Chiapas Support Committee

Santa María Ostula, mining and organized crime

By: Luis Hernández Navarro

On the Michoacán coast, the territory and natural resources of Santa María de Ostula community are in dispute. It’s literally a struggle for life and death in which the comuneros defend their land and their habitat from organized crime attacks.

Although they fight over the limits, the bad guys act as a clamp. Los Viagras seek to control southern Aquila municipality and the Jalisco Nueva Generación cartel (CJNG) the northern part. Its beaches are the route to the steepest parts of Tierra Caliente (Hot Land). Speedboats disembark with shipments of narcotics on its beaches. Cessna planes land on private ranches in the area to transport weapons and drugs (

But on the regional game board they also fight over the exploitation of natural resources. The mining companies have 40,000 hectares under concession within that territory. Ternium, just one steel manufacturing company, has a concession of 5,000 hectares within Ostula. As has been documented in parts of the country, there is a marriage of convenience between mining companies and organized crime, in which the cartels are in charge of the “security” of businesses. Ostula is no exception. And, at the service of those interests, an old regional leader, previously beloved and prestigious, now acts: Cemeí Verdía Zepeda.

History repeats itself. There are community leaders with feet of clay who, when they walk on the shoulders of the communities that forge them, look like giants, but who –proud of money and power, believe that their stature is their merit alone and not of those who have supported them– just crash and burn when they touch the ground.

Such is the case with Cemeí. For years, he was a kind of popular hero in the region. Dedicated as a child to growing papaya, he was the first commander of the Ostula Community Police and general coordinator of the self-defense groups in Aquila, Coahuayana and Chinicuila. He survived three attacks perpetrated by organized crime between 2014 and 2015. He was politically persecuted and had to leave his community. He was in prison for five months in 2015, accused of using firearms for the exclusive use of the Army, until pressure from the comuneros forced the government to release him. Nevertheless, when he got a taste of the banknote and political chicanery, he succumbed.

Santa María de Ostula is an emblematic Nahua community in the indigenous movement for two reasons. The Ostula Manifesto was promulgated there on June 13 and 14, 2009, which, two and a half years before the formation of the Michoacán self-defense groups, vindicated the right to a indigenous self-defense and opened a cycle of struggle in this terrain.

Additionally, hundreds of Nahua comuneros of that locality have recuperated, at the cost of dozens of lives, hundreds of hectares of communal property illegally occupied by powerful mestizo caciques associated with organized crime ( Before going bad, Cemeí was part of those struggles.

Although he has other antecedents, the political decomposition of Verdía Zepeda accelerated in 2018, when, on the fringes of the community, he was designated the PAN candidate to a deputy position for District 21, with its seat in Coalcomán.

Simultaneously with his candidacy, Cemeí supported the nomination for the municipal presidency of Aquila (to which Ostula belongs) of César Olivares Fernández, cousin of the outgoing PRD mayor, José Luis Arteaga Olivares, his ally and one of his funders. His attitude clashed with the agreement of the assembly of comuneros to nominate their own candidate (Ebenezer Verdía) and seek his registry, first with the PRD and later with Morena.

On July 21, 2018, after the elections, Verdía Zepeda appeared at the Ostula communal assembly, with 100 heavily armed members of self-defense groups from Coalcomán and Aquila. Without being intimidated, the comuneros embarrassed him with complaints. “Go for your PAN over there,” “didn’t you know how to steal, Ceme?” “The Indian woke up,” “a year ago, Cemi, where were we for you? Say what you want, but we did it for you,” they shouted at him.

A woman shouted at him: “Don’t come back here!” Defiant, Cemeí asked: “Who said that?” And, like a modern Fuenteovejuna [1] they responded: “Everyone!” Cemeí was expelled (

From that moment, Verdía escalated the conflict. First, he threatened Evaristo Domínguez Ramos, commissioner of the commons (bienes comunales). He continued resolutely, accusing the community, falsely, of having a nexus to organized crime. Then, five of his close allies headed by his lieutenant Martín Nepamuceno, entered Ostula and shot the community guard, in order to escape.

Although there is still no evidence that directly links Cemeí to other attacks, in the context of his offensive Villa Victoria, municipal capital of Chinicuila, was attacked and the radio antenna the community guard used was burned.

The indigenous community of Ostula maintains that Cemeí walks on bad paths, working for the CJNG ( The district attorney of Colima arrested five of his self-defense followers with drugs, sent them to Michoacán and then released them. Cemeí falsely denounced that they were kidnapped. Curiously, they are the same ones who, headed by Martín Nepamuceno, entered the community. All the evidence points to the fact that the former commander of the community guard seeks to open the way to the interests of organized crime and mining companies.


[1] Fuenteovejuna is a play by Lope de Vega. The name comes from an uprising in the village of Fuenteovejuna, Spain. That word is used in Spanish as an answer to a question about who did something, meaning “all of us did it.”


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee



Neoliberalism epidemic

The most lethal pandemic is not the coronavirus. It’s the “neoliberavirus,” which is in its terminal phase.

By: Raúl Zibechi

Centuries ago we were able to learn the importance of the social and natural environments where viruses take root and multiply, because we live with them and they don’t always threaten us. The black plague should have taught us that pre-existing viruses multiply and disperse when the appropriate conditions are created. In our case, neoliberalism created those conditions.

In Plagues and Peoples, William McNeill highlights some current questions, when he analyzes the black plague that swept Europe from 1347. Christians unlike the pagans, cared for the sick, “helped each other in times of pestilence” and in that way contained the effects of the plague (Siglo XXI, p. 122). The “saturation of human beings,” over-population, was key in the expansion of the plague (p. 163).

Poverty, a diet with little variety and the non-observation of “superstitions,” local customs of the peoples, due to the arrival of new inhabitants, turned the plagues into disasters (p. 155).

Braudel adds that the plague, or “the hydra of a thousand heads,” constitutes a constant, a structure of the life of men (The structures of everyday life, p. 54). However, how little we have learned.

The black plague destroyed feudal society in a few years due to the acute scarcity of labor as a result of the death of half of the European population and, also, due to the loss of credibility of the institutions. This is the fear that now leads states to lock up millions.

The coronavirus epidemic underway has some peculiarities. I’ll focus on the social ones, because I ignore elementary scientific questions.

The current epidemic would not have the impact that it has, if it were not for three long decades of neoliberalism, which has caused probably irreparable environmental, health and social damage.

The United Nations through the UNEP recognizes that the epidemic “is a reflection of environmental degradation” ( The report points out that: “ailments transmitted from animals to human beings are growing and worsening as wild habitats are destroyed due to human activity,” because “pathogens spread more rapidly to herds and human beings.”

To prevent and limit zoonosis, it is necessary to tackle “the multiple threats to the ecosystems and wildlife, among them, the reduction and fragmentation of habitats, illegal trade, the contamination and proliferation of invasive species and, increasingly climate change.”

Temperatures in early March (winter) in some regions of Spain are up to 10 degrees above normal ( Furthermore, the scientific evidence links “the explosion of viral diseases and deforestation” (

The second issue that multiplies the epidemic has to do with strong cuts in the health system. In Italy, in the past 10 years 70,000 hospital beds were lost, 359 departments closed and numerous small hospitals were abandoned ( Between 2009 and 2018 health spending increased 10 percent, compared to 37 percent for the OECD. In Italy there are 3.2 beds for every 1,000 inhabitants. In France there are 6 and in Germany 8.

Between January and February the Spanish health sector lost 18,320 workers, in full expansion of the coronavirus ( Health care sector unions denounce: “abuse of interim hiring and job insecurity,” while working conditions are increasingly hard. This neoliberal policy towards the health system is one of the causes of why Italy has placed the whole country in quarantine and Spain can follow the same path.

The third issue is the epidemic of individualism and inequality, cultivated by the mainstream media, which are dedicated to instilling fear and reporting in a biased way. For more than a century, we have suffered a powerful offensive from capital and the states against popular socialization spaces, while blessing the cathedrals of consumption, like shopping centers.

Consumerism depoliticizes, de-identifies and implies an “anthropological mutation” (as Passolini warned). Today there are more people who wish to have pets than children. This is the world that we have created and for which we are responsible.

Long-term measures can aggravate epidemics. The State suspends society upon isolating and confining the population in their houses, even prohibiting physical contact.

Inequality is equal to that in the Middle Ages (around 1500), when the rich ran to their country houses after the plague was announced, while the poor “were left alone, prisoners of the contaminated city, where the State fed them, isolated them, blockaded them and watched them” (Braudel p. 59).

The model of the digitalized prison panoptic that suspends human relations seems to be the strategic objective of capital so as to not lose control in the current systemic transition.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Friday, March 13, 2020

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee



CNI-CIG Denunciation regarding the harassment of CNI Chiapas compañeros

March 7, 2020

To the People of Mexico:

To the Networks of Resistance and Rebellion:

To the National and International Sexta:

To the Communications Media:

To the Human Rights Organisms:

To the Organizations in Defense of Territory and Mother Earth:

This denunciation derives from the problem stirred up against the compañeros and compañeras of the communities of San Antonio Bulujib and Guaquitepec, municipality of Chilón, Chiapas, who belong to the National Indigenous Congress (CNI, its initials in Spanish). Last February 23, our compañeros and compañeras María Cruz Espinoza, Juana Pérez Espinoza, Feliz López Pérez, María Cruz Gómez, Ana Gómez Hernández, Alejandra Gómez, María Luisa Pérez Gómez, 1 year old, María del Rosario Mazariegos Gómez, 11 months old, Manuel Cruz Espinoza, Juan Gómez Núñez and Isidro Pérez Cruz were attacked and kidnapped for having placed a sign alluding to the “We Are All Samir” days of action at the entrance to the town of San Antonio Bulujib.

Those responsible for these aggressions are the San Antonio Bulujib ejido authorities belonging to the paramilitary groups called “CHINCHULINES” and “ORCAO,” as well as by members of the MORENA party in the region.

On February 24, until 8:30 at night, after more than 24 hours of having been deprived of their freedom, our compañeros and compañeras were released under the following conditions that the ejido authorities imposed: paying a fine of fifteen boxes of soft drinks and 2,500 pesos, and if not, their freedom was conditioned on our compañeras and compañeros renouncing being members of the CNI.

At the same time, the ejido authorities indicated that if out compañeros and compañeras didn’t pay the fine by Sunday afternoon March 1, 2020, they would be evicted from their lands and their houses, which would be sold, and they would also be locked up in the town’s jail. It wasn’t possible to pay the fine by that date, so they asked for 8 more days to clarify the situation and to seek support in other agencies in conjunction with human rights; since they won’t pay the mentioned amount because it’s not a crime to demonstrate and we have the right to free expression.

Yesterday, March 6, 2020, six members of the Chilón municipal police arrived to leave an invitation from the municipal president to a supposed work meeting at the Mukulum Hotel in Bachajón, between community authorities mentioned above and the compañeros Manuel Cruz Espinosa, Celia López Pérez and María Cruz Gómez. But the police maintained an intimidating attitude by taking photos and video of our compañeras specifically and told them that they had to go with them in the van.

The reason we perceive that municipal president Carlos Ildelfonso Jiménez Trujillo has protected the authorities of San Antonio Bulujid community is because he supports that placing a sign in said community is a crime and, therefore, our compañeros have to pay a fine of $5,999 pesos. The reasons why the compañeros did not appear are because they had already agreed to a dialogue table with the state government delegate on Wednesday, March 11 of this year; but in a despotic way the municipal president, in collusion with the state government delegate, issues an invitation at his own domicile, violating the rights of the CNI compañeros, knowing that illegal deprivation of freedom is a crime.

We denounce and hold the following responsible for what may occur to our compañeras and compañeros: the municipal president of Chilón, Chiapas, CARLOS ILDElFONSO JIMÉNEZ TRUJILLO; the state government delegate and the paramilitaries organized in the communities, and we specifically hold responsible the San Antonio Bulujib ejido authority, MIGUEL LÓPEZ GUZMÁN, the Vigilance Council, MATEO GÓMEZ MÉNDEZ, a member of the ORCAO and CHINCHULINES organization, the Auxiliary Municipal agent JUAN SILVANO MORENO, his alternate MANUEL GÓMEZ PÉREZ, and JOSÉ PÉREZ, the alleged leader of the ORCAO, a paramilitary promoter who is dedicated to provoking and invading lands, protected by the bad state federal and municipal governments. Those are the ones who in the name of an alleged Fourth Transformation are attacking the security and life of the eleven above-named compañeros and compañeras and other CNI families.

On the other hand, we also denounce that Carmen las Flores community in Las Margaritas municipality is demanding that our compañeros of the CNI’s Tojolabal people work on the construction of a primary school as part of the government programs, which the CNI compañeros refuse to do, since they are outside the official education system because they have their own autonomous education project. That’s the reason why three of our CNI compañeros: Jaime Jiménez Hernández, local CNI coordinator; Ventura Hernández Gómez and Francisco Santis Hernández, who is a CNI delegate, have been incarcerated since Monday, March 2, 2020, at 9:00 pm. As of this date, they have not been set free. They have been confined for almost a week and have been denied [facilities] for relieving themselves, using said aggression against them as a form of torture.

In order to release our CNI compañeros, they are obliging them to sign a document to participate with the partisan group in the same community. That group is moved by Sebastián Jiménez Méndez, leader of the CODUC organization in Las Margaritas municipality, controlling the community through the commissioner Hilario Jiménez Méndez, the municipal agent Daniel Jiménez Pérez and as a member of the vigilance council Fidel Méndez Vázquez. They are the intellectual authors of the repression and violation of our compañeros’ rights, like the deprivation of their freedom without having committed any crime other than working for life in autonomy and not lending themselves to the demands of the partisan group of MORENA, the party of this current government.

As the National Indigenous Congress we will not allow more abuses to be committed against any compañero or compañera belonging to our organization; we call for solidarity with and support for our CNI brothers and sisters in Chiapas who have been harassed for defending their territory.


March 7, 2020

For the Integral Reconstitution of Our Peoples

Never More A Mexico Without Us

National Indigenous Congress

Indigenous Government Council


Originally Published in Spanish by the National Indigenous Congress

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

Coronavirus: militarization of the crisis

Raúl Zibechi

By: Raúl Zibechi

You have to go back to the periods of Nazism and Stalinism, almost a century ago, to find examples of population control as extensive and intense as those happening these days in China with the excuse of the coronavirus. It’s a gigantic military and sanitary panoptic, which confines the population to live enclosed and under permanent vigilance.

The images that reach us about daily life in wide areas of China, not only in the city of Wuhan and Hubei province, where 60 million people live, give the impression of an enormous open pit concentration camp because of the imposition of quarantine on all its inhabitants.

Deserted cities where only health and safety personnel travel. Everyone’s temperature is taken at the entrance to supermarkets, shopping centers and residential complexes. If there are family members in quarantine, only one member has the right to go out every two days to buy food supplies.

In some cities those who don’t use masks can end up in jail. The use of disposable gloves and pencils is encouraged for pressing elevator buttons. China’s cities seem like ghost towns, to the point that in Wuhan you hardly find people in the streets.

It’s necessary to insist that fear is circulating faster than the coronavirus and that contrary to what is believed, “the main killer in the history of humanity was and is malnutrition,” as an essential interview in the Comune-info portal emphasizes.

What’s usual in history has been to place infected people in quarantine, but millions of healthy people have never been isolated in this way. Vageesh Jain, doctor and academic at the University College London Institute of Global Health, wonders: “Is such a drastic response justified? What about the rights of healthy people personas?”

According to the WHO, each person infected with coronavirus can infect two more, while the measles patient infects 12 to 18 people. That’s why Jain assures that more than 99.9 percent of the inhabitants of Hubei province are not contagious and that: “the vast majority of the population trapped in the region are not feeling ill and are unlikely to become infected.”

Bulletin 142 of the European Laboratory of Political Anticipation (LEAP, its initials in Spanish) reflects: “China triggered an emergency action plan of unprecedented magnitude after only 40 deaths in a population of 1.2 billion people, knowing that the flu kills 3,000 people in France every year.” In 2019, the flu killed 40,000 people in the United States. The measles kills 100,000 people each year and the flu kills half a million worldwide.

The LEAP maintains that we are faced with a new social model of crisis management, which has the approval of the West. Italy followed that path by isolating 10 towns with 50,000 inhabitants, when there were only 16 people with the coronavirus.

China exercises a sophisticated control of the population, from video-vigilance with 400 million cameras in the streets to the “social credit” point system that regulates citizens’ behavior. Now control is multiplied, including territorial surveillance with “volunteer” brigades of neighbors in each neighborhood.

I would like to enter into several considerations, not from the point of view of health, but rather from one that leaves the management of this epidemic to the antisystemic movements.

The first is that China being the future global hegemon, the practices of that State towards its population reveal the type of society that the elites want to build and propose to the world. The forms of control that China exercises are extremely useful to the ruling classes of the entire planet for keeping those below within bounds, in periods like the deep economic, social and political convulsions, of the terminal crisis of capitalism.

The second is that the elites are using the epidemic as a social engineering laboratory, for the purpose of tightening the siege on the population with a double mesh, on a macro and micro scale, combining a minute control at the local level with another general and extensive control like Internet censorship and video surveillance.

I consider that we are facing a test that will be applied in critical situations, such as natural disasters, tsunamis and earthquakes; but especially before the great social convulsions capable of provoking devastating political crises for those above. In sum, they are preparing for eventual challenges to their domination.

The third is that the peoples still don’t know how we are going to face the powerful mechanisms for control of large populations, which are combined with the militarization of societies in the face of revolts and uprisings, as is happening in Ecuador.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Friday, February 28, 2020

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee





Panic Buying in San Cristóbal de Las Casas shopping areas

By: Félix Camas

 San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas

Given the evident presence of Coronavirus infections in the state of Chiapas, self-service stores, supermarkets and commercial chains, as well as in the public plazas of this city, are taking all kinds of preventive measures as health authorities have indicated.

On a tour through various shopping areas, it was found that in some they are measuring the temperature of their workers, and if they detect fever or that someone comes down with a cold, they are sent home, the same applies if they have a dry cough, in addition to providing antibacterial gel to everyone and providing preventive information.

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 In other places they don’t measure fever, but if any worker presents a cold they are sent home. The self-service check-out areas are disinfected every 25 minutes, as well as the ATM areas and all the places where there is contact with the hands, such as in the shelf and warehouse area, in addition to the presence of antibacterial gel at strategic points.
Without considering that we’re dealing with “panic” purchases, one can notice in some stores that the shelves are empty of products, “what people have bought the most are toilet paper, antibacterial gel, mouth covers, beans, rice, canned products and water,” says the manager of an important commercial chain.

While another area of the city, in another important supermarket, the report of sales is calm, “there has not been any news, they have not made panic purchases and everything is going normally.”

Some stores are practically empty, in others the flow is normal, but in all of them it’s noted that they have activated a plan with preventive protocols, given the increase in the spread of the Coronavirus at the national level, which according to experts, is expected to increase in the next hours.


Originally Published in Spanish by NVI Noticias

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee



Because of Coronavirus, the EZLN Closes the Caracoles and Calls to not Abandon Current Struggles

March 16, 2020

To the people of Mexico:

To the peoples of the world:

To the National Indigenous Congress – Indigenous Governing Council

To the national and international Sixth:

To the networks of resistance and rebellion:

Sisters and brothers:

Compañeros, compañeras, compañeroas:

We inform you that:

Considering the real, scientifically proven threat to human life posed by the spread of COVID-19, also known as “coronavirus.”

Considering the frivolous irresponsibility and lack of seriousness of the bad governments and of the political class as a whole, who make use of a humanitarian problem to attack each other instead of taking the necessary measures to confront that danger that threatens life without distinction of nationality, sex, race, language, religious belief, political militancy, social condition, and history.

Considering the lack of accurate and timely information on the scope and severity of the contagion, as well as the absence of a real plan to deal with the threat.

Considering the Zapatista commitment in our fight for life.

We have decided:

First – To decree a red alert in our villages, communities, and neighborhoods, and in all the Zapatista organizational bodies;

Second – To recommend to the Good Government Juntas and Zapatista Rebel Autonomous Municipalities, the total closure of their Caracoles and Centers of Resistance and Rebellion, immediately.

Third – To recommend to the bases of support and to the entire organizational structure to follow a series of recommendations and extraordinary hygiene measures to share throughout the Zapatista communities, villages, and neighborhoods.

Fourth – Given the absence of bad governments, exhort everyone in Mexico and the world to take the necessary health measures that, with scientific basis, allow them to go forward and survive this pandemic.

Fifth – We call to not drop the struggle against femicidal violence; to continue the struggle in defense of the territory and Mother Earth; to continue the struggle for the disappeared, murdered and imprisoned; and to raise the flag for the fight for humanity up high.

Sixth – We call for human contact not to be lost, but to temporarily change the ways to know ourselves, compañeros, compañeras, compañeroas, sisters and brothers.

The word and the ear, along with the heart, have many paths, many ways, many calendars, and many geographies find each other. And this fight for life can be one of them.

That’s all.

From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast,

For the Indigenous Revolutionary Clandestine Committee-General Command of the Zapatista National Liberation Army

Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés.

México, March 2020.

En español:



The mayor of Aldama, Chiapas, asks Army and NG to intervene in agrarian fight

Residents of Aldama, Chiapas, displaced from their homes in November 2019 by the violence that prevails in the area for years due to a conflict with their neighbors in Santa Marta, Chenalhó over 148 acres of land. Photo: Cuartoscuro

Frayba: Federal and state authorities are accomplices.

By: Elio Henríquez

San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas

The mayor of Aldama, Adolfo López Gómez, asked federal and state authorities that the National Guard (NG) and the Mexican Army to enter his municipality, located in the Highlands region of Chiapas, in order to avoid that the conflict over 148 acres continues with its neighbors from Santa Martha community, municipality of Chenalhó.

The PRI member assured that “40 percent of the approximately one thousand people” from three villages that were displaced early Tuesday morning, due to shots from firearms, took refuge with relatives and the rest already returned to their homes. “We have intermittently displaced people; they go to camps when there are aggressions and return to their homes when they decrease,” the mayor said in telephone interview.

He said that: “apparently at this time (the territory) is calm. Just today (Wednesday) at 7:30 am there were shots coming from Santa Martha.”

The mayor stressed that Tuesday night he asked for “support from the state police, the NG and the Mexican Army in order to provide security to all the families, but they have not given us an answer; we will continue hoping because the armed groups (of Santa Martha) are not respecting the Mixed Operations Base; in fact, it was attacked at 2 am Tuesday morning.”

López Gómez said that he has asked the authorities for “urgent attention to the displaced families and for security to be reinforced along the 11 kilometers of conflict, as well as a detailed analysis for a solution to the problem. And I already asked that the order for the National Guard and the Army to enter to give security to the families.”

He added: “Since 2017 we have been in inter-institutional [dialogue] tables; I have asked that the parapets that are used to attack our communities from the mountains of Santa Martha.”

The Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Center (Frayba) said that inhabitants of Chuch’te, Koko, Tabak, San Pedro Cotsilman, Yetón, Xivit Tselejpobtic, Xuxton communities and the municipal capital of Aldama “are at high risk due to the increase in aggressions from Santa Martha residents.

In a communication, it indicated that the attacks from neighbors of this latter locality “have not stopped since 2019, with the complicity of the state and federal governments.” It said it had received reports that there was “a critical increase (of shooting) on March 1, at approximately 11:30 am. Inhabitants (of Aldama) denounced that shots were fired.”

The Frayba added that on March 3 at two o’clock in the morning, armed groups coming from Santa Martha attacked Xuxchen, Coco and Tabak communities, so “our people are fleeing once again. Now there are an incredible number of shots, it’s very concerning.”

Meanwhile, the Chiapas Secretary of Government, Ismael Brito Mazariegos, reported that he met separately with the traditional authorities of Aldama, as well as with municipal agents and representatives of the 134 communities in Chenalhó, to whom he made “an energetic call for the immediate stop to the aggressions that inhabitants of both municipalities carry out.”

In a bulletin announced by the state government, the official asked the parties to “assume their responsibility to set aside situations that break the route to work, which is derived from the signing of the non-aggression pact” signed last year.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee






“The macho government dies”; Zapatista women demand justice for femicides

Zapatista and CNI Women – A Day Without Us. Photo from Tulan Kaú by Isaín Mandujano

By: Isaín Mandujano

With the demand of “the macho government dies,” thousands of Zapatista rebel indigenous women with candle in hand, woke up early in the 12 Caracoles to add their voices today, to the thousands of women who yesterday also demanded a stop to the femicides and to the violence against them. [1]

“Long live Comandante Ramona, Compañera Guadalupe lives, viva the compañera Olga Isabel, Viva the compañera Berta Cáceres, long live the journalist Miroslava,” were other slogans where masked Zapatista women vindicated other women who have died or have been murdered.

A little before five o’clock in the morning, some 500 Zapatista women went down from the dormitories where they spent Sunday night, to reach the plaza of this Zapatista Caracol Number 11, called “Dignified Spiral, weaving the colors of humanity in memory of the fallen” located in Tulan Kaú (Strong Horse), a rural community between Amatenango del Valle and Comitán.

In the plaza, the women, elderly women, young women and little girls, some with babies on their backs, formed a snail, where they began with slogans, “Long live the Zapatista women,” “Long live the women who struggle,” “We don’t want more femicides,” “May the bad government die that allows women to be murdered,” “May the rapists die,” “Not one more, not one more, not one more murder.”

Afterwards, the masked women left the plaza of the Zapatista Caracol and formed two fences on both sides of the la Pan American International Highway where in the darkness the candles only illuminated their eyes behind the black ski mask or the red paliacate.

For two hours, the rebel women chanted slogans, while in both lanes, private cars, private freight and passage motor transport and even military vehicles, stared at the masked women with amazement.

The same slogans were chanted in EZLN’s 12 Caracoles: the Caracol Jacinto Canek of CIDECI-Unitierra, in San Cristóbal de las Casas; in the Caracol Resistencia and Rebellion A New Horizon, Dolores Hidalgo community in Ocosingo; in the Caracol Root of the Resistances and Rebellions for Humanity in Jolj’a in the municipality of Chilón.

In the Caracol Flowering the Rebel Seed, of Patria Nueva community in the municipality of Ocosingo; in the Caracol Mother of the Caracoles of Our Dreams, of La Realidad in Las Margaritas; in the Caracol Whirlwind of Our Words of Morelia in Altamirano; in the Caracol That Speaks for Everyone of Roberto Barrios, Palenque.

The same slogans were also chanted in the Caracol Resistencia Towards A New Dawn of La Garrucha in Ocosingo; and in the Caracol Resistance and Rebellion for Humanity of Oventik in San Andrés Larráinzar.

“I’m not afraid, I’m not afraid, I’m moving forward, I am a woman, I am a woman,” “Long live the compañeras fallen in struggle,” “May patriarchy die,” were other slogans that masked Zapatista women launched on Monday, March 9 since very early, in the midst of the serene morning.

[1] The Mexican government estimated that there were 80,000 women who marched in the Zócalo of Mexico City on March 8. That number is considered “ridiculously low.” There were also marches in other Mexican states. Enlace Zapatista has photos from all the Zapatista Caracoles.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Monday, March 9, 2020

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee




The Maya Train, development and State presence

Maya Train | Tren Maya

By: Luis Hernández Navarro

The poverty and precariousness in which the communities and inhabitants of the Yucatan Peninsula live is not the product of their supposed isolation from the global market. There has been no such thing for more than a century. Through the henequen industry, forest exploitations, pig farms, extractive projects and big tourism, the peninsular territory and its residents are tightly connected to it.

Nor are they the result of a hypothetical absence of the State. Only those who have not stopped in those 180,000 square kilometers can say such a thing. State presence extends to the last corner of the peninsula, among many other ways, by means of regulation of ejido life, agricultural credit, the public school and health system, the action of the development agencies, the policies for attention to poverty (call them what they’re called) and the network of drinking water, electricity and roads.

What explains the misery of one part of the population of the region is neither the lack of “development” nor the state presence, but rather the modalities that they have assumed. Poverty is the work of a kind of capital accumulation in which State and market have intertwined to manufacture entrepreneurs in the heat of public works and the dispossession and devastation of natural resources, while the vote of the great fortunes imposes rulers and social programs control the population.

The central cause of the extreme poverty and economic stinginess comes from a “growth” matrix of guided by the savage capitalism that dispossesses the original peoples of lands and territories, promotes real estate and tourist developments that plunder the environment, exploits native and migrant labor, favors the installation of pig “factories,” permits the production of transgenic soybeans and of abundant agro-toxic greenhouse crops, which closes its eyes in the face of clearing the jungle.

A central piece of this prototype is drug trafficking and the criminal industry, unthinkable outside the global market. They are not an “accident” or an “anomaly.” They are a substantial part of the machinery that drives the region’s economic movement. From the sanctuary cities where the families of the drug lords live to the large enterprises where they launder part of their profits, passing through the transit routes of illicit substances, the southeast is a key to the drug business in Mexico.

We’re talking about a model that is reproduced with the support of a pattern of cultural consumption that exalts the glorious Mayan past, but disrespects (or “folklorizes”) the Peninsular Mayas of the present, that expels members of their communities to convert them into day laborers, maids, bellboys, waiters and sex servants, that doesn’t respect their right to self-determination, that stops their reconstitution as peoples, recognizing ejido authorities, but doesn’t allow them to manage their affairs as they see fit through autonomy.

As Grain recalled, the Mexico section of the Permanent Tribunal of the Peoples addressed this process in the session it held in Maní, Yucatán, in 2013. Multiple testimonies documented “a comprehensive process of monopolizing lands and the commons, of socio-environmental and territorial destruction and of annihilation of the social fabrics as part of an orchestrated plan for the displacement and emptying of the territories of the Mayas.”

Far from putting an end to this development model, the Maya Train it deepens it. It is not a matter of the correlation of forces, but rather of the nature of the project. The train is not only a railroad line, but also a territorial reordering initiative with 30 stations and 18 development poles, on ejido land, financed, as the researcher Violeta R. Núñez showed in these pages ( 02/23/opinion/012a2pol), not with public resources, but rather with hybrid financial instruments, through an Infrastructure and Real Estate Trust called the Tren Maya Fibra. Fibra is the gateway to the confiscation of ejido property in the region and the large-scale dispossession of social property.

The director of Fonatur, Rogelio Jiménez Pons, confessed that in the new cities there will be zones “for modest people” who could walk to work, but also “to ask for alms if necessary, but on foot.”

The project not only doesn’t have sufficient environmental impact studies, but it has also not been consulted with the indigenous peoples, as Convention 169 of the ILO [International Labor organization] establishes. As the UN-HR concluded, the consultation that authorities organized at the end of last year did not comply with international standards on human rights in the matter. This opinion was preceded by critical questions from the Rapporteur for Indigenous Peoples and from the Committee against Torture. Moreover: multiple testimonies realize that the authorities conditioned the delivery of supports [money] and the solution of old demands on the approval of the train.

It’s enough to look at the Maya Train project in the mirror of the Enerall-Alfonso Romo scandal or in the “development” of Cancun and the Riviera Maya to anticipate its final station. There is no worse denial that pretending that the implacable logic of capital can be regulated in favor of the popular camp just because those who until recently criticized some government institutions are now leading them.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee




We Don’t Need Permission to Fight for Life, Zapatista Women Join the March 9 National Strike

In-Beyond-and-Against-the-Capitalist-Hydra-697x1024ZAPATISTA NATIONAL LIBERATION

March 1, 2020

To: Women who struggle in Mexico and around the world

From: The Zapatista indigenous women of the EZLN

Compañera and sister:

We greet you in the name of all of the Zapatista indigenous women of all ages, from the youngest to the wisest—the oldest, that is. We hope you are well and are struggling along with your families, sisters, and compañeras.

Here we are having a lot of problems with the paramilitary forces who now come out of the MORENA party, just like before they came from the PRI, PAN, PRD, and Verde Ecologista (Green Ecologist) parties.

But that’s not what we wanted to talk to you about. We wanted to talk to you about something more urgent and more important: the incredible violence waged against women, which has not only not ceased but actually increased in quantity and in cruelty. The murders and disappearances of women have reached a level that we could not have imagined before, and no woman of any age, class, political affiliation, color, race, or religion is safe. We might think that rich women, women politicians or famous women are safe because they have their security guards and police to protect them, but no, not even they are safe, because the violence that kidnaps, disappears, or kills us often comes from family members, friends, and acquaintances.

We have to stop this violence, wherever it comes from, and that is why we had called for women’s demonstrations on March 8, 2020, in which everyone would organize their actions according to their own ways, times, and places. We had said that the principal demand of these demonstrations should be to stop violence against women, and to declare that we would not forget those murdered and disappeared by all governing administrations, from any party of any color (striped, blue, green, yellow, maroon, orange, brown, or anything else) because they are all the same. We also proposed that we all wear something black on our clothes as a symbol of our mourning for the mass murder of women all over the world and to remind the bad governments and our missing and disappeared compañeras that we would not forget them. The worst part is that even the littlest ones among us are not safe.

Sister and compañera:

A few days ago we learned that a group of feminist sisters from the collective “Witches of the Sea” [Brujas del Mar] in Veracruz had a good idea and called for a women’s strike on March 9, to make clear what things looked and felt like without women. The idea is that we don’t go to work, or buy anything, or move around, that we aren’t seen at all, because that is in fact what it seems like the system is trying to do: annihilate us women as its principal enemy.

Then we saw the reaction of all those patriarchal and macho men and women in the bad government, the political parties, and the big corporations. We saw that they don’t care about the tragedy in which women in Mexico live and die, but only about using that pain for their own gain, then covering it up and arguing over who among them is the biggest badass.

Those in power and their overseers act like they’re so conscientious of and sensitive to the issues at hand but they just can’t shake their patriarchal ways—they even went so far as granting women “permission” to protest the murders. How generous of them to give women permission to fight to live! They are shameless, all of them, including the women who think with the same machismo even though they’re women.

Then there’s the president, who is outraged that people aren’t talking about what he says or burps or vomits up anymore, apparently because some women—young women at that—took his microphone and shouted out exactly what the bad government tries to keep quiet. If it’s ridiculous that the president’s so-called political opposition pretend to be good people who give us “permission” to live, it’s even more ludicrous that the bad government and its fanatics call the struggle for women’s lives an “attempted coup”. In fact now it’s worse, because what the bad government is saying is that no one can live or even survive without its permission, and that no one can struggle unless they say so. That is of course how the patriarchal machistas are in any case, thinking that the whole world revolves around their you-know-what and their balls. So for them anyone who engages in struggle without their permission is against the bad government. But if women are murdered, disappeared, kidnapped, tortured, or scarred, then apparently those very women victims are part of a plan to overthrow the government. Shameless.

And still those shameless patriarchal governments and bosses try to give machista advice to women: that they shouldn’t let themselves be manipulated, that they should behave themselves, that they shouldn’t graffiti monuments and doors or break windows, that they should dress appropriately, keep their heads down, not give people a reason to talk, and be careful about what they say, write, and think. In other words, we shouldn’t do anything without permission. In effect, they are saying we’re mature enough to be killed, disappeared, or raped, but not mature enough to think, analyze, or decide. What idiots they are, and we refer to both men and women, because there are women who applaud that nonsense.

What they’re saying is that one must ask the bad government or the boss for permission for anything and everything, even to survive—because that’s how bad things are, compañera and sister: women in Mexico and around the world are just barely surviving. They’re living in fear and that’s not really living, it’s just not dying… at least not until we are murdered or disappeared, with terrorist violence.

There are also those, supposedly on the left, who are amused by how the bad government is showing so openly how either dumb or ignorant it is, as if it were necessary to witness the bad government’s temper tantrums in order to know it is both. These people are also always evaluating what works in their favor, to ally themselves with the bad governments or those who criticize the bad governments. But they don’t care if any particular initiative is good or bad for women’s struggle for life. They see the murders, the disappearances, and the rapes and they rejoice because this demonstrates that the bad government is in fact useless in addition to being bad. These people should ask themselves if their leftist values are actually what they say they are, or if they merely approach peoples’ struggles as if they were vegetables in the market—to buy or simply to manhandle and bruise.

Amidst all the political wrangling among the bad governments, the mass media, the political parties, and the pundits, they forget the most important thing about this March 8 and 9 is not that that we as women are being killed, but rather that we as women are going to struggle for our lives with everything we have, each according to our own ways, times, and places. If there are those who don’t care about life, then it’s not because they’re right-wing or left-wing or centrists. They’re just not human.

The struggle for life is essential for all humanity, and we don’t need permission from anyone for this struggle because we carry it in our blood. If someone thinks that women’s struggle for life is a coup attempt or a right-wing ploy or a leftist strategy or a government or anti-government plot, or that that struggle corresponds to one party or school of thought or religion, then what they are actually defending is death. When they hear about another murdered woman, the first thing they ask is the color of her skin, her political affiliation, and her religious association; if it doesn’t match theirs they start talking shit—not about the murderers but about the murdered woman.

We don’t understand how the world has come to such a point, especially since meanwhile they are saying that we indigenous Zapatista women are backwards and don’t understand the development and progress that megaprojects, money, and consumption will bring to us. This is their progress: to cheapen and squander women’s lives because it turns out the cost of disappearing, kidnapping, or murdering a woman is pretty low—there’s no punishment at all. In fact there’s often reward—there’s no shortage of those who applaud and comment on “one less enemy,” “one less disturbance,” “one less sinner,” “one less radical,” “one less conservative,” “one less woman.”

We don’t understand why some people are like that but we do understand that we can’t sit by and do nothing in the face of it, thinking that such pain and rage are foreign to us and don’t apply to us… until they do.


As Zapatista women, this is what we thought and felt when we analyzed the words and actions of our Witches of the Sea sisters:

First: We respect their initiative, and see it as something good, noble, valuable, honest, and legitimate, and we will support it because we think any woman—one, a few, or many—who struggles for life should know that she is not alone. If we believe that those absent from us now, the murdered, disappeared, and incarcerated women, should know that they are not alone, then certainly so should those who are alive and fighting.

We think their idea is a good one, because if on March 8 everyone will see and feel our pain and rage, then on the March 9 the patriarchal machistas can worry about what we are thinking or planning or feeling, because they’re not going to know—they’re not going to see us at all. In fact we might even organize ourselves more and better that day, because sometimes from pain and rage arises not desperation or resignation, but organization.

Second: That is why, as is our way as Zapatista indigenous women, we talked to all our other Zapatista compañeras in the communities to see if they thought the March 9 national strike was a good idea, and that if it was a good idea, what we could do to support each other as women who struggle.

We proposed that on March 9, the compañeras who have official responsibilities, whether as autonomous authorities or organizational or military authorities, or positions on education, health, media, or other commissions that we as Zapatista women hold, not show up at work. That would be our way of expressing that we support the idea of a March 9 without women, as one more initiative of women who struggle for life. And since we as indigenous women are a majority in Zapatista autonomy, that day Zapatista autonomy will come to a halt.

We thought about it and talked about it together and the conclusion was that the compañeras of all of the Zapatista zones were in agreement with joining the March 9, 2020, strike convoked by our sisters from the Witches of the Sea collective.

Third: On March 8, thousands of Zapatista women will gather in our caracoles and talk about the pain and rage that we heard in the two [international] women’s gatherings that we have held, but also about our struggles—ours as Zapatista women and yours, compañeras and sisters who are reading these words. We will also all wear something black on our clothes that day. Then on March 9, many of us will not go back to our communities but instead stay at the caracol and at dawn on the ninth, light thousands of candles so that in the caracoles and the Zapatista communities, the light of women will shine.

This act is not only so that the women who make that day a day of struggle know that we see them, admire them, respect them, salute them, and that they are not alone. It is also so that our lights signal to all those sisters who are absent from us, those murdered, disappeared, or incarcerated, those who have been abused, and those who are migrants, that here in these mountains of resistance and rebellion someone cares about them and their families, about their pain and their rage. It doesn’t matter if that sister in struggle is white or black or yellow or the color of the earth. It doesn’t matter if she believes or not in any religion. It doesn’t matter if she dresses nicely or not or has money or not or is affiliated with a political party or not. It doesn’t matter if she’s a friend or an enemy.

What matters is that she is alive and free. Because if we are alive and free we can criticize, complain, fight, debate, discuss, analyze, and maybe even come to an agreement: to fight the violence waged against women. Right now with so much killing we are stuck moving from one source of mourning to another, one pain to another, one outrage to another. Maybe this is the system’s plan—to keep on killing and disappearing us so we never have time or way to organize ourselves and fight the capitalist and patriarchal system.

But as history shows us, organizing ourselves to stop this killing is precisely what we are going to do. After that there will of course be those who say that was enough and stop there, but there will also be those of us who continue on and go beyond until we get to the root of our pain: the racist, exploitative, repressive, thieving, anti-human patriarchal capitalist system.

Once we win our right to live, there will be those who say that slavery is good, embracing it and defending it as destiny, as divine mandate, or as bad or even good luck. There will be those who say that the next fight should be for a good salary, or that men and women should be exploited equally, at the same pay. There will be those who need freedom like they need air and fight for it. There will be those who say that we can win this fight alone, as women. And there will be those who say that in order to destroy the beast that is the system, we must struggle together with everyone [todos, todas, todoas]. Then instead of so many murdered, disappeared, kidnapped, and abused, maybe we as the women that we are will have so many ideas, thoughts, and forms of struggle. Maybe then it will be understood that difference is good, but if we are to be different we must be alive.

Fourth: This is why we respectfully call on the sisters and compañeras of the National Indigenous Congress – Indigenous Governing Council, the Sixth in Mexico and abroad, and the Networks of Resistance and Rebellion to analyze and discuss if the proposal made by our witch sisters is a good one or if there are others. If you all think it’s a good idea, join us, without asking permission. If you think it’s a bad idea and that something else would be better, another initiative, then go for it and don’t ask permission for that either. Just like we aren’t asking permission from our authorities, nor from our fathers, sons, boyfriends, husbands, or lovers; rather, we are doing what we are doing because not for nothing did we rise up in arms on January 1, 1994.

See for yourselves what you think, and keep in mind that we don’t care if we are called conservatives or coup plotters or right-wingers or leftists. And if the bad governments who say that society can be divided into liberals and conservatives insist that they are against neoliberalism, then that must make them “neoconservatives.” That’s what we think and that’s what we’re going to do as indigenous Zapatista women, WITHOUT PERMISSION FROM ANY MAN, whether he’s good bad, or just whatever.

That’s all for now.

From the mountains of Southeastern Mexico,

For the indigenous Zapatista women of the EZLN,

Marisol, Yeny, Rosa Nery, Yojari, Lucia, Sol, Elizabet, another Elizabet, Yolanda, Natalia, Susana, Adela, Gabriela, Anayeli, Zenaida, Cecilia, Diana, Alejandra, Carolina, Dalia, Cristina, Gabriela, Maydeli, Jimena, Diana, Kelsy, Marisol, Luvia, Laura.

Comandantas and Coordinators of the Zapatista Women of the EZLN.

Mexico, March 1, 2020

En español: