Chiapas: adherents to the Other Campaign denounce strategies of looting on the part of the state and federal government

February 8, 2012

On 20 January, adherents to the Other Campaign in Chiapas held a press-conference in the offices of the Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Center for HUman Rights (CDHFBC) to denounce the strategies of the federal and state governments which are prosecuting “a war of looting that generates environmental degradation, the privatization of natural resources, super-exploitation of work, looting of land and extermination of indigenous peoples, repression, persecution, incarceration, and murder so as to contain the social struggles of resistance to their policies.”

They affirmed that said strategies seek to “depopulate and repopulate indigenous territories toward the end of building a new Cancún in Chiapas, consolidating the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor to place the entirety of our natural wealth found in our lands into the hands of transnationals,” this by means of “megaprojects for so-called sustainable development, rural cities, ecotourism, Prodesis, and the Strategy of Development of the Southern States (EDES).”  They expressed that for them, the political parties PRI, PRD, and PVEM and the three levels of government “have burgeoned the size of paramilitary groups.”

They detailed that these strategies are seen illustrated in the Zapatista territories pertaining to the five autonomous caracoles, “exercising provocations and harassment, death-threats, looting of recovered lands, destruction of homes, forced displacement, destruction of crops and food, robbery, physical assault, sexual violation of female comrades, arbitrary detentions, and incarcerations.”  This is seen in San Sebastián Bachajón; in Tila; in the community of Candelaria el Alto, municipality of Carranza; in the community of Busiljá, municipality of Ocosingo; in the Colony 24 of May in San Cristóbal de Las Casas; in death-threats against artisans who are adherents to the Other Campaign in the Santo Domingo plaza; in the state prisons; and in the persecution against Nataniel Hernández Núñez, from the Digna Ochoa Center for Human Rights, member of the Autonomous Council of the Coast; and in harassment against his relatives and members of the communities pertaining to the Council.

For more information (in Spanish):

Boletín de prensa completo de La Otra Campaña – Chiapas (20 January 2012)

Procede y Fanar, estrategias del gobierno para despojar a indígenas de sus tierras (La Jornada, 22 January 2012)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Chiapas: Sit-in of the Front of Ejidos in Resistance in San Cristóbal de Las Casas (6 January 2012)

Chiapas: Forum for the defense of rights-defenders (18 October 2011)

Chiapas: confrontation in Candelaria El Alto, Venustiano Carranza (28 September 2011)

Chiapas: 3 human-rights defenders from the Digna Ochoa Center for Human Rights released from El Amate (8 March 2011)

Chiapas: adherentes a La Otra Campaña de San Sebastián Bachajón denuncian injerencia del gobierno del estado.(8 de diciembre de 2011)


Chiapas: new public denunciation from the Candelaria El Alto community

January 16, 2012

(@corotos.blogspot.com)

By means of a public letter written on 10 January 2012, the community of Candelaria El Alto, municipality of Venustiano Carranza, adherents to the Other Campaign, denounced that the looting of their lands continues by the Emiliano Zapata Campesino Organization-Carranza Region (OCEZ-RC).  In their communiqué they write the following: “We publicly denounce the government of Chiapas; 9 months have passed since we have been able to work [the land]; now we have lost this year of harvest, and we would like to say that we will not continue merely putting up with this, suffering from hunger.  This year we will work our land; we would prefer that this conflict not worsen, and so we demand an immediate solution, because the land is not to sell.”

For more information (in Spanish):

Continúa el despojo de sus tierras, según la comunidad Candelaria El Alto (La Jornada, 12 January 2011)

Denuncia de Candelaria El Alto a 10 de enero (Zapateando, Comunicado de la Comunidad Organizada Candelaria el Alto, Municipio Venustiano Carranza, Chiapas, México)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Chiapas: confrontation in Candelaria El Alto, Venustiano Carranza (28 September 2011)


Chiapas: Caravan of women to San Sebastián Bachajón

February 25, 2011

On Saturday 19 February departed a caravan to the Agua Azul region that was made up of members of different communities and civil and social organizations with the end of “documenting the situation lived by the comrades, and to see and accompany the comrades of the San Sebastián Bachajón ejido [...] and to give a voice to the women, who are affected by the conflict that is lived in the area whose voice would also like to be heard.”

Organized by the Center for the Rights of Women in Chiapas, the Independent Movement of Women and the Feminist Brigade together with different civil organizations from Chiapas sought to “open a space for women and families that are suffering the difficulties in Agua Azul and document the looting by the government and people from the community who are associated with it, beyond continuing to express our solidarity and demanding the release of the 10 comrades who are still unjustly imprisoned.” It should be remembered that on 2 and 3 February were detained adherents of the Other campaign following a confrontation of 117 ejidatarios from San Sebastián Bachajón.  10 of them were sentenced to imprisonment “for crimes that they did not commit, like kidnapping, injuries, homicide, and damage to communication media and public peace,” while the rest were freed.

The communiqué released by the Caravan stressed that “[t]he violation of autonomy began some time ago with the government’s attempt to construct in Agua Azul a large tourist center using transnational capital that would supposedly benefit the ejidatarios of Agua Azul who form part of the large ejido of San Sebastián Bachajón.  The resistance of those who for many generations have taken care of and administered this beautiful space, which is part of their land and territory, has been long and heroic; but the government succeeded in coopting several leaders and destroying the dynamic of internal accords and unity.  In collaboration with dissidents and through its dirty measures, it has succeeded in taking over the administration of the place using 3000 signatures that accept its intervention, though most of these signatures are of ejidatarios from other communities of the ejido, not from Agua Azul who do not respond to the historical interests and international rights of the indigenous peoples.  We know that the so-called ‘dialogue-table’ carried out last Sunday, which was attended by governmental authorities and representatives of the official Council of Human Rights of the State, was a shameful celebration that attempted to legitimate the government’s intervention and the looting of the tourist center of Agua Azul from its legitimate possessors, who are unfortunately now divided.”

The communiqué moreover disclosed that “[t]he war that is lived in Chiapas cannot any longer be covered up by promises or the war on organized crime.  The members of this caravan believe that the violation of autonomy of all those who reside in Agua Azul (not only one part of those in conflict) is part of the strategy of war of low intensity implemented by the different levels of state and federal government since 1994 that is now directed against the organized resistance of the Other Campaign, which finds its focus in Agua Azul, Mitzitón, Tila, Chicomuselo, and different territories where the peoples resist in defense of their land and territory.”

For more information (in Spanish):

Communiqué of the caravan in Agua Azul (19 February 2011)

Women of Chiapas support imprisoned indigenous ejidatarios of San Sebastián Bachajón, (La Jornada, 18 February 2011)

Communiqué of the women of Bachajón regarding roadblock (Zapateando, 18 February 2011)

The word of comrade Alma, director of the Center for the Rights of Women in Chiapas (18 February 2011)

Words of support for ejidatarios of Bachajón from children of the Other Campaign in Mexico City (16 February 2011)

Center for Rights of Women in Chiapas claims state government provoked conflict in Bachajón (9 February 2011)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Chiapas: Agua Azul, new happenings and denunciations (17 February 2011)

Chiapas: update in the Agua Azul case (14 February 2011)

Chiapas: confrontation over control point at Agua Azul leaves one dead and several injured (7 February 2011)


Mexico: EZLN denies connection with Diego Fernandez de Cevallos’ kidnapping

January 7, 2011

Diego Fernandez de Cevallos (@esacademic.com)

A statement from an alleged member of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) attributed to this group the responsibility for the kidnapping of a PAN politician and former presidential candidate in 1994, Diego Fernandez de Cevallos. A copy of the statement was sent to the Spanish news agency EFE, who released it on January 1st, just 17 years after the Zapatista uprising. The document titled “The ex Mysterious Kidnappers. The truth comes to light ” is signed by “el Guerrero [warrior] Balam”, a “faithful member of the insurgent forces of the EZLN”, member of the Network for Global Transformation (RTG) and subordinated to “Subcomandante Marcos and the wise Mayan Zapatistas“. He stresses that Fernandez de Cevallos is “one of the main enemies of our project”, the autonomy of indigenous peoples.

It should be recalled that the kidnapping of Diego Fernandez de Cevallos occurred on May 14, 2010. The kidnappers, calling themselves “The Mysterious Kidnappers” and later the Network for Global Transformation issued press releases three times to ask for money in exchange for the release of the former senator. After seven months of capture, Fernández de Vecallos was released on 20 December.

The day after national and international media informed on that last statement, a communique posted in the Web-page of “Enlace Zapatista” strongly denied that the EZLN and “La Otra Campaña” (The Other Campaign) participated in the kidnapping of the politician. The statement signed by Javier Elorriaga and Sergio Rodríguez Lascano, directors of the “Rebellion” Magazine and members of the Other Campaign says that who made the statement which stated that the EZLN had kidnapped the former Mexican presidential candidate for seven months, “is only looking to be center stage, causing confusion and serving the interests of power. ” Moreover, they observed that in consequence of the attempt to link them with the kidnapping of the Mexican politician, the Zapatista indigenous communities may suffer a further escalation of aggression.

For his part, the Congressman José Narro Céspedes, president of the Concord and Pacification Commission (Cocopa), rejected any attempt to link the EZLN to the kidnapping of Senator Cevallos. Through a statement, he asked the Federal Executive to realize extensive research on the origins of what he called “infamous pamphlets” that, it seems, intended to be the start of an escalation of repression against the EZLN. He said: “We must ask ourselves what is the purpose of slowly staging campaigns of slander and provocation against the EZLN? Less than a year ago, as now, without counting with sources of serious information, the Zapatistas were accused of being funded by the ETA, and now, the EZLN is linked to the kidnapping of Diego Fernandez de Cevallos. For a start, to spread so profusely information of uncertain origin speaks of a policy or intention to seek a pretext to undertake repressive action. “

On another hand, the governor of Chiapas, Juan Sabines Guerrero, said it was irresponsible to pretend to involve the EZLN with the kidnapping and that “if a message has been sent by the EZLN to the country in these times of violence, it has been one of caution, peace and political responsibility. ” He also said that one must recognize the contribution of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation and the Good Government Committees in the political evolution and the fight against crime.

For more information (in Spanish):

- Presunto miembro del EZLN atribuye al grupo secuestro de Diego Fernández (CNN México, 1 de enero de 2011)

- Se desmiente vinculación del EZLN y La Otra Campaña con cualquier secuestro (Pronunciamiento publicado en Enlace zapatista, 2 de enero de 2011)

- Irresponsable involucrar a EZLN en plagio de Diego (El Universal, 2 de enero de 2011)

- Desmienten zapatistas presuntos nexos con el caso Diego (La Jornada, 2 de enero de 2011)

- México: Cocopa rechaza ligar a EZLN con plagio de Diego (El Universal, 2 de enero)

- EZLN no participó en secuestro del Jefe Diego señalan enlaces del grupo (CNN México, 3 de enero de 2011)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Chiapas: further controversy surrounding the EZLN in Mexican newspapers (April 2, 2010)


Mexico: National Meeting of members of The Other Campaign in Atenco

November 29, 2010

@FTDP

Between the 12th and 14th of November 2010, a National Meeting of Organizations and Struggles of the Other Campaign took place in San Salvador Atenco (Mexico State), convoked by the Movement for Justice en El Barrio, United States and the Front of Peoples in Defense of the Land of Atenco, the latter being the host organization.

The invitation to the meeting noted: “While in the Other Campaign we have strengthened ourselves, we have extended more and have gone deeper in the way we work, the reaction from the capitalist system and from the ‘bad government’ has been to try and crush us where our roots are deep and our resistance is fierce. From the other side of the border, in New York, the movement for Justice in El Barrio strongly felt the chill first and then the anger that emerged from the repression that swept the country during the first phase of the Other Campaign. “ They argue: ” We hope to raise all our differences as flags and walk together to defend our lands, our cultures, our identities, our loves, our autonomy. “

According to press reports, the event was attended by over 70 organizations and groups. During the three days of the meeting there were different workshops, addressing issues such as repression, political prisoners, the defense of land and autonomy, among others, as well as an open forum on “The worthy struggles of Women , Indigenous Peoples, Lesbian, Gay and Transgender. ” In addition, there were screenings of documentaries on different actors and stages of the Other Campaign, as well as on the Zapatista struggle in Chiapas.

For more information (in Sanish):


Chiapas: Sixth Meeting of Builders of Peace and Reconciliation

November 26, 2010

Between the 16th and 19th of November 2010, the Sixth “Meeting of Builders of Peace and Reconciliation” took place in the community of San Salvador, autonomous municipality of Francisco Villa. The event was organized and facilitated by brothers and sisters from the area of Zapata, in the Estrella region of Ocosingo, with the support of the the Commission of Support for Unity and Community Reconciliation (CORECO). It brought together 268 people (220 men and 48 women) arriving from 74 communities and 17 municipalities in Chiapas, such as Tenejapa, Ocosingo, Bachajón, Chamula and the autonomous municipalities of Francisco Villa and San Manuel. The participants belonged to 26 different civil and social organizations, including Pueblo Creyente (Community of Faith), the Other Campaign, the Organization of Relatives of Prisoners of Ocosingo, the Rural Association of Collective Interest – Independent and Democratic (ARIC-ID) and the Rural Association of Collective Interest – Historical (ARIC-Historical).

The event served as a forum for reflection for women and men that are engaged in conflict mediation and peacebuilding activities in their communities. The participants valued as a key result of the previous meetings the exchange of knowledges and stories that they are able to share in their communities afterwards. To know that ‘they are not alone in the struggle for a fairer world and that, on the contrary there are many people organized in different regions of Chiapas” helped to cheer them up to go on with this struggle. As mentioned by Jose Alfredo Gordillo Martínez from Comitan: “I participate in this meeting for the first time and I came alone from my community, but arriving here I do not feel alone at all.” “Learning from other’s work helps us to organize ourselves better”, said Joan Santiz Hernández, president of the Organization of Relatives of Prisoners of Ocosingo: “The meeting helps to open up the thinking, because we are still a bit lost [... ] it teaches us many ideas. ” Another important result is the increased participation of women in the meetings. In the first event of this kind 6 years ago only men participated. Now women and men participated not only in the preparation of the event, but also in its realisation.

The cultural values of their ancestors was a recurring theme in the working groups and plenary sessions. Many people expressed concern about the loss of these values and the desire to recover them. During a plenary session, the group from the Highlands of Chiapas shared: “Just as our ancestors built the peace by peaceful means, the builders of reconciliation now build the bridge that leads to peace, a place where problems can be solved peacefully.” The recovery of local varieties of maize, traditional medicine and respect for Mother Earth in the same way as their ancestors did were also valued as necessary.

To draw attention to the situation in prisons, a member of the Organization of Relatives of Prisoners of Ocosingo, on the second day, shared the contents of a letter sent on September 30 to the State Government stating their concern about the problems within the prison of Ocosingo. The organization calls for a respectful manner to treat visiting relatives and fair legal proceedings for the prisoners.

During a pleany session, Jorge Santiago, president of the CORECO, suggested five steps to follow to move forward in building peace. He emphasized that in Chiapas the core of the conflicts are government programs. He also mentionned that we need to analyze what are the interests of the different parties in the conflict, including our own: “Sometimes we can be clear about what the others want, but we do not know what we want. Taken into account our own position, it is important to ask ourselves what are our interests? ” Similarly, he stressed the richness that comes from the diversity of peoples, languages, cultures and religions: “The difference between us is an asset. The challenge is to see how we join together our differences to make a single force. “

Aside from the working groups and plenary sessions that took place, there were also spaces for community activities. To cheer us up in times of fatigue, several creative dynamics, songs and short exercises were proposed. Every day the meeting began with a prayer before the Mayan Maya which was assembled during the welcoming ceremony the first day. Meal times were opportunities for people to talk and exchange experiences, and at night, the bodies and souls could relax dancing with live music. Matthew Mendoza Díaz, a member of the organizing committee was happy with the way the event developed: “I am pleased with the participation of people, all were very active. The difference from 2007 when the event was in this same region Estrella is that there is now much more participation of women, and young men and women. We leave here with the heart stronger”.

For more information:

Realización del Sexto Encuentro de Constructoras y Constructores de Paz y Reconciliación

More information from SIPAZ:

Fifth Meeting of Builders of Peace and Reconciliation – Beyond stressing the need for peace,let us construct it!(SIPAZ Report, March 2010)

Chiapas: Meeting of Organization of Relatives of Prisoners of Ocosingo (OFPO) (October 6, 2010)


Chiapas: Ejidatorios from Bachajón denounce governmental strategy and escalation of aggression by Opddic

November 25, 2010

On November 13, ejidatarios (communal landowners) of San Sebastián Bachajón, municipality of Chilón, adherents to the Other Campaign, reported that in the past five months, they have observed a growing strategy of slanders, injustice and provocations carried out by authorities, as well as an escalation of attacks and harassment by members of the Organization for the Defense of Indigenous and Campesino Rights (Opddic).

These new threats were attributed to “the same interest of neoliberalism and transnational projects”. The ejidatarios claimed that those who share this vision in the area “have won the trust of the Secretary of Government, Noe Castanon, who received them on November 8, with open doors and the table set with a special menu including transnational projects and ideas of how to destroy our organization. “ They noted “the interest [of “the bad government”] to start a conflict in different communities of their ejido, organizing paramilitary groups to intimidate the society.”

Finally they announced: “We will defend our natural resources to the limit, we will show the government that we are not alone. (…) From this date there will be no dialogue and rapprochement with any official authority, since we do not negociate or do any agreement with the bad governement, because they have clearly shown their interest in stripping us of our lands and take over our resources””

For more information (in Spanish):

Ejidatarios de Bachajón, Chiapas, denuncian recrudecimiento de agresiones de la Opddic (La Jornada, November 18, 2010)

Denuncia completa de las ejidatarios de Bachajón (November 13, 2010))

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Chiapas: Adherents to the Other Campaign from San Sebastián Bachajón denounce torture and illegal detention of ejidatario (November 8, 2010)


Chiapas: New conflict in Mitzitón

September 8, 2010

Mitzitón (sonrisas-furiosas.blogspot.com)

On 31 August, in the community of Mitzitón, municipality of San Cristóbal de las Casas, there was had a new conflict between adherents to the Other Campaign and those they call “non-cooperants,” who are traditional Catholics and Evangelicals who pertain to the so-called Army of God.  The dispute came about after a group of adherents detained the indigenous individual Gregorio Gómez Jiménez, son of Francisco Gómez Díaz, leader of the group accused of cutting down trees without authorization from the assembly.  When his relatives and friends attempted to prevent him from being taken to the community jail a conflict broke out involving rocks, sticks, and beatings, with the result that several vehicles were damaged.

With state-police presence, several state-government functionaries came to an agreement by which Gregorio Gómez was to be investigated by an agent of the Public Ministry.  After being handed over by adherents, he was taken to Tuxtla Gutiérrez and released some hours later, when members of the Army of God blocked the San Cristóbal-Comitán highway, demanding his release.

In a 3 September public pronouncement, adherents to the Other Campaign denounced this aggression and others by the opposing group.  They indicated that on 1 September, “while our comrades were returning to their houses after a meeting in the ejidal house, they were attacked with slingshots by paramilitary members, with the result that many of them were injured in different parts of their bodies.”  They warned that “in those moments we feared for our security and that of our families, given that the paramilitary groups are attacking us with increasing frequency.”

These new violent acts occurred nearly two months after the state government came to agreements with the Mitzitón assembly regarding the relocation of the “non-cooperants.”  Conflicts have since continued, one findings its basis in the cutting of trees and the other regarding differences of opinion regarding the possible construction of a highway between San Cristóbal and Palenque that would cross Mitzitón.

For more information (in Spanish):

New conflict over tree-cutting in Mitzitón (Cuarto Poder, 1 September)

New attack by paramilitaries against residents of Mitzitón (La Jornada, 2 September)

Paramilitary aggressions against Mitzitón worsen (La Jornada, 4 September)

Situation in Mitzitón (Public denunciation by adherents to the Other Campaign in Mitzitón, 1 September)

Mitzitón: new paramilitary aggression KAOSENLARED

Audio Indymedia

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Chiapas: Mitzitón ejidatarios demand relocation of members of the “Army of God” (12 July)


Chiapas: Another confrontation in Mitzitón

March 9, 2010

A new conflict occurred in Mitzitón around 4pm on Sunday, 28 February.  According to the president of Mitzitón’s ejido commission, Juan Diaz Heredia (a Catholic), the confrontation began after community authorities “decommissioned” the wood of five trees that were cut down without permission from local Evangelicals.  The situation in Mitzitón has been tense since at least July of last year, though the roots of the conflict go back more than 10 years.  Regardless, it bears mentioning that conflict in this community, which pertains to the municipality of San Cristóbal, finds its basis more in political and agricultural rather than religious questions.

On 1 March, a number of Evangelicals who identify with the Army of God on one side and Catholic adherents to the Other Campaign on the other succeeded in exchanging the three indigenous individuals that each group had taken prisoner (for a total of 6) following the prior confrontation that left 7 injured, 2 with gunshot-wounds.  State governmental officials and members of the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Center for Human Rights were present at the negotiations.  More than 200 agents of the State Preventive Police (PEP) and the Ministerial Police from San Cristóbal arrived as well.  An hour after the prisoner exchange, adherents to the Other Campaign raised the roadblock they had erected since Sunday afternoon in the Pan-American Highway between San Cristóbal and Comitán.

In a 3 March communiqué, members of the Other Campaign in Mitziton wrote: “Amidst the contradictory versions published by newspapers regarding what happened in our community on 27 and 28 February–such as in the newspaper Milenio and on the internet, where they say that we do justice a propia mano; that we are criminals; that the conflict bases itself in the trafficking of migrants and wood; that this conflict is a religious one; that we are barbaric Indians–we claim that we were simply defending our right to exist as a people, to make our own communal decisions regarding our land.  It is clear that the Army of God’s provocations is meant to bring about more violence and hence divide us and take power away from our communal assembly and our people.  The Army of God is supported by the government, which always pays the fines it incurs as well as costs of medical treatment; essentially, the government protects it.  They want us to be weak, so that they can carry through their megaproject:  a highway from San Cristóbal to Palenque.”

For more information (in Spanish):

Communiqué of members of the Other Campaign in Mitzitón:  Aggression of members of the Army of God directed at Adherents to the Other Campaign in Mitzitón (3 March)

Catholics and Evangelicals release six detainees (El Universal, 2 March)

Catholics and Evangelicals exchange hostages and hence … the atmosphere in Mitzitón (La Jornada, 2 March)

Confrontation in Chiapas: 6 injured (La Jornada, 1 March)

Indigenous individuals detain Evangelicals in Chiapas (El Universal, 1 March)

Mitzitón (CHIAPAS):  Armed aggression by Army of God (Indymedia)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Chiapas:  Denunciation of attempted kidnapping in Mitzitón (25 February 2010)


Chiapas: Arrests and high-alert situation in Jotola

November 13, 2009

Diego Cadenas Gordillo (Director del CDHFBC)

On November 7 the Human Rights Center Fray Bartolome de Las Casas (Frayba) denounced the fact that members of the Organization for the Defense of Indigenous and Campesino Rights (Organizacion para la Defensa de los Derechos Indigenas, OPDDIC) were threatening to burn down the houses of members of the Zapatista-led “Other Campaign” in the community of Jotola, Chilon municipality. This latest action is apparently in retaliation for the arrest of four OPDDIC members by the state police on November 4th. The four are presumably linked to the attack against Frayba lawyer Ricardo Lagunes Gasca on September 18th and are accused of depriving him illegally of his freedom, injury and attempted murder.

On November 7 Frayba’s Director Diego Cadenas Gordillo said he had received reports that OPDDIC had two tanks of gasoline, presumably to be used to light the homes of the Other Campaign members on fire. Cadenas said that given the risks to the Other Campaign members he’d asked state authorities to implement preventive measures “to safeguard the rights, physical well-being, and the lives of the people involved in the conflict.”

For more information:

Alerta el Frayba (Expreso, 8 de noviembre)

For more information from SIPAZ:

Urgent Action: Armed attack on human rights workers in Jotola (Chiapas September 24th, 2009)


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