Chiapas Support Committee

Fonatur did not define the feasibility or social risks of the Maya Train

By: Enrique Mendez and Arturo Sánchez Jiménez

The National Fund for the Promotion of Tourism (Fonatur) started the Maya Train project in 2019 without having determined its social feasibility and without having a diagnosis that anticipates the possible effects and social risks that its construction and operation would cause, according to the Superior Auditor of the Federation (ASF, its initials in Spanish).

In the 2019 Report of the Result of the Superior Audit of the Public Account it states that the agency carried out seven audits of the Maya Train, in which after reviewing the exercise of more than 1.1 billion pesos, it concludes, among other points, that the destination of 156 million pesos, related to unjustified payments and contract awards must be clarified.

In these audits, the ASF recommends that Fonatur evaluate the replacement of the indigenous consultation and that it define a strategy for the purpose of guarantying that the project is profitable.

And it’s that, in its reviews, the Auditor found that the Fonatur “initiated administrative measures before consulting the indigenous population, since it did not inform them about the effects and risks, did not foresee care for the population that would be affected, in the social ambit, for its development. Additionally, the quasi-State agency did not accredit the social focus of the project, nor its contribution in matters of health, education and wellbeing in its host communities.” [1]

To the auditing agency, in 2019 the Fonatur lacked the studies to determine the project’s social feasibility because it didn’t have the definite route of the Maya Train, nor of the location of the development poles along its route.

In one of the audits carried out on the project, the ASF made 20 recommendations to Fonatur related to the social effects of the project, among which is to implement the methodology for defining and promoting the social benefit that the development of the Maya Train Project will have its host communities.

In another review on the performance of the construction project, the ASF issued 13 recommendations, among which is to define a control mechanism for monitoring the investment, which includes the costs and benefits expected for each one of the sections of the train, as well as the profitability indicators of the Maya Train Project, through which it will be guaranteed that it’s profitable.

To the ASF, if the modifications to the project’s design continue –such as changes in the train’s route– or if there are delays in construction, “it could increase the cost and there would be a risk that the State may not obtain the expected profitability for the project.”

[1] This finding by the Auditing agency clearly gives indigenous communities that oppose the Maya Train support for legal actions against the train’s construction. AMLO is angry and wants one of the auditors removed.

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Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Sunday, February 21, 2021

https://www.jornada.com.mx/2021/02/21/politica/004n1pol

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

 

 

 

 

Yucatán court grants three new orders to stop work on Maya Train

By: Angélica Enciso L. and Jared Laureles

The fourth district court seated in Yucatán granted three new provisional suspensions against the Maya Train in the state, which prevents federal authorities from continuing construction work on Section 3 of the new project until the definitive suspension is resolved.

The Múuch’ Xíinbal Assembly of Defenders of Maya Territory and the Chuun t’aan Maya Collective, as well as the legal team from Indignation, Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (Indignation), reported that the three suspensions (amparos) that indigenous Mayas from 40 Yucatán communities filed challenge the constitutionality of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) approved by the Secretariat of the Environment and Natural Resources (Semarnat, its Spanish acronym), in favor of the National Fund for the Promotion of Tourism for the project’s construction.

In a videoconference, José Orvelín Montiel Cortés, a lawyer with Indignation, pointed out that the arguments outlined in the appeals for suspension –presented last January 20– maintain that the right to information was violated, since “the indigenous communities had no access at any time to the studies derived from the EIS” and with that se “the right to adequate participation” was violated. At the same time, he argued to the judicial authority about the omission of holding a regional environmental evaluation that includes the study of the project’s impacts in a comprehensive and not a fractured way.

Faced with these violations, the fourth district judge considered that the approval of the EIS “implies a preponderant risk” to the environment of the communities and to future generations for the damages that construction of the Maya Train may cause, Montiel Cortés said.

These resolutions, he specified, are added to the other five already granted to different communities on the [Yucatan] Peninsula. In Chiapas, there are two suspensions, but only one with a definitive suspension. In Campeche, there are three suspensions with two being provisional and one definitive. In the case of Yucatan, there are five suspensions with four provisional suspensions, as well as two cases that were turned over to the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation.

Jorge Fernández Mendiburu, also a lawyer with Indignation, warned that despite the provisional suspensions, the construction work continues, with “the argument that they are carrying out maintenance on the tracks,” because of which he made a call to the judges to pay attention to these facts, because by not respecting the resolutions “it would be a simulation.”

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Thursday, February 18, 2021

https://www.jornada.com.mx/2021/02/18/politica/015n1pol

(See 2nd article below)

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YUCATAN JUDGE GRANTS DEFINITIVE SUSPENSION of WORK ON MAYA TRAIN

By: César Arellano García

The third district court seated in Yucatán granted the definitive suspension of construction on Phase 1 the Maya Train to residents of the municipalities of Chocholá, Mérida and Izamal.

The ruling orders federal authorities to abstain from continuing work and initiating new construction related to the project, while it is resolved whether or not they grant protection to the residents. However, the resolution can be challenged so that the case is appealed to a collegiate court.

In that regard, the Kanan Human Rights Collective recalled that the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources (Semarnat), through the General Directorate of Environmental Impact and Risk, held a consultation in July 2020 in which some people detected the omission in certain annexes related to the report presented in the environmental impact statement of the Maya Train project in its phase 1, and given those irregularities, they initiated the case for a suspension.

In a communication, the organization pointed out that last January 21 Judge Karla Domínguez Aguilar, head of the third district court based in Yucatán, granted the provisional suspension in which she prohibited the execution of new work on the project.

This definitive suspension is very important to the activists, since with it residents of that area will be able to demand the right to have public information and obtain a favorable ruling that can be materialized. “It’s important that the project be stopped to prevent irreparable harm to the rights of all people, especially to public participation, active transparency and a healthy environment.”

Last week the fourth district court in Yucatán granted three new provisional suspensions to members of the Múuch’ Xíinbal Assembly of Defenders of Maya Territory and the Chuun t’aan Maya Collective against construction of the railroad.

The collectives also challenged the approval of the environmental impact statement that the Semarnat granted to the National Fund for Promoting Tourism (Fonatur, its Spanish acronym).

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Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

https://www.jornada.com.mx/2021/02/23/politica/011n2pol

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

 

 

 

 

 

“San Andrés strengthened the processes of autonomy, with or without recognition from the State”

National Indigenous Congress (Congreso Nacional Indígena, CNI) members rally in a 2016 mobilization in solidarity with teachers’Congreso struggle.

By Daliri Oropeza

Twenty-five years have passed since the San Andrés Accords were signed. The agrarian lawyer Carlos González, founding member of the National Indigenous Congress, believes that the reality of Indigenous peoples changed following the signing of the document, regardless of the failure of the Mexican government to comply with them.

On January 1, 1994, the Zapatista National Liberation Army  (EZLN) declared war on the Mexican State. In the First Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle, they formulated 11 basic demands for Indigenous peoples: work, land, shelter, food, health, education, independence, freedom, democracy, justice and peace. These demands inspired other Indigenous communities who carefully observed what the EZLN was doing in Chiapas. After the first peace dialogue with the government, they initiated a long-range and unprecedented process of reconstitution. They convened Indigenous peoples, civil society, advisers and guests, addressing them by name. The Protocol of the dialogues that the Zapatista guerrillas entered into with the government included the phrase “peace with justice and dignity.”

According to the agreed upon Protocol, the dialogues would entail  four working groups, three topics, and several stages. The first stage was to establish the basis for negotiation, by identifying agreements and disagreements. The second, to formulate commitments and agreements. The third, to ratify and sign, after a period of consultation declarations, agreements and commitments.

The EZLN’s guests and the government made proposals and exchanged documents for discussion. The topics were: Indigenous Rights and Culture-Roundtable 1 (which took place);  Democracy and Justice -Roundtable 2 (which stalled after the second stage because the government offered nothing, and the dialogue was eventually suspended with the arrest of Comandante Germán): Welfare and Development, Roundtable 3 and Women’s Rights- Roundtable 4, neither of which took place. The three themes were: conciliation between various sectors of Chiapas society; political and social participation of the EZLN; and comprehensive détente, including measures to prevent the resumption of hostilities.

“Throughout the negotiations, the EZLN has been gathering diverse statements and getting consensus in order to get the government to resolve the problematic situation and the undignified misery that the Indigenous peoples of the country endure. As for their autonomy, which has not been fully accepted by the Federal government, the EZLN conceives it in the context of a much broader and more diverse national struggle,” the EZLN announced the day before the signing, in a document entitled Follow-up, where they stressed that they would negotiate all the demands of the attendees, not only those that gave birth to the EZLN.

Carlos González participated in these dialogues held on the San Andrés Sacamchén ball courts, in the middle of the wooded mountain range of the Altos de Chiapas. He maintains that the eleven demands of the EZLN reflected the profound inequality suffered by the original  peoples of Mexico to this day. And the people saw themselves in them. The Indigenous struggle changed as a result of both the uprising and the dialogue process that led to the San Andrés Accords on February 16, 1996.

González is a founding member of the network of Indigenous peoples that arose from these agreements: the National Indigenous Congress (CNI, Congreso Nacional Indígena) . Twenty-five years after this unprecedented event in Mexico, the agrarian lawyer gives his diagnosis of the Indigenous movement and puts into perspective why for the country there is a before and an after San Andrés Accords.

The Indigenous watershed in the movements

What was the Indigenous movement like before the San Andrés Accords? What is it like now?

—The Indigenous peoples were not part of the armed and unarmed movements of the left. The Zapatistas were the first to transform themselves by abandoning the traditional Marxist discourse and placing the Indigenous peoples as an important subject of struggle. The Indigenous had no rights.

Before the Zapatista uprising and the signing of the San Andrés Accord, the Indigenous movement had been unifying and gaining strength, at least since 1992, the year of  the 500th anniversary of the European invasion of the continent they called America, and the beginning of the subsequent conquest of our peoples.

The government of Spain and various European and American governments tried to celebrate the 500-year anniversary. The Indigenous movement that existed, limited as it was, began to organize around the demand that there be no celebration, no commemoration, rather that the date be acknowledged for what it was: A date of mourning, the beginning of the greatest genocide in the history of humanity, one that caused the death of at least 60 million people whose villages were plundered and at least 90 million human beings who were brought from Africa to America as slaves. The greatest genocide in the history of humanity.

As a result,  various struggles and Indigenous movements in Mexico on the continent began to unify.

The San Andrés Accords were a series of conversations attempting to propose State reforms that could lead to constitutional reforms that would begin to recognize the basic rights,  the fundamental rights, of the Indigenous peoples in Mexico. This provoked the emergence of an American Indian movement and an Indigenous movement in Mexico that achieved a certain unity. However, in 1994 these movements, these processes were still invisible, they did not reach the entire national territory, nor did they have a sufficient presence or political force at the national level, much less at the international level.

The Zapatista uprising, first of all, gives visibility to Indigenous peoples. Secondly, it puts the political agendas and the demands of the original peoples up front and center.

Third, Zapatismo brings together the original peoples and leads to the formation of Indigenous movements that are more coherent and  profound and broadens the scope of their objectives, as we saw in the dialogues.

The communities emerged with more political power that eventually, under the auspices of Zapatismo, and following the signing of the San Andrés accords on October 12, 1996, results in   the founding of the National Indigenous Congress, which includes representatives of the Clandestine Indigenous Revolutionary Committee General Command (CCRIG) of the Zapatista National Liberation Army.

From betrayal to autonomy

—What is your diagnosis at this moment of the Indigenous Movement?

—Twenty five  years after signing the San Andrés agreements, the first thing that should be pointed out is: The government betrayed them.

In 2001, the CNI, together with the EZLN,  organized the March of the Color of the Earth to pressure the Mexican State to include the San Andrés Accords in the Federal Constitution. On April 28, 2001, the Chamber of Deputies enacted legislation that pretended to include them. It was not so. The basic rights of autonomy, the recognition of the communities as entities with collective rights, the ability of these communities to associate with each other, the rights of municipalities where the majority are Indigenous, the recognition of territorial rights were not included in the constitutional reform, which totally deformed the San Andrés Accords. It rendered them nugatory [null and void; meaningless], illusory.

From that moment to this day, the situation of Indigenous peoples in relation to the State has consisted of a constant erosion of their rights and a permanent violation of them; multiple processes of dispossession of their territories and natural resources in favor of great national and transnational capitals.

Throughout these years, the Indigenous movement has suffered a major onslaught, a relentless battering, full of violence. However, the San Andrés agreements strengthened processes of autonomy, with or without the recognition of the State, and regardless of the degree of recognition in the Constitution. Particularly important and unique are the Zapatista Autonomous Municipalities, the Good Government Juntas and the Caracoles that exist totally outside the law and control of the Mexican State, and that survive without any kind of public budget.

What has the CNI meant for the Indigenous movement as having derived from the San Andrés dialogues?

—The National Indigenous Congress perseveres in spite of this very adverse situation. It has survived throughout all these years and in a few months it will be celebrating its 25th anniversary as a space of organization, of unity, with its own highs and lows. But it continues with its struggle and its historic proposals, which have been reinforced since 2017, when the Indigenous Governing Council [Consejo Indígena de Gobierno, CIG] was formed and launched its spokesperson Marichuy as a candidate for President of the Republic.

The CNI, from my point of view, is not the only space, nor is it the only process, but it is the most representative and the most important at the national level, the one that  represents the historic and strategic interests of the Indigenous movement.

There are many other movements that are good and that also derive from San Andrés, but they are fighting conjunctural issues, questions of mediate and immediate demands.

The CNI considers the long-term historical objectives of Indigenous peoples; and that we have to put them at the center. The Indigenous people who are oppressed by the Mexican State and by the capitalist system must liberate themselves. And that is the deep and radical proposal of the National Indigenous Congress.

That is what gives it a representativity beyond that which can be derived from representative democracy or sheer numbers, that’s one side. But also, this network gives visibility, gives light, to the different Indigenous movements, whether they are with the CNI or not. Why? Because it gives presence and continuity to the struggles in the communities of this country which helps them get coverage and support. Even for some movements that have a vision that is opposed to the National Indigenous Congress, that are prone to making alliances or agreements with the Mexican government or with parts of the Mexican State. We have had important colleagues who are currently in key positions within the Mexican State, pushing their Indigenist policies, right?

How do you see the immediate future of the country in terms of Indigenous peoples?

—The future is catastrophic for the world and for the country, for Indigenous people and for non-Indigenous people. Capitalism is leading us to a kind of massive destruction of human living conditions on the planet that is being expressed in a profound health, ecological, cultural and economic crisis. Right now capitalism threatens humanity as a whole—Mexico of course, to say nothing of the original peoples. However, I believe that the original peoples, in their forms of life, in their deep relationship with the earth, are able to propose a different way of living and inventing the world, and that they have tried to do so.

Current Issues

What is your diagnosis of the movement twenty five years after the San Andrés Accords?

—The issues have changed. At that time, the issue was for the Constitution to incorporate the fundamental rights that were established in the San Andrés Accords.

At this point,  including these agreements in the Constitution would be basically unrealistic, because there is a whole legal constitutional framework that has been reformed over thirty years to favor the neoliberal capitalist dispossession of lands, territories, natural resources and culture of the country’s Indigenous and peasant communities.

The mere incorporation of the San Andrés Accords are no longer relevant. There is a set of processes, of laws governing energy and other profound reforms to the Constitution, such as Article 27, that are totally contrary to the spirit of the San Andrés Accords and that render it, I use a legal word again: nugatory [null and void; meaningless] that is, illusory,  that are mere illusion.

The great issue that is now pending, it sounds small, is the destruction of capitalism. And it’s urgent. It is something so difficult, so complicated and so great, and it’s urgent. That is the priority that we have as humanity, because we are really ending our living conditions as societies, as cultures, as human civilizations.

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Published in Spanish by Pie de Página and translated by the Chiapas Support Committee. Read the original here: https://piedepagina.mx/san-andres-fortalecio-los-procesos-de-autonomia-con-o-sin-reconocimiento-del-estado/

Background: Conquest, national independence and indigenous emancipation [On internal colonialism]

Diego Rivera mural in Mexico City/Tenochtitlan depicting a battle between invading Spanish conquistadores and indigenous warriors

By Francisco López Bárcenas

This year marks 500 years since the fall of Tenochtitlan to the power of the Spanish invaders. That event initiated the conquest and subsequent colonization of all of Anahuac, the part of the continent known as Central America and Aridoamerica, the territory that now makes up the Mexican State. Maybe it was thinking of this that two days before 2020 ended, the Diario Oficial de la Federación [The Federation’s Official Daily] published a decree made by the Congress of the Union declaring this current year the Year of Independence. Because these events are bound together, various academic institutions announced plans to analyze the impact that the conquest, colonization and struggles for independence continue to have on the life of its inhabitants, but most of all, on the indigenous peoples that live in the country.

This issue is important, most of all given new interpretations that we have of these events, which are the product of historical findings and because of the structures that maintain exploitation in recent years. Since the mid 20th century, studies began to appear that contradicted the way that the history of the conquest was officially told and that question the way in which the war of independence unfolded, but most of all, they question the outcomes of that war. This was how we knew that the conquest was made possible by the superiority of Spanish weapons, but also by the cooperation of some Indigenous groups who thought that they would be liberated from their rivals, which they were, but only to fall into a much more profound subordination, which was not only economic, political and military, but also cultural, religious, and epistemic. Spanish domination was both spiritual and material.

And more has been discovered about independence: The new interpretations discuss how national independence didn’t represent an independence for indigenous peoples, who in those times made up the majority population. These studies explain that the State that emerged when New Spain separated from the Spanish crown maintained the same colonial structures that were built over 300 years. The only difference was that now the colonizers were Criollos [Spanish people born in Mexico], and the colonized were the indigenous. They explained the dispossession of Indigenous lands, forests and water over the second half of the 19th century, which led to their armed confrontation with the State to ensure their existence. The studies talk of a second colonization, which persists. Many respected academics referred to the phenomenon as an internal colonization, with different stages and expressions.

Contrary to popular belief, indigenismo [indigenism] was part of these politics of internal colonization and multiculturalism was its neoliberal version. It is important to have this in mind, especially when thinking about the emancipation of peoples fighting for their autonomy. Many indigenous weren’t completely aware of this during the indigenismo movement. This led them to accept positions in the colonizing government, thinking that in this way they were contributing to the emancipation of their people, when, to the contrary, they attained personal prestige and a better financial and social position for themselves. In exchange they helped construct a discourse that concealed the dispossession of their people and concealed the repression of anyone who was in opposition. Those who buy into the “Fourth Transformation” do the same: They are silent when the rights of Indigenous people are violated, or worse, they say that their rights are respected.

To shed light and find the horizon on the road to emancipation that we are to walk moving forward, it is good to enter the debate taking in mind the perspective and conditions of the people. There are issues that require explanation: What are the specific characteristics of internal colonialism in a government that said it was about transformation, but at the heart maintains the same politics as its predecessors?  What effect does intercultural education have on either maintaining or rising above the colonization of knowledge? Do the paths to political participation created by the Mexican government lead towards emancipation or to the continuation of internal colonization? Do the forms of community production serve as emancipatory processes on the regional or national level, or do they just function in some localities? And, most importantly, are we building roads towards emancipation, or just towards resistance?

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Originally appeared in Spanish, published by La Jornada, as “Conquista, independencia nacional y emancipación indigena.” Translated to English by the Chiapas Support Committee. Read the original here: https://www.jornada.com.mx/2021/01/20/opinion/016a1pol

In the above mentioned decree from the Congress, declaring 2021 the Year of Independence, the executive powers are instructed to create a program with activities to commemorate it. The organizations of indigenous people and their allies could do the same from their specific perspective: searching for concrete solutions to real problems. The ideological struggle is also important in the creation of the road to emancipation.

CNI warns of the country’s reorganization against the indigenous peoples

Before the pandemic, this was the CNI march on the anniversary of the death of Samir Flores, a Nahua from Amilcingo, Morelos who defended his territory from the Morelos Integral Project.

By: Daliri Oropeza

The National Indigenous Congress decided in an assembly to accompany the EZLN’s tour to different continents and to go on the offensive faced with the political landscape that is pushing energy megaprojects and imposing a territorial reorganization focused on profits.

“Now we are on the offensive,” a Nahua campesino delegate of the National Indigenous Congress tells me, who, in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic attended the Fifth Joint Assembly with the Indigenous Government Council. It was a two-day meeting with 180 participants; representing most of the peoples that make up this network of peoples, communities and barrios.

Once there, the social barriers that Covid-19 has created were broken. The meeting was held in a recuperated territory in the Ejido Tepoztlán, Morelos, the Fifth Stone. It was taken back (recuperated) from the first one to plunder it, with the surname of Salinas de Gortari. [1] Only two representatives from each people were allowed to be present.

Many people felt nervous at the beginning because of the pandemic. Little by little the atmosphere normalized with the mutual care of following health measures and the use of masks. The EZLN’s invitation to accompany the tour through various continents and the crisis situation in which we live, which is much more acute in the communities in resistance, forced the CNI to leave the virtual world and make agreements face to face.

Morelos is in the red zone for Covid. And also for the megaprojects. For this reason, it was symbolic that they carried out these collective decisions in Tepoztlán. There the government of the self-proclaimed 4T is the Huexca Thermoelectric Plant and with it, the culmination of the Morelos Integral Project.

“The anti-capitalist proposal has body and substance,” affirms Carlos González, agrarian lawyer and delegate to the CNI.

In the pronouncement they denounce:

“The imposition of the Maya Train, coupled with the construction of 15 urban centers, of the Salina Cruz-Coatzacoalcos Interoceanic Corridor that contemplates 10 urban-industrial corridors, and of the International Airport of Mexico City-Lake Texcoco Ecological Park, together with the Morelos Integral Project seek the country’s reorganization in accordance with the economic interests of big capital. Similarly, this project of building for the benefit of foreign companies three thermoelectric plants –one of which is finished–, a network of pipelines and a mega-plant to store fuels in the Santiago River watershed, to the south of Guadalara, which also happens to be one of the most contaminated regions in the country, is very serious; to all of that you have to add the Centenary Canal, currently being carried out by the National Guard, which intends to draw from the San Pedro and Santiago Rivers in Nayarit. In the same way, open pit mining threatens hundreds of territories of indigenous peoples using the same formula of division, dispossession and destruction of our communities.”

“Capitalism in its incessant development is driving human societies to madness, it is propitiating the destruction of the conditions for human life, as we have already indicated during the tour of the compañera Marichuy with the Indigenous Governing Council and the Zapatistas over and over again,” assures Carlos González, and he emphasizes that it is one of the core points in the collective reflection of the Fifth Assembly, in an interview with journalist Rubén Martín.

This crack that the Zapatistas open to denounce the dispossession is important.

In the five working groups, as well as in the plenary session, the CNI decided that a commission made up of mostly women would attend the tour alongside the EZLN across 5 continents. And not only that. They agreed to incorporate a commission of care for the families that stay behind while the women heed the call.

Accordion to the sociologist and social anthropologist Márgara Millán, who also attended the Fifth Assembly, this is a qualitative advancement in the CNI’s way of organizing. To assume care in a collective way is a result of their lived experience during the tour of Marichuy, in addition to the imprint made by the Zapatista women that have led fundamental organizational gatherings.

What Millán refers to as advances, the Nahua campesino of the CNI expresses as going on the offensive, through activating care. It is care for the countryside, care for the compañeras that predominates the discussions. It is not only denouncing, but acting. To subscribe to the Zapatista initiative for life is to participate in the activities and deepen the anticapitalist struggles of resistance.

[1] Carlos Salinas de Gortari was president of Mexico between 1988 and 1994, notably during the Zapatista Uprising.

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Originally Published in Spanish by Pie de Página

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

https://piedepagina.mx/cni-advierte-reordenamiento-del-pais-en-contra-de-los-pueblos-indigenas/

English interpretation by Schools for Chiapas

Re-Published by the Chiapas Support Committee

 

 

 

 

The February betrayal, a sign of the war that continues

Photo: @ArchivesFrayba 1995-1996

By: Pedro Faro Navarro*

It wasn’t the EZLN that broke the dialogue and re-started the war.

It was the government.

It wasn’t the EZLN that feigned political well while it prepared the military and treacherous blow.

It was the government.

It wasn’t the EZLN that invented a conspiracy to obtain reasons that justify the irrational.

It was the government.

It wasn’t the EZLN that detained and tortured civilians.

It was the government.

It wasn’t the EZLN that murdered.

It was the government.

It wasn’t the EZLN that bombed and machine-gunned populations.

It was the government.

It wasn’t the EZLN that raped indigenous women.

It was the government.

It wasn’t the EZLN that stole from and dispossessed campesinos.

It was the government.

It wasn’t the EZLN that betrayed the will of the whole nation, of achieving a political exit to the conflict.

It was the government.

Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos

February 9 marked the 26th anniversary of the federal government’s betrayal, Ernesto Zedillo, the president of Mexico’s betrayal of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, EZLN), the betrayal of an entire nation that demanded peace and the response from the State was the activation of the Chiapas 94 Counterinsurgency Plan.

This action took place in the context of the distention to the internal armed conflict and reactivation of the dialogue. The Mexican government showed its most faithful face, repression of the peoples.

In February ‘95, former president Zedillo announced the issuance of arrest warrants and military incursions that resulted in a deepening of the occupation of the armed forces in the state of Chiapas -which have remained until now-. It’s the military logic of a path of war against the peoples in resistance; it’s the continuum of the Mexican government that opted for extermination.

The incursion of the Mexican Army into the Chiapas Jungle had the purpose of arresting the EZLN’s leadership, which caused the forced displacement of thousands of people that fled into the mountains; others suffered arbitrary imprisonment, extrajudicial executions, forced disappearances, torture, illegal searches, violations of the right of the freedom to travel because of the installation of military checkpoints that caused terror in the region, permanent military and paramilitary harassment, among other grave human rights violations. Acts denounced by the EZLN on February 11, 1995:

“The Federal Government is acting with lies, is making a dirty war on our towns. Yesterday at noon, 4 helicopters bombed the area on the outskirts of Morelia and La Garrucha, as well as machine-gunning the area under Zapatista control, thousands of federal soldiers penetrated the jungle’s interior, through Monte Libano, Agua Azul, Santa Lucia, La Garrucha, San Agustín, Guadalupe Tepeyac and others. They are extending a ring of death. We Zapatistas, troops and civilians, up to now have done everything possible to retreat, but we no longer have any other option than to defend ourselves and our peoples, thousands of civilians who have been displaced from their homes. Brothers, the government of Ernesto Zedillo is killing us, is killing children, is beating women and raping them.”1

This genocidal policy of the Mexican State is remembered for the proliferation of paramilitary groups in the territory, sustaining the impunity that is currently reactivated with the successor groups of para-militarism in the Highlands. In Aldama and Chalchihuitán municipalities there is a critical situation of human rights violations, causing thousands of people into forced displacement and generalized violence that doesn’t stop. The sign of this time, like on ’95, is of terror anchored in the perverse indifference of the Mexican government.2

The violence intensifies with the reactivation of armed groups that operate in the Jungle Zone and seek to dispossess the EZLN’s territories where the Zapatista towns and communities are settled in the Moisés Gandhi region, official municipality of Ocosingo, acts perpetrated by the Regional Organization of Ocosingo Coffee Growers (ORCAO, its initials in Spanish). That’s in addition to the attacks on territories located in the Zapatista community of Nuevo San Gregorio, in the official municipality of Huixtán. Attacks that are articulated in the follow-up to a strategy that comes from the factual powers and the municipal, state and federal governments that promote the counterinsurgency that doesn’t stop, in this persistent action of beating the processes of autonomy that are maintained against the grain of the capitalist system.3

Betrayal as an extermination strategy comes from the power of the State that proposes colonization based on territorial dispossession of the peoples, as an example in Mexico: the Morelos Integral Plan, the Interoceanic Corridor, the “Maya” Train and its development poles that threaten live. Nevertheless, the struggles for the horizons of life are being promoted from the peoples and the communities, in the movements in defense of humanity and Mother Earth, as has been expressed in the signatures that were added on the document convened by the EZLN: “A declaration… for Life”,4 wherein there is a hope of world action that promotes the continuity of a change in the system that has repercussions on a society necessary for the time of the peoples.

Jobel, Chiapas México,

February 10, 2021

* Pedro Faro Navarro is currently the Director of the Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Center in San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas.

1 http://enlacezapatista.ezln.org.mx/ 11 de febrero de 1995.

Faro, Pedro. El desplazamiento forzado en Chiapas, los impactos de la violencia y la impunidad.

Report from the Caravan of Solidarity and Documentation with the autonomous Zapatista communities of Nuevo San Gregorio and Moisés Gandhi Region. November 11, 2020.

4  Part One: Una declaración… por la vida. 01 de enero de 2021.

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Originally Published in Spanish by Desinformemonos

Thursday, February 11, 2021

https://desinformemonos.org/traicion-de-febrero-la-huella-de-la-guerra-que-continua/

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

The San Andrés Accords, autonomy vs. neo-indigenism

By: Luis Hernández Navarro

This February 16th marks the 25th anniversary of the signing of the San Andrés accords on indigenous rights and culture. Much has changed since then, but one thing remains: indigenism as a State policy.

Indigenism is the name given to institutional policy aimed at serving the indigenous population. Simultaneously, it is an anthropological theory, an ideology of the State, and a governmental practice. Its central objective is to protect the indigenous communities, integrating them with the rest of national society, diluting their character as a people and as a historical subject. It is policy of the non-indigenous towards the indigenous, although its architects might belong to some ethnic group.

One of its primary promoters, Alfonso Caso predicted that within 50 years, there would be no more indians: all would be Mexicans. He wasn’t alone in this enterprise. Many thinkers, before and after him, have seen the inexorable destiny of the indigenous peoples, in the integration of the mestizo national society.

Despite the fact that the Mexican nation has had a pluri-ethnic and multicultural make-up since its founding, its constitutions have not reflected this reality. Erasing the Indian from the country’s geography, making them Mexican, forcing them to abandon their identity and culture, and folklorizing them, has been an obsession of the ruling classes since the Constitution of 1824. The intention of building a Nation-state, of casting off the colonial heritage, of resisting the dangers of foreign intervention, of combatting ecclesiastical and military jurisdiction, and of modernizing came to prioritize a vision of national unity that excluded the pluri-national reality.

The Accords of San Andés were intended to celebrate the funeral of indigenism and resolve this historical debt. Its central point consisted in the recognition of the Indian peoples as social and historical subjects and the right to exercise their autonomy.

Autonomy is one of the ways of exercising self determination. Its practice implies the real transfer to the indigenous peoples of the abilities, functions and competencies that today are the responsibility of government entities.

The Zapatistas invited writer Fernando Benítez, who had dedicated 20 years of his life to defending and studying the native peoples and was the author of five monumental books on them, to the San Andrés dialogues as an advisor. The journalist gladly accepted the proposal.

His motivations were genuine. What did the Indians teach me?, Benítez asked himself at the end of his life. They taught me to not believe I was special, to behave impeccably, to consider the animals, plants, oceans and skies, to know what democracy and respect for human dignity consist of. And also to go from the everyday to the sacred. ( La Jornada, 5/7/95).

Although many of the problems that they faced were the same, the perspective of struggle of the Indians that participated in the dialogues was completely different than those described by Benítez since 1960. The author of The Indians of México perceived the people as being most miserable, the poorest campesinos, those that live on the worst lands in a country of bad land, the ones being invaded. He anticipated the inevitable doom of disappearance of their cultures and their replacement by the debris of industrialism. And he proposed to rescue what was left of the indigenous cultures, before the end of the process. (https://bit.ly/3p50tRf).

But they didn’t disappear. On the contrary. They became more present than ever. Certainly the indigenous convened by the EZLN, first to the dialogues and later to the formation of the National Indigenous Congress, suffered the effects of internal colonialism, and therefore came from regions beset by dispossession, oppression, exploitation and discrimination, similar to those described by Benítez. However, far from representing cultures on the border of disappearance, these leaders were a living expression of a formidable capacity for resistance and of reinvention of the traditions of their peoples.

San Andrés was attended by indigenous leaders that emerged during the 1970’s and stepped into public light as a result of the Zapatista insurrection, together with traditional community authorities. Also participating were prominent indigenous intellectuals, who had elaborated a rich reflection about how to reconstitute their people.

Twenty-five years after the signing of the agreements and the founding of the CNI, some of the indigenous people who participated passed away. Others have incorporated themselves into the ranks of the government in office, from the PAN to the 4T. However, the movement born of this process, oriented toward the construction of autonomy and the struggle against capitalism, is more vigorous and solid than two and a half decades ago. Hundreds of new leaders and dozens of intellectuals (including many women) have taken the generational baton.

Two and a half decades after the accords of San Andrés were signed, the Mexican state continues its failure to comply. Additionally, the autonomous indigenous movement suffers the murder of its leaders and the federal government’s promotion of a neo-indigenist welfare program that goes hand in hand with the promotion of megaprojects on their territories. (https://bit.ly/3oXetMs).

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Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

https://www.jornada.com.mx/2021/02/09/opinion/017a1pol

English Translation by Schools for Chiapas

Re-Published by the Chiapas Support Committee

The war of attrition against the Zapatista communities

“No more paramilitaries in Zapatista communities.” Photo: Elizabeth Ruiz

 The strategy of the Andrés Manuel López Obrador Government is completed with the installation of new camps and National Guard bases in the Ocosingo region, which goes hand in hand with the reactivation of armed groups such as the ORCAO that act as paramilitaries.

By: Raúl Zibechi

“We are not owners of the land, we are its guardians. The land is for living, not for doing business,” says a young man from Nuevo San Gregorio community, Lucio Cabañas Autonomous Municipality, Caracol 10, in the official municipality of Ocosingo, Chiapas.

“We are enclosed in our own land,” adds a woman from the same community who is being besieged by 40 armed invaders with support from the Government. She explains that despite the fence siege, the families have mounted a carpentry workshop, and they make embroidery and mecapal [1] as a form of resistance.

Those are testimonies collected by the “Solidarity Caravan,” made up of more than 15 collectives adhered to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle, while in Nuevo San Gregorio community as well in the five communities that make up the Moisés Gandhi region, which is in the Lucio Cabañas Autonomous Municipality, in the official municipality of Ocosingo.

Members of the Ajmaq Network of Resistance and Rebellion explain to us from San Cristóbal de Las Casas that it’s about more than 600 hectares that were recuperated by the Zapatista bases during the 1994 offensive and that are now being surrounded by “medium-sized property owners and people allied with the federal government, as well as the state of Chiapas government” and by members of the Regional Organization of Ocosingo Coffee Growers (ORCAO).

In Moisés Gandhi, inhabited by hundreds of families, the attacks began on April 23, 2019, with shots from high-caliber weapons from 5 am to 9 pm, a situation that the Government doesn’t want nor has the will to stop. Ever since the attacks began, in April 2019, groups of 250 to 300 armed people arrived in vehicles on various occasions, burning houses, stealing and destroying crops. On several occasions they have kidnapped comuneros (community members), beaten them, threatened them and then released them.

On August 22, 2020, they burned a Zapatista coffee warehouse at the Cuxuljá Crossroads, a strategic highway crossing that connects to San Cristóbal and Palenque.

Were dealing with new forms of counterinsurgency that are adapting to the growth and territorial expansion of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, EZLN), which now has 43 centers of resistance. Members of the caravan explain that the ORCAO’s members are politicized people who know the Zapatista movement well.

For years they have been attracted to the social programs that offer them economic resources if they regularize the land; they can then capitalize and go from being poor campesinos to rich campesinos, acquiring power. The ORCAO sells its coffee to large companies linked to Wall Mart, since it has aspirations to make big profits.

“The form of operating consists of enclosing the homes, clinics and schools of Zapatista families and communities, thereby preventing them from continuing to produce, configuring a comprehensive war of attrition [2] that seeks to break the autonomous economy,” members of the Ajmaq and the solidarity caravans explain.

It’s impossible not to connect this situation with what were the social policies of the progressive governments in South America. They not only transferred resources to poor neighborhoods and communities, they also sought that the intermediaries were popular organizations and movements that previously had struggled against the neoliberal governments. In that way, they incorporated people who had in-depth knowledge of the movements, knowledge that the States were unaware of, into official policies.

“We don’t give up here, we continue organizing our collective work,” the communities assure. In order to maintain the resistance, they organize collective work, to ensure food and health. The decision to resist peacefully, without violence but without abandoning the struggle, has enormous costs that the Zapatista bases are willing to face.

“It’s not a coincidence that the ORCAO is attacking the new Zapatista Good Government Juntas and centers of resistance, because the majority there are young people and women and they seek to discourage and frighten them,” say members of the caravans.

For this reason, in addition to fencing community lands with wire, they break water pipes, surround natural springs, pastures where cattle feed and prevent them from harvesting. In Nuevo San Gregorio, the Zapatista support bases recognize that this year they could barely harvest 50% of what they harvested last year. The objective is to create a humanitarian crisis that forces the Zapatista families to abandon the lands that they recuperated by struggling.

The strategy of the Andrés Manuel López Obrador Government is completed with the installation of new National Guard camps and bases on the Ocosingo region, which goes hand in hand with the reactivation of armed groups like the ORCAO that act like paramilitaries.

“We don’t surrender, we continue organizing our collective work here,” the communities say. In order to maintain the resistance they organize collective work to ensure food and health. The decision to resist peacefully, without violence but without abandoning the struggle, has enormous costs that the Zapatista bases are willing to face.

From above they seek confrontation between peoples, supporting social organizations that have the complicity of the municipal, state and federal governments, for the purpose of undermining the Zapatista autonomy that is one of the principal hopes that illuminates the planet.

[1] Mecapal is a strap attached at both ends to a sack and placed on the head to carry a load. The English word is tumpline. For those familiar with Chiapas and/or Guatemala, it’s used for carrying firewood.

[2] War of attrition – this is also known as a “low-intensity” war, or a war of exhaustion (from wear and tear).

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Originally Published in Spanish by El Salto

Friday, February 5, 2021

https://www.elsaltodiario.com/mexico/guerra-de-desgaste-contra-las-comunidades-zapatistas

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

 

 

Background: The three gazes of the original peoples

In the spirit of Lord Ik’ | Zapatistas in the Francisco Gómez municipio | photo by Mario Olarte.

In the Year 2-Covid 19, or Year Twenty-One-Reed [Aztec calendar] of the current century, many people in many places have lost their bearing. The semi-paralysis induced by the pandemic provided the State with a distinctly new twist in the unstoppable militarization of the country. With all the best excuses, as always. Ever since the Army emerged from their barracks in 1994 and, especially in 1995, its presence has only increased in the rural and indigenous plazas, cities, roads and regions throughout Mexico. One even wonders if there are any troops still left in the barracks.

Since then, all kinds of special, semi-militarized police forces have been invented, first in order to fight the indigenous subversives in Chiapas, Oaxaca, and Guerrero; and later to make war on organized crime. And frequently on the population as well. The security theme became the favorite excuse of the powers that now seek to centralize even our identities through a universal ID card, Chinese- style. This is not a new project. Previous governments have attempted the same. Maybe in those days we were still concerned about the spying, the phone taps, the tails on people suspected of something. Today nobody cares if they are being spied on or can’t evade it (because they can’t). So the State will have a file on each of us, making us all equal on this front, in cybernetic fulfillment of the old liberal dream of mestizo Mexico: to make Mexicans uniform under the liberal guise of “equality” that has been filled with nuances and misgivings in the postmodern sensibility. For the original peoples, in particular, this means de-indianizing them rather than recognizing their local sovereignty, their right to different forms of government, agricultural production and communal forms of life that have survived, being indomitable, for centuries, despite many governments’ failed attempts at extermination, often “benevolent”  but relentless.

Those who think it’s different now are wrong. Rhetoric has abounded: from the independencistas, the Juaristas, the Porfiristas, the Maderistas, the  post-revolutionaries, the nationalists, the neoliberals (from Salinistas to Calderonistas). From the perspective of the peoples, the changes in discourse do not change things: for a century they have been eating promises, from political party to political party, from church to church. Meantime their territories diminish, surrounded by urbanization, highways, trains, mines, wells, agroindustries, tourism. Property rights are continually  denied to them, and those they have won, disappear. The concept of “indigenous autonomy” does not exist in the lexicon of any president. 

As always, the State and a good part of the majority society that lives on the  train of consumption and individualism,  applaud diversity, pluriculturalism, roots and identity, but actually they present an obstacle for them. It’s been 27 years since the indigenous uprising of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN); and since then there has been no stopping the indigenous challenges to State control. In 2021, amid the adversity of the pandemic, the very EZLN that built real autonomy –without permission, but with efficiency and legitimacy– makes an international statement that somehow breaks out of encirclement of the nationalist autism that the government is trapped in. Like other times, it seems like an adventure, an unexpected proposal that goes against the current, a game change. Whether or not it succeeds, above all it  reminds us, in Mexico and in many other parts of the world, of the reality of the originary peoples, and their   importance in a future that is not shit, and their courageous defense of the territory, the water and self-governed communality.

The words of Old Antonio, cited in “The Mission” a recent communique by subcommander Galeano of the EZLN (December 2020), which is itself a followup on the “Declaration for Life” made available in January, sets things straight again from and for the original peoples’ gaze:

“Storms respect no one; they hit both sea and land, sky and land alike. Even the innards of the earth twist and turn with the actions of humans, plants, and animals. Neither color, size, nor ways matter,

“Women and men seek to take shelter from wind, rain, and broken land, waiting for it to pass in order to see what is left. But the earth does more than that because it prepares for what comes after, what comes next. In that process it begins to change; mother earth does not wait for the storm to pass in order to decide what to do, but rather begins to build long before. That is why the wisest ones say that the morning doesn’t just happen, doesn’t appear just like that, but that it lies in wait among the shadows and, for those who know where to look, in the cracks of the night. That is why when the men and women of maize plant their crops, they dream of tortilla, atole, pozol, tamale, and marquesote [vi]. Even though those things are not yet manifest, they know they will come and  this is what guides their work. They see their field and its fruit before the seed has even touched the soil.

“When the men and women of maize look at this world and its pain, they also see the world that must be created and they make a path to get there. They have three gazes: one for what came before; one for the present; and one for what is to come. That is how they know that what they are planting is a treasure: the gaze itself.”

It’s not just the pandemic. Huge floods, large-scale droughts, poisoned rivers and soils, cleared forests, destroyed coastlines, construction projects that invade natural areas, including virgin territories, are all part of the storm. Ancient villages and their regions are endangered, the jaguars and the mangroves are endangered. The conflicts of land dispossession are now compounded by torrential conflicts over water. The bids are coming in on the stock exchange, dispossession multiplies. Soon it will be the cause for wars.

For the men and women of maize, their gaze is the treasure that allows them to remain steadfastly in the world, not to confuse the compass nor to lose their way. In fertile summers and in hard times, the originary peoples’ view what is coming with a farmer’s persistence and a millenarian efficiency. They are the only ones who think the earth is not for them, but for their children and beyond. The struggle is in the long term.

[Originally published in Spanish and excerpted from the “Umbral” column of Ojarasca : Las tres miradas de los pueblos originarios] Translation provided by the Chiapas Support Committee.

Indigenous people file suit against National Guard over construction of barracks in Chilón

By: Editor, Yessica Morales

Photo: Maya Tseltal people in Chilón municipality have undertaken a legal battle against the militarization of their territory.

The Tseltal people asked for protection from federal justice against the construction of the National Guard barracks and also that the Attorney General of the State of Chiapas desist from taking criminal action against José Luis Gutiérrez Hernández and César Hernández Feliciano, repressed and criminalized for demonstrating against said project.

Juana Hernández, Gilberto Moreno, Juan Jiménez and Jerónimo Jiménez, representatives of the Tseltal Maya people in Chilón municipality, together with the Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Center (Frayba) and the Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez Human Rights Center (Centro Prodh) announced the admission of a demand for an amparo (suspension) filed over the construction of a National Guard General Barracks in their territory, without having been consulted in a prior, free and adequate way to grant or not their consent.

Jerónimo Jiménez emphasized that it’s not the first time Chilón experiences the impacts of the militarization of their territories. During the epoch of the armed conflict in the state of Chiapas, in 1995, an army barracks was installed in their territory, which was not withdrawn until 2007, after years of an organized resistance on the part of the community.

There had been a military camp in the San Sebastián Bachajón Ejido since 1995. Upon its surprise arrival with violence, they took possession of the ejido house and didn’t allow the ejido owners to hold their ejido assemblies. There was a house on land near the ejido house that belonged to Pedro Perez (…), the owner. When they no longer permitted him to enter (…), they spoke to the Army and the response was that his house was now in the federal area and, therefore, it no longer belonged to him, Jiménez explained.

They emphasized that thirteen years later, in October 2020, residents of Chilón municipality entered into the agreement between municipal, state and federal authorities, including the Secretariat of National Defense (SEDENA), to cede land within their territory for the construction of the barracks that will shelter the National Guard. Consequently, on October 15, 2020, they exercised their right to demonstrate. In response, there was a deployment of more than 300 members of different security corporations for the purpose of stopping the mobilization. They used excessive force against the demonstrators.

We demand the freedom of the two political prisoners César Hernández Feliciano and José Luis Gutiérrez Hernández.

They added that private vehicles were damaged and several people were injured in the eviction, in addition to the solitary confinement and subsequent deprivation of freedom of community social defenders José Luis Gutiérrez Hernández and César Hernández Feliciano, who still face unjust criminal proceedings in from the Indigenous Justice Prosecutor’s Office for the crime of rioting.

Knowing the impacts that military projects can have on their community life, they organized to initiate a legal process by means of a commission named in their traditional assembly. Said strategy consisted of filing a lawsuit demanding a suspension (amparo), which was admitted by the Fourth District Court in matters of Amparo and Federal Trial based in Tuxtla Gutiérrez last December 9, 2020, file number 717/2020.

The lawsuit denounces that the license and construction of the Barracks is about se about an imposition of a militarization project that violates the rights of the people of Chilón municipality to prior, adequate, free and informed consultation, to self-determination, to territory, access to information, among other rights protected by the Mexican Constitution, as well as international treaties, including the American Convention on Human Rights and Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization (ILO).

The foregoing is due to the fact that it’s clear to the inhabitants that the National Guard is a de facto military security force, rather than a civilian body. Therefore, the project should not have been conceived without consultation because it will have direct effects on their right to self-determination, the protection of territory that constitutes a fundamental part of their community harmony and respect for their identity.

They added that, with the presence of militarized security forces in the zone, they fear that sex work will be promoted, that alcoholism will be accentuated as a control measure and that community division will occur, as happened in the past.

They explained different and forceful arguments to avoid causing irreparable damage to the territory of the Tseltal Maya peoples for which the Fourth District Court should have ordered the suspension ex officio and flatly, however, the Judge denied it.

This Friday, January 29, the Fourth District Court has a new opportunity to declare the origin of the definitive suspension, allowing the Tseltal Maya peoples to have the assurance that their territory and their collective rights will not be permanently affected until the aforementioned amparo lawsuit is resolved, they ended.

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Originally Published in Spanish by Chiapas Paralelo

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

https://www.chiapasparalelo.com/noticias/chiapas/2021/01/indigenas-demandan-a-la-guardia-nacional-por-construccion-de-cuartel-en-chilon/

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee