Dear Family & Friends of the Chiapas Support Committee,
WE ARE INVITING YOU TO JOIN US —during one of the most challenging of years— in people-to-people solidarity with the Zapatista communities.
The pandemic provides one of the most revolutionary of opportunities to know and to connect each other’s struggles and communities for justice.
Throughout 2020, the Chiapas Support Committee (CSC) continued bringing you critical information and analyses to understand the Zapatista and Indigenous struggles in Mexico. And we brought people together to connect and to express solidarity and create community in the U.S.
AS THE YEAR ENDS, we are inviting you to join us by sheltering-in-solidarity to break out of the isolation caused by the multi-tiered capitalist crisis called the pandemic. And to reach literally through your device screen, one hand on the keyboard and the other in a fist, that opens, to show solidarity with our sister Zapatista communities in Chiapas.
Join us in contributing generously to express
Solidarity with the Zapatistas
IN 2020, U.S. SOCIAL AND RACIAL JUSTICE STRUGGLES, led by the bold actions and leadership of the Black Lives Matter movement, did not pause in the face of the intertwined capitalist pandemic of racist violence and economic and health crises and a presidency that threatened to undermine the elections and democracy.
In Mexico, the Zapatista and indigenous struggles continued organizing for justice and autonomy despite intensifying paramilitary attacks that are tacitly, if not openly, supported by the Mexican government.
Our struggles for justice and liberation commingle across borders, they are for life to be safe and secure from capitalist misery and exploitation.
Get Ready for 2021 with Anti-Capitalist Solidarity Now
On January 1, 2021, the EZLN (the Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, Zapatista National Liberation Army) will celebrate the 27th anniversary of its uprising, when Indigenous communities said NO to the capitalist death sentence of “free” trade being imposed on Indigenous people everywhere.
In 2020, the Zapatistas continued to steadily build their projects of land justice and autonomy while facing one of the largest and most widespread paramilitary offensives in many years. The paramilitaries were given impunity by the “progressive” government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), the government of Chiapas and of various municipalities in the state.
The paramilitary attacks are part of a broader war of attrition against the Zapatista Indigenous autonomous territories being carried out by the Mexican government. This serves the interests of the Mexican government as it continues the capitalist goal of dispossessing and destroying the EZLN and its support bases. At the same time, the Zapatistas are coping with the coronavirus pandemic.
While AMLO was still downplaying the pandemic and encouraging people not to social distance, the EZLN declared a Red Alert on March 16, closed its communities to outsiders, started making masks and practicing social distancing. Around the same time, an agrarian conflict between Chenalhó and Aldama heated up. Paramilitary groups in Chenalhó began firing high-caliber weapons across a ravine into the Aldama communities.
The paramilitaries have forcibly displaced approximately 3,000 Maya Tsotsils in the Aldama municipality, mostly women and children, and another thousand in the nearby Chalchihuitán municipality. The health and wellbeing of the displaced communities has been severely undermined. They have been suffering from famine, unable to cultivate and harvest their crops, living at the mercy of the natural elements.
In August, a paramilitary group known by its acronym of ORCAO robbed and set fires to coffee warehouses and a roadside community diner at the Cuxuljá Crossroads, which is owned and operated by the Zapatistas in the Moisés Gandhi community, autonomous municipality of Lucio Cabañas.
A SOLIDARITY CARAVAN WENT TO Moisés Gandhi to observe and document the human rights abuses that ORCAO paramilitaries were inflicting on that Zapatista community: land invasions, destroying crops, homes, cooperatives and electrical and water infrastructure, as well as shootings and robberies.
The caravan documented continuous paramilitary attacks on Zapatistas in the Moisés Gandhi region. To date, the economic damage to Moisés Gandhi totals $1,456,021 pesos, a daunting sum for a community of subsistence farmers. The most recent publicized attack was the kidnapping and torture of a Moisés Gandhi resident in November. He was released to human rights workers after several days.
And it’s not only Zapatista communities under attack.
Indigenous communities, members of the Congreso Nacional Indígena (CNI, Indigenous National Congress) in Chilón, Tila and San Sebastián Bachajón, have also suffered paramilitary attacks and police repression.
It is against this backdrop of struggles that we are inviting you to join us with a contributionthat will help us send a message of solidarity to the Zapatista and Indigenous communities and a repudiation of the Mexican government’s role in the paramilitary attacks.
Zapatismo 2020 in the U.S.
FOR THE CHIAPAS SUPPORT COMMITTEE, 2020 began with a burst of organizing energy that has not stopped
In March, the Chiapas Support Committee helped host in Oakland the first Encuentro (gathering) of the Sexta Grietas del Norte, a network of individuals and groups that adhere to the EZLN’s Sixth Lancandón Declaration.
The Encuentro brought together Zapatista supporters to Oakland the weekend before the pandemic shut down everything. Over 100 activists, students and academics from California and other parts of the U.S. participated in the Zapatista gathering. Participants strategized on the work of solidarity and learned from each other about the Zapatista and Indigenous peoples struggles in Mexico.
When the gathering closed with a traditional circle, where everyone greeted each other and said their goodbyes person-to-person, no one knew the organizing challenges that the pandemic would bring. What was certain was that the Chiapas Support Committee and the Sexta Grietas would continue its ant-like work of building solidarity with the Zapatista communities, sharing information, analyses and updates and organizing solidarity actions.
Sheltering In Solidarity
In 2020, the Chiapas Support Committee:
- Continued publishing its Compañero Manuel blog and held several online forums and actions. We continued reaching thousands of activists and organizers through the CSC’s Facebook page and our blog.
- Organized in June an emergency fundraiser and in September organized an action to support Zapatista and Indigenous communities facing famine and denounced the Mexican government-supported paramilitary attacks, which have resulted in loss of life and pillaging of entire communities. The paramilitary attacks have forced hundreds of Indigenous people to flee for their lives, caused famine, and the attacks have not diminished.
- In July, launched the new monthly online ¡Viva Zapata! Film Series, viewing films on the Zapatista and other third world revolutionary movements, with after-screening discussions with dozens of participants.
- Held our annual CompArte gathering. We called CompArte 2020, “Sheltering in Art, Solidarity & Resistance” and held it during three online sessions on the 26th of August, September and October. The 26th day was chosen to commemorate the twenty-sixth anniversary of the EZLN 1994 uprising. Dozens of participants shared their art and visions and together learned about Zapatismo and art-struggle. And,
- Relaunched its educational workshop, “Waffles & Zapatismo,” in its first online edition on November 17—the date commemorating the 37th anniversary of the founding of the EZLN. Participants heard from a panel of speakers focusing on the roots of the EZLN and its history leading up to the January 1, 1994 uprising. And,
- Collaborated with community groups on a film-showing on Women and Autonomy. The CSC and partners gathered in an outdoor space with social distancing, enjoying community with music and Zapatista-related films and discussion (in person and via zoom) with the filmmakers.
All your and our contributions will go to support the Zapatista communities’ projects building autonomy. The Chiapas Support Committee is an all-volunteer organization whose members absorb/pay for the costs of the educational work we do.
Creating paths to stay in relationship
for justice & liberation
On March 16, the EZLN issued a “red alert” communique calling on all Zapatista communities to close and shelter-in to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
RECOGNIZING THE EMERGING CHALLENGES brought on by the pandemic, the EZLN said:
. . . We call for human contact not to be lost, but to temporarily change the ways to know ourselves, compañeros, compañeras, compañeroas, sisters and brothers.
The word and the ear, along with the heart, have many paths, many ways, many calendars, and many geographies to find each other. And this fight for life can be one of them.Because of Coronavirus, the EZLN Closes the Caracoles and Calls to not Abandon Current Struggles
The Chiapas Support Committee continues working hard to nurture the human connection, even as COVID-19 has worsened the cruel race, gender and class inequities under capitalism.
The pandemic has hit people of color and Indigenous communities everywhere particularly hard—in the U.S. and in Mexico.
YOUR SOLIDARITY, WITH OURS, will be more powerful and can pierce the silence by donating generously to support Zapatista projects of autonomy and self-governance.
The year 2020 has made solidarity with Indigenous struggles more urgent and a cornerstone of movements for deep racial justice in the U.S.
We invite you to join us in solidarity and make a generous contribution to connect with the Zapatista communities by sheltering-in-solidarity!
Here are two ways to show anti-Capitalist solidarity
with the Zapatistas
- Make a generous donation here —or through Venmo, @Enapoyo1994
- Or make a unique donation to acquire a piece of Zapatista artesanía, click here.
- Let’s find ways together to connect and to raise a multitude of voices and struggles for justice and liberation in 2021. Subscribe to our e-newsletter and work with us in our different actions of solidarity with the Zapatistas!
THE MEMBERS of the Board of the Chiapas Support Committee thank you with an open heart and a tightly closed fist raised for justice and liberation.
Chiapas Support Committee
P.O. Box 3421
Oakland, CA 94609