Chiapas Support Committee

“We can’t take it anymore, we are migrants, not animals”

This article further describes why the Zapatistas issued the “Against Xenophobia and Racism” communiqué.

Migrants

Text by: Ángeles Mariscal

Photos by Ángeles Mariscal 

With torn feet, under sun and rain, hundreds of migrants from Haiti, Venezuela, Cuba, Central America and other nations continued the caravan that left last Saturday from the city of Tapachula, Chiapas, a place where some have stayed for more than a year, without work and awaiting the Mexican government’s response to their requests for asylum. They say the Mexican immigration system has collapsed.

Tapachula became a prison for them, because immigration authorities impose a ban on leaving the city, even though their appointments to attend to their requests are not until January.

“I can’t take care of my family there in Tapachula, the only work that I can find there is unloading truckloads of goods in the market, from 2 in the morning to 4 in the afternoon, for 100 pesos a day. This only gives me enough to buy some tortillas and vegetables for my children,” explained Alexandro Rodríguez Valera, from the Dominican Republic, who has been in the city for seven months.

This situation is compounded by racism, discrimination and abuse by some some settlers, who see in others competition for jobs, because in Chiapas, 7 out of 10 people live in poverty.

On their second day of walking, they survived a violent detention attempt by immigration agents, military and elements of the National Guard. Some were detained and taken to the immigration station.

Among those who continue, the fatigue is already felt. Every few minutes they make stops, trying to shield themselves from the sun or the rain, under the trees of the coastal highway that runs from the city of Tapachula to the center of the country.

Only two municipal ambulances came close to look them over and give fluids to those who showed signs of dehydration, to bandage the legs of those whose pain will prevent them from continuing.

“There is still so far, so very far left to go.”

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On their second day, they have only advanced 74 kilometers. A solidarity trailer tried to give them a ride, hundreds got on in the first moment, but then distrust made them get off. They decided to continue walking together, as a measure of protection.

Along the migratory route, adding to the threat of deportation are threats of organized crime, which also has made a business of kidnapping migrants.

Some organizations brought water and food, but as of now there is no more humanitarian aid. “We can’t take anymore, there are children, men whose feet are so torn up that they can’t walk,” says Filomena Martín, one of the few Haitian women who speaks Spanish.

“There are children who have not had any bread since yesterday, and only drink water. You can’t do that, those people (Mexican authorities) have hearts of stone; they are mothers and fathers too. They have to have compassion, to have mercy. If we are making the decision to go on foot in a caravan, it is because the situation is truly very difficult, very hard for us,” the woman explained.

“In Tapachula,” she said, “there’s no room for more migrants and thousands more are still coming. And now there are Hondurans, Guatemalans, Venezuelans. There are Haitians, Cubans, Africans, from everywhere. We can’t take anymore. We have asked the President of Mexico and the organizations to have mercy on us, to look at the situation. Today is the second day and there is so far, so far to go.”

Brien –young, strong, athletic– cannot hold back his tears as he speaks with the staff of the National Commission for Human Rights (CNDH) that came to observe the caravan. He immigrated from Haiti, crossed the jungle of the Darien Gap in Colombia, and now feels vulnerable in the face of his situation in Mexico.

“Please do something, I ask you from the bottom of my heart, please, we truly can’t take anymore. Please, in the streets there are pregnant women, children. The only thing we want is to be at peace, to get somewhere where we can work, and live as immigrants, and live free. Peace! Peace! We don’t want to go to the United States, we want to get to a place in Mexico where there is work, where there is a life for us. We are migrants, not animals.”

Migrants 3

A Collapsed Immigration System

Enrique Vidal, from the Fray Matías de Córdova, explained that the Mexican immigration system on the southern border has collapsed, without a budget or staffing to attend to the requests of the thousands of people entering the country.

“There is a historical arrival of immigrants in Mexico, a product of the systemic crisis that their countries of origin are experiencing, and the Mexican government has not reinforced the immigration system with either budget or personnel in order to respond to the migrants’ requests.”

In the case of those who decided to embark on the caravan to leave the city of Tapachula, he explained that they had waited several months for a response to their applications, but the majority could not get an appointment until January.

This forces them to stay in Tapachula, “which is experiencing a serious humanitarian crisis due to overcrowding, lack of basic services, and the gradual but widespread deterioration of the physical and emotional well-being of migrants living in precarious health conditions.”

Vidal revealed that the Mexican immigration system must be modified, and provide options for migrants who so desire to remain in the country safely, to have options for employment, and to integrate into society without racism and discrimination. And so those who want to reach the border of the United States can do so, and begin their applications for that country.

——-Ω——-

Originally Published in Spanish by Chiapas Paralelo

Monday, August 30, 2021

https://www.chiapasparalelo.com/noticias/2021/08/no-podemos-mas-somos-migrantes-no-somos-animales/

English Translation: Schools for Chiapas

Re-Published by the Chiapas Support Committee

Against Xenophobia and Racism, the Struggle for Life

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ZAPATISTA SIXTH COMMISSION

Mexico

September 4, 2021

To whom it may concern:

In accordance with the Zapatista Good Government Councils, the CCRI-CG of the EZLN and the indigenous Zapatista communities, we declare the following:

First: In recent days we have witnessed the inhumane treatment by the Mexican State of migrants trying to leave the silent and invisible trap in which they find themselves in the city of Tapachula, Chiapas, Mexico.

Second, as in previous governments, the Mexican government promises sanctions for the “excesses”committed by agents of the National Institute of Immigration (INM, its initials in Spanish) in response to citizen complaints and claims of these cruelties. This promise is nothing but another lie. The agents are told that this will be said publicly, to avoid pressure from so-called public opinion, but that they should continue with their manhunting methods without fearing the consequences. No migrant should go beyond Chiapas.

Third: Even among the elements of the so-called National Guard there is discontent. Because they were told that their mission was going to be to fight organized crime, and now they have them as dogs of prey hunting dark-skinned people. Because that is the instruction: hunt down anyone with dark skin color: “Stop any fucking black person you come across,” is the order. It is a foreign policy statement.

Fourth: The indoctrination of the agents of the National Institute of Immigration borders on the ridiculous. They are told that they are defending Mexico from an invasion, as an INM official brazenly declared. It would not hurt for the National Institute of Immigration to take some basic history classes — now that classes are back in session– to understand that those who are invading are from the United States government, which is imposing this migratory policy that contradicts the entire history of the Mexican State’s foreign policy.

Fifth: The maneuvers carried out by the INM to keep human rights organizations and the press from documenting its actions remind us of what the Salinas de Gortari government did in the first days of 1994, when it closed all access to the Lacandón jungle to prevent people from knowing what it was doing. And the manhunt for migrants reminds us of the Zedillo government that, in 1995, sent dogs after us.

Sixth: It is embarrassing enough for a government that calls itself progressive to bow to the foreign policy of the U.S. government, without adding its imitation of how Chiapas landowners, just a few years ago, used to subjugate their peons. According to the religious references that are so dear up there [in government], it is preached: “may your left foot not know who you are kicking with your right foot.”

Seventh: We call upon every honest and sensitive person to demand that this situation be stopped now. And that, to the extent of everyone’s possibilities, humanitarian aid be provided to the migrants.

For our part, the Zapatista indigenous communities, through their 12 Good Government Councils and the Zapatista Sixth Commission, have collected a modest amount of money, which will be sent to some of the shelters or organizations that do humanitarian work with migrants in Chiapas.

We call on the Sexta Nacional, the Networks in Resistance and Rebellion, the collective “The Hour of the Peoples has Come,” the Non-Governmental Organizations and people of good will throughout the world to do what they can to, first, stop the hunt perpetrated by the INM with the National Guard’s support and, second, to improve the living conditions of the migrant population present in this geography called Mexico.

Just like these migrant brothers and sisters and those of us who are extemporaneous, the day will come when we will all be migrants and extemporaneous on this planet. And whoever does not have the color of money, will be persecuted, hunted, confined, disappeared, eliminated.

Hence, against xenophobia and racism, the struggle for life.

From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast,

Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés | Subcomandante Insurgente Galeano.

Mexico, September 4, 2021.

 ——-Ω——-

Originally Published in Spanish by Enlace Zapatista

Saturday, September 4, 2021

http://enlacezapatista.ezln.org.mx/2021/09/04/contra-la-xenofobia-y-el-racismo-la-lucha-por-la-vida/

English Translation: Schools for Chiapas

Re-Published by the Chiapas Support Committee

From Kabul to Tegucigalpa: refugee or immigrant?

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▲ Some 640 Afghans crammed into a US Air Force plane to be moved from Kabul to Qatar.

By: Miguel Tinker Salas* and Víctor Silverman*

Although separated by almost 14,000 kilometers, the disasters in Afghanistan and in Honduras have a common denominator: US policies that victimize both countries. In the first case the failed war against terrorism, which ultimately expanded the radius of action of these groups, and in the second case the failed war against drug trafficking, which ultimately increased the number of criminal groups, extended their penetration of State institutions and increased the violence that the population faced, particularly women.

In both cases, thousands of individuals and families are now displaced, converting them into refugees or exiles, as a result of policies promoted by Washington. Sadly, this story has been repeated in every country where the US or its NATO allies have intervened, be it Cuba, Vietnam, Haiti, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Sudan, Libya, Syria, and now Afghanistan and Honduras.

After 20 years of war and occupation, the US now abandons Afghanistan. Images from the Kabul airport, where thousands of people were trying to escape the Taliban are terrifying. Families, women and even young people scaling the walls that surrounded the airport to get on the planes generated sympathy around the world, but in particular among the Western media that for years had perpetuated the myth that US actions in Afghanistan had achieved their objective. These same media outlets highlight the treatment women will receive as a result of the Taliban victory. The US and its European allies organized an unparalleled evacuation to extract more than 120,000 people who allegedly cooperated with the occupying army, or with the old corrupt regime that the US financed.

Although they don’t generate the same international attention and sympathy, similar images emerge in Honduras. Hundreds of people, not in airplanes, but in trucks, buses, and on foot a leave their country every day. Their numbers include hundreds of minors and women, refugees from femicide, who are forced to leave Honduras, where the corrupt government, which has the de facto support of the United States, is incapable of meeting the most basic needs required for daily survival. Even when they don’t flee from a political force like the Taliban, these people are victims of an economic and military project that makes it impossible to remain in their own country. Without international aid and facing a situation of poverty and violence, these people are forced to form caravans in order to escape from organized crime or government forces that try to profit from their precarious situation.

Like in Afghanistan, where the US maintained corrupt, sectarian and unpopular governments in power, as was the case with Hamid Karzai or Ashraf Ghani, in Honduras the US supported the coup against Manuel Zelaya in 2009. Afterwards, the State Department did what it could to prevent his return. Washington recognized the victory of the current president Juan Orlando Hernández (JOH), even when international observers from the very same United States concluded that his victory was due to electoral fraud. To stay in power, JOH, whose government operates like a kleptocracy, represses social movements and sectors that criticize his government. Although federal courts in the US have pointed to him as a participant in drug trafficking, Washington continues supporting him to avoid a possible triumph of the left. Just like Afghan President Ghani, who fled from his country with four cars and a helicopter full of money, according to the Afghan ambassador in Tajikistan, the reality is that, without US support, Hernández would not be the president of Honduras today.

More than half a million Afghans have been displaced in the last months of the conflict. Those who weren’t able to leave by plane (or helicopter, like their president), now head toward the border with Pakistan from where they hope to march to Europe. Despite the sympathy that their situation generated, their future is uncertain. The European Union (EU) has already indicated that it will not give them refuge, they are “migrants.” Emmanuel Macron, president of France, declared that his country: “has to protect itself from Afghan immigrants.”

As in the US, the same sectors of the right that promoted the intervention in Afghanistan, and that reject Central American and Haitian immigrants, criticize the possible arrival of Afghans in the US. Some sectors of the left and the right propose granting asylum, but only to the Afghans who were loyal allies of the US army. Among the Afghans, as well as the Central Americans, without considering their responsibility in both cases, the US and the European countries distinguish between those who deserve help and those who they leave to their fate.

According to the UN’s Agency for Refugees, there are more than 82 million displaced persons, the highest number in history. To that number are added 272 million migrants. Jointly, almost 5 percent of the world’s population has been expelled from their homes as a consequence of economic, political, social and environmental disasters. In moral terms, and in practice, it’s not possible to distinguish between migrants and refugees.

How should the world respond to this humanitarian crisis? Confronting a more uncertain future in which the world is in danger as a result of permanent wars, impoverishment and global warming, a new human right must be established: the right to emigrate.

* History Professors, Pomona College

@mtinkersalas y @victorsilverman

——-Ω——-

Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

https://www.jornada.com.mx/2021/09/01/opinion/020a2pol

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

For Life: The Departure of “La Extemporánea” to Europe

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Zapatista Sixth Commission

Mexico

August 30, 2021.

To the Europe below and to the left:

To the Sixth in Mexico and abroad:

To the organizations, groups, and collectives that seek truth and justice for the victims of forced disappearance:

Sisters, brothers, and hermanoas:

Compañeroas, compañeras, compañeros:

We would like to begin by saluting the struggle and the commitment of all those people who search for the disappeared, for their missing loved ones. Their struggle is also, and above all, a struggle for life. It is no coincidence that on this day, we announce the following:

First, after an endless string of paperwork, obstacles, and problems, we hereby announce that the Zapatista Airborne Company, which we have called “La Extemporánea,”[i] will leave Mexico City for Europe on September 13, 2021.

Second, the destination is the city of Vienna, in that geography called Austria, and we will travel in two groups.

Third, a first group will leave the Mexico City airport on September 13, 2021, at approximately 12:10hrs. It will arrive in the city of Madrid, in that geography called Spain, at 06:00hrs on September 14. After a 2-hour layover and connection, the flight will resume at 08:20hrs, to land in the city of Vienna, Austria, at 11:05hrs on September 14. A second group will depart on the same day, September 13 at 20:45hrs with a layover, also in Madrid, at 14:35hrs on September 14, resuming the flight at 16:00hrs and landing in Vienna at 19:00hrs on September 14. Fourth, La Extemporánea is organized into 28 “Listen and Share our Word” teams (made up of 4-5 compas each), plus one Play and Mischief team, and one Coordination team. La Extemporánea can thus cover 28 corners of the European geography simultaneously. A few days later, we will be joined by the delegation of the National Indigenous Congress-Indigenous Governing Council and the Peoples’ Front in Defense of Land and Water. Along with that delegation of sister organizations, we will continue the work started by the 421st Squadron, which is currently covering that geography they call Switzerland.

Fifth, in a few days we will announce the date on which we will leave the Semillero “Comandanta Ramona” to gather in the caracol of Jacinto Canek in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas. From there we will travel by land as a vehicle caravan to Mexico City where we will garrison at the premises on Carmona y Valle street until the day and time of departure. We include this in case anyone wants to accompany the departure and trip from San Cristóbal to Mexico City. Sixth, we dedicate this effort (which included many non-Zapatistas and some even anti-Zapatistas), to all the disappeared, to the families who suffer in their absence and, above all, to the women and men who fight to find them and achieve the truth and justice that we all need and deserve. Know that your example, your tireless work, and your refusal to give up, give in, or sell out are for us, the Zapatista peoples, a lesson in human dignity and authentic commitment to the struggle for life. While we are in Mexico City, we will deliver the minutes of the assemblies of the Zapatista, non-Zapatista and anti-Zapatista communities, with their agreements to support the fight for truth and justice for the victims of violence, according to the popular referendum that was held on the first day of August of this year, 2021.

That’s all.

From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast,

Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés

General Coordinator of the Journey for Life—Europe Chapter

Still Mexico. Year 501.

[i] See the EZLN’s August 17, 2021 communiqué for an explanation of the use of “La Extemporánea” [the extemporaneous]: https://enlacezapatista.ezln.org.mx/2021/08/17/only-500-years-later/

Simulated, inefficient and unpunished; the investigation of the Viejo Velasco Massacre

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By: Alma Martínez

*According to the semiannual report of the National Search Commission (NSC) for Chiapas, the federal subsidy authorized for actions to search for missing (disappeared) persons is $8,780,727.00 pesos. However, from 2019 to 2021 only two days of search have been carried out. 

Relatives of disappeared victims and surviving victims of the Viejo Velasco Massacre, together with the Coordinator of Indigenous Social Organizations, CDLI-XI’NICH, UCISECH, TSOBLEJ YU’UN WOCOLTIC, issued a communiqué in the framework of the International Day of the Victims of Forced Disappearances, in which they demanded the appearance alive of their compañeros Antonio Peñate López and Mariano Pérez Guzmán; as well as the presentation alive of the 43 Ayotzinapa students and all missing persons in Mexico.

In memory of the indigenous people who were disappeared, executed and forcibly displaced on November 13, 2006 in Viejo Velasco community, Ocosingo municipality, they remembered them now with hope for justice and mentioned that they live with pain and uncertainty for them.

They also remember María Núñez González who was murdered inside her house when she was pregnant, and Petrona Núñez González who was kidnapped and tortured the same day and who was later able to escape. However, she died in 2010 as a consequence of the psychological effect that she experienced.

They expressed their displeasure with the “simulated, inefficient, ineffective investigation, which remains unpunished.” Without such an investigation, as of the moment they know nothing about the whereabouts of their missing compañeros because of the action and omission of the State with regard to a paramilitary operation.

They also indicated that according to the semiannual report of the National Search Commission (NSC), from March 15, 1964 to June 30, 2021 there are 89,488 people disappeared and non-located in the country.

According to this report from February 8, 2019 to June 30, 2021, the NSC, in coordination with authorities from the three levels of government and with relatives of missing persons have participated in 1,758 search days in the field, in 28 states and 268 municipalities; in Chiapas, they have only carried out two search days.

The Massacre

After 14 years, the IACHR admits the Viejo Velasco Massacre case.
Photo: Frayba

Some 14 years ago in Viejo Velasco, Chiapas, approximately 40 people coming from the communities of Nueva Palestina, Frontera Corozal and Lacanjá Chansayab (of the “Lacandón Community”), armed with machetes, clubs, shotguns and 22 caliber rifles, some in military and public security uniforms, entered the community violently.

These people were accompanied by 300 members of the then Chiapas Sectorial Police with high-powered weapons known as goat horns: Ar-15s and AK-47s. Also present were five Prosecutors from the Public Ministry, two experts, the Regional Commander of the Jungle Zone for the then State Agency of Investigation with seven members under his command and a representative of the former Secretariat of Social Development.

These acts caused the forced displacement of 36 inhabitants, four extrajudicial executions and four forced disappearances, of which the remains of two people were found and were delivered to their relatives five years later.

Afterwards, the Mexican State issued arrest warrants in effect against members de the CDLI-XINICH Social Organization, who it points to as responsible for murdering its own compañeros.

However, the “Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas” Human Rights Center (Frayba) stated that those responsible for these acts are the paramilitary group called the Organization For Defense of Indigenous and Campesino Rights (OPDDIC), accompanied by State Police and other public servants.

They explained that 14 years after the massacre, no one in authority has been investigated, identified, judged or sanctioned for being the intellectual and/or material author of the violations to the life, personal integrity and liberty, judicial guarantees and protection and private property, as well as forced disappearance and violence against women.

Meanwhile, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) closed the precautionary measure and processed the complaint against the Mexican State, in which it points out its international responsibility for extrajudicial executions, forced disappearances, forced displacement, torture, arbitrary deprivation of freedom and irregular arrest warrants as a consequence of the Viejo Velasco Massacre.

For more background information on the Viejo Velasco Massacre, see:

  1. https://chiapas-support.org/2014/02/05/murder-in-the-lacandon-jungle-background-on-viejo-velasco-massacre/
  2. https://chiapas-support.org/2014/02/05/viejo-velasco-massacre-7-years-later/

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Originally Published in Spanish by Chiapas Paralelo

Monday, August 30, 2021

https://www.chiapasparalelo.com/noticias/chiapas/2021/08/simulada-ineficaz-y-en-impunidad-investigacion-de-la-masacre-de-viejo-velasco-a-14-anos/

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

Afghanistan: after the failure

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By: Víctor Silverman and Miguel Tinker Salas*

Thousands of innocent dead, religious intolerance, oppression of women and millions of refugees! Those will be the inevitable results of the collapse of the “government” of Afghanistan in the face of the Taliban’s triumph. For the 38 million Afghans who have suffered decades of war, the human disaster intensifies.

A short time ago President Joe Biden declared: “The United States has returned.” It certainly has returned, but not in the way Biden anticipated. In Washington, the resounding military failure of the Afghan “army” means something different than it means to the country’s population. Some observers advance and anticipate the end of the US as a world leader. They emphasize that the defeat in Afghanistan will produce the collapse of the system of alliances that are an essential part of the so-called “world order.” For them, the alternative to the posture of permanent war is crisis. In the past, prognoses about the eminent collapse of US power were utilized to strengthen the empire’s power. In reality, the present defeat could initiate a cycle in which an attempt is made to reaffirm the global role of the United States.

Many inside the centers of power in Washington would fail a history class. The majority believe that US military defeats were the product of tactical errors. The New York Times recently wrote that the Taliban victory “reflects years of miscalculation.” But what has happened is much worse that a simple tactical error.

What happened is a resounding defeat of the “nation-building” project, the latest example of the madness of the dream of the “neoconservatives” and liberals who proposed transforming countries, with the use of weapons, to create “modern, transparent, secular and, especially, capitalist states.” A civil war also underscores, once again, the limits of the imperial power.

The US has suffered many defeats –Korea, in the 1950s, Cuba in the ‘60s, Vietnam, Nicaragua and Iran in the ‘70s, for example–. During the ‘70s, some in the upper echelons of power absorbed the lessons that the victory of the communists in Vietnam produced. This defeat demonstrated that an empire, although it may be at the pinnacle of its power, doesn’t have the ability to dominate the world. It was not able to overcome a guerrilla army that has the support of a large part of the population –especially when its allies are corrupt and don’t have popular support–. The victory of David against Goliath does not imply that Goliath abandons the club to attack his supposed enemies.

Despite the lessons of the 1970s, after Vietnam, the US intervened in Nicaragua, Lebanon, Honduras, El Salvador and many other countries. The current situation in Central America, corruption, poverty, violence, drug trafficking and authoritarian regimes are products of United States intervention in the region. After decades of the war against drugs in Colombia and Mexico, they continue promoting military solutions in the face of social problems. None of these experiences fostered changes in the fundamental methods of the US imperial system: alliances with nationalist forces of the center or right, creation of armies following the US model, integration into a world economy based on free trade and investment treaties, capitalist consumption and promotion of the ideology of “democracy” and now neoliberal multiculturalism.

During the 80s, the end of the “cold war” and the collapse of the Soviet Union and the disintegration of Eastern Europe, seemed to confirm what a sector of the elite believed; The US had inaugurated the end of history, as the political scientist Francis Fukuyama proposed in 1989. During the decade in which the unipolar moment prevailed, the idea spread, according to Madeleine Albright, US ambassador to the UN in 1998, that: “if we have to use force, it’s because we are America, the indispensable nation.”

The 9/11 attacks toppled the happy consensus in the elite. The terrorist actions of Al-Qaeda never threatened the global position of the United States. Likewise, it never presented a military target where advanced weapons could be used. Nevertheless, the US responded the same way as it did in the past. After the failure of the Bay of Pigs invasion (Cuba, 1961), President John Kennedy argued that now: “we have to make our power credible and Vietnam seems like the place.” After 9/11, President George W. Bush decided that US credibility required more than a legal process or a clandestine operation against Bin Laden and his associates. War has never been a solution to the challenges that nationalist movements represent, or fundamentalist terrorism, and much less drug trafficking. Both liberals and conservatives voted for the invasion. Only Congresswoman Barbara Lee voted against the invasion of Afghanistan. What will be the next place where the US will try to demonstrate its military capacity and its socio-political vision?

After Afghanistan, Biden or any other president, of whatever party, will face the same challenge and will propose the same solution that Kennedy, Johnson, Reagan, Bush, Obama and Trump proposed. In a short time, the logic of power, the unification of the nation and the political popularity that emerges with the start of a war and the use of their gigantic military forces, will again provoke historic amnesia among the elites. Before long, the US and its policy of permanent war will be in evidence once again.

* History Department, Pomona College

——-Ω——-

Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Monday, August 16, 2021

https://www.jornada.com.mx/2021/08/16/opinion/020a1pol

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

Dispute over the past and internal colonialism

Tenochtilamlo

By: Luis Hernández Navarro

In his Memories, published for the first time in 1955, Jaime Torres Bodet bemoans how the historical interpretation of the conquest and the colonial past of México have painfully and pointlessly divided the country.

Secretary of Public Education for the first time during the government of Miguel Alemán, Torres Bodet laments: “One of the biggest difficulties that the director of public education faces is the essential lack of unity in the thinking of Mexicans. I am not referring to immediate political differences. I refer, more so, to their obscure and irreducible divergences about the very concept of the Mexican nation.”

According to the writer, these sobering differences have to do with the fact that, among us, Cuauhtémoc and Hernán Cortés continue fighting incessantly (…) Our entire history is a consequence of these two partial interpretations of our story. Under different names and with very different pretexts, the intrepid native is exalted as opposed to the cruel and cunning conqueror. Or the brave conqueror is praised opposed to the mysterious and impervious native… The Indigenous and Spanish have still not completely made peace in the hearts of all Mexicans.”

With the winds of Cardenism [1] still blowing at their backs, impatient to eliminate the vestiges of socialist education that survived even outside the dead letter of the Third Constitutional [2], the secretary invites professors to annul that which according to him was hatred in the historical narrative of our country. Concerned about the danger of the conflicting currents, he wants a history that, without lying to the people, is capable of reconciling them.

“It is no longer a matter — he writes— of choosing between indigenism and Hispanism. It is about understanding, with valor, all that we are: a complex and original people, in large part mestizo, that officially expresses itself in Spanish and who feel —at times— in Tarascan, or Mayan, or Otomí.”

As so often in the past, the August 13th commemoration of 500 years since the fall of Tenochtitlan has once again placed at the center of public debate the re-reading of the history promoted by Torres Bodet. Not that his fantasy of reconciliation has ever come to fruition. It didn’t even happen in 1992, in the context of the quincentennial of the discovery of America, when he wanted to disguise the colonial adventure with an aseptic concept of an encounter between two worlds. But the most recent presidential declarations, preceded by the request that the King of Spain and the Pope ask for the forgiveness of the indigenous people for violations of what are now known as human rights, have blown up the possibility of that reconciliation with our roots, as sought by the former Secretary of Public Education.

To the irritation of the most reactionary sectors of the country, President Andres Manuel López Obrador commemorated the date with a grand celebration in the capital’s Zocalo, apologizing to the victims of the catastrophe caused by the Spanish military occupation of Mesoamerica.

Before a crowd and without Adelfo Regino, the head of the National Institute of Indigenous Peoples (INPI), having a significant role in the ceremony, the President stated: “Let’s put an end to those anachronisms, to those atrocities, and let us say ‘never again an invasion, an occupation or a conquest,’ even if it is undertaken in the name of faith, of peace, of civilization, of democracy, or freedom.”

It is not the first time that the President incorporates indigenous peoples into his discourse and acts of government. Frequently he has made reference to their legacy and to what they represent as a moral reserve for the nation. With unorthodox rituals, sometimes closer to new age than indigenous traditions, in moments as distinct as his taking possession of the Zócalo (for the inauguration), or the launching of work on the Maya Train, or recently, in the request for forgiveness for the terrible abuses committed against the Mayas since the Spanish conquest in Chan Santa Cruz, the President has placed his vision of how to settle the historical debt with the ethnic groups at the center of his agenda.

However, beyond the public apologies, the actions of the 4T are closer to the indigenism of the traditional Mexican State, understood as a policy of the non-indigenous toward the indigenous, with the objective of assimilating them and trying to lift them out of poverty, than they are to demands for autonomy and for the rights of the indigenous peoples that proliferate in the country.

The new indigenous movement demands the exercise of self-determination and rights, not assistance. It is opposed to macro-projects, like the Maya Train and the Trans-Isthmic Corredor. It condemns the fact that in their implementation (of the projects), they have not been consulted in accordance with Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization (ILO). And it has elaborated its own vision of history, no longer as the vanquished but as peoples who resist, who struggle for life, and against capitalism and who have a distinct future outside of the current party system. That dispute of the past is also a struggle for another future.

Different as they are, the reflections of Torres Bodet and those of the 4T, both omit a central theme: the exploitation, discrimination, racism, oppression, and internal colonialism that the indigenous peoples suffer, are in part a product of history, but also of the actions of the modern State and the forces of capital against them. They are not merely issues of the past but of the present. This is why it is not enough to call for national unity, denounce the colonial atrocities, or offer apologies. It is necessary to put an end to internal colonial relations.

Notes:

[1] Cardenismo refers to support of progressive policies like those of Lázaro Cárdenas; for example, agrarian reform (land distribution) and labor rights, as well as nationalization of the oil industry. His administration implemented major educational reforms to schools run by the State, which removed them from the influence of the Church and declared them to be “socialist.” Many of these reforms were seen as institutionalizing the demands of the Mexican Revolution.

[2] This refers to Article 3 of the Constitution regarding education, and the 1934 modification of it, under Cárdenas.

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Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Tuesday, August 25, 2021

https://www.jornada.com.mx/2021/08/24/opinion/015a1pol

English translation by Schools for Chiapas

Re-Published by the Chiapas Support Committee

Diverse collectives invite to prepare the reception of The Extemporaneous, the Zapatista airborne company

 

Extemporanea

We’re going to prepare the reception for La Extemporánea (The Extemporaneous),

the Zapatista airborne company!

We’re all going to prepare the reception of The Extemporaneous (La Extemporánea), the Zapatista airborne company. There will be music, dance, the creation of murals, poetry, juggling and much more.

The date is Sunday, August 29, 2021 starting at 11:30 am.

Calle Carmona and Valle #32, Col. Doctores, a few blocks from the Cuauhtémoc metro station,

Mexico City

Bring gel, face masks and respect solidarity distance measures

Let’s all take care of each other!

En español: http://enlacezapatista.ezln.org.mx/2021/08/28/diversos-colectivos-invitan-a-preparar-la-recepcion-de-la-extemporanea-la-compania-aerotransportada-zapatista/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+EnlaceZapatista+%28Enlace+Zapatista%29

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

Impunity of the Armed Forces faced with the climate crisis

Image: TOPSHOT-US-FIRE-ELECTRICITY-CLIMATE

The Dixie fire, in Plumas County, California on July 23, 2021. –  (Photo by JOSH EDELSON / AFP) (Photo by JOSH EDELSON/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Raúl Zibechi

It happens with the weather like it does with almost all issues: minor data transcend, but the really important ones remain in the shadows. Thus, through abstractions, it might seem that those of us who inhabit the planet are equally responsible.

Days ago, the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change published its sixth report. It says that the rise of the planet’s temperature will have “unprecedented” consequences, like droughts, floods and heat waves (https://bit.ly/2VK9LJD). The report records continued declines in Arctic permafrost, snow, glaciers and ice caps.

A tremendous piece of data comes from experts who assure that the Gulf Stream, the principal maritime mass of the Atlantic that brings warm water from the tropics to the north, could collapse, because it’s weakening rapidly (https://bit.ly/3fSzVAD).

There is much more data to add, because almost every year analyses emerge that ensure that the warming leads us into various abysses: climate, social and political. I would like to make three considerations.

1) I have no doubt that the information they provide is true. However, they are propped-up because they don’t say who contaminates the most, where the victims of climate change live and suffer. In particular, the commercial media persist in hiding what’s important.

The Pentagon is the largest institutional consumer of oil and, therefore, the largest individual emitter of greenhouse gases (GHG), according to the Costs of War report, issued by the Watson Institute of Brown University, in November 2019 (https://bit.ly/3yD3Jso). The data is well known, but every time an alert is issued about global warming, it doesn’t se mention who son the big polluters are.

In effect, the Pentagon’s emission of GHG surpasses that of many industrialized nations, like Denmark, Sweden and Portugal. In addition, the “war on terrorism” produced, between 2001 and 2018, 1.267 billion metric tons of GHG.

The Boeing B-52 Stratofortress, the Pentagon’s long-range bomber, consumes as much fuel in one hour as the average automobile driver in seven years (https://bit.ly/3jNKIx8).

2) After the dissemination of these studies by the mainstream media, politicians appear concerned, specialists say something, but everyone goes on with their life unchanged, so it’s worth asking how useful the data and statements of good intentions are, if there is not the slightest willingness to change habits and ways of life.

Additionally, the population perceives the reality and, consequently, the skepticism grows. According to the hegemonic media, if we are responsible and save water by turning off the tap while we brush our teeth, things will improve. “Man’s cries of anguish drown them with stories,” wrote León Felipe eight decades ago.

I believe that all of us must take care of the environment. But promoting the idea that climate change depends on individual attitudes is taking us for fools or acting cynically knowing that we don’t believe them.

The European Commission, for example, has published a table where we can consult the GHG emissions per person and those of household appliances and for each activity, but the major polluters never appear, especially if they are multi-national companies and armed forces, two pillars of the system (https://bit.ly/3AyYNFK).

3) Governments of any party violate those who least pollute, those who emit the least GHG, those who live in “sobriety and simplicity,” as Carlos Taibo defends for the North (https://bit.ly/3CDE84V), even knowing that it’s no longer possible because the culture of consumption colonized all space-times.

What infuriates is that the authorities make politically correct speeches about global warming and climate change, promising like Joe Biden, but not flinching when told that the Pentagon is the biggest polluter. The armed forces will be increasingly responsible for the climate crisis, especially during this hegemonic transition that promises gigantic mobilizations of weapons and combatants.

The more painful thing is seeing how the progressive governments launch their military and paramilitary forces against those who resist the extractive megaprojects, from the Maya Train to the Belo Monte Dam in the Amazon. The peoples of Maya roots, the Kayapó people of the Amazon and dozens of other peoples are the ones who are preserving the little surviving biodiversity.

That’s why they are attacked with utter contempt: they are the spearhead of resistance to this death model.

——-Ω——-

Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Friday, August 13, 2021

https://www.jornada.com.mx/2021/08/13/opinion/015a2pol

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

The Maya Train’s development poles will destroy the richness, biodiversity and geomorphology of territories

maya trainBy: Yessica Morales

Ana Esther Ceceña, Coordinator of the Latin American Observatory of Geopolitics at the Institute for Economic Research, announced that given the Maya Train Comprehensive Development Project, the federal government proposes to reorder the productive, commercial, tourist and mobility activities in the 1,525 kilometers on which the tracks will run. The project proposes to generate 18 similar development poles with urbanization processes and generation of economic activities where the train stations are located, for the purpose of attracting the rural population to jobs, especially in the service sector.

The project comprises the area of the Yucatan Peninsula, Tabasco, Campeche and Chiapas where the southern oil basins are located, with 75.6 percent of the proven hydrocarbon reserves and 92 % of the total basic petrochemicals produced in the country, where the Dos Bocas refinery is being built.

The coordinator predicted that the freight train would transport hydrocarbons, minerals and food, principally for tourism and to promote it on a large scale, orienting economic activities to services.

Among these services is the production of foods with pork meat that the businessman Alfonso Romo produces in the vicinity of the ring of cenotes [1] and the Homún Wetland, recognized internationally for the species it contains and the at risk situation it presents. Ceceña pointed out that the production of food with pork meat represents the contamination and destruction of the big cenote inside the pig farm. There are no proposals for remediation and regulation within the project in cases like this, but rather, activities of this type are considered part of the development that is to be promoted. [Photo below is of a cenote in Homún.]

cenotes-homun

She pointed out that in Calakmul alone they predict an increase from the current 40,000 visits a year to 3 million, causing impacts on the environment, the archaeological wealth and local societies.

This morning, representatives of various civil society organizations, academics and campesinos of the Maya people, summoned by the National Indigenous Congress of the Yucatan Peninsula Region, participated in the “Forum in Defense of Life and Territory.”

They jointly declared their total rejection to construction of the project called the Maya Train and made it clear that they will not allow the consultation convoked by the federal government for August 14 and 15 to be carried out. “We consider that these megaprojects only intensify the dispossession of land, destruction of archaeological zones, the exploitation and enslavement of the Maya peoples who have always been seen as valuable objects for attracting tourism,” they pointed out.

Ceceña indicated that several promoters of the project point out that predatory processes are already present in the region and are caused by the residents’ poverty, for example: the Mennonite groups of the Ejido Paraíso in Bacalar, who cut down 3,000 hectares of jungle to plant soy, using agro-chemicals.

She added that these chemicals would directly affect plants and residents of the surrounding areas; they will be filtered towards the Yucatán Aquifer, having already adulterated the waters of the Bacalar Lagoon, thus making it sometimes lose the colors that make it unique in the world.

The coordinator said that every year tourist activity in Cancun contributes between 4 and 10 tourists per person, and generates an enormous quantity of non-organic waste, in addition to dumping its sewage on the Quintana Roo coasts; this has led to an extension of the tourist area towards Tulum and Bacalar inducing damage to reefs, destruction of wetlands and the privatization of the beaches.

These developments are risky and harmful, the highway that connects Cancun and Tulum just sunk because its weight finally overcame the support of the caverns or cenotes over which it was constructed. How will they be able to withstand a high-speed and heavy train that will multiply the vibrations, questioned the coordinator. From an environmental perspective, the type of train proposed and the route it would follow would cause a strong impact without any remedy in many cases.

Tulum

Above Photo: The archaeological site of Tulum on the Caribbean Coast of Quintana Roo.

Even the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that the National Fund for the Promotion of Tourism (FONATUR, its Spanish acronym) presented confirmed that: Special attention should be paid at the moment of the project’s final design in this zone (the Chicxulub ring of cenotes). It is recommended carrying out exhaustive geophysical studies on the final route, in order to determine with precision the probable existence of underground caverns (and indicates that) more detailed geology studies are carried out, using all the tools that constitute a geological study at the project executive level.

Ceceña emphasized that the impact is multiplied with the construction of the 18 development poles, considering that urban centers are the largest emitters of pollutants.

They are also generators of non-degradable garbage and carbon dioxide emissions. According to calculations, there are currently 31 megacities on the planet that occupy “less that 0.5% of the Earth’s surface,” however, these “cities are responsible for 70% of the greenhouse gas emissions and 65% of global energy consumption.”

Faced with the ecological catastrophe the planet is experiencing, she stressed that conservation of a jungle area like that of the Yucatan Peninsula is essential, since it’s part of the continent’s tropical biological complex.

On the other hand, the transit of species in the area feeds its versatility and the ability to continue harboring and generating endemic species that expand global biodiversity, but the train tracks will cut off passage and will cause a withdrawal of species due to the barrier effects, noise and vibration.

Added to that is the damage that the burned diesel would cause, which is the fuel selected for the operation of a transport that intends to be modernizing.

All this combined forms an environmental system of immense, but fragile value. It cannot be exploited without risks that, in this case, are even greater than those in other regions due to the peculiarity of its karst soil (calcareous and porous), which has high permeability and allows pollutants to pass quickly to the Aquifer.

She made visible that the weight of a fast train and the urbanizations that are planned, can tear some sections to pieces, thus the Environmental Impact Statement’s recommendation about the design; it would affect not only the environment but also the living conditions of the rural or semi-rural populations that would be attracted to the cities, where they would be able to aspire to precarious jobs a the expense of breaking the link to their community and campesino economies.

She recalled that the region of the Maya Train has the characteristic of being an important part of the seat of the Maya civilization; its inhabitants are the descendants of the builders of Tulum, Chichén Itzá, Edzná, Calakmul and other places that are now advertised as tourist attractions.

Said inhabitants coexist and are mixed with the populations that arrived with the Conquest or the area’s subsequent evolution, but have not lost their cultural identity, a territory of Mayas since at least the years 1000 to 800 BC.

Aguada Fénix

This is confirmed with the discovery of the Aguada Fénix archaeological site [above photo], the largest construction of the Mayas found so far and one that stands out for being a horizontal construction, the first of that kind that they have found.

Ceceña said that according to the discoverers, a building with those characteristics reveals community and e egalitarian organization of the place’s inhabitants, a valuable finding in the reconstruction of a history that could not be erased in the Conquest because it was buried or concealed by those who had a consciousness from a long time ago and the strength of their culture.

Aguada Fénix is in the path of the train. If it were not already discovered it could simply be destroyed to bring development to this southeast region. According to data from the INAH, there are 7,274 places within the territory that have archaeological vestiges already detected, which the Maya Train would encompass with its developments poles, the coordinator explained.

Lastly, she pointed out that destroying that richness, biodiversity and especially the geomorphology of these territories, would be an unforgivable attack and, of course, irreversible.

Aguada-Fénix-y-TM-08

The above map shows the Aguada Fénix site as a red dot, near the border with Guatemala, Tabasco and Chiapas.

[1] Cenotes are natural sinkholes resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater and are used as a water supply, especially on the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico.

——————————————————————

Originally Published in Spanish by Chiapas Paralelo

Monday, August 2, 2021

https://www.chiapasparalelo.com/noticias/chiapas/2021/08/polos-de-desarrollo-del-tren-maya-destruiran-la-riqueza-biodiversidad-y-geomorfologia-de-los-territorios-investigadora/

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee