Chiapas Support Committee

Criminal groups displace residents from the Lacandón Jungle

Moctezuma Velasco.

By: Ángeles Mariscal [1]

On December 16, 2021, the Velasco family was expelled from Nueva Palestina community, the largest community in the Lacandón Jungle [2], Months before, the family’s father, Versaín Velasco García, had denounced the impact that groups linked to trafficking drugs, arms and people are having on the population to state authorities.  

“My father saw it as human rights, he saw the [human rights] abuses they were committing, supported by community authorities. The last thing my father reported was that they arrested some young people and had them locked up for 12 days, without water and without food. After that, they came at us,” said Moctezuma Velasco, son of Versaín, who was 17 years old at the time, in a video.

On Wednesday, December 16, 2021, when Versaín returned from the municipal capital of Ocosingo, where he went to file a complaint with the Public Ministry in the case of the detained youths, a group of armed men arrived at his house. He was there with his wife, his sons and daughters, his sons-in-law and grandchildren. They entered, beat them, sexually abused one of the women, some were shot, wounded on the spot. Other family members fled to the mountains.

Among the aggressors were people appointed as community police, explained Isaura Velasco, daughter of Versaín, who was injured inside the house. “They beat me very hard, shot me and left me there because they left me for dead,” she said in an interview.

Fredy Gómez Santíz, Versaín’s son-in-law, was shot. So far, his body has not been located, so the surviving family members filed a complaint in this case for the crime of forced disappearance.

In a video recorded by a resident of Nueva Palestina, it can be observed that on the day of the attack, neighbors approached when they saw the aggression, but when they heard the shots, they dispersed and ran.

34 people displaced from Nueva Palestina

Moctezuma was also injured, his attackers left them lying there and forbid his neighbors to help them. After several hours, “as best we could, we got up and started looking for some women in the family, my little nephews. The women were locked up in the prison inside the community,” the young man said.

“We got together and saw that we had to flee the community. In total 34 people left, including children and adults. We arrived in Ocosingo and there my dad said that we had to report what had happened; but when I arrived at the Prosecutor’s Office, they set a trap for my father and imprisoned him; they accused him of homicide, fabricated a crime and now he is being held in the San Cristóbal de Las Casas prison,” Moctezuma explained.

Chiapas State Prison in San Cristóbal de Las Casas.

His sister, Isaura Velasco, and Antonia Aguilar Solorzano were also accused of robbery with aggravated violence; They were imprisoned for a year until they were released for lack of evidence.

The family saw that Ocosingo was not a safe place for them either, because some of their attackers, who they say were traveling there, have links with municipal authorities and the Chiapas Prosecutor’s Office.

They decided to move to San Cristóbal de Las Casas and seek help from civil society organizations dedicated to the defense of human rights in that city. With their support, they denounced through institutional channels the wrongs committed against them.

Drugs, arms and human trafficking in the jungle

– How did the population begin to get involved with criminal groups, what has changed in the jungle?

– They are not the majority of the community, they are just groups of people who have power in the community, who have dedicated themselves to these types of activities. They are engaged in the trafficking of migrants, as well as drug and arms trafficking. But they also agree with the same authorities of the community, explained Moctezuma.

Groups that traffic in illegal merchandise and persons have used the territory that is on the border between Mexico and Guatemala for decades; but the difference in the current situation -he explains- are the violent acts against the population that doesn’t agree, it’s the use of weapons, and the control of roads and transportation routes.

Just last March 21, in the capital of Chiapas, during his press conference, the president of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, and the head of the Secretariat of National Defense (SEDENA), Luis Cresencio Sandoval, acknowledged that the presence of organized groups has increased in the area of the Lacandón Jungle where the town of Nueva Palestina is located.

They explained that drug cartels have taken over airstrips that exist in the area. These strips help the population, who would otherwise have to walk long distances through the jungle, in order to leave the community.

Invisible displacement

The Chan Ulich (Las Golondrinas) Tourist Center, also known as the Las Golondrinas Waterfalls, is near Nueva Palestina.

Civil society organizations working in the jungle have documented the silent departure of people displaced by violence being generated in the jungle by organized crime groups. Most of these departures have taken place in silence, fearing reprisals.

The Velasco family is one of the few who decided to make it known. So far, it has filed three complaints: one in the Office of the Prosecutor of Indigenous Justice, for attempted homicides, injuries, threats, damages, and those that result; another in the Specialized Unit for the Investigation of the Crime of Torture, for sexual torture; and the third in the Office of the Prosecutor Against the Forced Disappearance of Persons and That Committed by Individuals, for the forced disappearance of Fredy Gómez Santíz. No criminal proceedings have been brought against those likely to be perpetrators.

They have also asked the State Council for Comprehensive Attention to Internal Displacement, without this instance having met to respond. At the international level, on February 1, 2023, the United Nations Committee on the Forced Disappearance of Persons asked the Mexican State to take Urgent Action 1569/2023 regarding the forced disappearance of the indigenous Tseltal Maya Fredy Gómez Sántiz.

This measure urges the search for and location of Fredy Gómez Sántiz and the protection of his life and personal integrity. The family also demands the release of Versaín Velasco, who’s hearing to define his legal situation is this March 28; and their relocation to some other region. They left 70 hectares of land in the Lacandon Jungle that belonged to the family. Now they live as displaced people, crammed into a couple of rooms, without a job that allows them to buy food.

Translator’s Notes

[1] Ángeles Mariscal is a Chiapas-based journalist who has covered the Lacandón Community for years, including Nueva Palestina.

[2] Nueva Palestina has a population of 11, 984 and is one of two towns Mexico’s federal government used to relocate indigenous residents of the Lacandón Jungle who were being dispossessed and displaced by the government’s massive land grant to the Lacandón Community. Those indigenous Tseltal Mayas who accepted relocation were sent to live in Nueva Palestina with the Lacandóns.  Indigenous Chol Mayas also live in Nueva Palestina. Some residents of Nueva Palestina requested and participated in the eviction of jungle settlements; they also participated in the Viejo Velasco Massacre.

Originally Published in Spanish by Chiapas Paralelo, Wednesday, March 22, 2023,  and Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

Powers and limits of demonstrations

Anti-War protest in Hollywood, February 2003.

By: Raúl Zibechi

In 2003, millions of people won the streets of many cities around the world to protest against the invasion of Iraq by the United States, fabricated with the false argument of the existence of weapons of mass destruction. That same year, an article in The New York Times noted that global public opinion had become the second superpower ( ).

Two decades later, things have drastically changed; 3.5 million protesters in the streets of France, representing the two-thirds who oppose the pension reform, failed to prevent the government from ending up imposing it, bypassing public opinion and parliament.

In Peru, 1,327 protests took place between December 7, 2022 and February 20, 2023, between mobilizations, strikes and sit-ins, reports the Ombudsman’s Office ( ) . There were also 145 blockade points, 15 police stations were damaged and five airports taken, in addition to an unknown number of smaller actions. Despite this gigantic collective energy, President Dina Boluarte is still in government, supported by the armed and police forces that killed more than 60 people.

In recent years there have been riots in Ecuador, Chile, Nicaragua, Colombia and Haiti, but neoliberalism continues to reign throughout the region, because the collective energy in the streets is channeled towards the polls.

The questions accumulate. Have the demonstration and protest already lost their transformative and destituent power? [1] The philosopher and psychoanalyst Miguel Benasayag recalls that in May 1968, in France, there were far fewer people on the streets than now, but power listened to the protest and attended to it in some way. Now the sky can come down, that there are no answers from above.

Protests in Peru over removal of Pedro Castillo from the presidency.

At least three things have changed in this time.

The first is that the nation-state has been “taken” by storm by the richest 1%, financial and speculative capital, to protect their interests. This is a long-term structural change, at least until we defeat capitalism.

The second is that this ultra-concentrated power learned to manipulate the movements with small concessions in the form of social policies and public opinion as a whole through the large monopolistic media.

The third is the one that I intend to develop briefly, since the previous two have been analyzed in various spaces. It is about how the State is neutralizing the destituent capacity of the street fight, through very powerful forms of repression, but at the same time novel and less strident than lead bullets.

One is the long-range acoustic device (LRAD), denounced by Eva Golinguer in 2009, which are “sirens capable of ‘torturing’ the human ear, with a range of over 500 meters” ( 3Z6AhHA ). This is sonic warfare capable of dispersing demonstrations with flashbangs.

Venom is a weapon used by riot police in Colombia (as part of misnamed less lethal arsenals ), consisting of 30 tubes that launch simultaneous projectiles capable of disseminating large amounts of irritating chemicals over a wide area almost instantly ( https:/ / ). The weapon has been denounced by human rights organizations, including the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

Rubber bullets deserve separate treatment, since they have caused thousands of mutilations and eye bursts, especially in Chile, in addition to other physical damage and dozens of deaths. Amnesty International and the Omega Foundation call for an international treaty banning the trade and use of rubber bullets ( ).

A report by the special rapporteur for the promotion of human rights was presented at the United Nations, where its author Fionnuala Ní Aoláin denounces “the adoption of high-risk and highly intrusive technologies, such as biometric technologies, artificial intelligence (AI), surveillance with spyware or drones” ( ).

The range of repressive forms that go from shooting with rifles and the introduction of provocateurs to the use of biometric data, going through selective assassinations camouflaged as extrajudicial deaths or attributable to drug trafficking (which in some places we already name as “poly-narcos”), exponentially broaden the ability of states to neutralize protest.

We will continue to go to demonstrations and protest. I intend to warn that it is not enough to protest, that we need to rebalance our energies. We must dedicate ourselves day by day to building our new, different and autonomous worlds, because the system has found ways and means to neutralize the streets to avoid the removal of their governments.

[1] Destituent power outlines a force that, in its very constitution, deactivates the governmental machine.

Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada, Friday, March 24, 2023, and Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

They disappear seven ejido authorities in the “death zone” of Chamic, Chiapas

The campesinos were last seen on March 22 when they left the Nueva Libertad ejido, municipality of Frontera Comalapa, in the direction of Palenque, but they never reached their destination.

Those disappeared in Frontera Comalapa, Chiapas. Photo: FGE

By: Isaín Mandujano

TUXTLA GUTIÉRREZ, Chiapas. (apro)

A group of seven campesinos, ejido authorities of a rural community in Frontera Comalapa, disappeared on March 22 in Chamic, in the so-called “death zone.”

Axel Yibrán Martínez Pérez, 22; Jordan Gordillo Genovez, 48; Yovani Vázquez Méndez, 43; Hernan Aguilar Morales, 57; José Marín Carbajal Ramírez, 43; Raymundo Sandoval Córdova, 51, and Luis Ambrocio González León, 53, were last seen when they left the Nueva Libertad ejido, in the municipality of Frontera Comalapa.

The seven people who make up part of the ejido authorities boarded a Dodge Ram van color red, with license plate DC3614A of the state of Chiapas; according to the search record issued this Thursday, March 23 by the State’s Attorney General (FGE, its initials in Spanish).

The document indicates that the seven people boarded a van that would take them from that community towards the municipality of Palenque, however, they never reached their destination.

Their family members suspect that civilian armed groups that dispute territory in the “death zone,” in Chamic, between Frontera Comalapa and La Trinitaria, detained and disappeared them.

A car is set on fire during a 2-day battle between rival cartels near the Mexico-Guatemala border, in the Frontera Comalapa area.

Ever since July 2021, Chamic has experienced a situation of narco-violence, where many armed confrontations have been recorded, where organized crime groups set up checkpoints, murder and disappear even people who are innocent or unrelated to the conflict who cross through that territory.

The number of disappeared could reach some 100 people, residents of the region calculate unofficially.

From the community of the Sinaloa ejido alone, municipality of Frontera Comalapa, six people from six different families were disappeared from July 2021 to date, including the ejido commissioner Rolando Rodríguez Morales, and all the families had to flee or be victims of forced displacement, for fear of reprisals for demanding the appearance alive of the six men.

See also: At least 850 families displaced by narco-violence in La Trinitaria and Frontera Comalapa

Originally Published in Spanish by Proceso. Friday, March 24, 2023, and Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

Cartels arrive in the Lacandon: “It’s the worst time in the Jungle,” residents point out

This may be the first journalistic report of drug cartels murdering jungle residents, taking over a community and causing forced displacements.

On the left, small planes that transport drugs land in the Lacandon Jungle. On the right, map of the Jungle. Chiapas Paralelo.

By: Ángeles Mariscal

They take possession of landing strips in the area

Chiapas – In the Lacandón Jungle, located at the border between Mexico and Guatemala, the population has been constructing landing strips since the 1970s, to be able to get sick people out by air, without having to travel on foot for several days through the mountains of thick vegetation; now, drug cartels are taking possession of the landing strips and entire towns.

This region was populated by indigenous peoples who fled from the semi-slavery that existed on the big coffee and cattle estates (fincas), by campesinos without land coming from other states in Mexico, and by Lacandons coming from the Caribbean.

They went into the jungle because it was a place where the estate owners couldn’t reach them, and because this was the only place where the government could provide them with land to plant; There were more than 957 thousand hectares (more than 2 million acres) of fertile and inhospitable lands crossed by turquoise rivers.

Juan López arrived in the Jungle as a child, in the middle of 1985. He grew up there and formed his own family. In the village that they founded, two of his children died from curable diseases, while for decades they were experiencing threats of eviction that environmental authorities exercise over his village, by accusing them of impacting the ecosystem.

“But we never experienced anything like what we’re experiencing now. This is the worst time in the jungle,” he said when he reached the municipal seat of Ocosingo, in the middle of 2022, accompanied by his whole family. He is one of the hundreds of displaced persons who, little by little, are escaping from the Lacandon Jungle.

The reason is that his community, whose name he asks not to be identified for fear of being located and killed, was taken over by a group of people who arrived, first to offer them monthly rent to use the airstrip and, later, heavily armed, to expel them from the place.

“There were only some of the villagers who agreed with what is happening there. The rest of us escaped walking through the mountains, some went to their relatives, others are renting… And we can’t even denounce, because they have already killed two people from my community,” he explained on that occasion. He asked not to make his testimony public, until there were better security conditions.

Small planes with drugs on landing strips

Bonampak is one of Mexico’s national monuments located in the Lacandon Jungle of Chiapas. Photo is a reconstruction of the Bonampak murals by Antionio Tejeda.

In the morning of March 20, the president of Mexico arrived in Chiapas and, in his daily press conference, he recognized the problem that exists in the Lacandon Jungle region, due to the presence of drug cartels.

From December 2018 to date, the federal government has detained 30 aircraft transporting drugs onto Chiapas soil; but this figure is only 56 percent of the “aerial alerts” that the Ministry of National Defense (SEDENA) has had in Chiapas territory located at the border of Mexico with Guatemala, among these places, the Lacandon Jungle.

According to the report given by Luis Cresencio Sandoval, head of the SEDENA, they have destroyed three airstrips, and have seized marijuana, cocaine, more than 30 thousand ampules of fentanyl; as well as weapons, grenades and other equipment used by organized crime groups operating in the area.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) acknowledged that the cartels are having a strong impact on the population of the Lacandon Jungle, which they subject in order to use the airstrips that for decades, the population has used as a means of transportation. [1]

When asked, he said he knows of a person who was killed this year because he opposed the use of his community’s truck. “Indeed, it’s a family in the Lacandon Jungle, near Bonampak. There are clandestine airstrips run by one of the cartels. Planes are landing with drugs.”

He said that according to SEDENA reports, drug traffickers have agreements “with some people, not all the people. Either because they are giving out handouts or money, or because they are threatening.”

He even acknowledged that drug traffickers and some residents have confronted the army so that drug seizures cannot be carried out.

“I take this opportunity to make an appeal to the people of Corozal (one of the largest communities in the Lacandon Jungle) and the entire region (…) There is going to be more surveillance and we are already reinforcing that entire area so that these cases don’t occur,” the president said.

Drug seizures on aircraft

The Cessna that landed in the Jungle in January full of drugs.

In January 2021, a Cessna with registration No. N1700-F, allegedly coming from Colombia, landed on a local landing strip belonging to the Bonampak ecotourist center, in the heart of the Lacandon Jungle.

On December 17, 2022, inhabitants of the Lacandon Jungle held military members until they returned a shipment of six packages of cocaine left by a small plane in the town of San Javier.

On January 24 of this year, members of the Mexican Army intercepted a jet aircraft that had landed just over 20 kilometers northeast of San Quintín; It was transporting 270 kilos of cocaine wrapped in various packages.

On February 18, the Guatemalan government reported that it was notified by its Mexican counterparts that an aircraft was attempting to land on a runway in the Lacandon Jungle; When detected, the plane returned to Guatemalan territory, where it was finally intercepted by the Guatemalan army. They seized 19 sacks with 397 packages of drugs.

[1] There are no roads in remote sections of the Lacandon Jungle.

Originally Published in Spanish by Chiapas Paralelo, Monday, March 20, 2023, and Re-Published with English translation by the Chiapas Support Committee

Making the path to walk

No to the megaproject of the Isthmus! The Isthmus is ours.

By: Raúl Romero*

In October 2016,the National Indigenous Congress (CNI, Congreso Nacional Indígena) celebrated its fifth congress and 20 years of existence. Meeting in the Universidad de la Tierra, in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, delegates to the congress met to analyze the situation of its peoples, of their organizations and of the CNI itself. In that context, the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN, Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional) shared its diagnosis with them. The war against the native peoples ha­s been extended to other social sectors: The war that we have suffered for a long time as native peoples, has now arrived, is now in their streets, in their homes, in their schools, in their workplaces. For that reason, it argued, the peoples are no longer attentive to the massacres and deaths of the indigenous peoples as they would have done before: Our pains are now one more among many others. And, although the pain is extended and becomes deeper, we are more alone than ever. Each time we are going to be less.

At the end de 2018, the indigenous peoples joined together around the CNI faced new threats and challenges. Defender their territories from megaprojects like the misnamed “Tren Maya | Maya Train,” the Interoceanic Corridor, the Morelos Integral Project and others, within the new national political scenario, earned them being branded as part of the conservative block. In the media, the narratives from above attempted to delegitimize their struggles and erase their long history of resistance.

Samir Flores Soberanes

These peoples suffered a painful blow in 2019 with the murder of Samir Flores, defender of the territory and opponent of the Morelos Integral Project. Samir would not be the only defender of territory linked to the CNI killed so far in the current six-year term. In much of the country, the murder and disappearance of community organizers continues.

With the covid-19 pandemic, the peoples of the CNI faced a new challenge, to take care of the virus, while defending the territories from the megaprojects that didn’t stop [during the pandemic]. Saving life in a broad sense: that of its peoples and organizations, and that of humanity and the planet. Taking care of life in the face of the pandemic and organized crime attacks, defending territories, resisting delegitimizing narratives and processes of cooptation and disarticulation. A complicated scenario.

Guided by the principles of not surrendering, not selling out and not betraying, the peoples of the CNI continued weaving from below, in silence, invisible in a media agenda that only knows about conservatives and authoritarians, and where the walking that takes place outside of the established margins, of what’s important to the media and of what’s politically acceptable doesn’t fit.

The image shows the Maya Train’s connection to the Interoceanic Corridor across the Isthmus and then to the train in Western Chiapas known as “The Beast”, with a possible connection to a train in Guatemala. It also shows migration routes. The scope of these two megaprojects is enormous.

In their walking, these peoples build initiatives of national and international character, dialogue with others, native and non-native, who observe the limitations and contradictions of the current government and the planetary threats. This is the case of the second National Assembly for Water and Life, which covered the demand for the presentation of Ricardo Lagunes and Antonio Díaz alive. The assembly brought together members of 125 collectives, organizations, networks, indigenous peoples and communities, from 18 states in Mexico and six other countries. Among other points, the assembly diagnosed the current moment as a planetary war characterized by: a) the looting, extraction, trafficking, sale and exploitation of water; (b) the extermination of our forests, rivers, seas, minerals, flora, fauna, richness and diversity, both culturally and linguistically; c) the imposition of megaprojects such as the Maya Train, the Interoceanic Corridor and the Morelos Integral Project, and d) by all means they seek to end the autonomy of we indigenous peoples.

On the other hand, in an effort to continue with the analysis and articulation, the CNI convened its National Assembly, which posed two main questions: how are we? And what’s next? Since its invitation, the CNI also diagnoses a war: as humanity and indigenous peoples, we are living a war of capitalist and patriarchal extermination against life on the planet, its plants, jungles, forests, rivers, mountains, plains, peoples and entire cultures for the ambition of extractive capitalism. And they clarified: the indigenous peoples of the CNI and beyond it, are resisting and fighting with dignity and integrity to defend Mother Earth and that we are not willing to extinguish ourselves or let them destroy our common home.

The initiatives don’t stop there. In the coming weeks, the caravan and the international meeting ¡El Sur Resiste! (The South Resists!) will be held, with the aim of building a broad articulation to resist the interconnected Maya Train-Interoceanic Corridor megaproject, an initiative that has a strong internationalist calling.

In a complicated national and international scenario, the native peoples brought together in the CNI continue weaving, constructing horizons, insisting on the global and anti-capitalist nature of the struggle. Accustomed to resisting, the peoples walk knowing that their path is made by walking.


Twitter: @RaulRomero_mx

Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada, Wednesday, March 22, 2023, and Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

Criminality and Violence in the Chiapas Highlands

Drug seizures in all Chiapas municipalities between 1990-2021.

By: Mónica Daniela Osorio Reyes y Edgar Baltazar Landeros*

It has been almost eight months since June 14, 2022, in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, a group of armed civilians took over the northern part of the municipality, shooting into the air and setting fire to vehicles. After five hours of chaos, the armed group withdrew with impunity, without the intervention of security forces [1]. What has been locally called “the taking of San Cristóbal” is a recent milestone in the complex criminality and violence in the Chiapas Highlands. It was an event that evidenced a deep-rooted conflict.

The armed civilians were identified as a group disputing the control of the Mercado del Norte (Northern Market), a strategic point for illegal activities [2]. Although carried out by different actors and for different reasons, these types of events are far from being isolated and, to the contrary, are examples of the complex web of historical violence in the region. The purpose of this contribution is to shed some light on this violence so that it can be addressed.

Structural violence [3] is a characteristic feature of the Highlands (Los Altos) [4], where historical phenomena of racism, poverty [5], para-militarism and political-criminal bosses are interwoven. Despite this, these phenomena of violence and insecurity receive little attention, analysis and response, perhaps because conventional crime indicators do not place the state among the most victimized [6]. Moreover, we know that there are still significant gaps in data, explanations and interventions to explain and prevent or mitigate structural violence in Los Altos; and that this absence, coupled with the complexity of causes, consequences and actors who exercise such violence, prevents its recognition.

Marijuana seizures in Chiapas between 1990 and 2020.

Two phenomena serve to analyze the structural nature of the violence and the lack of understanding and interest in what is happening in one of the most victimized and precarious regions of the country:

The existence of illicit economies and criminal actors in the region that does not unleash state action that is common in other states.

This is the case of anti-drug actions [7], which in this part of the country are not carried out as frequently as in other states of the republic; even when criminal groups dedicated to their illicit trafficking have been identified in the region, such as the Chamula Cartel [8].

According to the open database on anti-drug actions of Mexico United against Crime, in Chiapas the records of practically all categories of anti-drug actions are very low and only the seizures of marijuana stand out (for having the highest number of records from 1990 to 2021 with 38,237 kilograms) and, more recently, of cocaine [9] (for registering a historic seizure of 1,297 kilograms of this substance in 2021).

Cocaine seizures in Chiapas 1990-2020.

At the municipal level, the relevance of these data lies not only in their potential underreporting, or the lack of connectivity of the few actions recorded with a strategy to address the structural violence experienced in the region, but also in the fact that, when observed closely, they reveal different dynamics depending on whether or not the municipality belongs to Los Altos (The Highlands).

For example, while for most of the state’s municipalities the annual information on confiscations remains relatively stable and constant over time, for others such as Siltepec and Chenalhó, the latter located in the region of Los Altos, there are very few seizures, but when they do occur, the quantities of drugs seized reach historic highs [10]. In other words, in these municipalities there is an atypical pattern for an indicator that is in itself scarce for the state, but which could be a reflection of the dynamics of structural violence in the region: namely, the existence of paramilitary groups, cacique control over the territory, the political use of violence and the lack of attention that the region receives from state and federal strategies and actions.

The existence and use of paramilitary groups in the region has not been addressed nor has it been discontinued.

Another indicator of the historical continuity of structural violence in Los Altos is the existence of paramilitary groups that were created as part of the counterinsurgency strategy of the 1990s [11], with military assistance, sponsorship of local bosses and acquiescence of the authorities [12]. The continuity of these groups has had an impact on the forced displacement of communities. Three indigenous municipalities concentrate the largest number of displaced persons: Aldama (3,499), Chalchihuitán (1,237) and Pantelhó (3,205).

Aldama, a man looks out from behind a barricade.

From Santa Martha, Chenalhó, paramilitaries carry out recurrent shootings against communities in the municipality of Aldama. From January to April 2022, 1,113 armed aggressions were registered against communities in Aldama [13], leaving three people dead and five wounded. Journalists have calculated that from 2018 to March 2022, this conflict has left 30 people murdered, although when corroborating this information with data from the SESNSP, in both municipalities 23 investigation files for homicide were registered [14]. It is imperative to point out these sub-registries in order to begin to understand what is happening in the Highlands.

In July 2021, for example, an armed civilian group called “people’s self-defense El Machete” [15] appeared in Pantelhó. By October of the same year, self-defense groups also appeared in the municipalities of Simojovel and Altamirano. In all three cases, these are indigenous municipalities that were experiencing post-electoral conflict due to the crisis of legitimacy of local family fiefdoms [16].

The existence of various armed groups in the Chiapas Highlands demonstrates the historical continuity of structural violence in the region. The recent appearance of “new” armed groups is not entirely new if one takes into account a social context where weapons and violence are central to the historical fabric of inequalities and permanent disputes.

Mexican security forces patrol the streets in Chiapas.

The historical tensions between the political and criminal spheres in Chiapas, as in other parts of the country, do not allow us to speak of separate spheres but rather of networks of complicity and confrontation [17]. The permanent socio-political conflict, forced displacement, the unpunished operation of paramilitary groups and the systematic use of armed violence by cacicazgos (fiefdoms) add to a historical context of backwardness and marginalization that make Los Altos a permanently victimized region.

About the Authors:

* Daniela Osorio is a sociologist from the Autonomous National University of Mexico (UNAM, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México) and a student of Data Science Engineering at the Universidad del Valle de México. She is a researcher for México Unido Contra la Delincuencia (Mexico United Against Crime).

* Edgar Baltazar has a PhD in Social and Humanistic Sciences from the University of Arts and Sciences of Chiapas. Director of Research and Public Policy of Mexico United Against Crime.


