Chiapas Support Committee

Sicilia or the Power of Discourse

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

Translation: Chiapas Support Committee/Comité de Apoyo a Chiapas

P.O. Box  3421, Oakland, CA  94609


Amnesty International Report on Indigenous Peoples

Indigenous Peoples, “A Hindrance to Commercial Interests,” Amnesty International (AI) Concludes

 Para leer en español:

 ** 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:


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Friday, August 5, 2011

Junta Demands That Invaders Leave Monte Redondo Lands, In Chiapas

Junta Demands That Invaders Leave Monte Redondo Lands, In Chiapas

 Para leer en español:

** 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

July 2011 Chiapas / Zapatista News Summary

Compiled by the Chiapas Support Committee

In Chiapas

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:

  • La Paz del Dios y del Rey: la Conquista de la Selva Lacandona, 1525-1821 (The Peace of God and the King: the Conquest of the Lacandon Jungle)
  • Oro verde: la Conquista de la Selva Lacandona por los Madereros Tabasqueños, 1822-1949 (Green Gold: the Conquest of the Lacandon Jungle by the Tabasco’s Timber Dealers)
  • Una Tierra Para Sembrar Sueños: Historia Reciente de la Selva Lacandona, 1950-2000 (A Land for Sowing Dreams: Recent History of the Lacandon Jungle)

Chiapas-Guatemala Border

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.

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 Chiapas Support Committee‘s web page.

Take action with the Chiapas Support Committee and click on the Donate button to support indigenous autonomy.


Chiapas Support Committee/Comité de Apoyo a Chiapas

P.O. Box  3421, Oakland, CA  94609

Tel: (510) 654-9587


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Frontera NorteSur: Mexico has 195 species at risk

Environment News: July 29, 2011

195 Species at Risk

Frontera NorteSur:

On-line, U.S.-Mexico border news

Mexican government and university researchers are warning about threats posed to the survival of 195 plant and animal species in the northern border state of Chihuahua. Studies by the Secretariat of the Environment and Natural Resources (Semarnat) have identified a broad gamut of species at risk, including birds, mammals, fish, reptiles and amphibians, as well as scores of cactus and other plant varieties.

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.

Frontera NorteSur: on-line, U.S.-Mexico border news

Center for Latin American and Border Studies

New Mexico State University

Las Cruces, New Mexico

For a free electronic subscription email:

june 2011 zapatista news

Compiled monthly by the Chiapas Support Committee.

 In Chiapas

1. ORCAO Kidnaps and Tortures 2 Zapatistas; Releases Them 3 Days Later – On June 20, the Organization of Ocosingo Coffee Growers (ORCAO, its initials in Spanish), a local campesino organization, kidnapped 2 Zapatista support bases. The kidnapping followed several weeks of continuous harassment and provocation against Zapatista communities in Primero de Enero autonomous municipality. The Zapatista Good Government Junta in the Caracol of Morelia denounced the kidnapping and acts of aggression, including the theft of crops, wire fencing and belongings, a house burning, and the destruction of crops and fences. The 2 Zapatistas were beaten badly and threatened with being burned alive. Orcao said the dispute arose when a group of Zapatistas took over a piece of land named San Antonio Chivaljá, to which the Orcao alleges some legal right. They were finally released on June 23, bleeding and badly beaten all over their bodies. The Junta maintains that the land in question was recuperated after the 1994 Zapatista Uprising and has been peacefully worked by EZLN support bases ever since.

 2. Marcos Letter Greeting the Caravan for Peace – During the first week in June, Subcomandante Marcos sent greetings to the (motorized) Caravan for Peace with Justice and Dignity, led by Javier Sicilia, as it began its tour through northern Mexico. His letter was mostly directed to the June 5 Citizens Movement For Justice, which seeks justice for the 49 little children that died in the ABC Nursery School fire on June 5, 2009 in Hermosillo, Sonora, as well as the children that were injured in the fire. To read the original article in Spanish, click on La Jornada.

 3. Residents of Nuevo Juan de Grijalva Rural City Finally Released From Prison On June 22, 8 residents of the “world’s first sustainable rural city” were released  from a Chiapas state prison in Pichucalco. Their defense lawyer has also been released. The tragedy of Juan de Grijalva began in 2007, when nonstop rains caused a hill to collapse on their riverside community, destroying homes and displacing residents that escaped. The Chiapas state government promised to build permanent housing for the displaced in the world’s first sustainable rural city called Nuevo Juan de Grijalva. It also promised to indemnify them for the losses they suffered due to the natural disaster. On March 17 of this year, residents of Nuevo Juan de Grijalva mounted a demonstration protesting the government’s failure to pay the indemnifications. After the demonstration, ejido members were detained by police in different places and at different times, accused of “criminal association and rioting.” Their defense lawyer was also detained and imprisoned. Their lands surrounding the original Juan de Grijalva ejido are currently being used by corporations for public works, although the government has still not paid for the lands. This is one example of why the government wants to place rural peasants in rural cities: the government gets the rural land and it can control social protest more easily.

 4. A “Hotel Complex” at Lake Miramar? – According to a series of articles in La Jornada this month, an agreement was reached with the Emiliano Zapata ejido for the construction of a “hotel complex” at Lake Miramar, located in the Montes Azules Integral Biosphere Reserve. It’s important to remember that the federal government’s environmental agency (Semarnat) has removed many communities, possibly 40 or so, from the Montes Azules under the pretext of environmental concerns. Some of those evicted from their homes have been removed at gunpoint, all their belongings burned and/or stolen. Semarnat says it will not be a “hotel complex,” but just some cabins.

 5. Frayba Fears Forced Displacement in San Marcos Aviles, Chilon –  The Fray Bartolome de las Casas Human Rights Center (Frayba) warns of a possible forced displacement in San Marcos Aviles ejido, Chilon Municipality. Last September (2010), death threats by ejido members who belong to several political parties drove 160 Zapatista support bases to seek refuge in the surrounding woods, where they stayed for a month. The aggressions and threats have started again and have even extended to peace camp observers, an escalation of the conflict. There are complaints of harassment by Zapatista bases and Other Campaign adherents throughout Chilon, a municipality that includes the large San Sebastian Bachajon ejido.

 In Other Parts of Mexico

 1. Javier Sicilia Receives GX Human Rights Award – On June 1, Global Exchange presented a human rights award to Javier Sicilia. In his speech, Sicilia said that US citizens would be complicit in the deaths of Mexicans if they did not try to deal with their country’s prohibitionist drug policies, weapons industry and funding for the Merida Initiative (Plan Mexico). Later, in El Paso, Sicilia said: “We ask the people of this country that you stop those weapons, that you have to tell the government that the drugs you consume are not an issue of national security, but one of public health. You have to impede that Plan Merida, which has been nothing more than fuel for the violence, or you will be accomplices of that crime against humanity in Mexico.”

 2. Caravan for Peace Tours Northern Mexico and Meets With Calderon – Beginning June 4, the movement started by poet and novelist Javier Sicilia after the murder of his son, formed a caravan for peace with justice and dignity that traveled to cities in northern Mexico, ending up in Ciudad Juárez on June 10, where a National Citizens Pact was signed. Sicilia also met with exiled Mexican families in El Paso, Texas on June 11. A group of family members of the victims accompanied Sicilia to a June 23 meeting with Calderon, which was broadcast on national television. The televised meeting got mixed reviews. Calderon defended his “war against organized crime,” and showed little sign of changing his deadly strategy. There is some indication that the members of the Caravan will head south in the near future; that is, towards Chiapas.

 In the US

1. Bill to Let States Regulate Marijuana Introduced in House – This month, two US Congressmen (Barney Frank and Ron Paul) introduced a bill that would end  the federal restrictions on marijuana, thus leaving it up to the individual states to decide how to best serve their constituencies. Oakland’s own Congresswoman Barbara Lee is one of the co-signers. In addition to letting the states decide, this apparently would mean that federal agents could only deal with interstate smuggling. June 2011 represented the 40th anniversary of the “war on drugs” declared by Richard “Tricky Dick” Nixon. Consistent with Sicilia’s position, the International Drug Policy Commission issued a report recommending that drugs be legalized and treated as a public health  issue. The report can be read in English here.


 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:

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Chiapas Support Committee/Comité de Apoyo a Chiapas

P.O. Box  3421, Oakland, CA  94609

Tel: (510) 654-9587


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