JANUARY 2012 ZAPATISTA NEWS SUMMARY
1. Seminar on Anti-Systemic Movements – From Dec 30 to Jan 2, Cideci-Unitierra, located on the outskirts of San Cristóbal de las Casas, hosted an international seminar of reflection and analysis entitled Planet Earth Anti-Systemic Movements. The seminar celebrated the 18th anniversary of the Zapatista Uprising on January 1, 1994 and recognized that the Zapatistas provided the inspiration for rebellions in many countries against capitalism and undemocratic governments. You can read the English translation of articles about the seminar on this blog.
2. Displaced Families Occupy SCLC Plaza – In December, 7 families from Busilja ejido and 18 folks from Cintalapa ejido set up camp and occupied Peace Plaza in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas. They were protesting rape, kidnapping, theft of lands, homes and personal property by armed members of the Organization for the Defense of Indigenous and Campesino Rights (Opddic), which they characterize as being PRI members and paramilitaries. They further alleged collaboration by police in both rape and arbitrary detention and the collaboration of state government officials by refusing to punish Opddic and PRI members. They demanded: the return of an 8-year old girl who they state was kidnapped; the return of their lands, homes and other property; and the release of 2 men from prison. Frayba Human Rights Center issued a bulletin denouncing the human rights violations involved in the detention of the 2 men and the disappearance, rape, kidnapping, land grabbing and internal displacement that occurred in the 2 ejidos. Those displaced from the 2 communities formed an organization and are adherents to the EZLN’s Other Campaign.They ended the occupation after 30 days and a complete lack of response from the state government to their demands. They remain displaced. A possible motive for their displacement is ecotourism development. Busilja and Cintalapa are near the Ojo de Agua area in the Lacandon Jungle. The Viejo Velasco Massacre also took place in this area of the Jungle and some of the same PRI members were allegedly involved in that as yet unsolved crime.
3. Other Campaign Communities in Chiapas Take Local Action – A series of articles by La Jornada‘s envoy in Chiapas, Hermann Bellinghausen, describe the struggle of Other Campaign adherents in the Sierras of Western Chiapas against mining, crime and what they perceive as government efforts to displace them from the lands to which they have legal title. They got so fed up with their elected officials ignoring crime and the needs of the region’s people that they formed an Other Campaign organization named Luz y Fuerza del Pueblo-Sierra Región (Peoples’ Light & Power-Sierra Region). That organization has members in 38 municipalities (counties). Recently, Peoples’ Light & Power members closed off access to Siltepec Municipality to beer companies, distributors of drugs and alcohol, as well as Canadian mining companies and logging companies. They also closed bars and houses of prostitution and basically took over many local government functions because elected officials did nothing to solve their problems. Residents of this region believe that government negligence is designed to drive them off their land and into a nearby “rural city,” which is under construction.
4. Civilian Zapatista Member Unjustly Detained by Police – On January 19, the Fray Bartolome de Las Casas Human Rights Center (Frayba) issued an Urgent Action in which it reports that Franciso Santiz Lopez, a Zapatista civilian supporter, was detained by police and placed in state prison Number 5, allegedly for the acts of violence that occurred on December 4 in the Banavil ejido, in the municipality of Tenejapa. The events of December 4 included an attack by 50 armed PRI members on 4 families sympathetic to the Zapatistas. The results of the armed attack are: 1) the death on 1 PRI member; 2) one man, Alonso Lopez, disappeared (and presumed dead); Alonso’s son, Lorenzo Lopez, shot twice, gravely injured in the hospital and somehow accused of causing bodily injury; and the arbitrary detention of Francisco Santiz Lopez, a civilian Zapatista support base, who was not even at the scene of the crime when it occurred.
In Other Parts of Mexico
1. Researchers Question Official Numbers on Drug War Deaths – A New York Times article reports that researchers question the official numbers from the Calderon government in Mexico with respect to how many have died in the war against drugs. Apparently, Mexico has not been forthcoming with information in response to a freedom of information request by the Times and a different government agency reports possibly 20, 000 more deaths than the official report. The numbers released by President Calderon’s government only reflected statistics up to September 2011. Whatever the real numbers are, ordinary Mexicans are living a nightmare in many once peaceful cities. See: www.nytimes.com/2012/01/12/world/americas/mexico-updates-drug-war-death-toll-but-critics-dispute-data.html?scp=1&sq=number%20of%20dead%20in%20Mexico%20drug%20war&st=cse
2. Zedillo’s Lawyers Respond to Acteal Massacre Case – Attorneys for former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo responded to the complaint filed by anonymous victims of the 1997 Acteal Massacre in Chiapas, Mexico. The lawyers filed Zedillo’s answer on January 6 of this year, asserting the defense of immunity from prosecution because of his former government duties. Lawyers also asserted that the allegations were false, cast doubt upon the anonymous nature of the plaintiffs and asked the federal court in Connecticut to fast track the case. The Mexican government asked the US government to issue a statement supporting the immunity defense, meaning that the PAN administration of Felipe Calderon is supporting Zedillo.
3. Two and A Half Million Mexicans Face Starvation – Severe drought and freezing temperatures killed crops and animals in the Tarahumara region of Chihuahua in northern Mexico, causing hunger in the indigenous Raramuri population, most of whom are subsistence farmers. In order to draw attention to the situation, an activist circulated a report on social networks that 50 Raramuris committed suicide because they could not feed their children. That resulted in food aid from the government, civil society and churches that provided temporary relief. While the drought destroyed this years crop, freezing temperatures destroyed roots, which means that next years crop could not be planted. The crisis is not only in the Tarahumara region; that merely drew attention to the fact that as many as 2 and a half million people in northern Mexico face possible starvation because of the drought.
In the United States
1. Another US Gun-Running Operation – The Los Angeles Times reported this month that Congress is investigating another operation that involves running guns into Mexico in order to catch drug traffickers working with Chapo Guzman. This was an operation named White Gun, conducted by the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF). It was run by the same agents that ran Fast and Furious. Both operations started in 2009. Congress is supposedly investigating whether any guns fell into the hands of criminals. Those who conducted the operation claim it resulted in arrests, give specific examples and are defending it.
Compiled monthly by the Chiapas Support Committee.
The primary sources for our information are: La Jornada, Enlace Zapatista and the Fray Bartolome de las Casas Human Rights Center (Frayba).
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Chiapas Support Committee/Comité de Apoyo a Chiapas
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