[1] Paradoxically, there is a significant military presence in Chiapas, with 12,830 military personnel deployed in 72 military posts. In addition, ten National Guard installations have been built in the municipalities of Palenque, Chilón, Frontera Comalapa, Las Margaritas, Huehuetán, Tapachula, Tonalá, Villaflores, San Cristóbal de las Casas and Bochil.

Los Motonetos (Scooters). Young indigenous people on motorcycles.

[2] The criminal group known as “Los Motonetos” (Scooters) operates in this market.. This group is mainly made up of young Tsotsil youths who participate in criminal activities such as arms trafficking, extortion of merchants, sale of drugs, pornographic material of indigenous women and stolen cars.

[3] Structural violence derives from social structuring processes that have “negative effects on people’s opportunities for survival, well-being, identity and/or freedom”. La Parra Casado, Daniel and José María Tortosa Blasco (2003) “Violencia estructural. An illustration of the concept” in: Documentación Social, no. 131, p. 60. The power mechanisms of this type of violence cause “processes of deprivation of basic human needs” and include “ideas of deprivation, psychological harm, alienation, repression or inequality”. Villarruel Mora, Aarón (2017) “Violencia estructural: una reflexión conceptual” in: Vínculos. Sociology, analysis and opinion, no. 11, July-December, p. 15.

[4] The municipalities that make up the region of Los Altos de Chiapas are: Aldama, Amatenango del Valle, Chalchihuitán, Chamula, Chanal, Chenalhó, Huixtán, Larráinzar, Mitontic, Oxchuc, Pantelhó, San Cristóbal de Las Casas, San Juan Cancuc, Santiago el Pinar, Tenejapa, Teopisca and Zinacantán.

[5] According to CONEVAL data, in Chiapas 76% of the population suffers from poverty, 29% lives in extreme poverty, only 25% has access to quality food and 40% to health services.

[6] According to victim data provided by the Executive Secretariat of the National Public Security System (SESNSP), Chiapas is usually among the 15 entities with the fewest victims in the country.

[7] These have been registered by MUCD in a database that retrieves information from 1990 to date, in relation to actions of crop destruction and seizure of illicit substances by the National Guard, SEDENA, SEMAR and the now defunct Federal Police.

[8] This group is also involved in other activities such as trafficking in people, fuel and wood, as well as in the production of pornography.

[9] It is worth noting that from 1990 to 2021 Chiapas was the fifth state with the most cocaine seizures.

[10] Siltepec for cocaine in 1991 of 4,775 kilograms and Chenalhó for marijuana in 20003 of 2,948 kilograms.

[11] The Chiapas 94 Campaign Plan saw the military training of civilian counterinsurgent forces.

[12] Galindo de Pablo, Adrián (2015) “El paramilitarismo en Chiapas” in: Política y Cultura, no. 44, pp. 189-213.

[13] One of the reasons for the conflict is the dispute over a 60-hectare plot of land.

[14] It should be clarified that the secretariat does not provide information on victims at the municipal level, so it is likely that within these 23 investigation files more than one victim can be found.

[15] A few days before the formation of the self-defense group, the human rights defender Simón Pedro Pérez López was murdered in that municipality. Initially, this group defined itself against the criminal group known as Los Herrera.

[16] Researcher Araceli Burguete presents a synthesis of the political processes involved in the construction of municipal councils.

[17] In the recent political history of Chiapas, it is possible to observe this interweaving of the political and the criminal, with a preponderance in the Altos region. In September 2020, the leader of an armed group that disputed power with the mayor of Chamula was arrested. In April 2019, a former candidate for the municipal presidency of Bochil was arrested for leading an armed group that harassed the mayor of that municipality. In 2017 and 2018, a paramilitary group from Chenalhó caused the displacement of communities in Chalchihuitán. In 2017, the mayor of Chenalhó employed an armed group to recover the municipal presidency that was occupied by an antagonistic group. In 2018, the mayor of Yajalón irregularly created a “tactical” group as a parallel structure to the municipal police.

Originally Published in Spanish by Chiapas Paralelo. Saturday, March 11, 2023, with English interpretation by Schools for Chiapas and Re-Published by the Chiapas Support Committee

Payán and the war in Chiapas

Carlos Payán Velver.

Carlos Payán Velver, founder and former director of La Jornada, died on March 17, 2023, at the age of 94. Below, Hermann Bellinghausen recalls La Jornada’s response to the Zapatista Uprising.

By: Hermann Bellinghausen

The days of January 1994 that followed the indigenous insurrection on New Year’s Eve in Chiapas, were days that moved the world. The country’s political axis shifted; new coordinates, new interpretations, new words, new priorities. The burst was political, intellectual and media. Spontaneous masses demonstrated in the streets. The global outcry was huge. The self-satisfied government of Carlos Salinas de Gortari faced its worst nightmare on the opening night of its Free Trade Agreement with North America. Additionally, the international left woke up from the knockout in which the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union had left it.

A media bombshell! The most important newspapers and television stations in America and Europe were allowed to come, all the agencies, top-level observers. For La Jornada, directed by Carlos Payán Velver, it was a crucial hour: he turned it into a unique journalistic experience in the world. With globalization on the rise and the Internet emerging, Payán turned the newspaper into covering the uprising of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) with visionary clarity, commitment and a lot of audacity.

On Sunday, January 2, we woke up with the front page about the Uprising in Chiapas, with a devastating photo by Carlos Cisneros of the indigenous people in possession of the municipal palace of San Cristóbal de las Casas. The first day the reporters Rosa Rojas and Matilde Pérez and the photographer had traveled to Chiapas they interviewed Subcomandante Marcos and collaborated with Amado Avendaño, director of the local newspaper Tiempo, in giving a first-hand account of the unusual indigenous challenge.

Zapatistas in possession of the Municipal Palace. Photo: Carlos Cisneros, La Jornada.

The initial reaction of La Jornada, between embarrassment, admiration and rejection of the violent, tried to conjure, in its first editorial of the year, the ghost of Lucio Cabañas. And from the first minute he covered the news very well, which he did not agree to accompany the day before, since only three media directors were notified by the insurgents: Julio Scherer, from Proceso, Amado Avendaño, from Tiempo, and Carlos Payán, from La Jornada . Only the latter did not send an envoy to the uprising. The correspondent, Elio Henríquez Tobar, who by the way months before had given the world premiere of a guerrilla camp in Ocosingo and of some combat with the federal Army, was on vacation.

Events developed very quickly and for its edition on Monday the 3rd, La Jornada had taken a turn in favor of the uprisings, which would deepen in a few days. Payán made use of the entire newspaper and by the 4th he already had about 15 people there: photographers, reporters, chroniclers, correspondents, and all the house columnists on the subject. The pages that were needed.

The outburst and caution on the day 2 corrected, La Jornada immediately reached a high note in terms of coverage, discussion and documentation of the matter. It was the only major newspaper in the world that fully committed itself to the indigenous rebellion and placed the irreversible rise of indigenous peoples on its future path.

Friends and relatives say goodbye to Carlos Payán. Photo: José Carlo González.

The position of Payán, director of the orchestra, a communist for life, founded this historical turn. He understood that he did not need to understand everything to know that it had great significance. Only in the first two weeks of that January did it attract the most lucid or influential writers: Carlos Montemayor in the forefront, Rodolfo Stavenhagen, Octavio Paz, Carlos Fuentes, Carlos Monsiváis (via For my mother, Bohemians), Fernando Benítez, Enrique Florescano, Luis Villoro, Antonio García de León, Luis Javier Garrido, Eraclio Zepeda, Elena Poniatowska, Homero Aridjis, Adolfo Gilly, Víctor Flores Olea, Arturo Warman, as well as the Spaniards Manuel Vázquez Montalbán and Manuel Vicent.

It’s easy to say that no one else proposed or achieved coverage like this, which would also be maintained and deepened informatively in the months and years to come. Not that we were very buoyant, but no paper was spared to also include the entire communiqués of the indigenous commanders and the long and widely read political-literary disquisitions of Subcomandante Marcos.

La Jornada won readers around the world, it became indispensable. It challenged the federal government and the armed forces head-on by giving voice and follow-up to the rebels and all the indigenous issues that gained prominence. Payán remained incorruptible, unyielding, enduring and a visionary, shoulder to shoulder with Deputy Director Carmen Lira and all the workers.

Newspaper materials were reproduced and translated halfway around the world. The explosive spread of the Internet found us sharp. Another success of Payán was to make electronic access to our pages free, unlike other media. Because, whatever, Chiapas was the issue. The assassinations of the presidential candidate and the national leader of the PRI would soon emerge. A convulsive year that projected La Jornada and its contents formidably.


Aware of the journalistic prowess of the newspaper he directed, Payán led the edition of a book, unavailable today, that brings together what was published only in the first 17 days of January: Chiapas. The uprising (La Jornada Ediciones, September 1994), with a prologue by Carlos Montemayor.

Over time, already a Senator of the Republic, Payán was a constant presence in Chiapas, as a member of the mediation commission between the treacherous government of Ernesto Zedillo and the rebels; He played a fundamental role in maintaining the truce between the parties, with open sympathy for the Zapatistas, who called him a teacher. He put his body in favor of peace.

Thanks to Captain Payán, our ship collectively achieved an exemplary work of modern journalism. He knew the risks. We are priority targets for military intelligence, he warned me at some point. He had to face tremendous pressures from power. No fear stopped him. Freedom of expression had scored somewhat formidable thanks to the lucidity, commitment and moral authority of Carlos Payán.

Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada, Monday, March 20, 2023, and Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

More armed groups emerge in Pantelhó, Chiapas

The El Machete Self-Defense group emerged in July 2021.

By: Ángeles Mariscal

Three armed groups have emerged so far this month, in the municipality of Pantelhó, located in the Chiapas Highlands, an indigenous region. Armed with high-powered weapons, these groups verbally confronted the self-defense group called “El Machete” through videos.

In July 2021, the self-defense groups against which the armed groups are now demonstrating expelled people accused of being linked to organized crime, who for years subjugated the population of Pantelhó.

At that time (July 2021), the self-defense groups negotiated with the government to install a municipal council that has functioned since then, amid tensions within the municipality.

Now, almost two years after the emergence of the self-defense groups called Los Machetes [1], the tension in Pantelhó has increased, because one of its commanders, named Daniel, was ambushed on March 2. His wife, Petrona López Pérez, died during the ambush, which occurred at the entrance to the municipality. [2]

In the days following the ambush, three armed groups made their public appearance, sending videos to the media, where they introduce themselves and flaunt their weapons.

In the messages they read, they ask the state and federal governments to arrest those who make up the self-defense groups, in particular Commander Daniel.

The latest video from someone who identifies himself as a member of a new armed group from Pantelhó was sent on Tuesday, March 14. He accuses the government of protecting the El Machete vigilantes, calling this organization a “group of criminals.”

In the message they vindicate the 21 people who disappeared in July 2021, allegedly in the hands of the Los Machetes self-defense groups.

Pantelhó municipal council denounces El Machete.

Shortly before they were taken away and disappeared, these people were exhibited at the kiosk in the municipal seat of Pantelhó, accusing them of being part of criminal groups. Then they were never seen again.

This group, opposed to El Machete, also warns that if the government does not respond to their requests, including dismissal of the municipal council that now governs the municipality, there would be new armed clashes.

“In order to avoid bloodshed in the municipality of Pantelhó, heed our requests, appeals and warning; otherwise, we will clean up our people,” the masked men say.

He emphasizes that whoever makes this pronouncement does not have an indigenous accent characteristic of those who live in the Pantelhó region. Prior to this, two other armed groups had already sent similar messages.

In the first, on March 3, a masked man in camouflage clothes reads a statement, while armed people are seen in the background, some of them women with their faces covered and dressed in traditional clothes.

Two days later, on March 5, another armed group sent a new recorded message. It contains men in military-style uniform, who ostensibly carry machine guns and other weapons.

The situation that the indigenous municipality of Pantelhó is going through is similar to what happens in other Chiapas municipalities with the presence of armed groups that confront each other, and accuse each other of being criminal groups.  These are groups that subjugate the population with their arms.

In the case of the Los Machetes self-defense groups, when they emerged in July 2021, they had the support of residents from the 86 communities and 18 barrios, who explained that for years they were subjugated by organized crime groups.

When El Machete emerged in July 2021, it had the support of the population.

Now the situation is confusing because the state and federal governments have not explained to society what the diagnosis is and how this is being addressed.

[1] It is a bit confusing that the article first uses El Machete and then Los Machetes to describe the self-defense forces in Pantelhó. The explanation could be that El Machete has internal divisions and now consists of more than one group.

[2] According to Borderland Beat, 4 people were killed in the ambush. The other 3 were municipal police agents who belong to El Machete.

Originally Published in Spanish by Chiapas Paralelo, Wednesday, March 15, 2023, and Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

The storms from above

Constructing autonomy against the capitalist hydra. Zapatista Art.

By: Raúl Zibechi

They are multiple and simultaneous. They are environmental, military, political, paramilitary, economic and femicidal storms. It’s drug trafficking as an arm of the states and the powerful. It’s a policy of accumulation of capital and of power, predatory of everything it finds in its way. Violence has been converted into the principal argument of the ruling classes.

There’s not enough space to name them, but they are summarized in death and destruction. That is the capitalism that really exists in Latin America and doesn’t stop advancing in corpses, human and non-human, living beings, rivers, hills and meadows.

In recent weeks governments and ruling classes have deployed a variety of modes of attack on the peoples, which reveal how power tightens with its claws. The autonomous community of Temucuicui, a Mapuche village in southern Chile, was attacked by carabineros (Chilean national police) with the result of one seriously injured and the burning of the wheat crop.

It’s not the first time that community has suffered repression, nor will it be the last. But burning food is something extremely serious. On February 10, they seized 80 tons of wheat and last week they burned 50 hectares of the community without harvesting. “Carabineros violently repressed the harvest work, there were twenty people injured with steel pellets” and left the community member Hugo Queipul in serious condition (

The autonomous community’s communiqué adds that: “This act is the simple reiteration of the terrorist Chilean State’s treatment of the Mapuche people, which during the 19th century used to burn the ruka [casas] and the crops, as well as stealing the cattle in order to deliver them to them to expat colonists who fled poverty in Europa” (

Campesino Development Committee (Codeca) takes direct action in Guatemala. Codeca gave birth to the Movement for Liberation of the Peoples.

Journalism is being criminalized and persecuted in Guatemala. A judge opened an investigation into a group of journalists of elPeriódico because of “obstruction of justice.” With good reason, justice fears journalistic investigations because they might reveal the system’s misery.

“The final objective is to destroy independent journalism as a democratic space par excellence, or contaminate it enough that the most suspicious voices are silent, self-censorship is applied and they renounce confronting power,” says La Prensa Gráfica (

In an attitude reminiscent of the Daniel Ortega dictatorship, the judge is also obstructing the Movement for Liberation of the Peoples (MLP) [1] so that it cannot present candidates. But it authorizes the candidacy of Zury Ríos, daughter of the dictator Efraín Ríos Montt, expressly prohibited by the Constitution. International bodies tried and convicted Ríos Montt of corruption (

Gang members in the Center for Confinement of Terrorism in El Salvador.

It is assured that El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala (in addition to Nicaragua), are no longer democracies. Were they ever one? What democracy can be built on the poverty of 70 percent of the population, marginalization and violence?

We end this brief tour with Argentina. UNICEF says that 66 percent of children are poor and that 87 percent of families in popular neighborhoods have complications accessing food. The journalist Darío Aranda argues that “like for 200 years, the main idea of local rulers is to be a supplier of raw materials, which is precisely one of the main causes of poverty and dependence” (

He adds: “His proposals to get out of the crisis were the same as in 2022: more mega-mining, more agribusiness, more oil and lithium exploitation.” They do not want to go further than to repeat again and again the same thing that has already failed, and that is at the basis of the current problems. Alberto Fernández, the Argentine president, seems to be copying AMLO, in the sense of solving violence with more guns on the street. Faced with the narco offensive in Rosario, their response is to send police and military (

In the countries mentioned there are governments of the right as well as the left, conservatives and progressives. But all of them do exactly the same thing. Some with better manners. Others are cruder. What is not in question is the model of accumulation by dispossession. [2] The only debate that really exists is how to manage a model that neither right nor left discuss: a reality impossible to hide with elections and with “rights.”

They preach rights to us when extractivism systematically violates them. They use the commons to pay the foreign debt, please the multinationals and the ruling groups. That’s why Aranda concludes: “Governments don’t think about the next generation, but about the next election.” But in the areas devastated by the model, there is already talk of a “mining dictatorship.”

The model is not defeated from the institutions, but with direct action from below. We can learn from indigenous peoples and women who struggle: Extractivism is not stopped with decrees and laws, but rather with organized rebellion.

Translator’s Notes

[1] The Movement for the Liberation of the Peoples is a Guatemalan political party, anti-systemic and left, which seeks a multi-cultural state, in which indigenous peoples are equally represented. It received official party status in 2018.

[2] Marxist Professor David Harvey explains accumulation by dispossession here.

Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada, Friday, March 10, 2023, and Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

Neocolonialism in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. The Gringos are coming!

What follows is a statement from the Assembly of the Indigenous Peoples of the Isthmus in Defense of Land and Territory (APIIDTT)), dated March 13, 2023 and posted on the website of the National Indigenous Congress as background for the El Sur Resiste / The South Resists Forum on Megaprojects.

We can look as far back as the 16th century, when Charles V entrusted his explorers (colonizers) to find the best passage between the Atlantic and the Pacific, to locate what is perhaps the first moment in the long history of the colonizers´ interest in connecting both oceans with   an interoceanic passage through the Isthmus of Tehuantepec   

Looking into the distant past, we can see that opening up access routes, across countries or entire continents, is a constant in this long history called colonialism.

This vision has persisted for five centuries, with the same goal of promoting trade, an essential condition of the capitalist mode of production, and the large international conglomerates continue to promote it.

The interoceanic passage, a megaproject accepted today with great fanfare, has  a long prehistory: under President Juarez  it was known as the McLane-Ocampo Treaty; during the administrations of Lopez Portillo and De la Madrid, it was presented as the Alpha-Omega Plan; under Ernesto Zedillo, it was promoted as the Integral Economic Development Program for the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. Vicente Fox, taking up the previous iterations, included it in the so-called Plan Puebla-Panama; Felipe Calderon, following the initiative of his predecessors, inserted it within the Mesoamerica Integration and Development Project or Mesoamerica Project; Peña Nieto once again promoted it within the Special Economic Zones. And, surprise! the historical need to amputate the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, is now being promoted again, under the name of Interoceanic Corridor of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec or Program for the Development of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec.

From the 16th century to the present, the domination and subordination of an interconnected and geographically dispersed world has seen the birth of new empires that have taken the roundness of the earth as the stage for their interests. In other words, what is called geopolitics has changed actors throughout these five centuries. Are we exaggerating when we say that the megaproject will amputate the Isthmus of Tehuantepec? The truth is that we are not.  The  ones who exaggerate here are those who do not see the colonial continuity of this Program for the Development of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec.

Let’s  take a look a little further south, at  the commercial Channel closest to our country. Panama was amputated in the XIX century from Colombia,  turned into a defenseless and depopulated country (according to the logic of commerce ),  allowing the United States to establish, in perpetuity,  disadvantageous agreements for the administration of the Interoceanic Canal built in the Panamanian Isthmus. This country, built under the slogan “For the benefit of the world”, is today one of the most dynamic economies in Latin America, and amongst those in with the greatest social inequality  (according to international financial organizations).

The gringos are coming to the Isthmus of Tehuantepec! Or rather, they are already here, and it seems that nobody bothers, or maybe the State has everybody so blinded  that they are all applauding the efforts of the American (mainly) and Chinese  (seeking to position themselves) empires to administer the Isthmus of Tehuantepec to further their   geoeconomic interests  and geopolitical expansion. 

How will  this neocolonial adventure be explained to their ancestors who defended this territory from various foreign invasions? With what arguments will they justify why they submissively accepted,  applauding  the gringo empire as it enters the region and completely  devours it. 

The Federal Executive himself  shouted it out  into people’s  ears at this morning’s daily press conference: the gringos are coming with great interest in this geo-strategic region for world trade and manufacturing. Ken Salazar (US ambassador in Mexico) has reiterated  this on several occasions, stating that:

“The Isthmus is such a strategic site that it was recognized more than 100 years ago, but it has not been developed. That is why we look to the south. We can do some truly great things. You know that if we just sit still, we cannot thrive. You know it. It happens in your personal lives, in your governments. We have to be optimistic about where we can go ,but also we need immediate action to make efforts that will have an impact. So we,  the  government of the United States, see opportunity, we see optimism, we see that with this project and other efforts that we are embarking on in Central America, this region of the Americas is where the future of the economy lies. Here is also the future of democracy. Because our values,   as President Biden says, is  to lift up all people (words said by Ken Salazar, in San Juan de Ulua Veracruz, on April 22, 2022).

Laura Richardson, the new head of the US Southern Command, has also reiterated the interest of the United States, in the midst of the dispute between the US and China over world hegemony  of lithium and water resources in Latin America, since, as she stated, the natural resources of this hemisphere “have a lot to do with national security (of the United States) and we have to up our game” (  

The American Chamber of Commerce, the largest business organization in the world and the largest lobbying group in the United States, has stated through its spokesperson in Mexico,  that this megaproject will enable “natural resources, geographic location, strategic industries and trade agreements to accelerate the integration of global supply chains” (words  by the AmCham, in San Juan de Ulua, Veracruz, on April 22, 2022) and turn the Isthmus of Tehuantepec into a center of development controlled by those at the top.

The Isthmus of Tehuantepec, Mexico.

If this is not enough to demonstrate that a neocolonial crusade over the Isthmus of Tehuantepec is coming for everything and everyone, from March 19 to 21 of this year (2023), some of the future administrators of this region will come to diagnose the territory. The Federal Executive has invited legislators from the United States to come on those dates to offer the region to them. Among those who have publicly announced their participation is John Kerry,  currently the United States  special presidential envoy for climate. 

If all these statements that the United States is making publicly  about its intentions in the Isthmus had been made in the past, and not even the very distant past, we know that the inhabitants of this region and the whole of the territory dominated by the Mexican State, would have righteously  raised the issue and brought to public discussion the imminent surrender of this territory to foreign interests, or in other words, the threat to our sovereignty. But this is not the case at the moment. Why not?    As we have emphasized before, today the danger is dressed up as a leftist and from his podium he  convinces his followers to surrender themselves as instruments of submission. Erasure of memory is one of his main qualities.  

To conclude, it is important  never to  forget that a country is and will be dominated by the capital invested in it. Ken Salazar, AmCham and John Kerry are not the only ones in this camp.  The colonialist crusade that clings to the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, involves capitalist conglomerates relocating   global supply chains to be   nearer to their closest and most powerful ally: the United States.  The current scenario of war, pandemic and  disruption of commerce, forces capitalism to reorganize;  the Isthmus of Tehuantepec is once again positioned as the heart of relocations, with increasing militarization and punitive mechanisms aimed at Indigenous communities. This megaproject is not only for the connection and distribution of goods to the USA, Asia, Europe and Central America, it will allow companies to insert themselves in the area order to regionalize  global value chains and promote the development of productive activities that generate large quantities of goods to supply the immediate market, the USA, or the international market. The cost will be the environmental, territorial, symbolic and political degradation of everything that constitutes the entirety of this region.

Are we exaggerating? We wish we were. It has been announced that Constellation Brands  an American company that  produces and markets  beer, wine, and spirits,   will be installed in one of the 10 polygonal areas that the State has offered. A brewery will be built  in one of the Centers of Development  for Wellbeing  (PODEBI by its acronym in Spanish) located in Veracruz. The brewery conglomerate has been given 17 concessions to extract 3,972,355 cubic meters of water for this purpose. Constellation Brands  requires 20 million cubic meters of water annually to operate. And no, it will not be using recycled   water, because the Federal Executive has said that there is plenty of water in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec; and who better to take advantage of this resource than a multinational?

But this company, based in New York, is not the only one accompanying the U.S. General Staff in the crusade for the Isthmus. It has been announced that a total of 400 companies from Asia are  interested in relocating in Mexico. Several   among them are  interested in coming to the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. We highlight: Caxxor Group, Hyundai Motor Company, Amazon Inc, CARGILL, General Motors, VISTEON, SHELL and NESTLE, among several others that come together both in the AmCham as in the Council of Global Companies.  Raquel Buenrostro (Secretary of Economy), recently offered the region to the latter.

Let’s go back to John Kerry.  According to the Federal Executive, the recent visit of this  American legislator to Mexico is due to the fact that the United States will be the main investor in the four wind farms that will be installed next to the PODEBI. According to the President of the Republic, the United States will provide resources to the CFE (Federal Electricity Commission) to be the owner of these wind farms. What they have not said is that there are also capitalist conglomerates focused on the wind farms sector, such as: Applied Energy Services (AES corporation); EDP Renewables; Sempra Infrastructure; TC Energy; INVENERGY; and again SHELL. Do you really believe that  it will be for the benefit of the population?

The  Neocolonialist enterprise  over the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, headed by the U.S., will lead to  the commercialization, speculation and disappearance of everything that constitutes the territory, under mountains of ash and scrap thrown up by the Centers of Development and Well-Being.  American and probably Asian domination is  the main goal of the crusade undertaken by the capitalist conglomerates. It will allow for an almost miraculous improvement of the means of production and at the same time a catastrophic dislocation of the life of the 12 indigenous peoples that inhabit this isthmic region.

And as we emphasized before, today once again the Isthmus of Tehuantepec and we, who are an organic part of it, must be on the alert, since the new plantation owner occupying  the presidential chair wants to amputate our territory and hand it over to the foremen, who  he really represents. If we let them advance, they will  come to  strip us of our land and  our memory, they will  close our ears and our hearts  to the voices that warn us as   omens: it is time to walk very carefully, to defend, as have those who preceded us, this vast territory that belongs to us, we who make the worlds and the symphonies, in the face of the gringos who come to divide up this convulsive but beautiful territory.

Five days before the U.S. tour of our territory, we say to them:   we will be waiting for you, with dignity and without stepping  back. For the defense of life and our territories.

Undoubtedly there are more veins that unite us than the cracks that divide us.

From the Isthmus of Tehuantepec this is our word as well as our call to be ALERT.

Assembly of Indigenous Peoples of the Isthmus in Defense of Land and Territory – APIIDTT

En español:

You are invited to participate in the Chiapas Support Committee’s Forum on Megaprojects (Interoceanic Corridor and the “Maya” Train). You can register for the El Sur Resiste / The South Resists forum here.