Chiapas Support Committee

In a climate of siege against NGOs, Dora Roblero assumes the leadership of Frayba

Dora Roblero takes office as the new director of the Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Center (Frayba).

By: Elio Henríquez, Correspondent

San Cristóbal De las Casas, Chiapas

Dora Roblero, the new director of the Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Center (Frayba), took office yesterday, in a ceremony in which she reaffirmed her “commitment to walk together with the peoples who struggle and defend land and territory, those who exercise autonomy and self-determination in spite of adversities, omission and acquiescence of the governments, which in addition to administering the conflicts don’t carry out effective actions to stop and duly address the serious human rights violations that we experience in Chiapas.”

She assured that: “a common pattern persists in the federal and state governments: they murder, criminalize, threaten and torture those who defend human rights and life, in the midst of structural racism and discrimination.

“The generalized violence emanating from the dispute between organized crime groups for the control of territories and from the capture and complicity of institutions is intense, as well as the proliferation of different hardline actors who act with impunity.”

Added to the foregoing are: “the unresolved internal armed conflict, the renewed military presence, the exercise of self-government impelled from different community proposals and the constant attacks on Zapatista autonomy in the midst of an ominous silence of the Mexican government, as well as the impulse of megaprojects and social programs imposed on the communities, which favor community division and territorial dispossession.”

She stated that within the state “a humanitarian crisis exists around the phenomenon of internal forced displacement; around 14, 893 people have experienced this situation due to the generalized violence and constant impunity because of the ineffectiveness and omission of the Mexican State. Torture is also a generalized and systemic practice that remains installed as a mechanism for simulating justice and fabricating culprits, leaving a grave impact on the victims, their families and society.”

Roblero’s taking the oath of office, in substitution for Pedro Faro, was held in the Frayba offices with the presence of its president, Raúl Vera, bishop emeritus of Saltillo, Coahuila, and of members of the Board of Directors, as well as the head of the Diocese of San Cristóbal, Rodrigo Aguilar, and representatives of different civil society groupings.

Upon taking office for the next three years, the new director of the organization founded by the late Bishop Samuel Ruiz García in March 1989 said that “it will be a challenge” to lead the Frayba, where she has been working for 14 years, and although “I know that it’s not easy, I have a great team and many people who are accompanying me.”


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada, Tuesday, May 24, 2022,, Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee


The right of self-determination of peoples and nations

By: Gilberto López y Rivas /Part 2

In the First World War there is an identification between the principle of nationalities and the right of peoples to align themselves, fundamentally through the Bolsheviks’ theory of political action, on the one hand, and on the other hand, the theory of US president Woodrow Wilson, who interprets this principle within the variant of self-government; that is, as the right of the governed to have a government that has their consent. Self-determination for Wilson is a synonym for popular sovereignty, which in the context of US tradition had a totally different meaning from the one that millions of people would give it in those years of war, for whom self-determination meant, more than anything, national independence. Wilson’s involuntary contribution to the history of self-determination, as an ideological resource of international relations in conflict, takes place in the context of the First World War, which represents the entry of the United States into the European political arena and the start of its preeminence in the international arena, without this preventing him from intervening militarily in Mexico, Cuba, Panama, Nicaragua, Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

At the other end of the political spectrum, Lenin elaborates theoretically and politically around self-determination as the right of peoples and nations to independence, to state separation, to the formation of their own states. For Lenin, self-determination was a democratic vindication that emerges precisely from the liberal principles of bourgeois democracy, although in his theoretical analysis he went beyond the liberal interpretation. In reality, the Russian Revolution was the decisive event that influenced the elaboration and radicality of this principio. In March 1917, the provisional government of revolutionary Russia announces that it wished to establish peace unilaterally, on the basis of the “right of nations to decide on their destinies.” Lenin and the Bolsheviks understood the value that national sentiment had to their goals of social transformation. Lenin achieved linking the socialist paradigm of proletarian internationalism with the bourgeois-democratic paradigm of the right to national self-determination. Starting with the same theoretical presupposition of Marx on world revolution, Lenin envisions –however– the importance of the national question as an element that would strengthen the struggle for socialism. In his “balance of the discussion on self-determination,” Lenin pointed out that socialists: “Must be in favor of taking advantage for purposes of the socialist revolution of all the national movements directed against imperialism. The purer the struggles of the proletariat against the imperialist common front are today, the more essential, obviously, will be the internationalist principle that ‘the people who oppress other people cannot be free.’” In a heated debate with Rosa Luxemburg, Lenin advocated for the recognition of the right to self-determination as the right to found an independent State of their own. Lenin, from his optic as a Russian revolutionary, sees allies in all the enemies of tsarism, including the nationalisms of oppressed countries, like Poland, thereby reaffirming the principle of national self-determination of peoples and nations. The great Leninist contribution was to theoretically and politically base the right to self-determination as one of the basic principles of co-existence between peoples and nations.

Against all wars!

Despite the subsequent involution of the revolution under Stalin, which in fact denies this principle, Lenin made it clear that he was concerned about the national question. The last document dictated by Lenin refers precisely to the problems caused by Stalin in Georgia, his homeland: “It’s necessary to distinguish between the nationalism of an oppressor nation and the nationalism of an oppressed nation, between the nationalism of a large nation and the nationalism of a small nation… Regarding the second nationalism, the members of a large nation are almost always to blame for committing infinite acts of violence in the practical terrain of history; and even more: we commit endless acts of violence and offenses without taking into account… and I believe that in this case, regard to the Georgian nation, we witness a typical example of how the truly proletarian attitude demands extreme caution, delicacy and compromise on our part. The Georgian [referring to Stalin] who treats this aspect of the problem with disdain, who makes disparaging accusations of ‘social nationalism’ (when he himself is not only an authentic and true social nationalist, but also a crude Russia henchman), that Georgian violates, the basic interests of proletarian class solidarity.” Ukraine today?

The Zapatistas march against all wars in San Cristóbal on March 13, 2022.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada, Friday, May27, 2022,, and Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

They protest due to the increase in assaults and kidnappings in northern Chiapas

This report is from a corner of Chiapas not usually associated with protests and marches. It evidences the extent to which organized crime has spread throughout Chiapas and the effect it has on peoples and communities.

Zoque and Tsotsil peoples unite in a large peace march. Photo: Chiapas Paralelo


By: Elio Henríquez, Correspondent

San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas

Hundreds of residents from at least eight municipalities located in the northern area of the state, marched this Friday in Rayón, to demand peace and security and peace, because they assure that assaults and kidnappings have increased in the region.

The protest called Caravan for Unity and Peace against insecurity, was called by Franciscan priests and friars; residents de Rayón, Jitotol, Pueblo Nuevo, Rincón Chamula, Tapilula, Ixtacomitán, Chapultenango and Solosuchiapa [municipalities] participated.

Several priests, among the protestors

The protestors, among them several priests, left from a point known as the Mirador de Rayón and after walking three kilometers they reached the central park, where they held a rally.

Those in attendance carried signs with slogans such as: “United for Peace,” “Peace, justice and respect,” “Justice and peace in the world,” “No more violence and corruption,” “Peaceful March” and “we demand peace. No more extorsions from federal and state police. No more violence.”

A banner at the March for Security, Peace and Justice reads: “If there is no justice for the people, may there be no peace for the government.” Photo: Chiapas Paralelo

The organizers expressed that: “the Franciscan zone is worried about the increase in assaults and kidnappings, which cause a grave climate of insecurity.”

During the rally, some speakers insisted that it’s necessary for the authorities to intervene to stop the insecurity that prevails in the state’s northern area.

“Today we are gathered together in Rayón, not only because this municipality suffers attacks from organized crime. Any of the communities in our area that want us to meet again to show strength and to demand that there be justice so that we can have security, we’re going to hear it,” said one of the friars.

He specified that due to the dynamic of the religious order, “there could be changes of some of us to other places, but that’s no reason to be indifferent to the situation we’re experiencing, we will support from where we are and we will be attentive and we will be in solidarity with what the people are walking.”

Representatives of different groups and organizations also attended the march, among them the Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Center.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada, Saturday, May 21, 2022, and Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

The United States: a violent neighbor

On the 2-year anniversary of the murder of George Floyd, as victims are still being laid to rest and remembered in Buffalo, and now another massacre in Texas, it seems worth reflecting how our neighbors in Mexico view these events.

Buffalo mourners after the May 14th hate crime that killed 10 people and injured 3

A La Jornada Editorial

On May 14, a young man 18 years-old shot 10 people to death, and injured three more —the majority of whom were African American— in a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, motivated by the idea that in the United States there is a plan in place to replace the white European population with blacks and immigrants of various ethnic backgrounds. The mass-shooter live-streamed his crime in real-time on the Internet and declared himself a white supremacist and fascist when brought before a judge.

Episodes like this are shockingly common in our neighboring country and express an ingrained violence in countless citizens, as well as the prevalence of abominable racist beliefs in significant segments of the population.

A sign of the times, the explosion of social networks and the presence on them of ultra-right wing conspiratorial content make possible the trivialization of these massacres, their dissemination on specialized video game platforms and the feedback between the protagonists of hate crimes, as made evident by the Buffalo killer, who conceived of his raid as a tribute to perpetrators of other mass-shootings.

But beyond the ideologies and the technological uses, there is an underlying problem in the United States: the belief that problems both real or imagined — like the conspiratorial theory of population replacement — can be resolved through violence and murder.

US Weapons and ammunition seized from a cartel I n Mexico.

That idea, which has an unfortunate expression in the elevated number of homicides in the United States, finds a deplorable parallel in Washington’s global policies, which place it as the primary planetary protagonist of wars and armed conflicts.

Another unavoidable aspect of this phenomenon is the pro-gun mentality that dominates a good part of the society of our neighboring country, in which there are more firearms in the hands of civilians than there are inhabitants. The free trade in arms from north of the Rio Grande is, furthermore, an undeniable factor in the criminal violence suffered in Mexico, whose criminal groups are easily supplied with handguns, assault rifles, and high-power weapons of war— like the Barrett rifle— in the U.S. market.

That is not, certainly, the only way in which the United States exports violence to our country. One of the obstacles to punishing those responsible for violent crime in Mexico is the number of Mexican criminals in the neighboring country that have benefitted from the witness protection program, such as the case of Dámaso López Serrano, El Mini Lic, identified as the mastermind of the homicide of Javier Valdez Cárdenas, the La Jornada correspondent in Sinaloa, who was executed May 15th, 2017 —five years ago now— in his birthplace of Culiacán.

In conclusion, it is impossible to analyze the phenomena of insecurity and criminality in Mexico without taking into account its proximity to a nation that is as sick with violence as it is powerful, and whose disease infects other nations in many ways.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada, Monday, May 16, 2022, Translated by Schools for Chiapas and Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

Zibechi: the limits of protest as a form of struggle

2021 Tax protest in Colombia. Photo: Al Jazeera

By: Raúl Zibechi

With his usual lucidity, William I. Robinson wonders if the worldwide wave of protests and mobilizations will be capable of confronting global capitalism ( In effect, there has been an endless chain of protests and popular uprisings since the 2008 crisis. He recalls that in the years before the pandemic there were more than 100 large protests that brought down 30 governments.

He mentions the gigantic mobilization in the United States after the murder of George Floyd in May 2020, which he defines as: “an anti-racist uprising that brought more than 25 million people, mostly young people, into the streets of hundreds of cities across the country, the largest mass protest in the history of the United States.”

In Latin America the uprisings and revolts in Ecuador, Chile, Nicaragua and especially Colombia, had an extension, duration and depth rarely seen on this continent. The Colombian protest paralyzed the country for three months, showed impressive levels of popular creativity (such as the 25 resistance points in Cali) and ways of articulation between peoples, in the street, below, absolutely unprecedented.

Robinson recalls that the dominant classes pushed the cycle of mobilization back at the end of the 1960s and the beginning of the ‘70s, “through capitalist globalization and the neoliberal counter-revolution.” That was in the north, because in the global south they did it with pure bullets and massacres.

Towards the end of his article, he wonders “how to translate mass revolt into a project that can challenge the power of global capital.” The question is valid. In principle, because we don’t know how, because the governments that emerged after large revolts did no more than deepen capitalism and promote the disorganization of popular sectors.

Although we participate in large mobilizations and in riots, which are part of the political culture of protest, it’s necessary to understand their limits as mechanisms for transforming the world. We’re not going to abandon them, but we can learn to go further, to be capable of constructing the new and to defend it.

Protest in San Francisco after the murder of George Floyd. Photo: San Jose Mercury News.

Among the limits that I encounter there are several that I would like to place in discussion.

The first one is that governments have learned to manage protest, through a range of interventions that range from repression to partial concessions that redirect the situation. For two centuries now, protest has become habitual, so that the ruling classes and the government teams no longer fear it like they used to, but above all they know how to see in it an opportunity to gain legitimacy.

Those above know that the key moment is the decline, when the fires of the mobilization are being extinguished and the tendency to return to daily life gains strength. For the protestors, demobilization is a delicate moment, since it can mean a setback if they have not been able to construct solid and lasting organizations.

The second limit derives from the trivialization of the protest due to its transformation into a spectacle. Some sectors seek to impact public opinion through this mechanism, to the point that the spectacle has become a new repertoire of collective action. Dependence on the media is one of the worst facets of this drift.

The third limit is related to the fact that the protestors don’t usually find spaces and times to debate what was achieved in the protest, to evaluate how to continue, what errors and mistakes were made. The most serious thing is that this “evaluation” is often carried out by the media or by academics, who are not part of the movements.

The fourth limit I encounter is that protests are necessarily sporadic and occasional. No collective subject can be in the street all the time because the wear and tear is enormous. So, the times for irrupting must be chosen carefully, as Native peoples have been doing, they demonstrate when they believe the time has come.

An equilibrium must exist between outside and inside activity, between exterior and interior mobilization, knowing that this is key to sustaining ourselves as peoples, to give continuity to life and to affirm ourselves as different subjects. It’s in moments of internal withdrawal when we affirm our anti-capitalist characteristics.

Finally, autonomy is not constructed during protests, but before, during and after. Especially before! Protest must not be something merely reactive, because in that way the initiative is always outside of the movement. Autonomy demands a long process of inner work and demands a daily tension to keep it going.

I feel that we owe ourselves, as movements and collectives, time for debate, because not reproducing the system supposes working intensely, without spontaneity, overcoming inertia to continue growing.

Zapatistas protest against all wars on March 13, 2022 in Ocosingo. The banner reads: “No to wars! Stop the wars! Stop! Because it is so unjust. Because it leaves horrible destruction of human lives: invalids, orphans, high prices, hunger and diseases and all for capitalist interests.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada, Friday, May 20, 2022, and Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

They install an internal working group on mountain wetlands critical habitat

The wetlands are a key ecosystem in combating climate change. Photo: SEMARNAT

By: Yessica Morales, Editorial Staff

For almost a decade, citizen organizations have been denouncing the degradation of the wetlands that provide 70% of the water used in the city of San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, located in southern Mexico.

The Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) communicated that on May 9, 2022, the meeting was held for the Critical Habitat Internal Working Group for the mountain wetlands of San Cristóbal de Las Casas, for the purpose of coordinating the actions of the three levels of government for protecting the Kisst and María Eugenia Wetlands.

In said meeting, they established agreements fundamental for defense of the wetlands, among which the announcement of a protection and vigilance strategy stood out, as well as another one of conscientization and sensitization for working together with the inhabitants in the conservation of these important ecosystems.

During the session, Agustín Ávila Romero, General Director of Politics for Climate Change and in charge of the general direction of the National Institute of Ecology and Climate Change, pointed out that: “the wetlands are a key ecosystem in the fight against climate change.”

Likewise, I make clear the importance of these areas as subsistence habitats for species endemic to Mexico, such as the popoyote fish. An endemic species, whose distribution is limited to the basin of said municipality and in nearby rivers, is small (around 6 to 13 centimeters), a species in danger of extinction by official Mexican standards.

The Kisst Wetland – Photo: Guardianes del Agua (Guardians of the Water)

Representatives of the San Cristóbal de Las Casas districts (colonias) and members of academic institutions like the Autonomous University of Chiapas (UNACH), Intercultural University of Chiapas (UNICH), Autonomous National University of Mexico (UNAM), College of the Southern Border (ECOSUR) and the Autonomous University of Chapingo (UACh) participated in the meeting.

Those mentioned above, agreed to promote a popular environmental plan that allows contributing to the education and training of guardians of the wetlands in that municipality in the Chiapas Highlands, through the sum of efforts between communities and authorities.

They had the participation of representatives of different bodies like the National Institute of Ecology and Climate Change (INECC), the Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection (PROFEPA), the National Commission for Natural Protected Areas (CONANP), the National Forestry Commission (CONAFOR) and the National Water Commission (CONAGUA), the Attorney General of the Republic (FGR) and the National Guard (GN) in the installation of the group.

María del Rosario Bonifaz, Secretary of Environment and Natural History participated for the Chiapas government (SEMAHN), as well as Mariano Alberto Díaz Ochoa, municipal president, for the government of San Cristóbal.

María Eugenia Mountain Wetlands, San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico

Water is life, not a commodity

It’s appropriate to remember that, the “I prefer water and health” campaign commemorated last May 3, Holy Cross Day, in gratitude for water and to recognize it as an element that transcends people’s lives, as well as every living being on the planet.

The vital liquid is part of the body, food and the common house. That’s why, through a manifesto they indicated that water is life and is sacred, and is not a commodity, therefore water has the right to flow clean and free through its natural channels, as well as being a resource for all living beings.

In the case of the mountain wetlands, they pointed out that since they are fragile ecosystems, refilling them is ecocide. Along with the Jovel Valley’s hills, rivers and springs, they are considered as their home; for that reason, both citizens, rulers and institutions are obliged to protect them.

We are polluting the water in this city, let’s look for solutions to clean it up with efficient and viable eco-techniques. Excessive extraction of water is drying up the deep wells, it is inadmissible to permit irresponsible concessions. The corresponding authorities must respect the international mandate of the human right to safe drinking water and to sanitation, they explained in the manifesto.


Originally Published in Spanish by Chiapas Paralelo, Tuesday, May 10, 2022,,-Por%20Redacci%C3%B3n%20Yessica&text=Desde%20hace%20casi%20una%20d%C3%A9cada,ubicado%20al%20sur%20de%20M%C3%A9xico. and Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

The López Montejo brothers are free after 11 years in prison

They release the brothers Abraham and Germán López Montejo, arrested on January 17, 2011. Photo: Frayba

By: Yessica Morales

*Abraham and Germán were arrested on January 17, 2011, being arbitrarily deprived of their freedom and each one sentenced to 75 years in prison [for murder]. 

The brothers Abraham and Germán López Montejo [1] were set free after 11 years, 3 months and 28 days behind bars in the Center for Social Reinsertion for those Sentenced (CERSS) No. 5 in San Cristóbal de Las Casas.

That said, the Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Center (Frayba) announced that after their long struggle to show their innocence and the grave human rights violations committed against them, on May 16, 2022, the Judge of First Instance in Criminal Matters dictated immediate freedom “due to a lack of evidence proving the elements of the crime.

In other words, during these eleven years there was insufficient evidence to prove the brothers’ responsibility. Added to that, in March 2019, Abraham and Germán risked their life by going on a 135-day hunger strike, together with their compañeros Marcelino Ruíz Gómez, Juan de la Cruz Ruiz and Adrián Gómez Jiménez in order to show their innocence. 

The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention demands the immediate release of Marcelino Ruíz Gómez, Abraham López Montejo and Germán López Montejo. Photo: Frayba

We demand that the Mexican State fully comply with Opinion 43/2021 of the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.

Similarly, former prisoner Marcelino Ruiz, who was set free after 20 years, 3 months and 2 days, suffered arbitrary detention and was a victim of torture. He called for compliance with Opinion 43/2021 of the UN’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.

The Opinion, apart from the immediate freedom the prisoners in struggle Abraham and Germán López Montejo, demands that comprehensive reparations be made.

It should be remembered that within the framework of its 91st period of sessions, from September 6 to 10, 2021, this Working Group approved Opinion 43/2021, corresponding to the deprivation of freedom of those already mentioned.

Likewise, it determined that the Mexican State did not comply with international norms relative to the right to a fair and impartial trial, in addition to its discriminatory position ignoring the equality of human beings, based on their ethnic or social origin and language, lack of medical care, among others.

[1] While in prison, Abraham and Germán López Montejo were members of The True Voice of El Amate, which means they were adherents to the EZLN’s Sixth Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle


Originally Published in Spanish by Chiapas Paralelo, Tuesday, May 17, 2022, and Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

Maya Train: judge ordered the provisional suspension of construction on Section 5 south

The Maya Train’s route, stations and stops.

The claim for amparo, filed by a group of divers, points to the absence of an environmental impact statement

Infobae Newsroom

April 19, 2022

A judge in the state of Yucatán granted the provisional suspension of Section 5 south of the Maya Train after a group of divers filed a claim for an amparo (a suspension) for not having an environmental impact statement. [1]

This was announced by the Defending the Right to a Healthy Environment (DMAS) association through a statement shared on its social networks, in which it says that, after three weeks, the First District Court admitted the issue and notified them on Monday, April 18 of the suspension.

The agreement, dated April 12, provides for the suspension of any act aimed at continuing the construction of Section 5 South, which runs from Playa del Carmen to Tulum and covers an area of 60.3 kilometers, so that the execution of works related to its infrastructure will not be allowed, as well as the removal of destruction of the biodiversity of the area.

The Defending the Right to a Healthy Environment organization (DMAS, Defendiendo el Derecho a un Medio Ambiente Sano) celebrated the provisional suspension for Section 5 South (Foto: Twitter@AcDmas)

The amparo was filed on Thursday, March 24, before the Ninth District Court by the DMAS and a group of speleologists and divers residing in Playa del Carmen, but was subsequently referred to the First Court through an agreement with the Council of the Federal Judiciary (CJF).

They pointed out that, even without having the environmental impact statement, deforestation took place in Playa del Carmen, Rio Secreto, Akumal and Tulum. They also indicated that this section will cross underground rivers that will be affected, since they run from west to east and the preliminary line is from north to south.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Agrarian, Territorial and Urban Development (Sedatu), the Ministry of National Defense (Sedena) and the National Fund for the Promotion of Tourism (Fonatur) were the petitioned authorities, according to file 884/2022. According to El Financiero, it will be on April 22 when it will be determined whether to grant the definitive suspension.

It should be remembered that Section 5 South of the Maya Train is run by Grupo México and the Spanish company Acciona. It will have two stations (Tulum and Tulum Airport) and three stops (Xcaret, Puerto Aventuras and Akumal). However, various civil organizations, such as that of the French oceanographer Jean Michel Cousteau, have pointed out that construction in that area is not viable because of the karst soil on the peninsula.

As a result, on 28 March a group of Greenpeace activists chained themselves to the machinery occupied for this stretch as a form of symbolic protest, on the grounds that the General Law on Ecological Balance and Environmental Protection (Lgeepa) was being violated, since articles 170 to 174 were being violated stipulate sanctions if the environmental impact statement is not presented or is not complied with.

Similarly, a group of celebrities joined the campaign “Sélvame del Tren” to protest against the construction of Section 5 of Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s megaproject, as it would affect underground rivers, cenotes and the ecological balance of the area. Eugenio Derbez, Kate del Castillo, Natalia Lafourcade, Rubén Albarran, Omar Chaparro, Ana Claudia Talancón and Bárbara Mori participated in this event.


The investment for this mega-project is 200 billion pesos and covers an area of 1,554 kilometers that will pass through the states of Tabasco, Chiapas, Campeche, Yucatan and Quintana Roo through 7 construction sections, as well as 18 stations and 12 stops.

[1] On May 12, 2022, a collegiate court of appeals upheld the provisional suspension issued by the First District Court on April 18, 2022.


Originally Published by Infobae, April 19, 2022, Edited and Re-Published by the Chiapas Support Committee

One Hundred Years of Normal Schools

Diego Rivera mural, Secretary of Public Education Building, Mexico City

By: Luis Hernández Navarro

Whitewashing the past, de-radicalizing it, polishing the sharpest edges of its emancipatory episodes has been a recurrent obsession of our modernizing elites. In his infinite hatred of progressive educators, Octavio Véjar Vázques, head of the Secretary of Public Education (SEP) between 1941 and 1943, ordered the demolition of a wall of the central building, in which the caption was found: In honor of the rural teachers who have fallen in pursuit of the ideal of socialist education.

A decorated brigadier general with a pistol on his belt, an admirer of Benito Mussolini, he fought socialist education, promoted the “school of love,” sought reconciliation with the Catholic Church and persecuted rural teachers. On the wall that he destroyed were written the names of teachers who had been sacrificed by the Cristeros [1] and hacienda owners: [2] female teachers who had been raped, educators who had been murdered, impaled and mutilated.

He canceled the mixed normal boarding schools (1943), because it encouraged degeneracy between boys and girls, almost at the same time in which, in Mexico City, a loincloth was placed on [the statue] of Diana the Huntress. And he opposed bilingual education, as he considered it an obstacle to national unity.

The damage that the official caused to rural normal schools was devastating. A relevant figure in the history of education in the country, Mario Aguilera Dorantes, tells that maestro Rafael Ramírez began a meeting of inspectors with the Minister saying, “Mr. Secretary, there among the teachers is a document that you should know about — they say that for the new León Toral [3] with a dagger in his hand, is Véjar Vázquez Octavio who killed the rural schools.

The idea was to take away from the rural normal school its mission of conscientization, its commitment to the community, its role as a promoter of agrarian reform, its lay vocation. It was intended that the teachers who graduated from these schools would stop committing themselves to social transformation. They did not succeed.

The rural teachers’ college emerged a century ago. On May 22nd, 1922 the first one opened enrollment on Benito Juarez 106, in Tacámbaro, Michoacán, just one year after the founding of the Secretary of Public Education. Francisco J. Múgica governed the state. Teacher Isidro Castillo says, “I founded it. Nobody wanted to rent us the house, due to the pressures of Bishop Lepoldo Lara y Torres, who was a Cristero. He was a very demanding and negative priest who was in conflict with us. After five years of being there, I finally got it; Ignacio Chávez’s father rented it to me.”

Diego Rivera Mural, Secretary of Public Education Building, Mexico City

“That day we were few students, but the school began to work. I, who had been in the elementary school, settled in with the sixth-grade group —we carried the benches and set up the room. I got the building; I procured the furniture for it.” The first class had 16 graduates.

The turbulence that accompanied its birth also accompanied its development. In May 1923, the first student strike in the institution broke out, in opposition to the naming of a director with no standing. In 1925, the school temporarily separated from the SEP and was rescued by the University of San Nicolás de Hidalgo. In 1926, to the cry of ¡Long live Christ the King! teacher Moisés Zamora, a graduate of the normal school, was hanged from a tree and stabbed. Religious fanaticism and poverty forced the school, once again dependent upon the SEP, to move to Erongarícuaro, on the banks of Lake Pátzcuaro. Later, it moved to Huetamo. In 1949, it was moved to the former hacienda of Coapa, in the district of Tiripetío, to become the Vasco de Quiroga Rural Normal School, a boarding school for women.

When, as revenge for their participation in the popular student movement of 1968, Gustavo Díaz Ordaz in 1969 ordered the closure of more than half of the existing rural normal schools, the school of La Huerta, in Michoacán became a secondary school for young women, and the boys that studied there to become rural teachers were moved to Tirpetío. Under the weight of political harassment and repression, the Federation of Socialist Campesino Students of Mexico (Fecsm) languished for three years until in 1971, a student strike of more than 22 days in Tiripetío relaunched the movement.

The woes of the normal schools did not remain there. The list of grievances suffered appears to have no end. As a repeat of the campaign against the rural normal schools headed up by Véjar Vázquez in 1941, just in 2021, the Secretary of Education in Michoacán considered, with federal authorities, closing the normal school due to vandalism and delinquent acts frequently committed by a group of students.

From Tiripetío (and from La Huerta) graduated leaders like Francisco Javier Acuña, key to the creation of the Political-Union Liberation Movement and the CNTE in Michoacán. A proponent of a proposal for construction of power by the masses, Javier understood that this was the germ of the new power. Javier died in the final moments of 1999, in an unexplained automobile accident. According to his compañeros, his death was a blow that stopped or hindered many processes thereafter.

The SEP has no memory. 100 years after their emergence, rural teachers colleges, beginning with Tiripetío, suffer from age-old problems that are not being addressed. Today, as yesterday, they are victims of stigmatization. A century ago, they were accused of being schools of the devil, now nests of criminals. However, beyond the demonization, neither the communities nor the student teachers will allow them to disappear, as Véjar Vázquez wanted 80 years ago. They are here to stay.

“True civilization will be the harmony of men with the land and of men among themselves.”
Diego Rivera Mural in the Secretary of Public Education Building, Mexico City.


[1[ The Cristero Rebellion (1926-1929) was a popular uprising of peasants against stringent state restrictions on the Church under President Calles. The ensuing strike by the Church, and cessation of its services created widespread panic among the faithful, who with the Church’s tacit approval, mobilized the energy of a generalized discontent that had been brewing into violent uprising against the State.

[2] Among the discontented were those whose prosperity and power would be affected by the rural and agrarian reforms of the Mexican Revolution, such as large landowners and the Church. While some of the Cristeros were actually peasants, it is thought that counter-revolutionary forces merged with those defending their faith.

[3] José León Toral was a Roman Catholic who assassinated General Alvaro Obregón, then president of Mexico, in 1928. Witnessing the reforms of the new secular state following the Revolution, León Toral was reportedly involved in the Cristero Rebellion.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada, April 26, 2022, Translated by Schools for Chiapas and Re-Published by the Chiapas Support Committee

The right of self-determination of peoples and nations

Vintage engraving of Edward Winslow’s visit to Massasoit. Massasoit Sachem or Ousamequin (c. 1581 – 1661) was the sachem or leader of the Wampanoag tribe. Edward Winslow (18 October 1595 – 8 May 1655) was a Separatist who traveled on the Mayflower in 1620.

By: Gilberto López y Rivas /I

The principle of self-determination, understood as the right of peoples and nations to freely choose their political, economic and cultural regime, including the formation of an independent State, and to resolve all questions related to its existence, is consolidated as a fundamental element within the international legal framework, at least formally, since the Second World War, when the United Nations Charter specified equal rights among nations and the “self-determination of the peoples.” The principle of self-determination is established in various international documents, like the Atlantic Charter of 1941, the United Nations Declaration of 1942, the Yalta Conference of 1945, among others. The end of the war conflict in 1945, its ideological and political repercussions, and the liberation movements of the peoples of Africa and Asia during the following decades, brought as a consequence the formation of more than 50 states, which emerged in opposition to the triumphant colonial and neocolonial powers in that war, like the United States, England and France, as well as against other metropolises like Portugal, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy and Japan. The principle of self-determination appears formulated as a generic criterion, in which concrete circumstances are the ones in charge of giving precise content to that right and, the majority of times, with little observance on the part of the states.

Historically, self-determination has its early origins in the “principle of nationalities,” which finds the same doctrinal bases that gave rise to the emergence of the modern nation and the principle of national sovereignty. The “principle of nationalities” was fully formulated in the first half of the last century, at a time of national effervescence that implied, in essence, that each nationality had the right to have its own State. With all that, the principle of nationality emerges from the ideas of the French Revolution and the Constitution of 1791, in which it is pointed out that: “peoples and states shall enjoy equal natural rights and shall be subject to the same standards of justice.” By introducing the principle of popular sovereignty, the French Revolution fundamentally alters the prevailing conception of the State, by unifying the idea of a political unit, together with the formal will of a people who become a nation. From the revolutionary theory that the people have the right to elect their own government; in other words, a process that takes place from the bottom to the top, we move on to the vindication that people can equally join one State or another, or they can establish their own State.

As a consequence of the democratization of the idea of the State as a product of the “popular will” and the integration of the “citizen” into a common political form, the Nation-State, nationalism, which spreads to all corners of the world, takes the theoretical form of national independence or self-determination, beyond the intention of its original creators. The principle of nationalities on the part of the French revolutionaries was applied selectively and in accordance with the interests of the nascent bourgeoisies, which denied that right to the peoples of their own overseas colonies or to the peoples whose independence was not pertinent to the stability of the European political space.

The principle of nationalities was actually the political expression of the European bourgeoisies in the process of consolidation of their national states and an instrument of struggle against the dynastic systems that had populations and territories at their will. The unification of Germany, Italy, and other European states that were established at the expense of the old Russian, Turkish and Austro-Hungarian multi-national empires was carried out under this principle.

However, in the period of worldwide capitalist expansion, the bourgeoisie of the countries in which the principle of nationalities had been proclaimed renounced its application, since the ideal of their ruling classes at this time is not the national State based on territorial continuity, but rather on a multi-national State of a particular type: the neocolonial empire. The capitalists of these metropolises export their capitals to the colonies in the face of the standardization of mass production caused by the Industrial Revolution, in search of new markets and new sources of raw materials. Thus, the European bourgeoisies didn’t have the slightest intention of extending the principle of nationalities to the colonial peoples, expressing the contradictions between the metropolitan ideal and the colonialist realities and practices that, at the time, theoreticians of the anti-colonial movements would have reproached the old Europe.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada, Friday, May 13, 2022, and Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee