Chiapas Support Committee

Indigenous peoples reject the Maya Train, the Trans-Isthmus Corridor and exploitation of water

Modevite ceremony and demonstration in Chiapas.

By: Chiapas Paralelo

Different Chiapas indigenous organizations met in the “First Regional Gathering in Defense of Water Agua and Mother Earth” held in Chilón, for the purpose of expressing their indigenous resistance to the colonial invasion, and, at the same time, denouncing the strategy of the capitalist system and its logic for the dispossession of their territories.

With the slogan “Water for life, not for the transnational,” the organizations denounced that since 527 years ago they have struggled against dispossession, plunder and extermination. Now, they also struggle against the megaprojects that place in danger the conditions of existence of different life forms, as well as proposing and constructing sustainable alternatives for the care of their common house.

Given that, they mentioned that aware of the importance of the defense of land and territory, for the purpose of preserving and rescuing their knowledge, they have found different processes of struggle and resistance to converge in defense of their territory, because of which they shared their experiences in the exercise and recognition of the free determination of the original peoples.

“Others from different latitudes we weave alliances with other brother peoples to prevent the dispossession of our natural commons, since mining, geo-parks, hydroelectric dams, extraction of hydrocarbons and the privatization of water are underway as an indispensable means to carry out these megaprojects,” they explained.

One of the themes was the commercialization of water for the benefit of beer and dairy companies and, in the case of San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, the exploitation of the vital liquid for Femsa Coca Cola company, which has generated a grave water and health crisis for the population.

Therefore, the organizations confirmed that authorities of the three levels of government are subject to the interest of the transnationals, while they generate diseases and death with the destruction of territory and community life, as well as the devastation of the planet’s ecosystems, all for their economic and political interest.

“They are the ones responsible for the planet’s climate change that puts humanity and other living beings of our common house at risk,” they said.

Therefore, they withdrew their struggle for defense of territory and self- determination of the peoples in search of community government, such as a human right to consultation with the communities and peoples of the world faced with the megaprojects imposed by the system like: the Maya Train, the San Cristóbal-Palenque superhighway, the Trans-Isthmus Corridor, the Morelos Integral Project, the new airport, the refineries and the Special Economic Zones.

Therefore what they demanded is respect for the conventions established in international agreements. Convention 169 recognizes the right to consultation in Articles (6, 15, 17, 22, 27 y 28) of the ILO and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, enjoying a broad consensus at the international level with approval by 143 countries.

“The struggle of the Native peoples and their example have been fundamental in the construction of peace and the search for community reconciliation in the different regions of the state, the country and the world,” they said.

Also, the different organizations recognized the organization of the municipalities of Chilón and Bachajón, in the management of their self- government and appropriation of the human right to water forming the Movement in Defense of Water of Chilón (MODEA).

At the same time, they sympathized with the Bachajón Mission and the Movement in Defense of Life and Territory (MODEVITE).

Finally, they emphasized the organizational struggles in defense of the Quenvo Cuxtitali Reserve, Colonia 14 de Septiembre, the articulation of the Council of the Northern Zone, the defense of the María Eugenia Mountain Wetlands and La Kists and the struggle of the Zoque people against Santa Fe Mining Company (Carlos Slim), against the geo-parks, hydroelectric dams, as well as denouncing the repressive actions against the compañerxs of the Colonia Maya, San Cristóbal de las Casas.


Originally Published in Spanish by Chiapas Paralelo

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee




Since the start of 4T, repression against indigenous peoples increased, Marichuy denounces in Spain

María de Jesús Patricio, spokeswoman for the Indigenous Government Council for Mexico.

By: Armando G. Tejeda


María de Jesús Patricio, Marichuy, is on tour through Basque and Spanish cities with the charge from the National Indigenous Congress (Congreso Nacional Indígena, CNI) of denouncing the “increase in repression, murders and harassment” against the original peoples ever since Andrés Manuel López Obrador arrived in the Presidency of Mexico. The denunciations of the former pre-candidate to the Presidency also include the National Guard, which she points out as mainly responsible for the repression, especially for promoting energy projects in places like the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, Morelos and the territory through which the Maya Train will pass.

In an interview with La Jornada, Marichuy ratified these accusations that she exposes at the forums she attends and warns that in the next general assembly of indigenous people, between November and December, resistance strategies will be decided to face the “very grave” situation, she affirms, in which their communities are found.

–What leads the CNI and you to make this tour outside of Mexico to denounce what happens in Mexico?

–It is to report the real situation that our indigenous peoples experience, since what is said in the media and what those above say, among them the President of Mexico, is not what happens below. We want it known that there are many dead, there are disappeared, there are aggressions toward people that organize to defend their territory. We are living in a state of war declared towards the peoples because of wanting to introduce megaprojects that will only bring territorial destruction to entire peoples and communities. It is a dispossession that the government carries out through repressive forces, such as the Army, the police, but also groups of the narco that surrender to the interests of the corporations.

–According to you, the repression has intensified since López Obrador assumed power, even worse than with the PRI?

–Yes, that is exactly what we are seeing. It is said that it is a government of the left dice and that all is well, but it isn’t. Below we are worse than before, because they have murdered our CNI compañeros and councilors and that had not happened before. To the peoples, war has been declared in order to impose those megaprojects. In fact, we believe that the National Guard was put in place to repress, not to take care of the communities, and to consummate the agreements necessary for executing the megaprojects. So, all that about change is a lie. The change for the peoples went backwards. Besides it holds consultations with the peoples, simulated and rigged, in which it offers assistance, gifts, to condition the result of the consultation.

–In case that the community votes in favor, what would happen?

–It’s that sometimes information is paid for so that it comes out in the media that the consultations were done, but in reality it’s not so. It’s not something that the communities say, but rather something for which the corporations are paying.

–You assert that the National Guard is responsible for the repression and attacks on the CNI. Could you point out for exactly what attacks and what kind of violence has been exercised against you with the National Guard?

–It’s just in the places where there is more organization to prevent what the corporations establish, like the wind farms. They have told us that the National Guard has hit the people who resist; specifically, on the Isthmus, but I don’t remember the name of the town.

–How do you know that it’s the National Guard? Are they in uniform? Do you know them?

–Because they always wear like a bracelet with an NG. And it’s happening like that on the Isthmus, in Puebla, in Chiapas.

–And those attacks, in exactly what have they consisted?

–They have told us that there have been blows; there have also been some deaths, but there is no certainty of who they were. For example, the murder of Samir Flores was a little after a government visit in the zone in which there was a demonstration against the thermoelectric plant. And it was obvious to us that it was a message for the one who raises her voice to not say anything. They also murdered four councilors in Guerrero and other CNI delegates. And that didn’t happen before.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee





Colonialism conflicts violently with Mapuche women

By: Raúl Zibechi

Two decades ago Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui proposed that patriarchy is a substantial part of internal colonialism and that there is a parallelism between ethnic domination and that of gender. She always lived her feminine identity “since the historic and political interior of internal colonialism,” and from that place was able to comprehend, very quickly, how the three oppressions, “Indian, women and subaltern classes,”* are interwoven sustaining the capitalist world system.

The mayor of Temuco (southern Chile), an important city in the ancestral region of the Mapuche people, is promoting a repressive escalation against women selling vegetables, which shows, without nuance, the persistence of internal colonialism and how far the coloniality of power can reach.

In the center of the city you can hear horns that warn the population: “Watch your money! If you are surprised buying from the illegal street trade inside the zone of exclusion, police officers can issue you a fine that can cost 140,000 pesos (200 dollars).” “Nazi Megaphone” is how the webpage classifies it, one of the most followed media in the region.

Mayor Miguel Becker, belonging to a family of settlers that made their fortune thanks to the genocide of the Mapuche people in the “Pacification of the Araucanía” (1860-1883), declared war on the vegetable vendors a year ago. He failed because they continued selling and the residents of Temuco continued buying from them, as I was able to appreciate last December in the environment of the Mercado Pinto, where there are hundreds of stalls of vegetables, fruits, meats, legumes and artesanía.

While the Sebastián Piñera government distributes aid to the big agricultural entrepreneurs and reduces their taxes, the campesinos are expelled from the markets in the Mapuche regions, as a document of the Mapuche History Community highlights. The Republican colonial history explains this brutal asymmetry.

“All the cities located in former Mapuche territory were built in the second half of the XIX century. As the Chilean troops that dispossessed Mapuche society of their territory advanced, they were founding military forts that later became the principal cities of the region” The foundation of Temuco was done over the dead bodies of 400 Mapuches that resisted, growing on “a river of Mapuche blood.”

The tradition of women fruit and vegetable vendors comes from the will to survive of the Mapuche people, condemned to survive on small parcels of land where they started to recuperate from the military invasion, just 140 years ago. The current cities, heirs of the Chilean “military forts,” intend to continue confining the Mapuche population outside the walls, cornering them in their own territory, accepting only white people inside the city.

The Community of Mapuche History reflects what is happening now: “But here we are, we have leaked, as greengrocers horticulturists, but also as teachers, journalists, workers, doctors, anyway, today the Mapuches are in Temuco and other cities, and we have the “right to the city,” we have the right to use them, and even the right to govern them.”

I believe that this paragraph says it all. After the military invasion and occupation of our territory, we have recuperated, we’re standing and now we look beyond, towards self-government, towards the reconstruction of our nation.

That’s why the historians say: “we bring bad news” for the powerful, “because despite colonialism and dispossession, Mapuche society continues standing, resisting in everyday life to survive and organizing to project.”

It’s that projection forward that worries the white ruling class that appeals, in its attempt to contain an entire people, to the crude methods of colonialism. In that same region, a few kilometers from Temuco, Camilo Catrillanca was murdered in November 2018, provoking a massive Mapuche reaction and unprecedented support of the Chilean population with mobilizations in 30 cities.

It seems important to emphasize that the colonial/patriarchal reaction of white power directly attacks women, perhaps because they believe that they are the weakest sector of the movement and because they are the support of the community economy. But they found that they are the point where the repressive waves crash.

Those below must understand that the Mapuche people are not asking for anything, they don’t beg, nor even do they raise demands. They are in another stage, as the “Temucuicui Manifesto” of last December teaches, and which united all currents of the movement. Their objective now consists in “strengthening the exercise of territorial recuperation y control.” Territory and self-government!

*“Mujeres y estructuras de poder en los Andes”, Controversia, La Paz, 1997.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Friday, August 16, 2019

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee





Mexico, trapped between the migrant flow and US policy

African migrants protest during UN visit

Some 200 African men, women and children mobilized in Tapachula, Chiapas to demand the delivery of humanitarian visas that allow them to travel through Mexican territory. Photo: Afp.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, visited Mexico during the latter part of September to observe the situation of migrants and asylum seekers. Interviewed prior to leaving Mexico, Grandi viewed Mexico as trapped “between double pressure:” on the one hand, an unprecedented migratory flow coming from Central America and other countries (Africans, Cubans, Venezuelans and Nicaraguans), “who are not only requesting asylum,” and on the other hand a response from the North, limiting access to U.S. territory.

Grandi was asked about Mexico’s response to these pressures, which has been to accept the US policy called the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP). According to the US Department of Homeland Security, this policy requires that certain foreign individuals entering or seeking admission to the US from Mexico –illegally or without proper documentation– may be returned to Mexico to wait outside the US for the duration of their proceedings, where Mexico will provide them with all appropriate humanitarian protection for the duration of their stay. That policy has caused thousands of asylum seekers to have to reside in extremely dangerous cities on Mexico’s northern border.

Grandi emphasized that the UNHCR is not involved in the MPP and does not endorse the policy. However, he knows that there are many people requesting asylum and they are forced to live in very dangerous situations. There are kidnappings, human rights violations and manipulation from criminal groups in the area. Grandi recommended more resources for the COMAR at the northern border and an easing of procedures for asylum.

Grandi at Mexico’s southern border

Several days before the above interview, Grandi was in Tapachula, Chiapas, very close to Mexico’s southern border for the inauguration of the new installations of the Mexican Commission for Assistance to Refugees (COMAR). According to a report from Isaín Mandujano in Chiapas Paralelo, African migrants arrived at the COMAR’s new offices in Tapachula, where they tried to deliver a letter to Filippo Grandi. All was going well until Yadira de los Santos, federal delegate of the National Migration Institute (INM), its initials in Spanish) made an appearance at the site. This angered the African migrants and activist human rights defenders, who started to protest against the federal official. Spirits rose when federal police intervened and began struggling with the migrants.

Paul Mananga Ntoto, one of the few African migrants that speaks Spanish, demanded that the UNHCR and the COMAR intervene so that the exit letter be given to them right away so that they can continue on their way. The migrant from the Central African Congo reproached the treatment that all the migrants from his country have received up to now; they remain stranded in this southern border city of Mexico. The activist and migrant defender, Luis Rey García Villagrán, questioned the violation of the human rights of the migrants that enter our country and asked that they be taken care of immediately.

UNHCR officials came out to attend to the migrants that were protesting and then a woman migrant threw herself on the tires of Filippo Grandi’s truck in order to receive attention.

African migrants protest during UN visit.

Grandi emphasized that Chiapas is the state in Mexico that receives the highest number of requests for asylum and that Chiapas will increase its response capacity faced with the increase in asylum requests. “We must work together to respond efficiently and quickly, and also justly, respecting the rights of those who have to flee,” Grandi said during the inauguration of the new space of the Mexican Commission for Refugee Assistance in Chiapas, Mexico, supported by the UNHCR.

Africans in Tapachula throw barricades and chairs

Young African migrants march..

Apparently, officials of the COMAR and the UNHCR did not act quickly enough to satisfy the African migrants’ concerns about delay. Approximately a week later, after marching to demand delivery of the document that would permit them to move freely through Mexico, more than 200 young African migrants threw barricades, tents and chairs placed in the central park of Tapachula, Chiapas for the celebration of what’s called the Regional Security Fair.

In the morning, migrants came out of the 21st Century Migratory Station, located in the northern part of that border city, where they have maintained an occupation for more than 45 days, and they walked to the center of Tapachula. They reached the central park, where they found the city hall surrounded with metal barricades, a stage, tents and chairs, so in order to advance towards the esplanade they threw what they found in their way, while some agents observed.

One of them threatened to throw a metal barricade at the circle of police, who launched tear gas, which caused the confrontation with the young Africans. The action of the young migrants from different African countries provoked a confrontation with the police that were guarding the area. Thankfully, no injuries were reported.

In conclusion, all of the above calls into question the deliberate cruelty of the US policy named the Migrant Protections Protocols, which creates long delays for migrants seeking asylum in a country without the existing infrastructure to accommodate them.


The Chiapas Support Committee compiled this article from news recent reports in Chiapas Paralelo and La Jornada.









The turns of neoliberalism

1st Intercontinental Encounter against Neoliberalism and for Humanity in Zapatista Territory of Chiapas Mexico.

By: Raúl Zibechi

The crisis of critical thinking; in other words, our way of comprehending the world so we can act to transform it, has led analysts to multiply not very precise concepts that tend to be more descriptive than analytical, thus they induce confusion. Neoliberalism is one of the concepts that are being used less rigorously.

An idea has been disseminated among many professionals in politics and thought that associates neoliberalism with a type of “market fundamentalist” government, when its meaning ought to point in a structural direction: it’s capitalism in the period in which accumulation by dispossession has become hegemonic.

The Marxist geographer David Harvey, who coined the concept of accumulation by dispossession/robbery, associates this modality of capital with the neoliberal policies promoted by the Washington Consensus: privatizations, domination of financial capital, regressive distribution of income and the generation of crisis to accelerate the three previous processes.

In Latin America neoliberalism had a first privatizing period in which a good part of the state-owned companies were scrapped, transferred at very low prices to multinationals in the north. The privatizations faced a broad alliance of popular sectors and the middle classes, thereby generating a wave of mobilizations that resulted in the fall of a dozen right-wing governments, from the Caracazo of 1989 to the second Bolivian gas war in 2005.

The privatizations and the political leaders that promoted them delegitimized, neoliberalism moved the nucleus of accumulation by dispossession to other lands that we now call extractivism: agribusiness, open pit mining, infrastructure works and urban real estate speculation. We are faced with what the sociologist Maristella Svampa called “commodity consensus,” although I usually opt for a definition from below that names it the “fourth world war.”

The problem that I observe is that many analysts maintain a much more restrictive definition of neoliberalism, which they associate with the greater or lesser participation of the State in the economy and in society. In that way, it’s often maintained that when it assumes a “statist government,” real or discursive, we would already enter into a “post neoliberal period.”

I believe that defining things in this way induces confusions. Changes of government do not affect the neoliberal model, but rather hardly touch lateral aspects of the same. For example, it’s often mentioned that the compensatory social policies are part of the new post-neoliberal period. However, two central facts are ignored.

One: the progressive or post-neoliberal governments did not invent those policies, but rather the World Bank, in order to disarticulate the anti-systemic movements. Two: social policies benefit the financial sector by promoting banking from the beneficiaries. In both cases, they reinforce neoliberalism: they weaken those who can confront it and strengthen financial capital.

But what’s most important is that neoliberalism, being the current phase of capitalism, cannot be defeated by voting, electing new rulers, but rather by disarticulating the bases on which it is seated: the concentrated power of financial capital that utilizes the state apparatus as a shield and sword, beyond the rotating rulers.

I maintain that leaving neoliberalism implies a phenomenal crisis, because the power constructed by capital is so solid that it can only by defeated in a long period of self-organization of the peoples, recuperating the means of production and instituting non-capitalist ways of life, with non-state powers that defend them.

One of the most nefarious consequences of neoliberalism is that it has consolidated the power of the one percent. This power is walled in state institutions like the armed forces, which has subjected its interests to drug trafficking and other forms of accumulation by dispossession, and cannot be disarticulated without a radical change in the correlation of forces, something that was never achieved through voting, or in the short term.

Capital in the neoliberal period has been armored, learning from the lessons of triumphant revolutions. That’s why it won’t be easy to dislodge them from power, a task in which both electoral and armed options have failed. Are China and Vietnam not neoliberal?

An additional problem is the one that Darío Aranda denounces in a brilliant note. Extractivism and neoliberalism are State policies. The conservative governments reach agreements with multinational companies for the delivery of the commons. The progressives do the same thing.

The primary exporting extractive model is the continuity between them. Although the progressives assure that when they arrive in government there is no longer neoliberalism, let them ask the peoples.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Friday, September 27, 2019

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee




Conflict grows in Chiapas over sociopolitical fights and insecurity

Tsotsil families displaced in Shishemantik, Chalchihuitán, Chiapas, on September 24 – Photo: Hermann Bellinghausen

By: Hermann Bellinghausen

San Cristóbal De Las Casas, Chiapas

Municipal presidencies closed or looted, municipal councils (substitutes for the elected government) in localities where some significant political assassination has occurred (Oxchuc, Amatán, Arriaga, Chalchihuitán) and there is a dispute for local power, which leaves in its wake a trail of displaced people, destruction, theft of crops, dispossession of lands, all kinds of extortions and a cluster of murders. In a brief tour of La Jornada through some localities of Los Altos (Chenalhó, Chalchihuitán, Chamula, rural and urban San Cristóbal de Las Casas), and direct testimonies from Oxchuc, El Bosque, Ocosingo and Las Margaritas, evidence was perceived of explosive situations. Social conflict, insecurity and community decomposition in Chiapas has been accentuated to a degree that should raise alarm. The sum of ingredients is overwhelming.

It’s appropriate to incorporate into this account an unusual fear of making denunciations and statements, similar to a “tendency” of governmental sources at least at the municipal and community level, aimed at inhibiting the previously habitual denunciations to the media or civilian organisms; that through promises of solution conditioned on silence or veiled threats.

On top of everything party fragmentation and the implanting of forms of organized crime in the Tzotzil region, with the insecurity and fear they bring with them. Just the current conflict in San Juan Chamula, only 12 kilometers from this city, poses a scenario of potential war between strongly armed civilian groups and the National Guard, which already registered one death in Bochil this week.

A group headed by Juan Shilón Gómez demands the destitution of the Morena mayor, Ponciano Gómez Gómez. On the 25th, two communal representatives and a constable were kidnapped by an armed group and exhibited in a photo on their knees, bloodied; four masked men in campaign uniforms point at them with tremendous rifles. If the demands are not met, they would burn them alive. A video circulated on Twitter where they were begging in Tzotzil and Spanish the government to respond to their captors, who threatened to burn the house of the current mayor. The municipal presidency was closed on Thursday afternoon, after being vandalized. A large sheet made in a hurry demanded of the governor on the facade: “Deal with the issue now!” and “Respect San Juan Chamula!”

At the entrance to the municipal headquarters, a burned patrol car in the middle of the road served as a warning. The media talked about that the National Guard was ready to intervene, but it wasn’t in the vicinity of Chamula. Of course, there were hawks, like in the movies, attentive to those who were traveling in the direction of Chamula. The air could be cut with a knife in the center of town: closed or vacant businesses, few women in the streets and groups of men spying on each other.

The burned municipal patrol car at the entrance to San Juan Chamula, on September 26 – Photo: Hermann Bellinghausen

But this is only one case. The community of Chavajebal, in El Bosque, is in suspense due to the hostility against Zapatista support bases and PRI members by an armed group of 40 components that calls itself the Alianza Morenista and has support in the municipal government. The entire population had to displace for two weeks at the end of 2018, after the execution of the municipal agent and the ejido commissioner; the atmosphere of danger is maintained, bullets fired into the air and harassment. The negotiation between the parties and the government is stagnant, if it’s not sabotaged. There are threats and a social network campaign against the indigenous parish priest of Simojovel, Marcelo Pérez Pérez, for intervening in favor of the victims.

Meanwhile, in Oxchuc, the interminable dispute for municipal power between parties recently caused a serious clash. In Chalchihuitán, dozens of families continue outside their lands as of today, nine groups from eight communities under fire that the paramilitaries detonate from neighboring Chenalhó, within an age-old conflict about boundaries that intensified at the end of 2017. Those displaced in Sishemtontic said they were abandoned and denied even by the municipal government. An equivalent scenario is recorded at the border between Chenalhó and Aldama, which also affects an autonomous Zapatista municipality. In Acteal last week, also in Chenalhó, the civil society Las Abejas suffered the destruction of its clinic and three homes in the displaced persons, the Catholic sanctuary and the organization’s headquarters, while several families of Río Jordán, in Los Chorros, are displaced from their community. In these two latter cases, the municipal authorities and those of Río Jordán disqualify public denunciation as a method, and they demand that not be done, “to then negotiate.”

On Friday the 27th, residents of Chalchihuitán denounced that members of the municipal council retained and deprived of their freedom the councilors Javier Nuñez Pérez and Mateo Pérez García. This Friday, Ricardo Núñez Pérez, Rafael Núñez López and Julio Girón Pérez were detained “in the same way,” and were reported “as disappeared.”

In the border jungle region, a recent crime shocked the population. On the Santo Domingo River, near Las Nubes spa, municipality of Las Margaritas, a couple of residents were found decapitated and dismembered. In Comitán, meanwhile, an organization operates that kidnaps the beneficiaries of the federal Youth Constructing the Future program (that aims to stimulate job training of those who don’t study), “charges” them half of their monthly 3,000 pesos, retains the card and the boys have to go every month to pick up “their part.” Not a few have been recruited by their captors.

There is much more to say just about Chamula, the same as San Cristóbal, a municipality with which the Chamulans maintain a paradoxical symbiotic opposition (the population of indigenous [Chamulans] formerly displaced in San Cristóbal could soon be a majority). There are many testimonies in the city about the excesses and boasts of a criminal group called Los Motonetos, something more tan urban myth, which has already carried out a nighttime “protest” with, it is said, 300 motorcyclists without license plates patrolled by vehicles also without license, challenging the San Cristóbal government. Assaults and armed violence and are attributed to them.

Originally they would have been organized, different sources maintain, by the former Coleto mayor, Marcos Cancino, a businessman of the Green Party and an Evangelical, for territorial control. Now they seem to command themselves.

In Chamula attempts at kidnapping children and disappearances are repeated. The context includes an age-old practice of trafficking persons, both migrants (polleros) and for sexual exploitation, and more recently the local production of child and adult pornography, which is sold openly in the urban markets. Reported femicides whose authors are known remain unpunished. Not to mention drugs, a business known for years. A Tzotzil friend based in San Cristóbal transmits to me the impact that it caused him seeing some young indigenous women “like this, with their traditional clothes, inhaling cocaine in the street.”


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee


The History of Dolores Hidalgo, according to Marcos

Marcos enters Dolores Hidalgo in August 2005 | Photo: Mary Ann Tenuto Sánchez.

[In August 2005, the community of Dolores Hidalgo, now one of the EZLN’s new caracoles, hosted a preparatory meeting for the Other Campaign. The late figure of SCI Marcos gave an opening speech that included the words below.]

Compañeros and Compañeras,

Now to finish our speech, I’m going to tell you a story. Zapatista compañeros and compañeras told me parts of it and other parts I saw and I experienced. If there are any imprecisions, let’s leave it to the historians to clarify. With its verifiable facts, its legends, its inaccuracies and its gaps, this is part of our history, the history of the EZLN.

This place where we are was a finca (estate) called “Campo Grande.” The history of this place is a squeezed synthesis of the history of indigenous Chiapanecos; and, in some respects, of all the indigenous peoples of the Mexican Southeast, not only of the Zapatistas.

“Campo Grande” did honor to its name: more than one thousand hectares (2, 470 acres) of good land, on level ground, with abundant water, roads especially made to take out cattle and precious woods, landing strips so that the owners don’t get dusty or muddy traveling over the dirt roads so that they could reach their small planes, and thousands of indigenous who they exploit, despise, rape, deceive, incarcerate and murder. Then, the agrarian reform of the PRI, of the institutionalized revolution, was concretized in Chiapas like this: the good lands on level ground to the finqueros (estate owners), the rocky lands and hills to the indigenous.

The owner of “Campo Grande” was Segundo Ballinas, known among the older inhabitants of these parts as a murderer, rapist and exploiter of the indigenous, principally of women, boys and girls. Then the finca was divided: one part was called “Primor” and its owner was Javier Castellanos, one of the founders of the Union of Property Owners of the Second Valley of Ocosingo, one of those associations with which the finqueros disguised their “white guards” (paramilitaries); the other part was called “Tijuana” and its property owner was a Mexican Army colonel, Gustavo Castellanos, who kept the people subjugated with his personal garrison. Yet another part was the property of José Luís Solórzano, a PRI member and its candidate to different positions, known in the area for his broken promises, his barefaced lies and his arrogant and derogatory treatment toward the indigenous. Thus, in these lands the Power in Chiapas was synthesized: finqueros, the Army and the PRI-Government. To that bad trinity, Chiapas could be a cattle pasture, a hacienda for exercising the derecho de pernada (the right of rape), even with little girls, a shooting range on human targets, and one of the laboratories of the most modern of the PRI’s “democracy:” here it was not necessary to know the candidates, not even their names, or their proposals, nor even know the date of the election, nor what the options were, nor having identification. Wow, it wasn’t even necessary to go to the polls.

In each electoral process, in the municipal headquarters (cabecera) of Ocosingo, on the premises of the associations of property owners and cattle ranchers, the day filling electoral ballots was paid for with sandwiches and a soft drink. Of course that “democracy” had its excesses: in some of the elections before 1994, the PRI obtained more than 100% of the vote. Perhaps there were too many sandwiches and soft drinks.

In an August like this one that receives us here, but in 1982, the finqueros (estate owners) and their white guards violently evicted the inhabitants of the Nueva Estrella village. They shot, beat and took the indigenous men prisoners. Some were murdered. The women were set aside and were obliged to watch as they burned their homes. They took everything away from them. In time they returned. Still, when someone asks them why they returned after everything they did to them, they respond with this gesture.

In 1994, on the first of January, thousands of indigenous people from this Tseltal zone, together with thousands more from the Tojolabal, Chol and Tzotzil zones, after 10 years of preparation, covered their face, changed their names collectively as the “Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional” (Zapatista National Liberation Army), rose up in arms. The finqueros fled, their white guards did the same thing, and they left abandoned the weapons with which they sustained their domination. The Zapatistas recuperated the lands. Look: they didn’t “take” them, but rather they “recuperated” them. That’s what the compañeros and compañeras called this act of justice that had to wait dozens of years to complete. These lands that were indigenous lands and that were usurped, were now indigenous lands again. They have been, then, recuperated. The lands were distributed. Hundreds of indigenous families, who before were crowded into a space of 5 acres, founded, together with other landless indigenous people from other villages in the zone, this Zapatista town that today receives us. Those who were attacked by the finqueros in 1982, among others, now inhabit this town.

This new Zapatista town is named “Dolores Hidalgo” and, according to what the founders tell me, veterans of the ’94 uprising, the significance of “Dolores” is about the pain that we have from more than 500 years of resistance, and the name of “Hidalgo” is for Don Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla that fought for the Independence of Mexico.

Notice that they said “500 years of resistance” and not “500 years of domination.” In other words, despite the domination, they have never stopped resisting it. And when we talk about domination, that is, when we tell our history, we also talk about resistance. And now I’m not talking about our history as the EZLN, but rather about our common history, the one we share with you, with your organizations and your movements. Our common history is that, where anyone says: “I command and dominate,” we, you, we say: “I resist and rebel.”

But the Zapatistas that founded “Dolores Hidalgo,” don’t refer only to resistance. They also name her pain: the pain along the way, the pain of tiredness, the pain of those who betrayed them on the trajectory, the pain of defeats, the pain of mistakes, and, above all, the pain of going forward despite all the pains.

You will tell us about your history as an organization and as a movement, about your pains, about your resistance and rebellion. Surely, we will recognize each other in more than one story. Many of the others will seem alien to us. But we will learn about you in all of them. And we will say to you what we have already said to others: that we want to continue learning.

We will learn, with you and with many more like you, to think well, to say well and to feel well when we say: “compañero, compañera.”

Welcome Compañeros, welcome compañeras!

Muchas Gracias,

Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos

August 20, 2005

English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee







Conservatism and the anticapitalist left

Maya Train | Tren Maya

By: Gilberto López y Rivas

Given the repeated use of the terms “conservative” or “conservatism” to identify the anticapitalist left, branded as “radical” by opinion writers that boldly defend the current government, it’s necessary specify their multiple meanings, which today refer, in the ambit of politics, to the positions and organizations of the right or the extreme right, supporters of the status quo and enemies of all revolutionary transformation, especially, of a Marxist or socialist character.

Historically, opposition to the French revolution and the Enlightenment, which fought for the restoration of the old regime, gives rise to the use of “conservative” and “conservatism” for identifying this socio-political sector, with peculiarities in different geographical-temporal contexts. In Latin America, starting with the independence movements, conservatism or conservative parties, were usually characterized by nostalgia for the colonial regime, maintenance of rigid hierarchical systems of class and cast and the extreme defense of the properties, authorities and canonry of the Church and the Army.

Thus, it is a contradiction, both historical and conceptual, to seek to pretender classify the anticapitalist left as conservative, when in reality it constitutes its antipode. We are facing the classic Manichaeism of constructing an adversary so that, in reference to the government of the Fourth Transformation (4T), without evidence or arguments, it equates the anticapitalist opposition with that of the old PRI and PAN party structure, holding that the left hides (sic) “behind its radicalism, goals similar to conservatism.”

The problem lies, jointly with these conceptual “licenses” and Manichaeism, in the absence of an in-depth analysis about the nature of the changes that are occurring in the first months of the current government that, according to the 4T legal counsel, represent a rupture with neoliberal policies. As the EZLN and the National Indigenous Congress-Indigenous Government Council (Congreso Nacional IndígenaConcejo Indígena de Gobierno) have reiterated, the megaprojects underway, the so-called Maya Train, the dry canal on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec (with its railroad lines for containers, industrial corridors, real estate and tourist development, and the certain ethnocide and ecocide damages), the Morelos Integral Project (with the opening of obsolete hydroelectric plants and gas pipelines, and marked with the death of Samir Flores Soberanes and the criminalization of opponents),the new metropolitan airport in military hands, the permanence of mining concessions that cover at least one third of the national territory, etcetera, not only do they represent a line of continuity with the neoliberal policies of past six-year term, but even go beyond what these governments imposed as managers at the service of capitalist corporations. We recall that the Tehuantepec dry canal, with its development plans for the Central American nations was the famous Plan Puebla Panamá, re-baptized the Mesoamerica [project], and that the Morelos Integral Project was also taken from the trunk of previous administrations.

Neoliberalism is characterized, precisely, for wanting the State to act as an efficient mechanism of intermediation that facilitates the process of re-colonization of territories and, in this direction, the fight against corruption and the thinning of government structures, although always positive in the terrain of the national imaginary of indignation given the impunity of the ruling class in the looting of the treasury, paradoxically constitute a factor in favor of Mexico among the national states in competition for a position in the expedited and effective implementation of the neoliberal projects, like those undertaken by the 4T.

The anticapitalist left (yes, radical, but not as a disqualifying adjective, but rather for its analysis that gets to the root of the problems caused by the systems of exploitation and domination of the current phase of necrophile militarized accumulation) does not yearn for the previous governments, which it fought and resisted for decades, at the expense of human lives and suffering that make Mexico one of the worst humanitarian catastrophes on the planet. This left does not seek the human face of capitalism nor does it aspire to be the beneficiary of client and corporate programs that individualize and fragment the communities. On the contrary, it pronounces in favor of the strengthening of its autonomous processes of defense of Mother Nature and her vital resources, in favor of critical (not conformist) thought, with the awareness that it again faces a bad government that insists on declaring war on the original peoples, while validating supposed constitutional recognition of self-determination.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Friday, August 23, 2019

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee





They broke the siege and extended their autonomous territory!

Zapatista community life.

 By: Gilberto López y Rivas

On August 17, 2019, the insurgent subcomandante Moisés, spokesman of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN), published a historic communique in which this organization is accountable to the CNI-CIG, its spokeswoman, organizations, collective groups and people from Mexico and the world, “who care about the Zapatista peoples and continue with their hearts beating next to ours”.

In this document -ignored, minimized or misrepresented by the mainstream media and the political class as usual – it is recalled that three years ago, the peoples organized in the National Indigenous Congress, together with the EZLN, faced with recolonization and the humanitarian catastrophe of capitalist corporations and bad governments, pledged to go on the offensive in defense of territory and Mother Earth, and to spread the word and action of resistance and rebellion.

In fulfillment of the committed word, an ethical practice that characterizes the Zapatistas, he communicates that, like the CNI-CIG, the EZLN “went on the offensive in its fight for the word, the idea and the organization,” announcing extraordinary news for the emancipatory movements in the planetary sphere: the rupture of the counter-insurgency siege and the establishment of “new caracoles and more autonomous Zapatista rebel municipalities, in new areas of the Mexican southeast.”

These new rebel self-governments do not constitute a coup or media shows such as those frequently observed in the honorable Congress of the Union or in presidential morning press conferences, but the product of “years of silent work, despite the siege, despite the campaigns of lies, in spite of the defamations, in spite of the military patrols, in spite of the National Guard, in spite of the counterinsurgency campaigns disguised as social programs, in spite of the oblivion and contempt (…) Although slowly, as it should be according to their name, the five original caracoles were reproduced after 15 years of political and organizational work; the MAREZ (Municipios Autónomos Rebeldes Zapatistas) and their Good Government Juntas also had to raise and watch them grow. Now there will be 12 caracoles with Good Government Juntas.”

 With this transcendent step, the Zapatista Mayas endorse the essential principle of the autonomous strategy: “We knew and we know that our freedom will only be the work of ourselves, the original peoples”, and, in that direction, they identify as a crucial factor in this exponential growth the political organizational work and the example of women, men, children and elderly Zapatista support bases, in an outstanding way, of the women and young Zapatistas. In the other equidistant pole of the passive subject who receives individualized and clientelist governmental help, in the Zapatista experience: The compañeras of all ages mobilized to talk with other sisters with or without organization. The young Zapatistas, without abandoning their wishes and desires, learned about science and the arts, and spread it to more and more young people. Thus, the EZLN can affirm, without sorrow and with pride, that the Zapatista women not only go forward to, like the Pujuy bird, mark the way for us and not get lost; they also go on the sides so that we do not deviate; and in the back so we don’t delay.

In their communique they ratify the critical position against the policy of the Fourth Transformation, which they describe as destructive of the community and nature, and point out that: “traditionally partisan communities have been hurt by the contempt, racism and voracity of the current government, and have gone into open or hidden rebellion. The one who thought that, with his counterinsurgency alms policy, he would divide Zapatismo and buy the loyalty of non-Zapatistas, encouraging confrontation and discouragement, actually gave the missing arguments to convince those brothers and sisters that the land and nature must be defended. The bad government thought and thinks that what people expect and need are monetary alms.

This prolonged process of reflection and search, with thousands of community assemblies, in which politicized and motivated autonomous subjects are forged in “govern by obeying” (mandar obedeciendo), is really constituted in a transformation of revolutionary scopes to which, again, without avant-garde or hegemonism, the Zapatista Mayas summon us with their example. Let Caracoles and Autonomous Resistance Centers sprout throughout the national and world geography!, with autonomous processes from below and to the left, anti-capitalist and anti-patriarchal, to make possible, in our realities, that concrete utopia built by the Zapatista brothers and sisters. It is time to break our sieges, to be another of the mallets that will tear down the walls, of the many winds that will sweep the earth, another of the many seeds from which other worlds will be born!


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Friday, September 13, 2019

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee





September 2019

To women who struggle all over the world:

Sister, compañera, woman in struggle:

We send you greetings, from the indigenous and Zapatista women that we are.

Perhaps you remember that at our First Gathering, we made an agreement that we must live. We see of course that the killing and disappearance of women continues—of women of all ages and social positions. We are killed and disappeared because we are women, and then told it is our fault, and that these things happen because of how we were dressed, because of where we were walking, because we were out at certain hours in certain places. Both men and women in the bad government utter such stupidities to imply that we shouldn’t go out at all. According to this mindset, women should be shut up in their homes; they shouldn’t go out, shouldn’t study, shouldn’t work, shouldn’t enjoy themselves and shouldn’t be free.

We see clearly that the capitalist and patriarchal system is like a judge that has declared us guilty of being born women and sentenced us to violence, death, or disappearance.

It’s hard to put it into words, sister and compañeras, it’s like an evil so great that it can’t be named. Now they call it “femicide” or whatever but the name doesn’t change anything, the deaths and disappearances continue to accumulate. And then our families, friends, and acquaintances have to fight so that we are not effectively killed and disappeared all over again when our murderers go unpunished, or when it is said that we were merely victims of bad luck; or worse, that we were asking for it.

Sister, compañera, this is extreme stupidity. We fight against discrimination at home, in the street, at school, at work, on public transportation, against both those people we know and those who are strangers, and on top of that they want to tell us we’re asking for it, that we are at fault for dying. No, we aren’t dying, we are being raped, murdered, cut up, and disappeared. Anybody who faults us is sexist, and even women can demonstrate sexist thinking.


Compañera, sister, given that at the First Gathering we made an agreement to live, now we have to evaluate what we have done or not done to honor this agreement.

Thus we are calling for a Second International Encounter of Women Who Struggle, focused on one theme only: violence against women. We want to address this theme in two parts: to denounce the violence and to discuss what we are going to do to stop the massacre. So we invite you sister, compañera, to come meet with us so that we may together express our rage and state clearly what is happening to us all over the world.

We think this is important because we see that they try to scatter our pain: they talk about a woman raped somewhere, a woman beaten somewhere else, a woman disappeared over there, a woman murdered over here. They do that so that we think this is the problem of some woman somewhere out there, but that such a thing wouldn’t happen to us, that the problem isn’t that serious and that the bad governments will handle it.

But that’s not true—it will happen to us or to someone close to us, and it is a serious problem, very serious, and the bad governments are not going to do anything other than make declarations and insist that they are going to find the culprits. But by culprits they don’t mean the murderers, rapists, or kidnappers; they mean the women who break windows or graffiti statues out of rage.

That’s how the patriarchal capitalist system works, sister, compañera: a piece of glass or a wall with graffiti are more important than the life of a woman. This simply cannot continue.

We want to tell you about a time, years ago, before our uprising and the beginning of the war against oblivion, when here on the plantations a chicken was worth more than a woman. Hard to believe? Well that’s how it was, that’s what the plantation owners themselves used to say. Now, shocked and scandalized by a broken window and a graffitied wall, they say even worse things about us women. The truth is that not only are we raped, killed, and disappeared—that’s true—but also that we are not going to be quiet, obedient, and well-behaved as if nothing is wrong.

We are attacked so consistently that it would seem to be good business for the system: the more women murdered, raped, beaten, or disappeared, the more profit produced. Maybe that’s why they don’t stop the war on women. There is no other way to explain that every day more women are killed or disappeared all over the world and the system just calmly and happily marches on, paying attention only to its bank accounts.

Could it be that if we live, that if we are not abused and brutalized, that business goes down the drain? It seems like we need to analyze if profits for big capitalists increase with the number of brutalized women in the world, if the number of beaten, disappeared, and murdered women comes out about even to their millions of dollars or euros or whatever currency. We say this because we know very well that the system only cares about whatever affects its profit margin. We also know that the system profits off war and destruction. So we think that our deaths, the violence we suffer, are profitable for the capitalist, and that our lives, our freedom, and our serenity come out as monetary losses for the system.

So we want you to come and make your denunciation, not for a judge or a police officer or a journalist, but so that you may be heard by another woman, by other women, by many women who struggle. That is how, compañera, sister, your pain will not be yours alone but will unite with other suffering, and from that suffering comes not only a very big and deep pain, but also a rage that serves as a seed. If that seed is cultivated with organization, then pain and rage can turn into resistance and rebellion, as we say around here, with which we stop waiting to see if we’re going to be personally affected and we start to do something, first to stop the violence against us, and then to win our freedom as women.

That is our experience and our history as women, as peasant women, as indigenous women, and as Zapatistas. Nobody is going to give us peace, freedom, and justice. We have to fight, sister and compañera, fight for and wrest our freedom from the ultimate Ruler.

That is why we say this focus on violence against women is not only to denounce it, but also to say what we are doing, what we have done, and what we can do to stop these crimes.

We know that as women we have many ways and forms of struggle, because we saw and heard you in the First Gathering. We know that some think their way is best, and that other ways are useless or wrong. It’s fine to debate these things, even without coming to any agreement.

But the problem that we as Zapatista women see is that in order to discuss and debate who’s more feminist than who, well we have to be alive. And the reality is that we’re being killed and disappeared.

So the invitation to this gathering is based on one theme alone: violence against women, divided into two parts, denunciation and proposals for how to stop this war against us. It’s not that we’re going to come to an agreement to all struggle the same way; we know everyone has their own ways, calendars and geographies. But listening to different forms of struggle can give us ideas for how to shape our own struggles, according to what we see works for us and what doesn’t.

The system would prefer that we limit ourselves to screaming our pain, desperation, anxiety, and impotence. It’s time to scream together, but now out of rage and indignation. And not each of us on our own, scattered and alone which is how they rape, kill, and disappear us, but together, from our own times, places, and ways.

What if, compañera and sister, we learn not only to scream out of pain, but to find the way, place, and time to scream a new world into being? Just think, sister and compañera, things are so bad that in order to stay alive we have to create another world. That’s how bad the system actually is, that in order to live we have to kill it off—not fix it up a little, or give it a new face, or ask that it be a little more considerate and not so mean. No. We have to destroy it, disappear it, kill it until there is nothing left, not even ashes. That’s how we see the situation, compañera and sister, it’s either the system or us. And it was the system that made those rules, not us.

We invite you to arrive to this gathering on December 26, 2019, and stay December 27, 28, and 29 of 2019, with the closing on the 29th.

The gathering will be held at the Semillero that we are going to call “The Footprints of Comandanta Ramona,” in the Caracol “Whirlwind of Our Words” in the Tztoz Choj zone (community of Morelia, Autonomous Zapatista Municipality in Rebellion [MAREZ] of 17 de Noviembre). This is the same place where we held the First Gathering.

You can arrive directly to the caracol where you will receive nametags and the program schedule and where the compañeras who are drivers will take you to the actual semillero where no men are allowed, even if they are good men or normal men or whatever men. By that we mean that men will not be able to see, even from afar, our gathering, because the semillero is surrounded by mountains.

Men may wait in the Caracol during our gathering, but only if they are accompanied by a woman who answers for them and who is responsible and accountable for any foolishness they commit. We’re going to call that place «mixed.» In other words, people who call themselves men and women can all be there. It just might be the case that a commission of Zapatista women attending the gathering in the semillero go to the caracol to talk to the men about what is being denounced at the gathering, so they know what’s going on.  And assuming they have any conscience at all those men will go tell other men what was said, most importantly the key thing, which is that we’re not going to wait for them to understand or to behave or to stop fucking up, but that we’re going to organize to defend ourselves first, and then we’re going to change everything. And we mean EVERYTHING.

One more thing, compañera and sister, we’re also going to be reviewing what we didn’t do well in the First Gathering. That’s why we want to hold this one in the same place, to see if we can correct our errors.

Another thing we realized from the First Gathering is that in the registration and programming process there was some favoritism toward the submissions that were most in line with the thinking of those helping out with registration and programming, and that some women and activities were left out. That happened because those working on registration and programming prioritized the activities of those who thought the same way as them and then there wasn’t time or room for the others.

So that this doesn’t happen again, that some women are valued more than others, we Zapatista indigenous women are going to do everything ourselves, including the registration and programming. We’ve never done it before, but then again, we had never been drivers either and as you can see now we’ve learned how to do that. So we might mess up and the program might not work out perfectly, but that will be because we are learning and not because we like the women who think like us more than the others.

We are now organizing and distributing tasks so that we ourselves are organizing the gathering in its entirety. So when you send your registration email (we’ll tell you later where and when to send it), you’ll know that it is we as Zapatista indigenous women who are going to open your email and write down your name and your organization, or your group or collective if you have one, or just you as an individual, and we will send you a response so that you know we have you on the list. If your email says you want to do something at the gathering, we’ll put that on the program. That’s why we want to ask you to send your registration in Spanish, because our languages are of Mayan roots and while we know some Spanish we don’t speak other languages. If we mess up and don’t get your name down, don’t worry because you can register when you get here and we’ll give you your nametag for the Second International Gathering of Women Who Struggle.

Alright now you know the date and the place, and you can go about organizing yourselves to come or to send someone or to put someone in charge of reporting back to you what happened and what we said. Then even if you are far away, you’ll know that our duty as women who struggle is to not let that little light that we gave you go out. You’ll know that that little flame isn’t just for light, but to burn down the whole damned patriarchal capitalist system.

That’s all for now, sister and compañera. Later we’ll let you know when and where to send your registration email. For now you have the most important information: December 26, 27, 28, and 29, 2019, at the same place as the First Gathering, the very same place from which we write you these words and send you our embrace. That is…

From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast,

Coordinators of the Zapatista Women for the Second International Gathering of Women Who Struggle

Selva-Fronteriza Zone:

, Yeni, 
, Erica, 
Alejandra and 

Chiapas Highlands Zone:

, Zenaida, 
Carla and 

Selva Tzeltal Zone:

, Rosalinda, 
Olga and 

Tsots Choj Zone:

Elizabeth I, 
Maydelí I, 
Elizabeth II, 
, Leydi, 
Maydelí II, 
, Fabiola, 
Elena and 

Chiapas Northern Zone:

, Ximena
, Kelsy, 
Ana María, 
Yadira and 

Mexico, September 2019

En español: