Chiapas: Moving Farewell for Social Activist Bersain Hernandez Zavala

June 13, 2016

Bersain.pngBurial of Bersain Hernandez Zavala, June 3, Tonala, Chiapas. Photo: @Pozol Colectivo

On June 3, hundreds of people bid farewell to Bersain Hernandez Zavala, social activist for the rights of the people of Tonala, Chiapas. Bersain was a member of the Digna Ochoa Human Rights Center and founder of the Regional Autonomous Council of the Coastal Zone, an organization adherent to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN), founded in September 2006 to demand fair prices for electricity and the recognition of access to electrical energy as a human right. He was also a teacher at a secondary school in Tonala and an active member of the teachers’ movement against educational reform. In the moving farewell, he was remembered at the school where he worked, paid tribute to at the Tonalteco Civic Front offices, celebrated at a mass, and accompanied to the cemetery by relatives and compañeros in the struggle.

The popular defender died on June 2 in a road accident. Several members of his family were travelling in the same vehicle, as well as Carlos Velazquez Ruiz, all of whom required medical attention. They are therefore requesting financial support and provided bank account details for deposits.

For more information in Spanish:

Petición de apoyo (Facebook de Centro de Derechos Humanos Digna Ochoa AC, 6 de junio de 2016)

Con aplausos y cariño despiden al profesor Bersaín Hernández, en su secundaria de Tonalá Chiapas. (Pozol Colectivo, 3 de junio de 2016)

“Bersaín murió, pero nunca se rindió”, el legado de Bersaín Hernández, maestro y luchador social de Tonalá Chiapas. (Pozol Colectivo, 3 de junio de 2016)

Fallece el luchador social Bersaín Hernández Zavala, en Tonalá Chiapas. (Pozol Colectivo, 2 de junio de 2016)

Carta del Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas (Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas, 3 de junio de 2016)

For more information from SIPAZ:

Chiapas: Agreden a defensor del Comité de Derechos Humanos de Base Digna Ochoa (17 de marzo de 2014)

Chiapas: Denuncia de desalojo y amenazas en Tonalá, CDH Digna Ochoa (31 de octubre de 2012)

Chiapas: Centro de Derechos Humanos Digna Ochoa denuncia hostigamiento de agentes federales a ejidatarios (5 de mayo de 2012)

Chiapas: Alejandro Diaz Santiz Reports Mistreatment of Prisoners

June 8, 2016

AlejandroAlejandro Díaz Santiz’s report. Photo: @Chiapas Denuncia.

Unjustly imprisoned Alejandro Diaz Santiz, currently deprived of his liberty in federal prison No. 15 of Villa Comaltitlán, Tapachula, Chiapas, reported threats, abuse of power by the prison guards, as well as verbal and physical humiliation. In a letter, the adherent to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) and member of the “Sympathizers of the Voice of Amate” group, stated that “in the prisons of our country and states prisoners in different prisons or CEFERESOS (Centers for Social reinsertion) suffer ill-treatment by the authorities”, giving the example that “many of my colleagues have been beaten for almost no reason.” In his letter he detailed the physical abuse inflicted on an inmate who is about 60 years old, completely naked, for having disposable cups in his cell. Diaz Santiz’s letter ended asking the President of the Republic to exhort his freedom from the governors of Veracruz, as well as demanding the governor of Chiapas, Manuel Velasco Coello, “to fulfill his promise in which he promised to see my case with the authorities of Veracruz “, which is almost three years without being fulfilled.

It should be remembered that Alexander has spent more than 17 years in confinement for “a murder he did not commit”, and also “at the time of his arrest did not speak Spanish, he was tortured, never had access to a translator and did not have enough money for adequate legal defense”, according to Sympathizers of the Voice of Amate. In September last year he was transferred from a state prison to a maximum security prison, although the crime for which he is serving a sentence does not pertain to the federal jurisdiction, nor is he a high risk prisoner. ‘No Estamos Todos Working Group called this move “political revenge” for “supporting and raising awareness among other prisoners and for not being silent about the abuses of the prison authorities.” The resolution of an injunction that could release Diaz Santiz for partial remission of his sentence is currently impending.

From the beginning of this year until May, the National Commission of Human Rights (CNDH) received more than 800 complaints about the operation of national prison system and detention centers, according to La Jornada. The same media source said that complaints are over “poor medical care, torture and ill-treatment, poor nutrition, insufficient labor and educational activities, lacking facilities and lack of hygiene.” They shall also noted that Chiapas is among the six states in which 80% of the complaints received are concentrated.

For more information in Spanish:

Malos tratos en el CEFERESO 15 de Villa Comaltitlán (Chiapas Denuncia Pública, 6 de junio de 2016)

“Siempre estamos bajo amenazas, humillaciones físicas y verbales”, preso tsotsil de Chiapas, Alejandro Díaz Santiz. (Pozol Colectivo, 6 de junio de 2016)

Preso indígena denuncia “malos tratos” en penal de Chiapas (La Jornada en línea, 7 de junio de 2016)

La CNDH ha recibido este año 800 quejas contra el sistema penitenciario (La Jornada, 30 de mayo de 2016)

El profundo descuido del sistema penitenciario en México (Animal Político, 15 de febrero de 2016)

For more information from SIPAZ:

Chiapas: Alejandro Díaz Santiz ayuna por 17 años de encarcelamiento (13 de mayo de 2016)

Chiapas: Jornada por la liberación de Alejandro Díaz Santiz y las y los presos políticos (19 de abril de 2016)

Chiapas: Exigen la liberación de Alejandro Díaz Santiz (11 de marzo de 2016)

Chiapas: Trasladan a Alejandro Díaz Sántiz, junto a 386 presos, a penal de alta seguridad (15 de septiembre de 2016)

National/Chiapas/Oaxaca/Guerrero: Teachers’ Protests Update and EZLN Statement of Support

June 6, 2016

ProfesTeachers’ march in Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas. Photo: @Colectivo del Periódico El Zenzontle.

Since May 15 last, dissident teachers adhering to the National Coordinator of Education Workers (CNTE) and several sections of the National Union of Education Workers (SNTE) began an indefinite national strike to reject educational reform. Since that date, there have been many mobilizations by the opposing teachers in several states of the Mexican Republic.

In Chiapas, after fifteen days of the protests, there have been actions in the 122 municipalities of the state, while the Federal and State Governments have still not established a negotiating table, arguing that there is no going back on educational reform. The most notable actions were taking over 90 city halls to demand channels of dialogue with the government and the departure of the federal state police, according to the CNTE; the attempt to block the road from Tuxtla Gutierrez to Angel Albino Corzo airport, in response to which federal and state police dispersed the protesters with tear gas; the expulsion of the Federal Police from Chiapa de Corzo by its inhabitants or marches in more than 30 municipalities in the state in solidarity with the teachers. Also, there are constant roadblocks, there were takeovers of radio stations and gas stations in Tuxtla by opponents to the reform and several instances of repression with the use of rubber bullets, tear gas and overflights by state and federal forces in the area of the teachers’ picket. On another note, six school directors and supervisors had their heads shaved and were publicly exposed with posters with their names and accusations of “traitors” or “charros” in Comitan de Dominguez. Chiapas Paralelo noted that members of groups such as the Popular Movement of Comitan (MPC), the Regional Democratic Front of Workers and Campesinos (FDROC) and the Emiliano Zapata Proletarian Organization (OPIEZ) were behind the events, motivated by the discovery of lists of teachers who are not joining the protests. One of the shaved teachers reported being pressured by the Ministry of Public Education (SEP) to report what is happening in the teachers’ strike: “we are being asked for documentation of colleagues who did not join the strike, who are not picketing.” 1,134 layoffs of teachers and non-teaching staff who participated in the strike have been announced.

In Oaxaca, thousands of parents and teachers participated in a mega-march to reject educational reform. It denounced the smear campaign that the State Public Education Institute of Oaxaca (IEEPO) is promoting against striking teachers. The SEP declared the teachers’ strike is not resonating among teachers, estimating that 97% continue to work, while the striking teachers assure that 90% of federal schools are closed. In that state, the teachers maintain a sit-in in the square of the capital, Oaxaca de Juarez, and also to demand a negotiating table with and the elected leaders, the release of 11 prisoners from the teachers’ movement and the cancellation of outstanding arrest warrants awaiting enforcement. There were also roadblocks, including land access to the state airport, removal of propaganda for the upcoming elections, and takeovers of offices and shopping centers. In that state, 3,360 teachers have been dismissed for not submitting to the teaching evaluation, and their reinstatement is demanded.

There have also been multiple actions in Guerrero. Thousands of people marched repeatedly in different municipalities in solidarity with the teachers, demanding the repeal of educational reform and to guarantee decent working conditions for teachers. In Chilpancingo the city hall was taken over by members of the CNTE and the Guerrero State Coordinator of Education Workers (CETEG), while the Sol Highway was blocked on several occasions. 500 injunctions against the layoffs announced by the SEP were filed, while the Guerrero Ministry of Education (SEG) began applying salary sanctions to the strikers. The prevention of teachers’ protests by government forces near the town Tres Palos where President Enrique Peña Nieto was conducting an event stood out.

There have been many expressions of support and solidarity with the teachers’ struggle. For its part, the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) published a statement signed by the Insurgent Sub-Commanders Moses and Galeano. In it they denounced that “the so-called ‘educational reform’ is not educational, it is labor”, which “claims to defend the constitution (educational reform), violating the constitution” and that the media do not show the reality of the situation but report that most of the teachers are working. The EZLN also stated that teachers are not demanding privileges but are fighting basic working conditions, to avoid “the aim of educational reform”, which, they believe, “is to privatize education.” They also denounced the criminalization of the teachers’ struggle, disapproving of teachers being labeled as “slackers” and denying that they “do not want to prepare.” According to reports from a “listener”, “people in the houses shout support for the teachers. And in the street they give them water, fruit. It’s obvious that they love the teachers who struggle.”

For more information in Spanish:

 MAYO: ENTRE EL AUTORITARISMO Y LA RESISTENCIA. (Enlace Zapatista, 30 de mayo de 2016)

Organizaciones sociales agreden a maestros que no participan en el paro laboral (Chiapas Paralelo, 31 de mayo de 2016)

Chiapas, 15 días de rebelión magisterial (Chiapas Paralelo, 29 de mayo de 2016)

Como nunca tras Reforma Educativa, padres y organizaciones se solidarizan con magisterio (videos) (Servicios para una Educación Alternativa, 30 de mayo de 2016)

Organizaciones sociales y familias de Guerrero, contra la reforma educativa (Sistema Integral de Información en Derechos Humanos, 1 de junio de 2016)

Cetegistas protestaron cerca de donde el Presidente hacía una gira de trabajo (La Jornada Guerrero, 31 de mayo de 2016)

Marcha Ceteg en Iguala contra la reforma educativa; rechaza la evaluación docente (La Jornada Guerrero, 25 de mayo de 2016)

Aplicó la SEG descuentos a maestros en paro estatal, denuncia líder de la Ceteg (La Jornada Guerrero, 28 de mayo de 2016)

For more information from SIPAZ:

Nacional: Paro laboral indefinido del magisterio disidente a la reforma laboral (19 de mayo de 2016)

Chiapas/Oaxaca/Guerrero/Nacional: Criminalización de la protesta social (19 de abril de 2016)

Chiapas/Oaxaca/Guerrero: Protestas del magisterio contra la reforma educativa en varios estados (25 de febrero de 2016)

Chiapas: Muere un maestro en los enfrentamientos de oposición a la evaluación magisterial (10 de diciembre de 2015)

Chiapas: EZLN announces activities for 2016

March 12, 2016


EZLN march, December 21, 2012, Palenque. Photo @ SIPAZ

On February 29 of this year, the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) published a convocation for upcoming activities that they will organize in 2016. Signed by Insurgent Sub-commander Moises, considering that “the sciences and the arts represent the only serious opportunity to build a more just and rational world”, they announced three events: the festival “CompARTE[i] FOR HUMANITY”, which will be held from July 17 to 30; a festival in homage to the National Indigenous Congress (Congreso Nacional Indígena – CNI) for its 20 years of struggle and resistance, to be celebrated on October 12 in CIDECI in San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chiapas; and finally the meeting “THE ZAPITISTAS AND THE conSCIENCIAS[ii] FOR HUMANITY”, which will also be held in CIDECI between December 25, 2016 and January 4, 2017. In the communiqué, people who wish to attend the events are asked to register beforehand at the email addresses given and which can be seen at “ZAPATISTA CONVOCATION FOR 2016 ACTIVITIES”

The EZLN also recently published four other communiqués. After “MEANWHILE IN…the political party affiliated communities”, in which they described different situations of dispossession in the communities ruled by the political parties, the published “AND IN THE ZAPATISTA COMMUNITIES?”, in which they described the achievements in the autonomous municipalities in terms of education, health, economy, working the land, etc. In it they highlighted the participation and progress of Zapatista women: “We see a fault: Zapatista women are advancing more than the men. They are not advancing equally.” In the same communiqué they stated that, “We are not going to be fooled by ecclesiastic, secular or lay stupidities, of supposed ‘new constituents’ that want ‘to save us’ and who recur to the same old methods of coercion that they claim to criticize.”

On another note, “WHY DON’T YOU SELF-PRESCRIBE THIS?”, published after charges of sedition, mutiny, terrorism and conspiracy since 1995 against Sub-commander Marcos, now Galeano, were lifted, along with charges against 12 other Zapatistas. In it, ‘SupGaleano’ wrote, “it is only theater that simulates justice where there is impunity and shamelessness, and pretends to be ‘institutional government’ where there is only pillage and repression.”

Finally, “The arts, sciences, originary peoples and the basements of the world” was a letter for Juan Villorio Ruiz, son of the deceased philosopher assessor of the EZLN, Luis Villorio Toranzo. “The sciences and arts unite, connect, they convert borders into ridiculous cartographic points”, writes Sub-commander Galeano, as well as “I have mentioned originary peoples and the basements of the world because they have the best chance of surviving the storm and the only ones capable of creating ‘something else.'”

[i] Play on words of the Spanish verb ‘to share’, with ‘compa’ and ‘arte’

[ii] Play on the words ‘conscience’ and ‘with science’ in Spanish

For more information in Spanish:

CONVOCATORIA ZAPATISTA A ACTIVIDADES 2016 (Enlace Zapatista, 29 de febrero de 2016)

¿Y EN LAS COMUNIDADES ZAPATISTAS? (Enlace Zapatista, 23 de febrero de 2016)

ASÍ QUE MEJOR AUTOPRESCRÍBANSE ESTO: (Enlace Zapatista, 25 de febrero de 2016)

Las artes, las ciencias, los pueblos originarios y los sótanos del mundo. (Enlace Zapatista, 28 de febrero de 2016)

Zapatistas: las mujeres van más adelante en la construcción de la autonomía (Desinformémonos, 24 de febrero de 2015)

“Maquillaron todo para mostrar al Papa otra realidad”, acusa el EZLN (Proceso, 24 de febrero de 2016)

Prescriben delitos imputados al Subcomandante Marcos (ahora Galeano) y 12 zapatistas más (Chiapas Paralelo, 23 de febrero de 2016)

For more information from SIPAZ:

Chiapas/Nacional: Acuerdos de San Andrés: incumplidos 20 años después (24 de febrero de 2016)

Chiapas/Nacional: EZLN denuncia la situación en comunidades partidistas y anuncia próximas actividades (23 de febrero de 2016)

Chiapas: CDHFBC denuncia privación arbitraria de la libertad u faltas al debido proceso de BAEZLN (23 de diciembre de 2015)

Chiapas/National: San Andres Accords unfulfilled 20 years later

February 29, 2016


Dialogue at San Andres. Photo @ Radio Zapatista

February 16 marked 20 years since the signing of the San Andres Accords between the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) and the federal government. The accords were the result of five months of negotiations and dialogue about indigenous rights and culture in the Tsotsil municipality of San Andres Larrainzar, renamed San Andres Sakam’chen of the Poor by the Zapatistas.

On signing the accords, the government promised the creation of a judicial framework which would recognize the rights of indigenous communities and peoples, not only in Chiapas but throughout Mexico, among them the right of self-determination of the original peoples, recognizing their autonomy according to the cultural, social, political and economic characteristics of each group and place. The agreement on right of access to natural resources in the territory of indigenous peoples and communities was also relevant. The government promised to take these accords to Congress to convert them into reforms and additions to the constitution to guarantee their application, although the resulting proposal omitted a number of the signed accords. This was interpreted by the EZLN as a betrayal, a fact which led to the interruption of dialogue of the Zapatista commission with the federal government, ending the negotiations in the second round of six planned encounters.

“Already 20 years, in which the Government of Mexico has refused to fulfill [the San Andres Accords]; and at the same time they have been put into practice for 20 years in Zapatista territories, with their own forms of self-governance”, according to the declarations of the Fray Bartolome de Las Casas Center for Human Rights (CDHFBC) in Proceso. In spite of this, “it is important to note that the counterinsurgency policy of the Mexican State continues against the EZLN and the peoples of Chiapas who build different paths to neoliberal capitalism. It is evident the militarization in indigenous zones, the drive to conflicts in communities with Zapatista presence, the use of campesino organizations to confront the Support Bases of the EZLN, and the use of government aid programs to control and co-opt the population that resists. Moreover, forced displacement and impunity for crimes against humanity committed by the Mexican Army and paramilitary groups persist”, CDHFBC noted.

For more information in Spanish

Los acuerdos de San Andrés. 20 años de traición (La Jornada, 18 de febrero de 2016)

San Andrés: 20 años después (La Jornada, 26 de enero de 2016)

A 20 años de los Acuerdos de San Andrés, siguen violentado los derechos indígenas: Frayba (Proceso, 17 de febrero de 2016)

El zapatismo y el uso estratégico del silencio (La Jornada, 23 de febrero de 2016)

For more information from SIPAZ:

Nacional: Foro impulsa reformas legislativas para el cumplimiento de los Acuerdos de San Andrés sobre derechos y cultura indígenas (27 de febrero de 2014)

Chiapas: a 18 años de la firma de los Acuerdos de San Andrés sobre Derechos y Cultura Indígenas, estos continúan sin ser reconocidos por el estado mexicano (19 de febrero de 2014)

Chiapas/National: EZLN denounces conditions in communities affiliated to political parties and announces upcoming activities

February 25, 2016



EZLN march, December 21, 2012, San Cristobal de Las Casas. Photo@SIPAZ

The Zapatista Army of National Liberation published a communiqué on February 21, “Meanwhile…in the communities affiliated to political parties.” Signed by sub-commanders Moises and Galeano, it describes various situations of pillage and exploitation that communities are living through in communities that follow the party political system in the southeastern zone of Chiapas.

Although they omitted the names of the communities and of the informers “who in some cases fear reprisals”, they denounced the privatization of communally held lands or ejidos through government projects in a number of communities, where sale of lands had been signed unknowingly in the belief that government support was being signed for. Likewise, they witnessed the pillage of indigenous peoples’ lands, which contain materials such as uranium, amber, sulfur, or potential tourist attractions, through the same methods of deceit or coercion. They also denounced that in some communities in the Ocosingo area they had been forbidden to cut trees for their necessities, such as cooking or building materials for homes, while lumber companies are permitted to cut.

As regards projects directed at women and as has been reported by other organizations, the recipients of the Prospera program have to meet certain preconditions to receive support. Some of these include compulsory Pap testing, and giving birth in hospitals instead of with the aid their traditional midwives. If the preconditions are not met, financial support is withdrawn. Moreover, they revealed that women who went to Tuxtla to receive their financial support were requested to come accompanied by the young women of the community, who “in exchange for receiving the project are obliged to have sexual relationships.” Added to this, the communiqué dealt with the recent distribution of digital televisions in lieu of the analogic switch-off. According to the text, at the distribution event in Comitan, “two people died, a child and a woman: the child died because it was crushed from the people pushing and the mother was unable to protect it; the woman was murdered when, on arrival home, the husband took out his pistol and shot her for not looking after his son.” As if this weren’t enough, not all of the televisions worked, and they also require the purchase of a scrambling device, which was interpreted as a form of government business with a company that sells the units.

Another feature reported was two cases of the presence of organized crime in communities. First, they made known the recruitment of men in the communities “to go and work in the north.” Gangers promised that they would be taken directly to their workplaces, guaranteeing transport and therefore avoiding possible security problems on the way. According to the EZLN, “the work is sowing marijuana and poppies” somewhere “they are not allowed to leave.” In another town, a family made an agreement with a drug dealer and one of the daughters was murdered for non-payment, which was videoed and sent to her father.

At the end of the communiqué, upcoming activities were announced for which “they [we] should be alert.”

For more information in Spanish:

Y MIENTRAS TANTO EN… las comunidades partidistas. (Enlace Zapatista, 21 de febrero de 2016)

Zapatistas evidencian a los partidos y anuncian que habrá nuevas actividades (Desinformémonos, 22 de febrero de 2016)

EZLN anuncia convocatoria ante incremento de despojo en Chiapas (Más de 131, 22 de febrero de 2016)

For more information from SIPAZ:

Chiapas: CDHFBC denuncia privación arbitraria de la libertad u faltas al debido proceso de BAEZLN (23 de diciembre de 2015)

Chiapas: 32 años “sembrando autonomía” (19 de noviembre de 2015)

Chiapas: Amenazas de muerte y agresiones físicas en contra de BAEZLN de la comunidad Tzakukum (10 de septiembre de 2015)

Chiapas: EZLN denuncia liberación de los homicidas del Maestro Galeano (21 de agosto de 2015)

For full text in English:



Chiapas: SIPAZ event – 20 years accompanying lights of hope

December 26, 2015


SIPAZ Forum “20 years Accompanying Lights of Hope”

Photo @SIPAZ

On 27 and 28 November was held in San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas the Forum “20 years Accompanying Lights of Hope” to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the International Service for Peace (SIPAZ). Those participating in the event included women and men from communities, organizations, human-rights centers, the academy, as well as activists, both from Mexico and other countries. By means of panels, the invited speakers shared reflections regarding their experiences, situating them also within an historical analysis incorporating the principal tendencies, challenges, and obstacles. The event stressed concern for the present situation in the country, given that participants agreed that we are in a war situation.

Two media based in the lessons learned through SIPAZ’s years of work in Mexico were presented at the event. One was a documentary, entitled “That the Heart Not Break. Non-Violent Struggles for Justice and Defense of Land,” produced in collaboration with the Koman Ilel community media collective. The video was presented with the participation of the involved communities and organizations: communities displaced below Tila and the Las Abejas Civil Society, based in Chiapas, along with the Council of Peoples United in Defense of the Green River (COPUDEVER), from Oaxaca. In parallel, the book Struggle with a Woman’s Heart: The Situation and Participation of Women in Chiapas (1995-2015), was presented and discussed. This volume brings together the major experiences and lessons from women’s struggle to participate and for gender equality.

For more information (in Spanish):

SIPAZ: 20 años acompañando luces de esperanza (EDUCA, 1 de diciembre de 2015)


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