By: Isaín Mandujano
ASSEMBLY OF THE WOMEN’S MOVEMENT FOR THE DEFENSE OF MOTHER EARTH AND OUR TERRITORIES. CHIAPAS, MEXICO
Chapultenango, September 17 and 18, 2022
We embrace the Women and Peoples who struggle and organize.
Women from the Zoque, North-Palenque, Jungle, Coast and Highlands regions of Chiapas called upon each other to meet again and to share the processes, challenges and challenges after our last Assembly held in May of this year in Rayón, Chiapas.
Today we once again thank and honor our Zoque compañeras and sisters who received us with organization, joy, respect and affection.
As women of the Zoque, Ch’ol, Tseltal, Tsotsil and mestiza peoples of Mexico and Argentina we reaffirm our will to follow our principles: 1) Political-organizational autonomy, 2. Defense of Mother Earth versus the projects of death, 3. Awareness in personal care and collective healing, 4. Women’s participation in decision-making, 5. Rejection of all types of violence towards women, 6. Articulation and political solidarity among peoples, networks, collectives of the EZLN, CNI and the Sixth, 7. The Movement is governed by non-hierarchical, non-centralized Assemblies.
We decided to share the contexts in which we are living as women from the work groups for each one of the regions and, later in the plenary:
We share that in the Tsotsil Highlands Zone there is an increase in canteens, circulation of alcohol, drugs and weapons. Constant movements in vehicles of armed groups. Increased migration by young people and those who stay in our communities no longer respect women and older people. The few men engage in sexual violence against young women.
In the Tseltal region of the Highlands women are not taken into account, they don’t respect our rights, mainly in contempt for widowed women and/or single mothers. The uses and customs of the community violate us and dispossess us of our lands without taking into account that the land gives us life and we feed ourselves from it. In the Jobel Valley we identified a before and after June 14, after the dispute of different organized crime groups: dispossessions are experienced through the invasion of land caused by armed groups; from the complicity of government officials and hotel entrepreneurs who monopolize water through the destruction of mountain wetlands and swamps. There are various groups of armed young people called scooters that make shootings a daily occurrence and put the daily lives of women and children in tension. There is more presence of the National Guard that is made that which does not see, nor hear.
North-Palenque Zone. With the construction of the misnamed Maya Train, the leveling and destruction of hills, water pollution and the dispossession/ displacement of communities have increased. The commodification of the Maya culture is present, favoring private business initiative. Prostitution is increasing and migration is visible. Groups of scooters linked to organized crime have appeared and are carrying out murders, with the National Guard simulating its function and generating fear and terror with its presence in the daily life of the population.
Coastal Zone. Threat of construction of the gas pipeline that comes from the interoceanic project of Oaxaca and that will pass through the entire Coast to Guatemala. Construction of Mega-highways in connection with the Maya Train and Interoceanic Train. Increase in mining projects. Sale of land to business speculation for hotel projects. Disappearance of girls, young people and adults who become most of the time femicides and human trafficking.
Zoque Zone. Being at the head of the basin, it’s being threatened by megaprojects related to mining, hydroelectric, geothermal and hydrocarbon projects. We are convinced of the link to corporate interests, the Federal Electricity Commission and institutions of bad government together with organized crime for the execution of projects.
An example is the “Study for the Integral Management of the Basins” that represents the dispossession and destruction of our lands. Another example is the case of the town of El Platanar [municipality of Pichucalco] as a “territory of sacrifice” where they caused an oil spill that affects the Grijalva River, this due to the negligence of Pemex and complicity of the government, causing forced displacement and that 5 thousand inhabitants do not have drinking water.
In sum; we agreed that Organized Crime is governing in all our territories, we see the increase in the sale and circulation of weapons, drug addiction, prostitution and alcoholism. In complicity with a process of militarization that permits the dispossession and control of our territories. Women are the most affected by the increase in femicides, deaths, hunger and disappearances of girls and young women.
We agreed that we will defend Our Mother Earth from the mis-named Maya Train, from Hydrocarbon Projects and geo-parks, from the gas pipeline and from pesticides, as well as from the hoarding and pollution of water.
However, in the face of this situation of death, we are happy to see young women participating in this Assembly. It is a moment of opportunity to walk and open a different course for all. We are committed to strengthening your dignifying processes to and for Life in a collective and organized way.
We will continue defending Mother Earth with organization and dignity. We will continue carrying out our jobs in our places. We close our Assembly defining the date and place of our next meeting.
Defensoras de Nasakobajk
Red de Mujeres de la Costa en Rebeldía
Mujeres organizadas de Acteal
Mujeres del Colectivo Jomenäs
Mujeres del Colectivo Kallpolli
Mujeres a título individual
Originally Published in Spanish by Chiapas Paralelo, September 19, 2022, https://www.chiapasparalelo.com/noticias/chiapas/2022/09/mujeres-de-los-pueblos-originarios-de-chiapas-cierran-filas-contra-megaproyectos/ and Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee
By Carolina Dutton
I finally returned to Chiapas after two and half years because of the pandemic. This has been the longest time I have spent away from this beloved land of the Mayan peoples in resistance in two decades since I lived in the highlands and worked with women in an autonomous community from 2001-2002. I first went to Chiapas in 1997 with Pastors for Peace and then with Schools for Chiapas to participate–mainly carrying cement, sand, and stones so that the skilled indigenous artisans in resistance could build the Zapatista autonomous secondary school in Oventic.
Oventic is one of twelve Caracoles, or centers of Zapatista civilian regional government, where the autonomous communities of the region come together with each other and with internationals. The Oventic caracol’s first buildings were completed two years later and after training promotores (teachers from the communities) the school opened for Zapatista young people in the highland communities to be educated in their own history and to learn skills needed by their communities. Youth are trained to be promotores of education, health, agroecology, or communications. Oventic was the first. In the past 20 years, autonomous secondary schools have opened in other caracoles. The Chiapas Support Committee raises funds for Zapatista primary and secondary education projects.
In Chiapas Summer 2022
This summer I studied in Oventic at the CELMRAZ studying Tsotsil. In 2001 the CELMRAZ (Zapatista Rebel Autonomous Center for Spanish and Maya Languages, Centro de Español y Lenguas Mayas Rebelde Autónomo Zapatista) was formed for internationals to learn Spanish and Mayan languages. The CELMRAZ center, located in Oventic, has for years supported Zapatista autonomous education with the funds people donate to study there.
My tsotsil teachers were promotores trained at the secondary school in Oventic a decade or more ago. We participated in dynamic activities with the Zapatista secondary school students acting out the Seven Zapatista principles and the wheels of capitalism as well as singing together. This is the second time I have studied Tsotsil in Oventic. Although my conversational skills are very limited, my understanding of the philosophy embedded in the language, and the way of relating to the world and each other of the Maya peoples, helps me understand how they have managed to organize themselves, plan an uprising in clandestinity, and keep working together for 28 more years despite continued paramilitary and government harassment. There are three forms of we in Tsotsil grammar, much more important in Tsotsil than I.
Our group of students at the Centro de Lenguas in Oventic this summer on a rainy day.
Entering Zapatista Territory
When I first came to Chiapas it was much easier to go to Zapatista communities, take delegations, and do projects there and connect directly with the people and meet with the autonomous councils. Now, because of ongoing paramilitary violence, security and the pandemic, the communities have been on red alert.
There has been a dramatic increase in paramilitary attacks and violence against the Zapatista communities in the past couple of years. Now one of the only ways for people who do not already have relationships to connect directly with the Zapatistas is through CELMRAZ. The Chiapas Support Committee accredits people to study at the Language Center in Oventic. Contact us if you are interested in attending the CELMRAZ school.
I found that things have gotten more difficult in the past two and a half years both in the Zapatista communities and in the city of San Cristobal. It had been hard for narcos to get a foothold in the highlands of Chiapas, largely due to the tight organization of communities in resistance.
Unfortunately because of various factors—the insecurity of the pandemic, the economic hardship it has caused, the complicity of the local and the state government of Chiapas with cartels and paramilitaries and the lack of action by the national government to stop, arrest or prosecute acts of paramilitary violence—Mexican government inaction, complicity and collusion has led to almost complete impunity for the paramilitary’s violent acts.
Mexican Government Complicity Fuels Paramilitaries
The National Guard supposedly created to increase security just stands by when the paramilitaries have attacked Zapatista and other indigenous communities. The Human Rights Center Fray Bartolome de las Casas (Frayba) sends observers to communities, often internationals, which usually helps deter violence. Because of the impunity, the paramilitaries have threatened the observers in the Zapatista community of Nuevo San Gregorio and Frayba had to withdraw them for their safety.
The city of San Cristóbal is no longer the safe place it used to be. Some neighborhoods have organized civil patrols to monitor who is on the streets. My neighborhood organized a system to warn each other with whistles when attempted robberies take place so that neighbors can come to each other’s aid. Fortunately Oventic is one of the caracoles that is still tranquil and safe.
Artesania made by compas in Nuevo San Gregorio
Take Action to Denounce the Paramilitary Violence September 26
While I was in San Cristobal I met with Frayba to help organize a forum about violence in Chiapas with Frayba and Red Ajmaq, a network of Zapatista supporters in Mexico. The Chiapas Support Committee sponsored this forum with the network, Sexta Grietas del Norte, of which we are a part. You can watch the recording with English interpretation at https://youtu.be/gCuhPTKmEpQ.
The Chiapas Support Committee has also been demonstrating at the Mexican Consulate in San Francisco to let the Mexican Government know that we are aware of their complicity with the violence and to demand that the impunity be stopped. Our next action will be on Monday September 26, 2022, the 8th anniversary of the forced disappearance of the 43 students from Ayotzinapa.
Please join us on September 26 to demand justice for Ayotzinapa and to demand the Mexican government dismantle the rightwing paramilitary. Watch our facebook page and blog for further details.
Carolina Dutton is a member of the Chiapas Support Committee and a long-time community-based activist for justice and solidarity with Indigenous and Latin American people’s struggles for self-determination and land justice.
By: Elio Henríquez
San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas
Organizations headed by the Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Center (Frayba) requested that Cecilia Jiménez-Damary, Special Rapporteur of the United Nations Organization on the Human Rights of Internally Forced Displaced Persons, to “recommend and demand” that the Mexican State “respect the collective rights of indigenous peoples, in particular with regard to territory and autonomy.”
At the same time, they demand a mechanism that guarantees respect for the principles on forced displacements, which include measures for sanction in case of non-compliance; application of the Forced Displacement Law in Chiapas, as well as consolidating the state program with a gender perspective and in favor of childhood in order to address and prevent that situation in the state.
They called for the promotion of the functioning and strengthening of state and municipal protection prosecutors’ offices with an intersectional and gender perspective, as well as the training of their personnel and awareness on the subject, and for the Chiapas State Commission for Attention to Victims to generate a registry with a differentiated approach, which investigates and disarms armed groups, and that those responsible for the injuries, killings and forced displacements are consigned.
In the report delivered during the visit that the official made last week to the state, the organizations, including Caritas, Melel Xojobal and International Service for Peace, also suggested that she “recommend and demand” that the physical integrity and protection of defenders who accompany victims be guaranteed and that there is accountability of the prosecutor’s offices.
They assured that: “This phenomenon may have as its root old agrarian conflicts that began in the 1970s between different municipalities and /or communal assets in the Los Altos region, where armed groups with similar characteristics operate. “
They pointed out that from 2010 to date the displacement of 14,476 people from different municipalities has been documented; Likewise, recently “the presence of organized crime has increased exponentially and with it the trafficking of weapons, vehicle theft, human trafficking, planting and shipment of drugs, territorial control through the imposition of terror in the communities, which has caused hundreds of people to flee their homes.”
Rapporteur Cecilia Jiménez-Damary repeated their request to the government to create a federal registry of victims of internal displacement in order to guarantee a sufficient budget for comprehensive care, as well as to raise awareness about this problem.
After concluding her visit to the country, she stressed that this registration must also include those who have not been legally recognized, since “they are displaced de facto.”
In a statement, she clarified that the census “should not grant legal status, but facilitate protection and humanitarian assistance in accordance with individual and collective needs.”
Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada, September 13, 2022, https://www.jornada.com.mx/2022/09/13/estados/029n2est and Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee
By: Yessica Morales
On multiple occasions, the Frayba has made the three levels of government aware of the constant aggressions against the EZLN support bases in Nuevo San Gregorio, who remain in resistance and defense of the territory recovered since 1994.
On September 10, 2022, the AJMAQ Network of Resistances and Rebellions and the journalist Raúl Zibechi visited the “New Dawn in Resistance and Rebellion for Life and Humanity” Good Government Junta of Caracol 10, The “Rebel Seed Flourishing,” as well as the Zapatista families in Nuevo San Gregorio community.
The visit was to bring them his compañero embrace, listening, word and view from solidarity, knowing how this war situation against the Zapatista families continues to lacerate and wear down life.
The reality that is being experienced hurts us a lot and deeply: the violence of the invaders continues, and the government in Chiapas doesn’t exist, it doesn’t see, it doesn’t hear and it doesn’t speak, the Network underscored.
To this is added the insistence to create and maintain collective work.
In that place, babies are born, there are boys and girls with looks of surprise, as well as young people creating.
Zapatista men and women caring with patience and hope for seeds so that they flourish, perhaps not there, but in another garden, asphalt, flowerpot and/or mountain.
Meanwhile, the Regional Organization of Ocosingo Coffee Growers (ORCAO, its initials in Spanish), then 40, criminal leaders and the Mexican dis-government are all trying toi raise hell to reach those flowers that continue calling for the word: For life, the Network concluded.
Attacks and Threats
Since November 2019. the Nuevo San Gregorio community, on territory recuperated by the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN, Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional), has suffered constant attacks from a group of some 40 aggressors, resulting in the dispossession of 155 hectares in Lucio Cabañas Autonomous Rebel Municipality and in a situation of grave risk to the life and integrity of the inhabitants.
The Frayba and the Ajmaq Network have denounced the repeated aggressions, stealing cattle and destruction of property, water cut-offs, surveillance, obstruction, control and collection of free transit, as well as kidnapping.
The gravity of the attacks and the serious threats against human rights observers, which occurred on June 10, 15 and 19 and were documented by then BriCOs themselves, led the Frayba to suspend the observation camp on June 29. This has rarely happened in the 28 years of work of the Brigades, which left the affected families even more unprotected.
On the other hand, on February 27, 2020, representatives of the community and the Good Government Junta attempted to dialogue with the aggressors. On that occasion, they gave the aggressors three proposals, including a proposal to cede them one half of the recuperated territory.
However, the aggressors didn’t accept it, seeking to take possession of all the lands. In spite of everything, the affected families continue resisting, constructing autonomy and taking care of the land.
Originally Published in Spanish by Chiapas Paralelo, Tuesday, September 13, 2022, https://www.chiapasparalelo.com/noticias/chiapas/2022/09/gobierno-en-chiapas-no-existe-no-mira-no-oye-y-no-habla-red-ajmaq/ and Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee
By: Raúl Romero
The presidential initiative to incorporate the National Guard into the Secretariat of National Defense (Sedena, its Spanish acronym) has generated an intense debate. Given the lack of a project that convinces big social sectors, the alliance of right-wing politicians and business owners has sought to capitalize on the discussion, to utilize it to beat up on the current governing bloc and to position themselves as the alternative. However, in the past we found evidence of how these groups promoted the country’s militarization process.
In the 1970s, as part of Operation Condor, the United States conducted a test in Mexico of “collaboration” between armies to combat the region’s new enemy, “drug trafficking.” Behind the euphemisms, this operation meant an escalation of the counterinsurgency war, as well as a renewed US interventionism in Latin America. It is no coincidence that this coincided with the dirty war or state terrorism, a period in which the Mexican state and its armed forces committed acts of barbarism against popular organizations and against many of the peoples they encountered in their path.
The participation of the Mexican Army in anti-drug trafficking tasks did not mean a reduction of the business, to the contrary, drug trafficking became a flourishing business that found other commercial branches, which gave the form to the organized crime corporations that operate today. High-ranking military men became links between military forces and organized crime, like the case of General Acosta Chaparro, who participated in the counterinsurgency in the state of Guerrero, and who would later be found to have ties to organized crime.
It’s important to frame the militarized security model in the context of the deployment of the neoliberal model in the region, a strategy that jointly with the trade agreements and the security alliances, like the Free Trade Agreement or The Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America, they have been translated into policies of “regional integration” and “hemispheric security. “
With this logic, during the presidency pf Ernesto Zedillo the Federal Preventive Police were created, a militarized police that had as its first intervention the taking of the UNAM’s installations, in order to end the strike in defense of the public and free character of the university that supported the General Strike Council.
Vicente Fox, Felipe Calderón and Enrique Peña Nieto continued and strengthened militarized security using it also for the repression of popular movements. The six-year term of Calderón stands out for the massive open participation in joint operations of the Army with local, state and federal police and, especially, for their actions in favor of certain organized crime groups, a strategy that provoked the expansion and brutality of the war.
Ratification of the militarized security strategy by the current government mens continuing on the path walked, and turning our backs on a historic social demand to build alternatives for public, citizen and community security; a strategy distanced from the mandates of the United States and its “Americanization” of security. Nor have members of the military been brought to justice for crimes of the past and present, or for corruption, so the impunity pact remains intact. It’s the same structure and, in many cases, even the same actors.
Now, the old “mafia in power” says it is opposed to the militarization, when in reality they pointed the way and accentuated the dependency. Something similar happens with the extractive, energy and infrastructure projects that the current administration constructs, many of which were designed by previous administrations and agreed to in the context of regional commercial integration. Although the “opposition” today dresses up as environmentalist and antimilitarist, nobody believes them, we know very well that its color is that of money.
But the most serious problem is not that the right utilizes these demands, but that the current administration resumes those strategies. This certainly does not mean that nothing has changed; but inn terms of militarization, among others, there is not only continuity, but in addition, the strategy is deepened by handing over the construction and administration of different megaprojects to the military, or exalting military values such as the Army’s supposed lack of corruptibility.
In Wikileaks cable 06MEXICO595, it was revealed that since 2006 -before Calderon”s war-, the now President López Obrador had already announced to the Unitedb States government that he would resort to the military for security strategy in Mexico, giving them “more power and authority” in anti-drug operations, making constitutional amendments.
The crisis of violence that Mexico experiences is in part a result of the neoliberal model that, among mother things, has accompanied the militarization of security and of societies. That’s why the battle over de-militarization is fundamental if it is truly against that model and if it desires to trace a different route.
Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada, Sunday, September 11, 2022, https://www.jornada.com.mx/2022/09/11/opinion/012apol and Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee
By: Carlos Fazio | Part 2 of 2
With arrogance and disdain, the Biden administration’s diplomacy of force circulates in several lanes. It’s the advantage of being an empire. After unleashing a proxy war against Russia in Ukraine to appropriate the hydrocarbon market in Europe and subordinate Germany more, it has just crossed a red line with China with the Pearl Harbor or Gulf of Tonkin-style provocation starring Nancy Pelosi with her visit to Taiwan. In an effort to preserve declining imperial hegemony in the world, the “deep state” that controls the strings of the White House has decided to intensify hostilities against the two Eurasian nuclear ballistic powers endowed with raw materials and advanced technology, which could generate a large-scale conflict.
Combining with the deliberate quasi paralysis of the world economy by the covid regimes, the war of “sanctions” of the US and NATO against Russia brought the European energy market to an alarm phase and fueled a recession and inflation in the euro zone of large proportions that could intensify next winter. The b ig winner of the European energy debacle was the United States, which for the first time in history became the world’s leading exporter of liquified natural gas (LNG), surpassing that carried by Russian pipelines. In April 2022, France,Spain, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Poland accounted for 54.1 percent of total GLN exports. In addition to the high price of gas (six or seven time higher than the normal figure and needed to heat their homes and supply energy to companies), these five European countries must pay 40 percent more for LNG for processing and transport.
In the long term, the Biden administration’s goal is to destroy the central role of Russia in the world energy economy. In 2021, Rusia was the world’s second largest oil producer (536 million tons), behind the United States (711 million) and ahead of Saudi Arabia (515 million), which in mass means, respectively, 13, 17 and 12 percent of world production. The imposition of “secondary sanctions” that would punish foreign buyers who don’t comply with US restrictions, could block the possibility of doing business with US corporations in China, India, Turkey and other countries that buy Russian hydrocarbons.
In the short term, the main loser from coercive US and NATO sanctions to bring about regime change in the Kremlin and decouple Russia from the world economy is Germany. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall and he collapse of the USSR, Germany had been constructing a block of interdependent economies that group together, on its western flank, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium and Holland, and on the eastern flank, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Poland and Slovenia, with different roles, with Germany as the hegemonic center. That converts Germany into the world’s third economic power, behind the US and China, a country that became Germany’s main trading partner.At the same time, Teutonic industrial circles had created synergies between China, Russia, Kazakhstan and Ukraine, with the goal of integrating states that would bring together logistical, productive and energy-exporting zones, and importers of industrial goods from China and Germany. Russia, with its Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines, served as the indispensable connector between China and Germany. In addition, Russia supplied the “German bloc” with cereals, fertilizers, nickel, uranium and “critical” metals like titanium, scandium and palladium. Subordination to the US obliged Germany to weaken its ties with China and to close its channels of communication with Russia, which will reduce its sub-imperial role in Europe.
Faced with the scarcity of hydrocarbons derived from the policy of global chaos promoted by the US, which led France, Germany, Italy and Austria to return to the use of coal, exhibiting the rhetorical scam about the “green transition.” Washington and Brussels had to resort to two producer countries that are members of the “axis of evil” in order to rescue the “civilized world:” Iran and Venezuela, which have managed to survive years of illegal coercive measures.
Within the framework of the US geopolitics of oil. the Venezuelan case is paradigmatic. Venezuela, with the world’s largest proven hydrocarbon reserves, managed to defeat a State coup by the Pentagon and the CIA in 2002 and successive forms of unconventional warfare (of fourth generation, hybrid, cognitive, cybernetic, soft coup, economic-financial, cultural and media warfare), including assassination attempts against President Maduro, the confiscation of PDVSA (the state oil company) abroad and the seizure of the physical assets of CITGO, its subsidiary.
As former National Security Adviser John Bolton and former Defense Secretary Mark Esper just cynically admitted, both participated in the Trump plans to overthrow Maduro and even assassinate him. In his book, A Sacred Oath, Esper explains: “Operation Sentinel to intercept Iranian and Venezuelan ships on the high seas was part of the Pentagon’s oil and naval blockade against both countries to prevent trade relations and the exchange of oil technology between the two nations. With the intention of destroying the Venezuelan energy structure and infrastructure, Esper reveals that during a meeting with the puppet president Juan Guaidó in Washington, in February 2020, a direct US military invasion was contemplated; the theft of Venezuelan oil in international waters; the naval blockade of Cuba and Venezuela although it was an “act of war” under international law, and an aerial or amphibious military attack with US special forces on the strategic José A. Anzoástegui Petroleum and Petrochemical Industrial Complex, in eastern Venezuela. He also exhibits the participation of the former National Security Adviser, Mauricio Claver-Carone (now head of the IDB), in the failed Operation Gideon, on May 3, 2020, with mercenaries and former US marines.
As Donald Trump said on Friday, August 5, to troll Biden, now “we are a nation that begs for oil from Venezuela, Saudi Arabia and many others.”
Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada, Monday, August 8, 2022, https://www.jornada.com.mx/2022/08/08/opinion/019a2pol and Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee
By: Renata Bessi
In the last six months an agenda of work and meetings between the seven governors of south-southeast Mexico, federal government agencies, representatives of the governments of the United States and Canada, as well as companies from these countries, has been set up with the aim of promoting “conservation and sustainable development” in the region that will be enhanced “through private investment,” as the US ambassador to Mexico, Ken Salazar, reported in his social networks.
In the context of the fifth meeting, headed by Salazar, held in Mexico City in mid-May, the diplomat announced that “the government of Mexico has a plan, a very
good security agenda for the Isthmus [of Tehuantepec],” a place where the construction of the Interoceanic Corridor and 10 industrial parks is planned.
Showing enthusiasm for the Mexican government’s plans, Salazar maintained, in a press conference held after the meeting with the governors, that it is there, on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, that the key to solving the migratory flow to the United States and drug trafficking lies. “It is easier to monitor the 180 miles that make up the Isthmus of Tehuantepec than the 2,000 miles of desert on Mexico’s northern border (..),” said the diplomat.
The region is a “priority” for the United States and the idea is that the megaprojects function as retaining walls. “Our focus has been the Transoceanic [Corridor],” he explained.
He announced an increase in U.S. government investment in the region, whose initiative was named PromoSur – From the people of the United States for conservation and sustainable development in southern Mexico.
Intervention in the territories
A promotional video for the program, posted on the U.S. embassy’s social networks, states that the U.S. government, through the efforts of USAID [U.S. Agency for International Development], will increase its international assistance to southeastern Mexico.
“Promosur is the name we have given to our increased investment in southeastern Mexico. With PromoSur, the U.S. government will work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by supporting nature-based solutions (…). It will also seek to leverage investments in emerging markets (…),” the video announces.
The Deputy Administrator of USAID’s Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean, Mileydi Guilarte, present at the meeting with the governors of the Southeast, announced an investment of US$30 million earmarked for the region, beginning in late summer 2022. It will also include agreements between governments and private industry in the states of Campeche, Chiapas, Oaxaca, Quintana Roo, Tabasco, Veracruz and Yucatan.
The founder and coordinator of the Latin American Observatory of Geopolitics, Ana Esther Ceceña, warns about the historical role played by USAID in Latin America. “The idea of international development aid by the United States is the mode of intervention into the territories and social dynamics of the countries,” she points out.
To illustrate this, the expert in Latin American geopolitics recalls that throughout the 20th century all military dictatorships in Latin America were preceded by moments of intense USAID activity and budgetary support for the countries. “In Brazil, two years before the military coup took place (1964), a barbaric amount of resources were received from USAID, which provided the material conditions for the coup to take place,” she explains.
The researcher also underscores with concern the “proactive” role played by the US ambassador in the promotion of the “development” of the Mexican southeast, taking on a role as “quasi -governor of the southeast zone.”
“Now it is the U.S. ambassador who delivers the news before even the Mexican government. Now we are in the category of ‘Banana Republic,’ as has happened in other Latin American countries throughout the 20th century, when in order to know what policy a country was going to have, you would have to ask the U.S. embassy,” said the researcher.
Promoting the South
In addition to the direct investments already announced by the U.S. government, it is on PromoSur’s agenda to promote southeastern Mexico so that private companies can invest in the region.
Salazar, in his press conference, announced that in this last meeting with the governors there were companies such as Amazon, AT&T, Cisco, Google, Mercado Libre, Microsoft, Uber, Ibiza and Visa. “All committed to helping,” he said.
The governor of Oaxaca, Alejandro Murat, who was at the meeting, said that “we were able to have a broader conversation to be able to provide feedback to different companies and to be able to build an agenda for the Summit of the Americas and later a meeting with CEOs of companies in Washington, surely, in the coming months.”
According to the governor, an agenda is being built that seeks to land concrete investments. “I can say that important investments are coming in the Interoceanic Corridor, we already have more than 200 million dollars firm (…). The Corridor is destined to be Mexico’s great engine of growth.”
Originally Published in Spanish by avispa, Thursday, June 2, 2022, https://avispa.org/sureste-de-mexico-a-la-venta-bajo-promocion-de-la-embajada-de-los-eeuu/ with Translation by Schools for Chiapas and Re-Published by the Chiapas Support Committee
By: Mary Ann Tenuto-Sánchez
When discussing the increased violence in Chiapas, it’s helpful to remember that there is a neoliberal effort underway, promoted by the World Bank, to bring indigenous peoples in southeast Mexico into the capitalist marketplace. The vehicle for bringing this about is a massive infrastructure development plan, originally named the Plan Puebla-Panama and then re-named the Mesoamerica Project. It’s also helpful to remember that Chiapas is Mexico’s southernmost state and has an extensive border with Guatemala, one of the Northern Triangle countries in Central America, which expel both migrants and contraband into Mexico, thus contributing to the violence that takes place.
Media reports and analysis, Zapatista communiqués and anecdotal stories from Chiapas residents indicate increased violence due to the following sources: counterinsurgency (low-intensity war against the Zapatistas), the presence of national organized crime cartels, the San Cristóbal to Palenque superhighway, municipal elections and migration.
Counterinsurgency – “Low-Intensity War against the Zapatistas”
After the 1994 Zapatista Uprising, the Mexican Army was in charge of counterinsurgency actions to capture, contain and repress the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN). A February 1995 Army offensive against the Zapatistas brought about massive civil society demonstrations throughout Mexico in support of the Zapatistas and a negotiated peace in Chiapas. The Mexican Congress responded to civil society by enacting the “Law for Dialogue, Conciliation and Dignified Peace in Chiapas,” published in the Diario Oficial (the official government bulletin) on March 11, 1995. It amounted to a truce between the Mexican Army and the EZLN. After this law was signed, we saw paramilitary groups emerge, replacing the Mexican Army’s role of armed counterinsurgency. Those paramilitary groups have continued in one form or another to this day, sometimes active and at other times dormant. In the last three or four years we have seen an increase in paramilitary activity.
Paramilitary violence aimed directly at the civilian Zapatistas has clearly increased in intensity and frequency in specific areas: Aldama (Caracol 4, Oventik) and Nuevo San Gregorio, as well as surrounding communities in Lucio Cabañas Autonomous Municipality (Caracol 10 Patria Nueva). Both involve disputes over land and frequent armed attacks.
In Aldama, the attacks are several times a day every day from paramilitary groups in Santa Martha, Chenalhó. Seven residents of Aldama have been killed by gunfire and others have been injured or have died from illness caused by the conditions they suffered during forced displacement. According to press reports, some of the same paramilitaries who perpetrated the 1997 Acteal Massacre are involved, but now with a younger generation added. Aldama is the official name of the municipality. The Zapatistas are organized in Magdalena de la Paz autonomous municipality (Caracol Oventik) within the official municipality of Aldama.
In Nuevo San Gregorio, the armed attacks are frequent and aimed at taking land, crops and animals away from the community. Attackers are members of the Regional Organization of Ocosingo Coffee Growers (ORCAO, its Spanish acronym). Residents of Nuevo San Gregorio refer to them as “The 40 Invaders.” The origin of the conflict with ORCAO is an old one and attacks have happened off and on for almost 20 years, but the frequency and intensity have increased over the last 2 or 3 years and also extend to other communities within the Lucio Cabañas autonomous municipality.
Importantly, no level of government intervenes in these attacks! No level of government has intervened to stop the attacks in Aldama, where the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has issued precautionary measures. No level of government has intervened to stop attacks in Nuevo San Gregorio, where the aggressor group has also threatened human rights observers. The threats against observers were such that the Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Center (Frayba) took the unusual step of withdrawing observers from a community in conflict. These attacks on Zapatista communities are denounced by human rights and solidarity organizations and reported in the press. Of concern is whether there are other communities suffering violence that don’t denounce or report due to fear.
The attacks on Aldama and Nuevo San Gregorio seems to be a continuation of the federal government’s low-intensity war against the Zapatistas, now on steroids, an escalation rather than something completely new or different.
A Big Increase in Organized Crime
What has produced the most shocking/attention-grabbing headlines is the emergence of the “Motonetos” (Scooters) in San Cristóbal and the shootout in San Cristóbal’s Northern Market between local organized crime groups. We see a DRAMATIC INCREASE in the day-to-day distribution of drugs by local organized crime groups, including the former paramilitary groups, which are now narco-paramilitary groups, meaning those groups have even more money to buy high-powered weapons and other military equipment. Two recent reports help to detail and explain the increased violence due to organized crime: a statement from the Catholic Diocese of San Cristóbal de Las Casas and a report from the National Citizen Observatory.
Statement from the Diocese of San Cristóbal
On July 3, 2022, religious leaders of the San Cristóbal de Las Casas Catholic Diocese issued a statement denouncing a scenario of murder and other terrifying forms of violence, including the sale of organs, human trafficking for sexual and labor exploitation, as well as for pornography, all of this taking place within its jurisdiction, which includes most of the heavily indigenous eastern side of Chiapas, also considered the area of Zapatista influence.
The statement came just a few weeks after the shootout between armed groups fighting each other for control of San Cristóbal’s Northern Market, in which one person died after being struck by a ricocheting bullet. On June 14, masked men dressed in black with high-powered rifles blocked streets and fired shots into the air as terrified residents and shoppers in the area took cover wherever they could. One group was identified as the “Motonetos,” also known as “Scooters,” a group of young San Cristóbal residents who travel on motorcycles and work with organized crime.
The Diocese stated: “Every day organized crime occupies more space in Chiapas territory, painfully it’s adding to the national situation, and there is a struggle between competing groups at the state and local level.” This confirms the information San Cristóbal residents and NGO workers have given to solidarity folks visiting Chiapas from the United States: two national drug cartels are fighting for control of Chiapas and local organized crime groups have links to one or the other national cartels.
The Diocese recalls the murders of Simón Pedro Pérez López, a catechist and past president of Las Abejas of Acteal, and the indigenous prosecutor Gregorio Pérez in 2021. It also recalls several murders in 2022: the journalist Fredy López Arevalo, Señora Paula Ruíz and very recently the municipal president of Teopisca, a municipality adjacent to that of San Cristóbal.
The Diocese is, in part, motivated by recent arrests of its “pastoral agents.” It specifically refers to the May 31 arrest of Manuel Sántiz Cruz, a Tseltal defender of human rights and territory in the parish of San Juan Cancuc, and four more members of that parish. It further mentions the arrests of the councilor president of Pantelhó Municipality, Pedro Cortés López and municipal council member Diego Mendoza Cruz, with a luxury of violence.
The straw that seems to have broken the camel’s back was the state attorney general’s request that a court issue an arrest warrant for Father Marcelo Pérez Pérez, currently a parish priest in San Cristóbal, but until very recently the parish priest in Simojovel municipality, next door to the conflictive municipality of Pantelhó. Father Marcelo served as a mediator after the El Machete Self-Defense group rose up and removed the municipal council, as well as a group of 21 alleged hit men (sicarios) for a former municipal president’s organized crime group referred to as “Los Herrera.” At that time, these acts appeared to have the support of a large majority of the population, and they supported Cortés López as the new municipal president.
Nineteen of the alleged hit men who El Machete removed from their homes on July 26, 2021 have not been heard from since; their whereabouts are unknown. Their relatives are demanding action and are represented by a lawyer. They are pressuring the State Congress and the press. Now, the state government blames Cortés López, Mendoza Cruz and Father Marcelo for their disappearance. A judge issued the arrest warrant for Father Marcelo the day after the Diocese issued its statement, perhaps a warning to the Diocese.
The National Citizen Observatory
The denunciation from the Diocese follows a June 8 report from the National Citizen Observatory that the presence of organized crime has skyrocketed in Chiapas. The report details the increase in complaints to state authorities about the crime of drug dealing. Complaints rose 400% in just one month. It adds that there are municipalities with a 2,000 % increase in the same time period (April 2022).
Pueblo Creyente, a people of faith organization affiliated with the Diocese of San Cristóbal, denounced that: “insecurity, violence and territorial disputes provoked by organized crime (…) bring very strong consequences for our municipalities and our peoples, such as narco-politics, drug addiction in the ejidos, the increase of bars, car and motorcycle theft and murders.”
A member of Pueblo Creyente denounced in a meeting that last April, when she was riding in a public transport van, “some armed men stopped us, they took the women out, not me, I believe because I am an elderly person. They took them away (three women), their families didn’t find them, we haven’t heard from them again, but there is fear of denouncing.”
A dramatic example of this struggle for control took place after the Diocese issued its statement. A violent two-day battle for territorial control took place in the border municipalities of La Trinitaria and Frontera Comalapa between two local organized crime groups working for national crime cartels. More than four thousand people had to leave their homes to avoid the gunfire. After several days, the Mexican Army was able to stop the gun battle, arrest 3 people and confiscate an arsenal of weapons.
There are other factors contributing to the violence and repression. Not all violence can be attributed specifically to the presence of national organized crime groups. However, the presence of two national cartels battling each other for control of the state dramatically increases the amount of violence, which creates fear.
to be continued… Stay tuned for Part 2
Published by the Chiapas Support Committee, an adherent to the EZLN’s Sixth Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle, and a 501c.3 nonprofit in Oakland, California
By: Raúl Zibechi
Reaffirming the idea that empires collapse from within, when their contradictions cause their decline or facilitate conquest by their enemies, we see how the United States Armed Forces are having enormous difficulties recruiting members.
The US media maintains that the Army confronts “the worst recruitment crisis since the end of the Vietnam War,” that is, since compulsory military service [the draft] was eliminated, according to a report from Politico in July.
With just two months to go in the fiscal year, the Army had reached just 66 per cent of of its recruitment goal. General Joseph Martin told the House Military Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives that the Army could lose more than 20, 000 members, down from 466,000 soldiers to just 445,000, due to the difficulty of finding recruits.
However, as the Tom Dispatch report points out, the force offers “enlistment bonuses of up to $50, 000 dollars” to the candidates who decide to join the ranks. The other forces also offer bonuses, but all face the same problem recruiting combatants, with the Air Force facing the greatest difficulty after the Army.
The reasons must be found in a broken society, in frayed institutions and in a nation with no other goal than to continue dominating the world.
Only 23 percent of the Americans between 17 and 24 years of age can be selected to enter the Armed Forces, compared to 29 percent in previous years, NBC News highlights. The rest, more than three-quarters of youth, are automatically disqualified for obesity, criminal history, drug use, and physical or psychological problems.
In the US, there is a real epidemic of obesity, which has shot up in recent years and is growing five times faster than before among children, killing 300 thousand people each year.
The suicide rate is the highest among rich countries (14 deaths per every 100 thousand inhabitants), twice that of the United Kingdom and is largely due to mental illness, making up what is called “deaths of despair,” which also encompasses deaths by drug overdose, international reports on health reveal. The US has the lowest life expectancy among the 38 countries that make up the OECD. 
Indeed, a report from the Commonwealth Fund reports that: “Americans are living shorter and less healthy lives because the health care system doesn’t function as well as it could. However, the US spends more on health care than any other OECD country (17 percent of GDP in 2018), because it’s wasted on private insurance, while public care is deficient.
Mental health is another big problem that affects one in five young women and one in 10 men under 25. These are typical effects of inequalities based on wealth and skin color, in a country where the concentration of income continues to grow and the Afro-descendent population is severely punished by repression and the lack of prospects.
There is an additional problem, inside the Armed Forces. Of the population eligible to become combatants, only 9 percent have any propensity to enlist, due to the risk of physical injury or death, the possibility of post-traumatic stress and other psychological disorders. In addition, 34 percent of young people answered a survey assuring that they didn’t like the military lifestyle and 28 percent pointed to the possibility of sexual harassment or assault, Politico explained.
Much more data could be added that attest to the decline of the empire, and now also the difficulty in sustaining its Armed Forces. This doesn’t mean that they are going to give up, far from it. It means that more and more private armies will be created, like the famous Blackwater, now renamed Academi, a private company of mercenaries.
The so-called “private armies” are in reality paramilitary organizations that reach beyond the State armies, but governments don’t pay the costs political costs of sending their soldiers. The British G4S Secure Solutions, for example, intervenes in 125 countries, has 620,000 employees, recruits serial criminals and has excelled in assassinations of personalities, among many other crimes (https://bit.ly/3clRuul).
All the data point in the same direction: the capitalism of death that oppresses us is in the phase of causing genocide out of the desperation caused by the systemic changes underway.
It’s up to the movements to decide what to do, as there are no trustworthy institutions when the known world collapses. When those above only think of themselves, we are the ones that must organize in order to survive.
 OECD – Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development
Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada, Friday, August 26, 2022, https://www.jornada.com.mx/2022/08/26/opinion/019a2poln and Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee