Archive for october


Posted in News with tags , , , , , on November 4, 2009 by floweroftheword

Another month full of news. Several incidents occurred towards the end of September that required clarification due to conflicting or ambiguous news stories. Therefore, we waited to report them until this month when we had more clarity regarding the facts. They show that the counterinsurgency in Chiapas extends to actors within civil society beyond the Zapatistas and Other Campaign adherents. It seems clear that the state government is preparing for what it thinks will be a “social explosion” in 2010 (or is it merely an excuse for repression?). CSC


1. Repression of Social Protest Spreads to OCEZ-RC, Leader in Prison – On September 30, Chiapas state police dressed up in uniforms worn by Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) workers. They entered the community of 28 de Junio (June 28) in Venustiano Carranza municipality, asking if anyone had service problems. When they reached the home of Jose Manuel Hernandez Martinez, they took him out of his house, put him in a truck and drove him to the El Amate state prison. Hernandez Martinez, known as Chema, is the long-time leader of the Emiliano Zapata Campesino Organization-Carranza Region (OCEZ-RC). Several members of that organization attempted to follow the vehicle in which Don Chema was abducted, but their car was run off the highway and one person died in the crash. A second man died from his injuries two weeks afterwards. The OCEZ-RC has continuously struggled to recuperate indigenous people’s communal land in Venustiano Carranza. The charges against him have to do with a 2005 land takeover. Hernandez Martinez recently led a successful hunger strike to obtain the legalization of land and the speculation is that the illegal detention (no arrest warrants were shown and the police agents disguised themselves) is in retaliation for that protest action. A national and international campaign to free Chema is underway. Neither OCEZ-RC nor Hernandez Martinez have any current connection that we know of with the Zapatistas or the Other Campaign. Nevertheless, judicial authorities interrogated Hernandez Martinez about belonging to the EPR and the EZLN. After 2 weeks in a state prison, the state moved Chema to a high-security federal prison in Nayarit state, a long way from Chiapas. This, in spite of the fact that the crimes of which he is accused are common state crimes. Is the state afraid that Chema will organize social protests from prison in Chiapas?


2. Arson Attempt at Kinal Antsetik Center – On September 26, an unidentified person sprinkled gasoline around the Kinal Antsetik (Land of Women, in Tseltal) installations and lit a fire. The location includes a capacity building center and workshop for indigenous women and the facilities of Jolom Mayaetik (Maya Weavers), a weaving cooperative. Young women living at the center put out the fire quickly. Kinal’s founder, Yolanda Castro, is an outspoken activist in the National Front of Struggle for Socialism (FNLS) in Chiapas and has recently been involved in the resistance to mining. She has suffered break-ins and vigilance due to her activism. Castro has no current connection to the EZLN or the Other Campaign and, to the best of our knowledge, neither does Kinal Antsetik or Jolom Mayaetik.


3. Amnesty International (AI) Wants Clarification of Immigrant Detention and Death – Amnesty International (AI) has asked Mexican authorities to clarify an incident which occurred on September 18 near the city of Comitan, Chiapas. Mexican security forces opened fire on a group of undocumented Central American immigrants resulting in the death of a Salvadoran. The immigrants were in a vehicle belonging to those who traffic in undocumented immigrants. They passed a control post and agents ordered the vehicle to stop. Instead, the driver went faster and the agents followed and fired on the vehicle. AI reports that there were seven in the group. Three men escaped, one died from a bullet wound, two remain in the hospital with serious injuries and one is detained and will soon be deported. AI wants clarification of whether it was members of the Mexican Army or immigration agency that fired on the group of immigrants and clarification as to the beatings they received when captured and already injured.


4. Two More OCEZ Leaders Apprehended, Houses Searched – In the wee hours of Saturday morning (October 24), police and military carried out an operation in Venustiano Carranza municipality and arrested 2 more OCEZ-RC leaders. The 2 detained are Jose Manuel de la Torre Hernandez and Roselio de la Cruz Gonzalez. From the El Amate prison, both men have denounced that they were tortured. They are accused of land takeovers. Following the detentions, police and soldiers returned to 28 de Junio and Laguna Verde communities (the 2 bastions of the OCEZ-RC) and searched houses, looking for drugs and/or weapons. They did not find any. The state government suspects that members of the OCEZ-RC belong to a criminal gang that traffics in drugs, weapons and undocumented people. It also seems to suspect that OCEZ-RC has connections with a guerrilla organization.


5. Update on Mitziton and the Palenque Toll Road – The Chiapas government finally announced the plan for a new super-highway (toll road) to Palenque. It will not pass through Mitziton. Instead of adopting the plan designed by the Secretary of Communications and Transportation (SCT), which would have cut Mitziton in half, the state chose an alternative plan. The state government also committed to “consulting” with affected communities. The plan announced does not include the location of access roads to tourist attractions, but it does include agricultural requirements which affected communities will be urged to accept. The high-speed toll road will pass through part of the Meso-American Biological Corridor. Therefore, the World Bank and its conservation cohorts have special recommendations for what crops ought to be planted. Some will be for local tourism, but the majority apparently will go to the Yucatan Peninsula’s tourist Mecca, the Riviera Maya.


6. Three Detained with Arsenal in Frontera Comalapa – The Chiapas government released information that on October 12, three men (none originally from Chiapas) were detained near Frontera Comalapa, very close to the Chiapas/Guatemala border. They allegedly admitted to 3 murders and police determined that they belonged to a criminal gang. It claimed that one of them belonged to a group with “the facade of a social organization” and “called OCEZ or OPEZ.” Two of them allegedly claimed that they were sent to Guatemala for training in weapons, disarmament and survival techniques by kaibiles upon the recommendation of a catechist from Altamirano (municipality). During interrogation, the men disclosed the location of a ranch in Frontera Complapa where weapons were stored. When police went to the ranch house, they found a large arsenal of all kinds of weapons, cars and 2 race horses. What is interesting about this press release is that it implicates a “catechist,” and refers to 2 social organizations as being a facade for violent activity. Some Chiapas government officials are leaking slanderous statements to local press about the Catholic Diocese of San Cristóbal, individual priests and catechists, as well as Las Abejas, in connection to violent activity. It got so bad that the 2 bishops from that diocese issued a statement denouncing the slanderous attacks!


7. Response to Repression: Demonstrations – On Monday, October 26, social organizations with different political demands converged on the city of San Cristóbal de las Casas to march in protest of diverse issues. Las Abejas protested against the release of those imprisoned for participating in the Acteal Massacre. Pueblo Creyente (People Praying) demonstrated in support of the Catholic Diocese of San Cristóbal. OCEZ-RC protested the detention, torture and imprisonment of its leaders and the searches of homes conducted in its communities. Other Campaign members from different municipalities were there with banners demonstrating against the toll road to Palenque because it will destroy jungles, forests and their lands. Several organizations also demonstrated for the release of political prisoners. I cannot remember the last time such a diverse assortment of Chiapas organizations demonstrated together. Approximately 150 members of the OCEZ have remained in a sit-in on San Cristobal’s main plaza ever since, demanding the release of their 3 prisoners and the removal of soldiers and police from their communities. Additionally, 20 OCEZ members “took over” an office of the United Nations in San Cristobal, claiming they were refugees, and demanding the release of the 3 imprisoned leaders.


8. Chiapas Government Cancels Local Elections in 2010 – Mid-term elections for local municipal councils and presidencies, as well as local deputies to the state Congress, were scheduled for 2010. In a somewhat clandestine move, the Congress voted to cancel those mid-term elections and change the state’s constitution. Local deputies will continue in office until 2012 and they will appoint, YES! appoint, the local municipal councils and presidents. Chiapas is governed, at least on paper, by the Party of the “Democratic” Revolution (PRD). Many Chiapas citizens are furious and an appeal was taken to the Supreme Court. As of now, it appears that the government may back down.


9. Gloria Arenas & Jacobo Silva FREE! – Gloria Arenas was released from prison on October 28, after serving 10 years for rebellion. Jacobo Silva, her husband, was released the next day (October 29). Gloria is the former Colonel Aurora and Jacobo is the former Comandante Antonio of the Revolutionary Army of Insurgent People (ERPI). Upon their release, both announced that they will now struggle openly and peacefully with the Zapatistas Other Campaign!


In Other Parts of Mexico…


1. Union Busting ala Calderón – In the wee hours of Saturday, October 10, President Felipe Calderon sent 6,000 soldiers and heavily armed Federal Police to take over the state-owned Central Light and Power installations in Mexico City and the states of Mexico, Puebla, Morelos, and Hidalgo. Immediately following the takeover, Calderon issued an executive order closing Central Light & Power. The government’s official justification for closing Light and Power is that the company’s operating expenses exceed those of other state-owned companies. like the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE). It claims the takeover was a pre-emptive strike to prevent a militant union from taking control of the facilities and cutting off power in protest of the closing of Light & Power. However, a week prior to the police and military takeover, the union specifically stated that it had no intentions of striking or cutting off power to customers. Most analysts believe that it is a preliminary move to privatizing an enormous and growing industry. And, the right-wing Calderon government gets the special benefit of busting the SME, a union that has been part of many social protests over multiple issues and has formed strong alliances with social organizations in Mexico. Tragically, approximately 44,000 workers lost their jobs in the government’s move. The SME is calling for mass mobilizations against the closing of Light & Power.


2. The Drug War Numbers – According to reports by Mexico’s Attorney General of the Republic (PGR) and Secretary of National Defense (Sedena), 5, 570 executions have been counted so far this year. The number of people murdered due to alleged ties with organized crime during the nearly 3 years of the Felipe Calderón government now exceeds 15, 400, while during the whole 6-year term of Vicente Fox 13, 000 homicides of this kind were counted.



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.


Chiapas Support Committee/Comité de Apoyo a Chiapas

P.O. Box 3421, Oakland, CA 94609

Tel: (510) 654-9587



Posted in News with tags , , , , , on November 7, 2008 by floweroftheword

1. Massacre in Chiapas re: Chinkultic Archaeological Site – On October 3, state police opened fire on unarmed indigenous residents of Miguel Hidalgo ejido, ultimately killing 6, injuring 17 and leaving 36 held in police custody. 4 of the dead were summarily executed with a shot to the head by police. The stage for this tragic incident was set on September 9, when indigenous campesinos living near two government-run sites, Lagos de Montebello National Park and Chinkultic Archaeological site, occupied them. They said that the government agency involved, known as INAH, was not taking good care of the sites and was charging too much for admission. The INAH went to court to evict the campesinos. A court ordered the eviction of Lagos de Montebello National Park and federal and state police carried out that eviction without incident on October 3. There was no court order to evict the Chinkultic archaeological site. Nevertheless, some of the police split off from the group that went to Lagos de Montebello and, instead, went to the Miguel Hidalgo ejido, where the campesinos lived who were occupying Chinkultic. Of the 4 who were summarily executed by police, 3 were seriously injured. The fourth man was taking them to the hospital in his truck. Police pulled the driver out of his truck and killed him along with the 3 injured men. Miguel Hidalgo has no connection to the Zapatistas, the Other Campaign or any other social or political organization. Its residents have generally cooperated with the government and, in fact, were negotiating over the occupation and care of Chinkultic when the massacre occurred. 3 low-level state officials have been fired and several state police officials are under house arrest. Several other patrol officers are in jail. The state government of Chiapas is giving every possible kind of attention (and lots of goodies) to Miguel Hidalgo residents. Chinkultic has not yet been returned to the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH, its initials in Spanish).

2. EZLN Extends Invitations to the “World Festival of Dignified Rage” – On September 15, the EZLN issued a communique detailing plans for an end-of-year celebration of its 25/15 Anniversary (25 years since the EZLN’s founding and 15 years since the Jan. 1, 1994 Zapatista Uprising). The celebration will take place in three locations: Mexico City (December 26-29 ); Oventik (December 31, 2008 and January 1, 2009); and San Cristóbal de las Casas (January 2,3,4,5). The communique stated that participation in the Festival would be by invitation. The Chiapas Support Committee was honored to receive an invitation this week (October 27). Information about activities is now on the Enlace Zapatista blog in English, Spanish, French, etc. (click on Enlace Zapatista).

3. “Former” Opddic Members Given Control of Agua Azul Ticket Booth – Last month we reported on the new toll road planned between the Chiapas cities of San Cristobal de las Casas and Palenque, one part of a mega-plan for tourist “development” in the Northern Zone of Chiapas. The mega-plan, formally known as the San Cristobal-Palenque Planned Integral Center and billed as an “eco-archaeological tourism” project, includes “theme parks” at the beautiful Agua Azul Cascades and the exquisite archaeolo-gical site of Palenque, bridges over 3 rivers, hotels, restaurants, related businesses and an expansion of the Palenque Airport. Although Mexico’s president, Felipe Calderon, did not specifically announce the toll road while he was in Chiapas this month, he did promise more dollars for tourism. And, La Jornada reported that the “former” Opddic paramilitaries who attacked the Zapatista community of Bolom Ajaw have now been given the legal right to operate the ticket booth that collects entry fees to Agua Azul. Moreover, the state government has anointed these same “former” paramilitaries as the official guardians of the Agua Azul Cascades park, uniforms and all! Not surprisingly, these guardians of the Cascades immediately requested the eviction of Bolom Ajaw, although they have no rights or jurisdiction over Bolom Ajaw’s land.

4. Opddic Members Attack 9 Year Old Zapatista Boy With Machetes – On October 10, 3 Opddic members attacked nine-year-old Carmelino Navarro Jimenez and his sister-in-law, Manuela. Both were on their way to the coffee field where Carmelino’s father and brother were working. Two of the attackers were armed with pistols, the third with a machete. Carmelino fell as he ran away from the attackers and was then struck with a machete. Manuela was able to escape and reach the coffee field to get help for Carmelino, who required 15 stitches for his wound. These are the same Opddic leaders who attacked Carmelino’s father and brother last year. Arrest warrants were pending against the three, but were never detained by police. This occurred in the community of Bayulubmax, Olga Isabel autonomous municipio (county), in the Northern Zone of Chiapas. Amnesty International has expressed its concern about future danger to Carmelino’s family.

5. Oventik Junta Reports Paramilitary Threats to Polho – On October 31, the Zapatista Good Government Junta in Oventik released a denunciation regarding a series of incidents involving Zapatista bases in San Pedro Polho autonomous county and local Chenalho paramilitaries. The Junta alleges that the paramilitaries are members of the Cardenista Front and the PRI political party, that they are the same paramilitaries responsible for the 1997 Acteal Massacre, that the Chenalho municipal president is supplying them with high-caliber weapons, and that they are planning another attack against the autonomous Zapatista camps of those displaced by the 1997 paramilitary violence.

6. APPO Supporter Arrested in Oaxaca, Charged with Brad Will’s Death – As Brad Will’s friends in the United States and Mexico remembered the 2nd anniversary of his brutal murder while filming events in Oaxaca, police arrested Miguel Cruz Moreno, an APPO sympathizer, accusing him of Brad’s murder. This is contrary to the evidence which clearly shows that the bullets came from a place where APPO supporters were not standing. Those who were in the place from which the bullets were fired were municipal police and paramilitary types collaborating with the police. This arrest fits into the analysis of Mexican human rights groups that social movements and social protest are being criminalized.

7. Good News from Guerrero: El Camalote Prisoners Free – On October 20, a district judge in Guerrero granted a protective order to 4 of the 5 members of the Me´phaa Indigenous Peoples’ Organization (OPIM) who were jailed 6 months ago. The protective order means that they were to be set free the following day. The 5th man must remain in jail pending a trial. All 5 are from the indigenous community of El Camalote and were jailed for alleged involvement in the death of a paramilitary. OPIM is adhered to the Other Campaign.
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:
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 community 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