad governments.” The Junta asserted: “We just want justice. We are not liars or cheats, we don’t defend those who do bad (things) to the people, be they Zapatistas or not.” Juan and Jacobo López Monzón only aided their brothers. “That’s how the bad governments are; they don’t want anyone to aid the Zapatistas, and whoever does so is considered a criminal.” The Junta demands the freedom of the four and “that they are paid for their days and months of work, because their family members are suffering since no one maintains their life.”

On the other hand, the Junta denounces that members of the PVEM seek to dispossess lands from the support bases of Che Guevara town. On October 17, Olegario Roblero Rodríguez shot Manuel Barrios Hernández of Che Guevara “because of a land problem that the Junta already resolved.”

The EZLN’s support bases live on the “recuperated land. The person that was the owner is dead. He has his son and his daughter Guillermo Pompilio and Ilse Gálvez Pinto. Because of who we are as Zapatistas, we gave them 30 hectares each and we kept 30 hectares and 4 were not distributed because they cannot be worked; 94 hectares in total. It turns out that Guillermo and Ilse put themselves in agreement with the bad governments and the party in power (PVEM) to evict our compañeros.” To do so, “those who are acting are Carmela Oseguera Ramos, Silvano Bartolomé Pérez, Fidadelfo Salas Verdugo, Heladio Pérez Rodríguez, Bersai y Misael Escobar, Olegario Roblero Rodríguez, Ángel Roblero Figueroa and Eusetis and Denser Oseguera,” the Junta denounces.

It places responsibility for “what is happening and what may happen” on the three levels of government: “Oscar René Gonzáles Galindo (mayor), Juan Sabines Guerrero, the new trickery of Manuel Velasco and on the Big Skull (Calaverón) of the skull of Calderón who has already gone.”

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Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Sunday, November 25, 2012

En español: http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2012/11/25/politica/017n1pol

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Celebrations of the anniversary of the founding of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation

In San Cristóbal they commemorate the birth of the EZLN: November 17, 983

On this day the latest phase of the Campaign Worldwide Echo in support of the Zapatistas culminates.

Photo: December 31, 2007, the EZLN militants salute the flag on the anniversary of the uprising on 1 January 1994 –

Victor Camacho

Hermann Bellinghausen

La Jornada

Saturday November 17, 2012, p. 17

This Saturday, November 17, marks the 29th anniversary of the founding of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN); it also marks the completion of the new phase of the Campaign Worldwide Echo in support of the Zapatistas, which at this time was joined by groups and social organizations from 24 countries and many localities. During the last week protest actions were held at Mexican consulates and embassies in London, Amsterdam, New York, Bilbao and Florence, among others.

In recent months a group of intellectuals from Latin America has come to support this campaign for the Zapatistas in Chiapas with messages and analysis, and this has unwittingly become a public dialogue about Zapatismo today. The most persistent have been Raul Zibechi, Hugo Blanco, Sylvia Marcos and Gustavo Esteva.

Also this Saturday, the Festival of Remembrance will be held in San Cristobal de las Casas, to commemorate the beginning of the political-military organization of the EZLN, which happened on November 17, 1983 in the Lacandon jungle, a date which, since the public appearance of the EZLN in January 1994, has become memorable in many parts of the world.

The therapist and feminist Sylvia Marcos said for the anniversary: “I try to imagine the profound creative process that those extraordinary beings went through, those who first committed to meet with the struggles for justice already existing in the Chiapas jungle. No, they did not get the chance to “teach them” how to make the revolution. Neither did they teach them how to seize power by force of arms. They managed to put their previous training aside, the strict frameworks of the theories and practices of struggle which they had learned before arriving. Here with the unsubmissive and rebellious Maya, it was necessary to learn other ways.”

As a result of that mutual opening between indigenous and guerrillas, and their subsequent meeting with civil society, “the search for justice became more complex, it became peaceful, expressed through Mayan symbols, and Mayan expressions translated into Spanish” (by Subcomandante Marcos), she adds. The author asks several questions, which she describes as crucial: “Why is there so much fear, on the part of the powers, both governmental and de facto? Why this concentration on aggression, this excess of violence?”

Given the fact that the paramilitaries (in Chiapas) are armed with the consent of the three levels of government, Sylvia Marcos asks: “What is the danger from the proposal, the resistance and the survival of the Zapatistas for the prevailing capitalist order? Is it because they show positively that other forms of life, in justice and dignity, are possible? That the satisfactions of life and the joy of being need not be governed by consumerism and commodification? That we can “live well”, as they say in the Andean communities of South America, with other ways of organization, government and campesino production, in which the best way of living is not the accumulation of material goods, but community solidarity and sharing what there is?”

The Uruguayan writer, journalist and analyst Raul Zibechi trusts that the attacks on the Zapatista communities will not succeed in uprooting the seed, due the strength of the communities which have sustained for decades their project of life, despite repression, death, hunger and isolation.

The thinker Gustavo Esteva in his turn said: “As we celebrate the anniversary of the founding of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation, we must not forget the extraordinary actions of those who created it. It is important, in particular, to highlight a central legacy of Zapatismo: it was from the beginning an intercultural creation which was built through interaction. The Zapatistas have created a community which is always learning and which is continually transformed by linking with others.

At this anniversary celebration, honouring especially the memory of those who lost their lives in this undertaking, we need to emphasize that the Zapatista communities today need our solidarity. At the same time as they are consolidating their achievements, the bad governments are intensifying their actions to undermine their successes, to dismantle their institutions, to block their path. They are increasingly using paramilitary groups which carry out direct attacks, supported by local groups of campesinos, indigenous and non-indigenous, who try to seize the assets of the Zapatista communities and even their land. The repressive actions of the bad governments are passed off as inter-community conflicts,” concludes Esteva.

http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2012/11/17/index.php?section=politica&article=017n1pol

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The Government Continues to Inhibit Resistance Movements among Indigenous Communities

** It reactivates armed groups like Paz y Justicia; the attacks in Chiapas continue: Frayba

** The government does not recognize those displaced due to the conflict and the counterinsurgency, it indicates

By: Hermann Bellinghausen

In Chiapas, those people internally displaced by the armed conflict and the counterinsurgency are not recognized as such by the government. In addition, sustained militarization in the state is part of “the scenarios of the strategy for the Security and Prosperity Alliance of North America (Aspan, its initials in Spanish), through the Merida Initiative,” and includes “permanent and itinerant checkpoints that violate the right of freedom of movement, with a particular presence in the border zone and in Zapatista territory,” the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Centre (Frayba) maintains in an evaluation of the conflict.

Communities within the EZLN’s zones of influence (“the objective to be destroyed”) continue to be militarized. To this is added the implementation of government social projects which, “together with agencies like the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the UN, have been complicit in the counterinsurgency in this last six-year term,” says the study, which appeared in the new edition of Yorail Maya, Frayba’s regular publication.

The government “seeks to inhibit the resistance movements with social programmes aimed at dividing the communities, immobilizing the peoples through military occupation and the actions of the authorities in complicity with organizations of a paramilitary character and of groups linked to the government of Juan Sabines Guerrero, for the purpose of striking the communities in resistance.” Concerning the reactivation of the armed groups, it identifies “a pattern of direct confrontation from pro-government organizations with a paramilitary history, such as Paz y Justicia, which attacks the communities in the La Dignidad autonomous municipality.”

Over the course of the years, the authorities have denied both the concept of displacement as a consequence of the war and the existence of these displaced. Consequently, it was a “contradictory and utilitarian” action that, on the governor’s initiative, the Congress would approve, on February 14, a Law for the Prevention of and Attention to Internal Displacement within the state, with the support of the UNDP, with the intention of addressing this historically unsettled problem, which has left an open wound, irreparable losses and impunity.”

Nevertheless, testimonies received by the Frayba point out that the UNDP and Unesco “have caused community division, due to the continuance of a counterinsurgency policy driven by the federal and state governments to confront and exclude both the internally displaced and the returned-displaced.” That is how the authorities respond to the demands [of the displaced] for “attention under the guiding principles for displacement  of the United Nations.”

In the Census for Attention to the Displaced, the UNDP and the Chiapas government calculate that there are 24 to 30,000 people in that situation. This census, Frayba clarifies, “was created by the government with groups close to it, those looking for land with a history of exclusion and marginalization diametrically different from those who suffered forced displacement due to the State’s counterinsurgency.” The institutions involved “seek to misrepresent the crimes against humanity committed in Los Altos and the jungles of Chiapas”, and leave them unpunished.

Among others, it mentions 170 Zapatistas from San Marcos Avilés, 87 from Comandante Abel and several families from Unión Hidalgo who are not recognized as displaced. In addition, there are four families from Banavil, 36 people from Viejo Velasco Suárez –where there was a massacre in 2006–, four families from Busiljá and a minor, kidnapped by paramilitaries despite the precautionary measures requested by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

Frayba emphasizes that these displaced people were never recognised as such, and concludes: “Internal displacement is not an isolated event, but rather a manifestation of the military and counterinsurgency strategy applied in Chiapas, which directly violates the territory of indigenous peoples.”

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Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

En español: http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2012/11/14/politica/023n1pol 

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“This land has already been allocated to those who actually work it and live on it “: Zapatista supporters

4th November

Chiapas, Mexico. “The bad government should be ashamed of claiming that their police protect and safeguard the social order and keep the peace, when, right in front of them, thefts, threats, paramilitary actions, gunshots, evictions, dispossession of the lands and crops of our compañeros are all committed”, declared members of the Good Government Junta (JBG), “New Seed that is going to produce”, from the Northern Zone of Chiapas.

“We ask them what do they want to achieve with all these acts? Say what you want, speak clearly as we have, better to say that you want to kill, displace, assassinate, rob. Such a shame that in Mexico there is a bad government that instead of having intelligence in its head has shit for brains”, the Zapatistas continued.

In recent days, support bases of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN ) from Comandante Abel and Unión Hidalgo communities were evicted from their land and dispossessed of their crops, by paramilitaries from the municipio of Sabanilla, openly protected by the State’s Public Security forces.

This land – a field of approximately 11 hectares sown with maize – was occupied by the paramilitaries on 6th September, they have “already handed everyone a piece of land. The invaders stole and harvested everything, left nothing and are now sowing beans” the Zapatista JBG denounced.

On September 8th, about 150 aggressors began firing bullets, until the situation was no longer bearable, so many people fled to the autonomous Zapatista community of San Marcos, which extends from Sabanilla towards Tabasco. Despite the danger, 22 men and five women who have no young children decided to remain to protect their land, animals, property and, above all, their life.

On 12th September, the JBG described the gravity of the situation through a communiqué: women and children had been displaced, and there were a total of 14 people missing from the new community of Comandante Abel and the nearby community of Unión Hidalgo.

The new community Comandante Abel is located on land which was recuperated by the EZLN in 1994. Until a few months ago, the population that lived there was living in the community of San Patricio, peacefully resisting multiple paramilitary attacks. Exactly one year ago, they were displaced because their lands were invaded by paramilitaries from Ostilucum, a nearby community. The community managed to return, but lost their crops. The threats of a new invasion and possible massacre increased, and the families of EZLN support bases made the decision to move to their previous land plot, known as “Lámpara”. In spite of this, the threats continued, and on 6th September paramilitaries from Unión Hidalgo invaded the lands of the new community of Comandante Abel, letting off shots at the families, who fled to the mountain.

The attacks continued: on 16th October, paramilitaries fired shots until 3 am, the last of these happened [only] 150 metres away from the house of a support base. That night the gunfire started again, and the next day 15 public safety officers arrived at the scene.

On 24th October, reinforcements for the invaders arrived from Unión Hidalgo, who are now occupying the land taken from the support bases;  and on the 25th, on the occupied land, “the paramilitaries, in three groups, carried out military-style movements bearing heavy weapons” and sent a commission to the police camp.

Every day the police patrol the area from Sabanilla to San Patricio, and during the evenings and nights, from San Patricio to the place occupied by the paramilitaries and to Unión Hidalgo. The invaders and police are virtually working as one. “It can be clearly seen that they are a single force” and that one single leadership “drives their actions”. In a communiqué the JBG argues that the goal is that the police, “commanded” by President Felipe Calderón and Governor Juan Sabines Guerrero, “train the invaders”. Also they belie the official statement, made on the 9th October, in which it states that groups from Unión Hidalgo and San Patricio requested the presence of the police, and that the rights of the members of the EZLN have been respected.

The reinforcing of the police, rather than removing the invaders from the Zapatistas’ land,  “promotes violence in order to impose their own regularization of the land”, even though this land “has already been allocated to those who work it and live on it”, states the JBG.

Since 2000, the support base families have rejected the government’s welfare programmes. It was then that the threats from PRI supporters linked to the paramilitary group “Paz y Justicia” in their community started. A year ago the threats worsened. “They announced through loudspeakers that if they were not given the lands of Comandante Abel, they said we would be the ones to suffer, and they told us they were going to massacre us,” they denounced from Chiapas.

For over 18 years, the Mexican government has waged a “low intensity” war against the Zapatista communities. Counterinsurgency plans, developed with the help of the United States after the armed uprising of the EZLN, created a framework that is still in operation today.

The message given by the Good Government Juntas in their communiqués is clear: the State supports the paramilitary groups, and, through manipulation, lies and promises of land and resources, encourages certain groups to take hostile and aggressive positions against those who resist and oppose being co-opted. In this way, welfare projects, implemented above all in areas where the people are in resistance, use counterinsurgency tactics called ‘soft line strategies’ to appease hunger, create dependency and discourage resistance

Article printed from Desinformémonos: http://desinformemonos.org

URL to article: http://desinformemonos.org/2012/11/esta-tierra-ya-esta-entregada-a-quienes-realmente-la-viven-y-la-trabajan-bases-de-apoyo-zapatistas/

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Frayba asks for legal protection for EZLN Support Base, due to Procedural “Violations,”

** It demands the liberation of Francisco Santiz and accuses the State of criminalizing the exercise of autonomy

By: Hermann Bellinghausen

The Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Centre (Frayba) filed an amparo indirecto, an appeal for legal protection,  in the federal court in favour of Francisco Sántiz López, base of support of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, EZLN), a prisoner in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas. This, on account of “the grave violations of due process” committed against him.

Those violations are: lack of an adequate defence and access to justice, by not having a translator or legal defender who knew his language and culture to assist him in his statement to the General Prosecutor of the Republic; taking into account evidence at the margin of legal and constitutional requirements, and on the other hand ignoring the testimonies of the arresting authorities, which corroborate Santiz López’ declaration to personnel at the  General Prosecutor of Justice for the State of Chiapas  at the time of his detention, that he was in the municipal headquarters of Tenejapa last December, and not in Banavil, where the acts of which he is accused occurred.

Because of these irregularities,  Frayba have made an appeal for legal protection for Santiz’ immediate release. The civil agency notes that, in the context of the international campaign “Worldwide Echo (Eco Mundial) in support of the Zapatistas”, which has united actions in more than 20 countries, it is apposite to send letters to Minister Juan Silva Meza, president of the Federal Judiciary Council, and to Jesús Hidalgo Leonel, magistrate of the first unitary tribunal of the twentieth circuit in Tuxtla Gutiérrez, asking for his release.

The appeal for legal protection against the writ of formal prison was presented on October 25, and was admitted that same day in the first unitary tribunal of the twentieth circuit, with the number 30/ 2012. Now, social organizations and individuals are asking the magistrates “that the appeal for legal protection (amparo indirecto) be analyzed and followed up, taking into consideration the context and details of the case.”

The international campaign, which will culminate on November 17, demands: “an end to the harassment of the EZLN’s support bases, and freedom for Francisco, unjustly accused of the federal crime of carrying a weapon for the exclusive use of the Army, Navy and Air Force.”

The letter directed to the magistrate Silva Meza and Hidalgo Leonel repeats that: “irregularities in the investigation were evidenced from the date of his detention,” and they insist on his innocence. It was achieved that his case file “was studied at a reconciliation board, on whose recommendation, the Public Prosecutor’s Office Specialized in Indigenous Justice in Chiapas stopped the criminal action for the crimes of homicide and bodily injuries.”

The Tzeltal trader and farmer remains a prisoner, because a proceeding for the federal crime of allegedly carrying a prohibited weapon was imposed on him. According to  Frayba, “this case has been characterized since the preliminary investigations by the lack of clarification of the events that occurred on December 4 in the Banavil ejido, Tenejapa municipality, where members of the Institutional Revolutionary Party attacked with firearms four families that are allied to the EZLN.”

The civil groups state that they are convinced that this case “is an example in which the Mexican State utilizes the justice system for criminalizing Zapatista support bases, as a consequence of their exercise of the right to self determination and autonomy, based on the San Andrés Accords and its constitutional references,” as well as international benchmarks: Convention 169 of the ILO and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Alonso López Luna, one of those attacked, also disappeared in the events at Banavil. It is alleged that PRI members murdered him, but it has not been investigated.

Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Friday, November 2, 2012

En español: http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2012/11/02/politica/016n1pol

 

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“Officialist” paramilitaries dispossess Zapatista Support Bases, Denounces Junta

** When the aggressors mobilize, the Chiapas police do too, they insist

By: Hermann Bellinghausen

The Good Government Junta ‘New Seed that is going to Produce’, in the Northern Zone of Chiapas, denounced the total dispossession of lands and crops from the support bases of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, EZLN) in the communities of Comandante Abel and Unión Hidalgo, perpetrated by paramilitaries from Sabanilla municipality, with the open protection of public security (state police), which hides the training in combat of civilians from San Patricio, Unión Hidalgo and other villages.

“Our compañeros’ land, which was occupied by paramilitaries from Unión Hidalgo on September 6”, ended up being distributed on October 21. They harvested and stole 11 hectares of corn, and returned to the bean field. Reinforcements arrived on October 24 from Unión Hidalgo. The conflict continues to affect the Zapatistas in the community, who “stayed to care for their houses and belongings because of the displacement of their families due to the threats,” adds the Junta, which already denounced this on September 11.

In the very early hours of October 16, the paramilitaries fired shots with firearms until 3 o’clock in the morning; the latter “150 metres (less than 500 yards) from a compañero’s house.”

That night the shots returned, and the next day, “to continue the threats and harassment, 15 (agents) arrived from public security.” On the 25th, on the invaded land, “the paramilitaries made military-style movements in three groups with high calibre weapons,” and sent a commission to the police encampment. Afterwards the agents carried out movements close to the invaders, and fired three shots at 8 o’clock at night.

The police patrol during the day from Sabanilla to San Patricio, and in the afternoons and evenings from San Patricio to the place occupied by paramilitaries and to Unión Hidalgo.

When the invaders mobilize, the police do too; “one sees clearly that they are just one force” and only one command “directs their actions.” The Junta maintains that the objective is that, “ordered” by President Felipe Calderón and Governor Juan Sabines Guerrero, the police “train the invaders”.

And it contradicts the government version of October 9, which maintained that the groups in San Patricio and Unión Hidalgo, in an alleged common agreement, asked for a police presence, and that they “have respected the rights of the members of the EZLN.”

The autonomous authority asks: “What need does this paramilitary group have for police, when they are the ones who invade our compañeros’ land, and have displaced women and children?”

They evict, destroy, steal and loot in the presence of police, who also carry out “actions of intimidation and warlike provocations,” it says.

The Junta states: “the bad government ought to be ashamed saying that its police are for keeping order and peace” when “robberies, threats, paramilitary movements and shots exist” right in front of them. The government “should say clearly that it sent the police so (that) its paramilitaries could evict our compañeros,” and “it has done nothing to resolve the conflict.”

On the contrary, it sent police reinforcements and, instead of removing the invaders from the Zapatistas’ land, “they promote violence to impose their regularization project,” despite the fact that this “land is already in the hands of those who really live on it and work it.”

The Junta recalls that on April 29 it went to San Patricio. “We got the two parties together, without a trap, without economic budgets for buying authorities or representatives behind the community’s back so that they reach an agreement to screw their community.” Meeting with authorities and community members, and considering those that worked those lands for many years, the Zapatistas proposed: “that the lands of San Patricio and Los Ángeles remain with the ‘officialists’, and that the Zapatista bases (remain) on the La Lámpara plot.” The parties accepted this.

“Although the relocation cost us, we did it to avoid confrontation,” in a way that “an official act of separation of the members of the farming nucleus was made, signed and sealed by the autonomous ones (the Zapatistas) and the ‘officialists’.”

The Zapatistas argue: “in the construction of our autonomy, we know that the word ‘regularization’ of lands,” is an “instrument” of the government “for manipulating the people who it lets deceive themselves with legal papers,” which later “will be used to justify a legal theft.”

They ask: “Where is the right of the Indian peoples, the first inhabitants of these lands, to exercise their self-government and self-determination, as laid down in international conventions and the San Andrés Accords?”

Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Thursday, November 1, 2012

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PRI harassment of Zapatista Support Bases returns in Jechvó

** Just like in 2004, they are violently denied a water supply

** The aggressors arbitrarily detained a member of the affected community

By: Hermann Bellinghausen, Envoy

San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, October 17, 2012

Groups of PRI members in Zinacantán municipality, who not so long ago were PRD members, are again harassing the Zapatista community of Jechvó, denying them thejr water supply with violent acts, like they did in 2004, and jailing an autonomous representative. The Good Government Junta Central Heart of the Zapatistas before the World, for the Caracol of Oventic, said: “These are the same people who attacked our compañero and compañera support bases on April 10, 2004, when they went to give some water to our compañeros in the community of Jechvó, because the party members had deprived them of their right to using spring water.”

Remembering the ambush that almost cost the life of several indigenous who were marching that afternoon: “Several compañeros were injured in this attack, with rockets, stones, clubs and firearms, for the crime of giving water to our compañeros. The different authorities didn’t do anything about it. Those people who are looking for a problem over the water,” it is not because they are short it. “There is no reason for what they are doing,” adds the Junta.

Mariano Gómez Pérez, Zapatista base (civilian) from the community, solicited the intervention of the autonomous judge and the Junta, after the “officialists” threatened to cut off their water on September 30. “The autonomous judge sent a letter inviting the PRI agent and some former Zapatistas to deal with the issue on October 7. The letter arrived in the hands of the PRI agent on October 5. Instead of accepting the invitation, the agent and his community planned to detain a compañero and thus cause a provocation”.

They break the silence faced with violations

Gómez remained imprisoned the entire day in reprisal for his notification to the autonomous judge, and later “was taken out of the jail and taken before the authorities and an assembly of more than 100 people,” where they accused him of “other fabricated crimes.” They drove him to the Zinacantán municipal judge, and he (the municipal judge) advised the PRI members not to accept the invitation from the Zapatista judge, and openly “favoured” them.

“Faced with so many injustices, human rights violations and inhumane attitudes” from community and municipal authorities “and the bad state and federal governments,” the Junta warned: “We will not remain silent nor with our arms folded. We will defend what is ours, what belongs to us, our resources and our territories.”

Moreover: “What is indeed clear is the nightmare for the supposed Governor Juan Sabines Guerrero and the supposed president of the Republic, Felipe Calderón Hinojosa, of having their hands stained with (the) blood of lots of innocent compañeros; of carrying in their thoughts all the horrors that they have committed. Sabines Guerrero and Calderón Hinojosa are surnames that stain the history of our country, along with many other previous surnames.”

It recapitulates how, since 2003, the Zapatista bases “started to be deprived of their right to water” in Jechvó, Elambó Bajo, Elambó Alto, San Isidro Chaktoj, Jechch’entik and other communities, “by people affiliated with the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) with the objective of making them surrender”. The Junta for the region bought a natural spring and constructed a tank, “which people from the parties, backed up by the official authorities, now (want).” The aggressors are “the same people,” but now they are returning as the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI, its initials in Spanish).

“Although in lots of propaganda they try to hide their unjust actions, and in the communications media they publish that the government is in favour of justice, democracy, respect and development, and that ‘they are actions and not words’, meanwhile attacks, threats, evictions, unjust incarcerations, violation of rights and persecution are what exist in our towns, yes indeed these are actions and not words,” the Zapatista Junta says. “No matter how much you try to hide rotting flesh, you cannot stop it smelling. And however beautiful its covering may be, you won’t stop it rotting”. The Junta concludes by demanding that the rights of the Zapatista bases be respected.

Comunicado integro (Entire communiqué in Spanish)

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Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Thursday, October 18, 2012

En español: http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2012/10/18/politica/020n1pol

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CITIES OF THE WORLD MAKE A “WORLDWIDE ECHO IN SUPPORT OF THE ZAPATISTAS” ON THE DAY OF INDIGENOUS RESISTANCE

** Encouraging protests at, and a siege of, Mexican embassies

** In London a demand for the freedom of Francisco Sántiz López is delivered

By: Hermann Bellinghausen

San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, October 13, 2012

In the heat of the commemorations of the Day of Indigenous Resistance (which is usually called “Día de la Raza” or of the “Discovery” of America, terms now discredited), in a large number of the world’s cities a new stage of actions “From truth to Action, stopping the Repression” begins, as part of the “Worldwide Echo in support of the Zapatistas” campaign, which for months has promoted protests, solidarity actions and a siege of our country’s diplomatic seats, in defence of the Zapatista communities attacked by paramilitaries and members of political parties in the state’s indigenous regions.

In London, activists delivered a pronouncement to the Mexican Embassy signed by dozens of collectives and social organizations of Germany, Argentina, Canada, Spanish State (Catalonia, Castile, Basque Country), Great Britain, Chile, the United States, France, Greece, Italy, Guatemala, New Zealand, as well as the International Secretariat of the Tribunal of Conscience of the Peoples in Movement.

