Chiapas: Federal and state governments announce imposition of territorial order in Lacandona Jungle

June 2, 2014

Población en la Selva Lacandona. Foto (@Sipaz)

Settlement in the Lacandona Jungle. Photo (@Sipaz)

The federal and Chiapas state governments have carried out an announcement expressing the priority need of proceeding with a territorial ordering of the Lacandona Jungle, the Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve (REBIMA), and protected natural areas: “The government of the Republic and the Chiapas state government express their conviction that it is priority for a TERRITORIAL ORDERING to provide the necessary conditions for the development of the Lacandona community and the neighboring ejidos to improve the quality of life of residents with an eye to the rule of law, privileging the consolidation of protected natural areas and sustainable development in these areas.  In conformity with the stipulations of the General Law for Ecological Equilibrium and Protection of the Environment (Article 46), which states that ‘in protected natural areas, new population centers cannot be authorized’: the existing irregular communities located within the Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve cannot be regularized, nor can any future settlements so be rationalized in any other part of a natural protected area.  For this reason no process of compensation can be provided, as there are no programs or resources dedicated to this end, nor will there be.”

Eduardo Ramírez Aguilar, General Secretary of Governance, indicated that the federal and state governments will seek a solution of resettlement for those living in irregular communities within REBIMA.

In 1972, a presidential decision provided 614,000 hectares of the jungle to 66 Lacandon families without taking into account the thousands of other indigenous ethnicities who also resided within this territory and who have since then faced the threat of displacement from their lands.

Recently in April, an agreement was made between the Lacandon Community Zone and ARIC UU-ID (the Rural Association of Collective Interests-Union of Democratic and Independent Unions) which allows for the recognition of three populations located within and around REBIMA; in August 2013, another two were also recognized.  This agreement was the fruit of a dialogue process initiated directly by the two interested parties, and did not count with governmental participation, given the perceived lack of will of the same group to resolve the conflict, as ARIC representatives discussed in a press-conference held in San Cristóbal de Las Casas on 1 May.

For more information (in Spanish):

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Chiapas: historic accord in the Lacandona Zone (3 May 2014)

Chiapas: Press-conference regarding communities threatened with displacement from Montes Azules (25 June 2012)

Chiapas: Pronunciation by the Observation Mission to communities threatened with displacement form the Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve (18 May 2012)

Chiapas: Threats of displacement in the Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve (14 March 2012)

Chiapas: 18 años years after the signing of the San Andrés Accords on Indigenous Rights and Culture, these continue not to be recognized by the State

March 1, 2014

Comisión del EZLN en los Acuerdos de San Andrés

On 16 February 18 years passed since the signing of the San Andrés Accords on Indigenous Rights and Culture between the federal government and the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN), within the context of the Law on Dialogue, Negotiation, and Dignified Peace in Chiapas.

The signing of the accords in the Tsotsil community of San Andrés Larráinzar or Sak´am Ch´en De Los Pobres was the result of a process of negotiations and dialogues which began in October 1995 and ended in February 1996 in which particiapted different actors from Mexican civil society, including the National Commission on Mediation (CONAI), presided over by bishop Samuel Ruíz, and the Commission for Concordance and Pacification (COCOPA), comprised of legislators from the federal and state congresses.

By signing the accords, the federal government committed itself to constitutionally recognize the indigenous peoples by means of the creation of a new juridical system that would guarantee the political representation of the indigenous at the local and national levels, the right for the indigenous to organize and rule themselves according to their own customs, their right to develop their own alternatives to economic development and production, and the right for them to preserve their own cultural identity.  In sum, the agreement recognized the indigenous peoples of Mexico as public participants with the capacity of organizing themselves autonomously.

In November 1996, the COCOPA presented the Proposal for Constitutional Reforms in terms of Indigenous Rights and Culture as a continuation of the agreements made in San Andrés. Though some of the aspects originally agreed to were missing in this new version, the EZLN accepted the proposed document.

In December 2000, the PAN government of Vicente Fox submitted the law to the federal congress.

In 2001, the federal senate approved the constitutional reform on indigenous affairs, with the majority vote from the deputies of the principal political parties (PAN, PRI, PRD), though this did not include that which was agreed to in San Andrés. The reform stressed the effective exercise of rights, defining indigenous communities as public-interest entities instead of public-right entities, with the latter being a stipulation from the San Andrés Accords.  In this way was it denied to the indigenous to participate autonomously and collectively in the decision-making structures of the political and juridical institutions of the Mexican State, thus limiting their ability to organize autonomously in accordance with their own uses and customs.

In response to the reform, both the National Indigenous Congress (CNI) and the EZLN rejected the approved law, considering it to be a treason from the political parties toward the indigenous, and dialogue with the government was broken off until such time as the San Andrés Accords be included within the Mexican constitution as stipulated in the COCOPA Law.

Lastly, in December 2013, Jaime Martínez Veloz, commissioner for Dialogue with Indigenous Peoples, announced that the Secretary of Governance would present in early 2014 a legal initiative that rescues the content of the  San Andrés Accords and would serve to reactivate the dialogue which had been suspended since 2001 between the Zapatistas and the government. For Martínez Veloz, the legislative reforms in indigenous affairs from 2001 did not resolve “the problems of the indigenous peoples in a profound way.”

For more information (in Spanish):

Los Acuerdos de San Andrés, pacto inédito entre los pueblos indios de México, cumplen 18 años de vigencia (Desinformémonos, febrero de 2014)

Acuerdos de San Andrés. A veinte años del alzamiento (Mirada Sur, febrero de 2014)

Acuerdos de San Andrés: avatares internacionales (La Jornada, 11 de febrero de 2014)

A 18 años de los Acuerdos de San Andrés (Chiapas Paralelo, 17 de febrero de 2014)

Peña prepara ley que retoma los acuerdos de San Andrés (ADN Político, 31 de diciembre de 2013)

Para más información de SIPAZ:

Chiapas: new governor calls for observance of San Andrés Accords (8 January 2013)

National: Reactions by state and federal governments to the Zapatista mobilization of 21 December (27 December 2012)

Chiapas: Those displaced from the Puebla Colony announce return for coffee harvest

January 15, 2014

Conferencia de prensa 9 de enero 2014 @ SIPAZ

Press conference on 9 January 2014 @ SIPAZ

Those who have been displaced from the Puebla Colony ejido, Chenalhó municipality, announced that on 17 January they will leave the Acteal camp where they are presently located to return to their community to begin harvesting coffee, given that “the time to cut the coffee is now passing and we have the economic need to have this resource which together with beans and maize is the basis of the maintenance of our families.”  The labor will last 10 days, until 27 January, when they will re-evaluate their presence in the community or decide to return to Acteal.

In a communique, they clarified that “this will not involve a complete and definitive return to our community, given that the municipal, state, and federal governments have not provided the conditions that we requested for our return with security and tranquility to our homes.”  Included within these conditions for return, the displaced request the resolution of the question of the possession of the land on which the chapel is being built, which was the object of initial conflict; that the open penal investigations continue; and that compensation be offered for the damages “that we have suffered, both in material (the destruction and robbery of our property) and moral terms (the slander that we had poisoned the water of the Puebla Colony).”

For more information (in Spanish):

Comunicado de las y los desplazadas/os del ejido Colonia Puebla: “Vamos a ir unos días a nuestra comunidad, la Colonia Puebla con el fin de cosechar nuestro café” (9 de enero de 2014)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Chiapas: Solidarity requested for those displaced from the Puebla Colony (16 September 2013)

Chiapas: After attempting to return, the displaced of the Puebla Colony transfer themselves to Acteal (13 September 2013)

Chiapas: Increase in violence in Puebla Colony, Chenalho (4 August 2013)

Chiapas: Las Abejas Civil Society, “the government is using two weapons in its strategy, lead bullets and sugar bullets” (25 June 2013)

Chiapas: Denunciation from Las Abejas of Acteal on 22 May 2013 (7 June 2013)