Archive for the News Category

Letter to Mexican President re: San Juan Copala Under Siege

Posted in News, protesta, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on June 8, 2010 by floweroftheword

President Felipe Calderon

United Mexican States

C/O Mr Luis Enrique Franco, Chargé d’Affaires

Embassy of Mexico

Level 2, AMP Chambers

185-187 Featherston Street

Wellington 6011

08 June 2010

Dear Sir,

The Wellington Zapatista Support group expresses it’s profound outrage at the ongoing paramilitary siege of the autonomous indigenous community of San Juan Copala, Oaxaca, Mexico, and the repression and murders of community members and of human rights workers trying to deliver humanitarian aid.

We demand the Mexican Federal and Oaxaca State Government ensure the safe passage of the humanitarian caravan today delivering aid to the besieged autonomous community of San Juan Copala;

We demand the Mexican Federal and Oaxaca State Government take immediate action to protect the residents of San Juan Copola, and ensure that they have access to adequate supplies of food and water; as well as all necessary health care;

We demand an end to the siege of the community by the UBISORT armed paramilitary group, so that residents can move freely, communicate with the outside world and receive visits from humanitarian missions without fear of attack or reprisal;

We demand an investigation into the deaths of José Celestino Hernández Cruz, Alberta Cariño, known as Beatriz or Bety, Jyri Antero Jaakkola, Alejandro Ramirez, and Cleriberta Castro, with the results made public and those responsible brought to justice;

We demand the federal authorities prevent human rights abuses committed by members of UBISORT against local residents, and investigate the group’s links to members of the PRI, the governing party in Oaxaca, and bring all those implicated in human rights abuses to justice.


Wellington Zapatista Support Group.

Copala Autonomous Leader and His Wife Assassinated

Posted in News, noticias with tags , , , , on May 25, 2010 by floweroftheword

From here

Thursday, May 20, 2010

by Kristin Bricker

Timoteo Alejandro Ramirez and his wife Cleriberta Castro were found dead in their home today, according to San Juan Copala’s blog. Contralinea reports that the perpetrators are “hitmen from MULT,” the Movement for Triqui Unification and Struggle. Neighbors saw an armed commando that they say works for MULT in the area around the time of the killing.

Ramirez was a “natural leader” of the Yosoyuxi neighborhood, which forms part of the autonomous municipality of San Juan Copala. According to indigenous customs, “natural leaders” are those who don’t propose themselves as leaders; the community chooses them because of their long record of community service.

San Juan Copala declared itself autonomous following the 2006 peaceful uprising that nearly overthrew Gov. Ulises Ruiz Ortiz. It threw out all political parties and organizations and governs itself through traditional indigenous governance, known in Mexico as “uses and customs.” The autonomous project initially enjoyed support amongst the rank-and-file of some of the political organizations that operate in the zone. However, some organizations’ leaders, concerned that they would lose power if the autonomous project moved forward, actively and violently opposed the project. Those leaders who supported autonomy were quickly replaced by people who were sympathetic to the political parties.

San Juan Copala made international headlines last month when alleged members of the Union for the Social Well-being of the Triqui Region (UBISORT) opened fire on an international aid caravan headed to the besieged community. Mexican social leader Bety Cariño and Finnish observor Jyri Jaakkola died in the attack. The caravan was bring food, clothing, water, and medicine to San Juan Copala, which UBISORT paramilitaries have blockaded since January. No one can enter or leave the community, and the paramilitaries cut off electricity and running water.

The intense international outrage that followed the caravan attack did nothing to stem the violence. Two weeks after the attack, UBISORT paramilitaries kidnapped six Triqui women, five children, and a baby when they snuck out of Copala to purchase food in the market of the nearby town of Juxtlahuaca. The Oaxaca state government and the Oaxaca State Human Rights Commission refused to accompany the woman back to San Juan Copala to ensure their safe passage.

San Juan Copala has called for a second, larger international caravan to the autonomous municipality on June 8.

First photo: Courtesy of Contralinea.

Second photo: by Heriberto Rodriguez. Timoteo Alejandro Ramirez talks to Oaxacan state police.

Paramilitaries Kill Two Human Rights Activists in Oaxaca

Posted in News, Uncategorized on May 4, 2010 by floweroftheword

Democracy Now News Video – April 30, 2010

In Mexico, two human rights activists have been shot dead in the state of Oaxaca. The victims have been identified as Beatriz Carino, director of the Mexican human rights group CACTUS, and Jyri Antero Jaakkola, a human rights observer from Finland. They were traveling as part of a convoy attempting to deliver aid to a town that’s been targeted by paramilitary blockades since the 2006 uprising against governor Ulises Ruiz.

To watch the video or read the transcript click on the link above.

Abejas to march on International Women’s Day

Posted in Announcement, comunicado, Event, News, noticias, protesta with tags , , , on March 3, 2010 by floweroftheword

On February 12 the Abejas Civil Society Organization of Acteal extended an invitation to a march they are organizing to mark International Women’s Day on March 8.

The Abejas commemorate the Acteal massacre on the 22nd of each month. This past February 22, the Abejas published a press release in which they shared their analysis of the current situation in their municipality, in light of the recent release of several prisoners accused of the massacre. They also remarked on conflicts taking place in other parts of the state.

read the rest here

Juan Manuel Martinez Moreno is free!

Posted in News, noticias with tags , , on March 2, 2010 by floweroftheword

Story with photos here

Paramilitary Attack on Zapatistas in Bolón Ajaw

Posted in denuncia, News, noticias with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 2, 2010 by floweroftheword

Paramilitary Attack on Zapatistas in Bolón Ajaw

As we reported in our January 2010 Chiapas/Zapatista News Summary, 57 residents of Agua Azul ejido, belonging to the PRI (political party) and suspected of belonging to the Organization for the Defense of Indigenous and Campesino Rights (Opddic, its initials in Spansh), entered Bolón Ajaw Zapatista community on January 21, smoking marijuana and displaying guns. The “Opddicas,” as they are referred to by the Zapatistas, constructed 3 cabins on Bolón Ajaw’s recuperated land.

There is a long-standing history of violence and provocation by the PRI members from Agua Azul ejido in this region. The conflict is about controlling the land. While the PRI members have no legal right to Bolón Ajaw’s land, the Mexican Army and the state government allow them to use any means they see fit to try to take the land away from the Zapatistas. What makes this land so desirable is the spectacular turquoise waterfall located on Bolón Ajaw’s land, located adjacent to the internationally famous tourist attraction, the Agua Azul Cascades (shown above). The PRI members know there is a lot of money to be made from tourism and want to expand their control of the tourist area into Bolón Ajaw. That coincides with the state and federal governments plans for a mega-tourism corridor between Agua Azul and the Palenque Ruins, a majestic Maya archaeological site. As the governments’ plans for developing the region have become known, entry fees collected from tourists have been the cause of numerous clashes between PRI members and Zapatista supporters in the region of the Agua Azul Cascades. The government has promised the PRI members a cut of the profits if they displace the Zapatistas who do not want to make the land part of a tourist project, but want to preserve the natural setting, including the virgin waterfall.

On February 6, armed conflict erupted in and around Bolón Ajaw. According to the government, the end result was 1 PRI member dead from a gunshot wound, some 20+ PRI members injured, many from gunshot wounds, and 7 PRI members detained by the Zapatistas. As if on cue, the PRI members went running to the Attorney General of Chiapas claiming that the Zapatistas mounted an armed attack on them. The Attorney General found it convenient to believe the PRI members and issued press statements accusing the Zapatistas and demanding immediate release of those “kidnapped” (detained).

The Zapatista Good Government Junta in the Caracol of Morelia issued a long state-ment describing and denouncing the incident. The Junta first reminded us that after the January incident in Bolon Ajaw it warned that the Zapatistas would defend the land and its riches. It went on to state that it was the armed Opddic members from Agua Azul ejido who ambushed unarmed Zapatistas and, therefore, it was the armed PRI members who shot wildly and killed one of their own members. 3 Zapatistas were injured by bullets, one gravely. The Junta reported that all those detained were released.

The Junta made a proposal as a basis for dialogue between the parties. The government, however, is insisting that the dialogue be held at the Government Palace in the capital city of Tuxtla Gutiérrez and that Governor Juan Sabines be present to preside over the dialogue. Moreover, the government insists on the presence of a Zapatista from Bolón Ajaw. And, what worries everyone is that government officials are insinuating that if the Zapatistas do not go to the Government Palace, the Army will enter to resolve the problem militarily. The implications of this are ominous.

A truce between the federal Army and the Zapatista Army has existed ever since the 1995 passage of the law promoting peace and dialogue in Chiapas. This has kept both the federal Army and the Zapatista Army from using their weapons. If that law and the truce were deemed broken, the Mexican Army could enter into Zapatista communities to detain people, destroy autonomous institutions (government headquarters, schools, clinics, economic projects) and occupy the communities. Because the state government set such ridiculous conditions for dialogue, the Morelia Junta believes that this is what President Felipe Calderón wants to happen.

The Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Center (Frayba) acted as a “communications bridge” between the government and the Junta, delivering messages back and forth. Frayba issued a statement saying that dialogue was not possible now due to the intense military presence in the zone around Agua Azul and the conditions set by the government. As of February 16, a “large number” of intelligence agents are reportedly operating in the Agua Azul region, some in plain clothes; military helicopters are flying low over the communities; and security forces are stationed in the area, patrolling constantly.

Chiapas Support Committee

P.O. Box 3421, Oakland, CA 94609

(510) 654-9587

Action Alert: Violent Evictions in Chiapas

Posted in Announcement, denuncia, News, noticias, protesta with tags , , , , , , on March 2, 2010 by floweroftheword

Elder Indigenous woman takes part in march for world peace in San Cristobal, Chiapas, Mexico. The Indigenous Peoples’ march was led by Bishop Felipe Arizmendi on March 14, 2003, days before the U.S. began its “official” bombing of Iraq.

Chiapas, Mexico 2003

photo: Langelle/GJEP

This photo is relevant today for many reasons. Next month is the 7th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq and even though that war has slowed down, the attack on Afghanistan intensifies. This photograph was also taken just after an emergency delegation went to Chiapas regarding forced evictions of Indigenous communities from the Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve in the Lacandon jungle. Today in Chiapas, there are violent evictions taking place in the Lacandon jungle–this time to make room for oil palm plantations.

In 2003:

In March 2003 Orin Langelle travelled to Chiapas on an emergency investigative delegation to look into threatened evictions of Indigenous communities from the Lacandon jungle, and to examine the level of ecological destruction there. Some communities were already relocated. The delegation, including journalists, photographers and organizers, visited threatened communities in the Lacandon, met with organizations working in the region and conducted overflights of the jungle, documenting the ecological damage.

Why the evictions? Conservation International (CI) teamed up with the Mexican government to declare that Indigenous communities, including Zapatista support base communities living in the Monte Azules Integral Biosphere Reserve were destroying it. This provided a supposedly ecological pretext–protection of the Monte Azules–as the reason for evicting these communities.

Our delegation proved that most of the communities had been conducting sustainable organic agriculture in the jungle for years. They outlawed slash and burn farming and practiced regular crop rotation to protect the soil. In fact, we found that it was the military that was causing massive destruction of the rainforest–which we witnessed on our overflight of the jungle.

This developed during the Mexican government’s thrust to push the Plan Puebla Panama mega-development scheme. One of the PPP plans calls for the establishment of new timber plantations in the region.

Now in 2010:

México: Violent evictions in Chiapas for establishing oil palm monocultures

from World Rainforest Movement Bulletin, February 2010,

What follows is a communiqué from the Latin American Network against Monoculture Tree Plantations (RECOMA) reporting on the violent situation that local communities and Indigenous Peoples of the Lacandona forest in Chiapas are presently going through.

Appeal to international solidarity to protect the Lacandona Forest in Chiapas (Mexico), February 2010.

The Latin American Network against Monoculture Tree Plantations (RECOMA) is hereby denouncing the arbitrary treatment suffered by various communities in the Lacandona forest, in the area declared as the Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve, in the State of Chiapas, Mexico.

Last January, the Chiapas State Congress approved funding for the construction of a palm oil processing plant. Shortly afterwards, dozens of families from the Municipality of Ocosingo were evicted from their territory, in order to give way for the expansion of monoculture oil palm plantations.

Dozens of heavily armed police arrived in helicopters and with aggressive violence evicted men, women and children from their homes, which they then burnt down and with no explanation, removed the community to the city of Palenque.

While the government talks about conservation and protection of the zone, it evicts those who have been truly responsible for making this conservation possible. At the same time, it replaces local ecosystems by oil palm monocultures.

Oil palm plantations are being promoted under an “ecological” mask, as if the production of agrofuels based on palm oil could be a solution to climate change. Apart from the falsehood of these affirmations, no mention is made of the serious negative impacts they generate such as violation of the local population and indigenous peoples’ human rights, as is presently the case in Chiapas.

Furthermore, monoculture oil palm plantations are one of the main causes of deforestation and therefore contribute to climate change through the release of carbon stored in the forests, while destroying the means of subsistence and food sovereignty of millions of small farmers, Indigenous and other communities, and generating serious negative environmental impacts. The plantations require agrochemicals that poison the workers and local communities and contaminate soil and water. Monoculture oil palm plantations eliminate biodiversity and deplete fresh water sources.

In sum, monoculture plantations for the production of paper and agrofuels (such as in the case of oil palm) worsen the living conditions and opportunities for survival of the local population and are only beneficial to a small handful of companies that become rich at the expense of social and environmental destruction.

For this reason, we are appealing to the international community to condemn the plans for the expansion of monoculture oil palm plantations in Mexico, denouncing this situation by all means at your disposal.

To Protest these evictions, contact:

Physical address:

187 Featherston Street

Level 2, AMP Chambers

Wellington 6011

New Zealand

Postal address:

PO Box 11-510, Wellington 6142, New Zealand

Phone: +64-4-472-0555

Fax: +64-4-496-3559


(or your local Mexican Embassy)

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From the staff at GJEP,

Anne Petermann, Executive Director

Orin Langelle, Co-Director/Strategist

Camila Moreno, Lawyer/Researcher (Porto Alegre, Brazil)

Hallie Boas, New Voices on Climate Change Coordinator (Berkeley, CA)

Aja Lippincott, Assistant to the Directors