Chiapas Support Committee



April 10, 2021

To the individuals, groups, collectives, organizations, movements, coordinators, and Native peoples in Europe who await our visit:

To the National and International Sixth:

To the networks in resistance and rebellion:

To the National Indigenous Congress:

To the peoples of the World:

Sisters, Brothers and Compañer@s (Comrades):

TODAY, APRIL 10, 2021, the comrades who make up part of the first group of delegates on our “Journey for Life, the Europe chapter,” are gathered together in the “Comandanta Ramona Seedbed.” It’s about the seafaring delegation.

With a small ceremony, according to our ways and customs, the delegation received the mandate of the Zapatista peoples to carry our thoughts, that is, our hearts, far away. Our delegates carry a big heart. Not only to embrace those on the European continent who rebel and resist, but also to listen and learn about their histories, geographies, calendars and ways.

This first group will remain in quarantine for 15 days, isolated in the seedbed, to guarantee that they are not infected with what’s called COVID-19 and so that they are prepared for the time that their journey by sea takes.  During those two weeks, they will be living inside the replica of the ship we built for that in the Seedbed.

On April 26, 2021, they will leave for a port on the Mexican Republic. They will arrive no later than April 30 and will board the ship that we have baptized “La Montaña” (The Mountain). For two or three days and nights, they will stay on board the ship and, on May 3, 2021, the day of the Holy Cross, Chan Santa Cruz, the ship “La Montaña” will set sail with our compañer@s (comrades) with destination to the European coasts, on a trip that is supposed to take from six to eight weeks. It is calculated that they will be off the European shores in the second half of June 2021.

Starting this April 15, 2021, from the 12 Zapatista caracoles, our base of support comrades will carry out activities to bid farewell to the Zapatista delegation that, by sea and air, will travel to the geography they call “Europe.”

IN THIS PART of what we have called “Journey For Life. The Europe Chapter,” the Zapatista delegates will meet with those who have invited us to talk about our mutual histories, pains, rages, achievements and failures. So far, we have received and accepted invitations from the following geographies:











Spanish State









Basque Country



United Kingdom









Starting today, Subcomandante Insurgente Galeano will be publishing a series of texts in which he will speak with you about those who make up the Zapatista seafaring delegation, the work that they have carried out, some of the problems we have faced and so on.

IN SHORT: We are now on our way to Europe.

That’s all for now.

From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast,

Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés

Sixth Commission of the EZLN

Mexico, April 2021


Translated by the Chiapas Support Committee. Read the original in Spanish here:

View a short video clip of the building of “La Montaña” ship here:

View an eight minute, 27 second video of the EZLN ceremony giving the word to the Zapatista delegation sailing to Europe here:

A Tour from Below and to the Left

By: Raúl Zibechi

In a way, on one hand there are the platforms, the social networks, and the “masses” piled up; on the other the formation of collectives that embody the most diverse oppressions in the most distant geographies.

If there is something Zapatismo cannot be accused of, it is not being coherent. For a long time now they have designed a politics of alliance among those from below, which they will now deploy during the tour on European soils that begins in June.

The Second Declaration of La Realidad for Humanity and Against Neoliberalism, released in August 1996, says it with clarity and transparency when it states: “We will make a collective network of all of our particular struggles and resistances. An intercontinental network of resistance against neoliberalism, an intercontinental web of resistance for humanity.”

The objective of this network is for the resistances of the world to find one another, to support one another mutually. And they clarify that the network is “not an organizational structure, it has no guiding or decision-making center, nor a central command nor hierarchies. The network is all of us who resist.

I believe that this declaration, that is now more than a quarter century old, illuminates what the Zapatistas want to do wherever they go. First they did it in Mexico, and went about weaving resistances of the indigenous peoples that gave life to the National Indigenous Congress (CNI), formed in 1996, and later to the Indigenous Governing Council (CIG), which was created in 2016.

The CNI adopted the 7 principles that the EZLN defined as the way to do politics; serve and not serve oneself; construct and not destroy, lead by obeying and not command, propose and not impose, convince and not conquer, to work from below, not seek to rise, and to represent and not replace.

The CIG is made up of 523 communities from 25 states of the country and 43 indigenous peoples. They affirm that “our struggle is not for power,” but to “strengthen ourselves in our resistances and rebellions, which is to say in the defense of every person, every family, collective, community or neighborhood.” (

The bearing of the EZLN, the CNI and the CIG is the construction of autonomies that collectively self-govern, based on another way of doing politics according to the above-mentioned principles.

It is important to point out that when they go on tour, as they always do, they are going to find the collectives that struggle, without importance to how many are involved, whether they appear in the mainstream media, or if they have more or less of an audience. It’s not about great acts with an illuminated platform for well-known people to go up and speak for the audience to listen, but rather to open spaces to talk amongst equals, to listen and learn, to say how each one is resisting, not to set a course for anyone.

Zapatismo embodies new forms of doing politics, below and to the left, ways that don’t have precedent in the anti-systemic movements of the 20th century. María de Jesus Patricio, Marichuy, spokeswoman for the CIG always says that, “when we are together, we are an assembly, and when we are apart, we are a web.”

María de Jesus Patricio (Marichuy)

In a gathering of women in February of 2018, Marichuy explained the campaign for the collection of signatures that they were conducting, as an excuse to dialogue with the people. “It was necessary to create a space, not so much an organization, so that there wasn’t someone leading and another obeying, but that we all felt we were part of this house.” The objective always consists of organizing from below, because in this way, “we can achieve the dismantling of power for those who hold power and money, those from the bad governments.” (

While traditional politics, as much on the right as on the left, directs itself to the great “masses” (a terrible word), to isolated individuals, the politics of the Zapatistas seeks to nest in organized collectives that resist the system.

While the dominant forms of doing politics, focused on elections, tend to dis-organize existing collectives, or at least weaken them, the EZLN, CNI and CIG seek the complete opposite: to motivate people to organize themselves, as a way of collectively confronting the evils of the system.

It is a politics that looks from below, not from above, but rather horizontally, below with below, among equals, to share, learn, and chart courses, respecting the ways and rhythms of each.

In traditional politics, big hierarchical organizations are created, in which a small group commands and the rest obey. Pyramids on whose summits are generally installed men trained in academia who speak but don’t listen, who make decisions without consulting, who claim to speak in the name of people that they don’t even know.

In Zapatista politics, each collective speaks with its own voice, no one interprets nor represents it. The women and men who participate listen, ask, and try to learn.

In a way, on one hand there are the platforms, the social networks, and the huddled “masses”; on the other the formation of collectives that embody the most diverse oppressions in the most distant geographies. Media visibility, that does not move the system a single hair, as opposed to the patient and slow organization from below, that bets on containing the oppressions in order to dismantle them in an undetermined period, which in fact, has already begun.

In history, as capitalism was implanted in all of the pores of society, the political culture from below (which always existed, as the Paris Commune demonstrates) was cornered, but it emerges again with strength each time the people stand up.

I am speaking of the territorial assemblies of Chile; of the Ecuadorian indigenous and popular parliament; of the Mapuche organizations and communities; of the Nasa and Misak councils in the south of Colombia; of the guards of self-defense that begin to populate our geographies in the Andes and the Amazon; of the hundreds of popular schools, of the community kitchens and health posts born during the pandemic.

These are the collectives that inspire us and from which we learn. The Zapatistas propose that we connect up and listen to one another to face the system together.


Originally Published in Spanish by Naiz on April 5, 2021 and Re-Published by the Chiapas Support Committee with English interpretation by Schools for Chiapas

A repressor of indigenous people, the Morena candidate for mayor of Comitán

San Carlos Hospital in Altamirano, Chiapas.

[Admin: Mexico holds mid-term elections during 2021, so there’s lots of news about the candidates.]

From the Editors

The Morena party nominated former PRI member Jorge Constantino Kánter for municipal president of Comitán, Chiapas. He is one of the most belligerent leaders of the cattlemen and ranchers opposed the Zapatista National Liberation Army (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, EZLN) in 1994 and indigenous populations, against which he headed violent operations.

Constantino Kánter was the mayor of Comitán during the 2005-2007 term for the Institutional Revolutionary Party (Partido Revolucionario Institucional, PRI) from which he was expelled a little after finishing his term. He was accused of supporting the Party of the Democratic Revolution Party (Partido de la Revolución Democrática, PRD) in the 2006 elections for governor.

The politician became notorious, among other episodes, for discriminatory phrases, like what he said to TV UNAM journalists who in that year were preparing the documentary The Deepest Root, for TV UNAM: “If the Indians want to live may they live, but not in our state.”

At the front of cattlemen and ranchers in Ocosingo, Altamirano and Las Margaritas, mainly, he headed protests against the EZLN and to demand that the Mexican Army enter the jungle to fight the rebels who had taken possession of their properties, which converted him into one of the principal anti-Zapatista leaders in Chiapas. [1]

His nomination as candidate for mayor surprised Morena militants committed to the project of the Fourth Transformation. “Constantino Kánter is a reactionary, an anti-Zapatista conservative who promoted violence against the indigenous peoples, which does not represent the ideological and political proposal of Morena,” a founder of the PRD and Morena reproached, someone who for more than two decades has worked together with now President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and asked to remain anonymous.

Constantino Kánter’s motto was era:  “In Chiapas a chicken is worth more than an indigenous person” and he organized attacks against thousands of those who fought for the elimination of political bossism (Caciquismo) and the restitution of their lands.

He was a staunch enemy of Bishop Samuel Ruiz and the Diocese of San Cristóbal de las Casas. He harassed and sought to expel Sisters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul, who since 1976 took care of the San Carlos Hospital in Altamirano, which gave service to poor campesinos at no charge.

Constantino Kánter made his political career under the former PRI governor Roberto Albores Guillén and his son, Roberto Albores Gleason. Many considered him the representative of the most backward sector of Chiapas finqueros (estate owners), who until a few years ago asserted the right of pernada [1], abused women and had to be carried in chairs by the indigenous peoples.


[1] Constantino Kánter was also featured with members of his family in Nettie Wilde’s “A Place Called Chiapas,” a film about the Zapatista Uprising.

[2] The right of pernada refers to the right of feudal lords to rape their female servants. In Chiapas, that right accrued to the estate owners.

Originally published in Spanish by La Jornada on April 1, 2021 and Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

Militarization, the highest phase of extractivism

CSC note: In 2019, to address the devastating narco war, Mexico consolidated it security and police forces and renamed the new formation “Guardia Nacional,” the National Guard, further militarizing policing, using the GN to patrol its northern and southern borders against migrants. Above: Mexico’s Guardia Nacional action, on the border with Guatemala, attacking Honduran migrants fleeing the ravages of capitalist extractivism and narco-neoliberalism.(Photo: Cambio16)

By Raúl Zibechi

The growing militarization of our societies is a clear sign of the autumnal phase of the patriarchal capitalist system. The system gave up on integrating the popular classes, and no longer even aspires to dialogue with them, but limits itself to surveilling and controlling them. Before this militaristic period, the “misguided” were locked up in order to set them straight. Now it is a matter of open-air  surveillance of entire social layers making up the majority of the population.

When a system needs to militarize daily life to control the majority, we can say that its days are numbered. Although in reality those days would have to be measured in years or decades.

A good example is the legacy of the Pinochet regime in Chile, in particular the central role played by the military and the militarized police, the Carabineros, in social control.

One of the legacies is that  armed forces control the   surpluses of the state copper company. Copper is Chile’s main export.

The Restricted Law on Copper   was approved in the 1950’s, in the midst of rampant mobilizations of   workers and the poor in the city and the countryside. 

During the military dictatorship, this secret law was modified seven times.

Only in 2016, thanks to a leak from the digital newspaper El Mostrador, was it revealed that 10 percent of the profits of the state copper company are transferred directly to the armed forces. (

The  secret law was not repealed until 2019, (, when the streets of Chile began to burn with a string of protests and uprisings that started in 2011 with the resistance of students and the Mapuche people, and later the feminists.

The damage that the military regime inflicted on society can be seen in the fact that more than half of Chileans do not vote, when before, the vast majority voted; there is  tremendous delegitimization of political parties and state institutions.

It is not the only case, of course. The Brazilian military played a prominent role in Lula’s imprisonment, the removal of Dilma Rousseff, and the election of Bolsonaro.

In all cases, militarization violates the so-called “rule of law,” the legal norms that society has adopted, often without being duly consulted.

CSC note: The military forces, as essential to capitalist state power, in Latin America have evolved to meet the coercive needs of capitalism. (Photo from Americas Quarterly)

Militarization comes hand in hand with the imposition of a model of society that we have called extractivism, a mode of capital accumulation by the 1% based on the theft and dispossession of the peoples, which entails a true military dictatorship in the areas and regions where it operates.

Militarism is subordinated to this logic of accumulation through violence, for the simple reason that people’s goods cannot be stolen without pointing weapons at them.

Militarism comes with violence, forced disappearances, femicides and rapes. Besides that, it always encourages the birth of paramilitary groups, which always accompany large extractive works. And though they are considered illegal, the paramilitaries are trained and armed by the armed forces as we see in Mexico and Colombia. 

Now we know that the great beneficiary of the Mayan Train will be the armed forces. The López Obrador government has given them  all the sections of the train, adding that it is “an award” to that institution ( 39aURjh).

There is more than one similarity with the case of copper in Chile.

The first is the direct delivery of benefits, which is how the government gains the loyalty of the uniformed, to whom, in reality, it is subordinate.

The second is the “national security” argument used by the governments. In Chile it was the fight against communism. In Mexico it is the southern border, with arguments about migration and trafficking.

The third is that militarization is both a project and a way of governing. It is followed by airports, internal order and the most varied aspects of life. By force, they manage to subvert legality at will, such as budgetary regulations.

We observe processes of militarization from the United States, Russia and China, to all the Latin American countries. It consists in the control of rural and urban geographies by armed men at the service of capital, in order to control the peoples who resist dispossession.

It is not about a president or a government being evil. Not that I doubt it, but that’s not the point. We are facing a system that, to stretch its agony, needs to implement figures born in the twentieth century, which are the themes of Giorgio Agamben: the state of exception as a form of government, the legal civil war against the “non-integratable” and the open air concentration camps guarded by paramilitaries.


The original was published by La Jornada, click here

Translation provided by the Chiapas Support Committee.

Militarizing the Maya Train

Indigenous people reject the Maya Train.

Profits and sections of the Maya Train will go to the military

  • The almost 1,500 kilometers of railroad will become the patrimony of the Secretariat of National Defense (SEDENA) and the money obtained from the project will go to the Army.

The Maya Train, [supposedly] a project to improve the quality of people’s lives, care for the environment and detonate sustainable development, will run a distance of around 1,500 kilometers (km) and will pass through the states of Chiapas, Tabasco, Campeche, Yucatán and Quintana Roo.

However, the environmental impact of phase 1, which will go from Palenque, Chiapas to Izamal, Yucatán, points to the loss of vegetation cover of 800.95 hectares, “affecting the forest mass that will contribute to the emission of carbon, considered one of the causes of climate change.”

Added to that, “right of way” became the words most feared for the residents who are settled along the 232 kilometers of what is known as the First Section of the Maya Train.

Said context is added to the fact that the military will own totality of the Maya Train. The military will obtain profits for the transportation of passengers and cargo to feed the pension funds that depended on the Secretariat of Finance and Public Credit (SHCP, its initials in Spanish).

In an interview with El Financiero, Rogelio Jiménez Pons, director general of the National Fund for the Promotion of Tourism (Fonatur, its Spanish acronym) detailed that all the resources, including profits related to the railroad’s operation in the southeast, will benefit the military.

Specifically, the profits will be for the military, not for the treasury. Pensions and other things will no longer depend on the treasury. The ownership is going to remain; we are going to concede all the sections to the Army, remarked the general director of Fonatur.

Jiménez Pons said that the entry of the armed forces as owners of the megaproject would prevent the railroad from beingprivatized like other projects in previous governments.

It’s perfect that it’s an award to the armed forces. If we have a long-term nationalist vision of heritage, which this business is, but the State’s, we’re going to try to make this a business for the benefit of the greatest number of Mexicans, who better than the Army to be in charge of this business, to guaranty us many things and especially to guaranty us that it is not privatized, Jiménez Pons added.

He said that the Maya Train has a “security national” aspect because there are conflict zones in the country’s southeast, where there are [drug] cartels, human trafficking groups and the illegal sale of livestock.

Because of that, the military’s participation would diminish the impact that said activities would have on the project.

When you insert an institution with certain values, with certain discipline, with rigor and knowledge that it will never be privatized, because it will belong to the Army, well going forward with that, then you create a solid institution that can see the project long-term. And we already see separate merchandizing, the Fonatur already sees that, Jiménez Pons said.

The Maya Train stumbles

The Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) affirmed that no deforestation is authorized to make way for the construction of the Maya Train.

It’s of importance to point out that the Highest Auditor of the Federation (ASF) released a report on the Maya Train work, in which it questions the profitability, lack of feasibility studies, of consultation with residents and environmental impact, among others.

The ASF made public the federal government’s 2019 report of the Public Account, in which it points out that the project presents risks of not being profitable, was not consulted in a way owed to the indigenous population, has little interest in environmental protection and isn’t very transparent in the award of public contracts.

In the rubric of profitability, the audit numbered 1384-DE highlighted that the project’s operator, Fonatur, used assumptions that “were not reasonable,” in relation to the use of cargo and of passengers that it could operate between 2023 y 2053.

In other words, it made projections that are “a risk to the financial viability of the project, since the overestimation in demand could have repercussions in significant variations with respect to the estimated profitability of the project in the pre-investment stage.”

The ASF also reported that Fonatur paid cost overruns, awarded contracts directly in an unjustified way, did not have “an administrative structure for carrying out the project” or have completed studies; among them social feasibility, “like a diagnosis in which it foresees the possible effects and social risks its construction and operation would cause,” the audit explains.

The irregularity that the ASF most encountered refers to the environmental impact and points to: “the destruction of natural habitats; soil characteristics; damages to local wildlife; damages to species of flora, and the existence of critical ecosystems and damage to biological corridors,” according to audit 1386-DE.


Originally Published in Spanish by Chiapas Paralelo on March 16, 2021 and re-published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee.

Zapatista women’s March 8 message

Elio Henríquez, La Jornada correspondent

San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas. On International Women’s Day, Indigenous women from the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) transmitted a text titled “Those Who Are Not Here.”

The text, transmitted by the EZLN’s official page, Enlace Zapatista, is the following:

For the Women Who Are Not Here

Those who are not here.

Their histories.

Their joy and their sadness.

Their pain and their rage.

Their oblivion and their absences.

Their hearts.

Their hopes.

Their dignity.

Their calendars.

Those who came through.

Those who were left behind and to whom we are indebted.

Their cries.

Their silence.

Especially their silences.

Whoever it is, do you hear them?

Who doesn’t see themselves in them?

Women who struggle.

Yes, us.

But most of all, those women.

Those who are not here anymore.

And despite everything, are with us.

Because we don’t forget,

because we don’t forgive,

for them and with them, we fight.

Indigenous Zapatista women,

March 8th, 2021.


The original published by La Jornada is available here:

Translated by Clara Martinez Dutton for the Chiapas Support Committee.

Frayba makes an urgent call for solidarity

Women and children displaced from Aldama due to paramilitary attacks.



From the Editors

Mexico City | Desinformémonos

The Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Center (Frayba) reported more than 40 attacks with high-caliber firearms against the Tsotsil communities of Aldama, “caused by the paramilitary group in complicity with the municipal government” of Chenalhó, in Chiapas.

In regard to the March 20 and 21 attacks, the Frayba reported: “While the armed attacks were taking place, the National Guard and State Preventive Police were on the side of Santa Martha-Miguel Utrilla, Chenalhó,” which is where the shots came from.

It said that the government’s actions to address the conflict and the attacks on Aldama communities: “have been insufficient, ineffective and simulated, since they do not guarantee the safety and integrity of the population.”

Faced with the armed attacks that have kept the population “in a context of terror,” since November 2020, the Frayba demanded that the Mexican State investigate, identify and punish the paramilitary group in Santa Martha, Chenalhó, and “put an end” to the violence against the communities in Aldama.

The complete communiqué follows:

The Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Center, A.C. (Frayba), has received information from the Permanent Commission of the 115 comuneros and displaced persons of Aldama, Chiapas, México that during the days of March 20 and 21, 2021, the communities of Aldama have been attacked with shots from high-caliber firearms coming from different points located in Santa Martha-Miguel Utrilla, Chenalhó municipality, in Chiapas, acts provoked by the paramilitary group in complicity with the municipal government.

The armed attacks against the Tsotsil Maya population of Aldama have not stopped since November 2020, when the Frayba registered the greatest number of attacks to date. Armed attacks have continued towards the population that lives subjected to a context of terror, where children, women and the population in general survive in a torturous environment. Government actions have been insufficient, ineffective and simulated since they do not guarantee the safety and integrity of the population.

On March 20, 2021, from 2:00 pm to 11:30 pm, residents of the Stzelejpotobtic, Coco, Juxton, Yeton, San Pedro Cotzilnam and Tabac communities received 21 attacks from firearms. There were more than 9 hours of aggression! The Stzelejpotobtic community received 11 armed attacks. Shots came from the following points: K’ante’, Pajaltoj, Tok’oy-saclum, Puente Caridad, Vale’tik, Chuch te’, El Puente and T’elemax, all in Chenalhó municipality.

On March 21, 2021, from 10:00 am to 9:00 pm, residents of the Ch’ivit, Yeton, Tabak, Coco and Xuxch’en communities experienced 9 attacks with firearms. Workers from a company that were working on the Tabac-San Pedro Cotzilnam highway stretch were also under attack. While the armed attacks were taking place, the National Guardia and State Preventive Police were on the side of Santa Martha-Miguel Utrilla, Chenalhó. The attacks came from the El Ladrillo attack points, which are located inside the 60 hectares in dispute. The attacks also came from Vale’tik, T’elemax, Tojtic, Slumka and Yocventana, in Santa Martha.

The Frayba states its concern over the acts of armed aggression that the population of Aldama municipality experiences constantly. These acts are part of a persistent violence with psychological impact that the population is now experiencing and it leads to a deep fracture of the social fabric.

We urge the Mexican State to investigate, identify and punish the paramilitary group in Santa Martha, Chenalhó, and thereby put an end to the violence against Aldama communities.

We call on national and international solidarity to sign this urgent call available on the page and write to the Mexican authorities so that they commit to implementing more appropriate measures that guarantee the life, safety and physical and psychological integrity of the population under constant siege.


Originally Published in Spanish by Desinformemonos

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee




The Maya Train: 3 new court orders stop its progress

A Yucatán judge determined that doubts exist about the real impact of the Maya Train on the environment. The decision suspends Semarnat’s authorization of the project with which, in fact, the work must be suspended for now. The Maya Train, however, is not cancelled

By: Alberto Nájar in Pie de Página

Mexico City

Construction of the Maya Train confronts a new obstacle. On Wednesday, a judge granted three orders to suspend progress on Phase 3 of the megaproject, one of the most important for President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s government.

The resolutions have the character of definitive; in other words, they imply the suspension of the work -for now- because the judge considered that there are doubts about the real damage to the region’s environment, and above all the impact on the rights of the communities settled in the stretch of the railroad.

However, the decisions of the Fourth District judge in Yucatán do not imply that construction of the Maya Train is definitively canceled. According to law, the federal government has the possibility of filing appeals to a collegiate court to reverse the judge’s decision.

The judicial rulings refer to the Environmental Impact Statement presented by the National Fund for the Promotion of Tourism (Fonatur, its Spanish acronym), the agency responsible for the megaproject. The judge determined that there is “uncertainty” about the true impact of the railroad on the environment of the region where it is being constructed.

The document was approved by the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (Semarnat, its Spanish acronym). It’s a fundamental requirement for the start and conclusion of the work. But the judge established that said approval is not sufficient, as she points out in the decisions.

“The mere existence of an environmental impact statement does not grant absolute certainty that all variables have been considered, or if the interpretation of the effects of the State’s actions in a specific project will be effectively those embodied in a document of such nature.”

That is saying that it isn’t clear if effectively the impact on nature will be as Fonatur asserts. And in view of that, “a diverse principle called in dubio pro natura” must be reaffirmed. In other words, “when in doubt about the certainty or scientific accuracy of environmental risks, it must be resolved in favor of nature.”

The three definitive suspensions imply stopping the work: legally no project of this nature cab be maintained if it doesn’t have an environmental impact statement.

So far, there is no reaction from Fonatur to the court decisions. But last February, the Fund’s director Rogelio Jiménez Pons warned that opposition to the megaproject does not come from the communities in the region, but from civilian organizations.

“The communities are not the ones that filed the cases,” he said to journalists. “A large majority of the communities have shown their support for the Maya Train. Those who demonstrate and have the right to do so are the non-governmental organizations”[NGOs].

Such an assertion seems to underestimate the rulings of this Wednesday. The Múuch’ Xíinbal Assembly of Defenders of Maya Territory and the Chuun T’aan Maya Collective presented the lawsuit. The fourth district judge establishes that the organizations demonstrated, “at least incidentally” their legitimate interest in the case because she notes: “that they are residents of the corresponding municipalities.”


Originally Published in Spanish by Pie de Página

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee



Teófila, armed with courage, the first Indigenous woman film-maker in Mexico

Teófila is the Ikoots woman who armed herself with courage and became the first Indigenous woman filmmaker in Mexico.
  • Her documentary from 35 years ago warned that the refinery would contaminate the sea and do away with fishing.
  • It hurts her that technology has changed human beings and that they don’t think about their culture.

Oaxaca, Oaxaca ( Teofila, the Ikoots woman who comes from the sea, armed herself with courage to work freely, and without intending to, she became the first Indigenous woman to make a film in Mexico.

That was 35 years ago and Teofila Palafox Herranz continues breaking the mold by sowing the seeds for Mareña (Ikoots or Huave) women to fight and raise their voice and, by so doing, continue to create.

Today, at 64 years of age, she is proud to be part of the culture of the Ikoots people of San Mateo del Mar, although she recognizes that there is still resistance to accept that women have rights.

But she is also saddened that in these times technology has changed the mentality of human beings and that they aren’t valuing culture, nature and what is important for the community and gives it identity.

Seeing the documentary again after 35 years, it hurts her to confirm that the prediction that something bad was going to happen in her community with the arrival of the “Antonio Dovali Jaime” refinery, came to pass.

The water was contaminated which ended fishing, the livelihood of San Mateo del Mar. 

Despite the pandemic, Teofila accepted the invitation to the event “Native Language in Indigenous Cinema and Film: Women Creators,” which took place with the celebration of International Native Language Day, put on by the National Institute of Indigenous Peoples (INPI in Spanish).

She accepted because she wants officials to turn around and see women artisans and support their community projects.

She says it is because, “As women we are fighting by bringing ideas about how to move forward. This is because San Mateo del Mar was a fishing area, but recently there isn’t any fishing there. Times have changed. Fishing is no more; everything is changing and it’s necessary to make a living.” 

She remembered the adversity that she has had to endure for being a woman and living in an Indigenous community such as Ikoots. 

There, in San Mateo del mar “Women aren’t recognized; we are very isolated and far from the city.” 

Teófila Palafox Herranz is a filmmaker and Ikoots textile artist, recognized as the first Indigenous woman to create a film in Mexico. 

She is from San Mateo del Mar, Oaxaca. She was born on the 28th of December 1956. 

She started her career under the umbrella of the First Indigenous Cinema Workshop in 1985, which she helped organize as president of the Women’s Association of Artisans in San Mateo del Mar, in collaboration with a team of cinema instructors. 

Teófila, her younger sister, Elvira, and another five master weavers participated in that project. 

As a result of the workshop, Palafox filmed the documentary Leaw amangoch tinden nop ikoods (The Life of an Ikoots Family). It was a pioneering work for Indigenous cinema that has been celebrated by critics for the unique perspective that it gives by portraying the everyday life of the Mareño people.

In video format, her film Las Ollas de San Marcos stands out; it was filmed in 1992. 

It is worth mentioning that the work of Teofila Palafox has been presented in various film festivals, among which the Festival International du Film d’Amiens, France, and the Native American Film and Video Festival of New York, stand out. 

In a phone interview, Teofila mentioned that interviews still make her nervous, but she agreed to share how she became a filmmaker:

“My lineage is of artisans. My mother taught me, my sisters, my daughters, and other artisans the  technique of the lap loom.” 

“We started this cinema project 35 years ago. We made a movie and we did it as women” 

“We learned to direct documentaries and document village life, its people, its culture, its language, its crafts, its music and everything you can see in the traditional fiestas.

“It’s the least we could do to preserve the language that we speak, and we learned to make natural dyes and today we have textiles with natural dyes,” she says. 

She says, “In my time, 35 years ago, it was very hard for a woman to work freely because there were a lot of issues around women not being able to work. However, we armed ourselves with courage to work on this project and with the group of artisans we worked hard and were able to make this account that is called a documentary.”

“Now we were invited to present this movie and we are very pleased because today we are no longer in the same situation. The town has changed; there has been a lot of change. The youth aren’t  the same as before and we invite the youth to keep working for our culture. It is something that we have inherited and that some people don’t have anymore.”

Back then, she said, “we tried to show the refinery of Salina Cruz. We already knew that it was going to harm us; now we are in a place where life is very expensive because of the refinery, and not everyone works there. Life is expensive. And the refinery has polluted the sea and the air with its smoke and our voice is there, in the documentary.” 

With satisfaction, she now confesses with pride that she has taught her culture to her three children–two women and one man-and her eight nieces and nephews. 

Her daughters not only know how to weave, one of them works in Indigenous education and teaches the Huave or Ikoots language. Teófila says “I am proud that my children carry on the culture of the people who came from the sea.”


The original published by Página 3 in Spanish is  here. Translation provided by the Chiapas Support Committee.

Interview with Teófila Palafoz Herranz (with English subtitles) as part of the On Transversality Conference 2020.

Stop Paramilitary Violence in San Antonio Bulujib, Chilon, Chiapas

MARCH 15, 2021







We issue a warning against the  imminent reactivation of violence in San Antonio Bulujib directed at CNI compañeros1 and compañeras who are threatened with dispossession and forced displacement due to the government’s inability to resume and renew the dialogue process that began in March of last year.

The situation of violence and harassment suffered by our compañeros and compañeras from the CNI of the San Antonio Bulujib community, Chilon, has been ongoing. Since February 23, 2020 they have been victims of a series of human rights violations that started when they participated in the activities called WE ARE ALL SAMIR, by placing a sign demanding justice for the murder of our compañero Samir Flores. They were just making use of their right to free expression and demonstration. 

These repressive actions are part of a counterinsurgency strategy deployed in the region against the CNI and the EZLN, because of our opposition to the big capitalists’ megaprojects of death.

We denounce the systematic violation of the human rights by the community authorities. In  addition to the excessive use of force, injuries, kidnapping, imprisonment of men, women and children, harassment and attempted rape, they threaten to  evict and take away lands belonging to families that are members of the CNI if they do not pay an arbitrarily determined fine. The fine is based on a document that was signed under pressure, after one of our compañeros was beaten and imprisoned, which we therefore consider illegal and invalid, and outside the dialogue process started in March last year.

We hold the three levels of government responsible for the physical, psychological and material integrity of our CNI compañeras y compañeros. In particular we denounce  the mayor of Chilon, Carlos Ildefonso Jimenez Trujillo, for instigating and protecting the ejido authorities, the governor Rutilio Escandón and the president Andrés Manuel López Obrador, for their omission in this case.

We demand the resumption of community dialogue, in search of a peaceful solution, and non-violence for our peoples.

We call for solidarity and support towards our compañeras and compañeros from the CNI of San Antonio Bulujib, and to be attentive to their situation in the face of the imminent aggression   they may suffer as a result of a decision taken by the ejido assembly this coming March 20.


For the Integral Reconstitution of Our Peoples
Never again a Mexico Without Us

National Indigenous Congress (Congreso Nacional Indígena)

Indigenous Governing Council (Consejo Indígena de Gobierno)

1Compañero (male) and compañera (female) and compañeroa (gender non-binary) have no exact translation in English. They lie somewhere between “comrade” and “companion.” In a political context, the term generally refers to someone who belongs to a particular organization or movement. For the CNI, CIG, and EZLN, “compa” is often used for short and refers to someone in the movement.


English translation provided by Sexta Grietas del Norte.