MARCH 2014 ZAPATISTA NEWS SUMMARY
1. Zapatista Supporter Murdered Near Agua Azul – On March 21, Juan Carlos Gómez Silvano, 22, was ambushed and murdered while driving his small truck. He was hit by more than 20 shots. Gómez Silvano was the coordinator of adherents to the EZLN’s Sixth Declaration in the San Sebastián Bachajón Ejido (SSB). He lived in Virgen de Dolores community on land that Sixth adherents recuperated in 2010 and participated in the construction of autonomy. Residents of the area say that the Mexican Army and state police constantly harass them and threaten eviction. SSB has been resisting government’s efforts to take its lands in order to benefit powerful interests. Those interests plan to develop tourism luxury accommodations for wealthy elites at the Agua Azul Cascades as part of a large tourist corridor from Agua Azul to Palenque. The San Cristóbal-Palenque Toll Road would connect that corridor to tourism sites throughout the Chiapas and would take land away from indigenous communities. The toll road is also highly disputed. You can read the complete article on Gómez Silvano’s murder, as well as some background on the Plan Puebla-Panamá and the tourism project on our blog.
2. Zapatistas Announce Plans for May/June – On March 31, the EZLN announced its plans for the early summer via its Enlace Zapatista website: 1) An exchange with Native Peoples from May 26-30 (invitation only); 2) On May 31 in Oventik there will be a presentation of conclusions from the exchange with Native Peoples (open to the public); 3) On June 1 in Oventik, there will be a homage to Luis Villoro (also open to the public); and 4) From June 2-8, in both Oventik and Cideci, a seminar on “Ethics Facing Dispossession” will take place featuring many writers and thinkers. The Seminar is open to the public.
3. The Frayba Human Rights Center Celebrates 25th Anniversary – The Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Center celebrated the 25th anniversary of its founding this month. Bishop Samuel Ruiz founded the Frayba Center in March 1989. Since then, it has attained national importance in the promotion and defense of human rights and the collective rights of indigenous peoples. Its importance in a situation of an on-going “low-intensity” war against the Zapatistas and their supporters is huge. An article about the Frayba Center provides more detail about this important Center’s current work and background.
4. Violence Continues in the Puebla Ejido – According to information documented by the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Center (Frayba), the home of Normelina Hernandez Lopez and Macario Arias Gomez in the Puebla ejido, in Chenalhó Municipality, was completely burned. They are a Catholic family that was forcibly displaced on August 23, 2013 together with 17 other families, a total of 100 people, who are currently displaced and living in the community of Acteal, Chenalhó. A few days before, on March 7, 2014, at 6:30 AM, José Cruz Gomez found a door in the Catholic Church’s facilities in the same ejido burned. These acts occurred despite the presence of approximately 30 members of the State Preventive Police.
Mexico’s Southern Border
1. Announce Security Plans for Mexico’s Southern Border – Mexico’s National Security Commission has released a general outline of its 3-tiered plan to beef up security on its southern border with Guatemala (and a small border with Belize). The first tier will be on the Yucatán Peninsula and in Chiapas, with another in Tabasco and also on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. Each tier will be a “containment belt.” Security will be on both land and sea and rely on the use of radar and intelligence work. Each tier will have control points staffed by members of the Army or Navy, state and federal police, as well as agents from various government agencies. The most interesting feature of the plan is the “mixed” staffing. The purpose of mixed staffing is said to be in order to avoid the corruption of officials. It assumes that they would watch each other and report corruption. More details are expected soon. Vigilance points in Chiapas will be located in the zones of Huixtla, Suchiate, Arriaga, Trinitaria, Comitán, Benemérito de las Américas and Palenque.
In other parts of Mexico
!. Federal Forces Disarm Community Police in Santa María Ostula – On March 19, some 40 members of the Mexican Navy disarmed 14 community police that were guarding the town of La Placita, until a few weeks ago a bastion of organized crime. This action left the community police defenseless. In response, one day later around 1,500 inhabitants of the town of Santa María Ostula and the municipalities of Aquila, Chinicuila and Coahuayana, together with 300 community police and autodefensas, closed the Manzanillo-Lázaro Cárdenas Highway for two hours at the Mexican Naval Marine Base and checkpoint in La Placita. They demanded the return of the confiscated weapons. The marines’ action against the community guards of Ostula forms part of the federal government’s offensive to disarm and demobilize Michoacán’s autodefensas. But it is also one more in the offensive to hit and disarticulate the most politicized sectors of the indigenous and citizen mobilization in Michoacán, those that struggle for historic rights and that confront the big interests, like the transnational mining companies.
2. Relationship of Self-Defense Groups and Government: Confusing – This month, Mexican authorities arrested Hipólito Mora, one of the main leaders of Michoacán’s self-defense groups, known as autodefensas, for allegedly participating in a double murder. Authorities also disarmed the rest of the autodefensas loyal to Mora and reinstated a mayor that had been removed because of alleged connections to organized crime. Mora is in prison, formally charged with those crimes while his lawyer appeals the decision to formally charge him. Meanwhile, self-defense groups continue driving members of the Knights Templar out of towns in Michoacán in the company of federal security forces. La Jornada reports that the self-defense groups have now recuperated 25 percent of Michoacán.
3. Mexico Announces That It Killed Drug Boss A Second Time! – On March 9, Mexican authorities announced that they had killed the leader of the Knights Templar criminal organization, Nazario Moreno Gonzalez, and that this time he was really dead. The Knights Templar are a spinoff from La Familia Michoacana of which Moreno Gonzalez was also the head. In December 2010, Mexican authorities announced the death of Moreno Gonzalez in a raid and shootout with La Familia near Apatzingán, Michoacán, the gang’s alleged stronghold. He was known as El Chayo and El más loco (the craziest). Rumors persisted that he was alive and he continued to be revered as a saint by those close to the Knights Templar. It appears that they actually killed him this time, but doesn’t say much for the credibility of government reports. Authorities also announced that they killed Enrique Plancarte Solís, known as El Kike, the alleged financial boss of the Knights Templar.
Compiled monthly by the Chiapas Support Committee.The primary sources for our information are: La Jornada, Enlace Zapatista and the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Center (Frayba).
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