FEBRUARY 2012 ZAPATISTA NEWS SUMMARY
1. Seven More Released in Acteal Case – On February 1, 7 of the men convicted of murder and other crimes in the Acteal Massacre case were released from prison after serving 14 years of a 35-year sentence. Lawyers for those released also obtained a finding of innocence by the court. Their were released and found innocent based on the fact that the evidence used against them by the Attorney General was tainted. The same lawyers said they are also suing the PGR for damages caused by the “false” imprisonment. Bishop Arizmendi, who many in the diocese of San Cristóbal consider conservative, spoke out against the release, questioning whether anyone would end up being punished for this crime against humanity? The 7 released will be relocated in Villaflores Municipality, in the center of Chiapas state, where the 45 previously released have also been relocated. 28 more men who were convicted and sentenced for the massacre remain in prison and await decisions in their appeals.
2. Update On Chiapas Prisoners – The General Labor Confederation of Spain, adherent to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle and participant in the EZLN’s International Campaign, visited Chiapas political prisoners during February. Their report indicates that all Other Campaign and Zapatista support base prisoners, including those from Banavil, are in good spirits, although there are still complaints about the lack of medical care. That lack was confirmed in a denunciation from Alberto Patishtan from the federal prison in Guasave, Sinaloa. Patishtan reported that he is still being denied treatment for glaucoma. The Fray Bartolome de las Casas Human Rights Center (Frayba) is asking the court for an order returning him to the prison in San Cristobal de las Casas Municipality, Chiapas.
3. Other Campaign Communities Deprived of Electricity by CFE Workers – The Digna Ochoa Human Rights Center in Tonala, Chiapas, denounced that the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE, its initials in Spanish) dismantled a transformer in La Central, a community in resistance to high electricity rates, belonging to the Regional Autonomous Council of the Coastal Zone of Chiapas. The residents of La Central (municipality of Pijijiapan) have been without electricity since January 3. The Regional Autonomous Council of the Coastal Zone of Chiapas is an adherent to the EZLN’s Other Campaign. Its members refuse to pay their electricity bills, which they believe are outrageously high. (See item #1 in Other Parts of Mexico below.)
In Other Parts of Mexico
1. Francisco Hernandez Detained and Imprisoned for Refusing to Pay Electricity Bills – Federal agents detained Francisco Hernández and placed him in a Chihuahua state prison, accusing him of robbery because of his participation in the payment strike against the CFE due to its high rates. The MARC is an organization that has struggled for more than 10 years against the high charges for electric energy service. Its members maintain a payment strike and reconnect service to users whose service has been suspended, while the cases and complaints are reviewed and the charge for the real consumption that the family has is adjusted, principally in precarious settlements in the state capital. Francisco Hernández, an electrician, is one of its principal leaders. The MARC is an adherent to the EZLN’s Other Campaign and a member of the National Network in Resistance to High Electricity Rates.
2. Mexico’s President Puts Up A Billboard on the US / Mexico Border – On Thursday, February 16, Mexican President Felipe Calderón made a speech at the Ciudad Juárez-El Paso Border. The backdrop for his speech was a three-ton billboard built with crushed weapons illegally exported from the US and confiscated by various authorities. Calderon said: “One of the main factors that allows criminals to strengthen themselves is the unlimited access to high-powered weapons, which are sold freely, and also indiscriminately, in the United States of America.” The billboard, posted on the border at Ciudad Juárez, read in English “NO MORE WEAPONS.” (What politicians won’t do during an election year!)
In the United States
1. US Officials in Mexico – From February 18-20, US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton was in Los Cabos (Baja California Sur) for a G-20 preparatory meeting of foreign ministers. While in Mexico, Clinton signed an agreement with her Mexican counterpart for joint oil exploration in cross-border underwater oil fields. On February 27, Janet Napolitano, US Secretary of Homeland Security also signed a joint agreement with Mexico for increased Customs Security at the border. She continued on to visit Guatemala, Costa Rica, El Salvador, and Panama. Her visits were scheduled to conclude on February 29. At the beginning of February, Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman delivered 17 million dollars worth of equipment for computerizing clinic records of individuals receiving treatment for drug addiction in Mexico’s 332 drug treatment centers. The technology enables the centers to share clinical records and is part of the Merida Initiative.
2. US Vice President Joe Biden to Visit Mexico – The White House announced that Vice President Joe Biden would visit Mexico on March 4, where he will meet with President Felipe Calderón to discuss a broad range of issues to forge cooperation ahead of April’s Summit of the Americas. Vice President Biden will continue on to Honduras for a visit with its president, Porfirio Lobo, and will attend, at Lobo’s invitation, a meeting of Central American Integration System (SICA, its initials in Spanish). SICA is Central America’s regional security organization to which the United States, the Inter-American Development Bank and some European countries are giving funding to fight a “war on drugs.”
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
P.O. Box 3421, Oakland, CA 94609