[Aunque el mensaje comienza en ingles, abajo hay enlaces con videos y otros documentos en español.]
At this very moment, some 200 Zapatista civilian supporters in San Marcos Avilés, Chiapas, Mexico, are living in daily terror of another forced, and possibly violent, eviction. Those trying to evict them are affiliated with three national political parties (PRI, PVEM and PRD). Emboldened by the results of recent state, national and local elections, in which several of those parties were very successful, the party members have announced their intent to jail all the Zapatista authorities and evict the others. In addition to announcing their eviction plan, political party members openly brag about their efforts to recruit party members from other communities to help with the eviction. The Zapatistas in San Marcos have also experienced an increase in insults and threats, and the theft of their planted and harvested crops, to the extent that there will not be enough food to feed everyone this year. Non-governmental organizations in Chiapas believe there is reason to fear for the lives of the Zapatistas because of the counterinsurgency moves by these political party members.
San Marcos Avilés, an ejido (collective farm) in the highlands of Chiapas, is a divided community, meaning that some of its residents are civilian Zapatista supporters while other residents are not. All are indigenous Tzeltal-speaking Mayas who live off their land as subsistence farmers. The Zapatistas legally purchased their land in San Marcos around 12 years ago and have the paperwork to prove it.
The conflict began in August 2010 after the Zapatistas built an autonomous primary school as part of the Zapatista Autonomous Education System. Leaders of the ejido’s non-Zapatistas called several Zapatistas to a meeting with ejido officials. The officials demanded that they abandon the school and the Zapatista organization. When the Zapatistas refused, they were held in the local jail. The non-Zapatistas had now become anti-Zapatistas because of the Emiliano Zapata primary school. They perceive autonomy as a threat to the power of the political parties.
Several days later, the anti-Zapatistas took over 29 hectares of land owned by Zapatistas and destroyed all the crops; next, they took the cattle. The first eviction occurredshortly afterwards, on September 9. According to the Good Government Junta in Oventik, 170 Zapatistas fled into the mountains after the political party members “came with machetes, sticks and firearms, entered two houses and attempted to rape two women.” The September 9 eviction followed hostile criminal acts over a period of several weeks, which included stealing land and coffee fields, destroying crops, stealing cattle and firing shots into the air. The 170 displaced Zapatista supporters lived outdoors for 33 days in the wooded mountains and survived on berries and herbs. According to the Good Government Junta in Oventik, they returned to their homes in San Marcos in October 2010 accompanied by a group of Zapatistas from nearby communities. Upon returning, they found their homes ransacked and their crops destroyed.
Both the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Center (Frayba) and the Zapatista Good Government Junta in Oventik have denounced the threats and hostile acts that have continued since the Zapatistas’ return. In April 2011, international observers in the peace camp received death threats, a first in the history of the Chiapas peace camps. In June 2011 they denounced that the political party members made on-going death threats against the Zapatistas.
Faced with the latest threats and thefts, adherents to the EZLN’s Other Campaign have launched a two-part international campaign. The campaign’s first phase consists of spreading the word about the life-threatening situation in San Marcos Avilés during the month of August. The second phase consists of direct action and will be better defined later. The goal is to prevent a violent eviction.
Freedom for Francisco Sántiz López!
On December 4, 2011, around 50 PRI members allegedly mounted an armed attack on four families in Banavil ejido who are sympathetic to the Zapatistas. Results of the December 4 armed attack were: 1) the death of 1 PRI member; 2) one man, Alonso López, disappeared (and presumed dead); and 3) Alonso’s son, Lorenzo López, shot twice, gravely injured in the hospital and also detained, accused of causing bodily injury.
On January 19, the Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Center (Frayba) issued an Urgent Action in which it reported that Franciso Sántiz López, a Zapatista civilian support base, was detained by police and taken to the state prison in San Cristóbal, charged with the murder that happened during the acts of violence on December 4 in Banavil ejido, Tenejapa municipality, located in the Highlands.
Santiz Lopez received notice on March 22 that he had been cleared of the murder charges and would be released from prison. A “few meters” away from leaving prison, he was informed of a new charge, this time federal: “Carrying firearms for the exclusive use of the Army.” He was not released. The non-Zapatista (Lorenzo López) detained along with Sántiz López has been released with two bullets still in his body. His is one more example of the lack of necessary medical attention Other Campaign prisoners have been denouncing recently. On March 28, the Good Government Junta in Oventik denounced the new federal charge against Francisco Sántiz López and maintained his innocence. The Zapatistas fully support Sántiz López and all campaigns to free him. The Worldwide Campaign is demanding that Sántiz López be freed immediately. The campaign is described below.
“Worldwide Echo in Support of the Zapatistas:
Freedom and Justice for San Marcos Avilés and Sántiz López”
The Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Center (Frayba) and the Movement for Justice in the Barrio (MJB) of New York make the call for this campaign. The first phase asks that all folks concerned about social justice issues help spread the word in whatever way they can. It suggests that people form committees to distribute this information. You can form your own committee and report that to the MJB (email@example.com) or, in the alternative, just distribute the information widely as part of the CSC information committee. Online resources for information are listed below.
1. The entire call for a campaign in English:
2. Bilingual video from San Marcos Avilés/Video bilingüe desde San Marcos Avilés:
3. La convocatoria en español:
4. San Marcos Avilés Web Page/ Página de Internet de San Marcos Avilés
Thank you! / Gracias
Chiapas Support Committee/Comité de Apoyo a Chiapas
P.O. Box 3421, Oakland, CA 94609
Tel: (510) 654-9587