Chiapas Support Committee

Chiapas, from paramilitaries to organized crime

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Above photo from a protest reads: “Pueblo Nuevo rises up and marches. No more armed groups, No more criminals, No more deaths and rapes… No more theft of municipal resources!”

By: Luis Hernández Navarro

In 2013, the successful businessman from Guerrero, Antonio Laredo Donjuán and his wife Mercedes Barrios Hernández, moved to the modest municipality of Pueblo Nuevo Solistahuacán, known as Pueblo Nuevo in Chiapas. They came from Cuernavaca. They acquired an enormous residence, established prosperous businesses and made friends with politicians and state police.

Solistahuacán means in the Náhuatl language: place of those who have weapons of steel. It is nestled in the mountains of northern Chiapas. Its terrain is rugged. The Señor de Esquipulas [1] is honored and members of the Seventh Day Adventist Church abound. Some 30,000 people live there, almost half of them indigenous. More than 50 percent of the villagers live in extreme poverty.

In spite of that, Don Toño and Doña Meche started a luxury car business and acquired multiple ranches, regardless of their price. He became good friends with the region’s mayors. He financed electoral campaigns in the municipalities of Rayón, Tapilula, Jitotol, Solusuchiapa, Juárez, Pueblo Nuevo and Rincón Chamula, in exchange for letting him appoint the police commanders. Politicians and those responsible for municipal and state public security would walk around his home to “say hello” (https://bit.ly/3equCYL).

But, five years after they settled in that corner of Chiapas, they were arrested. Interpol had been looking for them since 2008. The request came from the United States. The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the US Treasury Department designated the Laredos as members of organized crime, dedicated to the production and distribution of heroine from Mexico to the United States. They placed it in batteries and vehicle bumpers, as well as in cans of fruits and vegetables, and transported it to Philadelphia, Chicago, New York and Camden, New Jersey. Antonio, according to the Americans, was the main coordinator of the group. His wife Mercedes was accused of sending proceeds from the sales to Mexico.

Between 2013 and 2018 the Laredo Barrios couple operated a powerful drug trafficking network from a humble Chiapas municipality with impunity. Their wealth and power were inexplicable to the eyes of everyone. But that didn’t matter. They flourished under the protection of a vast network of impunity and protection, and of operators who plundered and subjected the region’s indigenous communities. They were arrested at the request of the United States, which also requested their extradition (https://bit.ly/3hA398W).

One of Don Toño’s great friends was the mayor of Pueblo Nuevo Solistahuacán when the couple came to live in the municipality, the then PRD member (and now a member of the Solidarity Encounter Party (Partido Encuentro Solidario, PES) Enoc Díaz Pérez (shown in photo below).

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Enoc’s trajectory seems to be taken from a manual of exemplary lives. On two occasions he was held in El Amate, a Chiapas prison. In 2008, he was pointed out as the head of Los Cacheros, a criminal gang, accused of murdering three state and one federal police agents. The agents dared to capture the Díaz Pérez brothers, accusing them of raping a young woman from the town. Hours later, an armed group rescued them from the prison. The agents paid for their dare with their lives. Four years later, Los Cacheros became Los Diablos. They were dedicated to subduing rebel populations with firearms and irrupting in patron saint or Catholic fiestas (https://bit.ly/3hYd0Eq).

Despite his relationships, the state’s Congress disqualified Enoc in January 2015, when he and his men beat up and took several businessmen out of a restaurant. To his misfortune, he fell into disgrace with the powerful Secretary of Government of those years. The mayor was accused of torture, illegal deprivation of freedom, abuse of authority and criminal association. By then, an enormous house had already been built.

The story of the businessmen’s arrest could be part of a horror story. It reached Enoc’s ears that the businessmen had accused him of dealing in “chocolate” vehicles. [2] Angered, he ordered them to stop. Their captors announced to them that they would be executed and their bodies burned. Later, they were taken to an auditorium where, before 300 people, the mayor accused them of being “enemies of the people” and “hindering the development of the municipality.” (https://bit.ly/3wyoZ0A)

Along the way, Díaz Pérez created a paramilitary-style movement, which he named “Proyecto Amigo Revolucionario No. 7” (Revolutionary Friend Project No. 7) and tried to expand it into neighboring municipalities. He imposed control over the communities with executions and silent forced displacements. It happened like that, for example, in 2019, in the displacement of the residents of San Pedro Hidalgo, in the municipality of San Pedro Duraznal. The following day, the paramilitary group burned houses, looted belongings and occupied the lands of San Pedro Hidalgo and San Pedro la Grandeza communities. (https://bit.ly/3kbw30C). These cases are just part of many more.

Although he remained in violent control of the communities, Enoc reappeared in the last election as a candidate for mayor with the PES. With just a few days to go, a commando murdered 5 members of the PRD who were transporting electoral packets. According to a witness, members of the armed group said that this had happened because of not following orders from Díaz Pérez (https://bit.ly/3eaiLhf).

Curiously, the criminal group that violently controls the Pantelhó municipal government named Enoc as an advisor.

Stories like those of the Laredos and Enoc Díaz Pérez demonstrate the mutation and association of paramilitaries and organized crime with governmental protection in Chiapas; it advances against the organized peoples who defend their autonomy. Their weapons are made with much more than flint.

[1] The Señor of Esquipulas is also known as the Black Christ of Esquipulas, a large statue carved from wood depicting a Black Christ on the cross. It is located in a basilica in Esquipulas, Guatemala.

[2] Typically, these are cars bought in the US, driven to Mexico, but not registered there because it costs a lot of money to register such a vehicle in Mexico.

——-Ω——-

Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

https://www.jornada.com.mx/2021/07/13/opinion/016a2pol

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

Aerial Zapatismo

Aerial Zapatismo

By: Hermann Bellinghausen

The first known attack of the Zapatista air force occurred at dawn of the century, January 3, 2000, on the outskirts of the Amador Hernández ejido, in the depths of the Lacandón Jungle. The second is about to start with the landing in some port of Europe an airborne contingent of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, EZLN). Despite the two decades and a lot of other things that separate them, both operations share the same paradox: they are peaceful; their word is their weapon.

The contexts and objectives could not be more different, and, nevertheless, they point at the heart of the enemy, who in that remote Tseltal ejido close to the Perla River was represented by the federal Army after the sudden unjustified occupation of a property in the middle of the jungle established by cargo and assault helicopters, Vietnam War style, the same manuals. That occupation lasted several months and ended with the withdrawal of the invaders, a victory for the rebel communities. There were no physical casualties on either side, but the example was set. However poor the people are, they can successfully counterattack by air and for the air that they breathe.

The 2000 attack was reported like this in these pages: “The Zapatista Air Force today attacked the federal Army camp with paper airplanes. Some flew well and entered straight into the part of the dormitories hidden by vegetation and large black plastic tarps. Others missed their flight and fell just behind the sharp mesh [barbed wire fencing].

“The aircraft, white in color and letter size, carried a written message for the federal troops that have occupied the community’s land for almost five months now. Not only are the fence wires sharp: ‘Soldiers, we know that you sold your lives and souls because of poverty. I am also poor, like many millions are poor, but you are worse off because you are defending the one who exploits us, that is, Zedillo and his little group of rich men.’

“The protest of the region’s indigenous people against the military occupation of their lands on the edge of the Montes Azules, daily, persistent, almost unbelievable, has sought in many ways to make itself heard by the troops, who seem to exist on the other side of the sound barrier. This afternoon they attacked the airways, in typewritten sheets, originals and carbon copies, in the prehistory of reproduction techniques.

They made one version and another with their copies, to protect as much as possible their contingent of kamikazes in writing. The airplane is the bomb:

“‘We don’t sell our lives. We want to liberate our lives and those of your children, their lives and those of your wives, the lives of your brothers, the lives of your uncles, the lives of your papas and your mamas and the lives of millions of poor exploited Mexicans, we want to liberate your lives too so that there won’t be soldiers that repress their peoples because of orders from a few thieves.

“On other occasions, the federal Army troops covered their eyes or ears, under orders from their superiors, to not pay attention to the complaints, messages or imprecations from the indigenous people. Today, an officer tries to collect the airplanes that fell in the front line of combat, before the barricades of sacks and branches where the soldiers aim, with their helmets on. At least now they haven’t put on opera, as they have been doing for days, flavored and distorted, some select fragments of Carmen, La Traviata and William Tell so that nothing is heard.”

In 2021, a new generation of Chiapas Zapatistas attacks the heart of the Old World in their way, with small but eloquent symbolic events. A maritime advance team set foot on Iberian land in Galicia and is already going through France.

The new rebel “crazy idea” turns around the trapped political discussion in Mexico and its alleged extremes, and opens a scenario for the autonomic demands elaborated, and for the current tragedies in Chiapas to acquire international relevance and awaken anesthetized or hidden consciences in the different European countries.

As my relative Doctor Ricardo Loewe says, currently retired in Austria, a participant in Zapatismo during his good 40 years, the announcement and beginning of the tour through Europe “made many small and medium-sized collectives inspired or interested in Zapatismo appear like mushrooms.”

This occurs at a time of political anomie. In social networks, public squares and the communications media, they question rampant capitalism, racism, sexism, war itself, in Zapatista key.

The new sea-air-land operation will give rise to rallies, concerts, forums, marches, assemblies, appearances and debates on a minor but insidious scale, invasive for good dormant consciences and lofty bad consciences. It’s about saving the world, not like in the comics, but based on many transatlantic micro-histories of the world below that bets with more urgency than ever on another world where many worlds fit.

—–Ω—–

Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Monday, July 12, 2021

https://www.jornada.com.mx/2021/07/12/opinion/a08a1cul

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

EZLN: The Extemporaneous and a National Initiative

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ZAPATISTA SIXTH COMMISSION

Mexico

July 2021

To the Adherents to The Declaration for Life:

To the Europe of Below and to the:

To the National and International Sixth:

To the National Indigenous Congress-Indigenous Government Council:

To the Networks in Resistance and Rebellion:

To “The Hour of the Peoples Has Come” Collective:

From: Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés.

Compañeras, compañeroas, compañeros:

Sisters, brothers, others:

I greet you in the name of the children, women, binary people (otroas), elders and men of the Zapatista communities, and communicate the following:

First – We already have a strong Zapatista airborne company at 177 Zapatistas.  It is made up entirely of native Mayas, of the Cho´ol, Tzotzil, Tzeltal, Tojolabal and Castile languages.  We are born in the geography they call Mexico.  Our ancestors were born and died in these lands.  As the Mexican State does not recognize our identity and origin, and tells us that we are “extemporaneous” (as the Foreign Relations Ministry says, that we are “extemporaneous” Mexicans), we have decided to baptize this unit of Listen and Word “The Extemporaneous.”

According to what we see in the dictionaries, “extemporaneous” means: “that which is inopportune, inconvenient,” or “that is inappropriate for the time in which it happens.” In other words, that we are inopportune, inconvenient and inappropriate.

They had never before defined us so inadequately. We are happy that at last the Mexican State recognizes that this is how it considers the original peoples of this geography called Mexico. I believe that’s how it laments that he hasn’t annihilated us… yet; and that our existence contradicts the official discourse about the “conquest.” It is now understood that the Mexican government’s demand to the government of Spain, demanding that it ask forgiveness, is for not having exterminated us.

Of the 177 delegates, 62 of us still don’t have a passport. The Ministry of Foreign Relations is bound to the “inconvenience” that we represent. Despite the fact that we have demonstrated identity and origin, it continues demanding more and more papers. The only thing missing is that it asks the Central American governments to say that we are not citizens of those countries.

2 – The “La Extemporaneous” air transport company, with me at the helm, has been preparing since October 2020 and we have been in quarantine almost one month.  It is composed of:

– Several groups of “Listen and Word,” indigenous Zapatistas whose existence and memory span the history of our struggle from the years before the uprising to the beginning of the Journey for Life.

– A female soccer team made up of 36 milicianas (who are also “Listen and Word”) who have taken the name and example of the late Comandanta Ramona, the first Zapatista to leave Chiapas, and they identify themselves as “Ixchel Ramona” and thus will go to the sports fields of Europe.

– The self-styled “Popcorn Command” is made up of 6 girls and boys who are from the “Play and Mischief” group. Like all of us, they have been preparing.

–  The invasion’s coordinator group. They are the ones who will be in charge of organizing and in their case, reinforcing the “Listen and Word” groups that will be distributed in the 5 areas into which we have divided the European continent. They will also attend to the free and for pay communications media, participate in round table discussions, conferences and public events; and they will evaluate the development of the invasion.

With Squadron 421 we will complete the first Zapatista wave and we will begin the visits to those who invited us and, with attention and respect, we will listen to them. If you ask about it, we will talk about our little history of resistance and rebellion.

3 – A delegation will travel with us from the National Indigenous Congress-CIG, strong in 10 indigenous languages: Native Maya, Popoluca, Binizá, Purhépecha, Raramuri, Otomí, Naayeri/Wixarika and Nahua; as well as 3 brothers from the Peoples Front in Defense of Land and Water of Tlaxcala, Puebla and Morelos, 13 in all.

4 – Because it’s my turn to do the Journey for Life-Chapter Europe, I have entrusted Subcomandante Insurgente Galeano to take command in Mexico and to initiate, as soon as possible, contacts with the National Indigenous Congress-CIG, with the National Sixth, with the Networks in Resistance and Rebellion, with Non-Governmental Organizations in defense of Human Rights, with collectives of Victims of violence, family members of the disappeared and those related, as well as with artists, scientists and intellectuals, for the purpose of letting them know about a new national initiative and inviting them to organize for it. And thus open a front of struggle for Life in our country.

5 – In a few more days, which we will communicate to you in due course, we will start our trip.  Now we are trying to vaccinate all of us so as not to bring health problems, and waiting for the so-called “third wave” of contagions in Mexico to go down a bit.

Then we’ll go to the Jacinto Canek Caracol, in San Cristóbal de Las Casas, and gather together there. From there we will move to Mexico City where the 177 delegates will go to the offices of the SRE that will tell us, face to face and in public, that we have no rights because of being “extemporaneous,” and that its “aspirationism” obliges it to delegate its responsibility to racist and ignorant bureaucrats; then, perhaps, Paris, France.

We’ll tell you the precise dates later, because it seems that, for the French government, we are also inopportune; also, of course, the new global wave of COVID 19.  Too bad, it must be globalization.

6 – We are a little nervous but happy because it’s not the first time that we will do something without knowing what awaits us. We thank from now on the Europe of Below, the National Sixth, the Networks in Resistance and Rebellion, the solidarity NGO´s on this and the other side of the ocean, and “The Hour of the Peoples Has Come” collective for the economic and in kind support that will permit realizing the air travel. The cost of the maritime travel and of the passports (between 10 and 15 thousand pesos each one, and for the continuous round trips to our towns to fulfill the Mexican State’s ridiculous requirements for being “extemporaneous”), was fully covered by the EZLN and left us without reserve funds. But it did not represent for any of the delegates, any personal expense.

7 – Regarding the national initiative, of which SupGaleano is in charge, I’m just letting you know that it will start with our call to participate in the so-called “Popular Consultation” on August 1, [1] and to answer “Yes” to the question about whether or not something should be done to comply with the right to truth and justice of those who have been victims due to actions and omissions of the Mexican State (that, and nothing else, is what the question indicates that the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation of the country that is called Mexico) elaborated. Those who up there above, in the “opposition” parties, resist the consultation, not only fear what will follow from it; it also terrifies them that the victims will recuperate their demands from the dastardly and perverse use that the ultra-right makes of their pain. Because the pain should not be an electoral business, and even less for such shitty purposes as the return to the government of those who are some of the ones mainly responsible for the violence and who before were only dedicated to accumulating paychecks and cynicism. That’s why the INE, which also considers we indigenous people as “extemporaneous” and denies us credential (ID card), is doing everything possible so that the consultation will fail, because it knows that it also has its part of the crime due to its exclusive policy for urban people with light skin.

You have to enter it, not looking towards above, but rather looking at the victims.  You have to convert the consultation into an “extemporaneous” consultation. This is so that, independent of those above, a mobilization for a Truth and Justice Commission for Victims, or whatever it’s called, can start; because there can be no life without truth and justice.

That’s all for now,

From the Mountains of the Mexican Southeast,

For the extemporaneous Zapatistas!

Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés, still in Mexico, July 2021

Translator’s Note:

[1] The National consultation is about whether a past president can be brought to justice after leaving office for crimes committed while in office. The consultation will be conducted by the INE (National Electoral Institute).

—–Ω—–

Originally Published in Spanish by Enlace Zapatista

Friday, July 16, 2021

http://enlacezapatista.ezln.org.mx/2021/07/16/la-extemporanea-y-una-iniciativa-nacional/

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

Army enters Pantelhó but doesn’t arrest criminal groups; thousands of indigenous people escape

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Above: The Armed Forces entered the municipal seat of Pantelhó Photo: Ángeles Mariscal

By: Ángeles Mariscal

July 12, 2021

Members of the Mexican Army and National Guard entered the municipality of Pantelhó, the place where indigenous Tsotsils, who define themselves as “peoples self-defense forces,” and on July 7 tried to expel groups linked to trafficking of illegal merchandise and humans, who take shelter in that municipal seat. Residents of this place and communities close to Pantelhó and Chenalhó abandoned their homes faced with the fear of being attacked. They point out that the criminal groups have not been arrested.

In the municipality of Pantelhó, the people don’t speak. Yésica and Gabriel are two of the few people that even remain in the municipal seat. On July 7, 2021, the group that call themselves “people’s self-defense” attempted to enter to remove the people they identify as members of organized crime, who for years have subjugated the population and murdered those who denounce them, among them the ex-president of Las Abejas de Acteal, Simón Pedro Pérez.

Both groups clashed for more than 30 hours until July 9th, when military personnel removed the blockades that impeded arrival and advanced to the presidential building of Pantelhó.

Yésica and Gabriel were locked in their house for three days, listening to bombs explode and shots from high caliber weapons, just a few blocks from where they live. They set out to the park upon seeing the military and reporters.

They managed to give an interview to this media outlet. But they only said that they don’t know what happened, they don’t know the reason for the clashes, that they don’t know what criminal groups there are in the area, and that they only want to live in peace.

A few meters from where they were giving the interview, a group of 20 hefty men, dressed in civil attire, some of them very young, observed them. Seeing that journalists were trying to speak with the people that remained in the area, they moved toward the place where Yésica and Gabriel were, whispered something to them, walked around the central park, and headed back again to the municipal presidency building.

Yésica y Gabriel then got up, and in low voices, asked us to erase the video of the interview, said that the group had threatened them, that they are being threatened, that they don’t want their faces to to appear, that they cannot talk about what is happening in the region, that the majority of the people left, but they preferred to wait because they don’t have family anywhere else, they explained before leaving.

This same group, who according to the residents, have threatened them, stationed themselves in the entry of the municipal presidency, where they handed the commander of the military detachment a document requesting the permanent presence of the armed forces.

“Our patience ran out”

On the street that goes from the entrance of Pantelhó to the center of the town, the houses are empty, the businesses are closed. In one of the side streets there are hundreds of large caliber gun shells lying on the ground, traces of explosives detonated, stones strewn about, the windows of some houses are broken, and on their walls there are traces of gunshots.

Last July 7, a battle took place in this region. According to a video communiqué sent three days later by a group of indigenous people who call themselves “the people’s self-defense,” since 2002 the municipal authorities have opened the door to organized crime.

They report that only one of the leaders was arrested in 2019, but now a relative of his occupies the municipal presidency, and her husband is the mayor-elect.

The “people’s self-defense” claim that they are living under a “narco-government,” which has left them with a toll of stories of indigenous people murdered for refusing to participate in illicit businesses, or for denouncing them; the most recent case was the murder of Simón Pedro Pérez, which occurred on July 5. “We are witnesses to the murders they have made of our grandparents, parents and children,” they point out.

“So we decided to enter the town of Pantelhó on July 7, 2021 at 4 am, we did not enter to attack the people, but to expel the hired assassins, the drug traffickers, the organized crime,” whose members took refuge in the municipal seat, they explain.

They say that they carried out this intervention, “because our patience has run out, because we do not see any hope in the federal and state governments.”

In the video communiqué they explain that for now they have temporarily withdrawn from the area, but that they will not disband until the criminal groups leave their region. They also expressed their distrust of the armed forces, because they believe they are protecting their aggressors who, they insist, are in collusion with the three levels of government.

En la calle que va de la entrada de Pantelhó al centro del lugar, las viviendas están vacías, los comercios cerrados. En una de las avenidas laterales hay cientos de casquillos de armas de grueso calibre tirados en el piso, huellas de detonación de explosivos, piedras regadas, los vidrios de algunas viviendas están rotos, y en sus paredes hay huellas de disparos.

Abandoned towns

It is not only the municipal seat that remains semi-abandoned by the population. Inhabitants of nearby communities of Pantelhó and the neighboring municipality of Chenalhó also left the area.

The doors of the houses were suddenly closed, chickens and dogs were left outside, and clothes hung out on the patios. Those who were able left on July 6, but others have left in the days after, despite the fact that the armed forces removed the blockades that were in place to reach the area, settled in the municipal seat of Pantelhó, and did patrols of the region.

On one of these roads, located 10 minutes from the community of Acteal, thousands of large-caliber gun shells are also found on the ground — evidence of the confrontations that took place. These casings are from the shots fired by the military on July 8.

Rumors spread of the deaths of more than 20 people in these events, but none of the groups acknowledge having these casualties, neither the people they accuse of belonging to organized crime, nor the “people’s self-defense.” No one has seen people killed in the battles of recent days.

What can be seen on the roads are pickup trucks with indigenous people carrying the few belongings they managed to take out of their homes. Boys, girls, women and men are on board, they watch the road with fear, get out in a hurry and take refuge in churches, or in the towns where they believe they are relatively safe, and where doors have been opened to them.

“Don’t film, don’t film,” they beg us. They say they are afraid that their aggressors will recognize them in the videos that will be broadcast in the media. Only some, those who live farther away from the municipal capital of Pantelhó and the zone of influence where they find people who belong to criminal groups, agree to tell what happened.

Manuel Pérez Pérez and eight members of his family left the town of Quixtic in the municipality of Chenalhó on July 8 because “the bullets were passing over the roof of my house.

He says that the gunshots remind him of the Acteal massacre; he and his family are survivors of the 1997 massacre. “I have already lived through this violent situation, I live near the Pantelhó border and the bullets can be heard very close, we left because we are very afraid. I couldn’t take anything out, my chickens and turkeys were left behind,” says Manuel, an 83 year old man.

“For some time now they (armed groups) have been shooting, the situation has been getting worse and worse, then we started to be very afraid, because that is how it started in 1997. I feel that we are re-living what happened in 1997.

He, his family and some 200 other people found refuge in the community of Acteal, in the municipality of Chenalhó.

The journey to find refuge

Pantelhó desplazados

Thousands of indigenous people from Pantelhó and Chenalhó who were recently displaced from their communities by the violence, continue to look for a place of refuge. Those who have relatives in the city of San Cristóbal de Las Casas settled with them; but hundreds more called on civil society organizations to help them.

In an interview they said they are afraid to go to the shelter that the Chiapas government set up on July 10. “They can identify us (the people they identify as criminal groups), they can see us because many are with the government, and we are afraid they will kill us,” they insist.

They are seeking food, a place to spend the night, “and that they stop these groups that have threatened us for y ears; but we know that there have been no arrests, so they are still free… we cannot return to our homes,” one of them explains, who with dozens of other indigenous people received temporary shelter with a family who saw them lying down in one of the streets of San Cristóbal de Las Casas.

“What we are demanding is protection for all the people who have been displaced (…) they continue to leave the communities because there is a threat to their lives and their integrity, there is still no decisive action on the part of authorities to stop the violence,” explained Jennifer Haza, director of the organization Melel Xojobal.

The communities of Majomut, Acteal and Yacteclum among others, also received displaced indigenous peoples, but three days after their arrival food is already scarce, and they are looking for an organization that can help them get food.

Self-Defense Groups, a “desperate action”

Throughout the indigenous territories in the Altos of Chiapas — Aldama, Chalchihuitán, Chamula, Chenhaló, Pantelhó, among others, the activity of organized crime is increasingly more visible, Pedro Faro, director of Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Center (Frayba) explains.

He refers to the fact that impunity is such that in Pantelhó the stolen cars are used by the municipal police, and the area has also become a human trafficking corridor.”There is marijuana planting and arms trafficking, there are many high-powered weapons for the exclusive use of the army, which makes us wonder who finances, who trains all these groups, who provides them with the park for all these shootings, to keep the region ravaged.”

Pedro Faro points out that the Mexican State has not acted to deactivate these groups, despite the denunciations made by the population.

In this context, the director of the humanitarian center believes that the formation of the “people’s self-defense” group is “a desperate action to get organized crime out of the place. We do not justify violence in any way, but in some moments, cases or situations, they leave the communities no other alternative but to exercise defensive actions,” as has already been seen in other states of the country.

However, he said: “I believe that it is time, now that the National Guard and the army have entered Pantelhó, it is time for them to carry out the legal investigation to locate the criminals, and to be able to dismantle this mafia network that has occupied the entire territory, who the communities have denounced directly with name and surname,” he said. This Sunday, authorities from 85 communities of Pantelhó sent a letter to the governor of Chiapas, Rutilio Escandón, in which they expressed their concern “about organized crime”; they demanded the removal of the current mayor, Dayli de los Santos Herrera, and the mayor-elect, Raquel Trujillo Morales. They announced that they will elect new authorities through the uses and customs (usos y costumbres) system.

——Ω—–

Originally Published in Spanish by Chiapas Paralelo

Monday, July 12, 2021

https://www.chiapasparalelo.com/noticias/chiapas/2021/07/ejercito-entra-a-pantelho-pero-no-detiene-a-grupos-criminales-miles-de-indigenas-escapan-de-sus-comunidades/

English translation: Schools for Chiapas

Re-Published by the Chiapas Support Committee

Pantelhó, narco-paramilitaries and indigenous self-defense

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Above photo: Simón Pedro Pérez López

By: Luis Hernández Navarro

They executed Simón Pedro Pérez López at the market in Simojovel, Chiapas. The crime was the work of a professional. From a moving motorcycle, a hitman (sicario) shot him in the head with an accurate bullet. Helpless that July 5, his son watched as his father bled to death on the floor until he lost the last breath of life.

The 35-year old indigenous Tsotsil, father of seven children, Simón was a catechist in the parish of Santa Catalina, in Pantelhó. In 2020, he presided over the Board of Directors of Civil Society Las Abejas of Acteal, to which belong the victims of the December 22, 1997 paramilitary massacre, in which 45 people who were praying in a chapel were savagely killed. He was also part of the National Indigenous Congress (Congreso Nacional Indígena, CNI).

He was a good man, dedicated to defending human rights and to demanding justice. He had recently denounced the abuses suffered by residents of Pantelhó at the hands of a narco-paramilitary group dedicated to trafficking drugs, migrants and arms, as well as stealing cars. Just a few days before his murder, on June 26, communal authorities and agents of the municipality presented the Chiapas Secretary of Government, Victoria Cecilia Flores Pérez, a document that gives a detailed account of the relationships of the local authorities with criminal groups.

The one who controls the municipal presidency of Pantelhó has PRD membership. It’s not a new phenomenon. Without being the only one, that party in the state has served the paramilitaries for years (https://bit.ly/3yEDilR). He won three years ago, from the hand of Santos López Hernández, who was later put in prison for the crime of sexual abuse of two women officials of that municipal council. In his place they named Delia Janet Velasco Flores, wife of the mayor elected in the last elections with the initials of the Aztec Sun [as the PRD is called], Raquel Trujillo Morales (he says that they were divorced six months ago) https://bit.ly/3yJwMdo).

In 2019, inhabitants accused Raquel of usurping functions as municipal trustee, assaulting citizens and diverting more than 3 million pesos of public money to his benefit, in association with the treasurer. Since then, he is associated with the brothers Rubén and Daily Herrera to violently intimidate those who oppose him (https://bit.ly/3r05hto). The clan’s patriarch, Austreberto, is in prison for murdering two people in the municipality in April 2015 (https://bit.ly/3hXCcuy). In 2002 he wanted to name himself to be the local judge. H was the one who opened the door to organized crime.

The case of Simón Pedro is not the only one of a member of Civil Society Las Abejas killed in Pantelhó. In 2015, criminals murdered the catechist Manuel López. Despite the fact that the Chiapas attorney general’s office knew of the event, there was no progress in the investigation and the guilty parties were not punished.

With the support of gunmen from Campeche, Veracruz and Sinaloa, this group has won territorial control through terror, murders, disappearances, robberies, dispossession and forced displacement, carrying weapons and explosives for the exclusive use of the Mexican Army. He is no stranger to the criminal organization that operates in Chenalhó (https://bit.ly/2TMWejF) and the Chamula Cartel.

The violence unleashed by them inside the municipality was exacerbated within the framework of the last electoral contest. The Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Center documented the murder of 12 people, including one child and one more disappeared, since March of this year. Countless residents have been displaced due to fear and the risk of losing their lives. Checkpoints, roadblocks and incursions of armed groups, in the company of police, are a daily occurrence. Different testimonies have revealed that members of the criminal group have driven National Guard vehicles (https://bit.ly/3e0nQZu).

In the midst of that climate of coercion, 11 Tsotsil parishes of the Diocese of San Cristóbal de Las Casas, headed by Father Marcelo Pérez Pérez, demanded postponing the June 6 elections in this municipality. “There is a silence in the municipal seat of Pantelhó. Nobody wants to say anything. They don’t leave the communities because they fear being murdered,” he warned after a meeting with pastoral agents. But no one listened to his warning.

Father Marcelo was not the only one to forewarn of the danger that lurked. It worries us, Chiapas bishops observed, that some power groups, linked to criminal activities infiltrate the political parties.

The straw that broke the camel’s back in the region was the murder of Simón Pedro Pérez Lopez, and that of being fed up with the pact of institutional impunity that protects the criminal group. Two homemade bombs were found in the home of the catechist’s murderers in the Nuevo Israelita community. Pushed to the extreme, on July 7 and 8 the El Machete Self Defense group of Pantelhó confronted the narco-paramilitaries and occupied the municipal seat to defend their lives. In this context, a convoy of soldiers and police was shot at while removing a road blockade.

The conflict escalated. Hundreds of indigenous Tsotsils sought refuge in secure places. The municipal seat of Pantelhó became a ghost town. Residents of the neighboring municipality of Cancuc blocked exits and entries. More than two thousand people are displaced in the region. The pretense of having a “sanitary cordon” to isolate Zapatismo and the indigenous struggles for autonomy by using narco-paramilitarism became a crisis.

Note

[1] The last sentence of this article summarizes the counterinsurgency strategy succinctly: the government strategy for containing “Zapatismo” so that it cannot spread has been to surround the indigenous communities with narco-paramilitaries.

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Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Sunday, July 11, 2021

https://www.jornada.com.mx/2021/07/11/opinion/010a1pol

English interpretation by Schools for Chiapas and the Chiapas Support Committee

Re-Published by the Chiapas Support Committee

Popular self-defense group emerges in Pantelhó against organized crime

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Above photo: El Machete Self-Defense group in Pantelhó

“OUR PATIENCE IS EXHAUSTED, THEY HAVE KILLED 200 OF OUR PEOPLE”

By: Elio Henríquez

San Cristóbal de Las Casas Chiapas

A group called “Autodefensas del pueblo El Machete” (El Machete Peoples’ Self-Defense Forces, hereafter El Machete Autodefensas) [1] claimed responsibility this Saturday for the incursion carried out in the municipal seat of Pantelhó last Wednesday, and warned that its objective is: “to expel the hitmen (sicarios), drug traffickers and organized crime,” because “we don’t want more deaths for poor Tseltal and Tsotsil campesinos.”

First in a communiqué and later in a video recording in which five armed men appeared, the organization stated: “Our patience is exhausted, because we don’t see any hope in the federal and state governments; given the pain due to so much blood spilled, we take the direction of our history.”

The grouping clarified that: “once Pantelhó is free of organized crime headed by Raquel Trujillo Morales (sic), the PRD member and mayor-elect, and the drug traffickers, we will withdraw as self-defense forces of the people, because we do not seek power or money.”

They reiterated: “Once the people of Pantelhó are free, we’ll leave it in the hands of the agents and commissioners of each community to elect their authorities based on our uses and customs, not based on the political parties that have divided and confronted the people and brought many deaths.”

On July 7, armed men irrupted in the headquarters of the indigenous municipality located in the Chiapas Highlands (los Altos de Chiapas), after a shootout with members of the opposing group, Los Herrera, allegedly linked to the PRD municipal authorities.

That day (July 7) in the afternoon, dozens of soldiers and Nacional Guard and state police agents entered the municipality, who were ambushed a day later four kilometers from the center when they tried to unblock Pantelhó-San Cristóbal highway; four soldiers and five state police agents were shot and wounded; two state police cars were burned. Authorities have not announced who attacked them.

The El Machete Autodefensas explained that: “our suffering began 20 tears ago and little by little those who oppress the people were taking (power), but it was in 2002 when Austreberto Herrera Abarca wanted to appoint himself municipal judge of Pantelhó. “He opened the doors to organized crime, to drug traffickers and thus began to kill those who were opposed to those activities; we see that he has killed approximately 200 people.”

They assured that: “at first we denounced him, but the agent of the Public Ministry never took our denunciations into account and some of our compañeros were murdered for denouncing the violence that we were experiencing.

“Austreberto was arrested in 2019, but the violence didn’t end; his sons, Daly de los Santos Gutiérrez Herrera and Rubén Gutiérrez Herrera, continue with organized crime as of this date.”

“There’s no justice, that’s why we said: ‘ya basta’”

They said that: “for several years we have been witnesses to the murders that have been done to our grandparents, parents and children. We have seen how they rob us and dispossess us of our property. Given all that has happened, we don’t see any justice on the part of the federal and state governments. Because of these painful events we were talking and reflecting that we must defend the life of our communities. So, little by little in silence we were forming self-defense forces for our people and on July 7 we decided to enter into the town of Pantelhó, at 4 o’clock in the morning, not to attack the town, but to expel the hitmen, drug traffickers and organized crime.”

They affirmed that: “with Trujillo Morales, the mayor-elect of Pantelhó will bring many deaths; that’s why we said enough now. Enough of so much suffering and spilling of blood!

“Today, our people are dominated by the new Goliath that consists of drug traffickers, sicarios and organized crime, but we are the new David that defends the people, they concluded.

On the other hand, the priest Marcelo Pérez Pérez, parish priest of Simojovel, reported that there was difficulty in deactivating the explosive devices found in a house in ejido Nuevo Israelita, where Simón Pedro Pérez López was from. Simón Pedro was the former leader of the Las Abejas organization who was shot and killed on July 5. Members of the Mexican Army made the explosive devices explode using all the protocols, which caused the total destruction of three houses and the bathroom of a chapel.

He said that one of the houses destroyed belonged to the people who made the devices, who left the community, and the others that were neighbors of Juan López Cruz and Feliciano López Pérez.

[1] There has been misinformation in both the local and national media regarding events in Pantelhó on July 7 and on the following day, July 8, as to what group participated in what event. What has been clarified so far is that the El Machete Self-Defense group is considered the legitimate self-defense force supported by the people of Pantelhó. It remains unknown what group shot and wounded the soldiers, National Guard and state police agents on July 8.

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Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Sunday, July 11, 2021

https://www.jornada.com.mx/2021/07/11/estados/021n1est

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

Frayba: A Joint Pronouncement: Mexican Government is negligent and permissive of violence toward the indigenous peoples of Chiapas

Vigil for Símon

Above: Vigil for Simón Pedro

Defenders of the people of Pantelhó protect their families faced with attacks from Organized Crime

  • We demand justice for Simón Pedro Pérez López

We, the individuals, collectives and organizations of national and international civil society that adhere to this statement, deeply mourn the assassination of Simón Pedro Pérez López (Simón Pedro), a Tsotsil Maya, community defender of human rights, catechist and former president that of the Board of Directors of the Civil Society Organization of Las Abejas of Acteal, who are members of the National Indigenous Congress. Simón Pedro was murdered on July 5, 2021 in the municipal seat of Simojovel, Chiapas. This appalling event is the result of the negligence, permissiveness and tolerance among the three levels of government of criminal groups that operate in different municipalities of Chiapas. We join together in the demand for justice and hold the Mexican state responsible for the generalized violence in the different municipalities of the state, like in Simojovel, Chenalho, Chalchihuitán, Aldama, Venustiano Carranza, Chilón and particularly in Pantelhó.

The reason for the murder of Simón Pedro is his being a community defender of human rights, his struggle for peace, denouncing the violence that exists within the communities and his fight for justice. Members of Las Abejas de Acteal have received constant threats, suffered attacks, intimidation and displacement from their places of origin for their non-violent struggle and construction of the “Other Justice” Lekil Chapanel. In June 2015, Manuel López Pérez, who held a religious post in his community in the municipality of Pantelhó, was murdered. The Chiapas Attorney General’s Office knew about this act, but there was no progress made in the investigation and, to this day, the act remains in total impunity.

According to different sources, so far this year, in the municipality of Pantelhó, a criminal group associated with the municipal presidency has perpetrated the murders of 12 people, among them a child, a disappeared person and a woman and child wounded, this on March 12, 2021 to date. This is exactly how countless people have been forcibly displaced, whether it be permanently or intermittently due to the fear and risk of losing one’s life. At the beginning of May 2021, the criminal group arrived in the community of San José Buenavista Tercero, in the municipality of Pantelhó, killed one male, and displaced the community’s inhabitants.

Checkpoints, blockades and incursions by the criminal group, accompanied by units of municipal and state police are a daily occurrence. Similarly, on the 6th of June, during the elections, testimonies reported that by members of said group were driving National Guard vehicles. We know that inhabitants of at least 19 communities in the municipalities of Pantelhó, Simojovel and Chenalhó are at maximum risk. Men, women, girls, boys, adolescents and elderly people live in fear and terror due to the threats that they have received from the people linked to crime. The lives of those who denounce them are at risk.

The documentation that we have, indicates the presence of a criminal group in the municipality of Pantelhó, who acts in complicity with City Hall, and who make up part of the structure of municipal power and currently are linked to the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) that governs the municipality.

The state government of Chiapas has clear knowledge of the situation that prevails in the municipality, and yet, as of this moment it has not acted to protect the life, integrity and personal safety of the population. In various municipalities, there is a power vacuum in which violence and impunity reign, and the government reduces the grave situation to inter-community conflicts that only denotes the racism of the State. In this way the criminal activity of these groups, increasingly and clearly linked to political parties and public officials of all three levels of government, has allowed the power of these groups to be that which prevails and has territorial control over the population, by means of terror, assassination, disappearances, theft, dispossession and forced displacement, and the use of weapons and explosives that are for the exclusive use of the Mexican army.

The State Attorney General’s Office (FGE) has knowledge of the situation, since several inhabitants of the municipality of Pantelhó have issued denunciations for acts of violence perpetrated by criminal groups and their link to the municipal authorities. The Office has been remiss and not very diligent in carrying out investigations and bringing justice to the victims of this violence.

In addition, the Diocese of San Cristóbal de Las Casas, in its prophetic work has denounced, “We again see in Chiapas the reactivation of the forces that mutated from paramilitaries to organized crime allied with the narco government that have invaded our state to control the resistance of the organized peoples who defend their autonomy.”

We have information about acts of intimidation, surveillance and threats from the criminal group against individuals that have not remained silent in the face of this situation, such as the members of the Civil Society Organization Las Abejas de Acteal, as well as the servants of the Parish of Santa Catarina Pantelhó, that includes the communities of Pantelhó, Simojovel, and Chenalhó for which we fear for their life, integrity and personal safety. We hold the Mexican state responsible for any aggression against them.

Faced with a vacuum of the rule of law, as well as the inaction of the federal and state governments that do not fulfill their constitutional mandate to guarantee and protect human rights (as such, life, safety and personal integrity of the population), groups of individuals are defending the children, women, and the population. These groups referred to as Defenders of the People, known in the press as the “Ciriles,” are those who have made the decision to defend life, confronting the criminal group, such as happened the 7th and 8th of July in the municipal seat of Pantelhó. For approximately 6 years, the power of the criminal group has grown, due to the institutional pacts of impunity from the governments, along with complicity and omission, which constitutes acquiescence of the State in perpetrating systematic violations of human rights. It is worth pointing out that on Tuesday, July 6th, two home-made artifacts belonging to the criminal group were found in the community of Nuevo Israelita, which to date have not been deactivated.

The undersigned individuals collectives and organizations make an an assertive call to demand of the governments of Rutilio Escandón Cadenas and Andrés Manuel López Obrador to stop this violence in the zone of Los Altos of Chiapas and prevent further assassinations, disappearances, wounded and forcibly displaced people.

We demand that the Mexican state guarantee the life, integrity and personal safety of the population in the municipalities of Pantelhó, Simojovel, and Chenalhó; in addition, we insist that the Mexican government carry out an exhaustive, quick and diligent investigation to find those materially and intellectually responsible for the murder of Simón Pedro Pérez López, as well as an investigation of the links between the criminal group and the Pantelhó municipal government.

Signatory Individuals, Collectives and Organizations (Local, National and International) can be read here.

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Originally Published in Spanish by the Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Center Thursday, July 8, 2021

https://frayba.org.mx/pronunciamiento-conjunto-estado-mexicano-omiso-y-permisivo-con-la-violencia-hacia-los-pueblos-indigenas-de-chiapas/

English interpretation by Schools for Chiapas, light editing by the Chiapas Support Committee

Re-Published by the Chiapas Support Committee

Zapatista Community Denounces Dispossession and Harassment; Sees Hope in the Journey of Squadron 421

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Above: Collective mural about the Journey for Life in the autonomous community of Nuevo San Gregorio. Photo: Sexta Grietas del Norte

The community of Nuevo San Gregorio, in Zapatista Caracol 10, denounces the increasing harassment they are experiencing after being dispossessed of their lands. They focus on organizational work, and on the journey of Squadron 421 in Europe to fight off the attacks of the group “Los 40 invasores (The 40 invaders)” which since November 2020 has been depriving them of land, food, work, education…

By Daliri Oropeza

Photos: Sexta Grietas del Norte

Video: Schools For Chiapas / Summer 2021 Delegation

MEXICO CITY – The families of Nuevo San Gregorio, Caracol 10 Patria Nueva, paint a mural. They do it on one of the wooden walls of “La Casa de Todos” (The House of Everyone) They collectively illustrate the dreams that the trip of the Zapatista delegations to Europe provokes in them. They fill a boat and an airplane with color. They trace with paint brushes after discussing what they want to capture, and reflect on the dispossession of their lands that they are enduring.

Pedro assures that all the continents are represented in the mural, but above all the jungle and the mountains are seen; jaguars, toucans, mushrooms, beetles and flowers. What the Zapatista delegations will share in their journey around the world.

There are three words on the beams that connect the boat and the sea with the plane and the sky: struggle, resistance and rebellion, which they collectively decided to highlight with red paint. They draw a phrase in large black letters: “We want a new world where race and color are not differentiated.”

Pedro participated in the creation of this collective mural. He is a resident of Nuevo San Gregorio. He explains that for them, as residents of Caracol 10 Patria Nueva, the mural means that “we are not alone” and “that we walk in another place.”

“I don’t feel sad or alone, even though the invaders continue to do all this, breaking wire fences, taking away the tools for the milpa, raiding the cattle that graze on land next to the highway,” he said in an interview.

Nuevo San Gregorio is located in a forested area of the Rebel Autonomous Municipality of Lucio Cabañas, among pines, junipers and cypresses. The Tsotsil and Tseltal Zapatista support bases that live here have been under attack for a year and seven months by a group they call “The 40 invaders.” This is the group that Pedro points out is the main aggressor of the community, which is located in the official municipality of Ocosingo, Chiapas.

When they [the Zapatistas] rebuilt everything, members of the community proposed that this cabin where the mural was could be a collective store. But in the assembly they agreed, “it is Everyone’s House.” In spite of the fear, they have organized around it; and they built the health center, the collective carpentry workshop, the women’s center and the Autonomous School.

“The comrades who are making landfall in Europe are not going alone, we are with them. We know that what they are carrying is what we are working for, and what we are living. The struggle has to be one, unity in collectivism. Although the invaders divided the land, I see that they are suffering. This milpa was not like this when we planted it. It was prettier. Now I see that it is very sad. With work it was able to grow. They are not harvesting life. They are harvesting their destruction,” says Pedro, who recounts the changes in Nuevo San Gregorio and points out that now they cut down trees in an uncontrolled way in order to sell the wood.

When Squadron 421 left the autonomous territory for the ship La Montaña, they were sent off from this Caracol. A representative of the Lucio Cabañas and Comandanta Ramona autonomous municipalities told the Zapatista delegation at the farewell:

“With jubilation and encouragement, here in Caracol 10, and I am sure the other Caracoles, are also celebrating now for this first departure of the maritime delegation traveling to European towns. It is not easy, compañeros, it is a long journey, but we are going to do it, history asks it of us.”

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The children also suffer emotional repercussions from the harassment of the invading group. The invaders destroyed their school, so the autonomous community built another one: Los Niños Mayas. Photo: Sexta Grietas del Norte

The invasion and aggressions

“The 40 invaders” group stole 145 hectares of the 155 hectares that this Zapatista community recovered in 1994, after the uprising. They fenced them in with barbed wire and light posts in November 2020. They left the inhabitants of Nuevo San Gregorio with less than 10 hectares and destroyed the Autonomous School they had in the old farm called “Casa Grande”.

The community kept this farm because it was the result of the struggle of the grandmothers and grandfathers, who after being peons, took it over during the uprising. There they installed the Autonomous Secondary School, of which the invading group took control.

Since then, human rights organizations grouped together have made observation visits to document the events in Caravana. In March, the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Center set up the Civil Observation Brigades (BriCO) program.

In the reports of these caravans and brigades, organizations detail that they verified the actions carried out by the invading group, such as destroying vegetables, cutting hoses that supplied water in different areas of the community, burning the paddock, cutting fruit trees, breaking the water pipe several times, destroying the garden of medicinal plants.

The organizations claim that the presence of the group “Los 40” invaders “has made it difficult for six families to plant crops. In addition, the women suffer harassment and face vulnerabilities in their daily activities. They document that the violence intensified as of February 1, 2021.

This group of invaders installed two guard posts 50 meters -less than 100 paces- from the center of the Zapatista community, and three more at 250 meters. According to BriCO’s documentation, those who stand guard there carry machetes, knives, knives, slingshots, pointed batons, cell phones, communication radios and binoculars.

The organizations insist in a press conference that this is a strategy of attrition and an attempt to break the process of autonomy that the EZLN is building. Due to the harassment and the siege maintained by the invaders, they have not been able to carry out sowing of corn and beans that the Zapatista families had scheduled for February.

Human rights defenders claim that this group, made up of people from the ejidos San Gregorio Las Casas, San Andrés Puerto Rico, Ranchería Duraznal, and Rancho Alegre, are threatening the physical and mental health of the Zapatista support bases that live there. Also against their right to food. They also identified new mechanisms of violence.

https://youtu.be/TR789x6bxJo

The consequence of this, the organizations decry, is the “conversion of common territory into private property. Invading, fencing and parceling the recovered land to cause terror and despair as they transform all the vital-elemental spaces for the reproduction of communal and autonomous life into exclusive spaces of private property where the relationship with Mother Nature changes to using it as a commodity.”

“We emphasize the counterinsurgent actions (mechanisms of violence) deployed by the group of invaders who are constantly threatening and provoking the families of the Zapatista autonomous community Nuevo San Gregorio. Actions that come, either by agreement or omission, hand in hand with the policies of the three levels of bad government: Federal, State and Municipal,” the organizations state in their latest report.

It should be noted that in the last year, Frayba has documented that members of the Regional Organization of Coffee Growers of Ocosingo (ORCAO) have attacked with gunfire, burned warehouses and harassed the community of Moisés Gandhi of the same Autonomous Municipality: Lucio Cabañas, of Caracol 10 Patria Nueva.

But Pedro is happy that a delegation of supportive people visited Nuevo San Gregorio in May 2021 and videotaped the denunciations of his companions. Thanks to this he does not feel sad. He calls for the resumption of the Human Rights Observation Brigades because he feels more and more harassment.

“As long as we are not allowed to work the land, we are looking for alternatives on how to improve. There was talk of pottery. Just this handful of land that we are working, when we do it, we are watched (by the invaders) for what we are doing. But thank God other things have kept us afloat, such as organization,” says Pedro.

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Above: Medicinal plants at the autonomous health center. Photo: Sexra Grietas del Norte

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Above: The autonomous health clinic already has medicinal plants. Photo: Sexta Grietas del Norte

Autonomy as a way out of fear

“We had a big party, just like we wanted, because we are showing them that we are happy. They (the invaders) have said they want to bomb this house, that they want to set fire to it. Let them do it. We are not afraid. We have done nothing wrong. We seek life. While we are in search of life, we feel we are innocent. They are looking for ways to provoke us. But thanks to our resistance and struggle, we have not fallen into their provocations.”

Pedro states that the recent celebration of the community of Nuevo San Gregorio is part of the strength they have acquired in these times of attacks by the invading group. The party was organized by all the families who participate in the defense of the land, and who demand that this invading group return the 145 hectares stolen from them.

During this time, the community has focused on building and strengthening the organization through collective work in the carpentry shop, the clinic, the school, the store, and the church.

They already have the women’s collective “Tejiendo Vida y Resistencia (Weaving Life and Resistance)”, where the women meet to make their embroidery and weavings to later sell them. They have also set up the Autonomous School “Los Niños Mayas”, where they have already started planning classes and activities with children.

In the Autonomous Health Center “Floreciendo Vida Sana (Healthy Life Blossoming)” they already have several shelves of medicinal plants that they have collected and planted over time. With the method of the Participatory Community Mural, they painted “La Casa de Todos” (Everyone’s House) dedicated to what they dream of with the delegations in the global voyage.

With community work, the Zapatista families have built the necessary structures to carry out these activities. With the sale of their carpentry or embroidery creations they have been able to obtain profits to continue building these spaces in the hectares where the invading group keeps them fenced in.

“The land belongs to everyone. It belongs to the organization. The land belongs to those who work it. But to those who only want to turn it into a business, in the end there is no business. It is the fruit from the blood of the fallen comrades in 1994. We will not forget it, nor betray it. We will defend it. Even if they kill us. We won’t let ourselves [forget it]. Because we know that we are defending life,” Pedro affirms in the interview.

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Above: In this workshop the women gather to embroider. Photo Sexta Grietas del Norte

*The names of these people are changed to protect their identity in the face of intimidation.

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Originally Published in Spanish by Pie de Página

Sunday, July 4, 2021

https://piedepagina.mx/comunidad-zapatista-denuncia-despojo-y-hostigamiento-ven-esperanza-en-travesia-del-escuadron-421/

English interpretation by Schools for Chiapas

Re-Published by the Chiapas Support Committee

Land & Freedom 2021! Solidarity with the Zapatistas’ Tour for Life

The Zapatistas travel to Europe |Art from Ya Basta Netz

By Michael Löwy.

Posted in Camino al andar.

July 4, 2021.

We are many in this old European continent saluting the Tour for Life of the Zapatista comrades. Due to its global, planetary nature, the Zapatista tour is a historic initiative, without precedent. It is an impressive example of the internationalist force given by the Zapatista experience, which has impacted the consciences of so many people in the most different parts of the world. An experience that, with all its inevitable limits and contradictions, has held the red and black flag of dignity and emancipation high for thirty years.

An expression of this ethical, social, human and revolutionary commitment is the extraordinary A Declaration for Life, which links in a beautiful synthesis the openness to diversity and convergence in the fight against the system.

“It is not possible to domesticate this system,” says the Declaration. Very true! If the system were a wild animal — a crocodile, or a tiger — perhaps it could be tamed. But it is something much worse: a blind machine of destruction, crushing everything in its path. Capitalism — to call it by its first and last name — is an inherently perverse system, whose destructive logic is necropolitical and ecocidal, sacrificing all forms of life, human or not, to the new idols, equivalents of the ancient Moloch, Mammon, and Baal: the Market, Profit, Capital Accumulation.

“The survival of humanity depends on the destruction of capitalism,” says the Declaration. They are a thousand times right! Capitalism, in its destructive dynamics of the planet, is leading us, with an inexorable dynamic, towards an unprecedented ecological catastrophe, which threatens the very foundations of life on the planet: climate change. We need to destroy the system before it destroys us: in other words, we need a revolution. Walter Benjamin, in 1940, defined the revolution not as the “locomotive of history” but as humanity that pulls the emergency brakes to stop the train. Nothing could be more true in our days: we are all passengers on a suicide train, the modern capitalist civilization, which is walking with increasing speed towards a deadly abyss: ecological catastrophe. We have to pull on the emergency brakes of the revolution before it is too late. The Zapatistas are at the forefront of this great planetary fight.

The old slogan of Emiliano Zapata is very current in 2021, engraved with letters of fire on the flags of the Army of the South: Land and Freedom! “Land” in our time means not only the peoples’ struggle for their land – more than ever in the countries of the global South – but also the struggle to save our Mother Earth from the destructive fury of capital. And “Freedom” means not only toppling the various dictators who, like Porfirio Díaz, oppress their peoples, but also liberating humanity from the dictatorship of capitalism, which seeks to lock us all up in a steel cage.

Paraphrasing Che Guevara, we need one, two, three, a hundred rebellious Chiapas in the world

You, comrades of the delegation of the indigenous and insurgents of Mexico, bring us a message of intransigent struggle, of tenacious resistance, but also of hope, of searching for anti-systemic alternatives, of communal ways of organizing life. You represent the oldest -the pre-colonial collectivist and community traditions of the indigenous civilizations of the Americas- and the newest, the self-organization, the self-government of the insurgent communities.

Paraphrasing Che Guevara, I would say that we need one, two, three, a hundred rebellious Chiapas in the world. Perhaps your Tour for Life will help spread, to other places, the will to break with the system, the search for radical alternatives.

Until the Victory of Life, Always!

—Michael Löwy.

Michael Löwy is Research Director of Sociology at the Centre national de la recherché scientifique, Paris. He is the author of numerous books, including The War of the Gods: Religion and Politics in Latin America and Fire Alarm: Reading Walter Benjamin’sOn the Concept of History.”

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Published in Spanish by Camino al Andar at https://www.caminoalandar.org/post/tierra-y-libertad-2021-solidaridad-con-la-gira-por-la-vida-de-los-zapatistas

Translated by the Chiapas Support Committee.

VOLANTEM EST ALIO GRADIENDI MODE (What are we waiting for?)

Photograph of the Fuerza Aérea Zapatista published by Enlace Zapatista

Any day, any month of any year.

Droughts Floods Earthquakes Eruptions Contamination. Current and future pandemics. Assassinations of leaders of native peoples, defenders of human rights, guardians of the Earth. Gender violence escalating to genocide against women -the stupid suicide of humanity. Racism not infrequently hidden behind almsgiving. Criminalization and persecution of difference. The irremediable condemnation of forced disappearances. Repression in response to legitimate demands. Exploitation of the many for the few. Large projects for the destruction of territories. Desolate villages. Millions displaced, hidden under the figure of “migration.” Endangered species or just a name in the “prehistoric animals” folder. Gigantic earnings of the richest of the richest on the planet. Extreme misery of the poorest of the needy in the world. The tyranny of money. Virtual reality as a false exit from real reality. Dying national states. Each individual a strange enemy. The lie as a government program. The frivolous and superficial as ideals to be achieved. Cynicism as a new religion. Death as a daily routine. War. Always the war.

The storm sweeping away everything, whispering, advising, shouting:

Surrender!

Surrender!

SURRENDER!

And yet …

There, near and far from our lands and skies, there is someone. A woman, a man, unoa otroa [a two-spirited person], a group, a collective, an organization, a movement, an original people, a neighborhood, a street, a town, a house, a room. In the smallest, most forgotten, farthest corner, there is someone who says “NO.” That they say quietly, that is barely audible, that they scream it, that they live and die it. And they rebel and resist. Someone. You have to look for them. You have to find them. You have to listen to them. You have to learn them.

Even if we have to fly to hug them.

Because, after all, flying is just another way of walking. And, well, walking is our way of fighting, of living.

So, on the Journey for Life, what do we look forward to? We look forward to looking at your heart from you. We hope it is not too late. We hope… everything.

I attest.
SupGaleano.
Planet Earth … or what’s left of her.

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Published by Enlace Zapatista July 6, 2021 in Spanish (and available in other European languages) at https://enlacezapatista.ezln.org.mx/2021/07/06/volantem-est-alio-modo-gradiendi/ and translated into English by the Chiapas Support Committee.

Fuerza Aérea Zapatista: The Zapatista Air Force (video)

Image from Fuerza Aérea Zapatista  ·  EZLN

Mini video on the Fuerza Aérea Zapatista (FAZ)