Chiapas Support Committee

Time and Zapatismo

Tiempo y Zapatismo

By: Sergio Rodríguez Lazcano

Photo: Francisco Lion

How much time did the Zapatistas take to decide something as important and transcendental as it is to tour the world to dialogue, to listen, to see, to feel, to probe, to know, to be known, to discover, to be discovered? Normally, deciding this shouldn’t take much time. We’re talking about simple things that should be as natural as bread and salt.

But the times we’re living in (since many years ago) are not normal. We live in harsh times, where from the power of money and the paralyzed thought of what was known as the left, what they seek is the imposition of single thought, full of atavisms and prejudices.

In a Juan Villoro article titled “Ulises, Zapatista” we are reminded of Subcomandante Galeano’s phrase, which I think synthesizes what’s happening in the world today, not just in Mexico:

We don’t know you, but if we Zapatistas had laziness of thought, we would be in an institutional political party (“The Method, the bibliography and a drone in the depths of the mountains of the Mexican Southeast.” SupGaleano, May 4, 2015).

But, what is it that has permitted the geometric development of that lazy thought? In a great Brazilian novel by João Guimarães Rosa, Grande Sertão: Veredas, the devil, who is a central character in the book, tells the troubled Riobaldo that thinking gave him vertigo. I think that a lot of people got tired of living with vertigo and preferred the comfort of laziness.

Laziness always generates certainties, few, but set. At the same time, it teaches a safe path, outside of the risks of the unprecedented. In the state of laziness there is no wonder or surprise. In the end, only the “successes” that have been repeated since the 19th century are endorsed.

I think that one of the abilities of the Zapatista compañeros has been to break with the schematic and laziness, which has a double characteristic: it impoverishes the theories on which it claims to rely because it reduces them to clichés and, at the same time, invalidates the creation of a self-generated thinking.

The idea of touring the world starting with the old Europe (I believe that it was not gratuitous deciding to start on that continent), I think, was created and recreated for a long time. In some way, it crowns a whole series of initiatives that started with the Intergalactic and that, in the moment of greatest hopelessness and abandonment, they permitted designing a viable horizon of struggle, viable for the simple reason of its placement to the left of what’s possible.

Upon analyzing the makeup of Squadron 421 and of the entire Initiative for Life, the gigantic will and decision of the participants is clear, but I think that that’s just the tip of the iceberg. What generates a particular interest in me is trying to comprehend how they reached this decision. How did this discussion take place within the bosom of the Zapatista peoples? How did they reach the conclusion that there is indeed the possibility of building a bridge or a safe haven faced with the dimension of the catastrophe that looms over humanity?

From the end of 1994 to the construction of the Caracols in 2003 and their multiplication in 2019, they could have generated a feeling of security and refuge. The bunkers that the Zapatistas have constructed with great effort could lead to the idea of comfort. Not because there is great wealth, but rather for the simple reason that in the Zapatista territories everyone has their food and health assured, their minimal conditions for survival.

I imagine the seriousness of their discussions because I see the dimension of their decision, but also by seeing the form, which also is background, I can distinguish the joy with which an action of that size is undertaken.

What we mean by all this is that the ownership of the great initiative of going to tour the world to be able to generate possible defense mechanisms against the destruction that capitalism is bringing to a head is not the product of a brilliant brain, but rather of all the Zapatista peoples as a whole.

This is how powerful thinking is generated. Politics suddenly regains its foundational character. It’s not the work of specialists but of the common people, the manna of power disappears and all its myths and fallacies are exposed.

For those of us who came from an old left, who participate in congresses, meetings, international meetings, we look with confusion at hundreds and thousands (because it seems that those who go are a selection of all those who were willing to do so and, of course, of all those who participated in the discussion and decision) of members of the Zapatista peoples to propose such a comprehensive work agenda and at the same time say that they want to dance and play soccer, all this should lead us to reflect on what we did and how we did it.

The Zapatistas have told us that the January 1 insurrection was discussed and decided by the peoples and there are some minutes that support it. That way of making decisions will be maintained and extended until reaching a formation of a democracy that not only is direct but also constituent.

Deciding to carry out the struggle for life throughout the world must have been process in which the peoples discussed-reached consensus on-agreed, based on a profound update about what they had already been raising about the risks that hover not only over a social class or a political party but also over humanity as a whole.

And, then, from the depths of world society, from the deep below, the descendants of the Maya peoples seek to generate a great bridge that allows, based on very concrete points, which almost summarizes the common minimums for survival, a coming and going of struggles, experiences, feelings, desires, pains, stories, cultures, fiestas and soccer that will sway to the sweet rhythm of those who do no impose but share.

And, in the end, but not in last place, in the advance team that is Squadron 421, an otroa (non-binary person), Marijose, from what they have shared with us, will be the first to set foot on land. Not the secretary general of a party, not the intellectual who hopes to leave those who listen to him passively and raptly speechless, not the one who today is what he hated so much (paraphrasing José Emilio Pacheco), not the old leftist today converted to the theory that everything is negotiable in a kind of bazaar of opportunities.

A non-binary person will set foot on Europe as a member of the advance team and with that act will send a profound message to the world about the reason why the era of hegemonies and homogeneities ought to be part of pre-history and should not leave a trace.

So, how long did it take the Zapatista peoples to discuss-decide that marvelous initiative: 529 years, 500 years, 200 years, 111 years, 27 years? Let others have fun and make balls with the dates. They took… what was necessary. The right time, which is the basis of the perpetual present of Zapatismo. Well, that’s what I think.

The Author:

Sergio Rodríguez Lazcano has been a militant of the left since 1967. He is the author of the book “La crisis del poder y nosotr@s.” Besides many other works of social reflection, he is the author of the prologue and compiler of the book: “Escritos sobre la guerra y la economía política del Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos.”


Originally Published in Spanish by Camino al andar

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

English interpretation by Schools for Chiapas

Re-Published by the Chiapas Support Committee

Letter from the Zapatista Sixth Commission to “The Hour of the Peoples Has Come” Collective


By SupGaleano

May you all receive a hug… well, several. We wanted to send you a greeting… ok, several, and, taking advantage of the flight of these letters, to ask for your support.

It turns out that, for the Journey for Life Chapter Europe, it has been decided that we must fulfill the legal requirements to be able to arrive, with our ear and our word, to the lands that Marijose will have re-named in a few days. In a few hours (taking as a reference the day and time that I write this letter — dawn of June 11, 2021), that daring challenge called “The Mountain,” will touch European lands in the so-called Azores Islands, in Portugal. There they will stay for a few days and then head to their destination: Vigo, Galicia, Spain. Afterwards, an airborne group will leave.

The so-called “Squadron 421” will have their papers in order. That is to say, they have a double passport: the official Mexican passport and the so-called “Zapatista work passport,” which is issued by the Good Government Juntas when a compañera, compañero or compañeroa 1 leaves Zapatista territory to do work for our peoples. Here we say that he or she goes on a “commission.” On another occasion we will speak of this “Zapatista passport,” now we would like to speak to you about the official one.

We have referred before, in writings and talks, to what we call “the calendar and geography”. Well, our geography is called “Mexico.” And, for us, the Zapatista communities, this is not just a word. It is, in the Zapatista sense, a geography. When we say that we are “Mexicans,” we mean that we share histories with other native sister peoples (such as those who are grouped in the National Indigenous Congress-Indigenous Governing Council). Stories, that is to say: pains, joys, anger, grievances, struggles. But not only with the original peoples of this geography, also with individuals, groups, collectives, organizations and movements that coincide with us, the Zapatista peoples, in dreams and, of course, in nightmares.

By this I mean to say that we, the Zapatista communities, are not only not ashamed to say that we are Mexican, we are proud of it. Because this pride is not born from looking to the top and watching its cartoons but from looking, listening and talking to the Mexico below, their lives and their deaths. It is not my intention to give an account, however hasty, of what Mexico lives and fights for. Everyone has their own ways, their own stories, their defeats and victories, their way of looking at and explaining their world, their way of looking at and explaining themselves. But we see that there is something common, a kind of root, or plot, or backbone… there must be a way of saying it in cybernetic language… a matrix? Well, it is with that common root that we identify.

Oh, I know that more than one will be troubled by whether what I say is a “Zapatista” version of nationalism. I am not referring to nationalism. Nationalisms hide, for instance, inequalities and, beware, criminal relationships. In nationalisms the criminal and the victim converge, the Boss and the bossed around. Something as perverse as “I am destroying you but I do it for your sake because we are compatriots.” Something like the malignant meaning given to “the human,” for instance, in pointing out that both men and women are human beings. I will leave aside the fact that it is forgotten that there are those who are neither female nor male and, being nameless, are no longer “a human being.” In this sense of “the human,” the relationship of dominance between men and women is forgotten. I am not going to write a whole reel about patriarchy, its genealogy and its current maddening crime; there are those among you who know more about it and explain it better than I could.

Is it possible to refer to humanity without falling into the trap of hypocritical equality? We think so, and that relates to humanity in the sciences and the arts, but not only. Also to feelings, thoughts and basic proposals: the sense of justice, morals and ethics (which the late comrade Don Luis Villoro 2 a would explain better than I would even try), fraternity and other things that I will not detail (but you feel free to do so). For example, I would add dance —music and songs included–, and the game, but don’t pay too much attention to me.

Anyway, from one detail to the next, differences, distances, disagreements will open up. But, on the other hand, we could find something in common: that is what we call “humanity.”

So, when we say that the Zapatista peoples are “Mexicans” and that we are proud to be so, we refer to that common matrix with the other that struggles in this geography trapped between the Rio Bravo (Rio Grande) and the Suchiate, with the nibble that the eastern sea took from it and the elongated curve that the western sea forged in its waist, and including the solitary arm that borders the so-called “Sea of Cortés.” Add the real history, that of the neighboring geographies and…

Well, enough of that. The thing is that our airborne delegation is in the midst of proceedings around their passports. And I say “proceedings” out of delicacy, because it is like a hell, one that feeds in silence and comes to be seen as “normal.”

Because it turns out that our compañeras, compañeros and compañeroas meet all the requirements that are demanded, make the stipulated payment, travel from their communities to the offices of the erroneously-named “Secretariat of Foreign Affairs” and, with all the pandemic, they make an appointment, wait in line, wait their turn and… then are denied the document.

The obstacles of the supreme government and its ignorant, foolish and racist bureaucracy are outrageous.

Because you might think that it is only bureaucracy, that you have the bad luck to run into someone who thinks he has power because he is behind a window, a desk, an office. But no, it is also something else, and it could be synthesized as follows: racism.

The reasons? Well, there is a fundamental one and, of course, its derivatives: there is an atmosphere of poorly concealed hysteria in the government. In keeping with their commitment to the U.S. government to stop the flow of migrants from Central America –for the federal, state and municipal governments– anything that is not blond, light-eyed and comes from further south than Puebla, is Central American. For the schizophrenic government authorities, the first thing any Central American does is: get their birth certificate, their INE3 credential or their photo ID (which is an official document because it is issued by the municipality), and of origin in the official head office, their baptismal certificate, the birth certificates of their parents or older siblings, copies of their INE’s, certificates of autonomous municipality and Good Government Board, witnesses with official ID, and so on. With all of this fulfilled, their request for the document that every Mexican has the right to leave and enter national territory is rejected.

Yes, all those papers are presented, but the problem is that, in the eyes of the bureaucracy of the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, the color of the skin, the way of speaking, the way of dressing and the place of origin is what counts. “South of the Taxqueña subway4 The station at the southern terminus of the Mexico City subway system, everything is Central America.”

So much blah, blah, blah about rights and recognition of our roots, and so on —including hypocritical pardons asked of the land to be destroyed— but the native, or indigenous, populations continue to be treated as foreigners in their own land. And worse in Mexico City, which is supposedly “progressive.” There, a woman, a bureaucrat of the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, rejected the INE credential with a derogatory “that one is not good for anything, only for voting”, and demanded from the compañera, over 40 years old, inhabitant of the Lacandón Jungle, her high school certificate, to prove that she was not Guatemalan. The compañera alleged: “but I live off the land, I am a peasant, I don’t have a high school education.” The bureaucrat, haughty and arrogant: “Well, you don’t study because you don’t want to”. ” But I come from Chiapas,” insisted the compañera. “I don’t care. Ok, next,” replies the bureaucrat.

Does government bureaucracy get off on mistreating indigenous people? Is arrogance their aphrodisiac? “I already came, dear, today I bounced a fucking Indian and I’m really in the mood,” they will say, squinting their eyes coquettishly.

To prove if it was racism and not just bureaucracy, we sent a “white-passing and bearded” compañero to get his passport. They gave it to him the same day and without asking for anything beyond his birth certificate, his photo ID and proof of payment, which are the legal requirements.

And not only that: the Secretary of Foreign Affairs retains the payment made by all the compas who have been denied passports under pretexts and requirements that are not even on their website. Austerity must be really tough if they have to deprive the indigenous people of their money.

A compa (over 60 years of age) was questioned, “Might it be that you want to go to the United States to work?” The compa replied, “No, that’s where we’ll go later, another time. Right now we have to go to Europe.” The official, like the Federal Electoral Tribunal, washed his hands of it and sent him to another window. There he was told: “That is very far away and the trip is expensive, you couldn’t have the necessary money because you are an indigenous person. You have to bring your credit card statement. Next.” They said to a compañera: “Let’s have it, sing the hymn.” And the compañera started with “ya se mira el horizonte…” Rejected. She said to me regretfully: “I think it is because I sang it with a cumbia rhythm and not as a corrido ranchero. But cumbia is more cheerful. The corridos rancheros are all about killing women. If your name is “Martina” or “Rosita,” that’s enough.”

Same in Mexico City: Two Tzeltal-speaking compañeras from the Lacandón Jungle. They walk from their village to where they take a truck to the municipal capital; from there, by public transportation to San Cristobal de Las Casas; from there another to Tuxtla Gutierrez; from there another one to Mexico City. They pay the passport fee for 10 years “because it will take time to travel the world”; they go to an office of the SRE; they wait in line with masks on, masked and socially distanced; they enter and present their papers; they have their photograph taken; they wait outside to be called to receive their passport. They are called and told: “one letter of your last name is wrong,” and “your brother has another mother’s last name.” The brother’s last name: “that’s just the way fucking men are and my dad was a jerk.” The one with the letter: “the one who wrote the certificate doesn’t know the written difference between the ‘s’ and the ‘z’.” In both cases, the officials: mocking laughter and “you have to go back and bring more proof that you are Mexican.” The women: “but I live all the way to Chiapas.”  The SRE: “I won’t give you your passport until you bring that. The compañeras return in reverse, arrive in their town, update and gather more proof that they are Mexican. Another trip to Mexico City. Appointment again, line up with masks, socially distanced. At the window. High official of the Secretariat of Foreign Relations: “now we have to wait until we can prove that they are Mexican.” The compas: “but I brought what they told me.” The SRE: “but we have to verify that the papers are true, so we are going to ask at the Civil Registry of your municipality and your state”. The compañeras: “How long does it take? The SRE: “10 days or a month, we will let you know. The compañeras wait 10 days and nothing. They go back. A month passes and nothing, another 30 days and nothing. They go back to Mexico City. Same journey. The SRE: “they have not responded, keep waiting”.

And there they are, the two compañeras. They started their procedures in March and it is the month of… June.

If you have time, do this: imagine that you were born with dark skin, that you are of indigenous descent, and that you are from a state in southeastern Mexico. Now look at the requirements to obtain a passport: birth certificate, official photo ID, or professional license, or professional degree, or released military ID, or credential from the National Institute for the Elderly, or medical services credential from a public health institution; and proof of payment.

And even if you have any or all of these requirements, if you are dark-skinned, speak very differently, and dress “like India Maria5” (taken verbatim from an official of the SRE), you will be confronted with something like: “no, you need to bring your grades from kindergarten, primary, secondary, high school –not CCH6, the ones from there are shackles-, diploma, personal improvement course at NXIVM7, and a letter of good conduct from the prefect of discipline8.”

So the support we are requesting of you is that you talk among yourselves to see if something can be done. For example: You could give a course on shame to the bureaucrats of the SRE; you could tell Mr. Marcelo Ebrard9 that we understand that, due to austerity, he has no money for his campaign for 2024, unless he steals the cost of passports from the indigenous people and keeps it without giving them their document, well, how can I say it without being rude… well, it is shameless. Or maybe he wants the funds to buy his “Neo from the Matrix”-style coats? Or that, with the money they are withholding for the denied passports, they take a course on gender, tolerance and inclusion. Or give them some history books so that they understand the place of the original peoples in this geography.

We are Mexicans, we were born here, we lived here, we fought here and we died here. Whatever. If we had landed in the American Union, or in Belize or Guatemala, Honduras or El Salvador, Costa Rica or Nicaragua, we would still be proud of those geographies… and we would be denouncing their respective governments as bureaucrats, racists and ignorant, which is what we do with the current Mexican government and its “Secretary of Foreign Relations.”

Anyway, I can’t think of many options, but maybe you can. Check it out and let us know.

In the meantime, we send you (all of you) a big hug that, although from a distance, does not cease to be sincere and fraternal.

From somewhere on Planet Earth,

El Sup Galeano

P.S. In a few more hours I will send you a text for the sports section of your web page… What?! Don’t you have a sports section? I’m not telling you. Well, “quid pro quo,” give and take, with that text you can launch the aforementioned “sports section” and in return, you lend us a hand in the matter referred to above. Oh, I know, you still owe us. But as a bonus, you could, I don’t know, send a few euros for the chescos (refreshments) in the Europes… or, better yet, accompany us and, as the name suggests, share, in addition to a welcoming space in a detention center for migrants, some words, some ears, some glances, and… do you know how to swim?


This letter was published in Camino al Andar on June 14th 2021ón-sexta-zapatista-al-colectivo-llegó-la-hora-de-los-pueblos

English interpretation by Schools for Chiapas

Re-Published here by the Chiapas Support Committee


  1. Non-binary person
  2. Luis Villoro Toranzo was a Spanish-Mexican philosopher, whose contributions to critical thought and dedicated membership in the EZLN is much celebrated by the Zapatistas.
  3. National Electoral Institute.
  4. The station at the southern terminus of the Mexico City subway system.
  5. A comical fictional character of an indigenous woman enduring  racism, classism and corruption. A media stereotype.
  6. The College of Sciences and Humanities is one of three systems of the UNAM (National Autonomous University of Mexico) that offers preparatory education.
  7. An American cult engaged in sex trafficking, forced labor and racketeering, while claiming to be a multi-level marketing company. Its founder, Keith Raniere was arrested in Mexico in March 2018.
  8. A senior master in Jesuit school or college
  9. Mexico’s Foreign Minister (Secretary of Foreign Relations) appointed by Andrés Manuel López Obrador. He is ostensibly running for president on the Morena party ticket in 2024.

Break the Siege, Fight for Life

For a new internationalism of the oppressed.

By Arturo Anguiano, published by Camino al andar

Painting by Beatriz Aurora

The rebels of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) have once again broken through the siege, by setting off on a trip around the world in the struggle against neoliberal capitalism and for the defense of life.

It’s easy to say, but for more than 27 years the rebel communities of Chiapas have been attacked and besieged by the repressive legal and illegal forces of  different governments, regardless of their colors or party affiliation. It happened  under the government of  Carlos Salinas de Gortari (1988-1994) who even bombed communities. It happened under Ernesto Zedillo (1994-2000) who, driven by his pathological racism and his lack of authority, left in limbo the San Andrés Accords that had been spurred on by  pressure from an outraged and alert society. Instead, he ordered massive military operations that were carried out by paramilitary forces organized by the Army,  leading to a bloody low-intensity war. And he implemented welfare policies aimed at tearing apart the fabric of the communities. Vicente Fox (2000-2006) tried to recover the agreements signed by the representatives of the State and the Zapatista command, but  –like everything he did– in the end it was only a media masquerade that endorsed racism and  the exclusion of indigenous peoples, condemning them to vegetate as vulnerable populations destined for extinction. Felipe Calderón (2006-2012) and Enrique Peña Nieto (2012-2018) spread war throughout the country, while they continued to corner, attack and seek to divide the Zapatista communities, with all imaginable means and using an array of state political forces. (PRI, PAN, Greens, PRD).

Despite his demagoguery and allusions to leftist traditions, Andrés Manuel López Obrador (2018-2024?), donning the guise of the old neo-indigenous PRI, reinforced the siege against the EZLN by creating  more military forces and new welfare programs (this time of a charitable nature), supported by reconstituted paramilitary groups. To which he adds a wall of lies and slander against the Zapatistas and those who struggle to protect life that is threatened – now more than ever – by the neocolonial megaprojects with which the President seeks to ingratiate himself with the great capitals that dominate the planet.

But the entire force of the State – as the rulers like to boast – has not been able to silence or annul the Zapatista rebels, who since December 1994, after their brilliant appearance on January 1 of that year, broke the siege and expanded their territory with the creation of the autonomous municipalities, under the influence of the Popocatepetl eruption. Likewise the initiatives that, time and again, going against the current, led them to discover and travel throughout Mexico (national consultations, travels by  support base commissions, the Color of the Earth March, the Other Campaign, the 13 Baktun of 2012 , the proposal for the indigenous presidential candidacy with María de Jesús Patricio, Marichuy, as spokesperson for the CNI-CIG). Police-military, political-social, media sieges (I neither see you nor hear you) and even disgraceful walls coming from a cacique president [*See note below[, are completely useless before peoples who are determined to fight and build alternatives for collective life through self-government and self-management. For this reason,  in August 2019, surrounded and besieged in a thousand ways, the EZLN announced a new breaking of the siege, by expanding its already vast territory with the addition of new autonomous municipalities and  Caracoles, with their Good Government Juntas, now adding up to 16.  

Breaking the siege with a thunderous silence, making the invisible visible in a resounding way, not giving in, persisting in the rebellious folly of building alternatives on land mined by the irrationality of a capitalism considered fatal and insurmountable, finally showing that the nobodies, the excluded and the oppressed, the outcasts, the condemned of the Earth, are those who truly want and can fight an irreparable social order that is extremely unequal and pernicious for all humanity. Such are, in sum, the skills, traits and strategies that guide the Zapatistas in their already long resistance against death, and in their claim to contribute to linking the struggles for life, (that is, for equality, freedom, justice, self-government and self-management) with the defense of the planet endangered by a capitalism that has spread everywhere, and that threatens, with its wars and unbridled competition for profits,  a planet that becomes degraded, devastated and uninhabitable.

By embarking on the sea crossing, 500 years after the alleged Spanish conquest and the destruction of Mexico-Tenochtitlan, the EZLN once again surprised everyone by breaking out of the siege. Instead of taking refuge in their territory to concentrate on progressing in the construction of their autonomy, their new life and their non-hierarchical egalitarian social relations, the Zapatistas update the perspective of their struggle: “the territory of our actions is now clearly defined: the planet called ‘Earth’, located in the so-called Solar System” ( They know that they have not built an island of resistance capable of surviving in solitude in the middle of a raging capitalist ocean. “The survival of humanity depends on the destruction of capitalism,” because capitalism is precisely what destroys nature—causing catastrophe after catastrophe—and generates pandemics that isolate, exclude and abandon, undermining human existence. “Destruction in any corner of the world has repercussions on the entire planet.” ( That is why each one must fight in their field, wherever they are, and in their way, according to their conditions and traditions.

That is the meaning of the new adventure of the EZLN, accompanied by the National Indigenous Congress — Indigenous Government Council (CNI-CIG), to resume exchanges not only of suffering, but above all of experiences, creativity and imagination, making use of of critical thinking, of the multiple and inexhaustible sensitivities, so different, of very different peoples, of societies that do not stop resisting despite the advances of the right, of the renegades of the left and of loneliness in the face of pandemics. We must “take back the streets to fight,” sharing feelings from the outset, but also articulating actions, social practices that organize collective resistance, but that also forge collective alternatives for the defense of life, that is, of the Planet, that is, the destruction of a aberrant capitalism whose modernity can return us to the Stone Age (

The Zapatista landing in Vigo, Spain, scheduled for mid-June, the invasion of the other Europe (the one that resists and fights), seeks the revenge of the original peoples that is none other than to find their equals, to spread fraternal solidarity to those who resist every war, every conquest, every depredation that an archaic and decaying social order has not ceased to propagate as an inevitable condition of its development and persistence. It is the search to remake the internationalism of the oppressed in the face of the globalization of capital. To remake the world for everyone from below. It is a longing for the future, a commitment to memories of tomorrow, to build collectively on very different worlds that can only continue to be as long as they build a new one, a world where many worlds fit.

Tlalpan, Mexico City, May 10, 2021.


Published originally in Spanish by Camino al andar on May 13, 2021; available at

Translated from Spanish by the Chiapas Support Committee.

  • NOTE Cacique: “A person who exercises a lot of power in the political or administrative affairs of a town or region…”

Mexican government denies passports to EZLN delegates; Galeano accuses racism


From the Editors of La Jornada

The Foreign Relations Secretariat (SRE, its initials in Spanish) has denied a passport to several indigenous people who were designated as delegates of the Ejército Zapatista National Liberation Army in a commission that will travel to Europe.

Subcomandante Galeano denounced that despite the fact that the delegates “meet all the requirements that they demand, pay the amount stipulated, travel from their communities (in Chiapas) to the offices (in Mexico City) of the misnamed ‘Foreign Relations Secretariat and, with the pandemic and everything, they make an appointment, a line, wait their turn and… they’re denied the document.” The delegates require it to be part of the “airborne group” that will fly to Europe to join the advance team of seven Squadron 421 delegates that departed aboard La Montaña on May 2.

Galeano emphasized that the obstacles “of the supreme government and its ignorant, foolish and racist bureaucracy are outrageous. Because it could be thought that it’s just the bureaucracy, or that you have the bad luck to run into someone who thinks that they have power because they are behind a window, a desk or an office. But no, it’s also something else and could be summed up like this: racism.”

The employees of the Chancellery think that they’re dealing with Central American migrants. “Yes, all those papers are presented, but the problem is that in the eyes of the SRE bureaucracy, the color of the skin, the way of speaking, the way of dressing and the place of origin is what matters. ‘To the south of the Taxqueña Metro, everything is Central America.’”

He gave some examples: “a lady, a bureaucrat of the Foreign Relations Secretariat, rejected the INE credential with a dismissive ‘that’s useless, it’s just to vote,’ and demanded of the compañera, a woman over 40 and a resident of the Lacandón Jungle, her middle school certificate, to prove that she was not Guatemalan.”

He added: “a compañero (a 60-year old man) was questioned: ‘Isn’t it that you want to go to the United States to work?’ The compa answered: ‘no, we go there later, on another trip. Right now we go to Europe’ (…) he was sent to another window. There they told him: ‘that is very far and the trip is expensive, it cannot be that you have the necessary money because you are indigenous. You must bring your credit card statement.’”

To prove that it was an act of racism and not just bureaucracy, the Subcomandante said, the Zapatista sent a “white and bearded” compañero to obtain a passport; they gave it to him the sale day without asking for anything more than his birth certificate, his photo ID and proof of payment.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

The 7 Zapatista delegates arrive in The Azores, Portugal, aboard La Montaña


At 8:23 a.m., the port captain’s boat picked up the crew of La Montaña, reported Subcomandante Galeano. Photo: Screenshot of the video disseminated through Zapatista networks

By: Elio Henríquez

San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas

La Montaña, the ship in which seven delegates of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) traveled to Europa, arrived yesterday in Portugal, Subcomandante Galeano reported.

“It would be 2:30:45 on June 11 when the view, a stone’s throw away from the shores of the port of Horta dampened the eyes of the ship and it crew. In the mountains of the Azores it was 7:3 in the morning of this day. It would be 3:45:13 when a speedboat from the Horta port authority approached La Montaña to indicate where it was to anchor. It was 4:15:33 when the ship anchored in front of the other mountains,” he explained.

At 8:23 a.m., the port captain’s boat picked up the crew of the boat named La Montaña –which departed on May 2 from Isla Mujeres, Quintana Roo– and took them ashore to get Covid-19 tests; afterwards, they returned to await the results. “At all times the ‘Maritime Authority’ at the port of Horta, has comported itself with kindness and respect,” he said.

The Subcomandante announced that María Secco, independent film-photographer; Diego Enrique Osorno, independent reporter, and Javier Elorriaga are also traveling as the support team with Squadron 421, made up of the seven Zapatista delegates, “to document the journey.”

He stated that according to their uses and customs, these three individuals had to, besides covering their expenses, present written authorization from “their families, partners and offspring.”

“Both letters were delivered to Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés. Husbands, wives, mothers, sons and daughters wrote and signed the authorizations with their own hand. I had to read them. There was everything, from philosophical reflections to children’s drawings, to a girl’s attentive request to bring her a whale.”

He commented that when the news of the ship’s arrival in Portugal became known in the mountains of the Mexican southeast, “the Zapatista communities sent a message to the crew of the Stahlratte via its captain: ‘Thank you, you’re chingones!” They are still trying to translate that into German.”

He added that it was “at 22:10:15 hours on June 10 when, amid the mists of the European dawn, from the top of the La Montaña lookout, it was possible to see the sister mountain, Cabeço Gordo, on the island of Faial on the Azores archipelago, an autonomous region of the geography called Portugal, in Europe.”


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

Updates on Aldama: Residents vote amid shooting from Chenalhó


Community members from Tabak, Aldama remain on alert and within barricades after constant attacks with high-caliber weapons became constant. The territorial conflict with Santa Marta community, in the municipality of Chenalho has escalated, leaving dozens of dead and injured.

By: Elio Henríquez

Excerpted from La Jornada

San Cristóbal De Las Casas, Chiapas

This Sunday (June 6) in Chiapas 120 municipal presidencies (mayors) were renewed.

The Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Center (Frayba) reported that as of Sunday afternoon inhabitants of the Santa Martha community, in Chenalhó, had perpetrated some 50 armed attacks against the population of Aldama.

The Frayba said that the attacks were directed at citizens who went to vote in the Aldama community of San Pedro Cotzilnam. It did not report any injuries.

The human rights organization indicated that the permanent commission of 115 comuneros and displaced persons of Aldama reported that the shooting comes from different points of the Santa Martha community in Chenalhó.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada on Monday, June 7, 2021



After a long pilgrimage through various clinics, Julio César Pérez was able to have his leg wound cared for in the San Cristóbal de Las Casas hospital, where he was humiliated and discriminated against. Photo La Jornada

By: Elio Henríquez

San Cristóbal De Las Casas, Chiapas

The mayor of Aldama, Chiapas, Adolfo López Gómez, reported that yesterday morning residents of neighboring Santa Martha community, in Chenalhó municipality, shot and injured Julio César Pérez Pérez, a 24-year old indigenous man, who is a native of Xuxchén community in Aldama.

The municipal president explained that the victim “was taken to the San Andrés Larráinzar hospital, where they told him that they didn’t have the materials necessary to care for him, and he was therefore moved to the emergency room of the Cultures Hospital, in San Cristóbal de Las Casas.”

He received humiliating and discriminatory treatment

Upon arriving at that hospital he was attended to in a degrading and discriminatory manner, because the doctor refused to withdraw the bullet lodged in his body and, mockingly, he said that: “extracting it only happens in action movies,” to them discharge him without further medical attention despite his condition.

López Gómez pointed out that Pérez Pérez was injured in the calf with a heavy-caliber weapon when he was transporting brick blocks in a vehicle, together with other people, from San Pedro Cotzilnam to Xuxén, since a housing project is being carried out in this latter community.


Julio César Pérez received medical attention for an injury to his leg at a hospital in San Cristóbal de Las Casas, where he was humiliated and discriminated against.

“The attacks of the Santa Martha paramilitaries began this Sunday morning from various trenches, as we say, located in Telemax, Tocoy, Toctic and Volcán,” the mayor explained. He added that from those places several men “with high-caliber weapons began to attack the communities of Cokó and San Pedro Cotzilnam in the early hours of this Sunday morning.”

Separately, the Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Center (Frayba), specified that: “the siege persists, since just this week alone there have been 61 armed attacks” from Santa Martha towards the Aldama communities. The NGO expressed its concern “about the insufficient intervention on the part of the Mexican State to stop the violence existing in the region.”

It recalled that just last April 23 the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights granted precautionary measures in favor of the Aldama indigenous communities that have been attacked.

On May 8, members of a Santa Martha armed group shot and killed Pedro Lunes Pérez, 24, a native of the Cokó locality. For years, different communities have denounced belligerent activity in the zone.



The assault that the indigenous residents of Aldama have experienced for more than 5 years from armed groups in Chenalhó that shoot at them had one of its most violent days this Wednesday (May 26). From 8:18 am to 10:48 pm, the Tsotsils received 32 attacks with firearms, which for hours left inhabitants of the Ch’ivit community, who had to stay hidden for several hours, fenced in until they managed to escape. In 3 communities the shots continued for more than 7 hours. Tours of the National Guard and the police forces didn’t stop them. They were also attacked a little before 4 pm. “In these moments they attacked the National Guard and state preventive police at 03:46 pm,” points out the report that the inhabitants document for each aggression.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Monday, May 24, 2021

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

“The Supreme Court ruling against pig farms, a door for the protection of Maya ecology”



Above is a government map of pig farms in the Mexican state of Yucatán.

By: Blanche Petrich

A score of Yucatán peoples listened carefully to the May 19 resolution of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN) that permanently suspended the Keken Company’s mega pig farm in favor of the Maya town of Homún, around 33 miles (55 kilometers) southeast of Mérida.

They developed a modest ecotourism business in town that takes visitors on a motorcycle taxi ride to the different open cenotes on campesino lands and gives employment to half its residents. The basis for the Supreme Court’s decision tilted in favor of the right of the children of Homún to clean water and against the operation of a titanic polluting pig farm owned by the country’s largest exporter of pork: A case of David versus Goliath.

In this case the defeated giant is a consortium that owns more than 257 pig farms in this part of the southeast, 43 of them in areas at environmental risk and 36 located in the so-called Ring of Cenotes (data from Greenpeace). In the Homún installations alone they calculate that 2 million kilos of feces will be produced per month, organic matter that threatens to contaminate the aquifers and cenotes. Keken makes up part of the Kuo Group, an industrial giant with branches in the food, chemical and automotive industries.

From a legal point of view, assures the lawyer who represented the residents of Homún, Lourdes Medina, “it sets a precedent for lawsuits in environmental matters for the whole country, particularly in Yucatán, and creates new possibilities in favor of citizens in other lawsuits, including those that have arisen around the Maya Train.”

Kinchil: bees or pigs?

From the perspective of the Mayas and the pluri-cultural nature of Yucatán, says the sociologist Cristina Muñoz Menéndez, leader of the Indignation Team, “the opportunity is opened for resolving conflicts with the perspective of the indigenous people; that the Mayas can manage their territories and break that relationship of servitude, which comes from the painful experience of the hacienda (estate) in the past.”

Kinchil, a beekeeping town of no more than 6, 500 inhabitants in western Yucatán, was one of those places where the Homún decision had a special resonance, because residents have been suffering for a decade from the pollution of sewage that the Keken matrix house generates. In Kinchil, there are no cenotes at risk of losing their pristine waters, rather it’s the population of honey bees that have fled, driven away by the lagoons of sewage that the company discharges with impunity in its mountains.

Kinchil, the historian José Koyoc Ku remembers, was at the epicenter of this movement, with demands that date back to 2010 over the illegal extraction of stone material                                that covered up cenotes and unauthorized clearings. “The authorities always responded with negligence and poorly conducted inspections. That always happens every time that the peoples try to use legal instruments.”

–And why are those peoples who resist losing their identity excited about a court ruling against a mega pig farm?

–Because the legal principles that supported this decision after a court battle of more than three years were based on the collective rights of Maya settlements. That is the novelty, points out the lawyer of the Equipo Indignación (Indignation Team) that took the case of the Guardians of the Cenotes of Homún.

Because of that, by upholding the precautionary principle and recognizing the right of the children –and therefore the Maya people– to a healthy environment, it changes the perspective for many more to have access to justice.

And other towns, such as Chablekal and Kanxoc, in the extreme east of the state, right on the border with Quintana Roo, have already understood this, so that they are hopeful about this resolution, for different reasons.

Chablekal, almost blurred as a locality, intrepidly defends the Misnebalám polygon, a mountain hideout of no more than 286 hectares desired by urban real estate developers and agents who have already “swallowed up” almost all that locality’s ejido lands.

José Euán Romero, from the Union of Settlers in Defense of Chablekal Territory, assures: “The resolution of the highest court on the Homún case sets a precedent for us in Chablekal (one of the areas of greatest added value in the municipality of Merida), although the situations are different. By recognizing the right of every community to a healthy environment, it also recognizes that Maya citizens have inalienable rights.”

Kanxoc, in the extreme east, one of the last redoubts of the rebels of the Caste War, has for years demanded from the agrarian courts a suspension against the illegal logging of its timber forest and the reunification of the ejido.

Taking advantage of an illegal division of common territory into two parts, the loggers accommodate themselves in legal loopholes to extract the abundant jabín, tzalam and red cedar trees, in high demand in the hotels of the nearby Riviera Maya.

And like these towns, in many others –San Fernando, Halachó, Chapab, Maxcanú, Kanachen, Paraíso, Huncumá, Sudzal– the Homún decision signifies a hope in favor of obtaining justice for their legal battles for the recognition of their rights, unsuccessful before now.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

CNI members in Chilón, Chiapas are intimidated with rifles

By: Chiapas Paralelo

*Chilón is an indigenous municipality with a Tseltal population, where civilian armed groups operate.

The Indigenous Government Council (CIG, its initials in Spanish) in Chiapas repudiated the acts of violence and repression of the government and its paramilitary groups against members of the National Indigenous Congress (CNI) in Cumbre Nachoj community, now known as “Genaro Vázquez,” in Chilón municipality. [1]

They pointed out that on June 1, 2021, around 10:10 pm, a group of moto taxis with around 35 people arrived with high-caliber weapons, thereby provoking violence and damages at the headquarters for community meetings –a space of resistance– to intimidate CNI members.

Due to the high risk of insecurity, our compañeros cannot go to the headquarters that this armed group has already invaded, emphasized the Indigenous Government Council in Chiapas.

Said paramilitary group is led by Méndez Malaquías, coordinator of the moto taxi group, and includes Domingo Pérez Álvaro, Pedro, Mateo Moreno Pérez, Juan Vázquez López and José Gómez Silvano, supported by Carlos Idelfonso Jiménez Trujillo, municipal president of Chilón.

They placed responsibility on those already mentioned for the risk to the life and security of the CNI members, as well as on Juan Baldemar Navarro Guillen, government delegate, who they assert has been remiss in attending to the violent situations of that have been generated in the region.

They made an urgent call to solidarity collectives and human rights organizations, also to the national and international sixth, to the networks of resistance and rebellion to be attentive to any act of violence that they may suffer due to a lack of intervention from the Chilón municipal government’s, the state government of Rutilio Escandón Cadenas and the federal government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

Threats to members

Photo: In the framework of the Global Day For Life, against megaprojects and in memory of Samir Flores Soberanes, Courtesy: CNI

It’s important to mention that a little while ago the CNI-CIG warned about the reactivation of violence against CNI members in San Antonio Bulujib, Chilón, who were threatened with dispossession and forced displacement given the governmental inability to retake and renew the process of dialogue initiated in March of last year. [2]

They said that the situation of violence and harassment that the CNI members suffered has been of a permanent nature. Since February 23, 2020 they have been suffering a series of violations of their human rights for having placed a sign within the framework of the Day of Action “We Are All Samir,” making use of their right to free expression and demonstration.

They hold the three levels of government responsible for the physical, psychological and material integrity of the CNI members, and again pointed out Carlos Ildefonso Jiménez Trujillo for his incitement.

[1] The CNI communiqué (in Spanish) can be found here:

[2] The recent CNI-CIG warning can be read in English here:


Originally Published in Spanish by Chiapas Paralelo

Thursday, June 3, 2021

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

They liberate the 17 students and 2 displaced indigenous people, but prohibit political activism


By: Isaín Mandujano

Today, a control judge of the El Amate Prison issued the binding to criminal proceedings of the 17 teachers college students (normalistas) and 2 displaced indigenous people, but granted them the precautionary measure of facing their proceedings at liberty and prohibited them from repeating their political activism while they continue in those proceedings.

The State Judicial Power reported this morning that giving continuity to Due Process, and at the request of the Defense before the evidence of the State’s Attorney General, a judge decided a change of the Precautionary Measure for the 17 Mactumactzá Rural Teachers College students (normalistas) and 2 people displaced from the Ejido Puebla, in Chenalhó, setting for them a periodic sign-in and the restriction of activism in public spaces.

The 17 teachers college students and two people displaced from the Ejido Puebla, in Chenalhó, will face charges for the crimes of Robbery with Violence, Damages, Mutiny (Rioting), Attacks against the Peace, Corporal and Patrimonial Integrity of the Collectivity and Gang Activity, which they will face outside the El Amate Prison, with restrictions ordered by the authorities; in other words, they will not be able to participate in acts that alter the public order.

The State Judiciary said that the 95 people that were arrested at the ticket booth on the Chiapa de Corzo-San Cristóbal de Las Casas Highway on May 18, 2021 will continue bound over for trial (from their domicile or school) and that in case of reoffending, they will be re-entered into the El Amate Prison.

Among the 95 people initially arrested, 74 women first received the precautionary measure of periodic sign-in, while two minors were released without conditions and, finally, 17 normalistas and two people displaced from the Ejido Puebla in Chenalhó, received the measure of periodic sign-in, therefore all those arrested will continue to face trial.


Along with this news, teachers of the National Coordinator of Education Workers (CNTE), teachers college students, parents and diverse groups in solidarity with Mactumactzá, mobilized to block the Chiapas Tower in the state capital, headquarters of various state government agencies and also occupied the front of the Institute of Elections and Citizen Participation, which organizes the elections this Sunday, June 6 to elect 123 mayors and 24 local deputies.

In addition, while the prisoners were coming out of El Amate, teachers, normalistas and parents, blocked the Pan-American Highway at the prison to await the time when they would be released and receive the young people.


Originally Published in Spanish by Chiapas Paralelo

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

Students and teachers initiate a sit-in to demand the students’ liberation


By: Isaín Mandujano

They denounced that a smear campaign has been orchestrated against Diego Cadenas, director of the K´untik Human Rights Center.

With the la slogan “if there’s no liberation, there’ll be no election,” [1] thousands of teachers from the National Coordinator of Education Workers (CNTE), teachers college students and parents of the students marched this Tuesday to demand the freedom of the 19 prisoners from the Mactumactzá Rural Normal School (a teachers college for indigenous and campesino students) and 2 from a group of displaced persons in solidarity with these young people.

They warned that the days of protest won’t stop until the 19 people arrested last May 16 in a police eviction operation when the students took the tollbooth on the Chiapa de Corzo-San Cristóbal de Las Casas highway are liberated.

From the eastern entrance of the state capital, the march advanced several kilometers to arrive at the state capital’s central plaza where they held a meeting and declared a sit-in to demand that Chiapas Governor Rutilio Escandón Cadenas release the prisoners.

The young people pointed out that they will not stop their protest actions in Chiapas or in other states where they have sister normal schools to demand that student prisoners are liberated.

Teachers from Section 7 and Section 40 of the National Education Workers Union (SNTE) adhered to the CNTE, ratified their support to the young Mactumactzá teachers college students and that they will join their protest actions as they have already done until the prisoners are released.

Pedro Gómez Bámaca, leader of Section 7, explained that the students are not alone and that they will continue in demanding that the prisoners are liberated and that a dialogue table is installed with the ability to negotiate and resolve the different problems that the Chiapas students and teachers outline. But, they said that no one should be surprised at the protest actions that will be carried out on Sunday June 6, because “if there’s no liberation there will be no election.”

In this context, they denounced that the human rights defender and founder of the Ku’untik Human Rights Center, Diego Cadenas, has been the of threats and media harassment derived from his accompaniment and solidarity with the Mactumactzá teachers college students and the youths displaced from the Ejido Puebla, in Chenalhó, who were arrested with them last May 18.

An example is the message Cadenas received on May 23, 2021 through the profile name of Rubí Espinosa in which it reads: “It would be a party to make Bámaca [líder de la CNTE en Chiapas], the teachers college students (normalistas) and you, Diego Cadenas, disappear. Chiapas would just be better (…).”

In addition, this May 31 and June 1, information published in the local media has suggested that Diego Cadenas is one of the “intellectual authors” of the mobilizations and protest actions carried out by the normalistas, their families and movements.

Rutilio Escandón Cadenas has already ordered initiating a smear campaign against me, or even better he wants to put me in prison. He supposes badly that I advise the students of the Mactumactzá Rural Normal School, nothing more naive. It ignores that in that heroic school the student base is in command. In their lampoons they ask for prison for the intellectual authors, insinuating that I and the Secretary General of Section 7 are them. Totally false, commented Cadenas.

It should be noted that due to his activism in defense of human rights in Chiapas, Diego Cadenas has Precautionary Measures of protection from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), the human rights arm of the Organization of American States (OAS).

[1] The state of Chiapas holds local elections this Sunday, June 6, to elect 123 mayors and 24 local deputies.


Originally Published in Spanish by Chiapas Paralelo

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee