Chiapas Support Committee



April 19, 2022

By: Indignation

  • The mega pig farm in Homún will remain closed until the amparo lawsuit brought on behalf by girls and boys of Homún concludes.
  • The Second District Judge, Rogelio Leal Mota applied international standards at the hearing and declared the action for revocation of suspension brought by PAPO unfounded.
  • The population celebrates this fact, because if the mega pig factory were to resume operations, the right to health, a healthy environment and water would be put at risk, as well as the best interest of childhood and the self-determination of the Maya people of Homún. They also urge the State Government to not be an accomplice of the pork companies.

Merida, Yucatan, April 19, 2022

Another victory for the Maya people of Homún: Second District Judge Rogelio Leal Mota applied international standards in matters of consultation with an indigenous population and the precautionary principle, and decided to maintain the suspension of operations that was imposed on the mega pig farm; in other words, the pig factory will remain closed until the amparo lawsuit brought by Homún children concludes.

Upon resolving the action for revocation of suspension brought by the Pork Food Production (PAPO, Producción Alimentaria Porcícola), Judge Leal Mota determined that said company did not provide evidence of new facts that “would knock down” the three pillars that sustain the suspension imposed on the pig factory: the first one, that the wastewater treatment plant was not finished at the time of initiating operations; the second one, that no prior consultation of the Maya population of Homún was done; and the third one, that given the risk that the operation of the farm could affect the environment and therefore, the precautionary principle must be applied.

Regarding the first pillar, related to the wastewater treatment plant, the Judge explained that the evidence provided by PAPO, a document issued in April 2021 by the Secretariat of Sustainable Development (SDS), is not new, since it’s based on past acts: it only says that in 2017 the then Secretariat of Urban Development and Environment Medio Ambient (Seduma), considered the treatment plant viable at the moment of authorizing the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), for the pig factory. In addition, no expert or scientific examinations that guarantee that said plant will avoid air pollution or other environmental impacts.

Regarding the second pillar, the company assured that in its time, the Seduma published the EIS on the mega farm in the Official Gazette of the State Government of Yucatán. It also alleged that the Secretariat of Sustainable Development (SDS), does not have an obligation to carry out an indigenous consultation.

The Judge responded that the public consultation held by the Seduma is not equivalent to an indigenous consultation, which, according to international regulations, must be prior, informed, culturally appropriate and in good faith respecting the right to autonomy of the Maya people and for the purpose of obtaining the consent of the people.


Above: Homún Yucatan Pig Farm

“There is an obligation the authorities have (within their jurisdiction), to protect the fundamental rights of the indigenous peoples and communities that require guarantying the exercise of certain human rights of a procedural nature, principally the rights of access to information, participation in making decisions and access to justice,” therefore, it’s not about a “generic consultation,” but rather an indigenous consultation respecting international standards regarding the rights of the indigenous peoples, the Judge pointed out.

Regarding the precautionary principle, it was clear that the PAPO company was also unable to verify that the conditions exist to affirm that the precautionary principle is overcome, because not only soil and water pollution must be considered, but also air pollution. In addition, international standards on the matter must be observed and, given the lack of scientific certainty and the uncertainty about pollution, there is an obligation to prevent all serious or irreversible damage.

PAPO was unable to prove any novel fact in relation to the three pillars for which the suspension was granted, and therefore, he decided to maintain said precautionary measure. The resolution of Judge Leal Mota is crucial for the Maya peoples of the Peninsula who face extractive industries that impose projects on their territory and put their health, water, air and the environment in general at risk. It’s important to highlight, as the Judge himself mentioned, that the principal lawsuit still continues.

The Maya people of Homún will remain vigilant and on alert, especially considering that the evidence used by PAPO, in all attempts to eliminate the suspension, have had in common the participation of the State Government of Yucatán through the Secretariat of Sustainable Development, arguing that the wastewater treatment plant is already finished.

Meanwhile, the population of Homún urges the Yucatan State Government to not be an accomplice of the PAPO company and to respect their right to self-determination.

Kanan ts’ono’ot

Representatives of Childhood in Homún

Indignation, Promotion and Defense of Human Rights


Originally Published in Spanish by Indignación, April 19, 2022, and Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

The political economy of revolt  

000_9CH7LD… Indigenous people on a local bus in 2021 Cali, Colombia protests against tax increases. Photo: Al Jazeera

By: Raúl Zibechi

Oaxaca 2006, Quito 2019, Cali 2021. They are just some of the Latin American cities that experienced important revolts that lasted weeks and even months. When rebellion exceeds the brief times of insurrection and is installed holding on to spaces that insurgencies convert into territories of liberation, they compel questions.

How do the rebels sustain themselves, who at times make up important portions of the population? What do they do to reproduce their material life, from food to health, when economic life has been paralyzed?

In recent stays in Cali and Bogotá I was able to learn in detail how daily life is organized during the revolt, a period that lasted between 60 and 90 days, depending on the city. People didn’t go to their jobs or were not able to work in the informal economy because transportation and commerce were not functioning.

Activity to ensure survival had turned to protest, especially in the popular barrios. Neither exchanges nor productive activity were abandoned, they were redirected to feeding the revolt. The formal capitalist economy, both the one that pays wages and the so-called “informal” one, was disarticulated and its energies were turned toward resisting dispossession.

Those energies made it possible that thousands of people could live in solidarity for weeks and that their material and spiritual needs were covered, living in common. The 28 points of resistance that operated in Cali ensured food, health, care, culture and sports leisure.

Hundreds of community pots were installed with food donated by families and small businesses, in which many young people got three meals a day, something impossible in urban poverty. The five lines of defense, or also the first lines, divided the work: the most frontal set limits with shields against the anti-riot squads and the second supported the first.

The next lines took care of the injured and in some of the places they created spaces for first aid. The last line was made up of housewives who provided water with bicarbonate so that their sons and daughters could withstand the gases. There were times and spaces to play sports, to exhibit art and music, to paint murals and do street theater.

I found four central aspects that made possible the continuity of life during the revolt, which make up a “political economy of revolt” or of resistance. Strictly speaking, it should be said that it’s about the fact that material life is organized around the resistance and the defense of life.

The first aspect has to do with collective work that is present in all the activities, from the communal pots to self-defense. This work is the engine and support of the revolt. Without it there would not be the slightest chance of sustaining it for more than a few hours and it becomes the common sense of the revolt.

The second aspect is self-defense, which also occupies a central place, understood in a broader sense of community care collectives, which include the preservation of life, health, dignity and personal spaces.

The third aspect is the territories. The creation of “points of resistance” is a major fact, since they were at the same time spaces free of state repression, but also of collective protection and the creation of new social relations founded on use value, such as food, health care, arts and sports.

The fourth aspect is the prominent role of women and youth, which continues being a distinctive feature of the mobilizations of the popular sectors that are not present either in unionism or in the progressive parties.

In addition to these four features, I want to emphasize the anti-racism and anti-colonialism that were let loose from the mobilization of the black, indigenous and mestizo majorities –in a very particular way in the three cases mentioned at the beginning–, which are at the same time expressions of resistance to the predatory extractivism that characterizes current capitalism.

This “economy in struggle,” as Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés called it at the “Critical Thought versus the Capitalist Hydra” gathering, is based on collective work and on the diverse autonomies that currently exist, and could not exist without their own territories as the points of resistance were.

The popular sectors in the big cities, during the revolt put in common what they do in daily life: self-managing their lives because the capitalism of dispossession condemns them to marginality, death and a precarious survival.

I believe that it can be good time to reflect on these economies in struggle, of deepening their comprehension, their ways and concrete forms. Not to write some academic thesis, but rather for something more urgent and profound: to contribute to strengthening the resistances and separating the emancipatory practices from those that reproduce the oppressor system.


Originally Published in Spanish b y La Jornada, Friday, April 22,, Republished with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

Caravan supports the struggle against the Huexca thermoelectric plant

WhatsApp-Image-2022-04-11-at-5.21.49-PM-780x470Coming from Puebla, the Caravan for Life and Water, with support from the Peoples’ Front marched yesterday in the indigenous town of Huexca, Morelos, in rejection of the diversion of the Cuautla River to the CFE thermoelectric plant. Photo: Rubicela Morelos 

By: Rubicela Morelos Cruz, Correspondent

Cuautla, Morelos

As they passed through Morelos, members of the Caravan for Life and Water, supported by the Peoples’ Front in Defense of Land and Water, symbolically closed the thermoelectric plant located in the indigenous town of Huexca, which makes up part of the Morelos Integral Project (PIM), with the argument that it will finish off that resource, water, with activity in the fields and will harm the environment.

The caravan, which left from the municipality of Juan Bonilla, Puebla, on March 22, when International Water Day was commemorated, arrived late Sunday evening at the occupation that ejido members opposed to the project maintain at the offices of the Association of Users of the Cuautla River (Asurco), in Ayala, in the context of the 103rd anniversary of the death of General Emiliano Zapata.

In Ayala, the activists demonstrated in favor of the farmers’ struggle so that the waters of the Cuautla River are not taken away to the thermoelectric plant of the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE).

Yesterday morning, the caravan moved to the community of Huexca, municipality of Yecapixtla, where together with members of the Peoples Front in Defense of Land and Water marched through that town. They reiterated their opposition to the thermoelectric plant project, which began in 2012, because, they assured, “it will end their campesino life, their water and human, animal and plant life.”

They chanted slogans like: “The water’s not for sale, it is loved and defended!”; The water is a treasure that’s worth more than gold!”; “It’s not drought, it’s looting!”; “Water yes, ‘Thermo’ no!”; “Water is life and life is defended!” and “Life is not negotiated with a consultation!” They criticized that before there was water in Huexca 24 hours a day and now only during the day.

The march concluded with a rally in front of the thermoelectric plant, located at the town’s entrance. There, opponents of the project hung a banner that said: “Closed by the peoples,” since “it has been imposed with state and federal police by the bad governments, but we don’t want this project of death,” Teresa Castellanos, a resident of Huexca, maintained.

She recalled that ever since the construction of the thermoelectric plant was announced the community voted against it in assembly. She said that when the current federal government organized a consultation in 2019 to endorse or reject its operation, the “no” vote won in this indigenous town. Castellanos said that the plant has not been put into operation because “it’s junk” and in this area of Morelos “there isn’t enough water for it to operate.”


They have toured 8 states

Alejandro Torres, an activist from the Las Cholulas region in Puebla, a member of the Caravan for Water and Life, said that they have toured the states of Querétaro, Morelos, Oaxaca, Mexico City, state of Mexico, Veracruz, Puebla and Tlaxcala.

He detailed that 50 water defense organizations, both national and international, have participated in the mobilization and on their way through said states “we have found a lot of resistance to megaprojects that will do away with the water and the environment.”

He explained that: “the objective of the caravan is to make visible the dispossession of water that they are doing to the Native peoples, to meet each other, partner and together create a stronger national and international front to stop this war that is dispossessing us. “Together we must avoid all the devastation because we are in hot spots at the international level on the question of climate change and it’s time to generate a collective awareness to stop all this assault,” Torres warned.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada, April 12, 2022, and   Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

Doña Rosario and the love of life

Rosario Ibarra de Piedra, fundadora del comité Eureka, falleció la mañana de hoy a los 95 años de edad en Monterrey, Nuevo León. En la imagen, la activista durante la marcha del 2 de Octubre en 2002. FOTO: JUAN PABLO ZAMORA/CUARTOSCURO.COM

By: Hermann Bellinghausen

How many times, due to whims of language, name is destiny. One day, Rosario Ibarra de Piedra stopped being only the mother of her children to become a symbolic mother and the motor of hundreds of mothers (and fathers) of “disappeared” (missing) children. Scapular and lay rosary, touchstone and rock base for defending a family’s right to know where their child is; in her case, it was Jesús Piedra Ibarra, an idealistic young man who opted for armed struggle and who the State’s security forces kidnapped in 1975. In 1977, 45 years ago, involved in the search for Jesús, she founded the Comité ¡Eureka! to summon the families who were looking for their young ones, lost in the cellars of PRI power and the dirty and paranoid war of Diaz Ordaz and Echeverría policy.

Doña Rosario, as we have called her for decades, embodied reason and love in the face of the repressive State’s shamelessness. A woman of great intelligence, she quickly acquired a political conscience and a moral stature that she exercised responsibly and heroically. How not to love her. Now that everyone is reminded of her, her photos, her common experiences, I will allow myself to record two meetings separated in time that show her, despite her iconic mourning, as an enamored enthusiast of life.

It must have been around 1983, in Monterrey. By chance I had become a pet, pardon the expression, of one of the rebellious and left-wing millionaire Irma Salinas Rocha (another pet of hers that I remember from then is Felipe Ehrenberg). A close friend of Abraham Nuncio, and a future shareholder of La Jornada, she was a writer of great notoriety for telling the dark secrets of the most powerful families in Monterrey. That year she had published her hilarious third book: The crème de la creme: A Multi-Millionaires Conduct Manual. She was our spy among the rich. After a presentation of the work, we met at the home of Alfonso Reyes’ half- genius and very crazy grandson to have a few drinks. Doña Rosario was invited.


Friend-enemy of Irma since her youth, a year before she had been the first woman candidate to the presidency of the Republic, for the Trotskyist party. It was a joyful meeting where they absolutely reigned. Now somewhat tipsy, they began to taunt each other. The rich girl accusing the too diligent (“she recited poems from memory”) middle-class girl who now, both in their fifties, pissed off the little princess. They had been in the same room. Things were said, to the delight of the guests. What I remember best is Irma acknowledging that Rosario was the prettiest, to which she replied: “Bah, at that age anyone is pretty.”

The second memory happened in Spain, in 1997, together with the beloved Paulina Fernández Christlieb. They were escorting the Zapatista Tojolabal commanders Dalia and Felipe on their trip by land from Madrid to Barcelona and Priorat to Huesca in Aragón and then Andalucía, aboard a combi belonging to the Zapatista committee in the Spanish State. They were attending the Second Intergalactic Gathering. At public events, Doña Rosario read messages from Subcomandante Marcos, with whom she had become very close.

Rolling through the fields in Castilla in the combi, she decided to take the indigenous commanders to see the windmills of La Mancha “about which the ‘Sup’ writes so much,she told them. “So that they tell him what the giants that Don Quijote fought against are like.” That land opened at the feet of the commanders, hot and dry. In Madrid, before delegates who spoke Italian, English, French, German, Arab, Portuguese and Japanese, Felipe had said: “We bring our history as a testimony of dignity and as an example of the strength that the weak have.”


Doña Rosario put her courage and her arguments in favor of the compas in airports, customs, train terminals and police controls, just like she had done in Chiapas since the armed uprising in 1994, where she took advantage of her immunity as a deputy to come and go as a messenger for the Zapatistas, lending them her voice the same as she did with insurgent children in the past. With sarcasm and fear, officials of the federal Army who dealt with her at the checkpoints in the Lacandón Jungle called her “mama,” because she was said to be the mother of Marcos.

Few Mexican political figures have had the disinterested dedication of Doña Rosario. It wasn’t necessary to always agree with her to know that, with compañeras like this, the struggle lives on and is worth it. She knew how to be an ally of her best political rivals, like Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas. Her subsequent differences with the Zapatista National Liberation Army didn’t prevent her from being with them. Her heart never abandoned them. There are so many popular struggles that can say the same thing about her.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada, Monday, April 18, 2022, and Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

The right to consultation as a brake on dispossession

[Admin: This decision would seem to be a very important one for indigenous communities facing the imposition of large “development” projects.]

planta-de-amoniaco-protesta-omhpyxwxlihwzb6a9fl06mimxqib0nmpitwpy059qgProtest banner at the ammonia plant reads: “Stop the Ammonia Plant!”

By: Francisco López Bárcenas

Last April 6, the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN) issued a decision on an amparo lawsuit [1] on review (498/2020) filed by the Mayo people settled in northern Sinaloa. It’s not just any decision! Although before this, the highest federal court had already issued other decisions, there are several elements around this one that make it unique. First, because the federal government had decided to support the project that the Gas y Petroquímica de Occidente SA de CV company, a subsidiary of the Swiss-German company Proman, presented in 2013 to install an ammonia plant in Mayo territory. This was demonstrated in the “public consultation” organized last November 28 by the Undersecretariat for Democratic Development, Social Participation and Religious Affairs in the Interior Ministry, headed by Rabindranath Salazar Solorio, who personally directed the job so that it would show the YES vote they wanted.

The consultation had no binding legal effects, but rather political ones, because with the results they hoped to incline the SCJN’s decision favorably towards the businessmen’s proposals. Still last March 3, the president of the Republic, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, showed his support for the company to install the plant, thinking that the YES vote had won in the aforementioned consultation. “We agree, because the people and the farmers of Sinaloa and, Sonora were consulted, and they require fertilizer,” he said. And he continued: “And we have gas as a raw material and we are in favor of that plant, that it is built. Even so, we are not going to achieve self-sufficiency, but now we are going to have more supply of fertilizer.” He didn’t say anything about rights that the Mayo peoples indicate would be violated if the factory is installed, nor about the environmental effects that it would cause.

With that background, many of those interested in the matter hoped that the SCJN would decide to modify the amparo that had already been granted to the complainants, which they obtained by filing the appeal for review. But it didn’t go like that. Upon resolving the matter, the SCJN determined, among other things, that “when it’s about development or investment plans with an impact inside indigenous territory, the State not only has the obligation to consult, but also to obtain the free, informed and prior consent of the indigenous communities, according to their customs and traditions;” thus, the amparo was granted “because it is essential that a free and informed consultation is held with the community prior to environmental authorization of the ammonia plant project, in view of the fact that it could generate significant impacts on their lives and on the environment of the indigenous community complainant.”

Another criterion that was established in the resolution of the highest court expresses that: “the State must guarantee the indigenous peoples their participation in the process of evaluation and authorization of environmental impact studies, due to their knowledge regarding their habitat […] to determine the real magnitude of an effect or incidence on their territory and the eco-systems that are found there.” In the same way it determined that: “the duty of consultation does not depend on the degree or level of affectation, but rather on the character of the recipients, since these communities are the ones that are best positioned to determine the real magnitude of an affectation or incidence on their territory and the ecosystems that are found there. Consistent with the foregoing, any development project that impacts indigenous territories, will have to meet those requirements.”

The decision has surely made investors and politicians involved in the project uncomfortable; they thought that the presidential will was enough to go ahead with their plans. But no. Law and rights also count when there is the will to enforce them. Now it’s up to the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (Semarnat) and the National Institute of Indigenous Peoples (INPI) to carry out the judicial mandate of holding prior, free, informed and culturally adequate consultations in good faith, as international law mandates.

The governor of Sinaloa, Rubén Rocha Moya, has already come out to ask for a “vote of conscience” from members of the Mayo people when this process is carried out. It’s not known what he meant by that, but the same request could be made by the peoples affected by the project to the authorities and businessmen interested in their project moving forward. A little awareness of the fact that the peoples have the right to a better future could be the beginning of an understanding.

[1] An amparo lawsuit is similar to an injunction in the US in that it seeks to stop an action that causes harm to the party filing the lawsuit. 


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada, Thursday, April 14, 2022, and Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

The Army’s Complicity and the Dangers of Militarization


By: R. Aída Hernández Castillo*

In recent weeks, collectives of relatives of the disappeared from all over the country have been discussing the report presented last March 28 by the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI) for the Ayotzinapa case ( with indignation and despair. This report documents in detail what the families have been saying and shouting in the streets: It was the State!

The 234-page report, prepared by Ángela Buitrago, Claudia Paz y Paz, Francisco Cox and Carlos Beristain, documents with images the direct participation of members of the Secretariat of the Navy in the staging that took place at the Cocula garbage dump, to substantiate the so-called historical truth regarding the disappearance of the 43 students from Ayotzinapa. It includes evidence of the participation of the Army in the events of September 26, 2014, presenting 46 internal reports of the Sedena [1] that account for the real-time communication that was had with the troops who were in Iguala. It also proves the infiltration of the rural teachers college by the military and the illegal espionage work that was being done. The most worrying thing is that it is mentioned that 20 of these reports give clues, which if they had been available in time, would have contributed to finding the missing youths. All this information was hidden by the military for eight years.

While supporters of the current government read this report as a sign of the present administration’s “political will” to clarify the case, the question that arises is why, during three years of this administration, these reports were not produced? If since December 3, 2018, with the creation of the Commission for Truth and Access to Justice for the Ayotzinapa Case, a presidential order was given to the armed forces to cooperate with the investigation, why is access to this information being produced only now?

What most worries the families is the continuity that exists between military commanders involved in the Ayotzinapa case and those who have militarized the territories where their children disappeared. Former Defense Secretary Salvador Cienfuegos, who was arrested in the United States for his links to drug trafficking, only to be extradited and released by the López Obrador government, bears direct responsibility for the complicity and diversion of information documented in the GIEI report. However, not only is he still free, but last March 21 he attended the inauguration of the new Felipe Ángeles airport, built and administered by the armed forces.

The government that promised us a Fourth Transformation has militarized the country more than any previous administration. Amnesty International’s 2021 report documents that there are more military personnel performing public security tasks in this administration than in the three previous administrations. The academic community has watched helplessly as the changes to the Science and Technology Law approved by the Chamber of Deputies last year include the participation of the Ministry of the Navy and of National Defense in the General Council for Scientific Research, Technological Development and Innovation. The military is now in scientific spaces, in customs, in the construction of major mega-projects and branches of the Welfare Bank; in the name of protecting national interests, they are given a power that will be difficult to take away in the future.

Those of us who have investigated the impact of militarization on the communities or who have carried out anthropological reports on the subject, have been warning since the creation of the National Guard, of the dangers of putting the Army, one of the main violators of human rights in the country, in charge of tasks that do not correspond to it (

The GIEI report reminds us that the complicity of the Army is not a fact of the past, but is part of the criminal structure that has turned Mexico into a large clandestine grave. Santiago Aguirre, director of the Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez Human Rights Center, pointed out: The Ayotzinapa case speaks to us not only of the past, but of the present of the armed forces, who today are enormously empowered, and who continue with their same patterns of opacity, lack of accountability to civilian controls, and non-recognition of their past human rights violations, and of their present where those violations continue to occur. It is important to articulate efforts to denounce and stop the militarization of our society, the present and the future of our country is at stake.

* R. Aída Hernández Castillo is a Doctor in Anthropology and Researcher at CIESAS

[1] Sedena is the acronym for Secretaría de la Defense Nacional, Mexico’s National Defense Ministry.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada, Friday, April 8, 2022, Translation by Schools for Chiapas and Re-Published by the Chiapas Support Committee

Frayba: 437 attacks from paramilitary groups against the peoples of Aldama in March


By: Elio Henríquez, Correspondent

San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas

The Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Center (Frayba) reported that in March it documented 437 attacks against communities in Aldama municipality, perpetrated by armed groups from the town of Santa Martha, located in Chenalhó. In a statement, it said that those attacks led to “the intermittent displacement of 3, 499 people, who are experiencing the impact of permanent violence.”

It added that during a fiesta celebrated in the town of San Pedro Cotzilnam, Santa Martha inhabitants shot and injured a musician from the neighboring municipality of Santiago El Pinar, and a 9-year-old girl in the community of Tabac, located in Aldama.

The Frayba assures that the Mexican State “has failed to comply with recommendations of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) for guarantying the security and life of the population in Aldama.”

It recalled that: “in the face of the armed attacks and violence that have sharpened since the beginning of 2018,” representatives of the 115 community members and the Frayba requested precautionary measures from the IACHR.

This commission considered that there is a “situation of gravity, urgency and the possible generation of irreparable harm,” because of which “it updated the follow-up to measures MC-882-17 and MC-284-18” in favor of the Tsotsil families in 22 localities of the municipalities of Chalchihuitán, Chenalhó and Aldama “under resolution 102/21(monitoring) dated December 15, 2021.”

Likewise, it added that “the actions that authorities of the Mexican State have carried out to guarantee the life and safety of the population have been ineffective, as we have constantly set forth.”

It also affirmed that the Federation “has centered its attention on the territorial conflict, because of which on the previous March 3 it handed over to the Aldama community members the Cerro Bola property located in the municipality of Ixtapa, a site that is almost 100 kilometers from their place of origin. The same day as the ceremony to hand over the property the population was under constant attack.

“However, the state and federal governments continue to neglect the investigation, and fail to disarm and disarticulate the aggressor group, its sources of financing and the linkage with state and local authorities,” Frayba concluded.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada, Tuesday, April 12, 2022, Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

Gustavo Esteva and the Horizon of Intelligibility


By: Luis Hernández Navarro

At the foot of the majestic ceiba tree, in the humid sunny mornings and dusk of La Realidad, in the Lacandón jungle, where advisors and guests of the EZLN waited to meet with the commanders, Gustavo Esteva would talk for hours with other advisors. It was not uncommon to hear him passionately conversing with the philosopher Luis Villoro and the Jesuit priest Ricardo Robles on topics seemingly distant from those meetings, such as the existence and nature of God. Because of its wisdom, this three-voice debate was worthy of the most prestigious university lecture hall.

It was 1996 in San Andrés, the first round of negotiations on Indigenous Rights and Culture was held between Zapatistas and the federal government, and later, the second round on Democracy and Development. Esteva participated in both. His contributions on autonomy were fundamental. Others generated a real upheaval among advisors.

This was the case, to the astonishment of activists, with his view of human rights, which he considered an individualistic Western construction that left out communal rights, as can be read in his article published at the invitation of Ronco Robles in the magazine Kwira, 44. The metaphor of that word – he wrote in Dictionary of Development – gave global hegemony to a purely Western genealogy of history, depriving the peoples of different cultures of defining their own forms of social life.

His vision of communality was strongly shaken in San Andres. According to Gustavo, this consists of a non-definable reality. It is a horizon of intelligibility: living the world from a We. Communality, he wrote, was born both as a word and as a term, under conditions that have led to confusion and its arbitrary use. To those who coined the concept (the Mixe Floriberto Díaz and the Zapotec Jaime Luna) it was born as a word, and in the struggle. They did not need to explain or define it. They tried to construct it as a concept and as a category, to seek a common understanding in that terrain. They did not do it well. Despite this criticism, the need for a constitutional reform inspired in part by this experience made it necessary to translate it into another language.

In the San Andres Dialogues, Esteva went beyond proposing concepts to think about the new reality, confronting governmental arguments, reflecting on the scope of the moment or offering stimulating debates. There, he was also a formidable organizer of the discussions among the Zapatistas’ advisors. With an efficient capacity for synthesis, he summarized the central ideas of the debate and faithfully wrote them down with unusual speed. The inevitable joke was that he already had the conclusions written on his computer and simply printed them out.

Wherever he went, the writer’s statements were always contradictory. In the middle of the pandemic, in a meeting with teachers of the CNTE in Oaxaca, he criticized hybrid education, because everything hybrid, from mules to seeds, is sterile.

The thought, complexity, mental order, theoretical brilliance and sophisticated capacity to argue as one who defined himself as a de-professionalized intellectual, led one of his assistants for some years to describe him as such an intelligent person, that he is capable of convincing me that my mother is my father. It’s not true. But his reasoning to the contrary is irrefutable.

During his lifetime, Esteva was many things. Business administrator; executive of transnational companies; high public official, almost Secretary of State; director of Anadeges, one of the most relevant NGOs in the country in the 80’s, which, keeping the acronym, changed its name and mission, from Analysis, Development and Management, literally analyze, develop and help, to Autonomy, De-centralism and Management; founder of the Universidad de la Tierra in Oaxaca; columnist for La Jornada; author of key books to understand the campesino question in Mexico such as La Batalla en el México Rural, and an original thinker recognized in Germany, Japan, the United States and Italy.

Esteva was, in his own way, a traveling companion of Raimon Panikkar, pioneer of inter-religious dialogue, defender, against the hegemonic universalism of the West, of a radical pluralism that is not relativism. He was also a companion of Ivan Illich, the Viennese thinker settled in Cuernavaca from the mid-1960s to the end of the 1970s, a radical critic of the institutions of progress. But he was a permanent apprentice of the indigenous and popular struggles, which he drew upon to find the autonomous construction of the contemporary art of living and a window to hope.

According to the author of Chronicle of the End of an Era: The Secret of the EZLN, the Zapatista insurrection sparked the political transition in which the country still finds itself and continues to represent a political option for millions of people. Its social and political creation corresponds to the description of the convivial society, one that adopts socialist ideals, but instead of trying to put at its service the dominant institutions created under capitalism, it inverts or dissolves them. A movement that already has a place in the world. That is why it is not utopia.

Always brilliant, erudite, polemic, Gustavo Esteva opened horizons to intelligibility of the world we live in. He will be missed.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada, Tuesday, March 22, 2022, with translation by Schools for Chiapas, Re-Published by the Chiapas Support Committee

The urgency of educating (ourselves) in self-defense  


By: Raúl Zibechi

When the system has become death. When capitalism is synonymous with risk to life, environment and peoples. When the great works to accumulate capital go hand in hand with femicides and genocides, we should stop to think about how to stop this system to defend life.

Even those of us who have known for a long time that capitalism is sliding down the slope of war against the peoples, permanent undeclared wars, have difficulty finding ways to act collectively to be able to prevent the madness that it intends to make mere merchandise of life.

In the first place, we rule out symmetries. Opposing war after war is not a good path, because those who put up the deaths are always the same: native peoples and blacks, women and young people of all skin colors, campesinos, workers and the entire range of those below. The recent experience of Latin American wars, I’m referring to so-called revolutionary wars, should convince us that symmetry is a bad path.

But we also reject the silence and pacifism of turning the other cheek, both functional (just like war) to the genocidal and femicidal system. Because capitalism isn’t going to fall alone, by natural death or because of the supposed “laws” of the economy, of history or whatever. The system must be brought down. The issue is “how.”

A first step is collective self-defense, which first involves being organized. There are many ways and means of defending ourselves, as the Latin American peoples teach, the ones who have created the most diverse forms of self-defense to protect themselves from paramilitary groups, police and the armed forces, but also from big mining companies.

History has taught us badly. Or we learned it wrong and we must recuperate it. I recently learned that the early 20th century English suffragettes had self-defense groups, thanks to the work of the French feminist Elsa Dorlin. [1]

Part of the movement, which refused to resort to the law because of considering the State as the main instigator of inequalities, took courses in jiu-jitsu (a defensive art with a stick). Collective self- defense, Dorlin argues, “politicizes bodies, without mediation, without delegation, without representation” (p. 112).

In a recent interview, Dorlin emphasizes something related to self-defense that was useful both to the French “yellow vests” and to the young people of Cali, with whom I was able to share training spaces these days: a turning point is reached when power disregards the lives of certain people. It’s about the lives that understood that: “they are no longer worth anything and that they can burst in the midst of silence and indifference if they don’t rise up” (

Wide sectors of the population need to defend themselves collectively, because they don’t have either power or capital. We can name them in many ways: those from below, disposables, inhabitants of the zone of non-being, surplus population; that portion of humanity that only exists when it rebels.

It’s worth remembering the recent assertion of the Israeli journalist Gideon Levy, about the Palestinians: “If they don’t utilize violence, the entire world will forget about them” (

Not all self-defense, he points out, exercises violence, but that depends on collective decisions. It especially seeks to assure collective survival, for which it’s essential to stop accumulation by dispossession/fourth world war against the peoples: mega-mining, monocultures, mega-infrastructure works and urban real estate speculation. In sum, all the ways that do business with life.

Self-defense, or common care, has a self-educational dimension for its members and for the towns and barrios that have decided to defend themselves. The system has mutated, to the point that it is capable of converting the most intimate emotions into merchandise. [2] Participating in collective self-defense should help us deal with these new modes of accumulation by dispossession.

The new generation of young Zapatistas attempt to use the Internet in a different sense than that designed by the system. With that I intend to insinuate that the self-defense groups work both in material defense, placing limits on the violent, and in subjectivities, unlearning the ways of consuming taxes with much more subtle ways of violence, but that equally dispossess us of our feelings and identities.

Finally, self-defense is an art of life in the midst of a system of death. A way to walk dodging obstacles, teaching us to continue being peoples and human beings. Not to conquer something like power, but rather simply to continue walking as the lives that we are.

[1] Autodefensa. Una filosofía de la violencia, Txalaparta, 2019.

[2] Eva Illouz (comp.) Capitalismo, consumo y autenticidad. Las emociones como mercancía, Madrid, Katz, 2019.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada, Friday, April 8, 2022,

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

Pantelhó and the videotaped [alleged] disappearance of 21 people


On July 26, 2021, in Pantelhó, 21 men were removed from their homes; the houses were burned and they were filmed while masked men tied their hands. Eight months later, they have [allegedly] not been located.

Proceso Magazine

By: Isaín Mandujano

PANTELHÓ, Chiapas – On July 26, 2021, in this municipality of Tsotsil people of the Chiapas Highlands, 21 men were removed from their homes; their houses were burned and they were taken by force to the central park.

In the park’s kiosk they were videotaped while masked men equipped with radios tied their hands and then took them from the municipal seat. They have now been missing for eight months, although they have been sought unsuccessfully.

As proof that the 21 people are alive, there is a 45-second video in which the subdued group is seen: all tied up with a green rope. The captors, dressed in civilian clothing, also carry radios and machetes.

Relatives of the 21 captured men affirm that in the video they are able to see the now president of the Pantelhó municipal council, Pedro Cortés López, under the kiosk.

Witnesses to the [alleged] kidnapping say that a few meters from that kiosk were members of the National Guard and the Army, who did not intervene despite requests for aid from the victims’ relatives.

In a letter sent to this correspondent, relatives say that the 21 men were moved to San José Buenavista Tercero community, the bastion of the El Machete armed group.

This armed civilian group –which the victims’ relatives identify as having a paramilitary nature and not that of a self-defense group, as its members call it– denied being responsible for the [alleged] kidnapping. [1]

In the 45-second video, three witnesses say they saw how the 21 men were taken away and they maintain that it was: “that El Machete paramilitary group.”

Relatives of the victims assure that they have fully identified all those who participated in the disappearance of the group, because in Pantelhó everyone knows each other “even when they try to hide by wearing a mask.”

“We cry every day due to the absence of our family members, something that wouldn’t want to happen to anyone –says the letter–. Every day we ask God and the Virgin of Guadalupe to permit the authorities to carry out their work, or that the El Machete paramilitary group that took them away, to soften their hearts and return our 21 relatives to us alive.”

What’s true is that nothing has been heard from them for eight months. Last February 8-12, personnel from the National Search Commission in the Interior Ministry, with members of the National Defense Ministry, the National Guard, the State Commission for the Search of Missing Persons in Chiapas and the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) carried out search actions in Pantelhó without success.

By air from helicopters, and by land, members of the National Search Commission, as well as personnel from the Undersecretariat of Human Rights, Population and Migration and the National Commission for Dialogue with the Indigenous Peoples of Mexico, have carried out other searches without finding the whereabouts of the group.

The lawyer for the relatives of the 21 missing persons, Humberto Cervantes Culebro, points out: “The only thing that the relatives want, the only thing they desire is their appearance, alive or dead, because the fact that they may also be dead is a reality that must also be contemplated, (although) there is a lot of faith that they will appear alive.”

The lawyer says that all the doors of different authorities have been knocked on so that the search can be generated in a timely manner and, although the families are already tired, they don’t stop looking for their relatives and will not do so.

Among the agencies they have approached he mentioned the office in Mexico of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. Personnel from that agency visited the state recently. In addition, the Municipal Council is pointed out because it doesn’t collaborate in the search: “It has not been of any use, it has not helped at all.”

The Council’s president, Pedro Cortés López, is identified by the relatives of those missing as the father-in-law of “Comandante Machete.” However, they have asked him for his intervention as the municipal authority, but the official not only has not helped, but has hindered the search, they denounce.

“The municipal council president at no time has wanted to face the relatives,” Cervantes confirms.


The denial

On February 12, El Machete said, in a video published on its social networks, that it has nothing to do with the forced disappearance of the 21 people.

“We disagree because they did not permit us to take photos when the commission searching for the bodies that, according to them, disappeared in the municipality of Pantelhó. We as the El Machete self-defense group of Pantelhó have the support of more than 86 communities in this municipality and we are united to work together,” they assured.

As for the relatives’ complaint, the Secretary General of Government pointed out in an official letter sent by his press office that locating the people is a priority of the Mexican State and that the search will be the responsibility of law enforcement authorities. He also offered to comply with the urgent actions issued by the United Nations Committee Against Forced Disappearance for this case.

According to the state agency, relatives of the disappeared were informed that: “the Mexican State is in charge of the search for the disappeared and, in the process, the Chiapas Government has received guarantees from the Municipal Council that will permit unrestricted search in the geography of the municipality.”


[1] Pantelhó is the indigenous municipality in the Chiapas Highlands that formed an armed self-defense group, and last July expelled the mayor and other people accused of participating in drug trafficking and [other] illicit activities from the municipality. Residents accuse past, present and recently elected municipal authorities, as well as criminal groups, of the murder and disappearance of some 200 people from the place, among them Simón Pedro Pérez, the former president of the Las Abejas of Acteal organization, which occurred on July 5, 2021.


Originally Published in Spanish by Revista Proceso, April 2, 2022, and Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee