On June 4, a deployment of some 200 Mexican army troops and federal police occupied several communities around the Zapatista settlement of La Garrucha, on the edge of the Chiapas rainforest, under the guise of a marijuana eradication mission. The Zapatista Good Government Junta (JBG) “El Camino del Futuro,” based at La Garrucha, said residents mobilised to defend their homes with sticks, machetes and slingshots as troops spread out, destroying corn fields, taking photographs and “intimidating the population.” The troops found no marijuana, but threatened that they would return on 18 June.
Earlier, on May 22, a large group of armed men from the PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party) invaded the Zapatista Caracol (Zapatista regional government seat) of Morelia, cutting off the community’s electricity and attacking people in their homes throughout the night. The gunmen wounded over 20 Zapatista supporters, six of whom were taken to the hospital in serious condition. On May 19, federal agents and soldiers, arriving in helicopters and military convoy, entered the community of San Jerónimo Tuliljá, Caracol of La Garrucha, breaking into houses and pushing people around without explanation.
These are just a few recent incidents among a plethora of military, paramilitary and police raids in Zapatista communities, raids which are in keeping with the widespread corruption, political assasinations, detentions, torture and sexual violation that have earned the Mexican government it’s appalling human rights record.
On the 1st of January 1994, the day that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) came into effect, the indigenous Zapatistas of the EZLN rose up with their demands for democracy, liberty and justice for all Mexicans. To this day they continue with the peaceful development and provision of their own health, education, democratic governance, and justice systems.
In breach of the San Andrés Accords, the Mexican state and federal government routinely uses military and paramilitary violence to pressure Zapatista communities to leave their lands. This is in order to facilitate the exploitation of natural resources for the profit of Mexican politicians and transnational corporations.
But the repression of indigenous peoples is not solely a foreign phenomenon. The New Zealand government is also guilty of ongoing human rights abuses, from the large-scale legalised theft of Maori land through the Foreshore and Seabed Act, to the quasi-military invasion of Ruatoki and the detention of refugees and indigenous, peace and environmental activists amidst accusations of “terrorism”. Meanwhile the NZ government embraces neoliberal policies that prioritise profits for corporations and the rich, resulting in widespread exploitation, environmental degradation and poverty.
The Wellington Zapatista Support Group denounces the repressive actions of the Mexican and New Zealand governments, and demands the immediate withdrawal of troops from Chiapas communities, an end to military harrassment of indigenous communities, the release of all political prisoners, and the upholding of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the San Andrés Accords.
If you would like to give Mrs María Angélica Arce de Jeannet, the Mexican Ambassador, your opinion on this matter, she can be contacted at: phone: 472 0555, fax: 496 3559 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Or you can visit the Mexican Embassy inside the AMP Chambers at 185 Featherston St, Wellington.
The Wellington Zapatista Support Group (which fundraises to support community health services in La Garrucha) can be contacted at: email@example.com
For more information about the Zapatistas:
http://www.ezln.org.mx (in Spanish)