Archive for War Brewing In Chiapas

Zapatistas defend autonomy, State aggression escalates

Posted in Commentary, News, Otherpress with tags , , , , , , , , on June 18, 2008 by floweroftheword

Zapatistas defend autonomy
State aggression escalates

June 07, 2008 By John Gibler
from http://www.zmag.org/znet/viewArticle/17855

This past Wednesday, June 4, a military convoy of about 200 Mexican soldiers and federal and municipal police attempted to enter Zapatista villages under the pretext of searching for marijuana plants; something patently absurd in communities that have maintained a self-imposed “dry law,” prohibiting all drugs and all forms of alcohol throughout Zapatista territories for nearly fifteen years.
The convoy first stopped at the entrance to the Garrucha Caracol (the regional seat of the Good Government Council, or Junta de Buen Gobierno). Four soldiers stepped out into the road, others photographed and filmed the Zapatistas from their vehicles, but the community began to draw people together, shouting at the soldiers to leave, and gathering slingshots, machetes, rocks, and sticks. The soldiers quickly got back in their vehicles and continued down the road.

The convoy joined a second convoy down the road where they all descend and set off walking to the Zapatista support community of Galaena. A police officer from Ocosingo, Feliciano Román Ruiz, guides the soldiers through the trails towards the community.

In Galaena, the men, women, and children organized to bar the soldiers’ entrance to the community.

According to the Zapatista communiqué denouncing the events, the Zapatistas shouted at the soldiers to turn back. The soldiers said that they had come to destroy the marijuana plants they know to be near by. The Zapatistas denied growing marijuana and began to gather slingshots, machetes, rocks, and sticks to defend their land.

The soldiers turned back, but warned that they would return in two weeks, and they would enter the community no matter what.

But they did not leave; they walked to nearby San Alejandro where some 60 soldiers had already taken up position around the community, automatic weapons drawn.
The people of San Alejandro, also a Zapatista support community (bases de apoyo) also confronted the soldiers and barred their passage.
Soon the soldiers withdrew.

“People of Mexico and of the world,” the Good Government Council of La Garrucha wrote in a denunciation of these events released on June 4 and published in La Jornada online on June 6, “it will not be long before there is confrontation provoked by [President Felipe] Calderón, [Chiapas governor] Juan Sabines and Carlos Leonel Solórzano, municipal president of Ocosingo, who send there dogs of repression…”

Aggressions against Zapatista support communities have been building steadily since Calderon took office in December 2006. The military bases in Chiapas have been restructured to include Special Forces and air-borne capacity throughout the state. The government has reorganized various paramilitary organizations.
This has been extensively documented by the San Cristóbal-based organization CAPISE (Center for Political Analysis and Socio-economic Investigation).

Paramilitary organizations have invaded Zapatista territories throughout the state, often attacking Zapatista support communities.

In recent weeks the aggressions have escalated.

On May 19, federal agents and soldiers, arriving in helicopters and military convoy, entered the community of San Jerónimo Tuliljá, in the Caracol of La Garrucha, breaking into houses and pushing people around without explanation.

On May 22, a large group of armed men from the PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party) invaded the Zapatista Caracol of Morelia, cutting off the community’s electricity and attacking people in their homes throughout the night. The gunmen wounded over 20 Zapatistas, six of whom were taken to the hospital in serious condition.

But the aggressions are almost daily: kidnapping Zapatista supporters and taking them to local jails on invented charges, contaminating local wells, invading lands, cutting corn plants, leaving death threats for the community.

“It is as if we are seeing the preparations for what will be another Acteal,” said Subcomandante Marcos in a recent interview published in book form in Mexico, referring to the December 22, 1997 paramilitary massacre of 45 indigenous men, women, and children gathered in a church in the community of Acteal.
“But now they are not looking for a conflict between aggressors and defenseless people, but really a confrontation,” he said.

Zapatista autonomy is not only a threat to the perceived legitimacy of the state, but it is the structure of resistance that maintains and protects Zapatista territories, land recuperated through the 1994 uprising and cared for and cultivated since.

Ernesto Ledesma of CAPISE says that over 74,000 hectares of Zapatista territory are under thereat of invasion. The federal, state and local governments, and all three national political parties in Mexico, including the PRD (Party of the Democratic Revolution) have joined together in the aggression against the Zapatistas, he says, using direct paramilitary land invasions, bureaucratic trickery through the federal secretary of agrarian affairs, and through federal expropriations.

“We are not drug traffickers,” the Good Government Council of La Garrucha wrote, “we are what we all well known to be, brothers and sisters and Mexico and the world. It is clear that they will be coming for us, the Zapatistas; they will be coming from the three levels of bad government, and we are ready to resist, and if necessary to comply with our slogan, which is: live for the fatherland or die for liberty (vivir por la patria o morir por la libertad).”

This is a brief and dramatic lesson in autonomy: with slingshots and machetes the Zapatistas are ready to refuse entrance to their communities to the soldiers and federal police. Most of the daily work of autonomy goes unseen and unreported: collective land management, autonomous schools and health clinics, community dispute resolution. But autonomy also means rejecting the authority of the state, rejecting the legitimacy of the state; and this rejection comes not only in the form of eloquent communiqués, but also staring down the soldiers with nothing other than a farm tool in hand.

John Gibler is a Global Exchange Media Fellow and author of Mexico Unconquered: Chronicles of Power and Revolt, forthcoming from City Lights. Gibler has been living and writing from Mexico since 2006. He has reported for Left Turn, In These Times, ZNet, Z Magazine, New Politics, Common Dreams, Yes! Magazine, Colorlines and Democracy Now!.

Links:
To read the Good Government Councils communiqués, Enlace Zapatista: http://enlacezapatista.ezln.org.mx/

CAPISE is organizing observation brigades in Zapatista territories: http://www.capise.org.mx
A long interview with Subcomandante Marcos was just published in book form in Mexico: Corte de Caja, http://www.cortedecaja.org

Background information on the aggressions against Zapatistas in English:
http://www.zcommunications.org/znet/viewArticle/16413

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Wellington Zapatista Support Group on State Violence Against Indigenous Communities in Mexico

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , on June 17, 2008 by floweroftheword

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.1

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.2

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: angelica.mexico@xtra.co.nz

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: zapatistasolidarity@gmail.com

For more information about the Zapatistas:

http://www.ezln.org.mx (in Spanish)

http://flag.blackened.net/revolt/mexico.html

http://chiapas.indymedia.org

http://www.narconews.com

Footnotes:

2 For example see Atenco, Oaxaca, Acteal, Ciudad Juarez…

Wellingtonians Take Action to Expose Mexican State Violence

Posted in Event, News with tags , on June 17, 2008 by floweroftheword

At 12 noon on Wednesday 18th June 2008, people concerned about the recent military harrassment of indigenous communities in Mexico will stage a demonstration outside the Mexican Embassy (111 Customhouse Quay, Wellington).

In the last month, there has been an alarming escalation of military and paramilitary harrassment of Zapatista indigenous communities in Mexico. Troops have invaded several communities, destroying food crops, cutting off electricity supplies and attacking and intimidating people – some of whom subsequently needed to be hospitalised. After being driven from communities in the caracol of La Garrucha on Wednesday 4 June, the Mexican army has threatened to return tommorrow, June 18.

Therefore members of the Wellington Zapatista Support Group (a group which fundraises to support community health services in La Garrucha) and others have organised this action to denounce the violence of the Mexican Government, to inform members of the public, and to express their solidarity with the affected communities.

June Film Night – Against War in Chiapas: Breaking The Silence, Speaking Against Injustice

Posted in Event, News with tags , , , on June 17, 2008 by floweroftheword

On Wednesday 4 June 2008, several indigenous communities in La Garrucha were invaded by the Mexican military, under the pretense that they are growing marijuana. The communities managed to rebuff them but the army has threatened to return by June 18. As solidarity actions take place worldwide, the Wellington Zapatista Support Group announces the screening of two films made by the Zapatistas that give context and background to the current military invasion.

We Speak Against Injustice (2003, 34 mins)

and The Silence of the Zapatistas (2001, 12 mins)

Tuesday 24 June, 8pm start

at Happy, corner of Tory and Vivian Sts, Wellington City

entry by koha/donation

All proceeds from this fundraising event will go towards assisting the Caracol* of La Garrucha to deliver basic health services.

The Wellington Zapatista Support Group is organising monthly film screenings to raise awareness of the plight of indigenous peoples in Mexico. This screening is the first in a series of documentaries made by Zapatista communities, explaining their resistance movement and how it is organized.

‘We Speak Against Injustice’ and ‘The Silence of the Zapatistas’ tell the story of the popular struggle for the rights of indigenous peoples in Mexico. Military and paramilitary violence against Zapatista communities is seen in the context of globalization: The state and federal government uses violence to pressure Zapatista communities to leave their land, so that natural resources can be exploited.

Unlike many indigenous communities reduced to accepting government hand-outs, the Zapatistas are committed to the peaceful development and provision of their own health, education and justice systems. All proceeds from this fundraising event will go towards assisting the Caracol of La Garrucha to deliver basic health services.

Please join us at Happy on the corner of Tory and Vivian streets, Tuesday 24 June, 8.00 pm. Admission to the screening is by koha.

*The Caracoles are physical spaces built by the Zapatistas to organise their autonomy – a bit like the seats of government or the parliaments of each Zapatista zone.

Links

Urgent Communique From the Zapatistas – Thursday 4 June, 2008

http://indymedia.org.nz/newswire/display/75539/index.php

More on the Zapatista movement:

http://www.ezln.org.mx (in Spanish)

http://flag.blackened.net/revolt/mexico.html

http://chiapas.indymedia.org

http://www.narconews.com