Meanwhile, in recent weeks solidarity committees have been formed with Zapatista communities and their political prisoners and those of the Other Campaign in places as dissimilar as Colombia, India (Calcutta), Brazil (Río Grande do Sul), South Africa (Johannesburg), the United Kingdom (Dorset, Bristol, London, Edinburgh) and the United States (Portland and New York). #YoSoy132 groups in Chihuahua, Puebla, the Federal District and other states of the country have also been added.

In New York, the Movement for Justice in El Barrio sent a declaration of support to the Zapatista communities under attack: Comandante Abel, San Marcos Avilés, Guadalupe Los Altos, Moisés Gandhi and Unión Hidalgo.

The declaration delivered in London, which will also be taken to Mexican offices in other countries, demands the immediate freedom of Francisco Sántiz López, Zapatista support base from Tenejapa,  imprisoned “due to a flagrant abuse of justice” nine months ago. And it states “We see with deep concern, and demand an immediate end to, the prolonged acts of aggression and intimidation, and the human rights abuses that are being committed against the Zapatista support bases in San Marcos Avilés community (Chilón)”.

They emphasize “the grave new threats” made against this community in recent days by representatives of the political parties (PVEM, PRI, PRD). “The most worrisome include open and brazen threats of displacement and physical violence, just like the climate of hostility which they promote.”

With respect to Francisco Sántiz López, Zapatista support base from Tenejapa detained in December 2011 under false accusations, those signing support “the evidence collected by the Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Centre and recounted by various witnesses”, to the effect that he was never present in Banavil on December 4, 2011, during some violent acts that produced two unexplained deaths. “His false imprisonment and the refusal of the local authorities to examine this evidence indicate that the judicial system in Chiapas is “wielded as a tool of political repression against those who struggle for justice”.

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Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Sunday, October 14, 2012

En español: http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2012/10/14/politica/017n1pol

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Denuncia issued: 6 Zapatista Support Bases remain in prison

** Their families are threatened with expulsion if they do not pay “co-operation” money

** The Good Government Junta “Towards Hope” demands the release of the detainees

Members of the Junta de Buen Gobierno in La Garrucha

Photo: Víctor Camacho

By: Hermann Bellinghausen,

San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, October12, 2012

The Good Government Junta “Towards Hope” of the Jungle Border region, with its headquarters in La Realidad Trinidad, denounced that six Zapatista support bases from the Tojolabal community of Guadalupe Los Altos (Las Margaritas municipality) remain imprisoned after 12 days for being Zapatistas, and their captors threaten to expel their families. The autonomous government holds responsible for these attacks the leaders of the CIOAC “Historic”: the former PRD deputies Luis Hernández Cruz and José Antonio  Vásquez Hernández.

Repeated provocations are made against the EZLN’s support bases by the authorities and inhabitants of Guadalupe Los Altos ejido, who also belong to “the official PRD and PAN parties,” the Junta points out. The Zapatista bases have been harassed for years, and some have been imprisoned a few times. The first time was in April 2000, and the second in April 2010. In both cases, for refusing to participate in actions that did not seem right to them or which were not involved with the ejido.

On December 20, 2011, the officialists [political party members] took plots of land away from two ejido members. The community decided to relocate an official school on one of these plots. The Zapatistas disagreed once again, “they do not get involved in anything that has to do with the bad government and besides, they have their own autonomous school.” One part of the community “analyzed that it would be unfair for our compañeros to participate.” But the following day they invaded their land. They found the brother of the owner of the land and his wife there; they tied him to a tree. On December 23, they detained three more.

Now the officialists have again argued that the autonomous (Zapatistas) must participate in the government’s public works (school, roads). They even “charge” them for the days that the community “lost” through taking care of them as prisoners; including the proceedings against them in the official municipal headquarters. Faced with a new cooperation (fee) “for something in which they are not involved,” the Zapatistas refused. Five were imprisoned last September 30, and one more on October 4. Authorities and CIOAC members are keeping César Aguilar Jiménez, Armando, Genaro and Delmar Aguilar Santis, Misael and Hipólito Aguilar Vásquez deprived of their freedom.

The La Realidad Junta points out that: “in co-operations for the benefit of the community, our compañeros have been involved”, when they are not projects from the “bad government.” They have [committed] no crime, it maintains, “but they provoke us for being Zapatistas in resistance, since this is what the three levels of government teach them and ask them to execute.”

The rebel authorities maintain that they have sought a peaceful solution “by all means.” On October 2, the Junta sent an official letter to the community and its authorities, demanding the release of those detained, “which they ignored.” Instead, “they demanded the presence of the Junta, and, on October 4, it [the Junta] went to the community” and investigated “what was the crime” of their compañeros. The captors exhibited an official record “that they had already elaborated, which said that it was because of an accumulation of co-operations [to an amount] of 430 pesos for each of our compañeros,” but “refused to tell us what they were for.” What the CIOAC members did say to the Junta was that: “our compañeros will be evicted if they don’t comply.” The threat, the Zapatistas warn, if carried out “would lead to new problems.” The officialists insisted that if they do not sign their agreements, the detainees would not be released, “so we can think about where we are going to relocate them, because if we don’t they will continue in jail like any criminals.”

The Junta regrets that “these brothers” do not understand that the government “is taking advantage of their innocence to create problems among the indigenous, and it controls  and influences them with its insignificant projects in exchange for committing these acts of injustice and provocation. Unfortunately they don’t realize what these acts can unleash.” And it adds: “We do not want problems. They are not our enemies. We are clear that right will win in the end, and it is not through fear that we do not come to free our compañeros. We understand that is not the way, fighting and beating each other. We do not in any way want to violate human rights, like they do.”

The Junta expresses concern for the health of the detainees. Given the unhealthy conditions of their confinement, four of them “are in very poor health.” And it admits: “We are clear that in that community there are brothers who realize that what they are doing is not just, but through pressure and threats from those that organize these unlawful acts they are made accomplices.”

The ejidal authorities involved are Ranulfo Hernández Aguilar, Ruperto Vásquez Santis, Gerardo Aguilar Jiménez, Ciro Vásquez Rodríguez, Margarito Aguilar López and Lucio Vásquez Aguilar, as well as Carmelino Rodríguez Aguilar and Alejandro Vásquez López, who organize these acts.

The Junta demands the immediate release of its compañeros “so that we do not see ourselves obliged to take other more serious measures. Those people know that our compañeros are not alone, we are going to defend them at all costs.”

Comunicado íntegro de la JBG Hacia La Esperanza

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Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Saturday, October 13, 2012

En español: http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2012/10/13/politica/016n1pol

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A judge recognizes his innocence, but Sántiz remains in prison

Companions and visitors sing mañanitas to the Zapatista

Hermann Bellinghausen

La Jornada

Monday October 8, 2012

Los Llanos, Chiapas, October 7.  Francisco Sántiz López has been a prisoner for all of this year, accused of charges which the judge ruled to be unfounded. If he is still detained in this state prison number five, it is clearly to send a message. Is it because he is a base of support of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation? Or is it just because the PRI caciques (chiefs) of Banavil and Tenejapa are so powerful that they can overwhelm the state and federal courts with bribes and grossly fabricated evidence?

There seems to be no other explanation for the fact that this man of 54, a fruit vendor in the municipal seat of Tenejapa, where he lives with his family, and a Zapatista support base (but not a miliciano, it is pointed out) since 1992, remains in the State Centre for the Social Reintegration of the Convicted (CERSS) on charges for which he was acquitted six months ago (and therefore he is not convicted).

Not that Francisco Sántiz is an obscure or unknown prisoner. He has supporters who are convinced of his innocence in over 20 countries ranging from South Africa to Japan, from the extreme south of Argentina to the heights of Norway. As they see it, with his baseball cap and his rhythmic silence, he is a famous man. Outside the prison he is not alone. Nor is he alone inside: he is part of the occupation of the organized prisoners from the other campaign, struggling like he is to be released, because that would be justice. They are also well-known, at least in the world of international solidarity, but not as renowned as Francisco, who along with Alberto Patishtán (who was in this occupation a few days ago) is recognized as emblematic of the struggle for justice and against discrimination. Both highlight how, in Chiapas, innocent indigenous end up as prisoners.

Sántiz López was charged in December with taking part in violent acts recorded in the community of Banavil, where two people were killed. Six Tzeltal families were expelled and today are still taking refuge in San Cristobal de las Casas.

The Fray Bartolome de las Casas Human Rights Centre (Frayba), which has taken the case, recently said that the detention order from the first federal judge in Chiapas did not give value to the testimony of witnesses or authorities which say that the arrest took place in the county seat, and that Francisco was not in Banavil at the time of the attacks. Nor has it been proved that he had used a gun.

Currently, explains Frayba, Francisco is charged with the crime of possession of a firearm for use by the army and armed forces, while the charges of murder and aggravated assault were withdrawn on March 22, to remove the criminal action from the [jurisdiction of] the public prosecutors (Ministerio Público).

So, Sántiz López was notified of his release, and when he was leaving the prison a hurried new indictment based on evidence provided by the same caciques who had testified falsely in December and had been responsible for the two murders in Banavil. This charge provided the opportunity to take Francisco, just as he set foot on the street, and return him to his cell, or rather to the occupation among his compañeros, who today, with his Sunday visitors, sang, accompanied by guitar, traditional songs (Las Mañanitas) for his birthday.

One arm is not enough evidence

The weapons which prove the new charge belong to the caciques Alonso López Ramirez and Agustín Méndez Luna (former mayor of Tenejapa), and his followers. These would be the same people who attacked those who today are the displaced of Banavil. The state government has already compensated the aggressors for the accidental death of one of their own. An arm belonging to the dead man from the families of the displaced was found on the mountain; the rest of his body has disappeared, but nobody has investigated this crime. An arm is not sufficient evidence of a crime (corpus delicti), the judge told the relatives. Unlike his fellow prisoners, Francisco speaks little but is convinced that they cut him into pieces.

http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2012/10/08/index.php?section=politica&article=022n1pol

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OVER 300 DAYS IN PRISON: FRANCISCO SÁNTIZ LÓPEZ, ZAPATISTA POLITICAL PRISONER, IS INNOCENT!

 Originally published by Upside Down World

“His only crime is struggling for his people, telling the truth, and fighting for true democracy, liberty and justice…” says the Good Government Junta (JBG)[i] of Oventic of their compañero Francisco Sántiz Lόpez, who has been unjustly imprisoned in the state penitentiary in San Cristόbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico, since 4th December 2011. On 29th September 2012, a week before his 57th birthday, Francisco completed 300 days behind bars for a crime it has been proven he did not commit.

Though all the current news of attacks, threats and sieges faced by the Zapatista communities in rebellion have tended to overshadow Francisco’s story, it is a story that deserves to be told and understood widely. It reflects the recent history of indigenous peoples, their struggle for democracy, liberty and justice, and the unceasing attempts during the last 520 years to wipe them, and all they represent, from the face of the earth. The dignified struggle of Francisco and all the Zapatistas echoes that story to the world.

 “Although the bad governments and political parties never tire of saying that there is no injustice or violation of human rights,” comments the Junta, “we wonder what kind of freedom, justice, peace and respect they are talking about, when their prisons are full of innocent people, when our communities and towns are filled with threats, abuse, assaults, harassments, displacements and devastation wrought by paramilitaries and people from different political parties…”

 

Francisco Sántiz Lόpez

Francisco is an indigenous Tzeltal[ii] campesino from the ejido[iii] of Banavil, in the municipality of Tenejapa in the Highland region in the north of Chiapas. By all accounts he is well respected locally, and is someone community members turn to for advice and support. He has been a Zapatista support base (BAZ) for more than twenty years, since before the uprising of 1994. He is, says the Junta, “an honest person who always fulfils his responsibilities in his community and organisation”. He lives in Banavil with his wife and family, and makes his living by running a fruit and vegetable stall in the municipal capital of Tenejapa. His letters reveal him to be a deeply committed and spiritual person, deriving comfort and inspiration from his faith.

 

Banavil

The Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Centre (Frayba) explains the background, “since 2009 there have been acts of harassment by the PRI[iv] group towards families sympathetic to the EZLN, due to their opposition to the arbitrary actions committed by PRI-affiliated caciques[v]. Examples of these actions are: the looting of lands, illegal logging, the imposition of arbitrary taxes and co-operative work, threats and abuse, physical assault, and denial of the right to education…all of which have been denounced by the victims before the appropriate authorities, who have failed to take any action. There has been noinvestigation….or punishment of those responsible and the authorities do not intervene to resolve the situation or guarantee legal or social security in the Banavil ejido”.

This situation of tension and intimidation is not unique to the Tenejapa area; indeed it must be set in the context of similar activities promoted, under the protection and with the encouragement of the three levels of government, by armed political party members, organised in paramilitary style groups, throughout the area of Zapatista influence.

 

The attack

The simmering situation in the ejido Banavil came to a head in the early morning of 4thDecember 2011, when 50 PRI supporters, with firearms, clubs and machetes, made a fierce and prolonged attack on four families “sympathetic to the EZLN”. They surrounded and broke into the house of Alonso Lόpez Luna, who was beaten and taken away. Only his arm has been found. Alonso’s son, Lorenzo Lόpez Girόn, was shot twice while trying to defend his father, and at least six other people were injured. During the confrontation, one of its two main instigators, Pedro Méndez Lόpez of the PRI, was killed.

As a direct result of this assault, the four aggrieved families were, and remain, displaced; they are, according to Frayba, in “a critical situation” with “inhuman housing conditions”and some of the PRI members who attacked them are occupying their lands.

Despite the fact that the true culprits have been widely identified, by the victims, the Junta and even by Frayba, no investigation has been carried out into the disappearance of Alonso Lόpez Luna, the shooting of his son, or the destruction of the homes and the displacement of the four families, even though the culprits have been widely identified. However, two people were arrested, charged and detained, on the very day of the attack, for the murder of the PRI leader, Pedro Méndez Lόpez: these were the seriously wounded Lorenzo Lόpez Girόn, and the Zapatista support base Francisco Sántiz Lόpez, who many witnesses affirm was elsewhere at the time of the incident.

On 4th December, 2011, Francisco was, as usual, working at his market stall selling fruit and vegetables in the town of Tenejapa – a considerable distance from Banavil. The displaced family of the missing Alonso have said clearly, “At the time of the attack, compañero Francisco was at his fruit stall at the county headquarters. Some of us went there to ask for his help”. In addition, they add, “we were not the ones who attacked the party members, they came to our homes and attacked us”.

It was at his market stall that Francisco was arrested. He was accused of homicide, and ofleading a confrontation”. No reason was ever given for his being arrested. There was no weapon in his possession, and, as Frayba point out, there is no evidence of any kind putting him in possession of a firearm or other weapon at any time, despite the accusations against him.

The JBG of Oventic have made clear that there are twelve witnesses willing and able to testify that Francisco was not involved in the confrontation. Since this time, Francisco has been held in the penitentiary the State Centre for the Social Reinsertion of the Sentenced (CERSS) No 5, while “the caciques, who are organising attacks of every kind, are living freely in their homes”.

 

A new charge

On 22 March, 2012, Francisco and Lorenzo were told that they had been cleared of the charges and were to be released. Just as they were leaving the prison, Francisco was stopped and rearrested, this time on a federal charge: that of carrying a weapon reserved for the exclusive use of the Mexican army and armed forces. The JBG responded: “as we know well, those who carry firearms for the exclusive use of the army are not the Zapatistas, they are the paramilitaries from the different communities”.

This crime is equivalent to that of murder and aggravated assault in terms of sentencing, and conveniently enabled the state government to make a statement to La Jornada [vi] that Francisco’s imprisonment was now outside their control. The newspaper commented that Francisco was being kept as “a virtual political hostage, and possible currency for exchange”. “Independent lawyers, human rights organisations and autonomous Zapatista authorities have confirmed…Francisco’s innocence, and place responsibility on the government for keeping …him imprisoned for political reasons and to cover up for the presence of paramilitary groups…in Tenejapa”.

Lorenzo was able to return home. When he left prison, despite having been detained for over 3 months, the two bullets were still in his body. He had received no medical treatment apart from painkillers, had difficulty walking, and was in great pain.

 

The criminalisation of autonomy and the repression of justice

In August 2012, Frayba issued a bulletin[vii] of denouncement detailing the violations of due process against Francisco Sántiz Lόpez, and their fears that a judicial sentence will be issued against him. “During the arrest and prosecution of Francisco the following human rights have been violated: personal liberty, presumption of innocence, judicial guarantees, a fair trial, and the protection of the law…..this is evidence of his persecution for the political work he has been performing in the Highlands of Chiapas…”

In this document Frayba issue a stunning condemnation: “the Mexican state is using the system of law enforcement and justice administration to criminalise the support bases of the EZLN, because they are disturbed by their progress in the right to self-determination through Zapatista autonomy, founded in the San Andrés Accords and the international benchmarks: ILO 169 and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples”.

This continued imprisonment of an innocent man, they believe, amounts to political persecution and the suppression of justice. They continue to say that in the detention order the judge neither acknowledged the statements of the witnesses, nor of the local authorities, which confirmed “that the arrest took place in the county seat of Tenejapa, which means, therefore, that Francisco was not in Banavil at the time of the attacks”.There is, they add, absolutely no evidence that Francisco “was carrying the weapon referred to”.

The last Zapatista prisoner before Francisco was Patricio Domínguez Vázquez, from the community of ejido Monte Redondo, Comalapa, who was freed without charge on the 6thJune 2011, following worldwide actions in his support. Before Patricio, Miguel Hernández Pérez, Diego Martínez Santis y Miguel Méndez Santis, from Pozo in the official municipality of C’ancuc, were imprisoned for over 3 months in 2010, before also being released without charge.

As the Movement for Justice in El Barrio (MJB) tellingly point out to us all: “We know that it is no coincidence that in Mexico, as well as here in the United States, the jails and prisons are filled almost exclusively with those from below – indigenous, migrants, black, poor, Latino, women and men, and all marginalized groups – since only the true criminals could benefit from this misery: the multinational corporations and their political lackeys. Those from above believe that people who struggle must be crushed and encaged.”

 

Support for Francisco and for all the Zapatistas

Francisco has become an emblematic figure, representing the struggle of all those who the system is attempting to crush. Are we prepared to look on while this occurs and do nothing? How many more times must this happen?

People around the world have been enraged at the case of Francisco, and at the concerted efforts by the three levels of the bad government in Mexico to demoralise, terrify and coerce the Zapatistas to abandon their struggle for autonomy.  To co-ordinate these voices, the “Worldwide Echo in Support of the Zapatistas” campaign,convoked by the Movement for Justice in El Barrio, the Other Campaign New York, was launched at the end of July 2012 with an urgent call for action.[viii]

As well as the liberation of Francisco, the Echo Campaign also “aims to raise awareness about the dire situation faced by the besieged BAZ communities of Comandante Abel[ix], Unión Hidalgo, San Marcos Avilés, and Moisés GandhiThese communities are currently being attacked, or threatened with attack, by paramilitary-style groups who operate with complete impunity under the protection of the government security forces. The groups, which are made up of indigenous members of local political parties, operate at will, destroying the homes and possessions of the BAZ and stealing their land, crops and livestock. Their aim is to dispossess them of their land and territory and take it over for their own use, build their own houses, and indeed, destroy the entire Zapatista organisation, as part of the government’s 19 year campaign of counterinsurgency against the movement.

Of Francisco, the Echo campaign states: “our compañero Francisco Sántiz López has been imprisoned for crimes that he did not commit. His only offence, as has been stated over and over again, is that of being a Zapatista Support Base member. For this reason, he is being held as a hostage of the Mexican State.”

Asked about the progress of the campaign so far, Teresa Lopez, of Movement for Justice in El Barrio, responded:
“Since the launch of the Worldwide Echo in Support of the Zapatistas campaign, many Committees of the True Word have formed throughout the world. In fact, many people organising actions have never been active in the struggle before. This shows that support for Francisco and the Zapatistas, in general, is increasing. This growth of organized support will ensure that we achieve the freedom and justice for Francisco that we all seek.”

 

Why does the Mexican state so badly want to destroy the Zapatistas?

“There is no doubt,” says the Junta, “that the manufacture of crimes against Francisco….was planned, organised and run from the three levels of bad government. They are trying at all costs to prevent the construction of the autonomy of the indigenous peoples in Zapatista territory….and to annihilate our organisation and the dignity of our people.”

To do this, they are intending to steal the Zapatistas’ lands, the basis of everything, and by continual day and night harassment to provoke a reaction from them.

The well- known Mexican activist and intellectual, Gustavo Esteva, explains the situation very well in his message to the Echo Campaign:

“We are in World War IV. It is not a war between countries. It is a war of those from above against those from below. Because we, those from below, are now walking in rebellion… because we are no longer willing to let them continue to destroy our Mother Earth, and to continue to kill and imprison us they have unleashed a continuous war against us, from outside and inside, making it more and more difficult for us to live. They want to turn the whole world into a prison.

“Both Francisco Sántiz López and San Marcos Avilés are frontlines in this great war that escalates daily in the Zapatista communities. It is urgent to show ourselves on the side of our compañeros…. The threat is immediate…..It is the time for resistance. And to resist is to struggle in common, together, in the embrace of solidarity.”

As for the Zapatistas themselves, they have no intention of giving up:

“We want to make clear to the three levels of bad government and the people they have paid, controlled and manipulated, that whatever it costs us, no matter what happens, we will continue, because reason and justice are on our side”.

“It is,” says Hugo Blanco, the renowned Peruvian political activist, in his message to the Echo Campaign, entitled: ‘to those who search for a free world’, “in the direct interests of humanity to defend the island of freedom that is the Zapatista area.”

For more information:

Video-message from the JBG of Oventic about Francisco:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NXuVyJ5YdfA&feature=player_embedded 

Information on Francisco:

https://sanmarcosavilesen.wordpress.com/francisco/ 

The Echo Campaign:

https://sanmarcosavilesen.wordpress.com 

For what you can do:

https://sanmarcosavilesen.wordpress.com/what-you-can-do/

https://sanmarcosavilesen.wordpress.com/materials/


[i] Junta (JBG), Council of Zapatista rotating authorities who “govern by obeying” https://sanmarcosavilesen.wordpress.com/communique/ 

[ii] Mayan language-speaking indigenous group

[iii] Ejido, communal landholding

[iv] Political party

[v] Chiefs

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Groups from the PRI and PVEM Invade Zapatista communities and Stir Up Agrarian Conflicts

** EZLN sympathizers have not gone through the process of titling their lands because they are in resistance

** Paramilitary attacks are added to displacements by political parties

** The Good Government Junta in Oventic has suffered attacks

Photo: Víctor Camacho

By: Hermann Bellinghausen,

San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, October 4, 2012

The rise of paramilitaries in Chiapas is accompanied by a substratum of alleged agrarian conflicts, most of them unfounded but fuelled by politicians from the parties and government officials, and directed against lands recuperated by the support bases of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN, its initials in Spanish), the majority occupied and worked by rebel communities for 10 or 15 years now. In particular groups from the PRI, and recently the PVEM, using it as electoral spoils, invade or threaten to invade, plots of land and even Zapatista villages, taking advantage of the fact that they, by remaining in resistance, do not process any agrarian titling with the State, because they follow their revolutionary laws through the Good Government Juntas (Juntas).

An analysis, which has been seen by La Jornada, documents these “conflicts” and identifies the invader or aggressor groups: PRI, PVEM, PRD, PAN, or rather organizations like Paz y Justicia (and its derivatives: Uciaf and Opddic), Orcao, Cioac or Aric. In one very recent denunciation, Las Abejas confirmed the reactivation of “Máscara Roja” (Red Mask) in Chenalhó, who have been identified as the perpetrators of the Acteal Massacre in 1997. Other Campaign communities (Jotolá, Mitzitón, San Sebastián Bachajón) are also attacked through religious “conflicts” (Ejército de Dios) or ejidal differences.

This is the scenario inherited by the PVEM-PRI alliance, headed by Manuel Velasco Coello, which shortly will govern the state. Most of the paramilitary groups, agrarian invaders and municipal governments involved belong to their ranks.

In an analysis, the investigator Arturo Lomelí identifies the principal places (not the only ones) where offences and unsolved crimes have taken place in recent years, especially from 2010 to 2012. He points out in there that, starting in 1994, between 250,000 and 750,000 hectares (there is no conclusive data) [1] were occupied in Ocosingo, Chilón, Sitalá, Yajalón, Tila, Tumbalá, Sabanilla, Salto de Agua, Palenque, Altamirano, Las Margaritas and Comitán, among other municipalities. Under the protection of the Zapatista rebellion, OCEZ, Cioac, ARIC, CNPA, OPEZ, Xinich, Orcao and Tsoblej, side by side with the Zapatistas, “recuperated” and founded new communities. In 2000, when leaders of these organizations were incorporated into the state or municipal government, “they were given the task of regularizing (legalizing) the plots of land, and as the Zapatistas did not enter into those negotiations, the organizations claimed their plots of land.” These organizations are the electoral base of the parties –Lomelí maintains– and the dynamics of betrayal initiated by Pablo Salazar Mendiguchía were maintained under Juan Sabines Guerrero.

The conflicts involve the five Juntas. The Junta of Morelia has been very busy. Primero de Enero community (Lucio Cabañas autonomous municipality) was invaded in August 2011 by Orcao members, who had already obtained lands thanks to the Zapatista Uprising. As in other cases, after 2000 they abandoned their agreement to “recuperate” and reached agreement with the government in return for programs and more of the Zapatistas’ land. Orcao has also advanced against Los Mártires (Lucio Cabañas).

Other communities and plots of Zapatista land under siege are Bolón Ajaw and Santa Rosalía. In Agua Clara (Comandanta Ramona autonomous municipality) “dangerous criminals operate, advised by the ex military Carlos Jiménez López.” In 2010, residents of Nueva Virginia, Jalisco and Getzemaní, members of the Cioac and the PRD “entered onto Campo Alegre recuperated land where the autonomous municipalities of Lucio Cabañas, Comandanta Ramona and 17 de Noviembre are working,” according to the same Junta. In addition, 33 Zapatista families were dispossessed of their rights in Aldama, and the attacks against the support bases in Olga Isabel and K’an Akil persist; they have even been shot at by “paramilitaries of Opddic,” who also have attacked the new 21 de Abril community.

The La Garrucha Junta denounced that the Puerto Arturo and San José Las Flores neighborhoods seek to take away 178 hectares of recuperated land from Nuevo Purísima (Francisco Gómez autonomous municipality) in Ocosingo. They also denounced aggressions and detentions of Zapatistas by paramilitaries in Peña Limonar, as well as plunder in Laguna San Pedro, violence in Casa Blanca and harassment in Toniná. Groups from Las Conchitas and P’ojcol (Chilón), as well as Guadalupe Victoria, who are “paramilitaries,” according to the Junta, members of Orcao and of political parties, violently occupied recuperated lands in Nuevo Paraíso (Francisco Villa autonomous municipality).

In the Northern Zone, the situation is alarming, according to reports from the Junta of Roberto Barrios. Last year, Zapatistas in San Patricio (La Dignidad autonomous municipality) were displaced from their lands by villagers from Ostealukum, El Paraíso, El Calvario and Rancho Guadalupe (Sabanilla). The autonomous Zapatistas then founded Comandante Abel, but this September they were expelled, with support from the police and the state government, as well as from Unión Hidalgo. A few years ago, in Choles de Tumbalá (El Trabajo autonomous municipality), there were houses burned and persecution by members of Xinich-Official.

The Junta of La Realidad documented how in the Monte Redondo ejido (Frontera Comalapa), EZLN support bases of Tierra y Libertad autonomous municipality were plundered of milpas and coffee fields by people from the PVEM, PRD and PRI political parties, who even sold plots of land to third parties. Other aggressions come from the PAN organization, known as Aciac, against Che Guevara community, and in Espíritu Santo by people from the PRD, Cioac and PRI. And in Veracruz (community), there were attacks on the warehouse belonging to San Pedro de Michoacán autonomous municipality.

Lastly, the Oventic Junta confronts a grave conflict in San Marcos Avilés (Chilón), where its bases have been attacked, expelled or robbed by “Greens,” and both PRD and PRI members. In El Pozo, Cruztón and Ts’uluwits (San Juan Apóstol Cancuc autonomous municipality), as well as in Zinacantán, the PRI and PRD members have not stopped harassing the Zapatistas.

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Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Saturday, October 6, 2012

En español: http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2012/10/06/politica/017n1pol 

English translation by the Chiapas Support Committee for the: International Zapatista Translation Service, a collaboration of the: Chiapas Support Committee, California, Wellington Zapatista Support Group, UK Zapatista Solidarity Network

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Dozens of indigenous Chiapans flee from paramilitary aggression

** The situation in La Dignidad autonomous municipality is grave: Frayba

** The firing of shots forced EZLN supporters to take refuge in other communities

Hermann Bellinghausen

Around one hundred indigenous support bases of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) from Comandante Abel and Unión Hidalgo communities, La Dignidad autonomous municipality, in Chiapas, are taking refuge in other communities. The Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Center (Frayba) considers the situation “grave.”

As the Good Government Junta (JBG) of Roberto Barrios denounced last September 8, 73 people from Comandante Abel were displaced by shots from a paramilitary group, linked to what is known as Desarrollo, Paz y Justicia (Development, Peace and Justice), and with the PRI. From September 6 to 19, the number of aggressors rose from 55 to 150, and they have constructed a camp 500 metres from the community. Other Zapatista families have had to abandon Unión Hidalgo, in Sabanilla.

An observation brigade formed by Other Campaign civil organisations and collectives visited the zone to meet with the displaced, and released a comprehensive report. It was able to verify several bullet impact holes in the autonomous school and the cooperative stores, “as well as the digging of foundation trenches 200 metres from the village.” According to the refugees, they have identified AR-15 weapons. During the night, the entrenched aggressors pointed their weapons at them.

Two days before starting their attacks, the paramilitaries met in San Patricio with the officials Eduardo Montoya, Maximiliano Narváez and Noé Castañón León, the latter being the (state) Interior Minister, and agents from Public Security, the report says. Armed individuals in military clothing arrived afterwards. Less that 30 residents remain in the community. Half of the 147 hectares of the village are “occupied” by the invaders. Some women escaped towards the river. “The children went into the woods and mountains without knowing where they were going. The shots came from very close by, buzzing above us, touching the wall of the house,” the women said. One explained: “I was serving customers in the shop; suddenly shots were let loose and the compañeras scattered. We went three days without eating or drinking.” Another relates: “the compañeras hid under rocks and trees; we had two compañeras disappeared. They appeared three days later in San Marcos.”

Since September 16, the state Public Security has had a control (post) at the entrance, which seems to be for protecting the invaders. On September 18, the police fired shots.

The paramilitaries have occupied the autonomous health clinic (casa de salud). “They want to evict the support bases; many cornfields have been invaded. Animals and pastures are being laid waste, the paramilitaries cut the wire fences, and destroy the crops.” They place responsibility on the government: “It is their policy of war and attrition to make us surrender. We will not stop our struggle and we are not going to give up.”

In San Marcos autonomous community, the observers found those displaced from Comandante Abel in “precarious conditions.” Four women are pregnant and there is a “fear of spontaneous abortions.” One of the women who went missing after the attack says: “they chased us with bullets, and when we arrived in this place we were already sick. We did not follow the path, but went through the canyon. I felt like there was a jaguar after me, I was lost and terrified, I felt as if I was no longer in the world.” Now the health promoters and midwives of San Marcos are looking after them.

In Zaquitel Ojo de Agua, there are another twelve people, displaced from Unión Hidalgo,  where some young people remain to care for the chickens, pigs and turkeys, without being able to leave. They are threatened by members of the PRI, who hide to shoot at them. Through a loudspeaker the paramilitaries are announcing, “day and night, that they are going to ‘eat’ us, because we are outlaws, we are beyond the reach of justice and the law,” they say. “If the paramilitaries do not succeed in taking over Comandante Abel community, they say that they are going to massacre us.” Members of the Junta declared in their turn: “the government buys people, and then persuades them to take  our land.”

Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada, Wednesday, September 26, 2012

En español: http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2012/09/26/politica/023n1pol

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Escalation of paramilitary activity against Zapatistas in Chiapas denounced

83 people have been displaced for three weeks from the indigenous communities of Commander Abel and Union Hidalgo

Sent by Hermann Bellinghausen
Posted: 01/10/2012 13:39

San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas.

The Good Government Junta of the Zapatista Caracol of Roberto Barrios, in the Northern Zone of Chiapas, denounced the direct participation of the state’s Secretary of Government, Noé Castañón León, in the planning and implementation of an escalation of paramilitary activity against the community of Comandante Abel and against the Zapatista support bases in Unión Hidalgo, which has led to the displacement of 83 indigenous who have now spent three weeks taking refuge in other communities.

In response to the government denial through a note to the press that police agents had fired on Comandante Abel, the Junta reiterated that on September 18, at noon, police deployed there by the state government fired two shots “to intimidate, just like the paramilitaries.”

The Junta maintains in a communiqué that: “the attacks, evictions, threats, robberies, intimidations and displacements continue.” They hold the federal government of Felipe Calderón Hinojosa and the state government of Juan Sabines Guerrero responsible for the attack now in progress. The Junta states: “It is an act of cowardice to use people of the same race, in order to justify it as intercommunity conflicts.” The communities attacked belong to La Dignidad autonomous municipality, in the Chol region. On September 6, “paramilitaries from Unión Hidalgo and San Patricio took possession to invade and displace our compañeros from their lands,” the Junta says.

On September 12, paramilitaries looted the collective milpa (cornfield), “while others were on guard with high-caliber weapons.” The same day, a total of 11 vehicles arrived in San Patricio with police and judicial agents “to see where to set up their camp.”

The Junta details: “On September 13, Noé Castañón, Secretary General of Government, and Maximiliano Narváez Franco, assistant secretary, arrived in the Sabanilla municipal headquarters to meet with the invaders from Unión Hidalgo and the PRI members from San Patricio to confirm to them that the lands are theirs, justifying (it) with their legalization projects, undertaking to provide security by sending police patrols to take care of the invaders and to support them with materials for constructing their houses, like sheet metal, including delivering food supplies to the paramilitaries.

They began patrolling the recuperated land. On September 16, the police distributed sheet metal to the invaders from Unión Hidalgo and the PRI members from San Patricio who at the same tine remained in possession of the recuperated land, and they “immediately constructed their police encampment.”

On September 26, there was another meeting with state officials in Sabanilla: “they made a work minute between the representatives of the paramilitaries from Unión Hidalgo and the PRI members from San Patricio, with the theme of legalization in the name of the paramilitaries, leading them to believe that they are the rightful owners. They are using them to appropriate and displace our Zapatista support base compañeros from their lands.”

The theft of corn has continued and it intensified on the 27th and 28th September. “Since the invasion, the losses equal 22 tons of grains with a global price of 132,000 pesos, valued at 6 pesos per kilo.” They also denounce that the compañeros displaced from Unión Hidalgo “are strongly threatened by the paramilitaries who are organizing to appropriate their plots of land.”

The thefts “have been constant” in spite of the police presence. “It is seen clearly that the bad government has prepared these criminal acts,” says the Junta. “We have every reason to defend the lives and integrity of our compañeros,” adding, addressing themselves to the state and federal governments: “You are the real culprits and the masterminds of the criminal acts that our support bases suffer. It is you who will be guilty of the consequences that may result, and who will have to account for and (be) judged before the history of the people of Mexico.”

300 days in prison

In other news, Francisco Lopez Santiz, Zapatista support base from Tenejapa, completed his 300th day in prison for no reason on Saturday, in the prison of San Cristobal. Initially he was accused of participating in an attack in the community of Banavil last December, without foundation, as was recognized by the judge.

However, a sudden new indictment, issued as he prepared to leave prison, prevented his departure and bogged down his case, with the charge of possession of a prohibited weapon, not only late but also unfounded, but very useful to keep the indigenous Zapatista as a virtual hostage on federal charges that no judge has dared to ratify.

Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

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Growing alarm over attacks on Zapatista communities

** International NGOs call on authorities to stop the violence

** It is a war that escalates every day, says Gustavo Esteva

By: Hermann Bellinghausen

Faced with the open paramilitary aggression that is developing against communities in La Dignidad autonomous municipality in the Northern Zone of Chiapas, concern is growing among groups in solidarity with the Zapatista movement, and collectives of the Other Campaign in Mexico and the world, at the alarming degree to which the escalation in counterinsurgency is increasing.

Expressions of support are arriving from different countries, demanding the intervention of federal and state authorities to stop the violence and harassment against the communities Comandante Abel, San Marcos Avilés and others, mainly in the official municipalities of Sabanilla, Tila, Ocosingo, Las Margaritas and Chilón.

For the writer Gustavo Esteva, it is “the time for resistance and solidarity.” In reference to Francisco Sántiz López, EZLN support base in Teopisca, currently imprisoned for no other reason than political persecution, and the besieged community of San Marcos Avilés, he says: “They are frontlines in this great war that escalates daily in the Zapatista communities because their resistance is walking onwards, because every day they affirm themselves in their autonomy, consolidate their achievements and take them even further. The bad government watches how the Zapatista resistance is enriched, how they extend their own ways of learning and justice and health and all their modes of living and how, despite everything that is done against them, the new social reality, which is the foundation for a different mode of existence, spreads and is strengthened.

“The attacks are not directed against weakness, or against something sad or dead. They attack all that flourishes, all that is robust, and all that serves as an example and is a source of inspiration….The demons are on the loose. The war is everywhere. But so too is solidarity—that decision to be together in this common struggle that no longer respects territories”.

Collectives from the Spanish State, France, Italy and the United Kingdom jointly showed their outrage at “the repression that Comandante Abel is facing” and noted that in recent weeks “we have been witnesses to the multiple offences and trampling that the compañeros of the San Carlos ejido have received, in the autonomous municipality San Pedro de Michoacán, located in the Caracol of La Realidad, and in the Moisés Gandhi ejido, Che Guevara region, Lucio Cabañas autonomous municipality, in the Caracol of Morelia.”

The Norway Committee in Solidarity with Latin America points out that Comandante Abel is “a community of dignified and brave compañeros and compañeras harassed, attacked, hunted and murdered since the 1990s by paramilitaries from Paz y Justicia and subsequently by members of the PRI and UCIAF.”

A year after the last invasion of their lands, in September 2011, “the paramilitaries returned with excessive violence, shooting at the men, women and children who peacefully and without weapons resist under the trees and vines to defend the land and their lives.”

In Germany the foundation was announced of the Berlin Committee in Support of the Zapatistas in San Marcos Avilés, who were expelled from the community in 2010 by a group “loyal to the government”. “Their milpas (cornfields) were occupied or burned, their houses and belongings devastated and destroyed. After an odyssey of a month, the inhabitants returned, having suffered severe hunger during the displacement. Although there is now an international civil peace camp in the community, the Zapatistas regularly  face threats, theft, destruction of their crops or physical attacks.”

Statements have also been issued in Uruguay, the United States and Argentina. The Network against Repression and for Solidarity of the Other Campaign today in San Cristóbal de las Casas called for the creation of a network to collect food supplies for Comandante Abel that will operate until next January, as well as for the organization of observation brigades.

__________________________________________________

Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Saturday, September 15, 2012

En español: http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2012/09/15/politica/014n1pol 

English translation by the Chiapas Support Committee for the: International Zapatista Translation Service, a collaboration of the: Chiapas Support Committee, California, Wellington Zapatista Support Group, UK Zapatista Solidarity Network

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“We won’t back down,” assert Zapatistas in response to a series of aggressions

Posted on: 31/08/2012 by 

Photo: Ricardo Trabulsi

Exactly nine years ago, in August 2003, EZLN’s support bases announced the organization of 38 autonomous municipalities in rebellion. The process of the new geography of the Zapatista territory had gotten started 10 years ago, on December 19, 1994, the date on which they broke the military siege, launched a new political offensive and made the autonomous boundaries of their territory known. Since then, 213 months have passed, four –almost five–presidents of the Republic, and seven governors, and not once have the communities that dared to challenge the State by demanding liberty, democracy and justice for all of Mexico, allowed themselves to be assaulted, whether by the military or by paramilitary groups, by counter-insurgent government programs or by organizations protected by the State.

Last month the attacks increased, as they do at the end of every six-year presidential term and state government term. The land the Zapatistas recuperated with the armed uprising in 1994 has been placed in dispute, prompted and sponsored by the government; they buy loyalties, they offer territory that doesn’t belong to them, and they sow discord from positions of power. Nothing is new for these communities that will be in resistance for 19 years, but in spite of this the everyday hostilities against their life plan have not stopped being serious and alarming.

Far from giving up or being intimidated, the Zapatistas have responded through recent reports by autonomous authorities, that although “they have assaulted us without reason, and they think that because of this we are going to give up or sell ourselves to be among their ranks of thieves, criminals and traitors headed by them. If they think this, they are wrong because these injustices they do to us, far from leading us to think about giving up, fill us with anger and indignation.”

“Enough with so many provocations and injustices against us,” add the authorities of the autonomous governments. “We are letting you know that we will not back down, and we warn you that if you do not stop provoking us, we will take more serious measures,” stated the Board of Good Government with headquarters in La Realidad.

Bullets and threats run into the Zapatista resistance in Moisés Gandhi

The recent aggressions run from armed attacks to the threat of land dispossession as well as the removal and robbery of their facilities. In the cooperative Moisés Gandhi, of the autonomous municipality Lucio Cabañas, belonging to the caracol of Morelia, members of the Regional Organization of Coffee Growers of Ocosingo (ORCAO), attacked 59 people in the EZLN support bases with assault weapons with the aim of dispossessing them of their land.

The Board of Good Government of the region recounts that on August 2 twenty members of the ORCAO, four of them armed, entered the recuperated lands in El Carmen and fired from a 60 meter distance, accompanying the shots with threatening cries, arguing that “the land is theirs and that they don’t want ranchers because our comrades have livestock from the collective, that has served us in our resistance.”

The Zapatistas recount that before the gunshots and threats with weapons “the 59 comrades began to withdraw,” and afterward members of the ORCAO went as well. Subsequently, August 6, “the 59 comrades went to work again at the same work site and arrived at seven in the morning to clean the pasture of the collective livestock.” Two hours later three ORCAO groups, coordinated by Tomas López Santiz, principal deacon; Pedro Velásquez Hernández, ex-chief of the church zone in Abasolo; Manuel Santiz Hernández, minister of the church in Abasolo; Antonio Gómez López, ORCAO militant in Abasolo; Adolfo López Jiménez, Cesar López Jiménez, Alonso López Gómez, ex-chief of the church zone in Abasolo and member of the property Los Limares; Sebastián López Gómez, Abasolo church choir, and Pedro López Gómez, all of those mentioned, as reported, “came armed, coordinating the 91 ORCAO bases.”

The aggressors carried caliber 22 arms, sprinkler bombs, and 68 people carried weapons. They initiated fire at a distance of 100 meters at 50 shots, for which reason “the comrades withdrew from the work site while the ORCAO began to fumigate a fourth of the pasture with herbicides and those armed were positioned in the tree trunks, making sure that our comrades did not return.”

On August 7, the charges follow, the 59 Zapatistas returned to the land “because they were not afraid of these threats and they will not be afraid because we have recovered the land by the blood of our fallen comrades in 1994, in the armed uprising.” And a day later they were attacked once again by ORCAO.

The explanation for this series of aggression is the following: “The anger of the three levels of bad government is because they do not want their bad habits to spread, which is why they organize ignorant people to inject their death projects in our autonomous territories formed by our communities, where we are governed by our own ways as we see fit. We will continue fighting and resisting the threats for our land although we know that behind this intimidation are the three levels of bad government. We do not fight out of obligation or because of manipulation by a few important figures, like these local and regional representatives and ORCAO consultants and the supposed federal, state and municipal leaders who pressure and threaten poor, ignorant people, requiring them to accept miserable projects and forcing them to taunt.”

The Zapatistas make it clear that ORCAO members are only “assistants because the true intellectual actors are named Felipe Calderón and Juan Sabines Guerrero, because they are the ones executing the war death projects that they impose on our territories for millions of pesos,” they state.

Zapatista authorities recall that for years “they have executed millions of pesos wanting to destroy us to give them our land, to put an end to our customs, our language, but so the world can see, as Zapatistas here we keep fighting and resisting at all costs.”

The government strategy that has not ceased for even one minute over 19 years despite its flagrant failure is to offer projects to other communities “to demoralize the Zapatistas.” However, as they state in their most recent communiqué, “They’re wrong, perhaps they mock us when we don’t return their provocations; we just know that we are building life, not death like the bad governments…Not even with their millions of pesos have they been able to eliminate us, much less with a small organization like ORCAO. We as Zapatistas are fighters of humble and simple heart, builders of a just peace, creating the best way to live on our Mexican lands, where we do not seek personal well-being. We are not agitators, aggressors, paramilitary groups or criminal gangs; we are hard-working, peaceful people,” they affirm.

Finally, they state, “We know how to govern ourselves and that’s why we say we are willing to defend our rights at all costs.”

Projects to divide communities: “What a shame that some brothers allow themselves to be fooled”

The second complaint in August refers to the plan to seize a coffee warehouse in the community of Veracruz, annexed to the collective San Carlos, autonomous municipality of San Pedro de Michoacán, (and official of Las Margaritas), very close to La Realidad, headquarters of the Board of Good Government of the region.

Since before the armed uprising of 1994, a 30 x 14 meter warehouse was built in the Veracruz annex to buy and store coffee, as part of a project of the Union of Rainforest Collectives. This warehouse was recovered by the Zapatistas on January 1, 1994, and was emblematic of the resistance of these communities as one of the first projects created through the union of four autonomous municipalities: San Pedro de Michoacán, Tierra y Libertad, Libertad de los Pueblos Mayas and General Emiliano Zapata, as the preamble to what would later be known as autonomous regions.

Now they are being threatened with removal in order to promote government projects as part of the politics of counter-insurgency that the different governments have applied to divide the indigenous Zapatista communities. Luis H. Álvarez, head of the counter-insurgent politics and for whom whichever indigenous person in Chiapas is a Zapatista susceptible to being bought, (when he neither had nor has any idea about the territory in rebellion, about its structure and reach), even dared to write a manual presented and praised by Felipe Calderón.

The Board of Good Government “Toward Hope,” belonging to the border rainforest zone, with headquarters in La Realidad, explained that the warehouse in question is part of an autonomous project in which merchandise is sold wholesale and retail, and that “we have been using it for many years because without a doubt this warehouse corresponds to us as Zapatistas.”

The problem here is the same as it is in Luis H. Álvarez’s manual: “It turns out that a group of people who live in this annex, impelled by their authorities and other people have been organizing with the aim of taking it away from us. This group has nothing to do with this construction and what they are doing is to provoke us without right or reason because we are not taking anything away from anyone, much less from them.” It turns out, the autonomous authorities explain, that now “they want to occupy the warehouse because they will benefit from two projects the bad government will propose to them…and as the authorities of the Board of Good Government told them, they will not be allowed to occupy the warehouse and that they should speak with those who will offer them the project; therefore, they were warned that they should not provoke us as Zapatistas because of these crumbs given to them by the bad government.”

However, August 6, they allege, a group of 45 people from the Ecologist Green Party and the Democratic Revolution Party, “ headed by Rafael Méndez López, municipal official; Iván Méndez Domínguez, alternate municipal official; Alfredo Méndez Rodríguez, Fidel Méndez Santis, Francisco Santis Méndez, Nemías Santis Rodríguez, Ernesto Grene Hernández, Joel Hernández Méndez, Hugo Albores Trujillo, Gilberto Méndez Méndez and Marín Méndez Santis made their way to the warehouse and fenced it off with barbed wire,” blocking the entrance to prevent entry. They did not achieve this because the Zapatistas re-opened the entrance.

Several days later on August 11, a group of 45 people cut the electric energy of the warehouse as well as that of a house on the Zapatista support base. The peaceful response by the autonomous government was to re-install the electricity. “We know perfectly well that these brothers are not our enemies, but unfortunately, because they don’t understand and don’t think, they get involved in things (provocations) without analyzing if it will turn out well or not, and without measuring the consequences that this act can bring,” they point out.

The Board of Good Government, as well as that of Morelia, understands clearly where the enemy lies: “It’s a shame that these brothers allow themselves to be fooled, to be manipulated by a few people who are also being manipulated and advised by their bad governments. It’s unjust that the people who organize to provoke, subject those who refuse to participate to sanctions and threats because we know there are brothers who know how to think and to analyze, but they comply out of fear and that’s how they have become accomplices to those organizing these actions.”

They add: “It’s a strategy of the corrupt governments, who are the intellectual actors, causing these problems by offering their programs to divide the people and create problems among us indigenous farmers, or intimidate our comrade through these provocative actions so that he gives up; but what we tell these corrupt authorities and this group of people that has organized to execute these bad actions, as well as the authorities of the three levels of government: to Felipe de Jesús Ruiz Moreno, municipal president of Las Margaritas; to Juan Sabines Guerrero and Felip Calderón Hinojosa, that we are never going to permit these provocations, we are going to defend ourselves as we are provoked by all projects that affect our comrades and our Zapatista comrades.”

San Marcos Avilés, in the eye of dispossession

Constant aggression, robbery and threats of expulsion are what the Zapatista support bases must deal with daily in the community of San Marcos Avilés, municipality of Sitalá, in the tzeltal zone, a situation for which at this time a national and international solidarity campaign is being carried out.

“Everything we cultivate is exploited by political parties. The current situation of families in resistance has come to be because what we are demanding is of no importance to authorities of the governments of Felipe Calderón and Juan Sabines Guerrero. They’ve even begun to enter our houses. Some of us had horses, livestock, we had all that before the arrival of our suffering. Some had cement, tin roof sheets, rods to build houses, stores, cars. They took everything. Furthermore, we cannot enjoy the fruits of our labor with our children because those from the political parties are the ones who consume it all,” explained the Zapatistas in a video.

It was the opening of a school in this community that motivated the recent aggressions and threats of dispossession: “We place a lot of importance in this school. We want there to be quality teaching for our children, quality learning, a good example. We see that the government has its schools, but it’s not a quality education, they don’t even teach our children well, and what they teach has nothing to do with us. That’s why we opened our own school. This established a pretext for the officials to attack Zapatista families and to expel them in 2010 after classes began August 16 that year.”

“A few days later a comrade who lives down there was summoned by the authorities. When he went to the government office with a fellow comrade, the authorities gave them a document and tried to have them sign so that there would no longer be EZLN support bases here. Our comrades refused. The authorities and aggressors had them locked up and later wanted to send them to jail.”

“We are not committing any crime. We have the right to fight so that they take us into consideration. Liberty, justice and peace, that’s what we’re asking for. We are not afraid because we know clearly what we are looking for and how we want to live. We are men, women, youth and children in the struggle. So we want to make the crimes of the bad government here in San Marcos known,” declared the indigenous people in rebellion.

Political prison for Zapatistas

Aggressions on the EZLN support bases include political prison. Those who have been arrested since 1994 are not few, and they have obtained their freedom first of all because they haven’t committed any crime; secondly, because their imprisonment has stirred up significant international condemnation.

At this time Francisco López Sántiz, shopkeeper and tzeltal farmer from the support base of Tenejapa, is in the San Cristóbal de las Casas jail, accused of a murder that has been proven he did not commit.

Detained since December 4 of last year, he was notified that he would be released on March 22, “but just as he was a few meters from leaving the jail,” report the autonomous Zapatista authorities, “the communication machines (cell phones) of those who were supposed to set him free rang to receive the news that Francisco could not leave because he had another more serious federal crime: ‘carrying a firearm of exclusive military use,’ and that impeded his release.”

“Our comrade Francisco was falsely accused and unjustly detained; he has nothing to do with what happened in Banavil because he was neither there nor did he participate in the acts of which he is accused. Francisco is not an assassin, and he does not have a weapon, only because the people from the PRI have falsely accused him of this,” the Board of Good Government in Oventik indicated at that time.

Governor Sabines, soon to complete his term, refuses to respond to the human rights violations committed during his governance and continues to hold Francisco as well as the teacher Alberto Patishtán as political hostages at the end of his six-year term.

“The government does not want to liberate him because it’s an EZLN support base. We know he has not committed a crime. We already presented witnesses (of his innocence), but the government is after him because of the struggle for justice, democracy and liberty,” stated Francisco’s family members.

Solidarity and national and international support

Since 1994 the Zapatistas have organized not only support and solidarity with their cause and the rejection of aggressions against them, but also the construction of a new common project that confronts and questions power from below.

More than 18 years after the uprising now with the recent aggressions, various calls are circulating for solidarity with EZLN, their communities, and a life project that they share with the world from autonomy and the right to decide their own destiny.

This past August 12 the Brigade of Observation and Solidarity with the Zapatista Communities, initiative of the Network Against Repression and For Solidarity, began a tour of the territory in rebellion “to contribute our small grain of sand that helps to document the advances of Zapatista autonomy and that permits the echo of the charges brought by the rebel communities against the bad governments and all of the political parties, particularly the nongovernor of the state, Juan Sabines Guerrero and the Democratic Revolution Party.”

Members of The Other Campaign and activists from Chile, Brazil, the Spanish State and Germany spread out among the caracoles of La Realidad, La Garrucha, Morelia and Roberto Barrios, under the principle that “if they touch the Zapatistas, they touch all of us…We support the right to self-determination that our comrades carry out through the Boards of Good Government; we support their struggle for the defense of their territories and the creation of autonomy. The anger that they transmit to us is far from a call to surrender; on the contrary, their indignation, which actually a large portion of the global population “suffers,” reflects the need to learn from different experiences of struggle, from history, and from the possible creation of solidarity bridges so that acts like the ones they are resisting do not go unpunished and that they feel our support, we who are below and on the left, creating that other possible world together, needed more now than ever,” declared the Network at the beginning of its tour through the rainforest, Los Altos and the north of Chiapas.

From New York, the Movement for Justice in the Barrio launched a campaign “World Echo in Support of the Zapatistas: Justice and Liberty for San Marcos Avilés and Sántiz López,” with the call to create committees of The True Word, for the promotion and diffusion of what is occurring in the rebel communities of Chiapas.

“The first stage,” as explained in the call to action, “will last the entire month of August and has as its principal objective the intense promotion of the campaign and wide spreading of information among our communities, barrios, collectives, networks and respective countries about the current situation of absolute injustice that they are confronting in San Marcos Avilés and the case of unjust imprisonment of Francisco Sántiz López.”

“Under the leadership of the community of San Marcos Avliés and the Board of Good Government, the goal of this first stage is to fill the hearts of as many people as possible with consciousness and to raise awareness of the constant violence perpetuated by the bad government as well as the resistance of the honorable communities. After this intense stage of popular education will follow a stage of more direct action,” explain the activists, who have already received responses from Mexico, India, Portugal, England, Turkey, Panama, South Africa, Colombia, Germany, Italy, Australia, Brazil, Ecuador, Canada, Uruguay, the Spanish State, Argentina, France, Chile and the United States.

Gloria Muñoz Ramírez is director of the electronic magazine desinformémosnos, where this article was originally published. She collaborates with the Americas Program www.cipamericas.org/es.

 Translated by Libby Quintana.

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Chiapas community threatened with attack

Zapatistas call for international solidarity

Human rights organisations have warned that the population of nearly 200 Zapatista supporters in the Chiapas highland indigenous community of San Marcos Aviles, in Mexico, are at serious risk of violent assault and displacement. The threats made against them have increased sharply since the Mexican elections in July.

The aggressors are government supporters organised in paramilitary-style groups, heavily armed with shotguns, rifles and pistols. They are specifically threatening the women and children. They have already stolen land, crops and livestock from the community, leaving them without a food supply. Human rights observers report that the situation is one of siege, and that families are heavily traumatised.

San Marcos Aviles has been living this nightmare since August 2010, following the construction of an autonomous Zapatista school.

Attacks escalated until October 2010 when 170 women, men and children fled the community seeking refuge on a nearby mountain for about a month. They lived exposed to the elements – under pieces of plastic sheeting, sleeping on the ground in the mud without any basic necessities. One displaced person described the situation: ‘We had no tortillas [corn bread] to eat. We had no pozol [cornmeal-based beverage] to drink. For 33 days we were wet, cold and hungry. During this period two of the women gave birth.’

The Zapatista good government council (JBG) of Oventic stated: ‘Our compañer@s from San Marcos Aviles are suffering this violence because they are indigenous, because they are Zapatistas, and because they have opened their own autonomous school.’

A San Marcos Aviles community member said: ‘We attach great importance to the autonomous school. We want a good education for our children, good learning, a good example. We see that the government has its schools, but it is not good education, nor do they teach our children well. They do not provide good learning, and what they teach has nothing to do with us. So we opened our school.’

After 33 days of displacement, in autumn 2010, neighbouring communities and the local human rights centre accompanied the San Marcos Aviles Zapatistas back to their homes. They found that their dwellings, belongings, fields of corn, beans, bananas, sugar cane and coffee, and their few chickens and cattle had been destroyed or stolen.

For the last two years the Zapatistas of San Marcos Aviles have lived in a state of trauma and terror, enduring constant threats, violations and insults. In July and August this year, the situation intensified to the point where a repetition of the events of 2010, or worse, is feared at any time.

The Zapatistas of San Marcos Aviles and the good government council of Oventic have called for solidarity. In the August call to action their supporters say: ‘We stress here that these attacks are not isolated incidents, but rather are integral components of the prolonged war of extermination that the bad government of Mexico, together with capitalist interests, has carried out for the past 18 years to wipe out the Zapatista movement and all it has given to the world.

‘The objectives of this war have been and remain to continue the colonial project and destroy at any cost indigenous autonomy and resistance, and take over their ancestral lands, and in this way, exploit for the exclusive benefit of those from above the natural resources with which our Mother Earth provides us.

‘Repression, violence, and death are meted out by the bad government of Mexico to those who resist this, who defend their lands, their identities, their cultures, and autonomy – their very existence’.

The UK Zapatista Network and New York City’s Movement for Justice in the Barrio among others are supporting San Marcos Aviles’ urgent call for support.

Sign the worldwide declaration, circulate the video appeal and form a solidarity group:www.tinyurl.com/peacenews489

http://peacenews.info/node/6900/chiapas-community-threatened-attack

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Peruvian campesino Leader asks #YoSoy132 to Support the Zapatistas

** The leader urges them to defend the “island of freedom” created by the EZLN

by: Hermann Bellinghausen

Hugo Blanco, campesino leader and director of the Peruvian publication Lucha Indígena (Indigenous Struggle), denounced from Peru “the real reasons and forces” that want to destroy what he calls the “zone liberated from neoliberalism, where the people govern themselves”, in a message of support to the communities of the Zapatista National Liberación Army (EZLN, its initials in Spanish), which speaks “to those who search for a free world”. “In 1994, at the full culmination of the neoliberal system that oppresses us, a voice of rebellion arose, the Zapatista movement in Chiapas”.

Blanco calls on the #YoSoy132 movement to “understand that it is their fundamental task to defend the isle of freedom that is in their own country. Crushing the Zapatistas would make it easy to crush #YoSoy132.” Considering that “it is in the direct interest of humanity” to defend that “island of freedom,” Hugo Blanco calls for the “actions in defense of San Marcos Avilés, and against the other attacks in the zone” and in the struggle for the freedom of Francisco Sántiz López and Alberto Patishtán Gómez.

And he recalls: “Carlos Salinas de Gortari, then president, launched a bloody military offensive thinking to quickly smash the rebellion. It wasn’t so. The combatant indigenous population resisted. Faced with the bloodletting, the people of Mexico were indignant and demanded that the attacks cease. The United States government became alarmed, because with the number of oppressed Mexicans and Chicanos in its territory there could be the danger that the rebellion might be extended to the heart of the empire. Therefore, it ordered the Mexican government to stop the attack,” while “the rebels demonstrated that they would obey the people of Mexico who ordered the war to stop.”

Blanco remembers: “The government offered talks, the Zapatistas accepted. With the democratic spirit that they have, they didn’t want to be the ones who would speak in the name of indigenous Mexicans, and they called to the indigenous and indigenists of the whole country so that they could set out the demands. Their arguments were so convincing that the governmental commission had to accept many of them. Both parties signed the San Andrés Accords. As they had to take legal form in order to be approved by the parliament, it named a commission with the responsibility of putting them into the appropriate format. The commission completed its task and presented it to the parties. The Zapatistas accepted, but the government did not. Instead of that it presented another document, betraying the accords that it had signed.” The (political) parties in the Congress “bowed to the outrage.”

In its time, the government of Ernesto Zedillo “launched a treasonous military attack, seeking to liquidate the EZLN’s leadership.” It failed, Blanco points out, “but (whoever may be president for a term) does not abandon the intentions of disappearing that island of freedom that exists in the world. Let us not forget that the first international meeting of those oppressed by the neoliberal system that is crushing the world was called by the indigenous Zapatistas and was held on Chiapas soil years before the World Social Forum.”

The campesino leader from Peru emphasizes: “Lately the attacks on Zapatista communities are intensifying, the principal and strongest one is the one that the autonomous Zapatista community of San Marcos Avilés is suffering.” The Good Government Juntas towards Hope and Heart of the Rainbow of Hope have denounced other attacks, he says. “These attacks and the continued detention of Francisco Sántiz López and Alberto Patishtán Gómez, are the spearhead of the attack to crush the zone liberated from neoliberalism, where the people govern themselves through the Good Government Juntas. These (the Juntas) are seen as the great enemy by the transnational corporations as they are a living example of the fact that “Another World is Possible”, “A World where Many Worlds Fit”.”

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Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Thursday, August 23, 2012

http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2012/08/23/politica/018n2pol

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Tzeltals fear the Displacement of Zapatista Support Bases in the Caracol of Oventic

** They identify members of the PRI and PVEM as promoters of the threats

By: Hermann Bellinghausen

According to a report from the Tzeltal community of San Marcos Avilés, belonging to the Zapatista Caracol of Oventic, a new displacement of the Zapatista support bases from the area is being planned. This could happen “within the next few days” at the hands of “local party members,” from the attack group that has tormented the rebel support bases of San Marcos Avilés since 2010. The “party members” are meeting in “extraordinary assemblies to discuss these matters,” they add.

These people have themselves made public their violent plan for the displacement. The threatened community reports “that these party members are trying to get more people in the Pantelhó, Corralito and La Providencia communities to help them carry out the displacement. They have boasted that they feel very capable of doing it, since the candidate Leonardo Guirao Aguilar (PVEM, or Green Party) won the recent election in Chilón municipality; his party won at the state level and the PRI at the federal level.”

The indigenous identify as the promoters of these threats Lorenzo Ruiz Gómez and Manuel Díaz Ruiz (PVEM) and PRI members Vicente Ruiz López, José Cruz Hernández, Carmelino Hernández Hernández, Ernesto López Núñez, Manuel Vázquez Gómez, Aristeo and Alejandro Núñez Ruiz.

Besides the “announcement” of the plan for displacement by the attack groups mentioned, “a worrying increase in insults, destruction of flora and crops, and thefts has recently been seen in the community” civil organisations report. “Due to the aggressive acts, there will not be sufficient food this year”, for the Zapatista families of San Marcos Avilés. In past weeks, the situation of threats and aggressions has intensified so much, “that a repetition of what occurred in August 2010, or worse, is feared. The lives of the San Marcos Avilés Zapatista support bases are at serious risk.” The persecuted indigenous in resistance, some 200 people, purchased the land 12 years ago and have the title deeds to prove it. “As throughout Zapatista territory, however, this does not stop the governments from giving the land to others in return for driving out what those from above most fear: the threat of a good example”, a call for international solidarity by Other Campaign organizations, which have shown repeated concern for the fate of this community, pointed out days ago. Soon, a civil caravan will tour some of the flashpoints in the geography of resistance and counterinsurgency.

““Particularly in the past few days, more threats against the Zapatista support base members have taken place in San Marcos Avilés. The culprits remain an attack group of political party members, who have stated that they will kidnap authorities of the Zapatista community, and in this way, forcefully displace the support base members from the ejido”. They threaten those who denounce the acts of aggression with prison if they persist. The organizations emphasize: “as a result of this a complete forced displacement of the community is feared, at the level of the one in 2010.”

The start of San Marcos Avilés’ misfortune was the establishment of the Emiliano Zapata School, part of the Zapatista Autonomous Education System, in August of that year (2010). The pro-government people unleashed an already latent hostility, and within a few weeks the Zapatista families had to take refuge in the mountains for 33 days. On their return, they found their houses and planted crops ransacked and destroyed. Two years later, spurred by the electoral victory for governor of their co-believer Manuel Velasco Coello, the attack groups seem ready to consummate the widely announced attacks and dispossessions, in the face of the passivity of the state government.

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Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

En español: http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2012/08/07/politica/018n2pol

English translation by the Chiapas Support Committee for the: International Zapatista Translation Service, a collaboration of the: Chiapas Support Committee, California, Wellington Zapatista Support Group, UK Zapatista Solidarity Network.

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EZLN Support Bases Ask the Global Community for Support

** They are from San Marcos Avilés, municipality of Sitalá

** They report constant aggressions, robberies and threats

By: Hermann Bellinghausen

San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, July 24, 2012

“The PRIístas make us suffer a lot, we no longer want that,” said support bases of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN, its initials in Spanish) from the community of San Marcos Avilés (municipality of Sitalá, in the traditional zone of the Tzeltals), when making a call for international solidarity. They denounced constant aggressions, robberies and threats of expulsion: “When we plant our milpa, although it is young corn, we cannot take it to our homes. They come to steal our beans, our (sugar) cane and bananas. As for the cane, they cut it all and that is pure evildoing. Although we sow and we toil, they take it all and now we have nothing.”

The indigenous Zapatistas added: “The political parties take advantage of everything that we plant.” The current situation of the families in resistance “came about because the authorities of the governments of Felipe Calderón and Juan Sabines Guerrero give no importance to our claims. They [the attackers] even started to enter our houses. Some have horses, cattle; all these were ours before the arrival of our suffering. Some have cement, sheet metal, rods for constructing their houses, a shop, a car. They stole everything [from us].” Besides, “we cannot enjoy the fruits of our labour with our children, since the ones who consume it, are those (from the) political parties, the PRI, PRD and PAN.”

In a video released last night, the indigenous, with faces covered, argue in Tzeltal in favour of autonomous education: “We give a lot of importance to the school. We want there to be good teaching for the children, good learning, a good example. We see that the government has its schools, but it is not a good education, nor do they teach our children well, and what they teach has nothing to do with us. So we opened our own school.” This gave the government supporters a pretext to attack the Zapatista families and expel them in 2010, after classes were started on August 16 of that year.

“In the following days a compa who lives down there was cited by the official authorities. When he presented himself with another compa at the official agency, they wrote a document and attempted to make them sign it, so that there would no longer be EZLN support bases here. Our compañeros refused. The authorities and aggressors locked them up, and afterwards wanted to send them to prison.”

They remember the origin of the persecution that they suffer now: “We constructed the school up there. That day they once again wanted to destroy the metal sheets [for roofing]. The aggressors were not in agreement and the authorities agreed to run us out of our homes once and for all. They discussed their plans to mistreat us with the government. They carried machetes, sticks and stones in their hands.” In consequence, they [the support bases] stayed “under a tree” for “one month and three days,” covered “with pieces of broken canvas. It was the rainy season and the children slept in the mud; there were no tortillas to eat, nor pozol to drink.”

A woman with her face hidden intervenes: “They don’t take us into account, they treat us like dogs. That’s what I was told when I gave birth to my son in the mountains.”

Calling on civil society and solidarity organizations to put an end to this escalation of violence which makes them fear a new eviction, they declare: “We are going to continue. We are not committing any crime. We have the right to struggle so that they take us into account. What we are asking for is liberty, justice and peace. We are not afraid, because we know clearly what we are seeking and how we want to live. Men, women youth and children are in struggle. So, we want you all to know the bad government’s crime here in San Marcos Avilés.”

____________________________________________________

Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

En español: http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2012/07/25/politica/018n1pol 

English translation by the Chiapas Support Committee for the: International Zapatista Translation Service, a collaboration of the: Chiapas Support Committee, California, Wellington Zapatista Support Group, UK Zapatista Solidarity Network

———————

NGO describes constant aggression against Zapatista autonomous schools

They call for signatures to the “worldwide declaration” in defence of the ejido of San Marcos Avilés

Hermann Bellinghausen,  La Jornada

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Zapatista autonomous schools in the communities in the Los Altos region of Chiapas, such as San Marcos Avilés, Tentic and Las Mercedes, “are repeatedly attacked by oficialista groups (government supporters); [these attacks] impede their normal functioning and affects not on the learning process of the indigenous children, but also the collective life of the community”.

The Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Centre (Frayba) and the Movement for Justice in el Barrio –of the Other Campaign in New York– call for a “worldwide declaration” in support of the ejido of San Marcos Avilés (Sitalá municipality): “The Mexican State, by means of political actors and pro- government organizations, has tried to dismantle the process that represents, in its daily practice, the fulfilling of the San Andrés Accords through the [Zapatista] project of self-government, justice, work, health, appropriate technology and education”..

The “convokers” (convocantes) believe that “the advance of the Zapatista Autonomous Rebel Education System has provide pretexts for attacks on the EZLN supporters in San Marcos Avilés, who have suffered threats, harassment, theft, sexual aggression and forced displacement at the hands of members of different political parties.”

They recall that on September 9th, 2010, after the ejido’s autonomous primary school had been constructed, more than 170 Zapatista supporters were violently displaced from their homes by a “shock group” (grupo de choque) headed by Lorenzo Ruiz Gómez and Vicente Ruiz López, as well as by individuals affiliated with the PRI, PRD and PVEM [political parties]. This group, “which carried machetes and firearms, burst into the houses and even attempted to rape two women from the ejido”.

According to testimony from the region’s residents, the attacks hope “to weaken the autonomous education project.” Because of what occurred, the Zapatista supporters spent more than a month outdoors. On October 12th of the same year, upon their return –accompanied by a solidarity caravan– “they found that they [the attackers] had broken into their houses and sacked their belongings, animals, corn and beans; besides, they destroyed their crops, coffee bushes and fruit trees.”

The harassment does not stop, and this situation generates greater violence, impunity and human rights violations, placing obstacles in the way of the daily life and agricultural work of the Zapatistas of San Marcos Avilés.

Health conditions have deteriorated, resulting in “four with grave malnutrition, and the death of an infant just a few months old”. In San Marcos and nearby communities there is a typhoid epidemic which has cost the life of at least one more child.

The declaration points out that, through the violence, it is sought “to crush the historic process represented by the building of the Zapatistas’ new educational institution.” As indigenous peoples “they have the right to construct their autonomy, to defend their ancestral territory and to create an educational system that supports and reflects their cultural and intellectual practices.”

The statement will demand an immediate and permanent end to the death threats, sacking, plunder, sexual attacks and displacement against the EZLN’s supporters, as well as respect for their right to free determination expressed in their construction of autonomy of government, justice, education, the right to food and health.

In the community of Tentic, some 20 kilometers from the Caracol of Oventic, belonging to San Andrés Sakamch’en de los Pobres autonomous municipality, the PRI members impede the autonomous school’s functioning, in a lack of compliance with a 2004 agreement. The state government constructed a new primary school, while the Zapatistas keep possession of the old one, now the “Compañero Salvador” autonomous primary school. Nevertheless, last May 10, some 50 PRI members broke its walls and put on chains and locks.

________________________________________________________________

Warning about risk of forced displacement in Chiapas, municipality of Chilon 

The Fray Bartolome de las Casas Centre says the state is responsible

It demands an end to threats, harassment and eviction of Zapatista support bases

Hermann Bellinghausen
La Jornada
Wednesday June 29, 2011

San Cristobal de las Casas, Chis., June 28. The threats of deportation and death against the EZLN support bases in San Marcos Aviles, municipality of Chilón, reported on Monday night, has reached alarming proportions for the second time in less than a year. On September 9, 2010, the Zapatista families were displaced for over a month byejidatarios from the political parties affiliated with the PRI, PRD and PVEM. They are responsible for further attacks.

Fray Bartolome de las Casas Human Rights Centre (Frayba) states, “the state has responsibility by omission” for these attacks, “as the authorities have not acted to ensure the integrity and security of the Zapatista support bases and their access to land ”. This is despite complaints by the Good Government Council (JBG) of Oventic, and various interventions from Frayba sent to the government in Chiapas. The agency, headed by Bishop Raul Vera, demands the cessation of the death threats, harassment and eviction of the EZLN support bases by members of political parties in the ejido, as well as the protection and guarantee of their lives and security, ”respecting the process of autonomy they have been building for years, under the right to self-determination of peoples”, sanctioned by the ILO, the UN, and signed by the Mexican state.

The 170 people displaced from San Marcos Avilés in September, returned on October 12. On that occasion, the JBG of Oventic blamed the state government for any new acts of aggression against their compañeros, who were and are being persecuted for peacefully practicing their autonomy. It is recalled that the first attacks were sparked last August, when the Zapatistas built a school, within the Zapatista Rebel Autonomous Education System.

On September 9, 30 people in the ejido, members of the aforementioned political parties, led by Lorenzo Ruiz Gómez and Vicente Ruiz López, had violently, with sticks, machetes and guns, broken into the homes of the Zapatistas, where they tried to rape two women, who managed to escape. So as not to respond to aggression, the Zapatistas took refuge in the mountain. After 33 days of forced displacement, without food and unprotected, they returned to their homes.

The Frayba documented then how the homes of the displaced had been looted of all their belongings, including corn and beans. Their crops, coffee and fruit trees were destroyed, and their livestock stolen.

Since then, the centre has reported “several times” to the authorities about the situation in San Marcos Aviles, “to seek compliance with their obligation to ensure the integrity and security of the people, and find a solution to the conflict”. Despite this, there has been “no response” from the government.

Even when the displaced population decided to return, Frayba has continued to document “persistent and daily threats to the community,” and argues that “there is a risk of forced displacement.” On 6 April this year a civil peace camp was installed in theejido, whose civilian observers have also been threatened, something unprecedented, which speaks of escalating attacks against the Zapatistas.

These do not seem to be isolated events. Similar situations of harassment by groups affiliated to the political parties are being reported in the Zapatista autonomous municipalities of Lucio Cabanas and Comandante Ramona, and communities of adherents to the Other Campaign such as Jotolá and San Sebastian Bachajón, all in the official municipality of Chilon.

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170 Zapatista support bases are expelled in Chilón

In retaliation for building an autonomous school, says the JBG from the Caracol of Oventic

Hermann Bellinghausen
La Jornada
Friday September 10, 2010

About 170 bases of support of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) were expelled early this Thursday in the Tzeltal community of San Marcos Avilés, municipality of Chilón, Chiapas. The action was perpetrated by members of the PRI, PRD and PVEM in retaliation for the construction of an autonomous school in the community. The Good Government Junta (JBG) from the Oventic caracol denounced the attackers, led by Lorenzo Ruiz Gómez and Vicente Ruiz López , “they came with machetes, sticks and firearms, entered into two houses and tried to rape two women.” So as not to respond to [this] provocation, the Zapatistas left their homes and belongings. ”Men, women and children are now refugees in the woods, suffering hunger, cold, sleeplessness and fear.”

The JBG reported that Zapatista bases from  Pamalá and Guadalupe el Kaptetaj, municipality of Sitalá, informed them that Manuel Vazquez was summoned by force by the authorities and party leaders of San Marcos and Pamalá in late August, demanding the dismantling of the school and saying that they will continue to do the same to other communities with autonomous schools.

According to the JBG the objective of these actions, “instigated by the three levels of government, is to prevent the education of our children and the progress of the construction of our autonomy.” Manuel Vazquez was harassed and detained on August 21, along with Guadalupe Kaptetaj. On their release, their captors told them to leave the Zapatista organization, not to inform the JBG and they were going to take away the land they had bought more than 10 years ago. “They threatened to ask the Agrarian authorities to cancel the land rights of 15 ejidatarios from San Marcos Avilés. On 24 and 25 August they seized 29 hectares with 5850 coffee trees, 10 acres of corn, beans, cows, horses and three houses, and destroyed a banana plantation.
On September 8 the invaders took the cattle, stole the fence and fired shots into the air. ”They said that this is the first step against our compañeros, and the next is to expel them from the ejido, keeping their wives and daughters for the party members, and then burn their houses.

“The bad governments do not know how to stop the national liberation struggle of the Zapatistas, so they want to stop our autonomous education,” said the JBG. However, they warned, “we will continue with autonomous education throughout Zapatista territory, our sons and daughters are not going to go to the official (pro-government) schools because there they are never going to teach the truth about how we live as indigenous peoples and all the poor of Mexico. Our compañeros were evicted in the last few hours, they must return home and we demand that they be respected”.

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