AUGUST 2013 ZAPATISTA NEWS SUMMARY
1. Around 1700 Students Attend “Little Zapatista Schools” – From August 12 to 16, around 1700 students attended the “Little Zapatista Schools” (Escuelitas), to learn about Freedom According to the Zapatistas. Prior to attending classes, many of the students participated in the celebration for the 10th anniversary of the Good Government Juntas. After attending the schools, many students stayed in San Cristóbal to participate in the Seminar in honor of Juan Chávez Alonso. Several of our members and friends who attended these festivities gave brief and inspired reports Saturday evening at the La Palma Taquería in Oakland. We are planning a full Report Back with film on October 10. Two of our members went to the same Zapatista Caracol as the Uruguayan political analyst Raúl Zibechi. You can read his analysis here.
2. Violence Continues in Chenalhó: 95 Displaced – Paramilitary violence continued in the Puebla ejido during August and, as a result, there are now 95 displaced persons living in as refugees in the community of Acteal. In one incident, para-militarized youth from the Puebla ejido prevented the first wave of displaced persons from returning to their homes, despite an agreement reached with the state government. Another incident involved the unprecedented detention and beating of the Chenalhó parish priest. More detailed information can be found on our blog.
3. Government Commissioner Visits Alberto Patishtán – On August 27, the federal government’s Commissioner for Dialogue with the Indigenous Peoples of Mexico, Jaime Martínez Veloz, visited Alberto Patishtán in prison because his liberation “is fundamental for generating minimal levels trust” with the EZLN that would permit the reconfiguration of conditions for the fulfillment of the San Andrés Accords. Meanwhile, a caravan of Patishtán’s supporters went from Mexico City to Chiapas and met with one of the magistrate’s involved in hearing the appeal for recognition of innocence. They learned that a decision on Patishtán’s appeal is expected mid-September.
4. Court Refuses to Restore Land to San Sebastián Bachajón – On August 1, a court in Tuxtla Gutiérrez denied a request from San Sebastián Bachajón (SSB) to restore its land confiscated 2 years ago by the state government. The confiscated land involves a proposed tourism mega-project at the Agua Azul Cascades. Lawyers for SSB said the ejido would appeal.
5. Migrant Tragedy Involving Chiapas: 11 Dead – In the wee hours of Sunday morning, August 25, the freight train known as The Beast, or La Bestia in Spanish, derailed in a remote area of Tabasco, close to the Chiapas border. Eleven migrants died and 16 were injured. Reports indicate the dead are all from Honduras. The Beast is used by Central American and other migrants. They hop on the freight cars in Chiapas and ride the train to its destination, risking their lives on a difficult and dangerous journey to the United States. Many of the migrants cross the Chiapas border with Guatemala and then hop the train in Arriaga. The story of Central American migrants in Chiapas and throughout Mexico is perhaps one of the most under-reported stories out of Mexico, at least in English, and often involves abuse, exploitation and even death at the hands of criminal gangs.
6. Mining Company Appears In Chicomuselo – On August 15, La Jornada reported that: “Residents of Monte Sinaí ejido, in Chicomuselo Municipality, denounced mining prospecting activity and offers from employees of the Montecristo 114 Company, part of Grupo Industrial, S. A. De C. V., in three of the location’s barrios. The towns in this region of the Chiapas Sierras have agreed, since May 14, 2009, ‘by majority vote, not to permit the entry of mining companies that seek to harm their lands and put the residents lives at risk,’ and they stated that they will defend their lands ‘even at the cost of their own lives.’” This is the same municipality where Mariano Abarca, an anti-mining leader, was murdered. After his murder, the Governor of Chiapas declared a “moratorium” on mining in the state, which has apparently expired. The ejido detained the company’s agents and made them sign a document “in which they promised not to return and to respect the autonomy of the communities.” They also asked the government that the procedure for expediting licenses for exploration and exploitation of mineral resources be revised, “when those affected have not been consulted about these projects or have not been informed about the impacts that they represent.”
7. Mexico’s Southern Border with Guatemala – Last month we reported that, according to the outgoing Homeland Security Secretary, Janet Napolitano, the United States was prepared to “act” on Mexico’s southern border. Although we asked Senator Feinstein’s office for information which would explain the meaning of “act,” we received no explanation. The Los Angeles Times, however, provided some information about what is planned. It appears that the US will at least partly finance “high-tech biometric kiosks” that record fingerprints, photos and other identifying information of those applying for temporary visitor and work permits; in other words, those attempting to cross legally. What?? Those aren’t the folks the US and Mexico are worried about. They’re worried about the people who cross without inspection and ride “The Beast” in hopes of some day reaching the United States. According to the Times, the Mexican government also plans to set up “internal control stations” (checkpoints?) and strengthen security near commonly-used migration routes.
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).