First Report by International Caravan

BRIEF SUMMARY of EVENTS in the SAN SEBASTIAN BACHAJON EJIDO since the DECEMBER 21, 2014 RECUPERATION of THEIR LAND 

The banner begin with: Adherents to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle

The banner begins with: Adherents to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle and ends with: Support Ayotzinapa!

By: The “International Sixth Caravan”

On December 21, 2014, during the inauguration of the Worldwide Festival of Resistances and Rebellions Against Capitalism, in Mexico, compañeros [1] from the San Sebastián Bachajón ejido in Northern Chiapas, adherents to the [EZLN’s] Sixth Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle, announced that in the wee hours of that same day they had recuperated the lands dispossessed since February 2, 2011 by the government of Juan Sabines Guerrero and Noé Castañón León in complicity with the officialist (pro-government) ejido commissioner Francisco Guzmán Jiménez.  They asked the participants in the Worldwide Festival for their support and solidarity in the defense of their recuperated territories.

Approximately 400 women, children, youths, men, and elderly peacefully took the common use lands of the ejido’s grant area, located at the border with Tumbalá municipality and near the entry to the Agua Azul Cascades eco-tourist center, a place in which the State Government of Chiapas and the Federal Government constructed a ticket booth administered by the National Commission for Natural Protected Areas (CONANP, its initials in Spanish) and the Chiapas Treasury Secretariat, as well as a Center of Attention to Civilian Protection Emergencies and an abandoned supposed office for medical consultations.

Their resistance against police and paramilitary repression has lasted for more than six years of struggle. During this stage they have had extra-judicial assassinations like those of Juan Vázquez Guzmán and Juan Carlos Gómez Silvano and the unjust incarceration of more than 120 compañeros. Three of them, Juan Antonio Gómez Silvano, Mario Aguilar Silvano and Roberto Gómez Hernández, still remain in prison, where the state has tortured them.  The government’s acts of repression have not diminished their conviction to recuperate their lands; to the contrary, the pain suffered because of their fallen compañeros has only been strengthened their conviction:

“For all these injustices of the bad government that prefers to see us dead or in prison, living in misery and marginalization because it takes away our land to give to big corporations and corrupt politicians so that make themselves richer while our communities die of hunger… therefore as an organization our communities decided in assembly to recuperate today the lands that the bad government dispossessed.” (San Sebastián Bachajón Communiqué, December 21, 2014.)

In the days after the initial taking, they received several threats of eviction and repression from public forces and paramilitary groups that organized in cooperation with ejido commissioner Alejandro Moreno Gómez, and his vigilance, Samuel Díaz Guzmán.  On December 30, representatives of the Chiapas government demanded that the Sixth ejido owners withdraw from the recuperated land, thus permitting a dialogue between them and the pro-government ejido members.  This demand was accompanied by threats of eviction and apprehension in case they rejected abandoning the recuperated lands.

Faced with these threats, the compañeros of Bachajón continued to maintain control of the recuperated land while the tourist traffic flowed normally. Hundreds of compañeros with pasamontañas were watching the entrance to the Cascades, which didn’t seem to bother the tourists. They never realized that there were 24-hour guards hidden in the trees on both sides of the road, watching to see who was entering.  It fell to each youth, elder, women and man to do guard duty for three consecutive days without sleeping, in turns of fifteen days total. In the 18 days of the recuperation the number of compañeros that came from different towns in the ejido increased to m ore than 500.

On December 30, between 40 and 50 individuals that ejido commissioner Alejandro Moreno Gómez paid and organized blocked the San Cristóbal-Palenque and the San Cristóbal-Chilón highways at the villages of Temó and Pamalhá not only to demand the intervention of public forces, but also to paint these events as an intra-community conflict that only involved the internal politics of the Bachajón community and not the interests of the government and the tourist companies.

On January 9, at 6:30 in the morning, more than 900 members of state and federal forces violently evicted the compañeros of the San Sebastián Bachajón ejido. During the attack, eight San Sebastián Bachajón residents were disappeared and three of them were kidnapped with the intention of arresting them but all of them got free. The ejido owners denounced the attack in a comunicado on the same day:

“The bad government through Government Secretary Eduardo Ramírez Aguilar joked that they already recuperated the ticket booth as if it were his property or territory, their real interest is to dispossess us of our land. They are some truly shameless and corrupt traitors to the country, but their bad politics doesn’t end out fight because we are not going to permit them to continue dispossessing us as they please. We’re going to continue our actions in defense of Mother Earth.”

The next day, the free media confirmed the occupation of the lands on the part of public forces and documented the presence of 10 police trucks, a lot of white trucks full of police in the area de los recuperated territory and two police trucks stationed at the installations of the Secretary of Security and Citizen Protection of the State of Chiapas.

The ejido owners denounced that accomplices of the state police threatened Compañero Jeremías Cruz Hernández and Francisco Jiménez Hernández from Xanil community, which is part of the ejido. These compañeros now fear for their lives.

In a communiqué released on January 10 the ejido owners said that: “the eviction doesn’t make our hearts sad but rather fills it with greater bravery to make the movement and the defense of land and territory stronger.” They also requested that all the solidarity compañeros remain pending (on hold) because they heard “strong rumors” that the police were pointing at their houses to arrest them and that they were getting organized to evict us from the seat of their organization in Nah Choj.

On January 11, the ejido owners again attempted to take back their lands. At 6:30 in the morning the compañeros took and blocked the Agua Azul crossroads. In response and from a distance of five hundred meters, the state police blocked the road with trees and shot rubber bullets at the ejido owners for twenty minutes from that barricade. The rubber bullets injured two people. One of the ejido owners, Juan Pérez Moreno, was injured in the left arm with a high-caliber bullet. The ejido owners remained firm before the attack and at 7:30 in the morning the police turn back.

The next day, January 12, a police helicopter flew over Xanil taking photos of the houses of the coordinators of the resistance.  At the same time, groups of paramilitaries from Pamalha community headed by Manuel Jimenez Moreno and from Xanil headed by Juan Álvaro Moreno, Jeremías Cruz Hernandez and Francisco Jimenez Hernandez moved towards the dispossessed territory to present a possible strengthening of the police aggressions against the adherents to the Sixth. The “International Sixth Caravan in Support of San Sebastián Bachajón” arrived the same day to offer them support and thus avoid further attacks. The International Caravan includes members of different countries, including Colombia, France, the United States and Mexico.

At this time, the compañeros maintain a strong blockade, which yesterday converted from permanent to intermittent.  They ask that we are on alert for more attacks on the blockade and that all of us spread the word about their dignified struggle through all possible different media.

[1] Compañero, as used here, refers to both men and women of all ages.

———————————————————————————-

Originally Published in Spanish by Koman Ilel, the Mirada Collective

Translation: Chiapas Support Committee

Thursday, January 15, 2015

http://komanilel.org/2015/01/15/primer-informe-de-la-caravana-sexta-internacional-sobre-su-visita-a-san-sebastian-bachajon/

For more  information about the Chiapas Support Committee, please contact cezmat@igc.org

 

 

 

2 Comments on “First Report by International Caravan

  1. Pingback: Zapatista News Summary for January 2015 | Compañero Manuel

  2. Pingback: Tourist Development Behind State Repression of Non-Violent Indigenous Movement

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: