Archive for Chiapas / Zapatista News Summary

JANUARY 2010 CHIAPAS/ZAPATISTA NEWS SUMMARY

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

1. Chiapas State Congress Passes Indigenous “Rights” Law – On December 30, 2009, the Chiapas State Congress passed a law regarding Indigenous Rights and Culture without consulting indigenous peoples in the state. This new state law conditions these rights on not conflicting with the state or federal Constitution or any state or federal law. In other words, rather than creating new indigenous rights, the new law merely reinforces the counter-reform passed by the federal government in 2001 and enforces the rights of government.

2. Cocopa Asks Chiapas Governor Not to Publish the Law – The Commission for Harmony and Pacification (Cocopa, for its initials in Spanish), met with deputies and senators who make up the local Congress in Chiapas. Cocopa’s president, Jaime Martinez Veloz, asked Governor Juan Sabines not to publish the new law on indigenous rights and culture and to consult with the state’s indigenous peoples before passing any law about them. Martinez Veloz pointed out that consultation is required by international law (Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization).

3. Human Rights Defender Receives Death Threats – Adolfo Guzman Ordaz, a human rights defender in Comitán, Chiapas, received a note slipped under the door of his home threatening him with death threat. That allegedly occurred on January 6. Earlier the same day, state preventive police had gone to his home looking for him. Their motive is not known. Guzmán Ordaz was not at home, but later that afternoon the note arrived. He had previously received a phone call on December 25 saying it would be his last Christmas. Guzman Ordaz works for the civil organism Enlace, Communications and Capacity Building (ECC, its initials in Spanish). Ministerial police broke into Guzmán Ordaz’ home last November without a warrant and terrorized his wife and small children.

4. Opddic Invades Zapatista Ejido – Bolón Ajaw is a small indigenous Zapatista village that was under siege off and on for years by its PRI neighbors in Agua Azul ejido. At some point in the last year or so, the Zapatistas reached an agreement with the state government to convert the “recuperated” land on which Bolón Ajaw sits into a legal ejido. The violent attacks by PRI members belonging to the Organization for the Defense of Indigenous and Campesino Rights (Opddic) seemed to stop for awhile. However, on January 21, 57 Opddic members invaded the new ejido (collective farm), carrying pistols, machetes and radios and began to construct 3 cabins while smoking marijuana, which is strictly prohibited in Zapatista communities. Bolón Ajaw has a spectacular virgin waterfall and is adjacent to the Agua Azul Cascades tourist area.

5. 2 Indigenous Communities Evicted from Montes Azules – Federal and state police report that on January 20 they evicted two indigenous communities from the Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve in the Lacandon Jungle. The communities are known as El Suspiro (aka El Semental) and Laguna San Pedro (San Pedro Guanil). Police allege that 2 men from Laguna San Pedro were detained for possession of firearms. Police say they took the community’s remaining members to a state-run aid organization for shelter. Police reported that El Suspiro residents fled into the woods. The request for eviction came from members of the “Lacandon Community.” The Good Government Junta in La Garrucha denounced the eviction and stated that those evicted from Laguna San Pedro are EZLN support bases. (An article on the evictions is attached in a pdf file.))

6. The Politics of Mining and Elections in Chiapas – On January 13, Chiapas police detained Walter León Montoya pursuant to an arrest warrant. León Montoya is a former federal PRI deputy (congressman) and is currently a representative of Canacar, a national organization of truckers. León Montoya is accused of being the “intellectual author” of the murder of anti-mining activist Mariano Abarca. The Network of Those Affected by Mining (REMA), Abarca’s organization, criticized the accusation and detention as scapegoating and a ploy to give the Black Fire mining company impunity. Curiously, or should we say conveniently, León Montoya filed a lawsuit against the PRD government of Juan Sabines over the cancellation of 2010 elections in Chiapas! His arrest apparently means he cannot pursue the lawsuit. Looks like another slick move by Governor Sabines.

In Other Parts of Mexico…

1. Mexico’s “Anti-Drug” War Claims 7,724 Lives in 2009 – El Universal reported that a total of 16,205 lives have been lost since 2007, when Mexico’s president, Felipe Calderón, sent the federal Army out into the city streets to perform police functions in a war against drug traffickers and organized crime.

2. Judge’s Decision in Brad Will Murder Case Appealed – A district court judge in Oaxaca granted a protective order to Juan Manuel Martinez Moreno, an APPO member accused of the murder of Indymedia journalist Brad Will. The Attorney General of the Republic filed a timely appeal, so Martinez Moreno will remain in prison while the appeal is pending.

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Compiled monthly by the Chiapas Support Committee.

The primary sources for our information are: La Jornada, Enlace Zapatista and the Fray Bartolome de las Casas Human Rights Center (Frayba).

We encourage folks to distribute this information widely, but please include our name and contact information in the distribution. Gracias/Thanks.

News Summaries from previous months are now posted on our web page.

http://www.chiapas-support.org

_______________________________________________________

Chiapas Support Committee/Comité de Apoyo a Chiapas

P.O. Box 3421, Oakland, CA 94609

Tel: (510) 654-9587

Email: cezmat@igc.org

http://www.chiapas-support.org

FELIZ AÑO! HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Posted in News, noticias with tags , on February 1, 2010 by floweroftheword

DECEMBER 2009 CHIAPAS/ZAPATISTA NEWS SUMMARY

1. 16 Years of Zapatista Resistance! – January 1 marked the 16th Anniversary of the 1994 Zapatista Uprising. The Zapatistas closed the five Caracoles to the public (both national and international) on December 30 with signs announcing that they would reopen after January 2, 2010. Meanwhile, the Mexican Army moved into Tuxtla Gutierrez, the capital of Chiapas, with 26 armored tanks and 600 additional soldiers, to “dissuade” any possible confrontations.

2. San Cristóbal Seminar in Honor of Andrés Aubry – On December 30 and 31 and January 1 and 2, an international seminar of reflection and analysis took place at Cideci in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas. The 4-day gathering coincided with the publication of a book from the gathering 2 years ago in which the EZLN and some leading anticapitalist and antisystemic thinkers participated. It also coincided with the 16th Anniversary of the Zapatista Uprising, leading to much speculation about whether any Zapatistas would appear or participate in the seminar. That did not happen.

3. A New Cocopa Arrives in Chiapas – The Mexican Congress (federal) appointed a new Commission of Harmony and Pacification (Cocopa, for its initials in Spanish), as required by the 1995 law of the same name. Its legal mandate is to mediate between the federal government and the EZLN in a process of dialogue and negotiation to reach peace agreements. The new Cocopa is currently lodged in San Cristobal, trying to make contact with the EZLN. The commission did not explain why the EZLN should return to dialogue and negotiate with a government that failed to implement the first agreement it reached with the EZLN, known as the San Andres Accords on Indigenous Rights and Culture.

4. Scathing Human Rights Criticisms of Mexico – Mexico came under scathing attack from 3 sources this month for its human rights abuses. On December 9, Amnesty International accused the federal government of being complicit in serious human rights abuses committed by the Mexican army, often under the guise of fighting drug trafficking. AI accused the government of inadequate responses and ineffective investigations at all levels, leading to a general climate of impunity among security forces. A recent AI study found that human rights abuses by the army tripled under the Calderon administration.

On December 10, the Inter-American Human Rights Court accused Mexico of egregious human rights violations related to the femicides in Ciudad Juarez. Ruling on a case from 2001, the court found Mexico guilty of violating the most fundamental rights outlined in the Constitution, including the right to life, personal liberty, judicial protection and equal treatment. The wide-ranging decision ordered Mexico to repair the damages, fully investigate and process the crimes, sanction those responsible, and publicly recognize the state’s international responsibility for its egregious failures.

On December 21, Alberto Brunori, representative of the United Nations’ Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that cases of impunity almost always go hand in hand with smear campaigns designed to discredit denunciations of human rights abuse. He maintained that Chiapas is one of the states where there are serious cases of impunity and it is “difficult for humanitarian defenders to work,” because of situations of insecurity and the smear campaigns against them. Brunori was in Chiapas to meet with government officials, campesino organizations and to attend the 12th commemoration of the Acteal Massacre.

5. The US Delivers 5 Helicopters to Mexico – Oblivious to the rampant human rights abuse by Mexico’s security forces, the United States delivered 5 Bell-412 helicopters to Mexico’s Secretary of Defense on December 15. John Brennan, an advisor to Barack Obama on internal security and counterterrorism, personally handed over title to the helicopters as part of the Merida Initiative (Plan Mexico) to help Mexico in its “War Against Drugs.” Meanwhile, in Washington DC, the Senate was approving more money for Plan Mexico.

6. OCEZ Ends Its Protest on Cathedral Plaza – On Christmas Eve, as a result of negotiations with the Chiapas government, the Emiliano Zapata Campesino Organization (OCEZ) removed its sit-in on Cathedral Plaza in San Cristobal de las Casas. The Chiapas government agreed to legalize certain disputed lands occupied by OCEZ members and to study the possibility of legalizing others. It also agreed to give OCEZ 1,150,000 pesos for a number of “productive projects,” with which its communities can start small businesses. Another meeting on the agrarian issues will take place on January 13, 2010. The state government also agreed to pay lifetime pensions to the widows of the two men killed in the accident that occurred while they were attempting to stop the detention of Jose Manuel Chema Hernandez Martinez. It also agreed to pay disability benefits to a man who was paralyzed as a result of that same accident, and to reimburse OCEZ for the truck that was in the accident and its expenses for maintaining the sit-in.

7. Chiapas State Congress Passes Anti-Abortion Law – The local Chiapas Congress approved the “Law of Responsible Paternity,” which grants rights to persons from the moment of their conception, and revokes the penalty of prison against women that abort but imposes psychological treatment on them “to reaffirm the values of maternity.” The legislation was approved over strong protest by women’s rights organizations. The bill now goes to the 118 municipalities for approval as it involves a change to the state Constitution.

In Other Parts of Mexico…

1. Mexico City Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage – Gay activists in Mexico City received a Christmas present from Mexico City’s Congress. It approved legislation granting same-sex couples the right to marry. The law sets a precedent in Mexico and will also give gay couples the right to adopt children. The law is scheduled to take effect in March. There is currently an intense backlash against the legislation led by the Catholic Church.

2. Charges Against APPO Member in Brad Will Murder Reversed – A district court judge in Oaxaca granted a protective order to Juan Manuel Martinez Moreno, an APPO member accused of the murder of Indymedia jounalist Brad Will. This means that Martinez Moreno will be released from prison if the Attorney Generak of the Republic does not appeal within the next ten days. The judge found a lack of evidence against the accused and absolved him of the crime.

3. Lack of Health Care Cited in Guerrero Deaths – The Guerrero Network of Civil Human Rights Organisms reported that 22 people died in an indigenous region of the state in the last two months because of a lack of adequate health care facilities. 46 communities do not have even a casa de salud and those that have one lack medicines. Clinics in the region do not have doctors or nurses 24-7, and some clinics completely lack doctors. This same situation is also found in rural Chiapas. It is one of the first problems the Zapatistas began to address and advance in. It is why the Chiapas Support Committee’s Pharmacy Warehouse Project, and others like it, are so important.

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Compiled monthly by the Chiapas Support Committee.

The primary sources for our information are: La Jornada, Enlace Zapatista and the Fray Bartolome de las Casas Human Rights Center (Frayba).

We encourage folks to distribute this information widely, but please include our name and contact information in the distribution. Gracias/Thanks.

News Summaries from previous months are now posted on our web page.

http://www.chiapas-support.org

_______________________________________________________

Chiapas Support Committee/Comité de Apoyo a Chiapas

P.O. Box 3421, Oakland, CA 94609

Tel: (510) 654-9587

Email: cezmat@igc.org

http://www.chiapas-support.org

AUGUST 2008 CHIAPAS / ZAPATISTA NEWS SUMMARY

Posted in News with tags , , on September 5, 2008 by floweroftheword

1. Marcos and Moises Address Caravan – On August 2, in the Caracol of La Garrucha, Subcomandante Marcos and Lt. Col. Moises made a public appearance for the first time since Marcos announced last December that there would be no more public appearances for a while because the EZLN was preparing for a war they were sure was coming. Comandantes Masho and Ismael appeared with them. The occasion was the visit of a brigade from the National and International Caravan of Observation and Solidarity with the Zapatista Communities. Marcos and Moises each addressed the brigade. Marcos, assuming more or less the role of an educator to the group of mostly first-time visitors, talked to them about the EZLN’s beginnings in 1983 as a tiny guerrilla “foco” in the Chiapas jungle, and how it evolved into an indigenous army. He also discussed the reasoning behind the break with the institutional left in the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle. Marcos introduced the 2 comandantes, Masho and Ismael, who would accompany the brigade to the 2 communities (Galeana and San Alejandro) accused by the Mexican army of growing marijuana. Lt. Col. Moises described the process of constructing autonomy to the visitors. The brigade also visited new communities constructed on recuperated land to learn about the history of the fincas and how it was before the January 1, 1994 Zapatista Uprising. No mention was made of a date for resuming the 2nd Stage of the Other Campaign.

2. Caravan of Observation and Solidarity – Over 300 national and international observers divided into brigades and visited Zapatista communities during the first two weeks of August. They traveled to the Caracoles of La Garrucha, Oventik, Morelia and La Realidad, as well as the Huitepec Ecological Reserve, Cruzton and other Zapatista sites recently threatened by provocations from the Army and police. They celebrated the 5th anniversary of the Caracoles and the Good Government Juntas on August 8 and 9 and issued a report verifying the militarization of Zapatista zones and the absence of drugs in Zapatista communities.

3. 11 Atenco Prisoners Sentenced; Ignacio del Valle to 45 More Years in Prison –
On August 21, 11 prisoners arrested during the brutal police repression of May 3-4, 2006 in San Salvador Atenco were sentenced for alleged crimes arising out of the confrontation between protesters and police. Ignacio del Valle, leader of the Peoples Front in Defense of Land (FPDT, its initials in Spanish), was sentenced to 45 years in prison plus a monetary fine for alleged “kidnapping.” He is already serving a sentence of 67 years and six months in a maximum security prison for a “kidnapping” which allegedly occurred which allegedly occurred during an incident prior to the May 2006 confrontation. The other 10 already in prison received sentences of 31 years, 10 months and 15 days in prison plus a fine. Many see these sentences as revenge by the governor of the state of Mexico, Enrique Pen~a Nieto. Lawyers for all eleven prisoners indicated that they will appeal the sentences.

4. Another Montes Azules Eviction Imminent? – The ARIC UU-ID, a campesino organization with members living in communities inside the Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve, reported that state and federal officials arrived in Rancheria Corozal by helicopter on August 15. Fifty (50) members of the federal army and state judicial police also arrived to accompany the officials, who measured occupied surfaces and counted housing units while the soldiers and police assumed attack positions (guns pointed). Next, officials told residents that they had to accept “relocation” or indemnification. Officials also warned residents that if they did not accept, they would be evicted by force. The campesino organization, related to the PRD state government, said residents will not leave voluntarily. The same threats of eviction were also made by government officials in the village of El Suspiro.

5. Paramilitary Attacks on Zapatistas in Chilon – On August 31, the Zapatista Good Government Junta in Morelia issued a denunciation regarding a series of attacks by Opddic members on Zapatistas of Kan akil community (Olga Isabel autonomous municipality), official municipality of Chilon, in the northern zone of Chiapas. One Zapatista suffered a gunshot wound in his abdomen. The Junta reported that some of the armed attackers wore “military type” uniforms. Some may remember that Kan akil is where a Zapatista was murdered by paramilitaries during the violent summer of 2002. Unfortunately, the Opddic has gained control of the Chilon municipal council, thus giving the paramilitaries impunity for their actions.
_______________________________________________________
Compiled monthly by the Chiapas Support Committee.

The primary sources for our information are: La Jornada, Enlace Zapatista and the Fray Bartolome de las Casas Human Rights Center.

We encourage folks to distribute this information widely, but please include our name and contact information in the distribution. Gracias/Thanks.
News Summaries from previous months are posted on our web page:
http://www.chiapas-support.org
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The Chiapas Support Committee is a grass roots all-volunteer human rights organization in Oakland, California. We work with indigenous and campesino organizations in Mexico. We have an hermanamiento (partnership) with San Manuel autonomous Zapatista municipality. In the Bay Area we provide public information about Chiapas through public events, our newsletter (Chiapas Update), our listserv and web site. We organize delegations to Chiapas and also recruit and certify human rights observers and volunteers. We participate in the Other Campaign and the International Campaign. Our contact information is below!
_______________________________________________________
Chiapas Support Committee
P.O. Box 3421
Oakland, CA 94609
Tel: (510) 654-9587
Email: cezmat@igc.org
http://www.chiapas-support.org