Zapatista News Summary December 2015

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1. Harassment of members of Las Abejas. On 2nd December, Las Abejas of Acteal denounce that in the communities of Los Chorros, Chenalhó municipality, which is a “nest of paramilitaries,” three members of their organisation have been threatened and had their electricity and water cut off for not accepting government assistance projects, which as an organisation they reject. Over 40 national and international groups and collectives make a pronouncement in their support, against the strategies of war and counterinsurgency and in favour of autonomy and resistance. On 23rd December, 3 families of members of Las Abejas in the community of Kexaluk’um have their electricity cut off. There are also problems in the community of Xunuch, and in Colonia Puebla, where two years ago more than 100 people were displaced for several months.

2. Threats against the Centre for Women’s Rights in Chiapas denounced. Frayba reports concerns about acts of harassment, vigilance and threats against the Centre for the Rights of Women in Chiapas in San Cristóbal de Las Casas, which were denounced by the organisation on 2nd December, and demands that the state establishes protocols to guarantee the safety of members of the organisation. The women say that the aggressions they have experienced are an indication of the level of violence endured by women in Chiapas, and call for an alert to be issued about gender violence in the state.

3. Protest at lack of follow-up to death of babies due to medical negligence. About a thousand members of the community of La Pimienta, in the municipality of Simojovel, hold a protest march and set up a sit-in on 2nd December to denounce the lack of any medical follow-up or monitoring for the 29 babies whose health was gravely affected – another two died – after being given expired and contaminated vaccinations by staff of the IMSS last May. Contrary to commitments given by the government, the community still has no access road, no clinic and no doctor. They call on the government to fulfil its promises, guarantee the health of the 29 infants and award compensation for damages.

4. Four years of impunity and displacement for Banavil. A press conference is called on 4th December to mark the fourth anniversary of the forced displacement of the 19 people from Banavil, in the municipality of Tenejapa, and the forced disappearance of Alonso López Luna, by members of the PRI from the same community.

5. Ten years of recovery of lands for San Francisco Teopisca. On 6th December, ejidatarios of the community of San Francisco, in the municipality of Teopisca, celebrate the tenth anniversary of the recuperation of their lands. San Francisco is one of the communities belonging to the collective “Semilla Digna.” They explain how they spent ten years asking for their lands back before deciding to take them.

6. Popular Citizens’ Constitutional Assembly. Thousands of people march on 6th December in San Cristobal de Las Casas and participate in the public proclamation of the new Popular Citizens’ Constitutional Power, which is intended to elaborate and reach consensus on a new Political Constitution for the country, drafted by the people and for the people, to lead to the re-founding of the nation and a new social contract. Bishop Raúl Vera López leads the event and is given the staff of command by the indigenous present.

7. More municipalities declare their territory free of mining and dams. By ratifying the III Declaration of Tapachula on 8th December, nine municipalities of the Sierra Madre and the Soconusco follow the campesinos and fishermen from the sierra and coast of Chiapas (on 30th November) and declare their territory to be “free from mining operations and dams” and in resistance against the “megaprojects of death” of transnational corporations. The Mexican state seeks to grant concessions over areas of their territory without the consent of the inhabitants, who plan to organise and link with other struggles in resistance.

8. Teacher is killed in confrontation between police and teachers in Tuxtla. On 9th December there is a violent confrontation between security forces and teachers of the National Education Workers Union attempting to boycott the teacher evaluation, resulting in one teacher dead and five people injured. Six people are detained, but released the following day when the teachers call a truce, and return to work.

9. Another attack on community of Shulvo, Zinacantan. On 9th an attack is reported against adherents to the Sixth Declaration in the community of Shulvo, Autonomous Municipality Vicente Guerrero, official municipality of Zinacantan. A group of PRI with guns, under the command of the municipal president of Zinacantan, attack and shoot at adherents to the Sixth and cause damage to several houses. On November 3rd a group of PRI members and employees of the CFE cut the electricity and water supplies to several families in the same community of Shulvo.

10. The 23rd anniversary of Las Abejas of Acteal. On the 10th December the Civil Society Organisation Las Abejas from Acteal celebrates 23 years of “exercising their rights as original peoples to construct their autonomy and defend their mother earth.”

11. National and international days for political prisoners. From 6th to 13th December, ‘National and International Days for our Prisoners’ are held, in solidarity with political prisoners in Mexico and the world who are adherents to the Sexta or the equivalent. The days are co-ordinated by the Network for Solidarity and against Repression (RvsR), and follow discussions held at the Eurozapatista meeting in Barcelona. Chiapas currently has four political prisoners who are adherents to the Sixth Declaration: Alejandro Díaz Sántiz, Emilio Jiménez Gómez, Esteban Gómez Jiménez, and Santiago Moreno Pérez.

12. Call for release of Alejandro Díaz Sántiz. As part of the above, a caravan travels from San Cristobal to CEFERESO in Villa Comaltitlán, Tapachula, to coincide with a press conference to demand the immediate freedom of Alejandro Díaz Sántiz, unjustly imprisoned for 16 years, and to denounce the conditions of isolation he is forced to endure since his transfer to the high security prison in September. He is only allowed 30 minutes in the yard each day, while for the rest of the time he remains confined to his cell without access to pictures, reading matter, correspondence, pencils or paper.

13. Recovery of ancestral lands in Tila. On 16th December, the Ch’ol ejidatarios of Tila, adherents to the Sexta, following an agreement in assembly, recover their ejidal lands which have been occupied for the last fifty years by the municipal presidency and city hall. They expel the municipal council, which they say is composed of paramilitaries, and burn and partially demolish the city hall. Following the shooting and wounding in the stomach of an ejidatario, the ejido Tila denounces the reactivation of paramilitary groups, and a declaration “Facing the Gathering Storm” is issued in solidarity by the Indigenous National Congress. Pronouncements of support are also issued from nearby communities, adherents to the Sexta.

14. Zapatista support base from Toniná arrested again. On 18th December, Frayba denounces the arbitrary deprivation of liberty and lack of due process in the arrest of José Alfonso Cruz Espinosa, support base of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (BAEZLN). He was arrested in November on what the JBG of La Garrucha has denounced as fabricated charges of ecocide and plunder, an act which took place in 2012, and an excessive amount is set for his bail. His family pay the fee and he is released pending further proceedings. José has been targeted because he owns the land at the foot of the classic Maya pyramid in Toniná.

15. Land reclamation in San Isidro Los Laureles. Indigenous Tsotsil adherents to the Sexta, who are also members of “Semilla Digna,” from the community of San Isidro Los Laureles, municipality of Venustiano Carranza, announce on 20th December that they have recuperated between 165 and 200 hectares of their land and territory from large cattle and sugar cane ranches, where their parents and grandparents had worked as indentured servants since 1940. They previously reclaimed the lands in 1994, but were violently dispossessed. On 26th December they issue a call for solidarity as they fear another violent eviction. On 30th December, they announce that this eviction is scheduled to take place between 2nd and 5th January 2016.

16. The 18th anniversary of the Acteal Massacre is marked on 22nd December with a commemoration and pilgrimage. The director of Frayba, Pedro Faro, says: “For 18 years no justice has been done and the wall of impunity persists.” Only two of the paramilitaries who committed the massacre are still in prison, all the others charged have been released. Las Abejas announce they have decided to continue walking and buildingLekil Chapanel, True or Other Justice.

17. Leaders and members of the CIOAC-H threaten and intimidate displaced people from Primero de Agosto. On 23rd December, the displaced families release a statement to mark 10 months since their forced displacement. They are living in the mud through the torrential rain, sleeping on wet ground under plastic sheets. They denounce that the harassment from members of Cioac-H from Miguel Hidalgo continues.

18. Pope to visit Chiapas. It is announced that the visit of Pope Francis to Mexico in 2016 will include Chiapas, where he will hold a mass with indigenous communities, and visit the tomb of bishop Samuel Ruiz García, who died in 2011.

19. Violation of rights of migrants. An international jury of independent human rights experts and advocates finds Mexico, the US and key countries of origin of migrants in transit jointly responsible for widespread human rights violations in Mexico, based on hearings held at New York University in September 2015. The jury calls for the suspension of US military and police aid to Mexico.

20. The Caravan of Mothers of Disappeared Migrants tours Mexico from 30th November, finishing in Chiapas on 18th December. This is the eleventh time a caravan of Central Americans has travelled across Mexico, looking for relatives who have gone missing along the migration routes that lead to the U.S. border. The women are part of mutual aid groups that began forming in their home countries as the numbers of missing migrants rose to crisis proportions. They work closely with a network of human rights activists in Mexico, many of them affiliated with migrant shelters run by Catholic priests.

21. Semeí Verdía is free. On 24th December, Semeí Verdía Zepeda, commander of the Community Police of Santa María de Ostula, municipality of Aquila, Michoacan, is released under legal reserves from prison, where he has been confined on charges of homicide since July 2015, following local, national and international protests. Indigenous groups in Chiapas and elsewhere celebrate.

22. Reactivation of paramilitary groups denounced. Recent events in the ejido Tila and the municipality of Chenalhό have demonstrated the recent reactivation of paramilitary groups, primarily Paz y Justicia , in the north of Chiapas, the Tseltal and Chol región. Between 1995 and 2000 members of this group are charged in this area alone with the murder or disappearance of at least 122 indigenous people, the displacement of more than 4000 people, the closing of almost 50 Catholic churches, the theft of more than 3000 head of cattle and the rape of at least 30 women from various communities.

23. Intimidation and raids on collaborators with Cideci and a member of the support team of the EZLN Sixth Commission. On 29th December, Frayba denounces harassment, threats, raids and attacks on Julio César Ortega, and his son César Iván and their home and family. Both are adherents to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandόn Jungle of the EZLN and collaborators with CIDECI-Unitierra Chiapas, and Julio César has been at various times a driver and member of the Support Team of the Sixth Commission of the EZLN.

24. San Sebastián Bachajón in support of the ejido Tila. On 29th December, ejidatarios adherents to the Sixth Declaration from San Sebastián Bachajón organise a roadblock and issue a communiqué in solidarity with the ejido Tila and to demand respect for the rights of the indigenous people of both communities.

25. Ambush and armed attack on members of Las Abejas. On 30th December, Las Abejas denounce an attack the previous evening on 2 adults and one child, members of the group, by three people, two dressed in black, and one dressed in military style. The ambush takes place on the road to Pantelhó, and the attackers shoot at the 3 members of Las Abejas, injuring one of them, when they are returning from collecting sacks of coffee in the community of San Joaquín. They stress that this is another example of the current renewal of paramilitary activity in this area, reminiscent of late 1997. “We can say that this is similar to the situation before the Acteal Massacre, because at any time and in any place we can be ambushed and killed like animals, for the same government authorities not only do nothing, but instead they protect the murderers and paramilitaries and let them act with total impunity.”

26. Zapatista 22nd Anniversary. Celebrations to mark 22 years since the first public appearance of the Zapatistas are held in the Caracoles, and in many parts of the world. The EZLN issue a communique, “on the 22nd anniversary of the beginning of the war against oblivion”, signed by Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés and Subcomandante Insurgente Galeano. Moisés reads this at Oventic at midnight on 31st December.

For further news from Chiapas see: https://dorsetchiapassolidarity.wordpress.com/2015/12/23/boca-en-boca-no-39-december-2015-english/

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