APRIL 2014 ZAPATISTA NEWS SUMMARY
1. Zapatistas Release 2nd Issue of Rebeldía Zapatista – The Zapatistas have released another edition of the Rebeldía Zapatista magazine. The Zapatista bases that participated in the Escuelitas give their impressions of the students. An editorial by Subcomandante Moisés is the only part of the magazine published online. You can read his editorial comments here.
2. Homage to 2 Zapatista Supporters Murdered Near Agua Azul – On Saturday, April 26, residents of San Sebastián Bachajón ejido (SSB), adherents to the EZLN’s Sixth Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle, gave homage to Juan Vázquez Guzmán, murdered April 24, 2013, and Juan Carlos Gómez Silvano, murdered on March 21, 2014. Both men were leaders in SSB’s struggle to defend their lands from government efforts to take that land away; in other words, against dispossession. SSB has been resisting the government’s efforts to take its lands in order to benefit powerful interests. Tourism interests are those that have dominated previous reports and analyses from Chiapas. However, at the homage to the two fallen leaders, the SSB folks raised the specter of another powerful interest – Walmart!
3. International Campaign in Support of San Sebastián Bachajón – Between April 24 to May 6, Zapatista Solidarity groups are sponsoring an international campaign in support of San Sebastián’s struggle to defend its land and in honor of its 2 murdered leaders. It involves watching a 13-minute video about the struggle. The video is posted on YouTube. It is in Spanish with some English subtitles (click the cc box at the bottom of the screen for English subtitles).
4. Displaced Return to Puebla Ejido – On April 14, the 17 Catholic families displaced last August from this ejido in Chenalhó municipality by the dispute over a piece of land with the Evangelical majority, returned to the Puebla ejido accompanied by Felipe Arizmendi Esquivel, the Bishop of San Cristóbal de Las Casas, and Eduardo Ramírez Aguilar, the Secretary of Government, as well as by representatives of non-governmental organisms and civilian observers. The Bishop stated that it was a return “without justice,” and asked: “to continue supporting the “returnees,” because it’s not over, not only as to material issues, but above all in security, stability, harmony and reconciliation.” The Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Center was one of the organisms accompanying the Catholic families.
In other parts of Mexico
1. Self-Defense Groups and Government Sign Agreement – Early this month, leaders of the various self-defense groups from 20 Michoacán municipalities signed an agreement with the federal commissioner for Michoacán, Alfredo Castillo, and other government officials to “demobilize” and register their weapons. The deadline set for the demobilization is May 10. Castillo said: Those who want to continue patrolling the towns of Michoacán will have to become part of a new statewide rural police force. All current self-defense group members, however, will be allowed to keep their weapons, regardless of whether they join the police force, as long as they register them with the Army and keep them at home. Castillo said: “Beginning May 11, any [armed] person not registered, not uniformed, will be arrested.” He said the deadline date would allow authorities time to vet and train those who want to join the rural force and to re-train and purge municipal police forces of officers with known or suspected criminal ties. Meanwhile, the self-defense groups had some demands of their own and some provisions are included in the agreement regarding the release of self defense members who are in prison simply for carrying weapons. There are also provisions for financial support for widows and children of victims of the struggle against organized crime in Michoacán. The United States government has poured untold billions into the “drug war” and little, if any, progress was made to protect ordinary citizens from the criminal groups until the self-defense groups formed and ran the criminals out of the communities. We’ll see what happens after May 10! For an analysis, here’s an article by Luis Hernández Navarro.
2. United Nations Special Relator on Torture Visits Mexico – The United Nations (UN) special relator on torture, Juan E. Méndez, began a visit to Mexico in the last week of April. The not-really-shocking, but very sad, headline is that complaints about torture increased by 500% during the Calderón administration. This is attributed to the use of the Armed Forces in public security and the legal figure of arraigo (lengthy detention without charges). He has not yet visited Chiapas.
3. North American Defense Heads Meet in Mexico – Robert D. Nicholson, Canada’s Minister of Defense; Charles Timothy Hagel, US Secretary of Defense, as well as General Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda, Mexico’s Secretary of Defense, and Admiral Vidal Francisco Soberón Sanz, Mexico’s Secretary of Navy met together in Mexico. They discussed their mutual concerns about threats from transnational organized crime and ways to improve mutual efforts… at least that’s what the press reports said.
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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Chiapas Support Committee/Comité de Apoyo a Chiapas
P.O. Box 3421, Oakland, CA 94609
Tel: (510) 654-9587