ZAPATISTA NATIONAL LIBERATION ARMY MEXICO.
[Para leer “Tal vez” en español haga clic aquí.]
To: Don Luis Villoro.
From: Sup Marcos
Receive greetings from all of us and a big hug from me. We hope you are in better health and that the pause in this exchange has been useful for attempting new proposals and reflections.
Although the current reality seems to rush headlong at a dizzying rate, a serious theoretical reflection should be capable of “freezing” a moment in order to discover tendencies within it that permit us, revealing its gestation, to see where it is going.
(And speaking of reality, I remember that it was in the Zapatista Reality (La Realidad) where I suggested to Don Pablo Gonzalez Casanova an exchange: he should send me a packet of Pancrema cookies, and I had to send him an alleged and improbable book of political theory (to call it something). Don Pablo complied, and the delayed walk of our calendar has prevented me from fulfilling my part of the exchange … yet. But I think that in the coming rains there will be more words).
As perhaps has been insinuated in our correspondence (and in the letters of those who, generously, have joined the debate), theory, politics and ethics are intertwined in not too obvious ways.
We are certainly not discussing discovering or creating TRUTHS, those millstones that abound in the history of philosophy and its bastard children: religion, theory and politics.
I think we would agree that our efforts are aimed more towards trying to make the not-so evident but substantial lines stand out from those tasks.
“Downloading” theory into concrete analysis is one of the paths. Another is to anchor it in practice. But that practice is not being done in these epistles, as may be realized. So I think we should continue to insist on “anchoring” our theoretical reflections in concrete analysis or, more modestly, trying to limit their geographical and temporal coordinates. In other words, insisting that the words are spoken (written, in this case) from a specific place and time.
From one calendar and in one geography
I. The Local Mirror.
The year 2011, Chiapas, Mexico, the World
And in this calendar and this geography, we continue attentive around here to what happens, what is said and, above all, to what is silenced.
We continue in resistance in our lands. The attacks against us continue from across the political spectrum. We are an example that it is possible for all the political parties to have a common goal. Sponsored by federal, state and municipal governments, all political parties attack us.
Prior to each attack or after it, there is a meeting between government officials and “social” or party leaders. Little is said, just enough to agree on a price and the method of payment.
Those who criticize our Zapatista position that “all politicians are alike” should take a trip around Chiapas. Although it is certain that they will say this is something strictly local, that this does not happen at the national level.
But the political class in Chiapas repeats, with local variations, the same ridiculous routines of pre-election times.
There is an internal settling of scores (just like among the criminal gangs), which in the political class they disguise as “justice”. But everywhere it’s the same: to clear the path for the one who is elected this time. Everything that happens below is suspected of being a plot by one or more rivals. Everything that happens above is deformed or silenced.
With media policy to pay compliments, when it comes to Chiapas there is no difference between the press in the nation’s capital and in the state capital.
Can anyone seriously talk about justice in Chiapas when one of those responsible for the Acteal Massacre, namely Julio Cesar Ruiz Ferro, remains free? “Don’t worry, my president, let them kill each other, I’m going to send the public security services to pick up the dead”, the then governor of Chiapas, Julio Cesar Ruiz Ferro, replied to Jacinto Arias Cruz, mayor of Chenalho, who warned of an imminent confrontation in Acteal on December 19, 1997. (See: Maria de la Luz Gonzalez, El Universal, December 18, 2007.)
And what about “Dog Biscuits,” Roberto Albores Guillen, – the one responsible for the El Bosque killings, in addition to having built an empire of crime and corruption that now permits him to play second to Juan Sabines Guerrero and his “cock,” the coleto Manuel Velasco, – returning to the governorship of Chiapas? (Speaking of “cocks,” Will López Obrador ever account for having helped to recycle the worst of Chiapas PRI politics?)
Ah, the old rivalry between the ancient political classes of Comitán, San Cristóbal de las Casas and Tuxtla Gutiérrez (indeed, its history can be found in the book by Antonio García de León, “Resistance and Utopia: memory of grievances and chronicle of revolts and prophecies which occurred in the province of Chiapas during the last five hundred years of its history” in the ERA editorial of the endearing Neus Espresate).
While inklings of a storm proliferate in the politics of the Chiapas of above, Juan Sabines Guerrero seems to continue to be committed to the line that gave so many failures before to “Dog Biscuits” Albores: to encourage groups, paramilitary and non-paramilitary, to assault the Zapatista communities, cloaking the power of criminal mafias with or without the alibi of a political party; maintaining impunity for close [friends]; simulation as a government program.
A local and national press, well “oiled” with money, does not succeed in hiding, under the guise of unanimity, the internal war in the politics of above.
About all this, suffice it to point out the following: that the internal rules of the political class were broken a while ago. The jailers of yesterday are those jailed today, and the pursuers of today will be pursued tomorrow.
It’s not that they don’t cut “deals,” but they no longer have the ability to fulfill them.
And a political class that does not comply with its internal agreements is a corpse awaiting burial.
No, the political class of above understands nothing. But above all it does not understand the basics: your time is up.
Ruling stopped being a political function. Now the work par excellence of the rulers is simulation. More important than political and economic advisers are image, advertising and marketing advisors.
So behave the leaders in Mexico nowadays, while the local, regional and national realities go to pieces.
Neither can the government bulletins disguised as “reporting” and “journalistic notes” manage to cover up the economic crisis: in the principal cities of real Chiapas destitution and more marginal “jobs” begin to appear and grow. Poverty that seemed to be unique to rural communities begins to increase in urban areas of the Mexican Southeast.
Just like in the rest of national territory.
Does it seem like I’m talking about the politics of above on the national level and not the local level?
Ah, the fragments of the broken mirror, irremediably broken …
II. An epitaph for a political class or for a Nation?
When Felipe Calderón Hinojosa, (who became president through the – now confessed – crime of Elba Esther Gordillo), disguised as a tourist guide so that people other than the military and the police would come to Mexico, looked out at the Cave of the Swallows in Aqusimón, San Luis Potosí, and shouted out “Oh my God!” (http://mexico.cnn.com/nacional/2011/08/17/calderon-promueve-destinos-turisticos-en-el-programa-the-royal-tour), he could very well say the same thing if he looked out at the hole the country has fallen into during his administration.
According to statistics revealed by the National Council for the Evaluation of Social Development Policy (CONEVAL), the number of poor people in Mexico has increased from 48.8 to 53 million. Almost half the Mexican population lives in poverty. Almost 12 million people live in extreme poverty.
And if you study the maps of CONEVAL itself, you could realize that the marks of poverty, which used to be confined mainly to the South and Southeastern states of Mexico (Guerrero, Oaxaca, Chiapas), are now spreading to the Northern states as well.
The prices for basic items have doubled and trebled during the last 6 years.
|Variation in the increase in prices of some products|
|PRODUCT||Increase from 1/12/06 to 01/3/11||Price in 2006||Price in 2011|
Taken from Centre for Multidisciplinary Analysis (CAM) “Report of Investigation No 90 Mexico: Results of economic policy applied to the workers (2006-2011)”
Source: Prepared by Nubia Conde M with data from Forbes Magazine, several years of CEFP, the Bank of Mexico and SHCP, SAT.
According to data from the The Centre for Multidisciplinary Analysis, in order to have enough money to buy the recommended basic food basket during the first year of Felipe Calderón Hinojosa’s administration, it was necessary to work for 13 hours and 19 minutes per day. Five years later, in 2011, it would be necessary to work for 22 hours and 55 minutes per day.
Meanwhile, millionaires’ earnings have quadrupled during the last 10 years.
On top of this, add up the job losses due to the closure of job sources. Among them, the criminal blow to the Mexican Electricians Union. The attack was led by the villainous Secretary of Labor, Javier Lozano Alarcón (who will also be remembered for his gangster-like extortions – Zhenli Ye Gon and the 205 million dollars that paid for the 2006 election fraud -), and was “applauded” by the mass media.
Certainly, the huge campaign against the workers of the Mexican Electricians Union (including the threat of penal actions against its leaders), which accuses them not only of being lazy, but at the same time of being terrorists, should compare itself with reality: if these workers were actually lazy and useless, how come the central zone of the country had electricity? How could the TV companies, radio stations and newspapers that now attack them and defame them operate? What about the deficiencies that, with the Federal Electricity Company, most of the homes in that part of Mexico are now facing? What about the ridiculously high new bills they are now getting?
Nonetheless, the resistance of these workers is not ignored. Not by us.
And while the world crisis is barely affecting the national economy, the political class continues in its idleness.
The year 2012 reached the calendar of those of above on December 1st 2006, and throughout all these 5 years it has only been proof that those past calendars are not even good for decorating the destroyed walls of this big house we still call “Mexico.”
In the PRI, a Beltrones and a Paredes are figuring out how to displace a Peña Nieto, who spends more time performing for the media (there is money involved) than in politics (he has no function).
In the PRD, the odd couple of López Obrador and Marcelo Ebrard are starting to realize that everything depends on the party bureaucracies of the self-styled institutional “left.”
Finally, in the PAN of the national nightmare, a little man, surrounded by death and destruction, is looking for someone to back him up now that the presidential guards and the national palace will no longer do so.
Although the discredit and waste of the party in government is huge, Felipe Calderón Hinojosa is gambling, and gambling high, to use all the resources he can get hold of to impose his proposal. If he did it already in 2006, he could do it again in 2012. And he will need to, because his playing cards are worn out: a Cordero (lamb) promising his shepherd he’ll keep being a lamb; a Lujambio waiting to avoid the thrust of the stream of light; a Creel who looks good in grey (a color that defines him); and a Vázquez Mota whose only argument is the fact that she is a woman.
(I recall an argument when Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton were running for the presidential candidacy. Some feminists were looking for support for Hillary because she was a woman; some Afro-Americans were supporting Obama because he was black. Time proved that above neither gender nor color are important).
Meanwhile, like a brothel madam would do, Elba Esther Gordillo picks the leaves off the daisy…and she is still considering joining the race, instead of supporting someone else.
With such a pathetic panorama, it is only logical, and even expected, that other pre-candidates will show up…and with their own supporters.
In reality, the replacement government seems to interest no one, other than the party cliques, the economic power and an occasional militant.
Bitterness is replacing apathy, and not a few dreams finally bury the Mexican political system, and worker’s hands are engraving on its tomb the epitaph: “they did it the hard way, but the game is finally over.”
In the meantime the war continues…and with it, its victims…
III. Blaming the victim
In 1971, the North American psychologist William Ryan wrote a book called “Blaming the Victim”. Although his initial intention was a criticism of the so-called “Moynihan Report”, which suggested that the black population of the USA were responsible for their own poverty due to their cultural patterns, rather than the social structure being to blame, this idea has been used more often to excuse acts of sexism and racism (even more so in rape cases, where the female is accused of provoking the rapist by her clothing, attitude, place, etc.)
Similarly, but using a different name, Theodor Adorno describes “Blaming the victim” as one of the defining characteristics of fascism.
In contemporary Mexico, the church, government, artists and people from the mainstream media, have used the same nonsense to condemn innocent victims (mainly women and young people).
Felipe Calderόn Hinojosa’s war has converted this characteristic of fascism into a whole program of government and the dispensing of justice. Moreover, most of the media coverage holds to the same strategy, permeating through the minds of those who still believe what the newspapers, radio and television report.
Someone somewhere said that crimes against innocent people commit a triple injustice: death, guilt, and oblivion.
The whole system that we currently endure cares, keeps, and cultivates the killers and their names, whether it is to condemn or to glorify them.
However, the victim’s name and story are left behind.
Far beyond the victim’s relatives and friends, the victims are killed once again when they are reduced to a number, a statistic. Some others don’t even reach that.
In the war that Calderόn has imposed on the whole of Mexican society, across race, belief, social class, gender, political ideology, another grief is added: innocent victims are labeled as criminals.
The empire of impunity is disguised under the name of “settling of scores amongst narcos”.
And this heavy weight falls onto the relatives and friends too.
The reigning injustice not only guarantees impunity for all those working in the federal, state and municipal governments. It also overburdens the families and friends of the victims.
Other deaths are also their deaths, when society omits their names and stories. An honest life is distorted when [criminal] adjectives are lavished on those lives by the authorities and repeated ad nauseam by the media.
Then the victims of the war become the culprits and the crime of chopping their limbs off or killing them becomes a quasi-divine justice: “they asked for it”.
Felipe Calderόn Hinojosa will be remembered as a war criminal, even though today he is surrounded by embraces and congratulations, he thinks he is a great states-man, or the country’s savior.
He will be remembered with bitterness.
It will even surpass the lack of justice, the derision and the usual scorn that follows the governor’s departure.
His pathetic imitation of a “tourist guide”, the illegality and illegitimacy of becoming president, his failed policies, his responsibility for the economic crisis, his surrounding of himself with a team of hit men and bodyguards dressed in politician’s clothing; the nepotism that consolidates what is already known as the “Los Pinos Cartel”, all these misrepresentations will be left in the background.
What will remain will be his war, lost, with its trail of collateral victims: the defeat, wearing down and discredit of the federal armed forces (which TV series could do very little to counter); the handing over of national sovereignty to the empire of stripes and blurred stars (we have said this before: the USA will be the sole winners of this war); the wiping out of local and regional economies; the breakdown of the social fabric; and innocent blood, always innocent blood…
It may be that death has no cure.
That nothing can fill the void of loneliness and despair that is left by the death of an innocent.
It may be that nothing can be done to bring back to life the tens of thousands of innocents killed in this war.
But one thing that can be done is to fight against this fascist idea of “blame the victim”, to name the dead and thus to recover their stories.
To free them from guilt and from oblivion.
To provide comfort for their absence.
IV. Naming the dead and their history
Mariano Anteros Cordero Gutierrez was his name. He was about 20 years old when, on June 25, 2009, he was murdered in Chihuahua.
When Mariano’s father, Mariano Cordero Burciaga, met with the then governor of Chihuahua, José Reyes Baeza, the latter said that the murder had been the result of a street fight. A few weeks after the events, a representative of the College of State Lawyers of the Bar asked the appropriate authorities for an explanation of the facts. They said they had been “a settling of accounts between drug traffickers”. Blame the victim.
Here are a few fragments of his story:
Mariano was studying at the Institute of Technology in Parral (ITP) for a degree in engineering degree in business management and had received a letter of acceptance to study for a law degree at the Autonomous University of Durango in Spain, Parral Campus.
Prior to these studies he was a missionary volunteer at the Marist boarding school in the town of Chinatú, in the municipality of Guadalupe y Calvo, Chihuahua. He was responsible for 32 indigenous children in the primary section of this boarding school.
Mariano was a young Zapatista, one of those who struggle without masks. In March 2001, along with his father, he participated as a member of the ‘belt of peace’ during the March of the Color of the Earth. In 2002, he took part in the various anti-globalization (altermundismo) demonstrations in Monterrey, Nuevo León, during a summit of heads of state attended by Bush but also by Fidel Castro. At the time of his death, Mariano kept in a bag for daily use a copy of the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle, the Communist Party Manifesto and his most recently-acquired book, “Nights of Fire and Sleeplessness”
When we did our Other Campaign tour of northern Mexico, we passed through the state of Chihuahua, and the young Mariano attended a meeting. At the end of the meeting, he asked to speak with me alone.
What was the date? November 2, 2006.
A few weeks earlier, on October 17 of that year, Mariano had reached the age of seventeen.
We sat in the same room where the meeting had been. More or less, what Mariano told me was that he wanted to come to live in a Zapatista community. He wanted to learn. I was surprised by his simplicity and humility; he did not say he wanted to come to help, but to learn.
I told the truth: that it was best to study for a college degree and to finish it, because here (and there and everywhere), people of honor finish what they have started; meanwhile they do not stop fighting, there in their land with their people.
That once he had finished his studies, if he still felt the same, he would have a place with us, but by our side, not as teacher or as a student, but as one of us.
We closed the deal with a handshake.
Seven years earlier, on May 8, 1999, when Mariano was 9, I had written him a message on a sheet of paper from a notebook:
The time will come, (not yet, but it will come, that is certain), when your path crosses others, and you have to choose one. When that time comes, look inside you and know that there are no options, there is only one answer: to be true to what you believe and say. If this is true, then the path and the speed of walking do not matter. What matters is the truth of the path walked”.
Today we name Mariano, and his story, and from this geography we send his family a hug from his Zapatista brothers and sisters, which, although it will not cure it, will relieve the pain.
V. Judging or trying to understand?
From our geography we have also tried to follow closely the course of the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity that Javier Sicilia heads.
I know that judging and condemning or absolving is the way preferred by the commissioners of thought that appear on either side of the intellectual spectrum, but around here we think that one must make an effort to try to understand several things:
The first is that we’re dealing with a new movement that, in its project of becoming an organized movement, is constructing its own paths, with its own achievements and failures. Like anything new, we think it deserves respect. They can say, rightly, that the ways and means can be challenged, but not the causes.
And it deserves attention to try to comprehend, instead of making the summary judgments so dear to those who do not tolerate anything that is not under their direction.
And to respect and understand you have to look up, but also down below.
It’s true that above the shows of affection received by those directly responsible for so much death and destruction call attention and irritate.
But below we see that, in the family members and friends of the victims, awakens hope, comfort and companionship.
We thought maybe it was possible for a movement to rise up that would stop this absurd war. It doesn’t seem to be so (or not yet).
But what can be seen, of course, is that made tangible to the victims.
It lifted them out of the page of police reports, out of the statistics of the mythical “triumphs” of the government of Felipe Calderon Hinojosa, out of the blame, the forgetting.
Thanks to that mobilization, the victims begin to have a name and a history. And the hoax of the “fight against organized crime” falls apart.
For sure we still don’t understand the reason they spend so much energy and effort in dialogue with a political class that have long lost the will to govern and are nothing but a gang of outlaws. Perhaps they will discover this for themselves.
We do not judge and, therefore, neither do we condemn or absolve. We try to understand their steps and the longing that animates them.
In short, the dignified pain that embodies and moves them deserves and has our respect and admiration.
We think it is logical to dialogue with those responsible for the problems. In this war, it is reasonable to address those who unleashed it and escalated it. Critics of that dialogue with Felipe Calderón Hinojosa forget this fundamental.
Criticism of all kinds has rained on the forms that dialogue has taken.
I do not think that Javier Sicilia loses any sleep over the vile criticism of, for example, the Paty Chapoy of La Jornada, Jaime Avilés (just as frivolous and hysterical), or the vileness of Dr. ORA (who nowhere says that he is on the left or that he is congruent), who only lacks saying that Sicilia ordered the killing of his son to “push” the image of Felipe Calderon Hinojosa; or the signals that reproach him for not being radical, made precisely by those who hoist as an achievement “not having broken one pane of glass.”
In his correspondence (and it seems to me in some public events), Javier Sicilia likes to recall a poem by Cavafy, especially the verse that says: “Thou shalt not fear either Laestrygonians or Cyclops, or the wrath of angry Poseidon.” And these hysterical critics get nowhere near this, so that the bitterness of these pathetic little men does not reach beyond their few readers.
The reality is that this movement is doing something for the victims, and that is something that none of the “judges” can claim to do.
As for the rest, neither Javier Sicilia nor any of those close to him disdain the critical observations that they receive from the left, which are not few but are serious and respectful.
But one must not forget that they are observations, not orders.
I transcribe the end of one of the private letters that we have sent to him:
“Personally, if I may, I would tell him to continue with poetry, and art in general, at his side. In it are found stronger handles than those that seem to abound without rhyme or reason from the palaver of political “analysts”.
So I finish these lines with the words of John Berger:
‘I cannot tell you what art does and how it does it, but I know that art often prosecutes judges, cries out for vengeance for the innocent and projects into the future what the past has suffered, in a way that is never ever forgotten.
I also know that the powerful fear art, in any of its forms, when it does this, and that art sometimes runs like a rumor and a legend among the people because it gives meaning to what the brutality of life cannot, a meaning that unifies us, because in the end it is inseparable from justice. Art, when it functions like that, becomes the meeting place of the invisible, the irreducible, the enduring, the courage and the honor’ “
In the end, maybe all this will not get to the point (or the thing, depending)…
VI. A little story.
And perhaps this little story I am now going to tell you, Don Luis, will not get to the point (or thing, depending,) either:
In the early morning of May 7, 2011, a column of vehicles left the Zapatista Tzots Choj zone, carrying men and women of the EZLN support bases to participate, along with people from other areas, in a demonstration in support of the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity headed by Javier Sicilia. At 6 o’clock, our compañero Roberto Santis Aguilar lost his life when one of the cars overturned in an accident. When he was very young, Roberto became a Zapatista and chose “Dionisio” as his struggle name.
The story seems simple, when listening to it being told by his parents and his wife. His father says that Dionisio was the first member of his family to join the Zapatistas.
“So, since we were working here in the cornfield, the time came when we were chatting here in the cornfield, he looked to see that there was no one around and said, we’ll talk a while, there is an organization, I heard it is very good. Then he started to say, he began to talk with us, with his brothers, then he began to say that there is this organization that is very good, it seems that there is help for us and this is what he said. So this is how we joined, but first we heard the word, and then we joined ourselves, it was gradually coming closer to all of the people. So, we joined the organization then.
We joined the organization at that time because we were very fucked up for living then, and there was no more land for us to work, we were very poor then. Then the bad government did this, we were talking about if there was a way to grab a piece of land, since there was no way the bloody government would give us one, so this organization heard we were on this path and then we joined this organization yes, we joined in the year, the year 1990, yes”.
Four years later, now as a member of the Zapatista militia, compañero Dionisio, carrying a 20-gauge shotgun, was part of the regiment that took the municipalities of Altamirano, Chanal and Oxchuc. The government garrisons were defeated in those places, but afterwards Dionisio and other milicianos were taken prisoner and tortured by the PRI in Oxchuc.
You may remember, Don Luis, the images repeated ad nauseam by the national media and international organizations: the Zapatistas severely beaten, tied up in a building at the headquarters of Oxchuc, the PRI mob shouting and threatening to burn them alive. A government helicopter flew them to the Cerro Hueco prison, where they continued to be interrogated under torture. They had 15 days without food, with hardly any water, and being taken out at 4 in the morning to wash in cold water. He did not give them any information. He was released later, along with other Zapatista prisoners, in exchange for the Prisoner of War, General Absalόn Castellanos.
There followed the Dialogue in the Cathedral, the Dialogue of San Andres, the signing of the accords, the government’s failure to ratify them, and the Zapatista resistance.
Tens of thousands of men, women, children and old people refused to receive government aid and began the process of building their autonomy through their own efforts and with the support of national and international civil society.
Compañero Dionisio was elected an authority of the Rebel Zapatista Autonomous Municipality and chairman of the commission of municipal production. When the Good Government Juntas were born, he was a member of one of them. Completing his community service as an autonomous authority, he remained a local promoter in his community.
His wife tells us how he fulfilled his duties:
“Before starting work the compañero said that it did not matter to him how much time he lost or if he would not earn enough money, not even the time when he was going to do the work and he did not mind that he would lose his time, even with pozol, because that’s what he said before doing the work, that that is what our struggle needs. And he said that he was in himself quite convinced of the struggle, he did not want to give up, or mind whether there was any suffering, but he was quite convinced to fight. The compañero would like more work, would not mind if he had no money, but what he liked most is the work, and always when he goes out in the commission or in the council to work, many people there in the ejido were against the compañero, because work is what is making the organization, because, as an ejido member he was always asked for a fine because he did not attend the meetings, doing other jobs in the community”.
When compañero Dionisio was doing his job as an autonomous authority, his wife stayed behind working in the cornfield or carrying firewood. And they shared the job: when the compañero returned from work in his office, he came home and the next day left at four or five in the morning to go to his work, either in the cornfield or other jobs, but always accompanied to work by his wife, and so they shared the work between them.
The day of the march, on May 7 this year, they got up at 2am and began to get ready: to grind the [flour for] dough for the tortillas, to prepare food to leave for the children, and to prepare pozol to take on the march. His wife says that whenever he went out to do work for the commission, Dionisio said he never knew whether he would return. That morning he left happily. The body of the compañero came back along with many Zapatista support bases.
They accompanied him back home.
When we spoke to the family of the late Dionisio, they asked us to pass these messages on to those who are struggling against the bad government’s war:
The father: this message is for compañero Javier Sicilia and other compañeros whose children have died as a result of looking for the good, then I send this message to encourage them in their struggle, so perhaps they can defeat the bad government.
The wife: this message to the compañero Javier Sicilia and other compañeros whose children have died, to encourage them in their struggle, not to stop fighting, the message is to fight together.
The mother: to keep struggling, their struggles and courage, as always with this situation if we are willing to fight it is going to happen, to continue to struggle, and they are not alone.
Truly, they are not alone.
The story of Dionisio is a simple one and, like that of all the Zapatistas, can be summarized as follows: they neither surrendered nor sold out nor gave up.
-*Hmm … it came out as a long letter. Imagine what will be sent to Don Pablo Gonzalez Casanova, to whom I owe not a letter but a book.
And now that I re-read it before sending, it occurs to me that all it says may not get to the point as we reflect on ethics and politics.
Or perhaps it will?
Vale. Good health to you and hopefully there will be more effort put into understanding and less into judging.
From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast
Mexico, July – August 2011
Originally Published in Spanish by Enlace Zapatista and translated into English by a team from English-speaking countries.
AUGUST 2011 ZAPATISTA NEWS SUMMARY
1. PERHAPS, the 3rd Letter from SCI Marcos to Don Luis Villoro on Ethics and Politics – Dated July-August of 2011, the 3rd letter in a series from Marcos to Don Luis Villoro is divided into 6 parts. Part I, The Local Mirror, is a commentary on the Chiapas political class. In Part II, An Epitaph for A Political Class or for A Nation, Marcos comments on Mexican politics and the economy, including charts to show the transfer of wealth to the rich and the rise in prices. Part III, Blaming the Victim, is an insightful commentary on how the Mexican government is blaming the victims for their own deaths by saying that the deaths are the result of drug traffickers “settling scores” with each other. In Part IV, Naming the Dead and Their Story, Marcos tells the story of a young man from Chihuahua who was killed by drug traffickers. Part V, Judging or Trying to Understand, is a critique of those who criticize Javier Sicilia and his movement and a reiteration of Zapatista support for the Movement for Peace. Part VI ends the letter with the story of a Zapatista who died in a car accident on the way to the San Cristobal march in support of Javier Sicilia’s movement. We already sent the English version to our e-mail lists and will soon have it posted here. The entire letter can be read in Spanish at:
2. La Realidad Junta Denounces Provocations in Monte Redondo Ejido – In a denunciation dated August 2, the Good Government Junta located in La Realidad, Chiapas, demanded that “provocations and damages” by authorities and ejido members of Monte Redondo (Frontera Comalapa Municipality) against EZLN support bases belonging to Tierra y Libertad autonomous municipality be stopped. They place responsibility on members of the four political parties: PAN, PRD, PRI and PVEM, and on the state government, for covering up the aggressions. The Junta described the provocations as land invasions and the damages as cutting down mature coffee bushes. The Junta alleges that these are the same political party members “that incarcerated Patricio Domínguez (a few months ago) because of a false accusation.” He was liberated after denunciations and the intervention of human rights organisms “because he did not commit any crime.”
3. Orcao Members Shoot At Zapatistas – This month, the Good Government Juntas in both La Garrucha and Morelia denounced aggressions by the Regional Organization of Ocosingo Coffee Growers (Orcao, its intials in Spanish). On August 14, the La Garrucha Junta reported further problems in Francisco Villa autonomous municipality. The Junta states that on August 12, Orcao members blocked the passage of Zapatistas who were going to work their fields, threatened to burn their vehicle and fired shots when one of the Zapatistas took out a camera to film the confrontation. Apparently, a bullet grazed one of the Zapatistas. Another Zapatista vehicle was shot at a little later. On August 13, entered Zapatista land to cut down trees and shot high caliber bullets. This lasted for two days. Interestingly, the Junta also reported that on July 27, Orcao members damaged Ocosingo’s municipal palace and a neighboring hotel because the municipal president “has not fulfilled his campaign promises.”
4. Orcao Members Destroy Zapatista Building in Patria Nueva – On August 17, the Junta in Morelia reported that 150 Orcao members burned a building belonging to Zapatista support bases in Patria Nueva. The building was used by international observers for cooking their food. It also reported an Orcao attempt to enter an autonomous secondary school (apparently unsuccessful) and a July 10 kidnapping of two cameramen from Morelia by Orcao members. The 2 Zapatistas were forced into a car and taken to a house in the city of Ocosingo and robbed of 2 video cameras, a computer, a cell phone and 600 pesos. The Zapatistas managed to escape after 2 of the kidnappers left and only one man remained to guard them.
The Chiapas-Guatemala Border
1. The Mexican Navy’s Principal Base for Fighting Drug Cartels Is Now In Veracruz – The Mexican Navy announced that it recently transferred its principal operations center for fighting drug trafficking to the southern state of Veracruz. In addition to patrolling the Suchiate River on the southern border between Guatemala and Chiapas, the Navy is also patrolling the Usumacintra River, which forms the eastern border between Chiapas and Guatemala. The Navy will conduct high-impact operations from the Veracruz center, principally against Los Zetas. This announcement came just a week or so after 3 members of the Navy and one cadet went missing en route to Veracruz.
In Other Parts of Mexico
1. The Movement For Peace Marches Against National Security Law – On August 14, Javier Sicilia and members of the Movement for Peace marched in Mexico City against proposed revisions to the National Security Law that would make it legal for the Army to perform police functions (it is currently unconstitutional) and that would continue to protect the military from civil liability for human rights abuses.
2. Movement for Peace Heads South – The Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity is organizing a “Caravan to the South” that will visit cities, towns, and rural communities in Guerrero, Oaxaca, Chiapas, Tabasco, and Veracruz. The Caravan starts in Mexico City on September 8 and will return on the 18th, just prior to a second meeting with Calderon scheduled for September 23. In a letter to Subcomandante Marcos thanking him and all the Zapatistas for their continued support, Javier Sicilia confirmed that they would see each other when the Caravan heads south and reaches Chiapas.
In the United States
1. Senate Approves Earl Anthony Wayne as Mexico Ambassador – On August 2, the United States Senate approved President Obama’s appointment of Earl Anthony Wayne as Ambassador to Mexico. He replaces Carlos Pascual, who left because of problems with President Calderon over statements Pascual made about Mexico’s security forces not being up to the job of fighting the Drug War. His statements were contained in diplomatic cables revealed by Wikileaks. Ambassador Wayne is a career diplomat who most recently served as US Deputy Ambassador in Afghanistan.
2. US Widens Role In Mexico Drug War – On August 7, The New York Times published an article about the US establishing an intelligence post on a military base somewhere in Northern Mexico. There are less than 2 dozen DEA agents, CIA officials and retired military members from the Pentagon’s Northern Command working at the compound. They work in what the US calls a “fusion center;” in other words, a joint intelligence-gathering center. According to the article, Mexico’s president requested the fusion center after drug violence skyrocketed in Monterrey last year (2010) and signed a Memorandum of Understanding regarding its implementation with President Obama in March of this year. This moves the US beyond its traditional role of sharing intelligence information to participating in its collection and the planning of operations. The US operates fusion intelligence centers in Iraq and Afghanistan “to monitor insurgent groups.” The NYT article also revealed that in addition to the 1.4 billion dollars in the Merida Initiative, “tens of millions of Defense Department dollars” have also been spent on “security assistance” in Mexico. The NYT reports that there is also a proposal to embed US contractors inside a Mexican counter-narcotics police unit. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/07/world/07drugs.html
Compiled monthly by the Chiapas Support Committee.
The primary sources for our information are: La Jornada, Enlace Zapatista and the Fray Bartolome de las Casas Human Rights Center (Frayba).
We encourage folks to distribute this information widely, but please include our name and contact information in the distribution. Gracias/Thanks.
News Summaries from previous months are now posted on our web page:
http://www.chiapas-support.org Click on the Donate button to support indigenous autonomy.
Chiapas Support Committee/Comité de Apoyo a Chiapas
P.O. Box 3421, Oakland, CA 94609
Orcao Destroys A House of EZLN Support Bases, Denounces Good Government Junta
Para leer este artículo en español: http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2011/08/21/politica/015n1pol
** It points out that the three levels of “bad government” organize attacks on autonomous territories
** The house served as a kitchen for civilian observers; was razed by some 150 people
The Good Government Junta Heart of the Rainbow of Hope, in the Zapatista Caracol of Morelia, denounced that last August 17 in Patria Nueva community, January 1st Region, Lucio Cabañas autonomous municipality, Chiapas, the Regional Organization of Ocosingo Coffee Growers (Orcao, its initials in Spanish) committed new aggressions, when some 150 people destroyed a house belonging to the EZLN’s support bases that was used as a kitchen for the peace campers and civilian observers.
The aggression was directed by Orcao’s local representatives Cristóbal Gómez López, El Saddam, and Manuel Bautista Moshan, El Empresario, coordinated by the directors Antonio Juárez Cruz, Alejandro Gómez Navarro and Carlos Ramírez Gómez, and advised by Nicolás López Gómez, El Tzirin, Juan Vázquez López and José Pérez Gómez.
The Junta maintained: “The courage of the three levels of the bad government is because they don’t want their bad practices to be made public, therefore it organizes ignorant people to inject its deadly projects into our autonomous territories, where we are also governing in our way, as the people want. We do not struggle by obligation or manipulation, like those local and regional representatives and advisors, and the alleged federal, state and municipal governments, where it has poor people under pressure and threat, obliging them to receive miserable projects and making provocations.”
It pointed out that the Orcao threatens to expel “those who do not comply with signals to provoke in Zapatista territory.”
The aggressors attempted to enter into a “wooden house” that serves as an autonomous secondary (middle) school and threatened to destroy it.
“We know that they are only some helpers, because the real intellectual authors are Felipe Calderón and Juan Sabines Guerrero, who execute projects of death and war for millions of pesos that are injected into our territories.”
A contractor arrived later with excavation machinery. “The Orcao members were looking after him and continued with their threats to kill the Zapatistas with machete blows or bullets,” the Junta pointed out. Later, the Orcao members formed seven groups, communicating with cell phones. “We saw that the governments have structured it (Orcao) well to provoke our compañeros,” it pointed out.
This is not the only aggression. On July 10, two cameramen from the Caracol of Morelia were assaulted in Ocosingo. Near the terminal for the Ocosingo-Altamirano route, three individuals obliged them to board a white Tsuru car, without license plates. They immediately transported them to the Sauzal barrio, in the same city.
The Zapatistas were robbed of a portable computer, two video cameras, a photo camera, a cell phone, 600 pesos and an equipment case. They stayed enclosed for four hours. Two of the kidnappers left, leaving another man on guard. According to the Junta, “our compañeros, upon seeing the possibility of confronting him, were able to escape with severe blows on the face.” One of the assailants was identified as Juan Decelis, a native of Balaxté.
One of the kidnappers had been invited several times “by a person that calls himself José Guadalupe,” who “initiates projects for the communities,” to “work as a spy.” In reprisal for not accepting, he was robbed of the equipment. The three levels [of government] are “the responsible authors” because “they develop and impel the provocations. They don’t use soldiers now, but indigenous people.
“For years they have executed millions of pesos wanting to destroy us in order to give our land away, finish with our customs and our language, but as the world can see, we continue alive and resisting as Zapatistas.
“We do not respond to their provocations; we know that we are constructing life and not death like the bad governments do. We are not beggars like them. Nevertheless, there is no government to fear, not with millions of pesos have they been able to eliminate us, much less with a little organization like the Orcao,” the Junta concluded.
Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada
Sunday, August 21, 2011
EZLN Bases Denounce Attacks by the ORCAO
para leer en español: http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2011/08/16/politica/016n1pol
** They are paramilitaries and have the support of police, assure the Zapatistas
** The aggressors come from the Guadalupe Victoria, Las Conchitas and Pojcol Ejidos
By: Hermann Bellinghausen
The Good Government Junta, Path of the Future, of the Zapatista Caracol of La Garrucha, Chiapas, denounced armed attacks by groups from the Regional Organization of Ocosingo Coffee Growers (Orcao, its initials in Spanish)), who it describes as paramilitary that has the backup of state and municipal police. The aggressors come from the Guadalupe Victoria and Las Conchitas ejidos (Ocosingo), as well as from Pojcol (Chilón), where they have attempted to invade lands of the EZLN’s support bases in Francisco Villa autonomous municipality.
On August 12, organized and armed groups of Orcao members shot at Tzeltal campesinos that were driving to carry out collective work on recuperated lands. “Men and women, Orcao members from Guadalupe Victoria, impeded the pass of our compañeros, threatening to burn the vehicle with all the belongings that they were carrying,” the Junta reported.
“One of our compañeros wanted to film” it added, and his camera was snatched away from him by the Orcao members. “At the moment our other compañeros are arriving and the Orcao member José Alfredo Peñate Gómez takes out a 22 caliber pistol and begins to shoot, and a bullet touches Manuel Hernández López.” The Zapatistas opted to withdraw. A little later, another vehicle from the autonomous municipio was transporting more Zapatistas in the direction of their work, and “one thousand meter from the road an armed group from Pojcol” shot weapons, with two 22 caliber impacts reaching the vehicle.
According to the Junta, “the bad government has organized them as paramilitaries because at those moments people from Las Conchitas are arriving that are taking our recuperated land,” and after them came people from Pojcol “like wanting to surround our compañeros,” and upon them rejecting the circle, another Zapatista was injured by a stone thrown in the forehead, “and the aggressor touched him with a cudgel blow.”
Those from Pojcol, that “it is known are paramilitaries,” positioned themselves in the woods to shoot with high caliber weapons, together with the people from Las Conchitas, “that also have large weapons.” All the attackers “are equipped with radios for communication delivered by the three levels of government, because they know that the Army cannot use them. They prepare indigenous paramilitary groups for attacking the EZLN’s bases.”
Before that, the Zapatistas proceeded “to destroy the little huts that the invaders had put there.” On August 13, the people from Pojcol, “once again entered armed cutting down trees, protected by the paramilitaries,” and shot 18 bullets “of high caliber.” On the day of August 14, the shots continued.
The Junta placed responsibility on President Felipe Calderón, on Governor Juan Sabines Guerrero and Mayor Arturo Zúñiga, and remembered its previous denunciation, of July 7, about other aggressions. “It is seen clearly that (these actions) are prepared, directed and supported by the bad governments, because a police car arrived in Guadalupe Victoria that night with two ambulances. We believe that they were to leave more bullets and to pay well for them.”
The Junta points out that this “is one of the thousand ways of waging counterinsurgency campaigns against the Zapatistas” because the rulers “are experts at manipulating the leaders that let them,” and it asks: “Why does it please them so much that there are widows and orphans?”
Everything indicates that the Orcao is out of control. It’s important to remember that on July 27, according to official sources, some 200 members of said organization caused damage to Ocosingo’s Municipal Palace and to a neighboring hotel, protesting because the municipal president, Arturo Zúñiga, “has not fulfilled his campaign promises.”
Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Sicilia: In Spite of the Betrayals, We Will Renew Dialogue with the Legislature on Wednesday
Para leer en español: http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2011/08/15/politica/010n1pol
* “The lords of death must ask the nation and the victims for pardon,” points out the poet
By: Víctor Ballinas and Alonso Urrutia
In front of the new seat of the Senate of the Republic, the poet Javier Sicilia assured yesterday that “our movement is for peace, and peace is not possible without dialogue.” Therefore, he announced that despite “the betrayals, early morning assaults and simulations” of the legislators, on Wednesday, August 17, “we will renew the dialogue” with the Legislative Power. Sicilia explained that: “the signs of sensitivity that the Legislature has sent in recent days have led to initiate a process of linking with it to establish the conditions in which we will renew the dialogue.”
Nevertheless, he assured, “our position with respect to the National Security Law, on hold for approval or rejection as an act of good will by citizen demand, is not only obstinate, but we will fight for, like we already did in Chapultepec Castle, and as we have done throughout this march, a national law of citizen and human security, that takes into account the people for the reconstruction of the nation’s social fabric.”
Before around 3, 000 people that marched with him from the National Museum of Anthropology and History to the official residence of Los Pinos, and from there to the new seat of the Senate, the poet emphasized: “the national security law must be entirely restated and with a disposition by part of the Legislature to listen to and assume other proposals, other approaches, other readings that will help us find the necessary balances where the security of the citizens and peace are the principal axes. The proposal presented by the National Autonomous University Mexico (UNAM) goes in that direction,” he underscored.
He remembered that the dialogue in en Chapultepec Castle started with the Republic’s two powers: the Executive and the Legislative. “In those firm, strong, real, but respectful meetings encuentros –as true dialogues must be–, we were witnesses to the blow of the hand of the President of the Republic, but also to the opening of the heart for seeking together, in work groups, attention to victims, and although in a barely enunciated way, the will to change the tragic direction of this war.”
With the legislators “we were also witnesses to an opening of the heart that led them to accept with six contusions our substantive demands: yes to a law for victims, yes to a truth commission, yes to a substantive increase so that none of our young men stop having access to education, yes to the approval of political reform, and two ambiguous silences.
“The first was to our rejection of the national security law, whose roots want to legitimize the horror of the war and open the way to the country’s militarization; the second, with regard to the pending matter that we have had since 17 years ago with the indigenous peoples, and whose ominous face is treason to the San Andrés Accords and the systematic destruction of their cultures.”
Sicilia made a call, in the name of the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignidad, “to this nation’s powers that together, without betraying the word, putting our eyes on the country’s wounded heart, let us construct peace. We also call on the Lords of Death that in the name of that beautiful word they turn their eyes to their heart and stop their cruelty, their hate and eagerness for power. Nothing, nothing of what they desire is worth more than a life… ask the nation for pardon, for yourselves and ask the victims to whom you have caused so much damage.”
He indicated that the asymmetric relationship between the United States and Mexico is submitting our country’s national security to their military manuals and logic.
He announced that the second week of September they will begin a caravan to the country’s south: “we remember that there, more than 17 years ago, in the Chiapas mountains, was established one of the highest and most profound examples of dignity that continues illuminating the country’s darkness. The faces and names denied to the Indian peoples appeared, which shook up the nation and reminded us of the profound roots of the injustice that are of long standing in Mexico.
“The Zapatistas, with respect, independence and brotherhood, have not stopped accompanying us since the first hours of our walking. The desolate experiences of our Central American brothers that pound our consciences and add their sorrows to our hearts also live there.”
Sicilia was the last speaker, after more than a dozen stories from family members of victims of the drug war.
Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada
Monday, August 15, 2011
Sicilia or the Power of Discourse
By: Lorenzo Meyer
August 4, 2011 | Para leer esta columna en español, haga clic aquí
The Struggle for Legitimacy
In the last twenty years, there are two political discourses that have had a big impact in Mexico and even outside of Mexico, because of their ability to condense the grievances of a significant part of society: that of the rebels that formed the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) and the one that the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity (MPJD) is now constructing. The analysis and the memorial of grievances formulated by the EZLN and the MPJD awaken the interest and solidarity of many –and the hatred of some– because they contrast in a radical way with the form and content of the exhausted, irrelevant and not so credible discourse of those who govern the country: politicians, big business, foreign diplomats or religious leaders.
The EZLN’s discourse of the 1990s was accompanied by the use of arms, although they were few and never decisive (for an authentic armed challenge to the government or the armies of drug traffickers). The real damage to Salinas and the PRI regime was caused by the insurgents’ words and symbolic actions. Someone from Zedillo’s cabinet mocked the EZLN by classifying it as an “internet guerrilla,” without understanding that precisely there resided their intelligence and authentic force, in the social and historic arguments about ethics, with which it bared the poverty and falseness of neoliberal technocrat discourse –that which calls itself “social liberalism” in order to translate and make its harshness and submission to the “Washington Consensus” acceptable.
No one, from the heights of the government, the parties or big business or from the other arenas of the establishment, could refute efficiently the accusations by the Indigenous Chiapas rebels.
From the beginning the EZLN elected the playing field and took the initiative on the discussion with which it confronted the government: the centennial grievance of the original [indigenous] communities of Mexico. With its famous document: “For what are you going to pardon us; for not dying of hunger; for not being quiet in our misery…“ of January 18, 1994, neo-Zapatismo set aside an important part of Mexican and international society, and the technocrats could not thoroughly use their armed superiority to smash them. Some time ago the EZLN was isolated by a political-military circle and has stopped being at the center of Mexican political discussion, but it survives, it cannot be destroyed, and what still sustains it is the force of its discourse.
Different than the EZLN, the MPJD’s strength does not reside, not even symbolically, in rebellion and military force. To the contrary, its efficacy is rooted in a thorough criticism of arms, those of organized crime as well as those of the government, the first by brutal criminals and the second by also inefficient government instances.
The MPJD’s robustness comes from its decision and ability to give voice to a fed up general public –the now famous “we are up to here”– because of senseless criminal and governmental violence, on the rise and where the victims –criminals, police, soldiers and innocents– now add up to 50, 000 in a little less than 5 years.
The pen of the poet that organized and is at the front of the MPDJ, Javier Sicilia, today plays the same role as that Subcomandante Marcos played for the EZLN. The two are dipped in the ink of a religious thinking that after 500 years has undeniable resonance in Mexico. In fact, the word of Subcomandante Marcos was endorsed because of his commitment to the causes of indigenous Chiapanecos, that of Sicilia because of the horror and senseless murder of a son and of all the deaths that the “Calderón War” has caused and continues causing.
The Naked King
There are three fundamental discourses of Sicilia: that presented on May 8 in Mexico City’s Zócalo and the two with which he opened the meetings in Chapultepec, the first with Felipe Calderón on June 23 and the second with the representatives of the Legislative Power on July 28. The ideas formulated by Sicilia and that resonate, that have an echo among a good number of Mexicans, are many but can be summed up in one very general and fundamental [idea]: the content of the exercise of power is so distant from the interests of the bulk of the Mexican people that it turns out to be illegitimate and harmful.
In the Zócalo, Sicilia set forth and demanded that the victims stop being numbers for parts of the government and that their names be returned to them, their individuality, and that the significance of each one of those deaths be evaluated. Deaths [that are the] product of an absurd war, carried out by a profoundly corrupt governmental structure, unrepresentative and that at each one of its levels maintains ties with the criminal world that it claims to combat.
The MPJD’s June meeting with Felipe Calderón and part of his cabinet was historic, without precedent. There, Javier Sicilia said directly to him, literally in his face, to the Executive Power, that, in his position (as president) he was obligated to ask the nation in general and the victims of violence in particular for pardon, for a war between you [the rulers] and the drug traffickers” but “that is not our war.” That war was declared without previously having made “a profound political reform and a cleansing of institutions,” rotten institutions, and therefore the result means an injustice to a society that is paying a very high price for the lack of responsibility of a political class that has given priority to the security of institutions and not to human security, all of which has spilled over into a national emergency.
In the last meeting of the MPJD with the leadership of Congress at Chapultepec on July 28, the document with which Sicilia opened the meeting emphasized the lack of representativeness of our representative democracy. And that is not a “poetic truth” but a hard truth that the polls endorse: those called “popular representatives,” senators and deputies, are found at the bottom of the evaluations made by Mexican citizens (See the June 2011 Mitofsky Poll).
To the legislators, Javier Sicilia threw in their face that at times they act under the supposition that: “we citizens are idiots” and he accused them of being attentive not to the rhythms and beats of the heart of the country” but to their privileges and to “the partyocracy and petty interests” and pretending, “together with the criminals and other de facto (behind-the-scenes) powers, of kidnapping the nation’s democratic aspirations and the hope of wellbeing.” He also accused the Congress of being co-responsible for the 50, 000 deaths, 10, 000 disappearances, 120, 000 displaced and the insecurity of millions that have caused the illegal war against drug trafficking, illegal because the Executive made the decision to carry it on without asking for Congress’ permission and, once that decision was made, the legislators have done nothing to impede it, to stop the evil. Nor are they doing what they should to remedy the damage done. Because of all that, they, lacking as legislators, are obliged to publicly ask for pardon and, besides, to act in those very concrete fields that the MPJD has been demanding for doing justice for the victims –Mexicans and Central Americans–, to repair the institutions, to open genuinely hopeful horizons for youth and, finally to start to give political activity, especially facing next year’s elections, dignity, legitimacy and utility lost a long time ago. That not being the case, in 2012 we will have “an dishonorable government that will again administer the challenge of organized crime and distribute the country’s territory among factious powers, political employees, cartels and military forces.” The key term here is “again,” which implies that the terrible definition of the Mexico of today will persist.
The Finishing Touch
The truths expressed by Javier Sicilia in his three discourses are not really directed at the powerful, but at the citizen. They are not after all, all the truths that make up today’s Mexico, but all of them are resounding truths that have value by themselves and also because they are formulated from a dimension that did not seek to make politics in the ignoble sense that that term has among us. We are clearly dealing with a political phenomenon, but in the best sense of the term, that is only seen now and then: as an effort to transform a national tragedy into an energy that doesn’t seek positions but forging a collective conscience capable of imposing citizen dignity faced with a power that historically has done everything to negate it.
Originally Published in Spanish by Reforma at http://www.reforma.com/editoriales/nacional/619/1236335/
Translation: Chiapas Support Committee/Comité de Apoyo a Chiapas
P.O. Box 3421, Oakland, CA 94609
Indigenous Peoples, “A Hindrance to Commercial Interests,” Amnesty International (AI) Concludes
Para leer en español: http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2011/08/05/politica/018n1pol
** The organization presents a report about the condition of communities in Latin America
** Projects of multi-nationals for exploiting natural threaten lands and their existence
By: Armando G. Tejeda, Correspondent
Madrid, August 4.
The original peoples of America, from Canada to the Southern Cone, live affected by numerous projects for development and extraction of natural resources, because the majority of them are established in their territories and suppose a real “threat,” which can lead to their “disappearance.”
According to Amnesty International’s report on indigenous peoples, Sacrificing rights in the name of development, to the historic marginalization and discrimination is now added “connivance” among the different states with large multi-national [corporations], that besides provoking environmental disasters have sown division and discord among indigenous communities.
Motivated by International Indigenous Peoples Day, which is celebrated on August 9, AI called upon the governments de America [meaning the whole continent] to “stop giving priority to development projects over the rights of those communities,” because they are the principal ones prejudiced by plans for the extraction of minerals, energy resources or by big tourist consortia taking advantage of nature spots. That occurs in the Amazon, but also in the United States, Canada, and Central America or in the Southern Cone. It is calculated that 40 million indigenous peoples live in America.
“It is alarming to verify how the human rights of millions of indigenous peoples all over America are continuously violated. Their cultural and physical survival are now in danger because there is no political will for recognizing, respecting and protecting their rights, when these are considered an obstacle to economic growth,” explained Susan Lee, director of AI’s Regional Program for America.
One of the report’s conclusions, based on field work and on compiling denunciations and alerts by the communities themselves, is that indigenous peoples have been converted into a “hindrance to commercial interests, because of which they threaten them, evict them by force, displace them and even kill them in their zeal to exploit natural resources of the zones in which they live.” A drama that has been sharpened by financial factors, like the extraction of natural resources that sustain the economies of several countries in the region and the recurring corruption of the governments with big businesses.
For example, the construction of the Belo Monte Dam continues on the Xingu River in Brazil, in the Amazon Region, despite the order of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to stop the project until its impact on communities is exhaustively evaluated. In countries throughout the region like Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama and Peru the indigenous peoples have not been consulted before approving laws that threaten their means of life. Development plans have also been realized on ancestral lands without respecting their right to free, previous and informed consent.
Fernanda Daz Costa, editor of AI’s report, explained to La Jornada that: “the increased interest in certain raw materials and natural resources in the territories of these populations is worrisome.
“But she also emphasizes that the organization of the indigenous to express themselves has been increasing. Nevertheless, the constant is a scenario of intense social conflict that in many cases derives into violence, confrontations in which State agents are involved. Or the security services of the corporations that seek to extract natural resources exercise the violence. Thus external agents (the corporations) operate to divide the populations. There are cases of communities that confront each other.
The investigator recognized that it is “difficult” to prove the relationship of big corporations to political assassinations, judicial persecution, threats and the forced disappearance of indigenous leaders. “But there are many indicia and denunciations” that point to that theory, that of the participation of security services of the de multi-nationals in the creation of paramilitary groups or “that they eliminate problematic leaders. All that with the connivance of the government or of the State,” explained Daz Costa. She cited as a paradigmatic case the Sarayacu community in Ecuador, which is now before the CIDH. “In this case the community proved that the Texaco Corporation arrived accompanied by the army in the decade of the 1990s and committed numerous kidnappings, threats, violence and murders. Let’s say that the corporation and the government acted in a coordinated way,” she explained.
She indicated that there are numerous denunciations of the alleged link with multi-nationals that finance paramilitaries, which in the case of Colombia have occasioned death and destruction in the country. “Many times the axis of the discrimination is that the State does not have sufficient legal tools to demand that the corporations act based on human rights. The State’s legal organisms do not function or simply impose corruption.”
The complete report can be consulted at the following address: www.amnesty.org
Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada
Friday, August 5, 2011
Junta Demands That Invaders Leave Monte Redondo Lands, In Chiapas
Para leer en español: http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2011/08/04/politica/022n1pol
** It asserts that state authorities and ejido owners provoke EZLN support bases
** It places responsibility on members of the PAN, PRI, PRD and PVEM for covering up the aggressions
By: Hermann Bellinghausen
The Good Government Junta (Junta) Towards Hope, of the Zapatista Caracol of the jungle border region in La Realidad, Chiapas, denounced “provocations and damages” by authorities and ejido members of Monte Redondo (Frontera Comalapa) against EZLN support bases belonging to Tierra y Libertad autonomous municipality. They place responsibility on members of the four political parties: PAN, PRD, PRI and PVEM, and on the state government, for covering up the aggressions.
The Junta refers to the fact that Patricio Domínguez Vázquez, Alba Palacios de León and Carmelino Felipe Pérez, Zapatista bases, acquired lands inside the same ejido in 1972, and cultivated them “without any problem” until 1987, when “serious conflicts” emerged that persist to this date. Former and current authorities and other ejido owners committed “aggravations, land grabs and robbery” of corn, beans, fruit and coffee, besides “illegally” occupying lands.
The autonomous representatives identified with clarity the invaders of more than 19 acres of Felipe Pérez, more than 7 of Patricio Domínguez and 19 of Alba de León. One of the invaders, the PRD member Conrado Domínguez, had occupied 2.7 acres, which he sold in March of this year for 50, 000 pesos “as if he were the owner.” Last July 27, some 200 people, among them authorities of the Monte Redondo ejido, “went into our compañeros’ parcels to cut down the coffee bushes that were already bearing fruit.”
These actions are impelled by the authorities and people that support them in the same ejido: Emar Sánchez Carrillo, ejidal commissioner; Filadelfo Hernández Ramírez, the commission’s secretary; Miguel de León Morales and Eutimio Méndez Aguilar, vigilance counsel; Hernán de León, municipal agent, and Óscar Méndez Roblero, substitute municipal agent, among others. “Our compañeros are the legitimate owners of these lands and they have the documents,” the Junta maintains.
The “people without shame that are provoking are ejido members with more than 37 acres each, and if some of them no longer have land it is because they sold it.” These people, “supported by the three governmental instances, the Junta abounds, are the same ones that incarcerated our compañero Patricio Domínguez (a few months ago) because of a false accusation.” After the denunciations and intervention of human rights organisms he was liberated “because he did not commit any crime. Now they are provoking g us again.
“If they think that we are not worthy, that we have no dignity, they are wrong. We are humble, simple, and people of reason to those who respect us, and to those who do not respect us, we don’t respect them either and we will never let them humiliate us.”
The Junta points out that the provocations “are the bad government’s plans and it declares Juan Sabines Guerrero guilty, because he deceives and manipulates the people.”
In this case “it is seen that he is the actor and accomplice, while the other villagers obey their master because he pays them to do harm to the Zapatistas. But we are going to defend ourselves because we are in the right and we demand that they take these people that are invading out of our lands.”
The Junta and the Zapatista rebel municipal counsels warn that: “if they don’t let our compañeros work in peace on their lands, the party members will have serious problems against our organization.”
They warn the federal, state and municipal (of David Escobar) governments that if they don’t stop the provocations, the problems “will get worse each time, because we are not going to let ourselves be humiliated before a bunch of thieves that are taking advantage of the effort of our compañeros, who will continue working their lands.”
Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada
Thursday, August 4, 2011
Compiled by the Chiapas Support Committee
1. GREAT NEWS! The Bachajon 5 ARE FREE! – On July 7, the first of the Bachajon 5, Mariano Demeza Silvano, was released from a juvenile detention facility “on conditions.” The 17-year-old youth was originally charged with “murder, damages, and attacks against the public peace.” A judge dropped the murder charge and then released him. Next, on Saturday, July 23, the other four political prisoners were released from Playas de Catazaja Prison. At a press conference they thanked both national and international solidarity for the solidarity: petitions, demonstrations and occupations.
2. New Archaeological Find At Tonina Site – Researchers from Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH, its initials in Spanish) found two pre-Hispanic limestone sculptures that represent prisoners of war and a pair of writing tablets for keeping score of the ball game at Tonina. They are estimated to be 1300 years old. Archaeologists at the site believe that the figures corroborate an alliance between Copan (Honduras) and Palenque (Chiapas) in a war against Tonina for control of the Usumacinta River. Tonina is located just outside the city of Ocosingo, Chiapas, an entryway to the Canyons Region of the Lacandón Jungle.
3. Felipe Calderon Cancels Visit to Tonina Due To Zapatista Banners – On June 21, Mexico’s president, Felipe Calderon, launched the federal government’s new tourist plan: Maya World (Mundo Maya) 2012, whereby the Mexican government hopes to earn some foreign currency by catering to the “end-of-the-worlders.” His plan was to make the announcement on the day of the summer solstice, but after discovering that Zapatista signs and a big banner had been put up adjacent to the sight announcing that it is Zapatista territory, Calderon had to change his plans for fear of landing in Zapatista Territory. So, he changed the location of the announcement to the Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City. Despite the signs and banners, Chiapas Governor Juan Sabines participated in the Solstice ceremony at Tonina. His government go-fers just took the signs down and put a sheet over the banner that featured Che, Zapata and Marcos. “End-of-the-worlders” are those who think the world is going to end on December 21, 2012 when the current Maya Calendar ends. They are allegedly already preparing to converge on a Maya site in the Yucatán. Meanwhile, the Junta in La Garrucha states that it will defend the land adjacent to what is now the Tonina site. That land is privately owned by a Zapatista and the government is maneuvering to take some of it if possible.
4. ORCAO “Takes Over” Zapatista Land Near Tonina – The Zapatista Good Government Junta of La Garrucha denounced land grabbing and aggressions by members of the Regional Organization of Ocosingo Coffee Growers (ORCAO, its initials in Spanish). The Junta states that they “took over” some land in March belonging to Nuevo Paraiso and are making a cornfield on it. Some of them are always armed. They have also engaged in stealing from coffee, corn and sugarcane fields. They have also stolen cattle, wire and trees. Nuevo Paraiso is in the autonomous Zapatista municipality of Pancho Villa. The Junta asked to meet with Orcao’s leaders, but they refused. The Junta also denounced a second problem with Orcao in the Chiapas Support Committee’s partner municipality of San Manuel: Orcao members are entering Zapatista land in the community of Nuevo Rosario to cut down trees to sell for firewood in Ocosingo. They have cut wire fences, allowing cattle to penetrate cornfields, and thus causing damage. The Junta demands that these Orcao members stay out of Zapatista land. Both communities are within the region surrounding Tonina.
5. Famous Chiapas Historian Jan de Vos Dies – Sadly, on July 24 Chiapas lost one of its best known historians when Jan de Vos died. He wrote many books on the history of Chiapas, but became most known for his trilogy on the Lacandon Jungle:
1. Mexican Navy Increases Border Security in Chiapas – On July 5, Mexico’s Department of the Navy (Semar, its acronym in Spanish) announced that it was reinforcing vigilance on the Suchiate River, which forms the border between Mexico and Guatemala in the western part of Chiapas state. There are several formal border crossings there, near the city of Tapachula and the Pacific Ocean. The increased vigilance is to deter the trafficking of migrants and synthetic drugs by criminal groups like Los Zetas. Admiral Sergio Lara listed the additional equipment that Mexico’s Eighth Naval Region has acquired in the last six months and one of the commanders said that there have been confrontations with gunmen for criminal groups “within the last month.”
2. Guatemala President Visits Mexico and Pacts Border Security Cooperation – On July 27, President Alvaro Colom of Guatemala met with Felipe Calderon in Mexico City and agreed to strengthen security along their border to jointly fight organized crime. Commerce between the two countries, as well as the rest of Central America, takes place across that border. Human and drug trafficking, as well as illegal immigration between the two countries, are rampant due to lax security and geographical conditions along the border. At the end of June, the Central American Integration System (SICA) sponsored a 2-day security conference in Guatemala City. Presidents of the Central American countries and the presidents of Colombia and Mexico attended, as did US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and invited individuals from around the world. The purpose of the conference was to develop a security plan and funding for the region, currently experiencing a rise in violent crime due to drug-trafficking gangs. The result was a pledge of $1 Billion dollars from the World Bank, $500 million from the Inter-American Development Bank, $200 million from the European Union and an additional $300 million from the United States. President Obama had already pledged $200 million to El Salvador.
In Other Parts of Mexico
1. The Movement For Peace Meets With Congress – On July 28, Javier Sicilia and members of the Movement for Peace met with 40 members of Congress. He lashed out at them for approving Calderón’s War Against Organized Crime that violated the Constitution. Surprisingly, he used the figure of 50,000 dead, the first time we have seen that figure. He also delivered an ultimatum: “You have to define yourselves in favor of peace or in favor of war.”
2. Poverty Data Released – The National Counsel for Evaluation of Social Development Policy (Coneval) reported that there are now officially 52 million Mexicans living in poverty; in other words, 46.2 percent of the population. Of the 52 million poor, 11.7 million live in extreme poverty. In Chiapas, Guerrero and Oaxaca, states with the heaviest indigenous population, one of every three individuals lives in extreme poverty!
In the US
1. Texas Executes Mexican National – On July 7, the state of Texas executed Humberto Leal Garcia, Jr., a citizen of Mexico. Both the Mexican government and the Obama administration had asked Texas not to execute Leal Garcia because he had been denied his right to consult with Mexican consular authorities at the time of his arrest. Although the case drew international attention, the US Supreme Court refused to issue a stay of execution and Texas proceeded to execute Leal Garcia before the world. Very few countries around the world have the death penalty, and view its use in the United States as rather barbaric.
2. Obama Requires Gun Dealers in States Bordering Mexico to Report Multiple Sales – Early this month, the US Justice Department began requiring gun shops in 4 southwest border states to report multiple sales (frequent buyers) of assault rifles to the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). This regulation applies to gun shops in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. The National Rifle Association is objecting to this regulation.
Compiled monthly by the Chiapas Support Committee.
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Semarnat blamed climate change, soil loss, water shortages and human activities for the severe predicament many species face in a state that shares common ecosystems and natural migratory corridors with the southwestern United States.
Like other border zones, Chihuahua has suffered a chain of extreme weather events this year, including deep freezes, drought and unusual heat.
Manuel Lopez Torres, former director of Ciudad Juarez’s old agricultural university, said native species are particularly threatened in the majestic Samalayuca sand dunes that nudge the outskirts of the border city. According to Lopez, the removal and exploitation of sand have put the scorpion lizard and seven kinds of snakes in jeopardy.
“Sand mining” has likewise led to the disappearance of the desert tortoise and the northern fox from the dunes, Lopez said. Another problem, he added, was the dissipation of water sources and the subsequent substitution of forage plants with weeds.
Semarnat’s studies found many other emblematic creatures in danger of extinction, including rattlesnakes, mountain lions, desert big horn sheep, Harris hawks, black bears, turkeys, and prairie dogs.
Source: La Jornada, July 26, 2011. Article by Ruben Villalpando.
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