Chiapas: MOVIAC meeting in Acteal on climate change

August 27, 2012

Worktable on sustainable rural cities @SIPAZ

From 9 to 11 August, in the Acteal community, the Mexican Movement for Alternatives to Environmental Effects and Climate Change (MOVIAC-Chiapas) carried out the “Meeting of Alternatives to Environmental Destruction and Climate Change.”  Close to 300 members of the Las Abejas Civil Society, the Campesino Regional Independent Movement (MOCRI), the Digna Ochoa Center for Human Rights, MOVIAC El Salvador, and MOVIAC Guatemala, among many others, participated for three days in the event that included 5 worktables.  The questions that were examined in these tables were sustainable rural cities, defense of land and territory, megaprojects, food sovereignty, and environmental degradation.

MOVIAC-Chiapas is a social movement comprised at the base of indigenous and campesino individuals, peoples and communities, collectives, civil orgainzations, academics, artists, communicators, activists, and human rights defenders who find the climate crisis to be a result of the depradatory models of extraction of natural resources such as water, land, minerals, forests, and jungles.  During the meeting, the groups exchanged informed regarding different environmental impacts and human-rights violations associated with mining projects, such as in Chicomuselo, the rural sustainable cities like Nuevo Juan de Grijalva, and planned dams such as that of San Juan Cancúc.  The meeting also served as a preparatory space for a subsequent MOVIAC forum that will be held in November in El Salvador.

Those who signed the final declaration of the event demand among other things the immediate cancellation of all megaprojects and projects (dams, mining, wind parks, extraction of gas and petroleum, rural cities, etc.) that negatively impact Mother Earth and her peoples, in addition to calling for the cancellation of all permits and cultivation of transgenic seeds.

For more information (in Spanish):


Nace en Chiapas nuevo Movimiento en Defensa de la Madre Tierra.(Proyecto Ambulante, 8 de agosto de 2012)

Chiapas: Forum “Exclusion…. Neoliberal Inclusion” examines the Sustainable Rural Cities

June 4, 2012

On 18 and 19 May, the Forum titled “Exclusion… Neoliberal inclusion: Looks at the Sustainable Rural Cities” was held at the CIDECI-Unitierra in San Cristóbal de las Casas.  The Forum was organized by different universities and organizations, including UNAM, CIESAS, and the Chiapas Peace Network.  The methodology of the forum included several rounds dealing with questions such as “Life in the Rural Cities,” “Territorial reorganization and counterinsurgency,” “State-firm, UN-State, public policy,” “The media reality: simulation and censorship,” as well as “Alternatives. Lekil kuxlejal, autonomy, utopia.”  Beyond presentations given by 15 investigators of the CRS Program, testimonies were presented by residents of two CRS currently in operation: Nuevo San Juan Grijalva and Santiago El Pinar.

All those who participated concurred in their critiques of this project, which was either poorly consulted with those it would affect, or not at all.  Dolores Camacho, UNAM researcher, spoke of the CRS in Santiago el Pinar en the Highlands by noting that “There is an attempt to increase living standards with standards and houses of 6×6 meters made up of preconstructed materials […].  Families ‘are taking these furniture to their communities or larger cities.’  What sense does it make to raise these levels if they are not real?”  She also mentioned that this could imply a regression regarding food sovereignty: “We are speaking of campesinos who could sustain themselves in precarious but dignified conditions.  The development model represented by the CRS Program demands that people have no autonomous means of subsistence, but rather be buying everything, thus making them completely dependent on the market: without money, they cannot eat.”

Regarding the counterinsurgent purposes that the CRS Program could be said to serve, Dr. Marcos Arana compared the project with the “strategic hamlets” implemented in Vietnam in 1962 to dismantle communities and their links with the land and collectivity.

For more information (in Spanish):

Critican el despojo que implican las ciudades rurales sustentables, La Jornada, 20 de mayo de 2012

La mercantilización de los bosques, motivo para retirar a comunidades en Chiapas, La Jornada, 21 de mayo de 2012

Programa rural viola derechos de indígenas, La Jornada, 18 de mayo de 2012

Programa del foro: Excluxión…. Inclusión neoliberal, Miradas sobre las ciudades rurales sustentables

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Chiapas: Peace Network presents report regarding Sustainable Rural Cities Program (18 May 2012)

Chiapas: CAIK presents documentary “To there you will move”” (7 March 2012)

Chiapas: Nuevo Juan de Grijalva denounces repression and harassment (8 June 2011)

Chiapas: opening of new Sustainable Rural City in Los Altos (14 April 2011)

Chiapas: Las Abejas’ communiqué denounces construction of rural cities in the Chiapas Highlands (22 May 2010)

Chiapas: The Peace Network presents report regarding Sustainable Rural Cities

May 18, 2012

Presentación del Informe en conferencia de prensa @ SIPAZ

Presentation of report in press-conference @ SIPAZ

On 10 May, the Peace Network, a space for action and reflection made up of 10 organizations that have since 2001 sought to support processes of peace and reconciliation in Chiapas together with the Collective for Kollective Analysis and information (CAIK) presented the document “From Earth to Asphalt, Report of the Civil Mission for Observation of the Peace Network and CAIK on the Sustainable Rural Cities Program.”

In October 2011, these organizations carried out a Civil Mission of Observation in two Sustainable Rural Cities already populated by  persons as well as 4 others that are in the construction or planning stages, with the goal of documenting the present situation in terms of the human-rights situation in which the population finds itself directly affected by the Sustainable Rural Cities Program (CRS) that the Chiapas state-government has been developing.  Another key reason for the report is that the CRS Program leads to the forced displacement of people from their communities, given that behind the official objectives to combat poverty are found hidden interests seeking economic and political profit.

The testimonies of the affected persons, presented in this report, illustrate the different means by which the CRS Program violates several internationally recognized human rights, including the right to self-determination of peoples.  During the event also was presented the “Until there you go” documentary that examines the same subject, the product of CAIK.

For more information (in Spanish):

Denuncian plan de desintegración social mediante las ciudades rurales sustentables (La Jornada, 14 de mayo)

Subyace desintegración cultural en reordenamiento territorial en Chiapas: Ong, La Jornada, 13 de mayo de 2012

Página Web de la Red por la Paz

Audios de la presentación (Radio zapatista, 10 de mayo de 2012)

Trailer del video: Hasta ahí te mueves (CAIK, 2012)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Chiapas: CAIK presents documentary “To there you will move”” (7 March 2012)

Chiapas: Nuevo Juan de Grijalva denounces repression and harassment (8 June 2011)

Chiapas: opening of new Sustainable Rural City in Los Altos (14 April 2011)

Chiapas: Las Abejas’ communiqué denounces construction of rural cities in the Chiapas Highlands (22 May 2010)

Chiapas: Press-conference on present situation of the affected by the blocking of the Grijalva River

July 25, 2011

On 20 July in the cultural center Tierradentro in San Cristóbal de Las Casas was held a press-conference regarding the present situation of those affected by the blockage of the Grijalva River in November 2007.  The victims denounce that the government has not attended to their case fairly and that it has used their situation of vulnerability to implement its own agenda.  Furthermore they denounce the repression of the social movement, referring to the arbitrary detention of several comrades during a protest on 4 July last.

The press-conference mentions that “there have passed more than three years of disaster that caused the the community of Juan de Grijalva to disappear entirely, and until now, beyond giving the state-government the perfect opportunity to launch the ambitious Rural Cities project, confrontations have been generated among the affected communities in place of resolving problems.  Residents have been dispersed and the repression of social movements continues, as does the situation of prisoners […].  On 4 July 2010 in light of the social mobilizations carried out in the municipalities of Tecpatán and Frontera Comalapa, the authorities responded brutally, utilizing the repressive apparatus they have available.  In these arbitrary preventions prevailed the excessive use of force, abuse of authority, and torture.  The most representative cases of both operations is that of Messrs. Juan JIMÉNEZ LÓPEZ and Santos SALAS VÁZQUEZ.  Vázquez was burned on both elbows with a lighter by his captors; no advance has been had in the investigation currently carried out by the Prosecutor on Crimes Related to Public Servants.”

For more information (in Spanish):

Invitación a rueda de prensa (LIMEDDH)

Audios de la rueda de prensa (Radio Zapatista)

Desplazados del tapón de Grijalva, víctimas de inseguridad alimentaria (La Jornada del Campo, 16 de julio)

Comunicado de prensa (19 de junio)

Para más información de SIPAZ:

Chiapas: Campesinos from Nuevo Juan de Grijalva are released (25 de junio)

Chiapas: Nuevo Juan de Grijalva denounces repression and harassment (8 June 2011)

Chiapas: Campesinos from Nuevo Juan de Grijalva are released

July 5, 2011

Nuevo Juan de Grijalva (

Following 3 months of detention, the eight campesinos from the so-called first Sustainable Rural City in the world (ejido Nuevo Juan de Grijalva, municipality of Ostuacán) were released together with their defense attorney.  They had been detained in the Pichucalco jail after having participated in a protest organized to demand that the government pay reparations and other promises to which it had committed following the disaster which occurred in 2007 due to problems with the Grijalva river.

In previous days several critical notes had been released in various media on the situation of these prisoners and the rest affected by the river.

For more information (in Spanish):

Liberan a 8 campesinos y su abogado defensor en Pichucalco (Milenio, 23 June 2011)

La situación actual de los damnificados por el taponamiento del río Grijalva (Boletín de prensa de la Limeddh, 20 June 2011)

Perseguidos de la Ciudad Rural Juan del Grijalva (Punto de Partida, vídeo)

Las casas inhabitables por las que investigan al ex gobernador de Chiapas (CNN México, 23 June 2011)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Chiapas: Nuevo Juan de Grijalva denounces repression and harassment (8 June 2011)

Chiapas: Visit by Oliver De Shutter, UN Special Rapporteur on Right to Food

June 21, 2011

Oliver De Shutter @ Oaxaca Libre

During the week of official visit to Mexico by the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Oliver De Shutter met in Chiapas with campesino groups and NGOs that denounced that in the state there operate economic policies that favor the free market with regard to rural development, as stipulated by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).  They affirmed that this has contributed to the fact that the state is no longer the principal producer of maize in the country, instead becoming a state of transit for producing and importing firms, which amounts to a loss of food sovereignty that affects hundreds of thousands of indigenous and campesino families.

The Rapporteur, who also visited the El Pinar Sustainable Rural City, encountered in vivo the denunciations and proposals of the organizations (among them those of maize producers) that accused the State of facilitating the experimental cultivation of transgenic maize in the north of Mexico and the welcoming of the Monsanto corporation via an agreement recently signed between the state government and the foundation Fundar, related to the multinational in Chiapas.  Coffee-workers also declared that the firm AMSA, associated with Nestlé, is promoting a variety of transgenic coffee.

Juan Velasco, from the cooperative Chol Xumulhá, indicated that “the production of maize is basic for self-development and alimentation, but in any case the tendency among the people is commercial agricultural production–coffee, for example–which can constitute an important source of income for campesinos, but does not resolve problems of sustenance.”

Dr. Marcos Arana, from the National Institute on Nutrition and the Center for Training for Campesinos (CCESC), noted that “it would be necessary to undertake an evaluation of the impact of Rural Cities that be external and independent which would investigate the consequences for the people affected.  Chiapas has become a state that expels populations.  It is estimated that in recent years, between 8 and 10% of the population of Chiapas has migrated to the United States, Cancún, and Ciudad Juárez.  This is a symptom of the abandonment in which rural populations find themselves.”  He also announced that more than 80% of the children of Chiapas suffer from nutritional problems such as obesity and malnutrition.

The organizations agreed that food culture is in a process of erosion.  They indicated that in indigenous communities soda and assorted items are cheapter than water and milk, resulting in massive increases in the consumption of such among the indigenous, particularly those who have limited access to the waters of rivers.

Among the proposals that the civil-society organizations presented to the Rapporteur was the importance of prohibiting the cultivation of transgenic maize and instead promoting indigenous, familial, small-scale agriculture, based in traditional knowledge of the management of agrosystems and the incorporation of natural and organic materials.

The efficacy of subsidy programs such as Oportunidades and Procampo was also questioned, given that they do not reach the most remote communities: “It is clear that these programs and others should be designed with human rights as a base, and this is not only an argument: these programs cannot be based in charity but are rather the rights of persons,” concluded the UN functionary.  De Shutter observed that it is clear that the Rural Cities program attends to the consequences of populational dispersal, but not to the causes, such as distribution of land and lack of employment, as indicated by the organizations.  The Special Rapporteur warned that, if present public policies be continued, Mexico will need to import 80% of its food, with campesinos continuing to abandon their lands.

For more information (in Spanish):

Chiapas: Organizaciones se reúnen con relator de la ONU para el derecho a la alimentación, Oaxaca Libre, 16 June 2011

En 30 años, México importará 80% de los alimentos: ONU, Otros Mundos Chiapas, 15 June 2011

Avala relator de la ONU disminución de desnutrición en Chiapas, SDP Noticias, 16 June 2011

Relator de ONU sobre alimentación visita México, El Universal, 12 June 2011

Visitará relator sobre el derecho a alimentación, Cuarto Poder, 13 June 2011

Chiapas: Nuevo Juan de Grijalva denounces repression and harassment

June 8, 2011

Photo @ Chiapas Denuncia Pública

A group of families residing in the first so-called Sustainable Rural City of the world, ejido Nuevo Juan de Grijalva, municipality of  Ostuacán, denounced persecution and harassment on the part of police in response to peaceful protests demanding that the government observe its promises and the payment of debts incurred following the disaster which occurred in the community in 2007.  Eight members of the community and their lawyer have been detained since 13 April in the prison of Pichucalco, Chiapas.  The affected demand their liberty, that their rights be respected, and that the harassment and repression directed by authorities against residents of Nuevo Juan de Grijalva stop.

According to testimony by the affected, the repressive actions began on 17 March past when the ejidatari@s affected by the November 2007 landslides in the community Juan de Grijalva carried out a protest with the end of calling attention to the authorities regarding their situation.  “Once part of the community was reunited,” they say, “some 200 or 300 police invaded.”  The agents “in an arbitrary manner tricked protesters, arguing that payment for lands would be negotiated.”  In exchange, they were taken to the State Attorney General’s Office.

In a public denunciation they announce that “the Sustainable Rural City is merely part of a political euphemism.  It is a term allied with force, because semantically it is an error to make such claims.  It is a lie that the people of Juan del Grijalva now lives better.  In fact we are worse off now.  Now we are persecuted and imprisoned.  Now we are alone, carrying the government on our backs.”  They added that “there there is no work, and for this reason there is nothing sustainable anywhere.  There is not even a tree that would allow us shade fromt he rays of the sun.  We don’t even have a dignified home in which to live.  The houses we were given as homes are nothing more than bricks put together with mud that cause skin conditions, as from these walls are born many species of insects.”

Doctor Gerardo González Figueroa, from t he College of the Southern Border in san Cristóbal de Las Casas, affirmed in an interview held during his participation in the Eight National Congress of the Mexican Association of Rural Studies (AMER) that the worst thing about the Sustainable Rural Cities was not the loss of home or social environment but rather that the forced relocation of campesinos is part of a much larger strategy of counterinsurgency and pacification.  He explained that to abruptly change the setting of rural-dwelling campesinos converts them into factory-workers.  He similarly noted that it would seem that there exist an interest among governments in promoting urbanization, regardless of the risks involved.  Apparently, he added, these projects cover basic services but also converts campesin@s into docile actors, accepting the new governmental “policies.”

For more information (in Spanish):

Denuncia Pública, Chiapas Denuncia Pública, 31 May 2011

Denuncian acoso habitantes de Juan de Grijalva, en Chiapas, La Jornada, 2 June 2011

Campesinos denuncian éxodo de la  Ciudad Rural de Nuevo Juan de Grijalva, La Jornada de Oriente, 2 June 2011

Ciudades Rurales, un despojo contra el campesinado, señaló Gerardo González, La Jornada de Oriente, 31 May 2011

Damnificados de Nuevo Juan del Grijalva denuncian represión, Informe Chiapas, 31 May 2011

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Chiapas: opening of new Sustainable Rural City in Los Altos, 14 April 2011

Chiapas: Las Abejas’ communiqué denounces construction of rural cities in the Chiapas Highlands (22 May 2010)