MAY 2013 ZAPATISTA NEWS SUMMARY
1. News Update on Alberto Patishtan – On May 31, the FPDT (Atenco), Las Abejas and Alberto Patishtan’s son, Hector, released a short documentary on YouTube about Alberto’s case. On May 27, Mexico’s Supreme Court sent its file on the Alberto Patishtan case to the federal circuit court in Chiapas via ground transportation. There is no explanation in these press reports for the long delay. However, Patishtan’s lawyers are hoping for a June decision (before the July vacation break). Newspaper reports also indicate that Patishtan was taken twice to Mexico City for medical follow-up on his brain surgery at the National Neurology and Neurosurgery Center, once in April and recently in May, but these reports give no information about the results of the examinations.
2. San Sebastián Bachajon Legal Dispute Over Ticket Booth Continues – On May 16, a Chiapas court issued its decision in the case of San Sebastián Bachajon (SSB). The decision orders a replacement of the procedure allegedly authorizing the government to take several parcels of land away from the ejido, conveniently all on land belonging to adherents to the EZLN’s Sixth Declaration, for use as a ticket booth where visitors to the Agua Azul Cascades pay an entry fee. The SSB adherents went to court claiming that the procedure used to grant the government authority to do that was unlawful. They asked the court for the return of their land and an order restraining the government from taking it. The decision does not return the land to them, but rather orders that the matter be presented to the Ejido’s Assembly for its position in a lawful procedure. The SSB adherents are concerned that the pro-government contingent in the ejido, especially the ejido commissioner, will manipulate the process. Consequently, two SSB adherents went to Mexico City to present their position in the matter to a member of Mexico’s Supreme Court. They also visited the offices of the UN’s High Commissioner on Human Rights, asking for intervention, and the offices of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, seeking precautionary measures following last month’s (April 24) assassination of the community leader Juan Vasquez Gomez.
3. Two Campesinos Murdered in Venustiano Carranza – On May 5, two campesinos died of gunshot wounds in a confrontation that occurred in the municipality of Venustiano Carranza, allegedly over agrarian and political disputes. Two campesinos were killed in the confrontation and 20 houses burned or damaged. There were also injuries. According to newspaper accounts, this attack stemmed from an old dispute for control of the Casa del Pueblo, which was aggravated with the arrival of a new president (in January of last year), who accused his predecessor of “misplacing” 67 heads of cattle. The dispute is between the Emiliano Zapata Campesino Organization-Casa del Pueblo (OCEZ-CP) and an internal dissident group. The dissident group of 49 families was expelled last year and is sheltered in government buildings near the state capital and demands a safe return to their homes. Those in the current OCEZ-CP leadership want the state government to relocate the dissidents. It arrears that 12 OCEZ-CP members have been arrested in connection with the May 5 violence and that the organization and its allies have set up an encampment and are occupying Cathedral Plaza in San Cristóbal. Supporters allege that paramilitary groups backed by the state government are responsible for the violence. The groups involved are not connected to the Zapatistas in any way, but are part of a large leftist campesino organization in Chiapas.
4. Chiapas Teachers Settle Strike – On May 15, National Teachers Day, Chiapas teachers belonging to Local 7’s Democratic Block went on strike over reforms to the federal education law passed in the federal Congress. Teachers throughout much of Mexico staged massive demonstrations on May 15 against the reforms which take away some of their union rights and job security, and can also lead to the privatization of education. The strike ended 5 days later after union negotiators reached an agreement with the state government. The state government signed a memorandum with the teachers committing that “the entry (hiring), promotion, recognition and permanence (job security) of education workers “will not be conditioned by any standardized evaluation with punitive character that might affect their labor rights.” The state administration also committed to guarantying that the agreements between the rector council of the Pact for Mexico, the federal government and the CNTE “will be ratified by the Chiapas government.” The education reform is part of Peña Nieto’s package of neoliberal reforms. See our blog for more information about the teacher protests and the education reform. Also see: http://newpol.org/content/mexican-teachers-rebel-against-governments-educational-reform
In Other Parts of Mexico
1. Seven Years After the Police Terrorism in Atenco – On May 3 and 4, the community of San Salvador Atenco commemorated the 7-year anniversary of the brutal police repression that resulted in 2 young people dead, more than 150 jailed and 26 women sexually assaulted by police while in custody. As a result of this police terrorism, the leadership of the Peoples Front in Defense of Land (FPDT, its initials in Spanish) were placed in a maximum-security prison with sentences longer than the lifespan of a human being. The FPDT is the San Salvador Atenco-based organization that successfully resisted (with raised machetes) the government’s plan to take away their agricultural lands in order to use them for building a new Mexico City international Airport. The state and federal police action of May 3 and 4, 2006 was seen by many as “payback” for the FPDT’s successful resistance to the airport; but, its significance went beyond the airport resistance. At that time, the Zapatistas were traveling the country during the “Other Campaign” and had visited Atenco just a couple of days before the police action. The police repression in San Salvador Atenco halted the Other Campaign for several months and, in general, put Mexico’s social movements on notice of what to expect in the future. On May 3 and 4, 2006, the governor of the state of Mexico, where Atenco is located, was Enrique Peña Nieto. He is now Mexico’s president and once again there are plans to build an airport, industrial park and urban sprawl on lands belonging to Atenco and surrounding ejido lands.
2. Amnesty International (AI) Issues Report on Mexico Violence – Amnesty International (AI) recently issued its 2013 Report on human rights. It refers to the term of Felipe Calderón. A number of human rights abuses are described, including the fact that Mexican authorities do not recognize the gravity of the problem and that there is complicity in these abuses by public servants. The complete report on Mexico can be read here. According to numbers released by the federal government and published by La Jornada, there were 5,296 murders in Mexico, allegedly related to organized crime, during the first 151 days of Enrique Pena Nieto’s presidency; in other words, from December 1, 2012 to April 30, 2013. This represents a slight decrease from the same time period the previous year under Calderón, but it is, nevertheless, a tragic number of deaths.
In the United States
1. President Obama Visited Mexico on May 2 – United States President Barack Obama visited Mexico beginning May 2. He met with President Peña Nieto and gave a speech to an audience of students and business people. Press reports indicate that the two presidents talked less about security and more about economics, thereby prompting the shopping cart cartoon above. Obama said he was hopeful on immigration reform, but not so hopeful about restrictions on guns. The Mexican economy relies on money (remittances) that Mexicans living and working in the United States send to their families in Mexico. Those remittances are one of Mexico’s top three sources of income and foreign exchange. The United States is also Mexico’s largest supplier of illegal weapons that end up in the hands of organized crime groups and thus feed the current violence in Mexico.
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).
We encourage folks to distribute this information widely, but please include our name and contact information in the distribution. Gracias/Thanks.
Click on the Donate button of www.chiapas-support.org to support indigenous autonomy.
Chiapas Support Committee/Comité de Apoyo a Chiapas
P.O. Box 3421, Oakland, CA 94609