Chiapas Support Committee

Capitalism and the coronavirus

By: William I. Robinson*

The confinement at home decreed in the United State (US) and in many countries of the world to confront Covid-19 has paralyzed the capitalist economy and has therefore demolished the process of capital accumulation. That this economic paralysis throws tens of millions of workers into a survival crisis is totally fortuitous to the concern of the transnational capitalist class (TCC) about already resuming the lucrative machinery, because capital cannot remain idle without ceasing to be capital.

The impulse to revive the accumulation explains that in may places in the US there have been demonstrations of the ultra-right to demand the lifting of the quarantine, just like the most reactionary sectors of capital promoted the Tea Party in the wake of the 2008 financial collapse, a movement that in turn was activated in support of Trumpism.

While the protests seem spontaneous, they have been organized by the conservative groupings, among them, the Heritage Foundation, FreedomWorks and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which brings together the CEOs of the large corporations with local rightwing legislators in the US. President Trump himself inflamed the protesters through tweets, among them one that said: “Free Virginia, and protect your great Second Amendment, which is under siege.” He called for defending said amendment to the Constitution, which guarantees the right to bear arms, almost constituted a call to armed insurrection. Days later, Trump claimed to have “total” power –the classic definition of totalitarianism– to lift the quarantine.

Despite its populist rhetoric, Trumpism has served the TCC’s interests well in implementing a program of neoliberalism on steroids ranging from the regressive tax reform and widespread deregulation and privatization, to an expansion of subsidies to capital, cuts in social spending and union repression. Trump –himself a member of the CCT– took up where the Tea Party left off in the wake of the 2008 financial collapse, forging a social base among the majority white sectors of the working class who previously enjoyed privileges, such as stable and well-paid employment, who in recent years have experienced a sharp socio-economic destabilization and downward mobility in the face of capitalist globalization. Just like the Tea Party that preceded him, Trump has known how to divert the growing social anxiety that these sectors feel, from a radical critique of the capitalist system to a racist and jingoist mobilization against the scapegoats, such as immigrants.

The growing crisis of capitalism has brought about a rapid political polarization in global society among an insurgent left and extreme rightwing and neofascist forces that have gained adherents in many countries. Both forces draw on the social base of millions that have been devastated by neoliberal austerity, impoverishment, insecure employment and relegation to the ranks of superfluous humanity.

The level of global social polarization and inequality is now unprecedented. The richest 1% percent of humanity controls more than half of the planet’s wealth while the lowest 80 percent has to settle for just 4.5 percent of that wealth. As popular discontent contra this inequality spreads, the ultra-right and neofascist mobilization plays a critical role in the effort of the dominant groups to channel said discontent towards support for the TCC’s agenda, disguised in populist rhetoric.

It’s in this context that conservative groups in the US have been determined to organize a response ultra-right to the health emergency sanitaria and economic crisis, encompassing a greater dose of ideological subterfuge and a renewed mobilization of their shock forces that now demand the lifting of confinement. Mass mobilization from below could well require demand that the State provide large-scale relief for the millions of workers and poor families instead of insisting on the immediate reopening of the economy. But the TCC and its political agents seek at all costs to prevent the masses from demanding a social welfare State in response to the crisis. That’s why they promote the reactionary revolt against confinement fueled by Trump and the ultra-right.

The TCC has endeavored to shift the burden of the crisis and the sacrifice that the pandemic imposes to the working and popular classes. To this end it has been able to count on the power of the capitalist State. Governments around the world have approved new massive bailouts for capital, while a few crumbs drain from this piñata to the working classes. The United States and European governments promised at least 8 trillion dollars in loans and subsidies to private corporations, roughly equivalent to all their profits in the Past two years.

It’s about class struggle from above. While these trillions of dollars accumulate in the highest part of the social pyramid, the crisis unleashed by the pandemic will leave more inequality, political tension, militarism and authoritarianism in its wake. The International Labor Organization warned that hundreds of millions of people could lose their employment, while the international agency Oxfam calculated that up to 500 million are at risk of falling into poverty. Even more ominous, the World Food Program warned about “famine of biblical proportions,” calculating that up to 130 million people could die of hunger due to the possible collapse of the food supply chains.

The class character of the pandemic is exposed. The class, ethnicity or nationality of its human carriers is not important to the virus, but it’s the poor, the marginalized and the working classes who do not enjoy the conditions to protect themselves and cannot secure medical attention in case or infection. Millions may die, not so much from infection, but rather because of the lack of access to vital services and resources. The dominant classes will utilize the pandemic as a smoke screen to consolidate a global police state. In the end, the capitalist crisis unleashed by the coronavirus will be more deadly for the impoverished workers than the virus itself.

* Professor of sociology, University of California at Santa Bárbara


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Thursday, May 6, 2020

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee



Indigenous people of Palenque win suspension of the Maya Train

Temple of the Inscriptions, Palenque, Chiapas

First is health, judge decides

By: Elio Henríquez

San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas

A federal court granted a protective order (amparo) to Chiapas indigenous people by means of which it orders that work on the Palenque stretch of the Maya Train is suspended, for the purpose of safeguarding the health of the Ch’ol people, reported the Indignation, Promotion and Defense of Human Rights, AC grouping.

In a statement, it pointed out that when deciding admission of the protective order, the court “determined that it was appropriate to grant the suspension because at this moment it must give preponderant value to the right to health of the complainants as members of the Ch’ol Maya community and inhabitants of the localities, since the work involved in such infrastructure requires the deployment of various activities” that numerous people must carry out who will require essential and non-essential services in the community, thereby increasing activities in their public areas.

The grouping, based in Yucatán, indicated that indigenous Chiapanecos of Palenque, Ocosingo and Salto de Agua presented the request for an amparo on May 7.

They presented the lawsuit against President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the Secretary of Health, Jorge Alcocer, and the director general of the National Fund for the Promotion of Tourism, Rogelio Jiménez Pons, for issuance of the April 6 agreement and the April 23 decree, “through which the continuation of the Maya Train, among other administration projects, was determined, despite the Covid-19 pandemic.”

It added that: “complainants pointed out that the continuation of the project, in the context of the pandemic, violated their right to health due to the risk of contagion because of Covid-19, placing the human right to life at risk.

“The inhabitants of those communities argued that maintaining work on the Maya Train during a pandemic prevented them from participating in the environmental and social impact statements to which, as communities, they have a right in the face of any megaproject.

It specified that the court not only prioritized the right to health of the inhabitants of the Ch’ol communities of Ocosingo, Palenque and Salto del Agua, but it also recognized that continuing work on the train in this context could affect other rights of that Native people, like the right to water, environment and natural resources.

It explained that while the suspension decreed is provisional (the definitive suspension will be resolved in a hearing on May 14) it permits making visible the potential damages that the project will cause.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee






Oscar Chávez, “big brother” to the Zapatistas

Subcomandante Marcos, center, Oscar Chávez to his left, and Comandante Tacho to his right

By: Luis Hernández Navarro

Oscar Chávez was a leading figure in the formation of a critical mass culture and in the sentimental education of several generations. He kept the Mexican popular songbook alive. He recuperated and spread the songs of our three great social revolutions. He wrote or interpreted cult melodies in social struggles of the last 50 years.

Throughout his career as a singer-songwriter, from his gigs in the student movement of 1968 to his recitals with the Zapatistas in Oventic, or the big concerts in the National Auditorium, he forged a massive and loyal trans-generational audience, made up of people his age and of their grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Oscar was born in the Portales District in 1935, lived in Ixmiquilpan and Puebla and grew up in Santa María la Ribera. He grew up listening to his father who, although he never dedicated himself professionally to singing, informally he was a good interpreter of traditional Mexican music, Yucatec and Cuban ballads, and Colombian rhythms.

He began his artistic career studying theater at the School of Fine Arts, the academy of the maestro Seki Sano and at the UNAM. He participated in experimental works both as an actor or director, in radio theater, telenovelas (soap operas) and film. His role as El Estilos, in the film Los caifanes, immortalized him. He did political cabaret between 1970 and 1979 at The Golden Age and at the Café Corona, when the city had a pleasant and rich nightlife.

He broke with the National Actors Association (ANDA) and was part of the Independent Actors Union (SAI, its initials in Spanish), which his cousin and close friend Enrique Lizalde led. Its members made lots of good noise to purify and democratize the union. When the SAI adventure came to an end, suffocated by government authoritarianism, he refused to return to the ranks of the ANDA, which never forgave his affront and closed as much acting space to him as it could. His congruence had a great cost for him, because they took away the possibility of acting in playhouses and other forums.

In 1963, he recorded Herencia lírica mexicana (Mexican Lyrical Heritage), his first album, of a list of close to 90. From that moment, he began, through his work, an amazing journey through the history of Mexico and Latin America. He Recuperated and disseminated his songs about our three great social revolutions (Independence, Reform and French Intervention and Revolution of 1910-17). He made a vinyl completely dedicated to Benito Juárez. He musicalized José Martí and sang to Genaro Vázquez Rojas, Salvador Allende, to Chiapas and to the Indian peoples who resist with dignity.

He dove into political parody. Outside of the dispute (in the typology of Federico Arana) among fans of the folkloric we shall overcome and followers of blue suede shoes, Oscar developed his own style, beyond the testimonial song.

“Money –he said– imposes what is touched, what is disseminated. It does it in everything. It does it in radio, in television, in cinema, in literature, in everything. Money sets the rules. For many creative people on our continent, this is very difficult. It’s double work.” However, despite that, he produced a vast amount of work at the margin of commercial pressures.

His thing was to transmit and keep alive a long musical tradition that comes from centuries ago. This legacy was his root and his source. “This protest or testimonial song –he explained– is a great tradition in our country. I have sung political parodies that were sung in the viceroyalty. The verses of the popular poet, José Vasconcelos, are critiques of the viceroys and the rulers. It’s awesome. You’re not inventing anything. It already exists.” (

Throughout his career, he had several skirmishes with power. His album Mariguana was censured for a time, despite the fact that the material in it consists of traditional Mexican pieces. The song Mariguana, for example, was written to criticize Antonio López de Santa Anna, who the author of Por ti defined as “our best seller.”

Oscar believed that: “although song doesn’t transform things, it’s a tool, a very powerful weapon, very important for informing, for opining, for speaking well, for speaking badly and even for insulting and also for making fun of you.”

A militant of the Leninist Spartacus League of José Revueltas, at the side of Eduardo and Enrique Lizalde, Chávez was, throughout his life, in solidarity with the most just of causes. Self-defined as a Fidelista until death, he had great admiration for the comandante. To him, Castro was a strong leader, who broke the mold. He supported the Cuban Revolution with everything.

From the first days of the armed uprising, he was in solidarity with the EZLN. “I continue supporting them, I continue believing in them. They deserve a great deal of respect. They deserve more respect than a lot of politicians for whom I have none,” he said. In 2018 he was a promoter of the initiative to incorporate Marichuy on the electoral ballot as spokesperson of the Indigenous Government Council and a firm opponent of the construction of the Tren Maya (Maya Train).

In reciprocity, he received the affection and recognition of Indians and rebels. In 2000, the Zapatistas called him “big brother.” As a result of his death, the National Indigenous Congress recognized his life of solidarity and his dreams: “who dares to imagine justice and make it a message and music.” Life –he said just a few months ago– must be lived as long as energy permits. The rest is not important. That’s how he did it.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Tuesday, April 5, 2020

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee



Statement of Solidarity with the Struggle against the Maya Train

[Admin: The Sexta Grietas Network circulated this statement and asked for signatures. We reproduce it below with the signatures obtained.]

Maya Train | Tren Maya

Statement of Solidarity with the Struggle against the Maya Train, a Megaproject of Death

Traducción en español

Traduction française

April 15, 2020

We salute the efforts of the Indigenous and Popular Council of Xpujil (CRIPX – Consejo Indígena y Popular de Xpujil) and congratulate them on their success in obtaining a halt on the construction of the train megaproject in the Campeche corridor. This is a great achievement, especially in these times when governments are taking advantage of the COVID-19 crisis to further their agendas, and are attacking resistances and rebellions in Mexico and other parts of the world. We know the struggle has only begun, and we support and encourage continuing efforts to halt construction of the whole train megaproject permanently. This is far from over, as the government is determined to enforce this megaproject, which will bring great benefits to the capitalists who run the country at great costs to human life and the environment.

We denounce the ongoing attempts to threaten, intimidate, and pressure those who are fighting to prevent the construction of the so-called “Maya Train” and, in particular, our brothers and sister members of the Indigenous and Popular Council of Xpujil, who have been risking their lives and livelihoods to fight this megaproject of death.

The so-called “Maya Train” project will transport 600,000 – 800,000 new tourists a year to the Yucatán Peninsula. In deceptive and authoritarian “consultations,” the government pretends to inform and consult with local populations about the effects of the project, claiming it is a “development” project that will bring benefits to the poor and indigenous people of the area: jobs, modern infrastructure, business opportunities.

In fact, the truth is just the opposite. Such were the conclusions of, among many, the National Council on Science and Technology, an independent federal body commissioned to advise the Mexican government on public policies related to science and technological development. This study, delivered to the government at the beginning of December but not released to the public until March (well after the consultation process), concluded that the train megaproject would have severe negative impacts, including:

  • destruction of 10 national protected areas that provide environmental benefits such as recharging aquifers and carbon capture (that mitigate damage from global warming)
  • irreversible negative impacts on the territory that will be appropriated for the project
  • the violation of rights of 146,000 indigenous people living in the area
  • jobs that would be temporary and precarious
  • an increase in violence related to drug trade and human trafficking

The study was suppressed by the government until after the consultation process was complete so that people would not learn of the dangers of the train megaproject.

This study confirms what many others have argued and what we have known all along: this megaproject of death is a capitalist dream that will lead to dispossession, displacement, and deterioration of the lives of local people who live along the route: homes, farming communities, small commercial enterprises and businesses, including sustainable ecotourist enterprises. It will threaten the largest remaining rainforest in Mesoamerica, the Calakmul Reserve, considered to be second only to the Amazon in its production of oxygen, as well as the mangroves of Bacalar, one of the most significant areas of mangroves in the world (see the CONACYT report “Maya Territories in the Train’s Path: Current Situation and Foreseeable Risks” [Spanish]).

The project will benefit the engineering and construction corporations who will get fat contracts, as well as the hotel chains and international tourist corporations and rich entrepreneurs who have the funds to set up shop and who know whose palms to grease. It will benefit the government functionaries who will receive bribes and kickbacks from the capitalists. It will benefit the extractive industries, whose projects will inevitably follow in the wake of the train, once the area has been softened up to their invasion with transportation facilities, infrastructure, and the installation of military and paramilitary “security” forces to protect their investments, and once the vibrant opposition to megaprojects, always an obstacle to extractive capitalism, has been silenced.

We need only to look at the so-called Mayan Riviera, in northeastern Yucatan, to see the effects that massive tourist projects have on people and their environment. While the rich bathe in pristine swimming pools, lounge on the beach and in fancy bars enjoying exotic cocktails and gourmet meals, the poor who serve them earn miserable wages (many make the minimum wage of $7 a day) and tens of thousands of underemployed and unemployed ring the area in poor shanty towns that surround the tourist resorts. These servants include farmers who have been dispossessed or who can no longer survive on their lands, in many cases due to decline in available water. The abundance of retail outlets and restaurants who profit in these tourist areas are owned by the wealthy elite, often foreigners, who had the money to invest in the luxurious standards the tourists prefer—the streets of Cancun are lined with foreign chain stores. The beaches, once pristine and full of fish, are polluted. Hundreds of thousands of tons of garbage created by the tourists pollute the water, spill into the ocean and fester in overfilled landfill sites near the homes of the poor. Water, stolen from indigenous farmlands, is recklessly squandered. This is the pattern of “development” that can be seen in the fancy resort areas all over Mexico—a devastating and unsustainable tourist industry that is now collapsing in the wake of the COVID-19 epidemic. The Mexican government reports that Cancún is abandoned: only 7% of its about 90,000 hotel rooms are occupied, while 60,000 workers have been laid off in the state of Quintana Roo, representing about 40% of the workforce (see Proceso March 2020 and INEGI Report 2016). The poor and underserved workers of the hotel zones, like the poor and underserved all over the world, will bear the brunt of the epidemic, while the capitalist overlords will find other ways to profit. In the midst of this crisis, the government continues to move the project forward, announcing on April 1 that it is reviewing proposals from 14 consortiums (owned by Carlos Slim, the richest man in Mexico and one the richest men in the world, and by Chinese multinationals) for constructing the first phase of the train, which it insists will begin April 30th and will cost the government between 12 and 22 billion Mexican pesos (600 million to over a billion USD).

We, the undersigned, denounce this project, and demand its immediate halt: for the benefit of the local population, for the campesinos, for Mother Earth, and for humanity itself. We stand with all people who are fighting to preserve sustainable livelihoods, and especially originary peoples who are fighting to preserve their history and identity and their ancestral lands. We must protect all that remains of these sacred environments and resources for future generations to have a chance to survive against the civilization of death.


Chiapas Support Committee, Oakland, California

Cassidy Regan, Mannahatta, Lenni Lenape territory

Silvia Federici, Brooklyn, NY

War Resisters League

Raices sin Fronteras, San Diego California

Dr. Carol J Manahan, California

Charlotte Saenz, Core Faculty, California Institute of Integral Studies

Rei Terada, Professor of Comparative Literature, UC Irvine

Stellan Vinthagen, Endowed Professor, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, USA Donald Monty Neill, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Sallyann Stoddard, Northeastern USA

Bruce Fleischer, Boston Ma.

Alptekin Aydogan, USA

Joseph Bender, Living in Ramaytush territory, also known as San Francisco

Mary Landale, Massachusetts, USA

Patricia Sullivan, Washington State

Farah Khimji, New York City
Kirsty Singer, University of California, Irvine
, Gabriella Melis, Italy, 
Kristian Vasquez, Chumash territory, 
Carla Belinda Margarita Orendorff, Los Angeles, CA, US/Cochabamba, Bolivia, 
Hélène Miesseroff, French writer
María Estela Barco
Louis-Georges Schwartz, Athens, oh
Chris Carlsson, Shaping San Francisco
Alain Chaillat, France
, Kate Keller, Montana
John Wolverton, Missoula, Montana, USA
Linda Quiquivix, Chumash Territory (Oxnard, California)
Kirsty Singer University of California, Irvine
Peter Rosset, Chiapas
Hormigas Autonomas y Rebeldes, San Diego – Territorio Kumeeai
LIES Journal Collective
Willow Hill, United States
Cindy Gao, New York City, NY
Ellen Elster, Oslo, Norway
Lauren Johnson, Canada
Wesley Carrasco, ECLF-Los Angeles
Matthew de la Torre
Julio Rodriguez, Sylmar (community in Los Angeles), California
Child Welfare Nepal Chairperson
Ambazonia Prisoners of Conscience Support Network (APoCsnet) Global Solidarity Network
Joris Leverin, Managing editor, ROAR Magazine
Julia Thomas, Journalist
Andrea Perez, Osceola Consulting, GIS Researcher
Renee Delia Reyes NYC, NY
Andrew J Padilla East Harlem (El Barrio), NYC
Daisy Bugarin, Lenape Territory (NYC, NY)
Tahesha Knapp-Christensen, Protect the Long Beach/LosCerritos Wetlands
Anya Briy, NYC, NY
Daniel Brown, Peckham, London, UK
Chichihualli Lactation, Lactation Educator and Community Advocate
Gema Limeta, Tongva territory ( Los Angeles, CA)
Inmigrantes Unidos NC
Alfonso Garcia Guerrero
Kiana Martinez
Janet Campos,LCSW-Licensed Clinical Social Worker
Lauren Reese
Aurialís Alvarez, Boston, MA
Rosa Barajas, California
Malú Huacuja del Toro Nueva York
Semillas Collective New York City, Estados Unidos
Alma Sánchez, Morelos
Red de Rebeldía y Resistrenzas, Ciudad de Puebla, Puebla
Movimiento de Mujeres de Kurdistán, America Latina,Kurdistán
Cecilia Vázquez Ahumada, Puebla, México
Eli García Padilla, Oaxaca
María Matilde Salazar Rodriguez,Cd. de Chihuahua, Chih. México
Jorge Emilio Villa del Ángel Name, Cdmx
Pamela, CDMX
Sergio Moreno, CDMX
David lozano Tovar, CDMX
Santiago López Martínez, CDMX
Cynthia Chiang, Cdmx
Stephania Sánchez, Estado de México
Jorge Castillo Canizáles, CDMX
Alondra Campos, Jalisco Mexico
Luis González Lozano, San Luis Potosí
Alina, CDMX
Karla González Ramírez
Montserrat Hernández, CDMX
Patricia Ailyn Garrido, CDMX
Samantha Sánchez, Edo. De México
Sara Sánchez, San Luis Potosí
Aranza Tinajero, CDMX
Gala Alejandra García Ruiz, Cdmx
Naayeli Ramírez Espinosa, Peninsula de Yucatan
Huizache Badillo, CDMX
Martin Mantxo, A Planeta (Euskal Herria/País Vasco)
Agrupación por la memoria histórica Providencia Antofagasta, Antofagasta Chile
Carmen Manuela Delcid, San Pedro Sula, Honduras
Colectivo de Coordinación de Acciones Socio Ambientales (Colectivo CASA), Oruro-Bolivia
David Pierre, Haiti
Hermanas de la Misericordia, Hermanas CCASA, América Latina
Martín López Gallegos, Profesor Adj. en la Facultad de Economía, UNAM
La Casa del Centro, Gilberto y Patricia Z, Tijuana BC Mexico
Kurt McLean, Occupied Kumeyaay/Kumiay lands of San Diego/Tijuana
Red de resistencias y rebeldías en Tijuana
Mathilde, Francia
Diana Laura Corona Hernández, México
Fátima Rubio Moreno, Lic. Turismo Internacional
Brittney López Hampton Coleman
Colectivo Acción Solidaria con México, Viena, Austria.
Asociación medioambiental Colibrí ecosocial, CHILE
Xilone Purepecha Nation/ White Mountain Apache, California US
Rosángela Pérez Mendoza, Docente Tutora Investigadora, Lic. en Artes Visuales
Rebelión, México
Coordinadora de Pueblos y Organizaciones del Oriente del Estado de México en Defensa de la Tierra, el Agua y su Cultura (CPOOEM), México
Alejandra Sánchez, Ciudadana Mexicana
TONATIERRA (Phoenix, Arizona)
Manuel May Castillo Dr., Universidad de Munich, Alemania
Ianci Balam, Ejido Jacinto Pat
Roberto Cuevas
Ramon Aguilera, Puerto Morelos
Stephanie Smiley, USA
Enicia, San Miguel de Allende
María salas, CdMx
Adriana Martinez,Playa del carmen
Asamblea Maseual Autonoma del Agua de Cuetzalan, Pueblo Originario Maseual de Cuetzalan
Guardia Comunitaria Indigena de San Andres Tzicuilan Cuetzalan, Pueblo Originario Maseual de Cuetzalan
Erwin Slim Torres, Fundador del Ordenamiento Territorial Integral de Cuetzalan. Asesor del movimiento
Indígena en contra de los Proyectos de Muerte.
Ivone Alatrist,HOUSTON TX
CONRADO Alba Brunet
arnoldo colibrí, el Chiapas Support Committee, territorio Ohlone
Maria Antonieta Bocanegra Aguilar, Felipe Carillo Puerto
Ines Duran Matute, México
Hortencia Ramirez Campos, Amatlán de Quetzalcoatl, Morelos México
Rocío Servin Jiménez, Universidad de Guanajuato,
Guadalupe Meza Lavaniegos,Socio pedagoga en Guanajuato
La Ezkina, Tijuana, BC
Edgar Fernando Fernández Villa, Psicólogo educativo
Ignacio Muñoz, Movimiento de Pobladorxs en Lucha (Chile)
Red de Resistencia y Rebeldia en apoyo al CIG-CNI del Puerto de Veracruz, Puerto de Veracruz
Montserrat Díaz Romero, Escuela Nacional de Antropología e Historia
José Cándido Guzmán Sánchez, UABC, Estudiante a Licenciatura en Economía, Tijuana
Centro de Investigación Escénica El Teatrito, Mérida Yucatán
Mexicali Resiste, Mexicali
Teresa González Molina, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana
Alicia Dorantes Camacho, Cuernavaca Morelos
Alejandra Vargas, Colectivo Casa Creación,México
Guillermo Villalobos Rojo, Frente Social de Trabajadores Independientes, mx
Marcela Jiménez, Cancun Mexico
Ass. Solidaria Cafè Rebeldía-Infoespai rebeldia, Barcelona, Catalunya
MutVitz13 – Marsella, Francia
Natanael Murillo Calvo, CDMX
Matilde Ortuño Vilchis, Estado de México
Rocío Servin Jiménez, Universidad de Guanajuato
Espiral de solidaridad-semilla de resistencia, Grecia
Asamblea Libertaria Autoorganizada Paliacate Zapatista, Grecia
Espoir chiapas
Comite de Solidaridad con los Pueblos Indigenas de las Americas (CSIA-Nitassinan), Paris, Francia
Jazz Diaz,Merced (Central Valley) California
Ian Murphy, University of San Francisco
Eleanor Finley, UMass Amherst Anthropology Department
Colectivo Transdisciplinario de Investigaciones Críticas, México
Francisco De Parres Antropólogo / Fotógrafo
East Coast Chiapas Solidarity Committee
Karen Lopez Circulo de Promotoras de Salud Tradicional, California
Elena Ortega
Tiziana, Italy
Berenice Perez
Daniel Farber
Autonomous Brown Beret, Sabrina Chapa, New York City, Lenapehoking
Matt Yamashita, Sustainable Molokai, Hawaii
Misael Calderon, Building Engineer
WESPAC Foundation Westchester County, New York
Sadie heald, Harrison, NY
Mercy Verdugo, Laboratorio de Arte Atelier
Douglass DeCandia
Luis Tinoco Torrejon, Belgium
Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ,) Westchester, Turtle Island, original territory of Lenni Lenape Peoples [Westchester County, New York, USA]
Dr. Damaris Calderón Alcalán Directora Escuela Latinoamericana de Medicina, (ELAM), Cuba
Eagle and the Condor Liberation Front Tongva territories, Los Angeles, California
Building Bridges Human Rights, Vancouver Collective
Adriana Diego, Oxnard, CA
Issa Estelle Occupied Kumeyaay, San Diego, California
Ary Amaya
Sarah Valdez, Tongva Teritory (Los Angeles)
Théo Marcos, Francia
colectivo Ramonara, Chipre
Red Ya Basta, Alemania
Mut-Vitz Colectivo, (Francia)
Dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery Coalition







Displaced from Los Altos of Chiapas, defenseless against the virus and armed groups

In San Cristóbal de Las Casas, indigenous people from Los Altos de Chiapas wait to receive aid. Photo Afp

By: Hermann Bellinghausen

In Los Altos of Chiapas, the displaced Tzotzils from Aldama municipality are in a doubly vulnerable situation. To the attacks from armed groups, tolerated by the state government, are added increasing health risks during the health emergency, without the guarantees of adequate medical attention.

The entry into phase 3 of the health emergency in Mexico places into evidence the fact that the original peoples are highly vulnerable, since their lives are at constant risk,” the Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Center (Frayba) points out.

The violence intensified since March 24 and said human rights center has recorded 47 attacks that increased during the last week and were carried out systematically.

According to reports from the Permanent Commission of Comuneros and Displaced of Aldama, armed paramilitary groups coming from Chenalhó use the trenches of Tok’oy, Pajaltoj, Oxch’om, Slumka, Vale’tik and Tojtik, of the Saclum and Santa Martha communities, to fire shots directed towards the houses in Xuxch’en, San Pedro Kotsilnab, Koko’, Tabak, and Chivit. Last Monday, the Permanent Commission reported new attacks, which began during the early hours of the morning. According to their testimonies, men dressed in black fired shots from the trenches.

On March 27, Aldama communities in forced displacement filed a request for an amparo (suspension) and for the protection of federal justice for the “definitive suspension of the violence” of armed civilian groups that “act with the acquiescence and tolerance of State officials.” Nevertheless, as of this date “the responsible authorities continue with the omission.”

Violence on the border strip between Aldama and Chenalhó intensified in the midst of the health emergency. The authorities have failed to comply with the suspension plainly granted by a federal judge on March 28, “which resulted in an incident due to a failure to comply with the suspension, which consisted of providing the protection and security that the complainants require,” as well as measures “that guaranty the life, security and personal integrity of the Aldama population in a situation of generalized violence and human rights violations derived from the armed conflict,” according to the resolution of the third district court, with its seat in Tuxtla Gutiérrez, to protect these communities.

The Frayba highlights the United Nations essential guidelines on addressing the pandemic for vulnerable groups: “States must apply additional measures for the purpose of addressing the disproportionate impact that Covid-19 can have on las minorities, because of the remote areas where they live, in which there is limited access to essential goods and services.”

From the beginning of the armed aggressions in March 2018, the Frayba made interventions with 30 authorities from two periods of the los federal and state governments. Nevertheless, impunity persists in serious violations of indigenous rights: arbitrary deprivation of life, forced displacement and depriving the community defender Cristóbal Sántiz of his freedom.

Both the Frayba and the indigenous people urge the governments of Andrés Manuel López Obrador and Rutilio Escandón to protect the communities.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee


Joint pronouncement for life. “A systemic change is necessary”

CHIAPAS: JOINT PRONOUNCEMENT FOR LIFE. “A systemic change is necessary,”social organizations demand

In Chiapas, there are still many people displaced from their homes.

To the people of Chiapas

To the EZLN Good Government Boards:

To Indigenous and campesino organizations:

To federal, state and municipal Governments:

To federal, state and district health authorities:

San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico, on April 20, 2020

From the South of Mexico diverse social, civil and collective organizations come together to share information, analyze and generate strategies to jointly face this pandemic COVID 19. In this collective effort we find ourselves who have been working for years for the defense and promotion of human rights: civil, political, economic, social, cultural and environmental in the state of Chiapas. For decades, we have developed multiple initiatives for justice and dignity in these territories, specifically in the areas of women’s rights, childhood and youth, indigenous peoples and migrant peoples; defending the right to health, water, territory, information and free human mobility, among others. From these various capacities, wisdoms and experiences we join forces to jointly accompany the peoples in demanding rights, to inform in an accessible and truthful way about the pandemic, to generate creative spaces for mutual aid and to document and denounce possible human rights violations that arise during the emergency.

We start by remembering that we are in a state that has historically and in particular experienced exclusion and marginalization, and in contrast to a tremendous organizational power that is the fruit of its long history of struggle and resistance. The pandemic that we experience today reiterates that capitalist forms of production, in which violence, inequality and dispossession predominate, make the means for the reproduction of life precarious and diminish the possibility of living a decent life.

There is a strong relationship between the health of nature and human health; viruses proliferate in situations of ecological devastation linked to agro-industrial expansion and its productive containment and storage systems, a process that violates human rights and land rights. If conditions remain the same, viruses will continue to appear, changing the model of food production, betting on food sovereignty and agro-ecology is a means to prevent future pandemics. To prevent this from happening, a systemic change is necessary, for which we consider it essential to listen to the voices and struggles of indigenous peoples and campesinos who care for and defend Mother Earth and its territory.

This health emergency highlights the dismantling of public health systems resulting from the capitalist model and the subordination of people’s health to a model that serves the market and the developmental option as the only valid indicator. Hence, a paradigm shift should put above all else the right to life and human rights of all people.

We know that it is a great challenge for the Mexican government, and for society as a whole to face this situation before a saturated and in some places collapsed health system, that’s why we urge the federal, state and municipal levels to listen and attend to demands and considerations based on a clear diagnosis of the needs of the different territories in Mexico. We are for the effective and comprehensive guarantee of the right to health set forth in Articles 1, 2, 3, 7, 13, 17, 25, 26, 27, 28 Bis, 29 and 77 Bis of the Constitution of the United Mexican States. We demand:

  1. Address the social determinations of the pandemic that place migrant populations, working children and street children, urban slums, people in detention, precarious workers as sectors with greater vulnerability to contagion, to timely diagnosis and access to treatment.
  2. In the case of indigenous peoples and recognizing the historical strategies of community health, fully respect the exercise of their right to autonomy and their own models of health care in their territories. Within the framework of the San Andrés Accords, the second article of the Constitution, and international instruments such as ILO Convention 169, and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
  3. Broadly disseminate state measures of care and accompaniment for girls, boys and women who experience intra-family violence, and that the care is easily accessible and with a human rights focus.
  4. Recognize the complexity of human mobility in Chiapas as it is a state of origin, transit, destination and return. For this reason, implement efficient epidemiological surveillance measures for people in forced displacement, migrants who are in detention, and those who forcibly return to communities: a) Specific care plan that includes information accessible in local languages to the family and community of return, prompt diagnosis-treatment, and follow-up.
b) We affirm that migration is not a crime, therefore we urge to suspend immigration detention, avoid overcrowding in detention centers, the immediate release of all people and guarantee their human rights.
c) Regarding the 9,950 victims of forced displacement, we request the same epidemiological surveillance measures and an effective response to the widespread violence caused by paramilitary groups.
  5. Guarantee appropriate conditions for health workers at all levels. Provision of sufficient supplies, equipment and training to strengthen first-level health services for Non-COVID and COVID 19 care, including the strengthening of care spaces and horizontal collaboration with community health agents: midwives, promoters, doctors and interns.
  6. In the case of midwives, the State facilitates and accelerates the recognition of midwifery in the civil registry and extends birth certificates without any condition. That they be respected to continue exercising attention and care, that community recognition is sufficient. In the event that they request it to adequately supply materials and supplies necessary for the delivery care.
  7. We request that the federal government pay special attention to the way in which the health strategy is implemented by the local government in Chiapas. We recognize the committed work and recover the requirement of Section 50 of the National Union of Workers of the Chiapas State Health Secretariat, which literally says:

“At this time we lack effective leadership in the state to face this contingency, our institution is currently run for political and not scientific purposes, therefore it does not represent the interests of public health in our State, for this reason we do not know We will organize this official representation and the workers, as we know how, to face the pandemic.

We demand that the Governor of the State, Dr. Rutilio Escandón Cadenas, immediately dismiss the political secretary of health, with the immediate replacement of experts in epidemiology that Chiapas has. ”

  1. Expedited and transparent information on health care protocols in Chiapas. To offer dignified care, it is necessary that the personnel are adequately protected in accordance with the protocols established by the World Health Organization.
  2. Guarantee basic services in the supply networks of drinking water, sewerage, electricity and sanitation for the general population and with particular attention to hospitals, health homes, homes for the elderly, migrant detention centers, prisons and children’s rooms.
  3. Guarantee and regulate the supply of food to avoid speculation in the prices of essential items. For small producers of surpluses, maintain guarantee prices and facilitate the distribution of their products. Promote farmers markets for agro-ecological or transition products for local distribution. Guarantee that a percentage of the purchase from small producers of surplus is allocated to the total purchase of food from the Mexican State.
  4. Generate timely economic plans, without any conditions, to worthily accompany families who do not have insured wages and jobs. Monitor and ensure that these subsidies do not become the object of clientele and corruption.
  5. That the process of hospital reconversion is transparent at the state and district levels with clear and precise promotion and dissemination of the critical route of urban care, and rural coverage, and without neglecting hospital care and outpatient consultation. NO COVID 19 .
  6. Information on strategies to support other problems derived from phases 2 and 3 such as intra-family violence, femicidal, psychological, economic, physical and sexual violence against children and women, stigmatization of the COVID patients, attack on / health workers.
  7. We ask that under no circumstances force measures be applied by the police and military bodies for the purposes of containing the population that may incur illegal actions and violations of human rights of persons.
  8. Stop the narrative of war, promotion of fear, physical repression of the State and the demonstration of force, which exert physical, symbolic violence and provoke fear and loneliness that prevent building solidarity and collective ties. The deliberate promotion of rumor, disinformation and panic makes people sick, demobilized and, in the extreme, becomes a stigmatization and persecution of the other.

We recognize the efforts that Chiapas society is making by staying at home, as well as the autonomous health proposals of towns and communities, we value the initiatives of small businesses that are doing their part, we celebrate the broad displays of solidarity that are being deployed We therefore urge the authorities to act responsibly and fully comply with their public mandate.

We appreciate and recognize the work, commitment and dedication of health workers.

We will continue to work in a coordinated manner and in co-responsibility with society and with the peoples with whom we walk, we will continue with the dissemination of information in local languages, generating networks of solidarity and mutual support, and we also maintain our action of observation, documentation and denunciation of actions that violate the human rights of people in these territories.

Signed by:

Organizations: At`el Antsetik Community Center; Peasant Ecology and Health Training Center / Ombudsman for the Right to Health (CCESC-DDS); Enlace, Comunicación y Capacitación, AC; Averages; Melel Xojobal, AC; Global Pediatric Alliance; Commission for the Defense of Human Rights, AC; Community Health and Development (Sadec); Ixim Antsetic Women’s House; Water and Life: Women, Rights and environment, AC; Mesoamerican Voices, Action with Migrant Peoples, AC; Economic and Social Development of Indigenous Mexicans, AC (DESMI); Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Center, AC (Frayba); Center for Studies for Change in the Mexican Countryside, AC (CECCAM); Mexican Institute for Community Development (IMDEC); A helping hand in the fight against AIDS AC; Formacion y Capacitación AC; Fray Matias de Córdoba AC Human Rights Center; Apostolic of the Heart of Jesus (YMCA) Tapachula; Kaltsilaltik, AC, Comitán .; Initiatives for Human Development AC; SJM Frontera Comalapa; Center for the Rights of Victims of Violence Minerva Bello, Trust for the Health of Indigenous Children AC

Ajmaq Rebellion and Resistance Network

Network for the Rights of Children and Adolescents in Chiapas (REDIAS)

Network for Peace
: Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Center, (San Cristóbal de Las Casas); Fray Pedro Lorenzo de la Nada Human Rights Center, (Ocosingo); AC CEDIAC Center for Indigenous Rights; Women’s Rights Center (San Cristóbal de Las Casas); Support Commission for Community Unity and Reconciliation (CORECO) (San Cristóbal de Las Casas); Economic and Social Development of Indigenous Mexicans (DESMI) (San Cristóbal de Las Casas); Education for peace (EDUPAZ) (Comitán); Liaison, Training and Communication (Ocosingo and Comitán); Services and Advice for Peace (SERAPAZ) (Ocosingo).

National Network of Civil Human Rights Organizations “All Rights for All and All”


Originally Published in both English and Spanish by Pozol Colectivo

Monday, April 20, 2020


A Maya Train Fibra?

The Maya Train will travel at a high speed and be fueled by hydrogen

By: Violeta R. Núñez Rodríguez *

In one of the pamphlets of the National Fund for the Promotion of Tourism (Fondo Nacional de Fomento al Turismo, Fonatur), which promotes the Maya Train, the most important infrastructure work of the current federal government, which contemplates 30 stations (22 passing through and 18 with development poles –Fonatur, 2020–) that they intend to build on ejido and small property lands, it states verbatim that: “the stations will be financed through an Infrastructure and Real Estate Trust (Fideicomiso de Infraestructura y Bienes Raíces, Fibra), called the Maya Train Fibra” (Fonatur, 2019). In other words, they will not be financed with public investment.

But what is this Fibra? It’s a financial instrument that is quoted like any share inside the capital market on the Mexican Stock Exchange (BMV, its initials in Spanish). “What’s that?” That’s what the vast majority of this country’s population would say, since only 0.4 percent of all Mexicans invest in the BMV (CNBV, 2018). Added to that, regarding this financial instrument in particular, there is little experience in Mexico since it has been just nine years that it has been listed on the BMV. This contrasts with the United States where, in addition to the fact that 60 percent of the population invests in the stock market, this type of instrument (known as a Real Estate Investment Trust) is more than 60 years old. We must add to this that there is no experience in Mexico. According to what some financial specialists indicate (Rankia, 2020), there is no experience anywhere in the world where a Fibra is constituted on social (ejido) property, which implies that there is no history.

But, what is this instrument about? According to the BMV, “Fibras are vehicles destined to finance the acquisition and/or construction of real estate that have as their purpose the lease or acquisition of the right to receive the income coming from the lease of said property” (BMV, 2015). In Mexico the Fibras have been used to finance office buildings, commercial properties, high quality shopping centers, industrial parks, industrial storage parks, hotels, etcetera. But the way it is financed starts with the capital market, a market where risks exist, given the volatility of stock market prices, which will depend on the economic situation of the markets where it is invested, and also on the national and global economic context.

Specifically, how will the Fibra proposal work? In an interview with one of the territorial links of the Maya Train, he explains that they express the following to the ejido owners: “You contribute land to the trust (Maya Train Fibra). What does the trust give you in exchange? It gives you shares in the company; it makes you a partner in the company, just like any other partner. Land will be necessary for the development poles. The ejido owners contribute their capital in the form of land. The land will belong to the partners in the project: the landowners and those who put money into developing the cities. Where does that money come from, from the capital market, from the BMV” (Fonatur, 2019). In this sense, the ejido owners “affected” by the Maya Train, in order to become partners will have to contribute their land to the trust, and on it they will build the stations, cities and development poles, which implies that if they wanted to reclaim their lands, it would be impossible.

Added to that, the Fibras are hybrid financial instruments. They contemplate two incomes that will be “delivered” to investors, the fixed and the variable. This latter income, which constitutes the major part of the instrument, is no known beforehand and is not guaranteed, it could even lose everything invested, which will depend on multiple factors. In other words, could the ejido owners lose their investment? According to the definition of variable income: yes. In addition, if they didn’t have a good return being in the trust, it’s very probable that they would end up selling their shares in the future, with which they would lose the land they contributed, and they would stop being property owners. Most likely, the owners of most of the shares would be the ones who buy them.

Before these scenarios that could constitute a dispossession of social property, a very big question is added. How does Fonatur propose a Fibra figure for incorporating the ejido owners as partners, if the Agrarian Law doesn’t contemplate it? In that regard, the agrarian prosecutor indicates that: “the law establishes that the contribution of land is for agricultural, livestock or forestry societies and could not be for industrial and urban development projects. The law does not foresee it” (Hernández Palacios, 2020). So, what are they betting on, that the ejidos become fully dominated and are sooner or later privatized? Let’s not forget that this has been the big dream of the neoliberals.

*Professor-Researcher at the Metropolitan Autonomous University, Xochimilco. Author of the book “Mexican Mining in 21st Century Capitalism.”


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee




Pandemic and civilization collapse

By: Raúl Zibechi

In its effects and consequences, the pandemic is the great war of our days. As happened with the two conflagrations of the 20th century or with the black plague of the 14th century, the pandemic is the closure of a period of our history that, summarizing, we can name as that of modern, Western and capitalist civilization, which encompassed the entire planet.

Neoliberal globalization has embodied the zenith and the beginning of the decadence of this civilization. Pandemics, like wars, do not happen in any period, but rather in the terminal phase of what the professor of economic history Stephen Davies (of the Metropolitan University of Manchester) defines as an ecumene, a part of the world that has “an integrated economy and a division of labor, united and produced for trade and exchange” (

In his analysis, pandemics are verified when a period of “increasing economic and trade integration on a large part of the planet’s surface” comes to its end. They are made possible by two complementary phenomena: an elevated human movement and an increase in urbanization, both empowered by a way of life that we call globalization and by “intensive cattle breeding.”

Strictly speaking, the pandemic accelerates pre-existing tendencies. There are basically three: the interruption of economic integration; a political weakening that provokes a crisis of the ruling classes; and profound psychological and cultural mutations. All three are accelerating until ending up in the disarticulation of the capitalist world-system, in which our civilization is anchored.

The first is demonstrated in the interruption of the long-distance supply chains that lead to de-globalization and the multiplication of local and regional ventures.

Latin America is in terrible condition to face this challenge, since its economies are completely focused towards the global market. Our countries compete with each other to place the same products in the same markets, contrary to what happens in Europe, for example. The narrowness of the internal markets works against it, while the power of the one percent tends to make it difficult to exit this extractive neoliberal model.

In second place, pandemics, Davies says, tend to “weaken the legitimacy of states and governments,” while popular rebellions multiply. Pandemics especially affect large cities, which make up the nucleus of the system, as is the case with New York and Milan. The ruling classes inhabit the metropolis and are above the average age, so they will also be affected by epidemics, as can be observed now.

But pandemics often also wipe out much of the wealth of the elites. Just like wars, major catastrophes “produce a great reduction in inequality.” That’s what happened with the black plague and the wars of the 20th Century.

Davies’ third point, the cultural and psychological changes, are so evident that no one should ignore them: the activism of women and indigenous peoples, with the tremendous crisis that they have produced in patriarchy and colonialism, are the central aspect of the collapse of our state-centric civilization.

The Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan, in the second volume of the monumental work for his defense before the European Court on Human Rights, contrasts “state civilization” with “democratic civilization,” and concludes that they cannot both coexist. [1]

For Öcalan, the State “was formed based on a hierarchical system about the domestication of the woman” (p. 451). With time, the State was converted into the nucleus of state civilization, with a “strict relationship between war, violence, civilization, State and justice-Law” (p. 453).

To the contrary, democratic civilization differs from state civilization, in that it seeks to satisfy the whole of society by means of “common management of common issues” (p. 455). Its material base and its genealogy must be sought in social forms prior to the State and in those that, after its appearance, were left outside the State.

“When communities reach the capacity to decide and act on the issues that concern them, then they will be able to talk about a democratic society,” Öcalan writes.

Such societies already exist. They make up the ways of life in which we can be inspired to construct the arks that allow us to survive in the systemic storm, which now appears in the form of a pandemic, but which in the future will be combined with climate chaos, wars among powers and against peoples.

I know some democratic societies, especially on our continent. The largest and most developed already has 12 caracoles of resistance and rebellion where they construct new worlds.

[1] La civilización capitalista. La era de los dioses sin máscara y los reyes desnudos, Caracas, 2017. (Capitalist civilization. The era of gods without masks and naked kings.)


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Friday, April 10, 2020

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee




Pandemic: 16 million indigenous people in absolute vulnerability

By: Zósimo Camacho

Hunger, chronic malnutrition and precarious medical infrastructure are the constant in the geographies of the Native peoples. They don’t have clear information about the arrival of the Covid-19 disease. The greatest ravages of the pandemic and economic crisis could occur on the indigenous horizon.

La Montaña of Guerrero is the most impoverished region of the country and of the Continent. It is purely indigenous, the majority monolingual. The pandemic is coming to 550,000 Na’saavi, Me’phaa and Nahuas of 19 municipalities. There is only one second-level hospital with 30 beds in the entire region –already saturated with women in labor and patients with chronic degenerative diseases and three mechanical ventilators, of which only one works.

That’s the hospital “artillery” with which La Montaña awaits the passage of the Covid-19 pandemic, caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the world’s greatest health emergency in more than 100 years.

“A giant wave is coming and our health system is dismantled, obsolete, without sufficient medical personnel,” warns the anthropologist Abel Barrera Hernández from Tlapa de Comonfort, the heart of La Montaña, the only city of the region that has 70,000 inhabitants.

Poor among the poor, the panorama is similar in the majority of the country’s indigenous geographies, which according to estimates of the National Institute of Indigenous Peoples (INPI, its initials in Spanish) number 16 million people. In remote locations there is not even an awareness of what will come to them in the next weeks and months. And, there are no informational messages for them in their language.

“In this abyss of inequality in our country, we are in the basement of misery,” points out Barrera Hernández, Director of the Tlachinollan Human Rights Center of La Montaña. The pandemic comes to complicate “a labyrinth where it seems that there is no way out, there is no way of solving the problem of hunger.”

Carlos González, a Nahua councilor of the Indigenous Government Council (CIG) and a member of the Coordination Commission of the National Indigenous Congress (CNI), agrees: “Indigenous peoples are the most vulnerable in terms of clinical hospital infrastructure and in terms of medical care in general. There is a lot of malnutrition and many lacks.”

The organized indigenous response

 A lawyer specializing in agrarian law, González says that the threat of the Covid-19 disease has activated alerts among the indigenous peoples of the CNI since it always hits the elderly more severely.

“In [Mexican] society, but markedly in the indigenous peoples, the elderly play a fundamental role, vital for the survival of the communities and their reproduction. It’s a very serious concern,” he explains.

That’s why, for example, the Wirrárika (or Huichol) people of San Andrés Cohamiata, Tatei Kie, decided to suspend the Holy Week ritual, in other words, the most important celebrations of the community’s annual cycle.

For its part, the Yaqui tribe considers not canceling the ritual –also fundamental to its culture– but it did close its territory and not permit the entry of “yoris” (mestizos) into their communities. The same measure is being applied now in some other indigenous geographies like those on the Isthmus and the Central Valleys of Oaxaca, and in some Maya communities of Yucatan.

Another case that stands out is that of the Guerrero communities of the Indigenous and Popular Council of Guerrero-Emiliano Zapata (Cipog-EZ), of the People’s National Liberation Front (FNLP, its initials in Spanish) and of the Campesino Organization of the Southern Sierra (OCSS), which have jointly ordered an external withdrawal and an internal deployment to confront the pandemic and take control of the territory.

We’re talking about hundreds of Na’saavi (or Mixteca), Me’phaa (or Tlapaneca), Ñamnkue (or Amuzga), Nahua, Afro-Mexican and Mestizo communities that declare alerts and announce that they won’t give respite to the opportunists who want to take advantage of the emergency.

In a document issued jointly, the three organizations acquit themselves as members of the CNI and of the CIG and denounce “the lack of a health budget” in the Montaña, Costa Chica, Costa Grande and Tierra Caliente regions.

For Carlos González, with all the poverty and dispossession, the organized indigenous communities in rebellion will be able to generate some kind of defense in their geographies, thanks to their own community life.

The response capacity will be different according to the degree of organization, the topography and the social context of the region where the communities are located. For example, it will not be the same in the Sierra Tarahumara as in the Zapatista Cañadas.

Some communities will be able to organize so that the contagion is slow and will even be able to face the economic crisis with their own means and resources.

“There are communities that resist in very difficult, vey precarious conditions in their regions because they have been displaced by urban and industrial development, as well as pollution. And there are other communities, regions, where there is still a good number of means and there is much greater harmony with Mother Earth,” Carlos González explains.

Therefore, the CNI predicts that the worst situation for indigenous people will, paradoxically, take place in the cities, where there are migrants in precarious jobs and without any type of support. Far from their community, indigenous people are more vulnerable.

That is the case of the Native Ñäñho (or Otomí) community of Santiago Mexquititlán, Querétaro, which is located in Mexico City. They have already prohibited it from selling in the streets and it has no access to food, water or a place to spend the night. The CNI is carrying out a collection to support these families.

The activist and advisor of the community, Diego García, points out that there are 130 Otomí families who are in precarious conditions in the capital of the Republic. This situation worsened after the 2017 earthquake, when they had to vacate the buildings that they were occupying. For more than 18 months, these families spent the night outside said buildings, without minimal conditions of habitability, health, security, work and food. The Mexico City Reconstruction Program did not contemplate them.

Even worse, the “owners” removed them from the buildings and the government of Claudia Sheinbaum Pardo ordered the eviction of the Otomí families, an act that was consummated violently last year with more than 200 members of the “disappeared” grenadier corps.

Today on the streets, and through Diego García, an adherent to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle, the families point out that they don’t have any way of protecting themselves from the pandemic. “To avoid contagion, the WHO [World Health Organization] and the governments recommend washing your hands, and we don’t have potable water for consumption; a safe distance, and we live crowded together and in camps; shelter at home, and we don’t have a home: we live on the street, we were evicted; quarantine, and we are unemployed, we work in the street and we live day-to-day.”

The CNI tool the threat of the pandemic seriously weeks befor the federal government launched National Safe Distance Day. The Zapatista National Liberation Army (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, EZLN) in Chiapas closed it Goon Governments Juntas and its Caracoles. It called on its ranks and support bases to prepare for the pandemic with measures applied internally.

At the national level, the CNI cancelled its assemblies that were already programmed in 10 locations throughout the country to promote the defense of territories against the megaprojects. Two of those cancelled assemblies would have been of a national and international character. The hosts would have been the indigenous communities of Campeche.

The governmental uncovering

 Finally, the previous cases are about indigenous peoples, tribes and nations organized in struggle for their rights. They will articulate an answer. A different case is that of the communities in absolute precariousness, like those of the High Montaña of Guerrero, the Rarámuris of the Sierra Tarahumara, the Chichimeca Jonaz of Guanajuato and San Luis Potosí or the Ñäñho OF THE semi-desert of Queretaro.

The governmental strategy in the La Montaña region of Guerrero is to give instructions with which it’s almost impossible to comply: constantly washing your hands, where there’s barely water to drink, and using antibacterial gel, where it isn’t even sold.

But there is no governmental action to, given the emergency, guaranty the communities access to water. Economic inequality persists, which translates into unequal access to services and information, Abel Barrera explains.

Without an effective government communications policy for the indigenous peoples, it is their own organizations that try to prevent the pandemic. The Tlachinollan Human Rights Center of La Montaña has delivered audio messages in the region’s maternal languages: Nahua, T’un Saavi and Me’phaa.

In the area, the federal and state governments have published written messages that, although they are written in indigenous languages, the majority don’t know how to read, not to mention the fact that they are oral tradition societies. There are also messages broadcast through a radio station, but they are very technical for the population and don’t generate any awareness of what is coming.

“We don’t see actions aimed at establishing a communication in accordance with the idiosyncrasy of the peoples, their languages, their culture; that minimally accessible information, not so technical, is guaranteed,” explains Abel Barrera, a human rights defender.

Contralínea requested an interview with the director of the INPI, Adelfo Regino Montes. The official, the highest authority in the government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador for attention to the original peoples, declined to speak with this media outlet.

On its Internet page, the INPI only has as actions against the coronavirus in indigenous peoples the translation into 10 languages (of the 68 that are spoken in the country) of informative posters for preventing contagion. As is observed on the page, there would be no other policy for the original peoples given the pandemic.

The disease could not come to La Montaña of Guerrero at a worse time. Impoverished and with chronic malnutrition, indigenous families suffer a worsening of their economic situation. Their three sources of money collapsed in the last year, months and weeks: illegal poppy growing, remittances and government assistance.

The first of these, the sale of opium gum that is obtained from poppy cultivation. Prices fell on the international black market because US consumers of the drug now prefer fentanyl. They have exchanged this narcotic for heroin.

“Lamentably, the sale of this illicit product came to be part of the indigenous peoples’ precarious economy. And it fell apart. What the kilo of gum cost on the black market here in the region, went from 25,000 to 5,000 pesos. That came to ruin with what little that some people who dared to plant in the ravines of La Montaña were sometimes able to harvest,” explains Abel Barrera.

A second source of income is from remittances. And due to the arrival of the pandemic in the United States, a large number of migrant workers in that country have lost their jobs. Many are without any work and have therefore stopped sending money to their families. There are even reports of the return of hundreds who arrive in their communities without being subject to any medical check.

The third source of income is from government aid programs. The support was reduced with the arrival of the new government. Before, families received resources by the number of children. Now it’s the same amount for each family, regardless of the number in the family.

Abel Barrera explains that the reconfiguration of social programs the federal government carried out since the arrival of Andrés Manuel López Obrador did not benefit the mountain families. To the contrary, it resulted in a cut in resources for the region’s indigenous peoples.

And it’s that programs like Youth Building the Future or Support for Disabled Persons, which could be successful in other places, have no application in the communities of La Montaña where there is no paid work. Others that could have practical application, such as fertilizers, only arrived in the municipal capitals and in some communities, according to data from Tlachinollan.

In addition, Barrera Hernández recalls, a year of natural catastrophes –hailstorms, landslides and winds– just passed that finished off the crops of those who were able to plant.

The panorama is one of emergency. The pandemic comes to exacerbate these conditions. What could happen is “a chaos, a critical situation of unease, of protest… that cannot be controlled; that’s what worries us in a not too distant horizon, like 2 or 3 months. If the situation is already grave, it will be worse. There may be a context of greater polarization and violence.”

And it’s that from the government spheres no policy is foreseen to mitigate the damage caused specifically in the most impoverished regions. Abel Barrera points out that general formulas will not be enough. Policies must be designed specifically targeting certain regions.

They won’t let their guard down

 The CNI, for its part, rules out suspending the struggles that it’s waging. The fact that it is suspending mass meetings doesn’t mean that the demands are abandoned. “We will continue in the strategic struggles that we are leading,” Carlos González points out.

He is referring to the organization in defense of land and territory, to support for the struggle of women and to the struggle of workers. The activities will continue, but with local and regional actions when they are necessary; they will continue promoting the process of legal struggle where it is possible.

“Faced with the noisy fall of the economies of the rich and poor countries, we must insist that the path to a lasting and long-term solution is to destroy capitalism. This is precisely what is leading us to these crises. The deterioration of the Earth and nature will continue increasing if, as humanity, we don’t put a stop to this system,” considers the Nahua councilor.


Originally Published in Spanish by Contralinea

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee – Oakland


Coronavirus and imperial piracy

By: Luis Hernández Navarro

The coronavirus crisis has made visible the role that looting plays in the reproduction of current capitalism. As if they were modern buccaneers, the governments of powerful countries like the United States or France have dedicated themselves to confiscating, without any modesty, medical tests, ventilators and masks that other nations have acquired to combat the pandemic.

If corsairs used to control the seas and trade routes in other eras, now, not satisfied with looting, the new freebooters prevent the export of medications and sanitary equipment to other latitudes, and make massive purchases for which they pay prices three or four times above their value.

It’s not just about the large number of unscrupulous or greedy entrepreneurs who use the tragedy to do a big business.

Nor about stores that sell products in bad condition, counterfeit or expired or who defraud purchasers. Although all have multiplied like mushrooms in the rainy season, the issue goes further. It’s about imperial governments that loot key goods for combating the disease, or that, theoretically defending free trade, close their borders.

There is nothing surprising in this relationship between dispossession, new corsairs and capitalism. This mode of production –explains the anthropologist and historian Antonio García de León– was a system made by pirates and maintained by pirates. “Pirates in English is said privateers, which is almost like saying private or private initiative. They were even part of the private initiative of the time. That’s why the current private initiative has pirates among its most glorious ancestors.”

The health and disposable protective material on the global market for dealing with Covid-19 is insufficient and the imperial governments don’t hesitate in disposing of it in any way. Everything is permitted in the war over face masks.

The actions of imperial pillage are happening vertiginously. The new buccaneer Emmanuel Macron, president of France, announced: “we are at war” and issued a decree authorizing the confiscation of all the protective material in his country. Thus, on March 5, a shipment of 4 million face masks from the Swedish company Mölnlycke, with final destination to Spain and Italy, which had entered the port of Marseille and was destined for its logistics center on Lyon, was confiscated. Finally, two weeks later, after multiple diplomatic pressures, the French government was left with 2 million masks and accepted that as many others go out.

According to L’Express newspaper, after the bitter drink, the Swedish company decided not to take its China shipments to France, in order to prevent arbitrary confiscations. A high official told that newspaper: “We have instructions not to requisition all the production in order to leave a little for our friends.”

On the other side of the Atlantic, the magnate Donald Trump, who just last Saturday April 4 recognized the magnitude of the health disaster in his country provoked by the pandemic, continues being the same pirate as always. Among other arbitrary measures, he asked the 3M Company not to export face masks for medical use. Additionally, he ordered the company to manufacture as many N95 masks as the authorities consider necessary for the United States.

It’s not the only case. According to the Spanish newspaper El Independiente, suppliers of medical equipment warned autonomous communities that they will not be able to guaranty orders given the massive purchases that the United States would be making from Chinese manufacturers. “A supplier we work with regularly has told us that they are going to have problems to fill orders because the United States has blocked production from China and has entirely bought it out. It is paying 80 Euro cents for the mask, when we got the last ones at 0.45. And 20 days ago at 29 cents.”

When 200,000 protective masks for the Berlin police were confiscated at the Bangkok Airport, German authorities assumed that the United States was behind the confiscation. Senator Andreas Geise denounced the measure as an “act of modern piracy.”

The list of acts of pillage is endless. It involves Italy against Greece, the Czech Republic against Italy, Turkey against Spain and a long etcetera. But it goes beyond the face masks. This war has also spread to respirators. According to the Mossad: “countries have been embroiled in a fierce covert battle to seize at all cost the limited number of ventilators that there are on the market. Ventilators are being sold through cracks in the system.”

The contrast could not be greater. While countries like Cuba selflessly send medical brigades to many countries to combat the pandemic, the imperial governments reproduce the old capitalist piracy. Thus the ethics and defense of humanity of one and the other.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee