The EZLN marches against the war in Ukraine; residents of Altamirano join in and add their demands

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By: Ángeles Mariscal

Altamirano, Chiapas

Thousands of members of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN, Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional) demonstrated in six Chiapas cities, to protest against wars, and to show their solidarity with the people of Ukraine, who currently resist a Russian invasion.

This is the first massive appearance that the EZLN has made since 2012, when they appeared in different cities in silent marches, within the framework of the change of era according to the Maya calendar.

The demonstrations of thousands of masked people took place simultaneously in San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Ocosingo, Yajalón, Palenque, Las Margaritas and Altamirano municipalities, all located in regions where indigenous people of different Maya ethnicities are the majority.

It’s estimated that 20,000 members of the rebel group participated in the different municipalities, men and women who met the day before in their different meeting centers, from which they left to initiate the demonstrations in synchrony.

“Stop the wars of capitalism that murder and conquer the people of Ukraine for economic, political and ideological interests,” “Wake Up peoples of Mexico and the world because one day sooner or later they are also going to wage unjust wars against us, we must organize,” “Peoples of Mexico and the world, we Zapatista women, we say that your pain is our pain, so we make a call to organize our peoples as women, to organize each one in her geography and her calendar, to stop unjust wars, because we are the most affected because of being a woman and because of being mothers,” were some of the messages they carried.

Watch an awesome video of the Zapatista march in Altamirano where residents join in the march here.

IN ALTAMIRANO, thousands of non-Zapatista residents join the demonstration

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The day before the demonstration, in the municipality of Altamirano, located in the Tseltal and Tojolabal zone, the Zapatistas invited the local population to join the march. Thousands of them responded and added their demands related to the release of the 37 campesinos kidnapped since last December. [1]

Just last October, inhabitants of this municipality expelled Mayor Gabriela Roque Tipacamú, wife of Roberto Pinto Kanter, who previously and for two terms of office, had been municipal president, in a family political chiefdom (cacicazgo) in which cousins and relatives participated in order to control the municipal presence for twelve years. [2]

As a result of the expulsion of the Kanter family and the consolidation of an independent [municipal] government council, members of the Alliance of Social Organizations and Left Unions (ASSI, Alianza de Organizaciones Sociales y Sindicatos de Izquierda) -who residents accuse of being an armed group and a shock group that economically benefitted from the Kanter family governments-, kidnapped more than 50 residents, 37 of whom have been kidnapped since last December 29.

The residents of Altamirano marched together with the Zapatistas. They carried a banner on which they demanded thew release of the kidnapped campesinos, and the application of the law “to those responsible for the kidnapping and organized crime.”

They pointed out that the motive for the expulsion of the former mayors and the Kanter family, was also because during their time in office organized crime groups installed themselves in the municipality; in that period of time they carried out kidnappings, murders and set up drug sales and distribution businesses, which affected the area’s population.

Different from the other municipalities, the participation of Altamirano residents made the march called by the EZLN singular, because this is the first time that non-Zapatistas have joined in their marches.

In Altamirano, the EZLN has a seat called the Caracol of Morelia, “Whirlwind of our words,” and militants of this organization live in communities affected by the region’s general problem.

In this municipality, according to the people who demonstrated today, the independent government council has closed at least 200 cantinas and drug distribution centers in the municipal seat alone.

[1] Many articles written about the kidnappings in Altamirano use different numbers when referring to those who have been kidnapped. This may be because local residents give different numbers to reporters. In this case, the number of people kidnapped on December 29, 2021 is well-established at 27, not 37. For background info on the December 29 kidnappings, see: https://chiapas-support.org/2022/02/02/violence-returns-to-altamirano-27-kidnapped/

[2] For background on the removal of Kanter’s wife from the municipal presidency, see: https://chiapas-support.org/2021/11/08/a-tseltal-woman-is-the-new-mayor-of-altamirano-chiapas/

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Originally Published in Spanish by Chiapas Paralelo, Sunday, March 13, 2022, https://www.chiapasparalelo.com/noticias/chiapas/2022/03/ezln-marcha-contra-guerra-en-ucrania-pobladores-de-altamirano-se-sumaron-y-anadieron-sus-demandas/ and Re-published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

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