Chiapas Support Committee

Chiapas teachers declare they are “in resistance and rebellion”

Thousands of teachers from Local 7 of the National Education Workers Union (SNTE), adhered to the National Coordinator of Education Workers (CNTE), marched yesterday down Central Avenue in Tuxtla Gutiérrez to demand the annulment of the education reform and declared themselves: “in rebellion and disobedience.” Photo: Óscar León

By: Elio Henríquez

San Cristóbal De Las Casas, Chiapas

Teachers from Local 7 of the National Education Workers Union (SNTE), adhered to the National Coordinator of Education Workers (CNTE), in Chiapas, declared themselves: “in rebellion and disobedience” as long as President Andrés Manuel López Obrador will not abrogate the education reform, and go from ‘speeches to deeds.’ Not one step back, no one splits here,” they said.

Thousands of teachers, with the support of teachers’ college students and members of social organizations (some 100,000 according to organizers of the mobilization) marched yesterday from the east side of Tuxtla Gutiérrez, the capital of Chiapas, towards the center of the city, where they held a rally.

There, the leader of Local 7, Pedro Gómez Bahamaca, said that the education reform is still in effect and is being applied against teachers of that local union.

The permanent state assembly of Local 7 ratified “the disavowal of and demand for the resignation of Rosa Aída Domínguez, head of the Education Ministry, and of José Hernández de León, undersecretary of Federal Education.”

“It’s not enough that the president (López Obrador) repeats here and there that the badly named education reform will be cancelled; as long as the Constitution does not reflect the absolute abrogation of the reform and its secondary laws (regulations), this will continue being a mere campaign promise or media speech to disqualify and stigmatize the struggle of the CNTE,” he explained.

Although López Obrador subscribes to an agreement to “cancel” the education reform and send the initiative for reform of Constitutional Articles 3, 31 and 73, and although “every day he states to the media that the Peña reform will be cancelled, while the new law isn’t promulgated, and the Peña reform remains in effect, they can apply it,” he said.

Gómez Bahamaca maintained that the initiative sent to the Congress of the Union by the Federal Executive, which is maintained in at least 15 initiatives of the government, the political parties, businessmen and private parties, “is a simulation, and it’s probable that they won’t take away what’s punitive and the labor defenselessness will remain.”

He said that the intention “is to impose a governmental reform; there is no other explanation, because the analysis indicates that each part of the third constitutional article, especially the 73rd, they didn’t take anything off of it, it remains complete; that’s where the secondary laws come from.”

He pointed out that: “the executing arm” is the Chiapas Ministry of Education because the calls for applicants and job promotions are carried out within the educational reform’s guidelines.

“We ask that they save us from the application of the reform, labor activity is definitely in danger if they apply it to us, without the need of police.”

He added that the government must explain how it will stop the education reform, because it is the current law, there is not a transition or opinion from the Secretary of Education or from the President of the Republic, and how do they guarantee us our rights?

The teachers declared a “maximum alert,” installed themselves in a state assembly and reiterated that they will hold the protest march today. And they warned: “the resistance and disobedience will continue. Not one step back, no one splits here!”

For his part, Governor Rutilio Escandón Cadenas said that: “there is no longer a reason to protest, the badly-named education reform already fell. Now those who may want to protest freely may do so, but they may do so against corruption.”


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee



Film successes and contemporaneous Mexican racism

Yalitza Aparicio at the Oscars.

By: Mariana Mora*

The figure of Yalitza Aparicio opened a debate about racism in Mexico, but Yalitza is not the answer to combatting racism in the country.

Although many will say the opposite, Roma does not unmask the underlying racism that supports the privileges of a minority sector of Mexican society, that role fell to the actress that plays a Cleo. The film naturalizes, instead questioning, the role assigned to the domestic employee (maid); although it would seem that the family supports Cleo, she is supported as the domestic employee who dedicates her entire life to taking care of their needs. Cleo never confronts or criticizes her environment; to the contrary, she fulfills her chores in a disciplined way and accepts her way of life. By the same token, the scenes show clearly, not the essence of an indigenous woman, but the good vibes and generosity of the Mexican middle class (“look at how well they treat their employee.”)

Crude racism leaps out when a body is outside of its assigned place (being indigenous in the city is equal to being a domestic employee or its equivalent). The fashion magazine Vogue publishes the actress’s image on its cover. Among the parade of the rich and famous of Hollywood, Yalitza walks on the red carpet at the Oscars accompanied by her mother, a woman who was a domestic employee for an important part of her life and whose principal language is Triqui. She becomes a star instead of the simple background of a telenovela (soap opera). The backlash borders on the violent, in attitudes, comments, yes, even morbid, which operate implicitly or explicitly to remind you of your “real” place.

The magazine Hola also puts her photograph on its cover but it’s a Photoshop version that approximates her complexion and figure to determined parameters of beauty and whiteness (she can only belong that way). At other times the racism is disguised as an infantilizing towards her person. A reporter interviews her during the Oscars using the tone that one usually uses when addressing a child: How does it feel to fulfill the dream that every girl has of being Cinderella? And, how nice that you are accompanied by your “mommy.” Others use jokes that point to the supposed innate ignorance that a woman like her surely has. Jimmy Kimmel asked her: Did you know what Netflix was, although you didn’t know who Cuarón was? And still others, celebrities as well as mere mortals of the social networks, comment with a good dose of amazement that how is it possible that a “pinche india” (fucking Indian) has been nominated as best actress at the Oscars.

Reactions like these have been the source of mass comments, as much in defense of the actress as to continue pushing her towards the place where she “belongs.” But reactions to the figure of Yalitza are also expressed in an opposite sense; they uncover a collective desire and hunger for recognition. A few weeks ago, the Oaxacan collective Lapiztola captured her image in a mural painted in black and white from the scene where she is in bed contemplating Fermín, the character portrayed by the actor Jorge Guerrero. It’s an almost mythical version of Yalitza, it now decorates a building in the Las Peñas district of Iztapalapa, as a reflection of the expectations generated and deposited in her persona.

We cannot understand the phenomenon of Yalitza outside of the historical conditions in which Roma sees the light of day. It’s a context marked by a defensive nationalism versus the xenophobic, racist anti-immigrant wave of the Trump wall and his detention centers. It’s also marked by the so-called Fourth Transformation, which is based on the message that the previously inaccessible –which historically has been prohibited to the type of family to which Yalitza belongs– is now accessible. On December 1, Los Pinos became a popular park for the enjoyment of all Mexican families, the photo (also published in Hola) of the former first lady La Gaviota posing with her daughter at the side of the stairs, replaced by a photo of parents with their children who take a “selfie” in the same place. Call it “miscegenation reloaded” or the return to State multiculturalism, that still needs to be defined, but the Fourth Transformation is fed in part from that genuine desire of millions of people that have been systematically treated with contempt –as if they were ignorant, or children, or too dark to truly be included in la society– that they can be someone. An orphan wish in search of an image to adopt.

That’s the seductive trap of the figure of Yalitza. The ideology of the mestizos as well as the multicultural policies, especially in their neoliberal facets, open the doors of social inclusion promising a promotion in exchange for correct individual decisions (“I marry someone with light skin to improve the race; if I study a lot and achieve entering a good university, I am going to be someone in life.”) They confuse individual success with a change in basic social conditions, which resist being transformed by creating small drops of people that manage to get ahead, “being someone” as if everything depended on a sum of well-executed strategies. By the same token, charging anti-racist responsibility to the figure of Yalitza makes up part of the same machinery of racism that hides its structural gear behind individual successes and attitudes.

Without a doubt you must celebrate Yalitza’s talent and achievements, but she is not a lifesaver. Nor does it fall to her to carry that responsibility on her shoulders. Don’t confuse the celebration of a well- deserved success with the necessity of a profound debate about the racism that sustains the Mexican middle class, a debate that must go beyond the screen (in its double meaning) and the fashion magazines; it must go beyond the after-dinner talks that abounded in these days. If the Mexican middle class does not confront its (historically) racist position, there will be no film or Oscar nomination that saves it.

* Professor and researcher of Ciesas–CDMX (Mexico City)


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee



Raúl Zibechi: “What the progressive governments have done is deepen capitalism” part 2

Raúl Zibechi

–What does the arrival of López Obrador represent for the American continent?

-I would like to say that it represents something for the region, but I don’t think that it represents anything, because from the point of view of Latin American regional integration, it doesn’t contribute anything, and from the point of view of a turn to the left in the region, it’s no longer possible, and doesn’t contribute anything either, and because the foreign policy, as far as I understand it, is going to be totally aligned with the new NAFTA and with the policies of Donald Trump. Then I don’t expect anything.

If it had been ten or fifteen years ago, something else could be expected in a different climate, but nowadays, when there is a trade war between China and the United States, when there is a crispness in international relations and a very strong intransigence, like a week ago when Trump and Macron fought and there was a very strong mutual withdrawal… because there is no chance for any other policy.

–Let’s talk about the social movements inside the progressive governments.

–The progressive governments have been masters at the art of deactivating social movements and social protest. They have blinded the social bases of their movements with social policies, small cosmetics that enthused many people that had never before received anything. They also coopted the leaders of those movements.

The personal politics of the progressive governments comes from below, the technocratic cadres that are in the front were born in and are familiar with the organizational culture of the social movements; then, when they are above they know very well what keys to touch in order to weaken them, and that is very dangerous.

There are two things that put the social movements in danger. First, the State is clothed with the legitimacy of progressivism, and a State with legitimacy, a strong State, is dangerous. Then, the knowledge of below that has arrived up there above is destined to weaken us. And these two questions can be enormously predatory for the popular movements. An example is Bolivia with Evo Morales and Álvaro García, who disguised themselves by saying that it was the government of the social movements and then made State coups to them.

In Argentina there is the piquetero [1] case. The piquetero movement was completely neutralized, dispersed and destroyed due to the social policies. There is a manual in a book at the Ministry of Social Development, where Nestor Kirchner’s sister was; it says that the Ministry’s ideal official is “that social activist who in the ‘90s opposed and organized people in the social base of territories against the neoliberal model.” They suck political cadres and activists (militantes) and knowledge towards the States and that is a very defining and fundamental element.

The third example can be the Brazil’s compañeros in the Movement of those Without Land and of those Without Homes, very important movements, very good fighters, with an impeccable trajectory, who recognize that Lula and Dilma delivered less land with the agrarian reform than the neoliberal government of Fernando Henrique Cardoso, but even so, they supported them because there was a stream of money destined to education, housing, etcetera. These are potentially revolutionary movements that were completely neutralized.

–And the case of Mexico, a country you have also known very well since a quarter of a century ago.

–In Mexico there are many potent movements. The urban movements have a long trajectory of having been dispersed, above all by the PRD governments, but the indigenous movements worry me a lot; they are a minority of the population, but very important, and what worries me is the isolation and the possibility of blows or surgical repression. I worry a lot that in the next six years there will be a process of weakening of Zapatismo and of the CNI, and of other indigenous and popular movements, the ones that have been opposed to the large projects.

There is a high quality operation. The consultations (consultas) that have been held and those that are going to take place are mechanisms of disarticulation of protest. Tomorrow you can say that you are against the Maya Train (Tren Maya) for this or that reason, and they will tell you to go and vote. In the consultation (or vote) about the airport, there were a million votes, but I believe that in the coming consultations more people can vote, and if more people vote the greater the legitimacy of the consultation will be, even though it may be illegal, without legal support and without any kind of sustenance.

Let’s suppose that they respect the consultation. The message that the progressives and López Obrador are sending is that conflict isn’t worthwhile because it’s risky, and that voting or supporting the Government is going to solve the problems. The consultation’s mechanism seeks to encasillar and drive protest into the terrain of the ballot box. Why am I going to oppose the highway if I am against it and I am able to vote? And if I lose, at least I was able to opine in a democratic exercise in which I didn’t have to put my body [on the line] and the police didn’t hit me. What’s done is to delegitimize conflict and delegitimize protest, and that goes hand in hand with isolating those who protest. Those who protest in isolation quickly become victims of state repression. That is the risk that I see there.

I hope that the consultation does not have the final word. With the consultation, the peoples have two options: either to play along with the consultation, which I don’t believe they are so capable of, or to say that they can make all the consultations they want, but they don’t want the train to pass through there, which is what other peoples in Latin America have done.

Fortunately, in some cases like the Zapatista communities or Cherán, there is strength. The same thing is can go very badly, I believe and I hope that I’m wrong, but it’s not the same to go badly when you are trembling as when you are well and firm in your bases, like the Zapatistas.

On the other hand, I am sure that López Obrador will retire. I don’t think that he can be re-elected, although I imagine that he is already thinking of being re-elected. Six years will pass, Morena will go away or not, but Zapatismo is going to continue standing, and that is important because the struggles are five centuries old and they are not going to disappear because there is a government that smiles or has good manners.

–And the resistance?

–There will be resistance. What the progressive governments have done is deepen capitalism, brought more capitalism, more transnationals and more monopolies. Making megaprojects in the south is for coopting the rest of Mexico, because it has been the most rebellious zone and we all know that. The peoples are going to resist. There are a lot of people who, as we say in Uruguay, “don’t swallow the pill,” they are not deceived. The people are alert, and besides, they already have 15 years of our experience and know what happened in the south. One would have to be a little more optimistic.

–What role do Donald Trump and the United States play?

–Trump is more than Trump. It’s the greatest intransigence of the dominant classes, of the rich, and the greatest intransigence of the Pentagon, which has as much weight as the dominant classes. These people are inclined to war, to militarizing the global scenario. The trade war against China is a war and, for now commercial. The war is going to escalate and it’s probable that we will arrive at wars between nations with nuclear weapons, that which the Zapatistas call the collapse.

The Trump regime has aspects of the collapse; it is a manifestation of the crisis of the system, of Yankee imperialism, but it is also a manifestation of the fact that they can gamble on the collapse before jumping from the frying pan that they created or fearing that it is running away from them. A horrible scenario! Whoever comes after Trump, although it may be a Democrat, is going to follow in many of Trump’s footsteps. The government of Trump is not a parenthesis, but rather a shift in the strategies of the dominant classes.

The United States gambles more and more on the absolute subordination of Mexico. It is a backyard of which they are not going to loosen their claws and, therefore, in that project of having a subordinate Mexico, the López Obrador government can even come out very well, because of bringing the megaprojects to the south, of facilitating the flow of merchandise, commodities, minerals, timber, everything there is to take out, the monopolies view him very well, and even more if he manages to appease a part of the citizenry.

What this government or any government is not going to achieve, for now, is lowering the levels of violence, femicides and drug trafficking activity, of illegality. That is something important to the United States, because ever since the war on drugs it gambles on violence, on the Plan Merida [the Merida Initiative], on the decomposition of the social fabric. All are plans of the empire that López Obrador is now going to execute. With this gentleman they are also going to complete the plans that deepen capitalism, monopoly, and what the Zapatista compas have called the Fourth World War, the dispossession of the peoples. That’s what is the order of the day.

–Finally, what is your reading of the migratory phenomenon that we are experiencing these days from Central America towards the north?

 –I want to believe that a movement is being born with this massive march of migrants, because before migration was individual, of families, drop by drop, but now it is massive and organized. In order to mobilize seven thousand people all together one must be organized. Competent that it is the first of many marches and if so it’s good, because solitary migration is easily repressed, vulnerable, but with this people have probably come to the conclusion that it’s better to migrate in mass in order to be more protected. I am not clear that Trump will be able to impede the passage of migrants through the border, despite all the gargling he does. It’s a very high political cost. The good news is that something new is being born from below.

[1] The Piquetero Movement – A movement of unemployed workers that united to secure a sustainable life in Argentine. Piquetero means picketer.


Originally Published in Spanish by El Ciudadano

Friday, January 18, 2019

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee



Raúl Zibechi: “What the progressive governments have done is deepen capitalism”

Raúl Zibechi

[Part 1 of a two-part interview]

By: Gloria Muñoz Ramírez

“The result of the progressive governments in Latin America is negative,” Zibechi concludes in an interview with Desinformémonos, after participating in a series of meetings with social and indigenous movements of Chiapas and Oaxaca, during a brief tour through Mexico in which he presented his most recent book: Los desbordes desde abajo [The overflows from below]. Raúl Zibechi is a Uruguayan journalist, writer and an accompanier of different social movements on the continent for more than 30 years.

Regarding the arrival of Andrés Manuel López Obrador to the presidency of Mexico, Zibechi points out that he doesn’t represent any change for the region. And his consultations (votes), he opines, “are mechanisms of disarticulation of protest.” There will be resistance, he says: “because the struggles are not going to disappear just because there’s a government that smiles.”

The disarticulation of social movements, the inclusion of cadre from below in the new government, the imposition of extractive projects, the isolation of critics, the polarization of the press, the role of the United States, among others, are the themes of this interview.

–What is the balance of the progressive governments in Latin America?

–The result of the progressive governments in Latin America is negative. The result is Bolsonaro, the result is Macri, is a Venezuela destroyed. The result is Daniel Ortega, genocidal and a rapist. As Chico de Oliveira said in Brazil, the founder of the Workers Party, “Lulism was a political regression.”

And when we say that we’re not talking about those millions that were lifted out of poverty but have now returned to it, we’re not talking about some interesting questions that were asked, like the quotas for black people in Brazilian universities. What we’re talking about is that they destroyed the emancipatory power of the peoples because they dispersed the social movements, put the leaders in [government] ministries and thus corrupted them.

There is no country with a progressive government in which there has not been cases of corruption. The man who was vice president of my country, Uruguay, who has a noble surname, Raúl Sendic, had to resign the vice presidency due to a case of corruption. In Argentina they threw bags full of money inside a convent to escape the undue appropriation matter that existed.

The balance is negative, but that doesn’t mean that the people don’t understand that they voted for them, that they supported them and that they continue supporting them, because the alternative to that is a frightening right. But in a balance of accounts the results are negative.

–Concretely, what are the results in the economic ambit?

 –In the economic ambit there was no agrarian reform, but there was not a reform of the tax system. There were structural reforms. There was higher income for the popular sectors, but that income was banked, financed, and then they attained through the social policies that people had a little more money, but they also have a card like a credit or debit card, which they need to be able to draw money out of the social policies from the bank and with that go to the malls or shopping centers to buy plasma televisions, motorcycles and cars. It’s integration through consumption.

During the time of Lula in Brazil, the sector that profited most and that had the greatest gains in their history was banking. So, it was integration of the popular sectors, but through consumption, and that de-politicizes and also enriches banking as an intermediary.

–And the megaprojects in indigenous territories?

–Extractivism, soybeans, the expansion of agribusiness and mining generated displacement or corralling of indigenous peoples. There is a case in Brazil that is insane and it’s called Belo Monte, which is the dam, the third largest in the world, which diverts 100 kilometers from the Xingú River, and in that basin that is emptied fishermen are going to die of hunger or they will have to emigrate. The inhabitants of the riverbanks, all the people that live from the river are original peoples. The boundaries of indigenous lands are also not respected.

On the other hand we have the paradigmatic example that is Bolivia. In Bolivia the popular movement had five organizations that made the unity pact, and after the march in defense of the Territorio Indígena y Parque Nacional Isiboro-Sécure (Tipnis) in 2011, the government began to divide the organizations.

There are two organizations, and outside of Bolivia this is little known: the Consejo Nacional de Ayllus y Markas del Qullasuyu (Conamaq) and the Confederación de Pueblos Indígenas de Bolivia (Cidob), two historic organizations of indigenous peoples, to which Evo Morales and Álvaro García gave a State coup. They sent the police, threw out the legitimate leaders and afterwards leaders related to the government, the State, arrived protected by the police. That is an authentic State coup and it happened in Bolivia.

When we say that progressivism has resulted in a regression, for the indigenous peoples it has meant a double or triple regression, because it has “folklorized” them. Now there are men in sombreros and women in traditional skirts in Parliament, but folklorized, not politically representing their peoples. It is a policy of dispossession that forces them to displace. And in that, there is not any difference between the progressive governments and the conservative governments of the right, like the ones in Peru or Colombia. The anti-indigenous attitude is a constant in both cases.

– We’re entering the terrain of freedoms. What happened in these [progressive] governments to freedom of speech and the freedom to demonstrate? Did they carry out [extrajudicial] “executions” of those on the left who opposed them or questioned what they were doing?

 –During the first years there was an expansion of freedoms, to demonstrate, criticize, but beginning with the 2008 crisis there was a withdrawal of these governments. Once again Brazil is a paradigmatic case because in June 2013, 20 million young people went into the streets in 353 cities for one month, initially against the increased cost of transportation, which is very expensive in Brazil (each bus or metro ride costs between 20 and 25 Mexican pesos), but ended up being a revolt against inequality.

São Paulo is the city that has the most heliports and helicopters in the world because the bourgeoisie doesn’t deign to drive a car over the surface.

That revolt against inequality touched the limits of progressivism, which was limited to distributing salary income a little better, but not the total profit, and it didn’t touch the inequalities. When that movement emerged there was a withdrawal of the Dilma Rousseff government, of the PT and the left as a whole, and they sent the police. Of course, what a leftist government should have done was to take the side of the people, but by sending the police they generated a political vacuum and demoralization so strong that the right came to take advantage of that until this very day. 2013 was a parting of waters in Brazil and throughout the region. The movements are the irruption of people tired of being teased, of being mocked, one of the two or three main causes of the crisis of the progressivisms in Latin America.

–And the communications media? What role did they play and do they play?

–There are various dynamics about the communications media. There are countries where the States have been advancing about the media, like Venezuela, closing them, domesticating them or buying them. The bulk of the Venezuela media are state or pro-state. The other extreme could be Argentina, where there are around 200 cultural media, self-managed digital and paper media, like Desinformémonos in Mexico. Those 200 media have between five and seven million monthly readers, in a country of 40 million inhabitants. These are minority media, but they are no longer marginal. Moreover, when there is a conflict, like when a Monsanto factory was going to be installed in the Argentine Malvinas, and from Uruguay, if you wanted to know what was happening, you entered the rightwing press, La Nación, Clarín, and nothing appeared. If you entered the left-wing press, like Página 12, and nothing would appear either. You had to get informed in these community or alternative media.

These media are no longer a marginalized minority, but rather have a critical mass, and fulfill the role of informing our people of what others don’t report.

–We have seen that there has been a polarization of the media during these years. Those that are with the government, in this case progressive, and those that the extreme right has…

 -Yes, for sure! In Brazil, something incredible is happening. Bolsonaro campaigns against Red Globo, which is hegemonic, and against Folha de São Paulo, which is the newspaper of the elites, and is supported in social networks and the evangelical communications media, which are both extreme right. There is a very interesting reconfiguration of the media, which one must follow, because Bolsonaro even threatened to close Folha de São Paulo, which is a scandal; it’s like closing a rightwing daily newspaper in Mexico. It’s the same attitude that Donald Trump has towards the media. But other media are emerging, as is the case of the evangelical media. They are a political and social force that deserves to be studied in depth, and are already competing with Red Globo in Brazil. On the other hand, in the majority of countries there are media like ours, alternative, but not all of them are strong.

– There are other media that are not alternative or marginal, but large left media, or critical of power, and well placed in their countries, such as Brecha in Uruguay, or Página 12 in Argentina. What role do they play with the progressive governments?

 –I should say that Brecha was criticized before the arrival of those governments and during the progressive governments. We have always been a critical newspaper. Página 12, on the other hand, became like Kirchner and depended until today on resources from the State. Everything bad has a good part, and here in Mexico they are going to exist. The bad part is that the progressives destroy us or create lots of problems for us. The good part is that the scenario is clarified, there are no longer places for the middle-of-the-road media: you are with the State or not. When you are with the State the excuse is that now the left governs, but you are with the State, that is the main thing. And those who are maintained in their work of autonomy work outside the institutions.

Página 12 gave up; in the ‘90s it was a very important newspaper, not only in Argentina. It had a particular aesthetic and an impact with very powerful page covers. On the other hand, there are other media that have remained loyal to their trajectory. I don’t want to exaggerate, but I would say that Brecha, in South America, is one of the few that have crossed through progressivism with many economic difficulties. We do not live from Brecha, we are bad economically, but we maintained our dignity and an independent position, although there are nuances. There are some journalists inside closer to the government, but always critical.

– And what are the costs of being critical of the progressive governments from the left?

 –The costs of maintaining a critical posture are isolation, they don’t call you to take interviews and/or they ignore you. There is personal economic deterioration, we have to look for little jobs to survive, and that is an important cost, but we must pay close attention, there is a trap of progressivism that we have managed to overcome, because just like the journalism profession, in the case of Brecha, it now has a very low salary, but has had a generational and gender renewal. And now most staff members are young people and women. Those who want to earn more have gone with the government or create newspapers akin to progressivism, and those who remain with us, well, we earn little, but we are there.

– Is what you’re telling us that it’s going to go very badly for us if we maintain a critical posture, in Mexico, towards Andrés Manuel López Obrador?

– I would not say: “go very badly.” The isolation is hard, but you become stronger. And we also don’t aspire to get rich. For example in Brecha, with 35 workers, there will be five or six with a car, the rest of us take public transportation, and that seems very important to me because it marks something that at this moment is a planting; it is not seen, but the seeds are there and at some point they will bloom.

But one must read what’s happening in Mexico another way for two reasons. The progressive cycle in Latin America began in 2000 and ended in 2014, and is a cycle that was possible thanks to the high prices of commodities, oil, soy and iron ore, because it didn’t matter much to the bourgeoisies in that epoch of economic boom that they raised taxes a little, and because the popular sectors were calm. But nowadays we experience the 2018 post-crisis. The world’s dominant classes have become more bestial, more brutal. The one percent has a wealth it never dreamed of having in history and they have become much more intransigent, more extreme, and they are against the peoples.

The López Obrador government comes at a time in which the dominant classes are not willing to cede anything. There is a situation what will very quickly lead the government to align with business interests. These few days that I have been in Mexico, I have seen something surprising. I turn on the television and in the parliament some PAN deputies put up a banner that says: “#NoALaDictaduraObradorista” (#NoToTheObradorDictatorship). They are terrible, but from the first day they are already opposing, they don’t give him any chance. It seems that that is going to designate: You yield completely or you are going to have an implacable opposition like Dilma had in her last years in Brazil.

(To be continued)

Statement of the CNI-CIG-EZLN on the murder of compañero Samir Flores Soberanes

To the people of Mexico and the people of the world

To the networks in support of the CIG

To the networks of resistance and rebellion

To the National and International Sixth

To the communications media

We denounce with pain and rage the cowardly assassination of our compañero Samir Flores Soberanes, a community leader in Amilcingo, Morelos; one of the principal opponents to the Morelos Integral Project and a delegate of the National Indigenous Congress for many years.

At approximately 5:40 am on February 20, armed people arrived aboard two vehicles and knocked on door and when Samir came out, they shot him four times, two bullets to the head that a few minutes later took away his life.

Yesterday, Samir explained the reasons that the peoples of Morelos have for opposing the Morelos Integral Plan, at an event organized by the bad federal government delegate Hugo Erick Flores, who was present in the municipality of Jonacatepec to organize the forum related to the alleged “consulta” (referendum or vote) with which they seek to impose the thermoelectric plant in Huexca, Morelos and the complementary projects that dispossess territory and threaten the life of the entire region.

We place responsibility for this crime on the bad government and its bosses, which are the companies and their legal and illegal armed groups that seek to rob us, bring us death and turn off the lights that give us hope, like compañero Samir.


February 2019

For the Integral Reconstitution of Our Peoples

Never More a Mexico Without Us

Nacional Indigenous Congress

Indigenous Government Council

Zapatista National Liberation Army

En español:

Below is the initial report of the murder in La Jornada (photo added)

They murder an opponent of the gas pipeline and thermoelectric plant in Morelos

Samir Flores Soberanes

By: Rubicela Morelos Cruz, correspondent | Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Cuernavaca, Morelos

Samir Flores Soberanes, one of the opponents of the Morelos Integral Project (Proyecto Integral Morelos, PIM), was murdered this morning outside his house, located in the town of Amilcingo, municipality of Temoac. According to his family members and compañeros in struggle, around 6 o’clock in the morning two cars arrived at his home; the occupants called to him, he came out and they shot him with four bullets. His family and neighbors took him to the hospital in Jonacatepec, but he died on the way.

According to Jaime Domínguez, of the Peoples’ Front in Defense of Land, Water and Air of Morelos, Puebla and Tlaxcala, Samir was prepared to go to conduct an Amilcingo community radio program, a means by which residents of that town resist the extending of the pipeline that passes through their lands, which they consider an official imposition, as well as the two thermoelectric plants in Huexca, and the aqueduct that they say will leave the campesinos of Ayala without water.

Domínguez, a compañero of Flores Soberanes, demanded that president Andrés Manuel López Obrador and Governor Cuauhtémoc Blanco Bravo “clarify our compañero’s murder, because in our country things go unpunished; we demand that se dé the whereabouts of the material killers be given, as well as those of the intellectual authors of this cowardly murder and that justice be done.”

Samir had already been physically attacked and beaten by a shock group that was created in that town in 2014. On that occasion he, together with other neighbors, tried to stop the work on the gas pipeline in their community. He also suffered various violent evictions and blows in mobilizations from members of the Mando Único (Single Command) of former governor Graco Ramírez’ administration, in Amilcingo as well as in Huexca.

Samir Flores Soberanes suffered direct attacks on the part of the leader of the Central Campesina Cardenista, Humberto Zamora and his people, the same ones that acted as a shock group against local opponents of the PIM.

Yesterday, Samir Flores Soberanes questioned the federal delegate in Morelos, Hugo Eric Flores, at a forum held that the state government held in the municipality of Jonacatepec. According to Jaime Domínguez, he told the federal official that they are opposed to the thermoelectric plant in Huexca because it would finish off the water because of the pollution that it would bring to the whole state. He asked the federal delegate not to lie to the population with respect to the water scarcity the hydroelectric project will cause, and to admit that there will be pollution of the environment.

Flores Soberanes had stayed with other compañeros of the Peoples Front in Defense of Land, Water and Air of Morelos to go to rebuke Hugo Erick in Hueyapan, where the state government has scheduled another forum on the matter. Members of that social group placed responsibility on the Federal Electricity Commission and both current and former state governments: “for the dirty politics they have done in the affected towns, confronting them and even creating shock groups to attack opponents of the PIM.”

“A few days ago we sent an open letter to the country’s president, in which we asked Obrador whom to blame if the attacks against our compañeros continued to escalate, since in Amilcingo, in Huexca, and in other communities they constantly attack them both verbally and physically, and there were even death threats.”


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee





National Indigenous Congress: this government deepens neoliberal policies

▲ Yamili Chan Dzul y José Koyoc, concejales de la Asamblea Regional de la Península de Yucatán; Carlos González, abogado del CNI; Magdalena Gómez, académica de la UPN y articulista de La Jornada, y Bettina Cruz, concejal de los pueblos del Istmo, durante el foro realizado en la ENAH.

By: Carolina Gómez Mena

“What we are seeing with this new government is the continuation of neoliberal policies,” but it’s also the “deepening,” [of those projects] based “on the support, on the consensus that the president (Andrés Manuel López Obrador) has from a good part of the population,” and this is added to “occurrences,” participants maintained in the forum 23 years after the San Andrés Accords, in defense of Mother Earth, No to the Maya Train and the Trans-Isthmus Corridor, and No to the National Guard.

In the National School of Anthropology and History (ENAH, its initials in Spanish), representatives of original peoples from regions “affected” by megaprojects and academics who are members of the Network of Networks of Zapatista Support for the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) considered that: “the project of the badly named Fourth Transformation seeks to individualize members of the indigenous peoples,” through welfare policies, instead of respecting the rights of the communities as a whole.

Carlos González García, a lawyer of the Congreso Nacional IndígenaConcejo Indígena de Gobierno (CNI-CIG) criticized the consultas (consultations or referendums) that the federal government has carried out, and the one that it seeks to carry out around different megaprojects, like the Maya Train and now the thermoelectric plant located in Huexca, in the municipio of Yecapixtla, Morelos.

He classified these consultas as “occurrences.” “A popular consulta can only be carried out by the Congress of the Union” and he said that with said thermoelectric plant it seeks to generate “an industrial belt” in the territorial strip that goes from Morelos to Puebla.

About the Trans-Isthmus project, he said that it is: “something long longed for by the United States.” And on the theme of the National Guard he maintained that: “the Army has always been on the side of the most nefarious interests,” therefore it should not intervene in “questions of public security.”

Magdalena Gómez Rivera, an academic at the National Pedagogic University (Universidad Pedagógica Nacional, UPN) and a La Jornada opinion writer, lamented the attitude of the president with those who disagree with his points of view.

“We live in a climate of absolute disqualification,” because “he has the power to disavow all of us who dare to point out that this is not the path, that the country’s problems will not be resolved with old “indigenist” policies and welfare programs.”

She considered that López Obrador’s project in general “seeks to contain and disarticulate social protest” and assured that “a political schizophrenia” is experienced because, she said, “one thing is the discourse from the power” and another is what it does. She pointed out that: “many believe in the badly named Fourth Transformation,” which is cemented “on promised supports,” which “will not abate the social inequality,” although they can serve so that some families can survive.

Bettina Cruz Velázquez, councilor for the indigenous peoples of the Isthmus ante el CNI, criticized the wind farms and mining projects carried out in the zone, as well as the Trans-Isthmus project that is foreseen. “We don’t see how the indigenous peoples are incorporated into these projects.” She added that historically these plans “bring us prejudice, we must defend our territories.”


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee




Constructing the Maya Train “is going to be a disaster,” Francisco Toledo warns

The painter asks the President “to assert the right that the region’s indigenous communities have to grant or refuse their consent” to that infrastructure project

Photo by Jorge A. Pérez Alfonso: Francisco Toledo, who participated in inauguration day of the Gathering in defense of territory, the commons and the rights of the peoples, in Santa María Atzompa, Oaxaca, explained to La Jornada that before executing a megaproject “a serious consultation” is needed.

By: Jorge A. Pérez Alfonso and Mónica Mateos-Vega

Santa María Atzompa, Oaxaca, Mexico

The Maya Train project “if going to be an ecological disaster,” said the artist Francisco Toledo in an interview with La Jornada after participating in the inaugural session of the Gathering in defense of territory, the commons and the rights of the peoples, which was held yesterday in Santa María Atzompa, Oaxaca, which members of cultural and environmental organizations attended, as well as representatives of campesino and indigenous communities of this state and the country.

The painter considered that before executing that megaproject, “a serious consultation” should be made, mainly with the original peoples of the areas that will be affected, “and not like those things that they did (the questioned citizen consultation last December). Technicians must give their opinion, as well as biologists and other specialists, to know everything that’s necessary to do before touching the region,” pointed out the founder of the Pro Defense and Conservation Board for the Cultural and Natural Patrimony of the state of Oaxaca (Pro-Oax).

More information is needed

Toledo, who in Oaxaca has headed a series of struggles in defense of land and territory, insisted that: “indubitably (the Maya Train) is going to be an ecological disaster, that’s for sure,” because, he reiterated, it will affect the biosphere, mainly in Yucatán.

With respect to the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, through which the train would travel, he considered that it could damage the area of the Chimalapas, which borders on Chiapas.

Another one of the problems with the Maya Train (Tren Maya) that the artist observes is that: “it has not really been announced what exactly the project consists of; not much is known, just that the President talked about two or three tracks, but nothing concrete. We’ll have to ask for more information.”

He said that there must be an authentic dialogue in which the project is presented in detail, in such a way that you do not get the idea that it’s about an imposition for the benefit of big businessmen and with the people being affected.

He shares a letter that he sent to AMLO with La Jornada

Toledo shared with this newspaper the letter that he sent to President Andrés Manuel López Obrador on December 1, 2018, in which he asks him: “to assert the right that the indigenous communities of the Maya region have to grant or deny their prior, free and informed consent with respect to an infrastructure project that will affect their lives, beliefs, institutions and spiritual wellbeing, like it will also affect the lands that they inhabit.”

Toledo sent that letter to the President one week after he (the president) criticized a public display in the media, headed by the artist, in which dozens of academics, scientists and intellectuals explained their reasons for opposing the construction of the Maya Train. At that time, López Obrador told them then that “the undersigned” needed “more contact with the people.”

In that letter the painter reiterated to the Executive his opposition to the construction of the Maya Train, “without taking the opinion of the indigenous communities historically settled on the lands that the tracks will cross.”


He said that in July 1990 the Congress of the Union approved Convention 169, which is “a binding instrument and a legal reference point for creating legislation that asserts the indigenous rights of our country, because Article 7 of said convention establishes: ‘the interested peoples should have the right to decide their own priorities in relation to the development process, to the extent that this will affect their lives, beliefs, institutions and spiritual wellbeing and the lands that they occupy or utilize in any way, and to control, to the extent possible, their own economic, social and cultural development.’”

The anthropologist Salomón Nahmad participated in the Gathering in defense of territory, the commons and the rights of the peoples. He is a recipient of the National Prize for Arts and Literature, and he criticized the fact that the megaprojects that have been announced, principally the Maya Train, are advancing without having the necessary studies to know if the benefits really outweigh the damages.

“There is always an impact, regardless of the size of the project,” the anthropologist pointed out. He also considers urgent: “an in-depth social investigation so that the communities that will be affected really know what could occur in their localities, since in the end they will be the ones that suffer in the first instance the impacts of this work, but also that they should be the only ones consulted, because the project will not affect those who live in the north of the country.”

In the meeting, the participating social organizations offered proposals for an action plan for the coming weeks against the ‘‘megaprojects” and in favor of the rights of the original nations and peoples.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee






Letter from the Zapatista women to women who struggle in the world



February 2019

To: Women who struggle in the world

From: The Zapatista Women

Sister, compañera:

We as Zapatista women send you our greetings as the women in struggle that we all are.

We have sad news for you today, which is that we are not going to be able to hold the Second International Encounter of Women in Struggle here in Zapatista territory in March of 2019.

Maybe you already know the reasons why, but if not, we’re going to tell you a little about them here.

The new bad governments have said clearly that they are going to carry forward the mega-projects of the big capitalists, including their Maya Train, their plan for the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, and their massive commercial tree farms. They have also said that they’ll allow the mining companies to come in, as well as agribusiness. On top of that, their agrarian plan is wholly oriented toward destroying us as original peoples by converting our lands into commodities and thus picking up what Carlos Salinas de Gortari started but couldn’t finish because we stopped him with our uprising.

All of these are projects of destruction, no matter how they try to disguise them with lies, no matter how many times they multiply their 30 million votes. The truth is that they are coming for everything now, coming full force against the original peoples, their communities, lands, mountains, rivers, animals, plants, even their rocks. And they are not just going to try to destroy us Zapatista women, but all indigenous women—and all men for that matter, but here we’re talking as and about women.

In their plans our lands will no longer be for us but for the tourists and their big hotels and fancy restaurants and all of the businesses that make it possible for the tourists to have these luxuries. They want to turn our lands into plantations for the production of lumber, fruit, and water, and into mines to extract gold, silver, uranium, and all of the minerals the capitalists are after. They want to turn us into their peons, into servants who sell our dignity for a few coins every month.

Those capitalists and the new bad governments who obey them think that what we want is money. They don’t understand that what we want is freedom, that even the little that we have achieved has been through our struggle, without any attention, without photos and interviews, without books or referendum or polls, and without votes, museums, or lies. They don’t understand that what they call “progress” is a lie, that they can’t even provide safety for all of the women who continue to be beaten, raped, and murdered in their worlds, be they progressive or reactionary worlds.

How many women have been murdered in those progressive or reactionary worlds while you have been reading these words, compañera, sister? Maybe you already know this but we’ll tell you clearly here that in Zapatista territory, not a single woman has been murdered for many years. Imagine, and they call us backward, ignorant, and insignificant.

Maybe we don’t know which feminism is the best one, maybe we don’t say “cuerpa” [a feminization of “cuerpo,” or body] or however it is you change words around, maybe we don’t know what “gender equity” is or any of those other things with too many letters to count. In any case that concept of “gender equity” isn’t even well formulated because it only refers to women and men, and even we, supposedly ignorant and backward, know that there are those who are neither men nor women and who we call “others” but who call themselves whatever they feel like. It hasn’t been easy for them to earn the right to be what they are without having to hide because they are mocked, persecuted, abused, and murdered. Why should they be obligated to be men or women, to choose one side or the other? If they don’t want to choose then they shouldn’t be disrespected in that choice. How are we going to complain that we aren’t respected as women if we don’t respect these people? Maybe we think this way because we are just talking about what we have seen in other worlds and we don’t know a lot about these things. What we do know is that we fought for our freedom and now we have to fight to defend it, so that the painful history that our grandmothers suffered is not relived by our daughters and granddaughters.

We have to struggle so that we don’t repeat history and return to a world where we only cook food and bear children, only to see them grow up into humiliation, disrespect, and death.

We didn’t rise up in arms to return to the same thing.

We haven’t been resisting for 25 years in order to end up serving tourists, bosses, and overseers.

We will not stop training ourselves to work in the fields of education, health, culture, and media; we will not stop being autonomous authorities in order to become hotel and restaurant employees, serving strangers for a few pesos. It doesn’t even matter if it’s a few pesos or a lot of pesos, what matters is that our dignity has no price.

Because that’s what they want, compañera, sister, that we become slaves in our own lands, accepting a few handouts in exchange for letting them destroy the community.

Compañera, sister:

When you came to these mountains for the 2018 gathering, we saw that you looked at us with respect, maybe even admiration. Not everyone showed that respect—we know that some only came to criticize us and look down on us. But that doesn’t matter—the world is big and full of different kinds of thinking and there are those who understand that not all of us can do the same thing and those who don’t. We can respect that difference, compañera, sister, because that’s not what the gathering was for, to see who would give us good reviews or bad reviews. It was to meet and understand each other as women who struggle.

Likewise, we do not want you to look at us now with pity or shame, as if we were servants taking orders delivered more or less politely or harshly, or as if we were vendors with whom to haggle over the price of artisanship or fruit and vegetables or whatever. Haggling is what capitalist women do, though of course when they go to the mall they don’t haggle over the price; they pay whatever the capitalist asks in full and what’s more, they do so happily.

No compañera, sister. We’re going to fight with all our strength and everything we’ve got against these mega-projects. If these lands are conquered, it will be upon the blood of Zapatista women. That is what we have decided and that is what we intend to do.

It seems that these new bad governments think that since we’re women, we’re going to promptly lower our gaze and obey the boss and his new overseers. They think what we’re looking for is a good boss and a good wage. That’s not what we’re looking for. What we want is freedom, a freedom nobody can give us because we have to win it ourselves through struggle, with our own blood.

Do you think that when the new bad government’s forces—its paramilitaries, its national guard—come for us we are going to receive them with respect, gratitude, and happiness? Hell no. We will meet them with our struggle and then we’ll see if they learn that Zapatista women don’t give in, give up, or sell out.

Last year during the women’s gathering we made a great effort to assure that you, compañera and sister, were happy and safe and joyful. We have, nevertheless, a sizable pile of complaints that you left with us: that the boards [that you slept on] were hard, that you didn’t like the food, that meals were expensive, that this or that should or shouldn’t have been this way or that way. But later we’ll tell you more about our work in preparing the gathering and about the criticisms we received.

What we want to tell you now is that even with all the complaints and criticisms, you were safe here: there were no bad men or even good men looking at you or judging you. It was all women here, you can attest to that.

Well now it’s not safe anymore, because capitalism is coming for us, for everything, and at any price. This assault is now possible because those in power feel that many people support them and will applaud them no matter what barbarities they carry out. What they’re going to do is attack us and then check the polls to see if their ratings are still up, again and again until we have been annihilated.

Even as we write this letter, the paramilitary attacks have begun. They are the same groups as always—first they were associated with the PRI, then the PAN, then the PRD, then the PVEM, and now with MORENA.

So we are writing to tell you, compañera, sister, that we are not going to hold a women’s gathering here, but you should do so in your lands, according to your times and ways. And although we won’t attend, we will be thinking about you.

Compañera, sister:

Don’t stop struggling. Even if the bad capitalists and their new bad governments get their way and annihilate us, you must keep struggling in your world. That’s what we agreed in the gathering: that we would all struggle so that no woman in any corner of the world would be scared to be a woman.

Compañera, sister: your corner of the world is your corner in which to struggle, just like our struggle is here in Zapatista territory.

The new bad governments think that they will defeat us easily, that there are very few of us and that nobody from any other world supports us. But that’s not the case, compañera, sister, because even if there is only one of us left, she’s going to fight to defend our freedom.

We aren’t scared, compañera, sister.

If we weren’t scared 25 years ago when nobody even knew we existed, we certainly aren’t going to be scared now that you have seen us—however you saw us, good or bad, but you saw us.

Compañera, hermana:

Take care of that little light that we gave you. Don’t let it go out.

Even if our light here is extinguished by our blood, even if other lights go out in other places, take care of yours because even when times are difficult, we have to keep being what we are, and what we are is women who struggle.

That’s all we wanted to say, compañera, sister. In summary, we’re not going to hold a women’s gathering here; we’re not going to participate. If you hold a gathering in your world and anyone asks you where the Zapatistas are, and why didn’t they come, tell them the truth: tell them that the Zapatista women are fighting in their corner of the world for their freedom.

That’s all, compañeras, sisters, take care of yourselves! Maybe we won’t see each other again.

Maybe they’ll tell you not to bother thinking about the Zapatistas anymore because they no longer exist. Maybe they’ll tell you that there aren’t any more Zapatistas.

But just when you think that they’re right, that we’ve been defeated, you’ll see that we still see you and that one of us, without you even realizing it, has come close to you and whispered in your ear, only for you to hear: “Where is that little light that we gave you?

From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast,

The Zapatista Women

February 2019

En español



The business of border security

Where immigrants contribute to the economy.

By: Víctor Ronquillo *

To the north of the city of Tijuana, far away and for the purpose of making a social phenomenon invisible, is the El Barretal migrant shelter. The displaced, the arrivals with the caravans coming from the south, protagonists of an exodus that places into evidence the crisis of the model of border control established in the world with the militarization of borders, cope with their condition as refugees and hope for the impossible, reaching the north and the chimera of the dollar. They are victims of one more expression of the 21st century wars, extended throughout the world, where what is sought is profit, sponsored by arms manufacturers and security contractors.

Behind the discourse of the right’s post-fascism, which blames migrants for the economic crisis, for the absurdities of a world-system that touches bottom, are the beneficiaries of the arms business and the construction of walls. On June 15, 2015, at the launch of his campaign, Donald Trump revealed his plan to install a wall on the border of Mexico with the United States. The anti-immigrant speech continues being one of the axes that articulate an economic and political project that favors the military industrial complex, one of the principal foundations of the US economy after the Second World War.

María José Rodríguez Reja, a professor and researcher at the Autonomous University of Mexico City, explains what war capitalism means in our time on the pages of the book La norteamericanización de la seguridad en América Latina (Ed. Akal, 2017): “Neoliberal war capitalism acquires in US conception and strategy a profoundly violent and daring dimension in which it expresses the worldview that it imposes on others, and on which it tries to legitimize its actions; departing from this it constructs the concept of the enemy and defines the threats to face from a war strategy that is substantially the same as its interests.”

And immigrants are the enemy. Some time ago, the Border Patrol promoted tours to the Sonora/Arizona desert border with the intention of dissuading those who would attempt to go north not to attempt it. While we were touring one of the many routes traveled by migrants, some of the officials in charge of that tour proudly told me: “we have everything under control.” The principal attraction was the technology deployed on the desert trails. The militarization of the border, in addition to the growing deployment of surveillance troops, includes a technological network that extends through strategic points in the more than three thousand kilometers that divide not only Mexico and the United States, but also the north and the south of this world of inequality and savage capitalism.

The border security business is booming and has had an impressive growth since September 11, 2011. One of the companies that benefit from this business is Lockheed Martin, a powerful reference in the aerospace field; one of its products is the Lockheed Martin 74 K Aerostat, an enormous drone shaped like a zeppelin. On that trip to demonstrate the technological resources available to the Border Patrol, there was a stellar moment so that a group of journalists coming from different regions of America would be impressed with the images captured by this gigantic drone. The border security budget has been increasing within the United States Defense Budget. In the pages of the book Border Patrol Nation: dispatches from the Front Lines of Homeland Security (City Lights Open Media, 2014) the journalist Todd Miller asserts: “Security technology has been expanding for 25 years (…) this is only the beginning, the projection is that this will increase after the arrival of Donald Trump.”

The war business brings enormous profits for arms manufacturers and on many occasions also for the sophisticated instruments for control of the borders. The political influence of these consortia is determinative.

According to data from the Stockholm International Peace Institute, the global market for arms is at 100 billion dollars. US companies with their decisive political influence are the leaders in that business. The consortia producing arms for war and the technology for security and border control concentrate 34 percent of that juicy global market.

Since the 1980s, when the process of militarizing the border with Operation Guardian began, on the Tijuana-San Diego border, war technology is used in border security. The Lockheed Martin 74K Aerostat drones, vigilantes of the border skies, are an adaptation of the drones that NATO used in the Iraq War.

One of today’s many wars is fought on the borders with its militarization and control, a war that for some represents a good business.

*Journalist and writer


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Friday, January 11, 2019

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee




Residents denounce uncontrolled paramilitary violence in Chenalhó

A community in the autonomous Zapatista municipality of Magdalena de la Paz (the official municipality of Aldama).

By: Hermann Bellinghausen

At least 25 deaths, dozens of injured and thousands of displaced is the recent result of a conflict caused by the civilian armed groups in Santa Martha, municipality of Chenalhó, Chiapas, against families of Zapatista support bases as well as “partidistas” (members of a political party) in Aldama and Magdalena.

What began as an agrarian dispute has evolved into a real “social problem” because of the impunity of the aggressors and the cooptation policies of the authorities. The Zapatista Good Government Junta (Junta de Buen Gobierno, JBG or Junta) of the Caracol of Oventik, in Los Altos (the Highlands of Chiapas), placed responsibility on the federal, state and municipal governments for the uncontrolled upsurge of paramilitary violence that causes anguish in the region. Between September 2017 and the end of 2018 there were 22 deaths. Between December and January 2019 there were another three. In a report that the Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Center (Frayba) released, the JBG pointed out after “the strongest confrontations,” now in the time of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and Governor Rutilio Escandón, on January 21 and 22 (“the bursts were heard across the entire river strip that serves as the division between the towns”). As a “solution,” the government sent trucks of soldiers and police to install a base of operations in the community of Cocó (Aldama).”

“That’s how they justify militarization after they themselves insert problems in Zapatista territory,” the JBG adds. “Of course we tell them: they are provoking us and they are obliging us to defend ourselves.” The JBG denounces that: “the bad government told the partidistas that if they did not accept their Guardia Nacional they would take the economic supports away from them.”

The problem is not new. It dates from at least 1977. The source of the dispute is 60 hectares of Aldama property that the government delivered to Santa Martha. “The three levels of government, past and present, are responsible for the division, confrontation, fear and breaking up oif community life.” According to the Junta, “agreements appeared that were not fulfilled, adding more fuel to the fire, because the real objective is to divide the communities,” to facilitate “the entry of the big entrepreneurs into Native territories and the plunder of our wealth.”

In what is the first public statement in five years from a Junta, the Oventik Junta says: “We have always said that the solution is not the militarization of the peoples.” Placing responsibility on the current government for this violence, it points out: “Its policy is to distribute money and crumbs, create conflicts and to militarize the indigenous communities. They (the bad governments) are accustomed to giving money to calm the people. Is that not corruption?”

For its part, the Frayba announced that: “since the beginning of 2018, at least 13 Aldama communities, among them the municipal capital, have been the target of attacks with firearms coming from members of Santa Martha community, Chenalhó. There are currently thousands of victims of forced displacement, besides various persons injured and extra-judicially executed.”

Articles in English describing the origins of this conflict:

Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee