Chiapas Support Committee

González Casanova becomes Comandante Pablo Contreras

Visibly moved, Doctor González Casanova responded to hugs from the Zapatistas. Photo: Daliri Oropeza

By: Luis Hernández Navarro

San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas

Starting yesterday, Doctor Pablo González Casanova, 96, is “Comandante Pablo Contreras” of the Indigenous Revolutionary Clandestine Committee of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (CCRI-EZLN, its initials in Spanish).

The naming was made public in the midst of a prolonged and emotive ovation from attendees at the roundtable discussion “Looks, listens and words: prohibited thinking?” which is being held at the Indigenous Center for Integral Training Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas-Universidad de la Tierra (Cideci-Unitierra) in San Cristóbal de Las Casas, convoked by the Zapatistas.

The rebel agreement was announced to the ex rector of the Autonomous National University of Mexico (UNAM) by Comandante Tacho. For being Zapatista –the Tojolabal assured– one must work and he has worked for the life of our peoples. He has not tired, has not sold out and has not given in.

Previously –in a beautiful and basted intervention in which he made an evaluation of the campaign of the spokeswoman of the Indigenous Government Council, María de Jesús Patricio, for obtaining the registry as an independent candidate to the Presidency of the Republic– the writer Juan Villoro narrated how last February 11, on the esplanade of the Palace of Fine Arts in Mexico City, don Pablo celebrated his number 96 birthday, in the final act of support for the indigenous Nahua.

Rector of the left

González Casanova, Villoro remembered, is the only rector of the left that the UNAM has had. That day at Fine Arts, he added, he gave us a lesson in youth and rebellion and showed himself as an authentic dean and man of judgment.

Preparing the surprise, Subcomandante Moisés narrated how the Zapatistas are trained as organizers giving and y supervising tasks. If things go well, the commander said, the Zapatista is rewarded with more work.

It was then when Comandante Tacho spoke and began to explain, in the third person, the merits and virtues of don Pablo. Juggling the numbers he concluded that, despite the age difference, the Zapatistas and González Casanova are contemporaries. In passing he remembered the name with which almost one year ago, during the seminar “The walls of capital, the cracks on the left: the hourglass and the organized world of the fincas,” he was baptized by the rebels “Pablo Contreras.” And already put on track, he announced his naming as part of the CCRI-EZLN and finished: the gift that we are going to give him is more work…

One year before, during the gathering “The walls of capital,” Subcomandante Galeano presented him as a man of critical and independent thought, who is never told what to say or how to think, but who is always on the side of the peoples. That’s why, he explained, in some Zapatista communities he is known as Pablo Contreras. And he added that one of the rebel municipalities was baptized with his name.

Immediately after Tacho’s words announcing the naming of the new comandante, the members of the command and the CCRI present in the presidium stood up and started to salute don Pablo militarily with the left hand and to give him a warm hug, while the crowd applauded standing for about 10 minutes and unexpectedly started to chant: “Goya, goya, cachún, cachún, rah, rah, rah! Goooooooya! Universidad!”

Don Pablo, who began his speech at the seminar greeting the audience in Tzotzil and explaining that greeting is to recognize the other and he continued vindicating Zapatismo as a universal contribution to the struggles for liberation, responded to the military salute and the hugs, visibly moved, with more greetings and hugs.

Just last March 1, at the presentation of a work of his in the International Book Fair of the Palace of Mining, González Casanova answered the question of what his recipe is for living with so much intellectual force: “Struggling and loving.” This April 21, now as a comandante of the CCRI-EZLN, he reaffirmed his vocation to struggle and love.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

EZLN: The system will not permit the triumph of AMLO; the capitalist hydra is crazed

The former Subcomandante Marcos added that despite warnings, the “institutional” left is sure that it will triumph during the upcoming July 1 elections. Photo: Daliri Oropeza/Cuartoscuro

By the Sin Embargo Editorial Staff

Capital will not permit the triumph of Andrés Manuel López Obrador, candidate of the alliance “Together We’ll Make History,” in the next presidential election, Subcomandante Galeano assured during the round table “Looks, listens, words: prohibited thinking?”

He added that: “the capitalist hydra is crazed, it’s going for everything and everyone.” And he stressed that despite the fact that López Obrador will offer “a respite from capital, that respite won’t be possible.”

 Mexico City, April 18

The Zapatista National Liberation Army (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, EZLN) affirmed that the “powers that be” would not permit the triumph of Andrés Manuel López Obrador, candidate of the alliance “Together We’ll Make History,” in the current presidential electoral process.

Subcomandante Galeano revealed the warning during the roundtable “Looks, listens, words: prohibited thinking?” that was held at the Indigenous Integral Training Center (aka Cideci) of the University of the Earth in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas.

Galeano added that: “the capitalist hydra is crazed, it’s going for everything and everyone.” Therefore it will not permit a triumph “like the one Andrés Manuel López Obrador seeks to head.”

And he reiterated that capital “is going for everything and is not going to permit Lulas, Dilmas, Kirchner, Correas, Evos, or López Obrador, or whatever anything is called that offers a breather.”

The former Subcomandante Marcos added that despite the warnings, the “institutional left” is sure that it will triumph in the upcoming July 1 election. And he emphasized that despite the fact that López Obrador offers “a respite from capital,” “that respite is not going to be possible.”

Galeano pointed out that his reflections derive from what his compañeras, compañeros, sisters and brothers of the networks and of other organizations face.”

On the other hand, he judged that the EZLN has never called for abstention, but rather for an electoral boycott against the National Action Party (PAN), in Querétaro during 2006, and this sought to pressure for the “liberation of some brothers that were prisoners and they released them.”

Finally, he said that the EZLN’s proposal has been organization of the peoples that make up the country.


Originally Published in Spanish by Sin Embargo

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee


Dispatches from Resistant Mexico




EZLN: They reward the cheaters, they punish the just (Marichuy); do they now see that we were not from Salinas?

Marichuy with Galeano at the Roundtable discussion “Looks, Listens, Words: prohibited thinking?”

Subcomandante Galeano, before Marcos, of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, EZLN), defended Marichuy’s campaign that did not meet the number of signatures necessary for run as a candidate to the Presidency, but she did obtain that 94 percent of the signatures that she presented (281, 955) were validated by the INE, which contrasted with the irregularities with which Jaime Rodríguez Calderón, “El Bronco,” and Margarita Zavala Gómez del Campo presented… and are still on the July 1 electoral ballot for.

What Marichuy did, said the EZLN subcomandante, was to exhibit and undress the electoral political system as one that rewards the cheater and punished the just.

By the Editorial Staff / Sin Embargo

Mexico City, April 17 (SinEmbargo)

Subcomandante Marcos, now Galeano, of the Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional (EZLN), accompanied the presidential aspirant María de Jesús Patricio, better known as Marichuy, exhibited, during a roundtable discussion, Mexico’s electoral system upon indicating that despite the irregularities that other independent candidates committed, they will be on the ballot.

Within the framework of the First Session of the Roundtable discussion “Looks, listens, words: prohibited thinking?” the subcomandante asserted that if their candidate achieved anything it was undressing the electoral system that awarded candidacies to Jaime Rodríguez “El Bronco” and Margarita Zavala, because their irregularities are on the ballot thanks to the decision of the Nacional Electoral Institute (INE, its initials in Spanish) and because the Electoral Tribunal of the Judicial Power of the Federation (TEPJF), which he accused are at the service “of the political team of Enrique Peña Nieto to elect his successor.”

“Marichuy didn’t falsify any signature, however others like ‘El Bronco’ did falsify them, and they rewarded them with the candidacy. Those that violated all the laws remained […] What Marichuy did was to exhibit and undress the electoral political system in Mexico,” Galeano said.

At the gathering held in the city of San Cristóbal de las Casas, in the state of Chiapas, the political leader of the EZLN affirmed that if Marichuy was left out of the contest it was because she didn’t reach the necessary signatures, which she did obtain legally, different than the other candidates.

