Chiapas Support Committee

Tour for life and hope

For Life

By: Raúl Zibechi

In all corners of the world those above are perpetrating a silent genocide of Native and Black peoples, of campesino and poor people, of the city and the countryside.

The Turkish Army invades northern Syria, devastating Kurdish villages and cities. The government of Israel doesn’t vaccinate the Palestinian population. In Manaus (Brazilian Amazon), thousands die in collapsed hospitals. In just three weeks of 2021, there have also been six massacres in Colombia, resulting in more than 15 deaths (

Femicides multiplied during the pandemic, as an inseparable part of the genocide against those below.

In Chiapas, the paramilitary gangs attack the communities in Moisés Gandhi with firearms. The script is always the same: paramilitaries like ORCAO, with advice from the armed forces, attack Zapatista support bases; the federal and state governments are silent; that is, they consent. The media and the parties are silent; that is, they consent.

In the Latin American urban peripheries and in remote rural areas not only are vaccines not talked about, but we also don’t have adequate hospital infrastructure, nor enough doctors or nurses.

One characteristic of the storm against those below is that no one cares. No one reacts or is moved. Indifference is the policy of the states and of a good part of public opinion. Ayotzinapa happens everywhere, not only in Mexico.

This is the policy consolidated from above, and accepted with enthusiasm by the political system. It is a military and media siege against the peoples, to immobilize them, while capital (freed from all controls) deepens its extensive and intense process of concentration and centralization in fewer and fewer hands.

The Zapatista tour of European lands is an opportunity to break the siege, to once again gather in common spaces, to make ourselves heard and to weave ourselves together as peoples in resistance. The Zapatista proposal announced in October and restated on the 1st of January in the Declaration for Life is an enormous effort on the part of the communities to break the siege of death.

The response from Europe came from the hand of more than a thousand collectives in more than 20 countries declaring their willingness to join and organize the tour that will carry more than 100 Zapatistas, mostly women, to many corners of the continent.

It will not be easy to organize a tour so extensive in a moment in which the pandemic knows no bounds, offering an occasion for the governments and the police to limit collective action. In Europe rights to gather and demonstrate were limited, which is now casting doubt on how the celebration of March 8th will go.

Also it will be very challenging for thousands of activists to manage to come to agreement, being that they come from different histories, ideologies and ways of being. These diverse political cultures will find difficulties in overcoming both individual and collective egocentrism, the inevitable search for media spotlights for some, always few, but with great power for disintegration.

To the difficulties inherent to the situation, you have to add those stemming from so many years of fragmentation, and above all, the continuity of a political culture centered on the states, on male leaders, and on discourses that are not accompanied by coherent practices.

The Zapatista expedition offers the opportunity to address two necessary tasks, besides that of the aforementioned breaking of the siege.

The first is that it will allow the linking and coordination of collective that are usually distant or that don’t even know one another. This isn’t about creating new apparatuses or structures, but rather of opening a wide spectrum of horizontal and egalitarian links, something much more difficult even than establishing a coordination that often repeats the defects of the apparatus.

The second is that a deeper understanding of Zapatista ways of doing things can allow many people and collectives to enter into political cultures that until now only a few feminist and youth groups have put into practice.

One of the most depressing observations in militant environments is seeing how decade after decade they tend to repeat the same defects that, naively, we believe we have overcome. There is no way of overcoming those without doing, failing, and doing again, until you find ways of working that don’t hurt, or exclude, or humiliate.

The Zapatista tour will be an enormous source of learning for the most diverse anticapitalist collectives. First, to confirm that it is possible, that those from above are not as powerful as they seem. Second, that we can add more and more people without reproducing the system, looking for confluences among those who suffer similar oppressions. Challenge and hope at the same time.

If all goes well, in the south of the continent we will reproduce the expedition. These days we are taking the first steps, timid for now, to deploy the energies that will allow us to continue breaking sieges.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Friday, January 29, 2021

English interpretation by Schools for Chiapas

Re-Published by the Chiapas Support Committee




The Maya Train and the Mexican State versus the UN

By: Magdalena Gómez

Six rapporteurs of special human rights procedures sent the Mexican State, through the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, a document in which they expressed “grave concerns” about the Maya Train on issues of territory, dispossession and rights to health, the negative effect on the right of the indigenous peoples to their traditional lands, consultation without international standards, irregular environmental impact studies and possible harassment, criminalization, defamation against human rights defenders personas, as well as possible militarization of the zone (September 21 Communication to Mex 11/2020).

On November 20, 2020, the permanent mission for Mexico in the United Nations office and other international organisms with headquarters in Geneva sent the response of Mexico (OGEO4560). In it, it repeats positions like the defense of the consultation process and its consistent innovation in which specific consultations will follow, as well as the follow-up commissions agreed upon when the train was approved. At the same time it reaffirms controversial issues, like the trusts and, based on the powers of the State in matters of expropriation for reasons of public utility, now it recognizes that in the case of evictions it will seek negotiation, but if that doesn’t work out indemnification is imposed. They left out of their response the ongoing legal avenues promoted by indigenous organizations in the national ambit, as well as their initial search at the inter-American level, which doesn’t operate with the required speed. Its big omissions are those relative to the indigenous peoples, the Maya civilization and the so-called archaeological remains, the impacts they have suffered with other megaprojects and to their very concept of so-called progress.

To start with, the Mexican State offered a definition: “The Maya Train is a project for improving people’s quality of life, caring for the environment and detonating sustainable development;” then, it enunciates its objectives, without highlighting tourism. It also introduces, without defining, that what were once development poles will now be “sustainable communities” and clarifies that they do not report their location in order to avoid speculation.

In the land section, they pointed out that the current legislation establishes that the general communications routes are national assets and the railways, stations, train yards, traffic control centers and right of way, are part of the general railway communication. The national assets will not be part of a trust since they belong to the nation, if not enough, the constitution of the trusts to which the lands will be contributed according to their regime (federal, state, municipal, private or ejido) has been considered. If in any of these cases it is determined that it’s necessary to incorporate common use lands belonging to an ejido, their participation will be carried out in accordance with Agrarian Law, which permits the association in participation for 30 years with the possibility of renewal.

This way will permit that we’re not dealing with what are called infrastructure and real estate trusts (Fibra) in all cases. And they maintain that under no modality is it foreseen that common use ejido lands will be converted into private property.

Regarding the concern of the rapporteurs about the military participation in indigenous territories for the construction of sections 6 and 7 of the Maya Train Project, they responded that it’s based on the Organic Law of the Mexican Army and Air Force. For greater support, on January 11 the addition of a section to Article 29 of the Organic Law of Federal Public Administration was published in the Official Gazette of the Federation, relative to the functions of the Secretary of National Defense: “Providing auxiliary services that require the Army and Air Force, as well as the civil services that the federal Executive designates for said forces.”

The response has a political-diplomatic impact, the efforts of the rapporteurs would only reach to carry out a follow-up to its content; these procedures do not have a binding character. Accompaniment of the government was agreed upon with the Mexico office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights that hopefully maintains priority, as it has up to now, on the rights of the peoples.

It’s a fact that the so-called Maya Train will continue for the rest of this six-year presidential term. The challenge that remains for the communities is to continue the task of information about the impact of the megaproject and carry out the follow-up and denunciation of land dispossession situations in the ejidos. We’re facing a case of submission of the law due to the disproportionate use of State’s political force.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee





Background: Zapatistas, a 25-year transformation

By Herman Bellinghausen

Photo from the first Zapatista Women’s Encuentro.; from the blog Atenco Somos Todas.

The theory of the gourd

They made us believe that Mexico was a sort of large, mature, shiny and solid gourd for export. The government headed by Carlos Salinas de Gortari, obsequious and gallant, extended the gourd on a silver platter to the gold partner, and from there to the global free market in the northern hemisphere. How smooth and shiny the gourd, also called a snout, looked. And then, at the appointed date and time, the champagne’s plop became a gulp of thunderous disbelief in the throats of the celebrating rulers. On New Years Eve 1994 the precious gourd cracked. An inopportune crack that burst into a complaint of unprecedented eloquence, a “today we say enough” shouted with rifles in the fist and badly covered faces from the last corner of the country, in the mountains of Chiapas. Through the crack, the words of the First Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle and the incomprehensible images of a campesino and insurgent army that occupied the seats of government in some cities of the sprouted uncontrollably. It was a declaration of war with all its letters. And that army “that couldn’t be” announced that it would advance to the capital of the Republic to overthrow the bad government, based on Article 39 of the Constitution and taking refuge in the Laws on la War dictated in the Geneva Convention. It seemed like a joke, a bad dream. Many would have wanted to laugh, but couldn’t. Through the cracking of the gourd, the indigenous peoples finally appeared, claiming their place in the nation and in History. Even now, it seems incredible what they achieved in one night, when they declared:

“We are the heirs of the true builders of our nation, the dispossessed. We are millions and we call upon our brothers and sisters to join this call as the only path to not die of hunger given the insatiable ambition of a 70-year old dictatorship led by a click of traitors who represent the most conservative and sell-out groups. They are the same ones who opposed Hidalgo and Morelos, the ones who betrayed Vicente Guerrero, the same ones who sold more than half our soil to the foreign invader, the same ones who brought in a European prince to govern us, the same ones who formed the dictatorship of the Porfirista scientists, the same ones who opposed the oil expropriation, the same ones who massacred the railroad workers in 1958 and the students in 1968 and they are the same ones who today take everything away from us, absolutely everything.”

And to the people of Mexico they said:

“We, honest and free men and women, are conscious that the war we declare is a last resort, but just. The dictators are applying an undeclared genocidal war against our peoples for many years. Therefore, we ask for your decided participation supporting this plan of the Mexican people who struggle for work, land, housing, food, health care, education, independence, liberty, democracy, justice and peace. We declare that we will not stop fighting until achieving these basic demands of our people by forming a free and democratic government in our country.”

No one had dared to speak to the State like that in decades, and in the case of indigenous peoples, in centuries. The name of the insurgent group: Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN, its initials in Spanish), would remain forever tattooed on the skin of the Mexican State. Indigenous peoples, they immediately specified being Tsotsil, Tzeltal, Tojolabal and Chol Mayas, and also Zoques. From there they could be any of the native peoples of Mexico. They woke up with a bell ringing, and with it they awakened the entire country, and also the world. 

You know what? Mexico turns out to be the country with the largest Native population on the continent: at least 25 percent of the total in the Americas. They number many millions, perhaps twenty million or more, although officially the censuses lower the numbers in a sort of statistical genocide, forever a characteristic of the method. And even so they are still the fourth part. 

President Salinas, still pale days after the New Year in that long January of ‘94 and visibly diminished, would declare that the indigenous people who were disaffected with the regime were only a few, that they came from a few Highlands municipalities and that the situation was already being addressed. Aha, deploying thousands of military personnel in the region, kilometers-long convoys loaded with troops, airplanes, tanks and helicopters that shot at and bombarded a target that had vanished. Just as they appeared out of the night, they returned to it. The jungle swallowed them up. Now, the government was at war with indigenous Mexicans, whose reasons sounded convincing, at least so that everyone would turn to look. Through the crack in the gourd a bath of reality would continue to emerge like a light (Carlos Monsiváis would admit that “the Zapatistas taught us to speak with reality”) that no one could contain; to the contrary, it grew. The cracked gourd shed a new light, very new, on the national debate and on a brand new central actor: the Native peoples. Moreover, it seemed like the resurrection of the libertarian dream that had buried the Berlin Wall a few years ago when the cracks finally brought it down. If Leonard Cohen sang that that the cracks are where the light enters, the indigenous glow came from the interior of Mexico itself, “deep Mexico,” and no one could say that he had not seen it. 

As much as there is to go in 2019, for the full vindication of the Native peoples, the arch opened by the neo-Zapatistas of Chiapas has knocked down like cards a number of prejudices, denials, discriminations and impunities. Today, explicit racism, discrimination against indigenous women and discrimination against Native languages are visible and “politically incorrect.” It doesn’t mean that they no longer exist, but the margins for the hypocrisy of the majority society were narrowed. The gourd was definitely broken.

Comandanta Esther in San Lázaro. Photography of Pedro Mera, 2001/CUARTOSCURO

Never more a Mexico without her peoples

The wake of the uprising, its impact on the country’s Native peoples, is a matter little addressed by analysts. It will be remembered that the surprise of that New Year had already been announced. In the middle of 1993, national media and international agencies reported the federal Army’s clash with some kind of guerrilla in the Ocosingo canyons (Cañadas), near Chalam del Carmen, at the gates of the Lacandón Jungle of the Tzeltals. The government immediately minimized it; the Army denied the existence of guerrillas, and did so without counting that the new Secretary of the Interior had governed the state [of Chiapas] autocratically until a few months before. The State supposed that the situation was under control. There would be elections the following year and the Cardenistadanger seemed averted when the left joined the electoral system and remained at its “real size.” No one foresaw that the winds of change would come from far below. When did the Indians here represent a real challenge for the State? They were clients, nothing more. 

But the unforeseen winds did come blowing down there. In the Autumn of 1993, chance, if it exists, took me from San Cristóbal de Las Casas to the Tojolabal cañada (canyon) of Las Margaritas, to a community, then semi-remote, called Cruz del Rosario, to visit some coffee fields. Not me, my companions. I was “wearing a cap.” And we’re going there in a pickup truck with cañada bars inside. In Cruz del Rosario, our host, a Tojolabal resident, told us about his quetzal hunts in the mountains, how much he sold them for, especially alive. With the same lack of modesty he narrated the movement of “guerrillas,” who came from the direction of Tepeyac (Guadalupe Tepeyac, which would become famous in a few months) and who were known to have two commanders: one tall, a little redheaded; another short, “indigenous but not from around here.” With time, it would be easy to deduce that he was talking about Subcomandante Pedro and Major Moisés of the EZLN. I don’t remember that he approved or disapproved. 

A peculiar nervousness prevailed everywhere. In San Cristóbal and Ocosingo the caxlan (non-indigenous) merchants suffered apocalyptic visions. Days later in Jovel, during the 20th anniversary of the Rural Association of Collective Interest (ARIC, its initials in Spanish) snubbed by the Salinas government to which its leadership had surrendered, the powerful organization of indigenous producers, still undivided but already diminished, was getting chills. “They are taking our young men from us” caxlan leaders and advisors lamented with galloping paternalism and baseless political calculations. 

Signs of “something” serious abounded. More and more radically indigenous in its orientation, the diocese headed by Samuel Ruiz García lived under siege, the “authentic” coletos [1] and cattle ranchers of the region brought their desires to the bishop, to his parish priests and catechists, to the liberated communities, to the new Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Center, which today we nickname Frayba. The internal commotion was evident in the historic organizations and unions (National Campesino Confederation [CNC], Independent Central of Agricultural Workers and Campesinos [CIOAC] and the ARIC). The “traditional” Catholics of San Juan Chamula had barely laid down their criminal weapons against the “Protestant sects,” with which they provoked the exodus of more than 30 thousand Chamulans to San Cristóbal and the border. Meanwhile, the web of secrecy grew in the barrios, cañadas, schools and convents. 

After the almost autocratic rule of Governor Patrocinio González Garrido until a few months ago, when his political cousin, President Salinas, shortened his reins by bringing him to the Interior Department, Chiapas seemed to be without a government or having it somewhere else (a recurring syndrome in the state). 

Nothing permitted foreseeing the size of the impact that three months later the irruption what turned out to be the Zapatista National Liberation Army (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional) would have. Immediate, profound, worldwide, it surprised the insurgents, the Catholic Church and the government. The media was ecstatic. The weeks after January 1, 1994 revealed a vast movement, organized and disciplined, full of meaning, of ideas and experiments, of unprecedented political gravity and humor. Its base, its all resided in the telluric force of thousands of masked and armed indigenous people in rebellion. 

Many were the unforeseen effects of the rebellion that mobilized multitudes in the entire country, generated solidarity networks of a new kind and inspired rivers of ink, photography, video (on the then incipient Internet, the EZLN’s communiqués were translated the same day into English, Italian, German, French and other languages), whose messages led to the creation of musical genres and propaganda arts that Europe and the Americas turned to see with astonishment. 

Less evident, ignored by everyone, the greatest impact occurred in the Native peoples themselves. Communities and individuals throughout Mexico learned that it was possible without fear. They embraced their languages. Women learned to be alluded to as never before. Young people glimpsed another possible modernity: a world where many worlds fit, where they fit. The mountains and the Lacandón Jungle were open to an evolving experience of government and struggle. The rebels legitimized themselves in their actions and their language. With the word on their side, the indigenous people took the lead for the first time in the history of Mexico.

Diego Rivera, Paisaje zapatista, 1915

A very different country

There are triumphs that seem like defeats: the student movement of 1968, the 1988 fraud and the strike of the General Strike Council in 1999. As distant as ‘94 may seem in 2019, that Mexico of capitalist pillage, liberal glee and reality baths is still here, sudden and brutal. That event gave rise to new social dreams. Also to an internal “low-intensity” war,” which, mutatis mutandis, continues today in those same mountains of Chiapas and in many mountains and plains of the republic. The government of Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de León inaugurated the modern era of massacres and killings, and renewed the word genocide. Since February 9, 1995, the route that the State traces is to contain militarily, besiege and, above all, systematically betray its agreements and commitments. It grants the indigenous people the status of enemies of the State. In June 1995, we saw the first blow in Aguas Blancas, Guerrero. [2]

Thus, a fratricidal counterinsurgency is methodically constructed among Chols in the northern zone of Chiapas, while dialogue with the rebel comandantes in the Tzeltal jungle and in San Andrés Larráinzar. The dead are piling up to block the dialogues, but in April 1996 the first few agreements were signed. Participation in the dialogues of representatives of the indigenous peoples from all over the country was notable. Whether the government liked it or not, the issue was national and had to be reflected in the Constitution. Zedillo decided not to comply, blatantly. He sharpened the counterinsurgency and extended it to Chenalhó in the Tsotsil region. More deaths, until reaching the Acteal Massacre on December 22, 1997, and then, during 1998, the deaths of El Bosque right there in Los Altos, El Charco (Guerrero again) and the offensive against the Zapotecs of the Loxichas region in Oaxaca. 

It turns out that the Indians matter, and to the State but not for the best reasons. Again and again Zedillo attempts to pass over them, ignore them, deny them. He leaves Chiapas militarized and delivers the government to twelve years of the confessional right, even more impotent for confronting the challenge of the indigenous peoples. However, the “war” against organized crime unleashed by Felipe Calderón Hinojosa in 2007 has as its first effect militarily and para-militarily cornering, not just the rebels of the south and southeast, but also a good part of the Native peoples. That paralyzed self-government projects and national movements like the National Indigenous Congress (Congreso Nacional Indígena), founded in 1996 under Zapatista inspiration. Few perceived it, the media didn’t record it: Calderón achieved reaching 2010 with the country in flames and the Indians cornered. In Michoacán, Guerrero, Oaxaca, Chihuahua and Chiapas community members continued dying, and the hundred-year anniversary of the Mexican Revolution could not be the bell ringing that many expected, somewhat like 1992, when the celebratory failure of the 500 years stirred the definitive eruption of the continental indigenous peoples. 

A quarter of a century after the Zapatista Uprising, and in view of its innumerable consequences, it’s evident that much has changed. The peoples rose up in the cultural, organizational, symbolic and even the linguistic sense. Since the beginning of the 21st century, a feverish literary writing in Mexican languages has been unleashed in the country, with works and authors that deserve a place. That didn’t exist 25 years ago, nor was it predictable. Literature as a sign of life!Today, the State presents itself as liberal as those before, nationalist, and once again encounters the inescapable stone of the indigenous peoples, their rights, territories and their own governments. Andrés Manuel López Obrador promises to develop, not repress; to consult, not impose. For him, the poor are first, and as the Indians are “poor” par excellence, then the Indians first, who would stop being poor. It’s just that the State’s projects and the global capitalist tendency continue demanding that they stop being Indians: language and embroidery as folklore, without territory or their own government, as always. But it’s been 25 years ago that to the Native peoples things stopped being “as always.”


Originally published in Spanish by the Revista de la Universidad de Mexico in its Abya Yala Dossier (The University of Mexico Magazine), April 2019. The original can be read here:

Re-published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

Translator’s Notes:

[1] Authentic coletos are residents of San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, who were born and raised there. They strongly opposed the Liberation Theology of Bishop Samuel Ruiz García and his consequent “option for the poor” and actively organized against him. 

[2] On June 28, 1995, the Guerrero State Police massacred 17 campesinos from the Organización Campesina de la Sierra del Sur (Southern Sierra Campesino Organization) at a place called Aguas Blancas.

Editor’s note on the Background:Zapatistas, A 25-year transformation,” from 2019, by Herman Bellinghausen reflects on the long liberation struggle of Indigenous people marked by the 25th anniversary of the Zapatista uprising. In 2021, the EZLN is in the 27th year of struggle and organizing. Bellinghausen’s piece provides analysis and background to understanding Zapatismo. This is especially crucial in this historic year, when they EZLN has announced their initiative to take Zapatismo across oceans and continents. The Chiapas Support Committee will occasionally publish longer pieces to help us learn and reflect on the roots and history of Zapatismo and to dialogue and to deepen our imagination and our own way of thinking and organizing on U.S. terrain.

Zapatismo and the struggle for life

The Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) announced a new political initiative in October of 2020 that makes up another link in the chain of anti-capitalist rebellion that they have continued to move forward in the past twenty-seven years of their public presence. There isn’t space to discuss them all, but it is important to highlight that with the government’s betrayal of the San Andrés Accords, which were formalized in 2001 with the indigenous counter reform, the Zapatistas withdrew to create the autonomy exemplified in their Councils of Good Government. And they did not stop with this historical achievement. Rather, they worked on encouraging reflection about the cracks in the capitalist system in gatherings and seminars. One thing that stands out is the effort to systematize the experience of the Zapatista support bases and to organize the Escuelitas project that brought together thousands of sympathizers, supporters and organizations from the National Indigenous Congress. The focal point was to call for organization beyond Zapatista territorial boundaries. More recently, they organized the gatherings, Women Who Struggle, where thousands participated from different countries and shed light on the serious impact of patriarchy, expressed by the increase in femicides, among other things. We can’t omit the Zapatista recommendation to the National Indigenous Congress that an indigenous woman, María de Jesús, appear on the ballot as an independent party candidate for president of Mexico in 2018. The CNI-CIG did not achieve her candidacy, but they triumphed by organizing a tour throughout the country calling to action and making the reality of indigenous people visible.

To whom does it matter that a small, tiny group of native people, of indigenous people, live, or rather, struggle? Because as it turns out we are alive. Despite paramilitaries, pandemics, megaprojects, lies, slander, and being forgotten, we live. Or rather, we struggle.

October 5, 2020 EZLN Communique

Furthermore, in the current context of the pandemic, where the crude reality that the life of the planet is at stake has been made obvious, the Zapatistas remain aligned to the inseparable coupling of struggling to live and living to struggle. They asked themselves: 

To whom does it matter that a small, tiny group of native people, of indigenous people, live, or rather, struggle? Because as it turns out we are alive. Despite paramilitaries, pandemics, megaprojects, lies, slander, and being forgotten, we live. Or rather, we struggle. And this is what we think: we will continue to struggle. Or rather, we will continue to live. And we think that during all these years we have received the fraternal embrace of people from our country and from the world. And we think that if we have been able to withstand, resist, and flourish, and not without difficulty, it is thanks to the people who defied distance, red tape, borders, and cultural and linguistic differences; thanks to the women, men, and those who transgress gender boundaries, but above all, the women, who challenged and overcame calendars and geographies. 

And in all of this we think of our collective heart, and it came to our minds that it is time that us Zapatistas correspond with the ear, word, and presence of those worlds, those that are near and those that are far. 

We have decided that various Zapatista delegations will journey out into the world. We will walk or sail by foot, by sea, or by far away skies, in search not of difference, not of superiority, not to humiliate, and much less to forgive or pity. We will go to find what makes us alike. We will arrive in Madrid on August 13th, 2021, five hundred years after the alleged conquest of what is today is Mexico. We will talk to the Spanish people to tell them that they did not conquer us; our rebellion and resistance continues and they don’t have to ask for forgiveness. (Oct. 5th, 2020 EZLN communique)

In other communiques, the Zapatistas analyzed the global situation on the premise that capitalism is the axis of harm to communities, nature, and women and men of different cultures, ideologies, and sexual orientations, and that migration is a result of it. Corporations operate, displace, and exploit in the same way in all countries. Therefore, the solution is not in governments or nationalism or in focusing on the past. They also shared these reflections in Zapatista communities.

In this context, on January 1st of this year, they issued “a declaration… for life,” directed towards the peoples of the world and to the people who struggle on the five continents. It was signed by the EZLN and backed by numerous organizations and people from Greece, Germany, France, Basque country, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Catalonia, Cyprus, Scotland, Slovakia, England, Ireland, Norway, Portugal, Check Republic, Russia, Switzerland, the Spanish State, Italy, Nigeria, Togo, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, the United States, Peru and Mexico. They will conduct conferences in Europe from July to October (with later dates for Asia, Africa, Oceania, and America). A Mexican delegation will participate, which will be made up of the National Indigenous Congress -Indigenous Governing Council [CNI-CIG], the Committee in Defense of Land and Water of Morelos, Puebla, and Tlaxcala, and the EZLN.  It will be a great challenge and an indispensable one. In Mexico, the megaprojects will continue their course, and so will the violence against indigenous people and their territories, so the global struggle for life will have to coexist with the struggle from our national habitat.


Translation from Spanish to English provided by the Chiapas Support Committee. The original was published by La Jornada newspaper, available here

New ORCAO attack on Zapatista community

 By: Chiapas Paralelo

The Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Center demanded guarantying the life and integrity of the Support Bases and respect for Zapatista autonomy, after receiving information from the Patria Nueva Good Government Junta in Ocosingo, in which they detailed that they have been under attack for three days from the Regional Organization of Ocosingo Coffee Growers (ORCAO).

With shots from firearms, Caracol 10, “Flowering the Rebel Seed,” assured that the ORCAO attacked the community of Moisés Gandhi, in Lucio Cabañas autonomous municipality.

On January 18, 2021, from 3:30 pm to 6:00 pm, ORCAO members resumed the armed attacks on homes in the Moisés Gandhi community. There were “around 170 large caliber shots and 80 small caliber shots.” On January 20, 2021, at 4:00 pm and 10:30 pm, new attacks were recorded, the human rights center said.

This Thursday, at approximately 12:30 am, 2:10 am and 2:55 am, shots were fired at homes in the community by a group of 20 ORCAO people from the communities of San Antonio, Cuxuljá, San Francisco and February 7, all in the municipality of Ocosingo.

The Frayba Center documents that, since April 2019, ORCAO members have attacked the Moisés Gandhi community, which has led to the destruction of property and physical and verbal aggressions.

Consequently, the Frayba Center made a call to the Mexican State to immediately intervene and stop the attacks on the Moisés Gandhi community, since the life and integrity of the women, girls, boys and men of the Maya Tseltal Pueblo are at risk.

More attacks

The National Indigenous Congress-Indigenous Governing Council (CNI-CIG, their initials in Spanish) repudiated the attack by ORCAO members, which occurred in Saturday, August 22, 2020, around 11:00 am, since they robbed and burned the installations of the New Dawn of the Rainbow Commercial Center, which is located at the site known as the Cuxuljá Crossroads, Lucio Cabañas Autonomous Municipality, in the official municipality of Ocosingo.

In reaction, 239 signatories, including women, collectives, human rights centers and women’s spaces signed a letter in which they show solidarity with the women members of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (Ejercito Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, EZLN), with their struggle against the patriarchal system and against the fire at the Compañera Lucha Diner, located in the New Dawn of the Rainbow Commercial Center.

Finally, members of the Zapatista Good Government Junta “New Dawn in Resistance and Rebellion for Life And Humanity” denounced the kidnapping and torture of one of its members, part of the Zapatista support base in the community of San Isidro, an annex of Moisés Gandhi, was detained by the paramilitary organization called ORCAO, on November 8 of last year. He was released after 4 days. They explain that they have identified Andrés Santis López, Nicolás Santis López, Santiago Sánchez López and Oscar Santos López, people from the San Antonio community as members of said paramilitary group.

In the communiqué they maintain that they have information that the San Antonio paramilitaries have received money that was destined for construction of a school, in the amount of 300 thousand pesos, but used to buy high-caliber weapons with which they have been intimidated.


Originally Published in Spanish by Chiapas Paralelo

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

The necessary utopia

By: Raúl Romero*

We live in times of anguish and anxiety. Wherever you look, uncertainty is the protagonist. Most of humanity doesn’t see “the storm pass.” It’s not all of humanity, there are exceptions, those to whom the pandemic came “like a finger ring”: owners of pharmaceutical companies, telecommunications companies and others who enrich themselves with the tragedy.

The SARS-CoV-2 virus has not only highlighted social inequalities; it has sharpened them. Millions of people see their incomes affected, their educational levels, their emotional and physical health. The effects are not equal for everyone: colonized, looted and impoverished communities, nations and regions bear the brunt of it. The pandemic and its multiple consequences, as well as the measures adopted by the financial centers to confront it, continue developing the underdevelopment of our peoples. In capitalism, the salvation and development of some means the underdevelopment and loss of the majority.

The scenario gets worse when the adversaries of freedom and democracy reappear, and that now clamor for curfews, punitive measures and a “heavy hand” to “make the people understand.” Although it might seem adverse, this authoritarian spirit finds allies in nihilist or anti-vaccine ideologies, or in business people and politicians who call to ignore measures in favor of the market.

In Mexico, the Covid-19 pandemic was linked with other problems: organized crime, femicides, forced disappearances, poverty and the murder of journalists and defenders of territory. Also, the continuity of militarization, extractivism and the pacts of impunity that mark the current administration, make the panorama more complicated.

The multidimensional crisis deepens, and its ethical and moral dimension surfaces more and more. The loss of meaning, horizon and hope is fertile terrain for the worst monsters.

What to do? Where to keep walking?

In The crisis of the utopias, Víctor Flores Olea proposed the “need for utopia,” to “reconstruct the principle of hope.” He identified in the Zapatista National Liberation Army (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, EZLN), in the new anticapitalist political parties and in the social movements after Porto Alegre, ideas and practices that contribute to constructing “another possible world.”

In the movements, peoples and organizations in resistance there are pre-figurative practices that put on the horizon the world that we want. They are not improvisations, many of these experiences are the resulted of theory and practice, of imagination, of trial and error.

From a quick reading of some of those “real utopias,” a scaffolding of practices and concepts emerge that we would do well to take up. It is spoken and constructed, for example, from or towards autonomy or the communal, where the common good is at the center of the organization of life and work.

Faced with the emergency due to Covid-19, practices and reflections about preventive, comprehensive and community health, the work of caring and taking care of life, of the common house and of the commons, as well as personal and collective self-care, gain great notoriety.

As alternatives to capitalist development, these movements place self- management, food sovereignty, recuperation of lands, agro-ecology, milpa, beekeeping, alternative currencies, self-production, cooperatives, the solidarity economy, fair trade, eco-technologies, free software, barter, the exchange of knowledge, trades and services, alternative markets, collective work, free community work and tasks.

Faced with the problems of violence that criminal capitalism deployed in our territories, different movements placed at the center of the debate concepts to give dimension to the problem: women’s struggles for recognition of the crime of femicide or the demand of relatives with disappeared persons to recognize the crime and implement searches while alive. Also, the movements of those aggrieved by the violence have constructed search brigades for people, or they have constructed anti-monuments and refuges, or they have carried out “popular trials” and commemorations, practices that materialize solidarity and memory.

To these movements are added others that in rural zones were organized to take charge of security and justice, and that even propose the replacement of punitive measures by re-education.

At the center of that “other possible world“ are the assembly and democracy, fundamental pillars of “another politics” where principles, consensus or agreement, rotation and accountability can be a guarantee that govern by obeying is real and not a slogan.

Many practices escape here, for example, liberating pedagogy, or the ones that impel sex-gender diversities. Practicing them and combining them with other present and past experiences that help us exit barbarism and orient us towards a world with democracy, liberty, dignity, social justice, sciences and the arts, will help us reconstruct utopia, to build the world that we want.

* Sociologist


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee


Comandante Ismael of the EZLN dies

Comandante Ismael*

By: Elio Henríquez

Integrantes del EZLN en imagen de archivo. Foto Víctor Camacho

San Cristóbal de Las Casas.

A commander of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, EZLN), Ismael (Miguel López Hernández), died early Tuesday morning, different sources reported. He died at 4:00 am, after a long battle against liver cancer that he had suffered for a couple of years and for which he was under medical treatment, they explained.

The Zapatista commander, a native of the Hermenegildo Galeana community, official municipality of Ocosingo, in the Lacandón Jungle, was currently the one responsible for the EZLN’s Caracol III, with headquarters in the community of La Garrucha, Francisco Gómez Zapatista [Autonomous] Municipality in rebellion, located in the official municipality of Ocosingo, they mentioned.

Ismael, was one of the first indigenous people of the zone who joined the EZLN —founded on November 17, 1983 in the Lacandón Jungle—, and was also a contemporary of Comandantes Maxo, Raúl and Tacho, among others.

According to the sources consulted, his wife and 8 children, the oldest 28 and the youngest 12, survive him.

Until this Tuesday, the EZLN had not officially released news about the death of Ismael, who also struggled for the fulfillment of the San Andrés Accords signed February 16, 1997 by the Mexican government and the Zapatistas.

*The photo was taken when Comandante Ismael participated in the 2001 March of the Color of the Earth.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Tuesday, January 20, 2021

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee






The Zapatistas will set sail for Europe

By: Luis Hernández Navarro

In July, August, September and October of this year, a delegation of the Mexico below will travel to Europe. The EZLN, the National Indigenous Congress-Indigenous Government Council and the Peoples Front in Defense of Water and Land of Morelos, Puebla and Tlaxcala (hereafter, the Frente) make up the delegation. The initiative forms part of a wider tour that will travel, later, to Asia, Africa, Oceania and America.

The group will hold meetings, dialogues, exchange ideas, experiences, analysis and evaluations in the struggle for life. It will seek to know what’s different. Those who will meet share the understanding that the executioner of humanity is “an exploitive, patriarchal, pyramidal, racist, thieving and criminal system: capitalism” (

The Declaration for life that accompanies the mission was signed by hundreds of collectives, associations that struggle, personalities and activists in a multitude of countries that form an anti-neoliberal and anti-capitalist galaxy, crossed in different ways by Zapatismo. The International United Left greeted the expedition fraternally.

We’re clearly dealing with an initiative of the left, if we understand by that the definition given by the Austrian-French philosopher and journalist André Gorz. “Being left –he affirms– means feeling linked to all those who struggle for their own liberation, who don’t accept without more the determination from above of goals and objectives and who struggle, together or alone, for the elimination of all forms of domination and for the overthrow of all power apparatus of power.”

The European tour will take place at a time of an enormous confusion, uncertainty, chaos and insecurity throughout the world. The future is no longer what it was and it isn’t clear how it’s going to be.

The rebel journey will take place in a world shaken, among other things, by the intersection of the health and economic crisis precipitated by the coronavirus pandemic, by the growing hegemony of digital capitalism in the process of global re-composition of this economic system, by the emergence of a new and timid Latin American progressivism articulated around the Group of Puebla, which appears to want to dispense with the influence of Cuba and Venezuela in the region, by the electoral defeat of Trumpism and its State self-coup, by the advance of the extreme right, racism and xenophobia in many European countries and/or by the growing rapprochement of China and Russia.

But it’s also because of the deployment of many resistance struggles, such as the one carried out in Greece by the tireless protests of grassroots collectives that forced justice of that nation to sentence the fascist party Golden Dawn (Amanecer Dorado) as a criminal organization and condemn some of its leaders to prison, or like the irruption on France of the yellow vest movement against the rise in the price of fuel, fiscal injustice and the loss of purchasing power, or the emergence of anti-fascist and anti-racist networks throughout the territory of the European Union that seek universal citizenship. There’s also the persistence of a powerful feminist mobilization.

To elaborate a vision about that old world that falls precipitously and the new one that emerges with great difficulties requires that it be lived, thought, analyzed, from the resistance struggles from below that make up the associative constellation in defense of life.

The European expedition should come as no surprise. In itself, many of the collectives that resist in Europe have accompanied the Zapatistas since 1994. Luca Casarini, an active participant for many years in the Italian Social Centers, said: “we have a dream. In that dream, we were born on January 1, 1994, at the side of the Zapatistas. The dream is good, and it’s not totally fanciful, but reality is different.”

That dream is not exclusive to Luca. Despite the years that have passed since the EZLN Uprising, many forces throughout Europe feel deeply identified with Zapatismo. A good number of them have played a key role in the movement of movements that confronted neoliberal globalization in the protests against the invasion and war in Iraq, in the fight against the fascist emergency, in the occupation of public squares, in the defense of migrants, in the struggle against evictions after the crisis of 2008 and a thousand and one more fights.

For more than 26 years, thousands of these activists have traveled regularly on solidarity missions to the rebel camps in Chiapas. The Mexican government deported dozens of them and prohibited them from returning to the country. They actively participated in the 1st Encuentro for Humanity and against Neoliberalism, convened by the EZLN in the Lacandón Jungle in 1996. The institutional left baptized them (with a hint of contempt) as aretudos (men who wear earrings), for the men’s fashion of wearing small earrings. Curiously, these “aretudos” championed a cycle of historic struggles around altermundismo (the belief that another world is possible) and renewed the European left from below.

The decision of the Zapatistas, the CNI-CIG and the Frente, to weigh anchor and sail to Europe, will thus be, a sort of return to meet with old friends to whom they have offered hospitality throughout two and a half decades. It’s an act of reciprocity to corroborate “the commitment to struggle everywhere and all the time,” until its destruction, against capitalism.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee



The Zapatista tour, a gathering of rebels

Zapatista delegation gets ready.

By: Raúl Zibechi

What we are lacking are new forms of resistance capable of putting the brakes on the new world war, since the old ways of doing politics have shown their limitations, if not their failure. Hundreds of collectives across Europe are agreeing to organize the tour of the members of the Zapatista National Liberation Army, the National Indigenous Congress – Indigenous Governing Council (CNI-CIG) and the Peoples’ Front in Defense of Water and Land of Morelos, Puebla, Tlaxcala in the second half of this year.

There are thousands of militants and activists from the most diverse sectors and identities that are converging in support of the initiative launched months ago by Mexican neo-Zapatismo. In the first of six communiques, in October 2020, they underscore that despite the repression and crimes of the system, “it is again time for hearts to dance, and not to the music nor the steps of lament and resignation.”

This step, from withdrawal to the rupture of the media and military-police siege that all of the movements of the world are suffering is a decisive moment for the immediate future. All of the data we have suggests that 1% of the richest people on the planet intend to take advantage of the pandemic to impose a proportional defeat on those below.

As the Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben has pointed out, the epidemic offers the pretext to impose the suspension of constitutional guarantees through states of emergency and curfews, now that the argument of terrorism seems worn out and is no longer credible. Social distancing fulfills the measures for which it is intended, to drown all resistance of those affected by the model, those that are “left over” in Zapatista language.

In their analysis about what they consider the Fourth World War of capital against the peoples, the EZLN commits to “not confuse resistance with political opposition,” which only opposes a government but not the system (7 loose pieces of the global jigsaw puzzle, June 1997).

In this work, the late Subcomandante Marcos, underscores that neoliberalism proposes to “dispose of all those who have no place in its new apportionment of the world.” We are not facing a war between States, but rather the conquest of territories to depopulate and destroy them, in order to rebuild them according to the needs of capital accumulation.

In his analysis, he concludes that “the wars of the 21st century will be against those who want to be different. (“What are the characteristics of the Fourth World War?” November 20th, 1999). This includes all the differences: of skin color, of gender and sexual preference, of country and nationality, and of all those that simply want to continue being different or need to be so in order to not disappear as peoples.

Some, simply for living above water, oil or uranium reserves, are enemies of the capital that needs to displace them in order to continue converting natural resources into merchandise. We are facing a world war of dispossession. The conflict zones coincide, in Latin America but also in Europe, with the zones where there is an abundance of common goods to extract, which provides us with an exact map of this ongoing war.

We have a more-than-adequate analysis about what is happening before our eyes. What is lacking are new forms of resistance capable of stopping the new world war, now that the old models of doing politics have shown their limitations, if not their failure.

After the government of Syriza in Greece and the progressive governments in Latin America, it seems imperative to seek new ways to continue holding up the banner of the transformation of the world, and the objectives of social revolutions. To continue going down the institutional path does not seem the most appropriate in this decisive hour for humanity.

The Zapatista tour proceeds in a different direction, looking for an encounter between those from below and those on the left. A meeting place to get to know one another, accept our diverse ways and forms of walking and of changing the world. To strengthen and multiply the resistances in each place.

They don’t believe it is necessary to form hierarchical apparatuses with permanent leaders and large structures that end up reproducing the same world that they are trying to combat and transform. I understand that this is a point of disagreement in our ranks between those who reject capitalism, patriarchy and colonialism. It may, therefore, be a good moment to reflect, take stock, and illuminate new steps.

The great challenge for those who bet on this non-institutional course consists of stabilizing and making permanent these meeting spaces, something that we have rarely achieved. Keeping ourselves organized and active over time, relating in a horizontal way between organizations and individuals, is a great challenge that requires listening and mutual respect.

Maybe the 7 principles of the EZLN and the CNI can serve as a reference in this process of collective construction: to serve others, not serve oneself, to construct and not destroy, to represent and not replace, convince and not defeat, obey and not command, to work from below, not seek to rise, to propose and not impose.

This is not a simple recipe for collective work, but rather possible ways to respect the differences and even with them, to continue sharing spaces and walking shoulder to shoulder. It will not be easy. A new political culture is not born magically overnight, nor by the commitment of a few people. It requires a lot of time, working with individual and collective egos so that they are not obstacles, that is, to go against the current of the individualist culture proposed by the capitalist one.

This text is a call to get involved in the Zapatista tour, but more than that, to dare to share space-time with people that we don’t agree with, or don’t like for the most diverse reasons. To learn to live with those that are different is not a walk in the country on a spring day. It is an arduous task, but indispensable in order to survive a system that threw all of us that were “left over” in a bag – of resistance.


Originally Published in Spanish by Naiz (Basque Country)

Sunday, January 10, 2021

English interpretation by Schools for Chiapas

Re-Published by the Chiapas Support Committee


Modevite rejects National Guard barracks and SCLC-Palenque superhighway

In Cancuc, Chiapas, members of the Movement in Defense of Life and Territory (Modevite) repudiated the construction of the San Cristóbal-Palenque highway and the installation of National Guard barracks. Photo: La Jornada

By: Elio Henríquez

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas

Yesterday, members of the Movement in Defense of Life and Territory (Modevite) placed hand-painted signs in the municipality of Cancuc to express their rejection to constructing the San Cristóbal-Palenque superhighway and the installation of National Guard barracks (See article below).

“The Native peoples reject the SCLC-Palenque superhighway. No to the installation of the National Guard barracks,” they wrote on the signs [like the one pictured above] that they installed during the morning in the communities of Chacté and Centro, as well as in the gravel bank in Chilojá.

Modevite also released a document through the Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Center (Frayba) in which it rejects the highway project called the Transversal Axis, since “it only benefits transnational businesses.”

It warned that: “from the heart of the people, we will defend Mother Earth who is our millennial gift, which we have cared for and defended from generation to generation. We are against the megaproject, which affects life and territory, since it is the interests of selfish businessmen that directly affect the population and that are being imposed under the slogan of development and progress for the people.”

Modevite insisted that: “(the project) does not benefit us as Native peoples; to the contrary, it threatens our lives, in addition to the destruction and dispossession of Mother Earth, the opening of roads for megaprojects like dams and tourist centers, as well as evictions, pollution, militarization and division of the people.”

The group demanded that the right of Native communities to free self-determination be respected and that Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization be applied, as well as the United Nations declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples.



The government is currently constructing 16 new military posts in Chiapas!

 By: Angeles Mariscal

Police repressed a demonstration that Tseltal campesinos and indigenous people from the municipality of Chilón held to protest against the construction of a National Guard (NG) post. Three indigenous people were arrested and several wounded. Soldiers remained guarding the area during the operation to contain the protest.

The events were recorded this Thursday morning, when at least 500 campesinos from different communities walked on the highway that connects to the area where the federal government intends to install one of the 16 new military posts in Chiapas.

The Tseltals were at the Temo Crossroads in the San Sebastián Bachajón ejido. In front they were carrying a banner that read: “NO NATIONAL GUARD,” when state police got in their way, grabbed the banner and started beating those they managed to reach.

Members of the National Guard (NG) were behind the police, reinforcing the operation to contain the indigenous and campesino people, who withdrew in the face of the operation without a confrontation.

Nevertheless, the men in uniform beat several of those at the front of the protest and arrested Juan Hernández Morales, José Luis Gutiérrez and Cesar Hernández Feliciano, whose whereabouts are unknown as of now. [1]

Before being repressed, the demonstrators explained that they “roundly oppose the National Guard installation in our municipality,” because the experience they have had with the soldiers that were in the region from 1994 to 2006, consisted of “a high index of murders, women raped, pregnant and abandoned, separation of spouses, abandoned children, an increase in alcoholism, drug addiction and prostitution, as well as the propagation of organized crime and insecurity.”

The region’s residents explained that for the current construction of the NG barracks, the government manipulated some campesinos in order to take possession of 4 hectares of ejido land “without consulting residents of the municipality.”

“We demand that the federal, state and municipal governments install effective measures to reverse the installation of this military base in the municipality of Chilón, Chiapas, as well as the respect for the rights and culture of the Native peoples of Chiapas and of Mexico,” they demanded.

After the repression that they suffered, the indigenous and campesino people decided to maintain a sit-in in the zone, in order to demand the release of the three detainees, as well as cancellation of constructing National Guard barracks on their land.

The federal government is currently constructing 16 new National Guard military posts in the Chiapas municipalities of Tonalá, Suchiate, Huehuetán, three in Las Margaritas, Comalapa, Chilón, Bochil, Palenque and San Cristóbal de Las Casas. [2]


[1] Frayba reported that César Hernández Feliciano was located safe and in good health.

[2] The question is: Why does the Mexican government need 16 more military posts in a state that is already heavily militarized? Who or What are the National Guard there to protect?


Originally Published in Spanish by Chiapas Paralelo

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee