Chiapas Support Committee

The EZLN warns that it will not permit the Maya Train project to happen

Comandante Pablo Contreras (Pablo González Casanova) in the second Gathering of Networks of Resistance in support of the National Indigenous Congress and the Indigenous Governing Council. Photo: Mariana Gutiérrez

By: Elio Henríquez

San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas

The Zapatista National Liberation Army (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, EZLN) said that it would not permit President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s Maya Train project of death and dirty tricks to happen. It described López Obrador as “crazy” and “crafty,” and therefore, it said, it will defend what it has constructed in the past 25 years.

On Monday, López Obrador arrived in Villahermosa to attend the swearing-in of Adán Augusto López as governor of Tabasco. Upon asking him about the resistance announced by the EZLN to some of his projects, he answered: “They are within their rights, how good that they are going to do it, and many congratulations to everyone.”

In the voice of Subcomandante Moisés, during an event held in the community of La Realidad, municipality of Las Margaritas, in the Lacandón Jungle, the EZLN stated: “Think about how crazy it is that he says he is going to govern for rich and poor. Only a crazy person that is sick in the head can say that; his mind doesn’t work, he is braindead (…).

“He doesn’t know nor understand what he’s saying, and he doesn’t understand because his boss dictates to him what he has to say. It’s simple: you can’t support the exploited and the exploiter, you have to choose one of the two,” he said.

The EZLN criticized, without mentioning him by name, that Lopez Obrador “is very tricky, because (he says) that he is with the people of Mexico and continues deceiving the original peoples, demonstrating that he thrusts himself on the land asking for permission and saying that all the original peoples believe him, but we say that we don’t believe him.”

Upon referring to the ceremony held on December 1 in Mexico City’s Zócalo, where López Obrador received the staff of command from the indigenous peoples, the EZLN expressed: “Only because Mother Earth doesn’t speak, if she did she would say: fuck your mother; she would say: go to hell!”

In the context of the 25th anniversary of the January 1, 1994 Zapatista Uprising, he added: “We’re not going to allow them to come to destroy us,” and he warned: “We’re not afraid of their Nacional Guard, which changed their name in order to not say Army, but they are the same.”

He maintained that López Obrador “is going to destroy the people of Mexico, but principally the original peoples; they’re coming for us, especially for the EZLN.” He reiterated that they are not afraid of the new federal government. “We’re going to fight and we’re going to confront it.”

He remarked: “They’re coming for us, the original peoples. The consulta (vote) that they make is to manipulate the people. They are asking permission to attack us with votes. They are consulting so that they can come to confront us with that dirty trick of the Maya Train” (Tren Maya),” but “if they provoke us, we are going to defend ourselves. We’re not going to allow anyone to come to establish themselves in this territory in rebellion.”

He asserted that the so-called Fourth Transformation “is nothing of a fourth. Those of the third confronted him with facts. (López Obrador) says, for example, that he is going to forgive all the criminals. Like the one who says that he won’t do anything to the murderers of our Compañero Galeano,” murdered in the community of La Realidad in May 2014.

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Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

https://www.jornada.com.mx/2019/01/02/politica/004n1pol

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

Victories of the EZLN

HAPPY NEW YEAR | ¡FELIZ AÑO!

By: Hermann Bellinghausen

The three musketeers are not the same, the joke would say, 25 years later. Of course not! If they were, what would be the point of commemorating a quarter of a century of the armed uprising of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, EZLN)? It’s pure action on New Years 1994, suicidal as it may seem, with a single shot (the formidable Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle) yielded multiple targets, more than expected. Within a few hours, a new historical cycle began on a regional and national level with global repercussions. Coming from the most forgotten corner of the country, a solitary shot seldom gave life to so many important things.

“It put Chiapas on the map,” they said. Rather, it put the world on the Chiapas map. It also placed a lot of things in doubt, from the relevance of the single Western clock to the economic folly that crowned the Free Trade Agreement with North America, which premiered that same morning. The Zapatista torpedo hit the waterline of the Mexican government, which in minutes lost the aura of invincibility and had to grapple with the revolt.

For the communities of the mountains of Chiapas it meant a step forward in their own history, the conquest of autonomy (not called so then), the dignifying of their internal democracy and the right to speak. Instead of dying, they danced. They recuperated lands in the jungle and cemented a solid future that 25 years later is a fait accompli. In spite of the fact that the reflectors keep it off the radar, the Zapatista experience, daily and real, takes place away from the spectacle and the current news. The rebel movement, clandestine in origin and internalized by the patience and experience of the peoples, materializes the rebirth intuited by Guillermo Bonfil in México profundo. It turned out to be “the Mexican alarm clock.”

If for Mexico it meant the resounding campesino rejection of the Salinas government’s agrarian betrayal formalized in 1992. For the world it embodied the first mobilization against the dictatorship of the markets, created a fresh discourse for a Left without compass and impregnated the imminent global resistances against the monopoly of globalized economic power. It was the first social movement to have at its disposal the weapons of the Internet and its networks, and to take advantage of them widely.

It imposed the “indigenous question” on the political table and the debate remains alive beyond 2018, as we observe daily. Time revealed that for the original peoples the alarm clock had sounded just in time, current and future generations would be conceived in another way, notably women; they found that with organization and a clean conscience it’s possible to achieve the deepest demands. Who wouldn’t subscribe to the 13 Zapatista demands? A quarter of a century later, despite the ideological and practical differences, there is not a single indigenous people of Mexico that isn’t in debt to the rebels.

For the original peoples it means the closest thing to their revolution that they have had on a political, mental and human level. To the Zapatista peoples, rebellion, far from killing them, guaranteed them a better life and the precious right to govern themselves. Years pass and we don’t stop seeing their youth flowing, incessant and renewed, a flow that is from an authentic river that joins waters upon descending from the mountain. Heraclitus would say that the river is never the same. But it’s always a river.

Zapatismo taught Mexicans that “president” is written with a small “p” and he can be disavowed with justice to declare war with legitimacy, denouncing his crimes with good reason. The State bared its moral smallness upon failing to recognize its signature on the San Andrés Accords, and the Zapatistas made them the law in their territories. The creation of the Good Government Juntas consolidated the only viable government alternative as of now in the country.

There are more victories but no more space. The challenges of the indigenous awakening will remain valid although the State says it is being transformed. The Nation’s historical debt to the Native peoples will not be paid by denying that indigenismo has died, that charity is an insult, that the State’s development megalomania inexorably passes for dispossession and that the peoples must be subjects of right.

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Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Monday, December 31, 2018

https://www.jornada.com.mx/2018/12/31/opinion/a08a1cul

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee


As the Zapatistas celebrate the 25th anniversary of their 1994 Uprising, please consider a donation to the La Garrucha Education Fund, a fund for building autonomous middle schools in the jungle region of La Garrucha. Thank you!

 

 

 

 

The expansion of the Mapuche movement

Thousands attended the funeral of Camilo Catrilanca.

By: Raúl Zibechi

Leaving Temuco, in the heart of Mapuche territory, extensive pine plantations surround villages and towns, like waves that hover over people of the earth, “natural” wire fences of a monstrous concentration camp. The highways and roads crowded with carabiñeros [1] in their green vans complement the circle of plantations with a relentless siege, tattooed in fire and shrapnel on dark bodies.

The vendors around the Temuco market are being displaced because of a municipal order, which the armed police execute with punctual arrogance. They continue coming, protected with a broad clientele that persists in buying from them despite the threat of fines. They hung a number of black balloons when they learned about the murder in the back of Camilo Catrillanca, on November 14, in the community of Temucuicui.

Whoever wants to know more details about the crime, the lies of power and about the political crisis that corners the government, can go to the page mapuexpress.org where there is no lack of information.

What follows is the result of exchanges with and listening to members of different organizations, urban and rural, with comuneros and academics, political prisoners and family members, students and feminists, collected in Santiago and Temuco during the first days of December.

The first point is to verify the territorial expansion of the Mapuche movement. In Araucanía or Wallmapu (Mapuche Territory) they don’t stop recuperating land, a question that strengthens the communities that were encircled and subjected to reductions. They remain in water up to their necks, but begin to breathe, and therefore the attacks from the power have not achieved stopping them in the last decade, let’s say between the murders of Matías Catrileo (2008) and Camilo Catrillanca (2018).

In some areas, such as the triangle between Ercilla (to the north of Temuco), the coast of Tirúa and Loncoche (to the south), the land recuperations are forming a spot of Mapuche community power. An example: on the 1200 hectares of the former Alaska farm, recuperated in 2002, two communities (Temucuicui Traditional and Temucuicui Autonomous) now live on lands that belonged to the Mininco Forestry of the Matte Group, which owns 700,000 hectares usurped from the communities.

The second thing is to verify the multiplication of organizations of all kinds, everywhere, in Wallmapu as well as in the big cities. The Coordinator of Organizations of Mapuche Students (COEM, its initials in Spanish), in Santiago, formed four years ago, unites groupings from almost all the universities and has created a school of indigenous women that defends Mapuche feminism. They define themselves as “anti-patriarchal but not feminist” because, as Angélica Valderrama of Mapuexpress points out: “we don’t want to think about our reality within the parameters of white feminism.”

The Mapuche History Community is part of this notable growth and diversification of the movement, which Simona Mayo defines as “the multi sectorial character of the Mapuche organization.” Various collectives that could be defined as human rights defenders integrate this diversity and, in some cases, consider themselves Mapuche because they have assumed that identity even having white skin.

The third, and the most surprising to this writer, is the creation of mixed spaces integrated by Mapuche and huincas (whites), as something natural and normalized, without hierarchies existing within the collectives. Both the COEM and the Mapuexpress information collective are Mapuche and white spaces, as well as various feminist, environmentalist and student groups.

They are constructing “heterogeneous subjects,” as the historian Claudio Alvarado Lincopi emphasized in a conversation, something that the Left isn’t able to do because: “in its inbreeding only its own traditions have value.” These “mixed” spaces as well as Mapuche feminism, were almost non-existent a decade ago, or they were very incipient, but now they are flourishing and multiplying exponentially.

The fourth point is the expansion of the Mapuche language, Mapudugun, in unsuspected places, like popular neighborhoods and those of the urban middle class. In the Olympic village, in the Ñuñoa commune, a middle class neighborhood of Santiago, the daughter of my host studies Mapudungun in her school, by her own choice. The same thing happens in three other schools in the district. There is consensus on the extraordinary expansion of the Mapuche language, much beyond the borders of Wallmapu.

The fifth point is the massive reaction of the Chilean population to Catrillanca’s murder. There were mobilizations in at least 30 cities throughout the country, including those in the far north. In Santiago, in the days following the murder, there were around 100 street closings, with barricades and bonfires, for hours, with hundreds of neighbors. Those who did not go out in the street beat pots and pans in entire neighborhoods, especially in the outskirts. In some zones the mobilizations lasted for 15 days.

That reveals that the Mapuche people have become a reference for an enormous portion of Chileans that harbor anti-systemic sentiments, in a country where half of the population never votes. The tenacious resistance of the Mapuche people and the mediocrity of the Lefts, located the Mapuches in that place, despite the campaigns against them.

Lastly, to emphasize the strategic importance of the Temucuicui Manifesto issued on December 1 to a crowd concentrated in the community where Camilo was murdered. It defends the “demilitarization of Wallmapu,” the right to ancestral territory with a call to the communities to “strengthen the exercise of recuperation and territorial control” and to form a “historical clarification commission” that recuperates the truth about how the Chilean State occupied their territory.

In the exercise of their free determination, all Mapuche currents finish with a call to disobedience as a way of making decolonization a reality.

[1] Carabiñeros are Chilean federal police.

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Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Friday, December 21, 2018

https://www.jornada.com.mx/2018/12/21/opinion/018a1pol/

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

 

 

 

EZLN: twenty-five years

By: Adolfo Gilly

One morning 25 years ago, January 1, 1994, we saw an unusual spectacle appear on television: an indigenous army, emerging from the shadows of that New Years night, was taking the city of San Cristóbal. They were many, looked very poor and were opening a new era in the history of this country and its peoples. Its name was and continues being Zapatista National Liberation Army (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional): EZLN.

They said then who they were and what they wanted and were proposing, and since then they have not stopped saying, from the first Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle to the presidential campaign of Marichuy and the Indigenous Government Council.

They then used a language that today, a quarter of a century later, is good to remember. On February 1, 1994, in a letter to the state of Guerrero’s 500 Years of Indigenous Resistance Council, they explained their existence in what was actually a manifesto directed to the entire country. Its singular language appeared far from conventional political discourse:

There was so much pain in our heart, era our death and sorrow was so much that it no longer fit, brothers, in this world that our grandparents gave us to continue living and struggling. So great was the pain and the grief that it no longer fit in the heart of a few, and it was overflowing, and the pain and sorrow were filling other hearts, and they filled the hearts of the oldest and wisest of our peoples, and the hearts of young men and women were filled, all of them brave, and the hearts of the children, even the smallest, were filled.

The discourse was then directed to the past:

We talked to each other, we looked inside ourselves and we looked at our history, we saw our greatest parents suffer and struggle, we saw our grandparents struggle, we saw our parents with fury in their hands, we saw that not everything had been taken away from us, that we had the most valuable thing, which made us live, […] and dignity lived in our hearts again, and we were still new, and the dead, our dead, saw that we were still new and called on us, again, to dignity and struggle.

That voice continued speaking between religion and myth, history, grievance and pride, prayer and communion:

We leave behind our lands, our houses are far away, we leave everything, we take off our skin to dress for war and death, and we die in order to live. Nothing for us, for everyone everything, what is ours is our children’s. We all leave all of us.

Now they want to leave us alone, brothers, they want our death to be useless, they want our blood to be forgotten among the stones and dung, they want our voice to be extinguished and they want our step to become far away once again. […]

Don’t abandon us, don’t let us die alone and don’t leave our struggle in the vacuum of the great lords. Brothers, may our path be the same be the same for everyone: liberty, democracy, justice!

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The Zapatista National Liberation Army (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional) celebrates in these days its 25 years of life. Besides its history, it has its social organization, its language and its politics.

Nothing can be done in Chiapas, in the vast world of the indigenous peoples and in the national indigenous movement, as long it isn’t old-style state indigenismo, without taking into account the EZLN’s presence, without dialoguing with the Zapatista National Liberation Army, its politics and its history, its proposals, its resistance and its existence.

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Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Monday, December 24, 2018

https://www.jornada.com.mx/2018/12/24/politica/010a1pol

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

 

 

 

 

 

Towards the 25th anniversary of the EZLN

EZLN Comandantes celebrate!

By: Magdalena Gómez

January 1, 2019 will be the 25 anniversary of the public emergence of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, EZLN). The challenge to the Mexican State, on the day the North American Free Trade Agreement begins formal operations, permeated our roots and mobilized the indigenous peoples of our country as never before, placing their agenda on the nation’s agenda. It also gave hope and meaning to many activists and movements in the world that were looking for how to orient the compass of the Left in neoliberal times.

While it’s impossible to reconstruct the EZLN’s trajectory and contribution in a few lines, suffice it to say that a first important step was the massive social demand for a ceasefire that it achieved from Salinas de Gortari on January 12, 1994, the unilateral ceasefire and the Zapatista respect for said decision. That factor being important, however, it cannot be ignored that the State has waged war against Zapatismo by many means, and not exactly peaceful.

A key moment was the February 9, 1995 betrayal, when then President of the Republic, Ernesto Zedillo, converted into the Public Prosecutor, broadcast on national television the alleged identities of the Zapatista leadership and the issuance of arrest warrants, while the Army was advancing in Chiapas against the territory its bases occupied. The stigma of Esteban Moctezuma derives from this. As the then Secretary of the Interior (secretario de Gobernación), he was received in Chiapas days before in a supposed and discrete dialogue plan.

The crisis unleashed on February 9 derived into the passage of the Law for Dialogue, Negotiation and Dignified Peace in Chiapas, which says in its first article: “This law has as an objective establishing the legal bases that will promote dialogue and conciliation for reaching, through an agreement of concordance and pacification, the just, dignified and lasting solution to the armed conflict initiated on January 1, 1994 in the state of Chiapas. For purposes of this law, the EZLN will be understood as the group of persons that are identified as an organization of Mexican citizens, mostly indigenous, who disagreed for various reasons and became involved in the conflict referred to in the preceding paragraph.”

Starting from that context, the route was defined for the dialogue, whose first negotiating table produced the San Andrés Accords on indigenous rights and culture, signed on February 16, 1996 and after a series of crises, now into the Fox presidency and with the Zapatista expression of conditions for sitting down again with the government, the indigenous counter-reform was promulgated in 2001 with which the EZLN considered that the State kicked over the board and ruined the possibility of resuming the dialogue that had been suspended since September 1996.

From 2001 to date, Zapatismo has constructed its autonomy in Chiapas, developing different areas of work through autonomous government bodies, as well as its own health and education systems through collective work, with everyone’s participation, women, men, young people and children. We’re talking about Good Government Juntas (Boards), an experience emblematic beyond national borders that they systematized and shared in the Escuelita Zapatista. They have also organized different seminars about the capitalist hydra, as well as the CompArtes and the ConSciencias, among others.

The most recent political experience was the accompaniment of the National Indigenous Congress (Congreso Nacional Indígena, CNI) in the decision to name an Indigenous Governing Council (Consejo Indígena de Gobierno, CIG) with men and women representatives from each one of the peoples, tribes and nations that comprise it, and this council proposes to govern this country. And it will have as its  spokesperson an indigenous woman from the CNI, in other words, she will have indigenous blood and know her culture, and she would be an independent candidate to the Presidency of Mexico.

We know the result of this experience, faced with the State’s rules: Marichuy did not reach the required number of signatures, however her tour achieved the articulation of networks that are maintained around the anticapitalist option. They also gave an account of the deepening deterioration in the country and of the virtual war against the peoples promoted from the State. The EZLN has reiterated the statement about the transmutation of the rulers in the historical figure of the overseers: They are good defenders of the interests of their bosses to plunder the natural riches of our country and the world such as land, forests, mountains, water, rivers, lakes, lagoons, air and the mines that are guarded in the bosom of our Mother Earth, because the boss considers everything a commodity and thus they want to destroy us completely. The bosses are not present for the official part, not in the new government or its projects, both elements to suppose a change of direction in that trajectory that threatens the life of the peoples.

We can glimpse the Zapatista message with these elements this coming January 1.

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Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Saturday, December 22, 2018

https://www.jornada.com.mx/2018/12/22/opinion/017a1pol

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

 

 

El dolor de Acteal (Acteal’s Pain)

Acteal survivors carry crosses with the names of those massacred.

By: Luis Hernández Navarro

A young woman carries in her hands the photograph of a little six-year old girl framed in wood. It’s a portrait of Silvia Pérez Luna. In the lower part can be seen the date of her birth and death: 1991-1997.

Silvia was one of the 45 people savagely murdered by paramilitaries in Acteal, Chiapas, on December 22, 1997. The victims, 7 men, 21 women and 15 children (one of them less than one-year old), were praying for peace in a small chapel. The murderers finished off the wounded and opened the wombs of the pregnant women.

The image of Silvia’s portrait of her family member is part of the protest in which relatives of the Acteal martyrs (themselves also victims) and family members belonging to the civil society organization Las Abejas (The Bees) participated last December 8. That day, in Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Rutilio Escandón was sworn in as governor of Chiapas.

That day, as they have done for almost 21 years, they denounced that Acteal is a crime against humanity perpetrated by the Mexican State, in which justice has not been done, those responsible for the acts have not been punished and the truth has not been clarified.

They also remembered how, to the country’s shame, on August 12, 2009, the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation considered it more important to point out a technicality than to defend justice and it ordered the release of 29 paramilitaries sentenced to prison.

Also coinciding with the 21st anniversary of the massacre, a timely and shocking book about it was just published: “El dolor de Acteal, Una revisión histórica,” (Acteal’s Pain, A historical review) 1997-2014, written by Mónica Uribe M, a specialist in religious issues.

Despite being a work that rigorously utilizes the tools of the sociology of religion, history, anthropology and political science, its reading provokes a strong emotional impact. The pain, indignation, rage, anguish and horror that it generates is summarized on its cover: a reproduction of the painting The Scream (El grito), from the painter Edvard Munch.

To analyze what happened in Acteal, Monica Uribe uses documentary sources that are almost unknown or only partially utilized. Among others, there is the civil complaint that a group of 11 victims filed (contrary to the opinion of Las Abejas) in United States court against former president Ernesto Zedillo. It accuses him of criminal association to execute the Acteal Massacre and for its subsequent cover-up.

The book delves into the pages of the balance sheet of the special prosecutor for crimes committed in the procurement and administration of justice in the state and for the town of Acteal. Therein is included the statement rendered by one of the tragedy’s principal actors, the then [federal] Secretary of Governance, Emilio Chuayffet. In his responses, the official makes it clear that Ernesto Zedillo knew, since one year before, about the imminent violence, through the government’s institutional channels, as well as through the national press, besides the fact that the actors in the Chiapas conflict approached him to report and warn him about the possible consequences of the situation.

In the balance sheet is included Chuayffet’s telephone conversation integrated into the case record in which, according to the document, the co-responsibility and scheming about the facts with Liébano Sáenz, President Zedillo’s private secretary is evident.

El dolor de Acteal includes an interview conducted a little more than a year ago with Alejandro Vázquez, who, at the time of the massacre, was a second archivist sergeant, belonging to the National Defense Staff, and who worked directly for the chief of the assistants to the Secretary of Defense, Enrique Cervantes Aguirre. According to his testimony, the general secretary worked on Sunday, December 21, 1997, which was unusual. That day, he was attentive to the communications from Chiapas and instructions from the Presidency, via the red telephone. He was the one responsible for picking up the phone and taking part of the call.

According to Lieutenant Vázquez, they were told that they should keep quiet and they also had to work the next day. In Acteal –he assures– “personnel from the Military Police Brigade participated, as well as logistic services personnel coming from different military zones, not from Chiapas, dressed as civilians and whose backgrounds inside the Army were negative.”

Beginning with copious documentation, El dolor de Acteal exposes the informative maneuvers of several intellectuals and of Hugo Eric Flores (the leader of Social Encounter) to elaborate an account of the facts that was convenient for the power, discards that the massacre had a religious matrix and concludes that “Ernesto Zedillo is the one ultimately responsible for the events in Acteal.”

The survivors of the massacre in Chenalhó demand that the new president listen to them, like he did to the families of the 43 that disappeared from Ayotzinapa. 21 years later, Acteal still awaits justice.

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Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Tuesday, December 11, 2016

https://www.jornada.com.mx/2018/12/11/opinion/016a2pol

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

 

 

Be the dream! Support Zapatista parents & children build schools

Join us in a solidarity action: Be the dream!

Support Zapatista parents & children build schools

EZLN-ABRIL-2018-RADIO-ZAP-2-660x330Dear Friends & Supporters of the Chiapas Support Committee,

Our warmest wishes to you in this season of holidays filled with joyous struggles for justice and dignity.

And in the season’s spirit of generosity, solidarity and community, we invite you to join us in honoring the Zapatistas on the 25th anniversary of their uprising by making a donation to support Zapatista parents and children in Chiapas build schools.

Solidarity is not just a sentiment; solidarity is direct action: Join us in walking side by side with the just movements and struggles of our indigenous sister-brother communities in Mexico.

We are asking you to uplift and be part of the Zapatista dream by making solidarity today and click on the donate button to make a donation now to support the Zapatistas’ work to build an autonomous secondary school system.

Your donation will go directly to training secondary school teachers from the four autonomous Zapatista municipios (counties) that comprise the Caracol of La Garrucha. And your donations will also help fund the construction of four classrooms, one in each of the four middle schools to be constructed (in the municipality belonging to the Caracol of La Garrucha. Donate now by clicking here!

25 Years of Zapatista Work for Justice & Liberation

On January 1, 1994, the day the U.S. began implementing NAFTA, the tri-national “free” trade agreement between the U.S., Canada and Mexico, the world woke up to the first rebellion saying NO to the global neoliberal capitalism led by the indigenous-led EZLN, the Zapatista Army of National Liberation, from Mayan lands in Chiapas. The 1994 Zapatista uprising was a historic and organized NO from below to capitalism so that their deep YES to building communities of caring for the land and her peoples could thrive.

And ever since the Zapatista dream of justice and liberation has moved, united and connected many Indigenous and non-indigenous communities, organizations and movements in Mexico and across borders to dream and build the world where the exploited and oppressed, the excluded and the ignored have first voice, where all working and indigenous peoples live and are in control of their lives and communities. As the Zapatistas celebrate their landmark anniversary, they have been constructing a better future for their children.

The Chiapas Support Committee (CSC) is committed to supporting the construction of a better future and we’re asking you to join us in that commitment by making a generous donation to make dreams come true.

Zapatista Year 24: Coffee, Marichuy, Women’s Power

The year 2018 began with an important January visit from Mario Luna, International Representative of the National Indigenous Congress (Congreso Nacional Indígena, CNI in Spanish) and the Indigenous Council of Government (Consejo Indígena de Gobierno, CIG). Luna’s visit was part of the West Coast portion of a US tour sponsored by the Sexta Grietas, a US-based network of collectives and individuals who adhere to the EZLN’s Sixth Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle and support the CNI-CIG.

The CSC is a member collective of the Sexta. We arranged meetings with local organizations and media interviews. We also hosted a public gathering at the Omni Commons in Oakland, where art from the Zapatista communities was on display. This tour was successful and laid the groundwork for future cross-border organizing work with the CNI-CIG in the US.

The tour was inspiring and critical to the organizing work of the CNI-CIG, of which the Zapatista National Liberation Army (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, EZLN or Zapatistas) is a member organization. The campaign of María de Jesús Patricio Martínez (Marichuy) as an independent pre-candidate to the presidency of Mexico organized indigenous peoples into the CIG, and non-indigenous people into collectives and groups in support of the CIG.

The Zapatistas took creative solidarity action to oppose the virulent attacks on migrant workers and communities in the U.S. They donated hundreds of pounds of Zapatista coffee and asked members of the Sexta to sell it and give the money raised to support migrant rights organization leading the struggles and movements for justice and against policing and deportations.

The Chiapas Support Committee took up the Zapatista solidarity proposal and sold Zapatista coffee at events and gatherings, donating all the money raised from Zapatista coffee sales to a local immigrant women’s organization. The CSC also co-sponsored the showing of “Dispatches from Resistant Mexico” at Film Night, at the Omni Commons and hosted Duamuxa for a musical canción nueva report back from a solidarity delegation to Palestine.

One of our Board Members worked with a group of Bay Area women to the “First International Gathering of Women that Struggle,” sponsored by the Zapatista women and held March 8-10 in the Caracol of Morelia, Chiapas. After everyone returned from Chiapas, we sponsored “Zapatista Women Inspire the World,” a May 18 report back from the Women’s Gathering with film shorts and a panel of women who attended that amazing event offering their perspectives. Some 8,000 women from all over the world attended the Zapatista Women’s Gathering. Then in August, we presented our 3rdannual CompArte cultural festival with a mix of poets, artists and musicians.

Waffles & Zapatismo

We continue to offer a free space for critical reflection and solidarity, open to the community, for learning and dialogue about Zapatismo. We call this space “Waffles & Zapatismo.” The W&Z classes enable us to connect with new people and learn what others are doing to build justice and community.

We ended the year of 2018 by celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the Zapatista Uprising with a special end of year fundraiser that featured a film screening of “Corazón del Tiempo (Heart of Time),” a love story in times of Zapatista resistance. All the proceeds from this film gathering and your generous donations will be sent to the Zapatista Caracol of La Garrucha for the construction of four autonomous Zapatista middle schools (more on this later).

Marichuy: Women’s Power, Women Leadership

2018 was an incredible year of Zapatista organizing and resistance in Mexico that inspired and guided our work here, too. Throughout her campaign as an independent pre-candidate to the presidency of Mexico, María de Jesús Patricio Martínez (“Marichuy”), the spokesperson and representative, organized both indigenous and non-indigenous peoples into the Indigenous Governing Council (CIG, its initials in Spanish) and into collectives and support groups. The EZLN and CNI-CIG further solidified their work and invited all to organize against capitalism and for autonomous community. The Zapatistas also held several joint meetings in Chiapas this year, which included not only those of us in the national and international Sexta(Sixth), but also the new groups and collectives that formed in support of the CIG and Marichuy’s campaign.

After the Women’s Gathering, the Zapatistas held a seminar of critical thinking, the cultural festival of resistance, CompArte III, and the First Film Festival, which they announced would be an annual event. The CNI held an assembly in October to discuss organizing proposals and decided to send them to the communities for consultation.

The EZLN-CNI-CIG will end the year with a celebration for the 25th Anniversary of the Zapatista Uprising in La Realidad on New Years Eve as they prepare for more resistance, more solidarity and deep community.

Take Solidarity Action: Support the Zapatistas Secundarias!

The most exciting news we received came in October, when the Caracol of La Garrucha sent us a request for support of their project to construct four secondarias (middle schools), one in each of the four autonomous municipalities that comprise the Caracol. The La Garrucha region has never had a middle school in any of its municipalities and it has long been a dream of the parents to give their children an autonomous middle school education.

You can make that dream come true with a generous donation to the La Garrucha Education Fund. Details of the project are in the online fundraising appeal we initiated in October and can be found here.

You can mail your donation (see address below) or give a donation now  by clicking here Solidarity Action Giving. We are a 501(c)(3) non-profit and an all-volunteer collective, so every donation we receive is important to us and to the communities in La Garrucha.

In solidarity,

Carolina Dutton, Chair, on behalf of the Chiapas Support Committee Board

Alicia Bravo, Arnoldo Garcia, Roberto Martinez, Jose Plascencia, Laura Rivas-Andrade, Amanda Stephenson, Mary Ann Tenuto-Sánchez

Chiapas Support Committee
P.O. Box 3421
Oakland, CA 94609

The Maya Train will destroy the last lung of the Mexican Southeast

The Calakmul Pyramid.

 By: Chiapas Paralelo and León Ávila

León Enrique Ávila, a professor at the Intercultural University of Chiapas (UNICH, its Spanish acronym) indicated that the “Tren Maya” {Maya Train) project that will run through 5 states of the country will imply a significant destruction of the jungles in Mexico.

Ávila, in his participation in the seminar organized by Otros Mundos A.C en San Cristóbal de las Casas, expressed that one of the 10 projects that President Andrés Manuel López Obrador designated as “priorities,” like the Maya Train, could have an important ecological consequence.

“We must recognize that from Palenque to Mérida and Valladolid there are already lines of the Maya Train that were created under the Porfiriato (the presidential regime of Porfirio Díaz). But between Cancún, Tulum, Sian Ka’an, Bacalar, Calakmul and Escárcega, it’s a totally new line, which implies a significant destruction of jungles in Mexico” he said.

The researcher warned that the proposal for the “Maya Train” to cross the Calakmul Reserve [1] right in the middle would have the consequence of breaking it in two. In addition to other problems in the nature reserves, he added: “the Lacandón Jungle has been deforested to plant corn. The other reserve in the region that will be affected is Sian Ka’an. [2] The train has to pass right through the middle of that reserve.” (See map below.)

“The impacts will be very strong. Simply by breaking the reserve apart from the highway with another train, the animals are going to have a problem of connectivity and of movement. If simply with the highway extension an emblematic place for bats that are now clueless around the highway was damaged, imagine the impact that a train is going to have!”

Ávila said that with this project the Selva Maya (Mayan Jungle) will be divided in two, imposing a dividing line and condemning it to extinction.

The 70% of the plant species in the world are now in danger [according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature – IUCN].

Then the worst thing that Mexico could do in the face of this conjuncture of collapse would be to support these kinds of proposals that lead to ecocide and the extermination of life.

“The problem is not only that the railroad’s routes imply cutting down thousands of trees. The other problem is the economic development associated with the railroad and it is what we don’t see. It’s a large real estate project that includes resorts, shopping centers, residential lots, large-scale hotels, and territorial rearrangements,” he said.

The academic affirmed that the work of the Nacional Fund for Tourism Promotion is directed towards the 15 million American tourists that visit Cancún every year, so it would be a lie to say that it’s Mexicans who would travel on the “Maya Train.” [3]

Translator’s Notes:

[1] From Wikipedia: The Calakmul Biosphere Reserve is located at the base of the Yucatán Peninsula in Calakmul Municipality in the state of Campeche, Mexico. It borders on the Guatemalan department of El Petén to the south and occupies 2,792 square miles and includes about 12% of the sub-perennial jungles of Mexico. Established in 1989, it is one of Mexico’s largest protected areas and covers more than 14% of the state. The important archaeological site of Calakmul one of the largest-known Maya sites, is located inside of this Biosphere Reserve.

[2] From Wikipedia: Sian Ka’an is a biosphere reserve in the municipality of Tulum, in the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico. It was established in 1986 and became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1987. The vast majority of the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve lies in the municipality of Felipe Carrillo Puerto. Part of the Sian Ka’an is on land and part is on the Caribbean Sea, including a section of coral reef. It is connected to protected areas to the north of it that protect coastal areas and archaeological sites.

[3] There is little doubt in this translator’s mind that the Maya Train is a key to opening up the Mundo Maya (Maya World) to mega-tourism, which will not only result in environmental damage, but also possible dispossession and displacement of Native and campesino peoples.

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Originally Published in Spanish by Chiapas Paralelo

Sunday, December 2, 2018

https://www.chiapasparalelo.com/noticias/chiapas/2018/12/tren-maya-destruira-el-ultimo-pulmon-del-sureste-mexicano-especialista/

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

 

 

 

The historical meanings of the Kurdish revolution

Women’s Self-Defense Forces in Rojava

By: Gilberto López Y Rivas

The revolutionary experience of the Kurdish people, who have implemented, particularly in Rojava (northern Syria), what is called Democratic Confederalism, together with the autonomic governments of the Zapatista Mayas of the EZLN in Chiapas, constitute highly advanced alternative emancipatory processes worldwide. Democratic Confederalism is based on community autonomies of various levels, on participatory democracies of sectors, peoples and cultural groups of society, on ecological sustainability and on the woman as the subject of transformation with decision-making ability in all political, military, social and economic ambits.

The Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which encourages this cause and comes from an orthodox Marxism and a struggle of more than 40 years, abandons the idea of a national State, criticizes both real socialism and all the existing governments. The PKK maintain that the State holds the seed of capitalism and that freedom and State can never coexist, since it develops the power of a minority over the rest of the population.

Just like in the EZLN’s project of multiethnic and religious tolerance, in the Democratic Confederalism of northern Syria, the Kurds coexist with Arabs, Assyrians, Turkmens, Chechens, Circassians, Muslims, Christians, Yazidis and other doctrines and sects, beginning with a mutual coexistence and fraternity among peoples. In the Social Contract of the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria, it “guarantees the equality of all peoples in matters of rights and duties, respect for human rights statutes and preservation of national and international peace.”

This founding document institutes that the Democratic Federation is based on the collectivization of land, water and energy resources; it adopts a social economy and ecological industry; the wealth and natural resources are public property; it does not permit exploitation, monopoly, or reification of women; it supports social and health coverage for all individuals. It reiterates that women will enjoy their free will in the democratic family, constructed on the basis of a common egalitarian life and that young people are the driving force of society and their participation in all areas must be guaranteed. Cultural oppression and assimilation, extermination and occupation are considered a crime against humanity and resistance to these practices is legitimate. Within the Federation education is free at all levels, with primary and secondary education being compulsory; while the rights to work, health and housing are insured.

The politico-social system of the Federation is based on the formation of communes, social institutions, unions and assemblies being the common fundamental organizational form of direct democracy, the instances for management and decision-making, while the assemblies are the social units that represent the people, in which they debate and decide at the level of towns, neighborhoods, cities, districts, regions and cantons.

In Turkey, Democratic Confederalism operates through the Democratic Party of the Peoples and the Democratic Society Party, both of which participated victoriously in the elections of more than 100 municipalities, until the Turkish government declared them terrorists with an emergency law and occupied governmental apparatuses with their delegates. This State coup produced a great repression that imprisoned more than 10,000 men and women, who today are part of the numerous political prisoners of Kurdish origin. Since 2016, Turkish aviation and artillery bombed nine Kurdish cities, and its army occupied the city of Afrin, in northern Syria by blood and fire. As of this date, they are preparing for an offensive against two other Rojava cantons.

In Iraq, the Kurds maintain a relative autonomy, with self-governments and parties that support the idea of establishing a national state. However, the influence of Democratic Confederalism in Iraqi cities is felt in the Democratic Solution Party, while in the liberated mountainous regions that cover territories in Iraq, Turkey and Iran, Democratic Confederalism is established, and guarded by guerilla self-defense groups.

In Iran, people are organized through the Free East Kurdistan Party, the Democratic Society Party and the Free Life Party, brutally repressed by the confessional government of the ayatollahs. Here in Iran, guerilla self-defense forces of men and, separately, women also operate.

The Kurdish revolution seeks above all else the inner transformation of individuals. It’s about eradicating patriarchal, classist and racist ideology in order to achieve the liberation of society and the end of capitalism and imperialism.

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Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Friday, November 30, 2018

https://www.jornada.com.mx/2018/11/30/opinion/022a2pol

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

 

 

A qualitative leap in the storms

35th Anniversary of the EZLN’s Founding.

By: Raúl Zibechi.

“We are entering a new normal. Things are not like they were 10 years ago.” Phrases don’t belong to any intellectual, but rather to someone really important: the chief of a California county’s firefighters. They integrate the reporting of the Hispanic-American journalist Gustavo Arellano about the most recent and devastating fires, which can serve as an introduction to the chaotic world into which we are entering

The most experienced firefighters of that state assure that they had never seen anything like it. Some 10,000 buildings burned in the small city of Paradise, there were nearly 1,000 disappeared and the dead approached 100. Specialists assure that there is no longer a fire season, as there has been until now, because they happen throughout the year.

To climate change is added the disastrous urbanization of rural areas. One hundred million dead trees in California in only four years of draught (2011-2015), to which is added the brutal real estate speculation that has urbanized rural areas, an impressive “colonization of the countryside”.

Can we imagine what it would be like if hurricanes and tsunamis would stop being something exceptional or temporary to become “a new normal?” Add that most of the big cities of the southern world don’t have safe drinking water and their inhabitants have to buy it, when they can, so as not to get sick. The 20 million inhabitants of Delhi live 10 years less because of air pollution, 11 times higher than that permitted by the World Health Organization.

We are entering the moment in which the storm becomes daily, aggravated by a new political conjuncture in which the Trumps and the Bolsonaros form part of the new decoration. Even the mediocre French president Emmanuel Macron, declared that the world will be “doomed to chaos” if the decadent European Union doesn’t find a proper direction.

If it’s true, as the Brazilian philosopher Marcos Nobre says, that Bolsonaro was the candidate of the collapse and “needs the collapse to maintain himself,” we must reflect on this argument. In my view, the new conservatism (some call it “fascism”) as well as progressivism, are the bitter fruit of the collapse and have broad futures ahead. As was evident in Brazil, Lula and Bolsonaro are complementary and everyone will be able to reach similar conclusions in their own country. I believe it’s necessary to reflect on what we understand by collapse, those whom it will affect and how we could get out of it.

In the first place, making it clear that the collapse underway is a creation of those above, the dominant class or the richest one percent, to overcome a situation of extreme weakness due to a lack of legitimacy with respect to the rest of humanity. The collapse is a policy of above to control and discipline those below and, eventually, enclose them in real concentration camps, without wire fences but surrounded by fields with glyphosate, mono-crops, mega-projects and open pit mining.

I vehemently reject the idea that the collapse is a natural process or one of nature, and I insist on its character as a political project that reduces the planet’s population in order to stabilize the domination. This plan is also externalized in natural phenomena, but its starting point is the dominant class.

The second question is that it principally affects the popular sectors, native peoples, Africans liberated from slavery, rural families and the urban peripheries. Those of us below are superfluous in this world of accumulation by theft, because as has already been said we are the major obstacle to converting la nature into merchandise.

Those above attack us, but not because of ideological reasons, because of racism or femicidal machismo, but they use these instruments of domination and control to lubricate their illegitimate and often illegal enrichment. They turned violent to accumulate.

The third thing is that it doesn’t matter if these processes occur under conservative or progressive governments, since they cannot control accumulation by theft, which certainly does not convert them into innocents. South American progressivism has drowned because of the violence and corruption that the big megaprojects generated, more than because of the actions of the right.

As the leftist journalist Leonardo Sakamoto points out, the aberration of building a hydroelectric dam such as Belo Monte (in the middle of the Amazon), with its inevitable sequel of “violence against the indigenous populations, slave labor and human trafficking,” was the fruit of Lula’s developmental arrogance. Megaprojects are not “errors” but the core of progressivism.

Finally, this new reality disables our old strategies and forces us to build “arks” (or however each one wants to call the spaces of autonomy and self-defense) that we need to not shipwreck and die in the storm.

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Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Friday, November 23, 2018

https://www.jornada.com.mx/2018/11/23/opinion/020a1pol

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee