Chiapas: Military incursions in OCEZ-RC communities

May 30, 2008

On May 22, approximately 100 Mexican Army troops surrounded or entered the communitites of Laguna Verde, 28 de Junio, Guadalupe la Cuchilla and San José la Grandeza, members of the Emiliano Zapata Campesino Organization – Venustiano Carranza Region (OCEZ-RC Organización Campesina Emiliano Zapata – Región Venustiano Carranza) and set up road blocks along the access roads to the communities.

Days earlier, members of the OCEZ-RC joined a group of some 600 campesinos in a trip to the Chiapas state capital, Tuxtla Gutiérrez, demanding land rights, the central cause behind their movement.The day of the military incursion, the majority of the residents of 28 de Junio were not present in the community when the army arrived as they were in meetings in the near by municipal seat, Venustiano Carranza.In addition the operation took place within 24 hours after the team of international observers who were posted in 28 de Junio had left.All of these facts point to a calculated military operation on the part of the Mexican Army.

This is not the first case of a military incursion in the area. On August 28, 2007, a similar operation was carried out in the same communities and resulted in the installation of international observers from the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Center (FrayBa, Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Bartolomé de las Casas). The army has long accused the communities of being armed and having a connection to the Revolutionary Popular Army (EPR, Ejercito Popular Revolucionario, known for its recent attacks on petroleum installations in several states in Mexico) the result of which has been the use of military incursions in the communities in search of weapons.

In addition to military incursions, these communities have experienced other forms of harassment among others the displacement of the community of Santa Runfina Las Perlas in early August of 2007 and the killing of two day laborers from the community of Laguna Verde later that year in December.

On May 25, SIPAZ conducted various interviews with member of the affected OCEZ-RC communities. To view the interviews (in Spanish) click here.

For more information (in Spanish):

Communique from the OCEZ-RC on the events of May 22, 2008 (OCEZ, 22/05/2008)

SIPAZ interview with members of the OCEZ-RC on the events of May 22, 2008 (SIPAZ, 27/05/08)


Chiapas: Joint military-police operation carried out in San Jerónimo Tulijá, Chilón

May 24, 2008

“We don’t want the Federal Army…we want peace and tranquillity for the people”

According to the information received by SIPAZ,on May 19, 2008, a helicopter was seen flying over the ejido (communal land) of San Jerónimo Tulijá in the municipality of Chilón, Chiapas.Later that day at approximately 3 in the afternoon, 11 vehicles belonging to the Mexican army and the Federal Investigations Agency (AFI, Agencia Federal de Investigaciones), arrived at the ejido with some 300 soldiers and agents from the two police agencies present as well as the public prosecutor of Palenque.

To read the full SIPAZ report click here.

For more information (in Spanish):

Interview with Santiago López Gómez of the Comite de Derechos Humanos Fray Pedro de La Nada (SIPAZ, 21/05/2008)

Operativo federal conjunto en San Jerónimo Tulijá (Frayba, 20/05/2008)

Militares buscan armas en Chilón (Cuarto Poder, 22/05/2008)

US/Mexico: US Congress to vote on Merida Initiative

May 13, 2008

Presidents Calderon and Bush (Source: US State Dept.)

This week the US Congress is slated to vote on the three year, $1.4 billion “Mérida Initiative” (also known as Plan México) which will appropriate $550 million to Mexico and $50 million to Central America. The initiative has been tagged to the Iraq supplemental bill and is part of the larger counter-terrorism/drug trafficking policy known as the SPP (Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America) and is also closely tied to NAFTA.

The initial policy dialogues that have resulted in the Mérida Initiative began in a meeting held in March of 2005 between the three North American heads of state. Later in October 2007, President Bush announced the security aid package.

Of the funds allotted to Mexico, 40%, or some $205.5 million, will go towards military training and equipment. Another $112 million will go to the Mexican Attorney General’s Office and the criminal justice system.

While the initiative has been officially referred to as a program to curb drug trafficking and violence related to organized crime, many human rights organizations and even some Mexican judges from the Supreme Court have objected to the effects the initiative will have on the Mexican judicial system as well as the implications for political expression and sovereignty.

As a corollary to the SPP (which has been nicknamed “NAFTA on steroids”) the initiative has been linked to NAFTA as well. The Sub-Secretary of Western Hemisphere Affairs for the State Department, Thomas Shannon, has even stated that, “To a certain extent, we’re armoring NAFTA.”

For more information:

A Primer on Plan Mexico (Laura Carlsen, 05/05/2008)

Ten Easy Questions and Ten Tougher Ones Regarding the SPPNA (CIEPAC, 17/08/2008)

Stop “Plan Mexico” Before it Starts (Witness for Peace, 06/02/2008)

No to Plan Mexico (Global Exchange, 30/10/2008)

The Merida Initiative (US State Department, 08/04/2008)

Chiapas: Las Abejas request accompaniment in the community of Tsanembolom

May 12, 2008

April 18, 2008, SIPAZ received a communiqué from the administrative council of Las Abejas Civil Society Organization (Organización Sociedad Civil Las Abejas) requesting the accompaniment of two familias from the community of Tsanembolom in the municipality of Chenalhó.They have solicited the accompaniment “from the April 23 to May 9, while they work to prepare the corn and coffee fields.”

The two families, affiliated with Las Abejas, were originally displaced on October 15, 1997 along with several zapatista families by fellow community members who adhere to the Revolutionary Institutional Party (PRI, Partido Revolucionario Institucional).

For eight years the two families resided in the community of Tzajalchen and later returned to Tsanembolom in 2005.Some two years later on May12, 2007, the families decided to leave the community once again and find refuge in Acteal (the seat of the administrative council of Las Abejas) after receiving threats from the PRI members of the area who have attempted rid the community of all organizations that are not PRI.

In February of 2008, the families attempted to return to the community one more time and were yet again met with threats compelling them to return to Acteal where they have resided up until the present.SIPAZ visited the community of Tsanembolom on May 7, 2008, where the families have spent the last two weeks preparing their fields for the growing season.There SIPAZ, accompanied by two members of the administrative council of Las Abejas, recorded the testimonies of the family members regarding their current situation in the community.According to those interviewed, the families have not received any threats during their current stay in Tsanembolom.However, though the request for accompaniment was sent to various social organizations, the familias have not received any responses.

The administrative council of Las Abejas has stated that they will distribute a second request for accompaniment in the coming weeks as the families attempt to finish preparing their fields.

For more information (in Spanish):

Las Abejas communique requesting accompaniment in Tsanembolom (18/04/2008)

Denunciation from the Autonomous Municipality of San Pedro Polhó with respect to the displaced families in Tsanembolom (20/01/2008)

May Day in Chicago: SIPAZ tour of the United States

May 6, 2008

May Day march in Chicago (click on the photo above to see a slide show of the march)

The May Day march held last week is part of a tradition that began in Chicago in 1886. The first organizers of the May Day celebration were immigrant workers from Sweden, Germany, Poland, Ireland and Poland who began a struggle for workers’ rights including an 8 hour work day in place of the 10, 12 or 14 hour days many immigrant workers suffered at the time. Since then May 1 has lost much of its symbolic force in the United States. However, the movement has been revived with a new immigrant labor force in the country, especially among those from Mexico and Central America.

In 2006 and 2007 hundreds of thousands of people marched in the streets of Chicago, the vast majority undocumented immigrants from Mexico and Central America who have lived and worked in the United Status for years or even decades without the ability to obtain legal status. In 2007 an enormous march was held under the slogan “A Day without Us” referring to the disaster that would strike the American economy if undocumented workers were not a part of the work force.

The march this year did not have the same turn out as the previous two years due to rumors and threats directed toward several immigrant collectives. In the days leading up to the march there were reports of waves of deportations of undocumented workers as well. One of the principle demands of the marchers this year was the legalized status of all 12 million undocumented immigrants who live and work in the United Status.

For more information:

Slideshow of the May Day march in Chicago (SIPAZ, 01/05/2008)

May Day in Chicago (Baltimore Indymedia, 02/05/2008)

May 1st Immigrant/Workers Rights US-Wide Actions, A Success (Chicago Indymedia, 05/05/2008)

The Origins of May Day: A Story of Chicago, the First Labor Movement and the Bombing That Divided Gilded Age America (Democracy Now, 01/05/2006)

Chiapas: Detainees transferred from Tabasco to Chiapas

May 1, 2008

The entrance to CERESO 12, Yajalón, Chiapas

The unmarked white van entering CERESO 12 with the two detainees

On April 24, Ángel Concepción Pérez Gutiérrez and Francisco Pérez Vázquez, both previously detained in the Municipal Public Prison in Tacotalapa, Tabasco, were transferred to the state of Chiapas where they are currently being held at Center for Social Readaptation(CERESO) 12 in Yajalón. The Chiapas State government has stated that it will revise each of the cases from the time of the initial arrests on July 9, 1996, as they appear fraught with irregularities.

SIPAZ accompanied one of the family members of the detainees from Tabasco to the prison in Yajalón and was present when the white van transporting the two men arrived shortly before 9:00 pm on April 25. The following day, members of the organization briefly interviewed both Ángel Concepción Pérez Gutiérrez and Francisco Pérez Vázquez.

For more information:

Chiapas: Chiapas prisoners held in Tabasco begin hunger strike (SIPAZ, 22/04/2008)

Tabasco: Detainees still held in the Municipal Public Prison in Tacotalpa, Tabasco (SIPAZ, 04/04/2008)