“After it was demonstrated that there is no decency in the electoral process, Marichuy was left out.”

Subcomandante Galeano criticized the “left” of Andrés Manuel López Obrador that is drunk celebrating a victory it still doesn’t have” and has not realized from where the fraud is coming without having a plan “B.”

He also reacted to the voices that point to the Zapatista movement as an instrument of the former President of Mexico, Carlos Salinas de Gortari, and against those that opined that the vote for Marichuy would divide the vote of the left.

“It was already demonstrated that we are not part of the power’s mafia, that Salinas doesn’t manage us, in this case he mishandled us. We are romantics and dreamers, what movement can do that, I don’t know, that the direction, the initiatives and the imagination come from its people, in those who make it up, there were people that tabled, obstructed passage, knocking on doors,” he said.

“If we are a creation of Salinismo, why didn’t the unnamable bad guy move his people to collect signatures, why didn’t he use his influence so that they legally put you on (the ballot) like they illegally put ‘El Bronco’ on,” Galeano added.

“If it’s all a play to divide the vote, why didn’t the system move to achieve registration? The truth is that there is no place for Marichuy, there is no place for the original peoples,” he concluded.

Marichuy didn’t gather the necessary number of signatures to run for president, but 94 percent of the signatures that she presented (281, 955) were validated versus other independent candidates that even received fines because of irregularities.

Gathering the 866,593 signatures (1 percent of the average number of registered voters in each state) that independent candidates need to enter the presidential race turned out to be problematic for the CNI.

Throughout its campaign on behalf of the candidacy of “Marichuy,” the Congress argued that the mechanism for collecting signatures discriminates strongly against the indigenous communities, which constitute the core of its support base.

Signatures are provided through an application of the National Electoral Institute, but many who live in indigenous communities don’t possess mobile phones, much less devices that are connected to the Internet. In Mexico, Internet users represent only 60 percent of the population, according to data from the World Bank.

Not being on the ballot is not the end. The Movement that María de Jesús Patricio represents, the first indigenous woman that attempted to present herself as a candidate to the Presidency of Mexico, backed by the Zapatista National Liberation Army, has not stopped.


Originally Published in Spanish by Sin Embargo

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee




Galeano: The left is drunk and doesn’t see the fraud coming

In a 2017 image, Members of the Caracol of La Garrucha prepare to receive the presidential candidate Marichuy.

By: Elio Henríquez

San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas

Subcomandante Galeano, of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, EZLN), asserted that the institutional left: “is so drunk celebrating a victory that it still doesn’t have in hand, that it doesn’t realize where the fraud is coming from and doesn’t have a plan B.”

He added that with the acceptance of Margarita Zavala and of Jaime Rodríguez El Bronco as independent presidential candidates, “they are marking where the fraud is going.”

“The INE, an employment agency”

During the first session of the round table “Looks, listens, words: prohibited thinking?” that is being held in this city, he said that the result of the mobilization of the Indigenous Gobierno Council (CIG, its initials in Spanish) and its spokesperson María de Jesús Patricio Martínez, Marichuy, to collect the number of signatures that would permit her to participate as an independent presidential candidate,” exhibited the National Electoral Institute (INE) for what it is: an employment agency and a political talent scout, and if you are decent you cannot enter.”

Subcomandante Galeano added that, at the same time, the Electoral Tribunal of the Judicial Power of the Federation “is for endorsing or correcting the INE’s blunders. In the discretion of that body, the institute committed the miscue of not inserting a El Bronco (as a candidate), and the tribunal resolved it.”

He assured that the EZLN’s prognosis “was that the required number of signatures were not reached” –more than 800,000– for the registry of her candidacy; “our calculation was upwards of 100,000, concentrated in the center of the country.” Finally, the electoral institute validated 266, 395 signatures in her favor.

Seated together with Marichuy and other members of the Zapatista command, as well as with Mercedes Olivera, Márgara Millán and Sylvia Marcos, participants in the gathering, he underscored: “Another thing that we saw that you did in that mess, is that you pointed out to everyone where the fraud is going.”

Galeano stated that Marichuy’s tour with the proposals of the CIG and the National Indigenous Congress (CNI) “not only did not legitimate the political system, but rather undressed it and showed it for what it is, with more effectiveness than a seedbed,” it also caused the schizophrenia of the political class to be exhibited.”


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee




Water and indigenous peoples

Coca Cola plant in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico. Bottling plants are sucking the water away from indigenous Chiapas communities.

By: Francisco López Bárcenas

Last March 22 we celebrated World Water Day, so declared by the United Nations Organization to foment awareness in humanity about the importance of the vital liquid for the continuity of life on the planet. It is for nothing less. Water is an element that only exists on planet earth and is also indispensable for all life, because without it life is unimaginable. Contrary to this reality, capital has managed to convert it into merchandise, a good coveted by private companies so they can offer it to those who have the money to buy it. That is generating many of the conflicts in Mexican society because, before satisfying the necessities for life, it is used to feed industry, maintain the big agricultural cattle emporia, and for the export and extraction of minerals, hydrocarbons and gas from the Mexican subsoil.

From another point of view, to the indigenous peoples, besides being indispensable for life, or perhaps because of that, water contains sacred elements, because in its natural state, whether in places where it flows, through the rivers and ravines where it runs or the seas where it arrives, it’s linked to myths about origin and communication with their gods, so much so that in the pre-Hispanic epoch the priests administered it, a fact that, with the necessary transformations, is preserved today. This situation clashes openly with the mercantile use that has been its fate in recent years because of capital, a situation that openly confronts them, because many of the indigenous peoples inhabit sources of watersheds, to the extent that in the 12.4 percent of the national territory that indigenous peoples occupy 24.69 percent of all the country’s water is captured. Consequently, it is in the indigenous territories where more conflicts are presented over the use and enjoyment of the vital liquid.

Paradoxically in all the legislation on indigenous rights that has been issued in our country, not one piece of legislation exists that refers to their right of access to and enjoyment of water. What may be most related to this matter is in the provision of the second article of the Political Constitution of the United Mexican States, which in its Section VI of its part A, determines that, as part of their autonomy, indigenous peoples have the right “to the use and preferential enjoyment of the natural resources of the places that the communities inhabit and occupy, except those that correspond to strategic areas, in the terms of this Constitution.” Given that water is a natural resource, the indigenous peoples that live inside the country’s watersheds have the preferential right to the use and enjoyment of those waters, a right that the authorities violate daily by extending concessions for use to private parties without even notifying them (the indigenous peoples).

The right does not remain as a preference for their use and enjoyment in front of third parties. Articles 15 and 16 of Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization (ILO) on indigenous peoples, prescribes that the rights of indigenous peoples about the natural resources must be specially protected, which includes the obligation of state authorities to create mechanisms so that they participate in the utilization, administration and conservation of said resources, in this case water; besides, when the resources belong to the State, as in the Mexican case, adequate procedures must be established for consulting them before exploration or exploitation of said resources are undertaken or authorized; as well as participating in the benefits that such activities report, and perceiving an equitable indemnification for any damage that they may suffer as a result of those activities.

Several centuries ago, it was established in the Laws of the Indies: “that where there were regions and a proposal to found populations and some people want to do it, they were given lands, urban plots and waters” establishing “that lands would not be given or sold to the Spaniards with prejudice to the Indians, but rather that they were left with all the remaining lands belonging to them, and the waters and irrigations for their seed orchards and so that they can water their cattle, distributing to them and giving them what they would need.” Now, on the occasion of World Water Day, the UN’s representation lamented that: “for a long time, the world has resorted in the first place to constructed infrastructure or ‘gray’ for improving the management of water resources. By doing so, it has frequently set aside traditional and indigenous knowledge that adopts more ecological approaches.”

The Spanish State was right and the UN was right, but we must not only take advantage of the knowledge of the indigenous peoples in the management of water, we must also fully recognize their rights. Not only would they win with this. We would all win.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee






The “minimum spaces for surviving” are closed In Central American towns

Members of the migrant caravan narrate their struggle and their stories during a meeting with authorities and the cultural community of the country’s capital, where they have been staying since three days ago. Photo: Carlos Ramos Mamahua


By: Blanche Petrich

Their stories are similar and different. In their cities or towns, in Honduras or El Salvador, the minimum spaces for surviving are closed to them. They killed one woman’s uncle for being homosexual. They killed another woman’s brother because the family, poor and hard working, didn’t want to pay more extortion to the gangs. To some Hondurans it’s because: “we have a president that governs very badly and orders the army to pursue us.” To another, who only lacked one month to finish high school, her mother threw her out on the street: “I prefer to know you from afar than to see you dead.”

The migrant caravan, which began its journey towards Mexico City on March 25 and that has been in the capital for three days, was received yesterday at the Casa Citlaltépetl Refuge by the Secretary of Culture, Eduardo Vázquez, and the president of the capital’s Human Rights Commission, Nashieli Ramírez, to dialogue with some members of the cultural community and indigenous collectives, desirous of seeing them in person and listening to them. In that exchange of words, tears came from both sides.

This caravan organized by Pueblo sin Fronteras (People without Borders) “will go down in history for two reasons,” maintained the leader of the MesoAmerican Migrant Movement, Marta Sánchez. “First, because it made Donald Trump end up being naked before Mexicans and it made President Enrique Peña Nieto dare to tell him his truths. Second, because it gives us the opportunity, as activists, to place our struggle so that this government doesn’t continue doing the dirty work for the United States, arresting migrants before they reach the northern border.”

Among the 1,800 undocumented Central Americans that began their annual Víacrucis Migrante (Migrant Way of the Cross) in the middle of Holy Week is a group of young transgender women, like Marjori Alexandra or Roxi. They have become friends along the way and share the same tragedies. Maras, police and organized crime have made hate crimes a new sport.

In front of poet David Huerta, filmmaker Paul Leduc, immigration expert María Luisa Capella, La Jornada writers Pedro Miguel and Hermann Bellinghausen, actress Dolores Heredia, journalist José Reveles, anthropologist Lucina Jiménez and dozens of representatives of indigenous collectives of residents in the city, they told the avatars of the road, stopping in shelters and occasionally bumping into threatening immigration authorities. Two hundred children are also traveling with them.

That collective of 1,800 migrants, said Rubén Figueroa, an activist that has facilitated the reunion of hundreds of families in recent years, is only a fraction of which enters through the border every day. It is estimated that there are between 2, 500 and 2, 700 daily. They advance hidden in the brush, hidden and trafficked in trailers, where they are sometimes asphyxiated. Thousands of others are brutally deported and sometimes they disappear without leaving a trace. There are more than 70, 000 names that don’t appear on any paper, 10 years ago, because the government of Mexico doesn’t even have an effective mechanism to look for them.

We are here because of solidarity, and also because of shame: Leduc

Before their stories, Paul Leduc responded after listening to them: “We are here because of solidarity, but also because of shame because we must recognize that the reception in Mexico cannot be idealized; they are not going to find the answer they need here.”

Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas Batel, whose father founded the Casa Refugio 19 years ago to honor Mexico’s asylum policy that his grandfather implemented, General Lázaro Cárdenas, to receive Spanish and Jewish refugees, expressed: “many of us do want you to be here, who don’t want our country to be the guard dog of the United States.”

Seated a half meter from Cárdenas, an elderly Triqui woman held up a leaf of paper that proclaimed that same thought: “Our country is your country.”

Of the contingent that left Tapachula, (Chiapas) a little less than half continued their path towards the north. A few more stayed in cities through which they passed to seek there a secure destiny. And between 600 and 700 others will still remain in Mexico City while they define their next steps.

Meanwhile, according to Anahí, a young woman migrant that has learned to change her two-year old baby’s diaper very fast and on her knees, civic organizations provide them with a place of rest, food and care. There are three families that travel together, from the same sector of San Salvador, with their small children and with an uncertain future. “We didn’t expect to see so much help, so many people determined to fight for us. Thank you, many thanks for not discriminating against us for being migrants,” she concluded.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee


Our migrant witch hunts

Casa de la Misericordia Migrant House in Arriaga, Chiapas, Mexico.

By: Hermann Bellinghausen

In the infinite cascade of misfortunes that characterize the experiences of Central American migration, the law of the henhouse operates during the trip to the tide of thousands that flee from their towns and regions through a country, ours, that does not attend to them as persons with rights. To the contrary: it pursues, exploits, executes or expels them through the laws of the State or against them. Let’s not forget that we are one of the countries that more of their own population abandon in search of security or work; they will be pursued as soon as they cross the northern border. And with that we would have to worry that something is rotten everywhere. But our territory is also the scene of a deaf and brutal persecution against tens of thousands of brothers from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. If not the fatal threat from criminal groups along their journey, they suffer from the immigration and police institutions, which do their part, now we find out that it was conceded by the government in the Mérida Initiative. It’s State policy even if it violates the law.

The Amnesty International (AI) researcher for Mexico, Madeleine Penman, documents that: “the Mexican authorities are hard at work, but discretely, in order to prevent people that flee from Central America staying in Mexico.” And much less, it’s appropriate to add, that they reach the northern border and cross it. Our territory, mined by inequality and a war that doesn’t dare to say its name, is a deadly trap for the Central Americans, who are not just numbers. Our Syria is in Honduras, and our bad vibe is worse than that of the white European.

“In 2017 the Mexican government deported 80,353 people for having entered the country without having the necessary papers or because of other immigration irregularities,” Penman writes. “On many occasions those deportations not only violate Mexican law, but also international law, putting the lives of those deported at risk” (Amnesty International, March 16, 2018).

Thousands of people flee from countries “that are counted among the most violent on the planet.” But Mexico, not humanitarian, treats them like de-humanized garbage. They’re worth less than anyone. They will be raped, kidnapped and eliminated. They are enslaved or dead, or properly arrested and returned to their hell of origin. “International organizations and agencies of the United Nations calculate that up to half of the approximately 500,000 people that cross Mexico’s southern border each year may need international protection.”

Ignorance of the law on the part of the Mexican citizenry and the migrants themselves –that don’t know their rights or “if they speak out they are ignored”– permit that, “although they have the right to request asylum in Mexico, the Mexican State deports many of them without taking into account the risk that they run. Known as ‘devolution’ or forcible return, this practice is illegal according to international law and Mexican legislation,” AI’s researcher for Mexico emphasizes.

Said organization conducted a survey during 2017 with 500 people from Central America in Mexico: “120 provided solid evidence of forcible return. Besides, during our investigations, we encountered numerous testimonies from individuals that were pressured to sign a deportation paper against their will. Likewise, of the 297 people that told us that the National Institute of Migration arrested them, 75 per cent say that they were not informed of their right to request asylum in Mexico.”

Not all is rotten, in Tabasco, Chiapas, Veracruz, Oaxaca and Coahuila there are hearts that still know how to feel. As they know well the modest migrant houses, which fortunately exist in Mexico, the thousands of fugitives from the Maras and the poverty, the easy trigger and the extractive model’s paramilitaries possess rights that almost no one here concedes to them. They are not illegal but are treated as if they were, the same on La Bestia [1] and the trails as in immigration checkpoints and stations. Penman explains that every person subject to a deportation order has rights under the international law, “including legal assistance, being heard by a competent authority and having the opportunity to challenge their deportation.” This “simply does not exist” for thousands of Central Americans.

Our extreme racism permits this. The neoliberal State itself demolished traditional Mexican generosity for persecuted peoples the last century permitted sheltering Spanish, Jews, Argentines, Uruguayans or Chileans that fled from the horror. Today, to top it off, the Central Americans are perceived as inferior and dangerous. That way it’s easier to mistreat them or allow that others do it.

[1] La Bestia (The Beast) is the name of the train that migrants hop on in Chiapas. It carries them north through Mexico towards the U.S. border.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Monday, April 9, 2018

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee






The US collected data on 30,000 immigrants in Mexico


Members of the Viacrucis Migrante (Migrant Way of the Cross) held a rally in front of the US Embassy and then went to the Basilica of Guadalupe. Photo: Víctor Camacho

By: Fabiola Martínez, Andrea Becerril, Georgina Saldierna and Jaime Hernández

México maintains an agreement with the United States derived from the Merida Plan [1] that has permitted collecting data on more than 30,000 Central American immigrants in national detention centers in the past 13 months, authorities of the National Immigration Institute (INM, its initials in Spanish) admitted.

The federal body insisted that it is an ordinary practice, underway for a “long time,” within the context of the bilateral cooperation schemes in security matters, since the delivery of biometric data to officials of the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was designed in 2012, in the context of the aforementioned plan, signed in June 2008 with the government of George W. Bush.

After the Washington Post published news, citing anonymous sources in the Donald Trump administration, that in the past 13 months the DHS collected fingerprints, iris scans, tattoos and scars from 30,000 people detained in Mexican immigration centers in Tapachula, Chiapas, and in Iztapalapa, in Mexico City, senators and party leaders demanded clarification of this process.

The Senate should demand information from the Foreign Ministry and the Secretariat of Governance (SG) about what the Washington Post published, since it will corroborate that the Mexican government “does the dirty work” for the United States, by creating a record for criminal purposes (“fichar”) of the Central American immigrants that cross through Mexican territory, the President of the Migratory Issues Commission, Layda Sansores, and the Vice Coordinator from the PT-Morena, Zoé Robledo warned.

Meanwhile, the Secretary General of the PRD, Ángel Ávila, demanded that the Senate call the Secretaries of Governance and Foreign Relations to testify, as well as the head of the INM, to know if, in effect, a secret protocol is being applied that implies violations of the human rights of the immigrants.

Monitoring of the undocumented

Different newspapers in the United States re-published the note in the Post in which it was revealed that DHS agents had “unprecedented access” to the immigration detention centers in Mexico, and even would be thinking about expanding the program to Tijuana and Mexicali, in Baja California, and to Reynosa, in Tamaulipas, for the purpose of “monitoring every migrant in custody in Mexico.”

The newspaper points out that the Mexican government has kept the program secret to avoid criticism from those who distrust US surveillance systems.

In that regard, the INM responded, in an information card, that the use of biometric data platforms (which include fingerprint, iris and face images, among others) is a “basic input, necessary in the migratory management of Mexico and in different countries of the world.” It assured that the protection of personal data is guaranteed in this process.

It added that as an assisting organism in public and national security matters it has the ability to carry out consultations with other nations, a “situation that takes place with authorities of countries in North America, Central America, South America and Europe, always respecting national legislation.”

With the Merida Plan, financed by the US government, a program of cooperation and exchange of information was started that permits the United States authorities to know about the presence of criminals and possible terrorists among migrants in custody in Mexico, an agreement that does not affect Mexican citizens, the Washington Post indicated.

The data collected, according to the daily newspaper, is shared with DHS and other police agencies in Washington, therefore that country’s authorities see the immigration-tracking program as a “model” that can be implemented in other countries of the region, and they would even be negotiating with Central American nations.

“It treats them like criminals”

In separate interviews, the senators agreed that it’s serious that besides the violation of human rights that Salvadorans, Hondurans and citizens of other Central American nations suffer, who cross through Mexican territory with the intention of reaching the United States, now it treats them like potential criminals.

Senator Robledo, the Senate Representative to the Central American Parliament, stressed that the immigration stations that operate in Mexico are true prisons, in which migrants are kept as virtual prisoners before deporting them, “with the aggravating circumstance that, according to what the Post published, US agents take biometric records from them and all the information that the Trump government uses to detect terrorists and other criminals.”

Senator Sansores warned that what the Washington Post published is not strange, since the government of Enrique Peña Nieto has allowed US agents to operate in the country and violate the human rights of Central American migrants and treat them as if they were criminals for whom they must create a record.

Meanwhile, sources consulted at the SG and the INM considered that the newspaper gave relevance to an ordinary fact, starting with “leaked information” in the United States.

The exchange of information, an official added, “has always taken place. For example, in order to operate the Trusted Traveler program (a review of files of those who frequently cross the common border) has been applied since the start of the present administration, with due safeguarding of personal data.”

Reports from the SG indicate that in 2017 95, 497 foreigners were presented to the INM, of which 81, 999 came from Central America. In the first two months of 2018, there were 20, 943 migrants presented, the majority Central Americans.

[1] The Mérida Plan is also known as the Mérida Initiative. It is a security cooperation agreement and was agreed to between presidents George W. Bush and Felipe Calderón in 2007 to secure NAFTA; in other words, it’s a plan to secure US corporations operating in Mexico. In 2014, Mexico’s president, Enrique Peña Nieto, announced the Southern Border Program (SBP) for immigration enforcement against Central Americans and others on Mexico’s southern border. The following articles have been posted on this blog and in monthly news summaries since that time. For more info about this, see:


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee




UN condemns deaths due to the attack on displaced Tsotsils in Chiapas Highlands

Indigenous people that are internally displaced due to paramilitary violence.

By the Editorial Staff


The Mexico Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights of (UN-HR) lamented the loss of human lives “as a consequence de los continuous attacks of armed groups” against the indigenous civilian population in the Highlands of Chiapas.

In a communiqué released this Friday, it condemned the attack last Monday, April 2 against displaced indigenous Tsotsils, natives of the Cotsilnam community, in the municipality of Aldama, which resulted in three people dead: one adult and two minor children.

“It is unacceptable that armed groups continue to operate outside the law. The death of these three indigenous people, derived from the attack is regrettable. The situation of insecurity that many indigenous communities experience is deplorable and requires an immediate and adequate response that ensures the disarmament of these groups, investigation of the acts of violence and that guarantees access to justice, the fight against impunity and comprehensive reparation to the victims,” declared Jan Jarab, representative of the UN-HR in Mexico.

He added: “It is equally urgent that the authorities, at all levels, provide comprehensive attention to the situation of forced displacement of which various communities in the Highlands of Chiapas are victims, in order to guarantee the security of the displaced persons, the immediate and culturally appropriate humanitarian aid, as well as the generation of all conditions necessary to guarantee a safe return to their homes, and also providing them with protection.”

The UN-HR emphasized that last February 27, the same armed group that allegedly operates out of the Manuel Utrilla ejido, in Chenalhó, would have attacked the communities of Tabak, Koko’, Cotsilnam, Stselej Potop, Xuxchen, Puente, Yoctontik, Sepelton and the municipal capital of Aldama, and would have forced the displacement of 145 families of Tsotsil origin into other communities within the state of Chiapas.

Also, he added, those attacks would be forcing communities of the Aldama municipality to displace to other parts of the state of Chiapas, where the humanitarian assistance that they would be receiving is unknown, as well as the security protection and guarantees.

Similarly, he recalled the recent forced displacement of thousands of people from the municipality of Chalchihuitán, also caused by the attacks of armed groups from Chenalhó, in November and December 2017, which resulted in the death of several people, and one part of the affected community, he said, remains displaced due to a lack of security.

The UN-HR reiterated the urgency of achieving a lasting solution that puts the structural problems that have given rise to the internal forced displacement at the center, beginning with the resolution of the conflicts that confront these communities in particular.

In that regard, it pointed out, the authorities must recognize the internal forced displacement and address it from a human rights perspective, with the support and mediation of the relevant civil society organizations and ensure the non repetition of the facts, for which the application of legislation on the internal forced displacement of Chiapas is indispensable in accordance with the Guiding Principles of Internal Displacements.

Finally, it expressed its solidarity with all forcibly displaced people, and in particular with the family members of those that were murdered.


Originally Published in Spanish by Proceso

Friday, April 6, 2018

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee