Chiapas Support Committee

74 Armed attacks against families displaced from Aldama, Chalchihuitán and Chenalhó


Presentation of the public letter: “Stop the violence in forcibly displaced communities in Chiapas.” Photo: Frayba.

By: Yessica Morales

In the state of Chiapas there are a total of 10,113 victims of forced displacement, paramilitary violence and armed criminal groups that are protected by officials of the state and municipal governments, moved by dark interests and dispossession.

The Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Center AC (Frayba), presented “Preserving life, a public letter: Stop the violence in forcibly displaced communities in Chiapas,” with the participation of Pedro Faro, director of the Frayba, and Ofelia Medina, actress and activist, with the objective of placing forced displacement into evidence, specifically in the Chiapas Highlands (los Altos).

Therefore, they announced that in the month of June and the few days of July, the Permanent Commission of 115 Comuneros and Displaced Persons of Aldama municipality reported 74 armed attacks [1] in San Pedro Cotsilnam, Yetón, Tabak, KoKo’, Xuxch’en, Tselepotobtic, Chivit and the town of Aldama, the municipal seat.

Medina read the letter written by the Frayba and the Trust for the Health of the Indigenous Children of Mexico A.C. (Fideicomiso para la Salud de los Niños Indígenas de México A.C. (FISANIM or Fideo). She expressed her utmost concern about the acts of violence and the urgency in which the people in the situation of internal forced displacement from Aldama, Chalchihuitán and Chenalhó municipalities are living.

Consequently, the organizations demanded justice and a stop to the violence that the Civil Society Las Abejas of Acteal, the Permanent Commission of the 115 Displaced Comuneros of Aldama and the Autonomous Committee of the Internally Displaced Chalchihuite denounced.

“We see with fear that the constant escalation of violence seems to have no end and in recent months the attacks with high-caliber firearms are daily. Previously they fired from distant barricades, now the shots are directly at the campesinos and comuneros when they are going to their crops,” Medina said.


There are currently a total of 2,036 people who are victims of forced displacement in Aldama municipality. That’s why the CNDH issued recommendation No. 71 /2019 regarding the human rights violations of personal integrity and the superior interest of children, to the detriment of the indigenous communities in Aldama municipality, as well as the loss of life of 3 victims.

The Autonomous Committee of Chalchihuite Internally Displaced denounced 8 attacks in Kanalumtik, at the Tsamtechen and Tseleltik points, the Pom community in the Chacojton section, Cruz Cacanam in Chalchihuitán, and at the Las Limas community limit with Chenalhó.

In the case of Chalchihuitán there are 1,237 people who are victims of forced displacement, the CNDH issued recommendation 87/2018 regarding the victims of internal forced displacement in different communities within Chalchihuitán and Chenalhó municipalities.

They also have Precautionary Measure No. 882-17 from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in favor of 10 Maya Tsotsil indigenous communities in Chalchihuitán and one in Chenalhó, which have been forcibly displaced since November 2017.

Regarding Civil Society Las Abejas of Acteal, they revealed the threats and intimidation that the 31 people displaced from Los Chorros experience constantly, besides the inefficiency of the state and municipal authorities of Chiapas, to put a stop to the violent actions in Chenalhó. Thus, Las Abejas of Acteal has precautionary measure CEDH/VARSC/MPC/ 069/2020 from the State Human Rights Commission (CEDH) in file CEDH/ 805/2019.

“The state and municipal officials have extensive knowledge of all of the above, but their response has been scant, slow, inadequate and inefficient since the situation gets worse every day,” the activist said.

In addition, the State Council for Integral Attention to Internal Displacement in the state of Chiapas has not complied with its commitment. They also know that the food emergency among the families in the situation of forced displacement is increasingly more serious.

“As human rights organizations we see the need for the State Executive Commission for Attention to Victims for the State of Chiapas to carry out urgent work to attend to the victims of forced displacement in Chiapas,” Medina said.

On the other hand, the organizations of the displaced communities have had countless meetings and agreements with state and municipal authorities; they have made trips to Mexico City to consult with authorities of the Ministry of Interior, deputies and senators.

Officials from the Undersecretary of Human Rights, Migration and Population have visited the zone, and have held meetings with municipal and state authorities, as well as with representatives of the displaced and the Frayba.

“To date there has not been a solution to the violence,” the actress added. Last May 26, FISANIM and the Frayba stated the urgent need for attention to the displaced communities; due to the pandemic they are in a state of high risk, because of the lack of health infrastructure and a food crisis.

Both human rights organizations demand a stop to the paramilitary violence in Chiapas, and that they recognize, urgently take care of and prioritize the food emergency that the people in internal forced displacement from the communities of Aldama, Chalchihuitán and Los Chorros, Chenalhó suffer.

“We launched this letter and those who are listening to us may join us in signing this letter in order to place into evidence the displacement, but also the efficiency with which the government has already effectively and thoroughly gone to the root of these critical situations that are happening to the communities and the peoples of Chiapas, due to generalized violence and paramilitary violence,” the director of the Frayba commented.

Finally, Ofelia Medina said that we must join in this petition for justice and dignified treatment in accordance with national and international standards. The treatment given to displaced persons in the State is inhumane and undignified, and therefore something must be done.

“There are many proposals, let’s unite the organizations. I am pleased to state that, thanks to the support of Civil Society, that since the conference I gave in San Cristóbal, we have already joined together to bring an offering to the families of the 115 comuneros of Aldama,” she concluded.

[1] Due to the increasing violence against these displaced families, the Chiapas Support Committee is extending our Campaign for Las Abejas: End the Famine until the end of July in order to raise additional funds for food.


Originally Published in Spanish by Chiapas Paralelo

Wednesday, July 8, 2010

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee


Chenalhó paramilitaries fire at displaced Maya Tsotsils

Mayor of Chenalhó ambushed, his driver killed

Mayor of Chenalhó attacked, his driver killed

By: Hermann Bellinghausen

The National Guard just dismantled the barricades of the paramilitary-style civilian armed groups of Chenalhó, Chiapas, last May 31; the [paramilitaries] have returned, and so have the shots they fire at the displaced families of Aldama and Chalchihuitán who have lived in shelters and other people’s houses for many months. [1] There had been 65 barricades located in Santa Martha, and they extended to the neighboring municipality of Aldama. Some dated back many years.

In this context, the mayor of Chenalhó, Abraham Cruz Gómez, suffered an attack Monday night [July 6] in which he was injured. His driver, Efraín Pérez, died when he was transferred to San Cristóbal de Las Casas. The aggression was perpetrated near Las Minas community, in San Juan Chamula.

The mayor, from the PVEM, was returning from an official meeting in Tuxtla Gutiérrez. An agreement had been signed on June 4 between the Tzotzil municipalities of Los Altos of Chiapas, in the presence of the Undersecretary of Governance, Alejandro Encinas. However, in recent days, Cruz Gómez “accused” the neighboring municipality of Aldama of “not complying with the agreements,” and thus justifying the attacks that followed. The only aggressor gang has been the one from Chenalhó, and it has never been disarmed.

On May 27, the Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Center (Frayba) pointed out that it was fundamental that violence “provoked by ‘civilian armed groups with a paramilitary cut’ that come from decades of impunity” be deactivated in these territories.

Repeated testimonies of displaced families from both Aldama and Chalchihuitán confirm that in the last week, beginning June 29, the shootings against people in forced displacement are almost every day. The permanent commission of 115 comuneros and displaced persons from Aldama denounced that the place of attack was and is Tojtik, in Santa Martha, where shots are fired with high-powered weapons at the community of Tabak, in Aldama.

In recent days the attack points multiplied in the T’elemax, Colado and Chino sites. Transported in cars and small trucks, the armed Chenalhó attackers entered the 60-hectare territory in dispute with Aldama (the origin of the problem) and fired shots at San Pedro Cotzilnam community, in Aldama. Additionally, cars and passersby, as well as Tabak were attacked from Tulantik, Chenalhó. The Chalchihuitán displaced are victims of a border conflict that has been unresolved for 40 years.

Yesterday, while the president of uses and customs of Aldama, the PRI member Adolfo López, distanced himself from the attack on Cruz Gómez in a press conference, the displaced persons reported new shots from the Santa Marta sector at 6:20pm.

[1] The displaced referred to are members of Las Abejas – They are facing famine. You can help here:


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee







This is how they protect themselves from Covid-19 in Zapatista territory

Teopisca, Chiapas. Young Zapatista woman at the international Women’s Gathering in the Caracol of Tulan Kau.

How do the Zapatistas protect their territory from the coronavirus? With a diffuse and extensive territory, the EZLN has bet on prevention and lack of physical movement of the inhabitants.

Text: Orsetta Bellani

Photo: Isabel Mateos

OCOSINGO, CHIAPAS. Doctor Luis Enrique Fernández Máximo learned about the red alert of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) through the Internet. He left the Zapatista autonomous clinic of the community of Las Tazas, where he works, and bought a card that allows him to connect to the web even in the area of the Lacandón Jungle where there is no signal. Since he left Tlaxcala to work with the NGO Sadec (Community Health and Development) in this community, the young doctor discovered that not only did he love the simple life and the nighttime silences of the jungle, but that his real need for connection to the internet is that of a couple hours a week.

It was March 16th 2020, and in Mexico there were only 82 positive cases of coronavirus. Luis Enrique Fernández read on his cell the communiqué from the EZLN:

“Given the serious and scientifically proven risk to human life presented by COVID-19 or “Coronavirus”; given the frivolous irresponsibility and the lack of seriousness shown by the bad governments,” writes the Revolutionary Indigenous Clandestine Committee (CCRI) General Command of the EZLN.

“Given the lack of accurate and timely information about the spread and severity of the virus and the lack of a coherent plan to confront it. Given that our commitment as Zapatistas is to struggle for life. We have decided: to declare a red alert in all of our towns, communities, barrios and in all Zapatista organizational bodies.”

Upon reading the statement, the young doctor thought that the EZLN would invite him to leave their territory. That’s what was done with the other four doctors and dentists from Sadec, who work in four communities of Palenque and Ocosingo. However, that was not the case. His stay was allowed in order to support the only “health promoter”(fem), as those Zapatistas who heal people with plants and western medicine are called.

When the EZLN took up arms in 1994, it reclaimed more than 150 thousand hectares of land, where it constructed systems of government, justice, education and health totally autonomous from the state; this in regions where neither teachers, nor doctors nor lawyers ever arrived. It did this with the solidarity and support of national and international collectives and organizations, among them Sadec. Since 1995, Sadec has collaborated in medical consultations in some autonomous communities, and in training courses for community health promoters, many of whom are, in turn, educators of their own colleagues.

Las Tazas, Chiapas. Autonomous Clinic of the Poor in the community of Las Tazas.

 Joel Heredia, the founder of Sadec, says that they learned that health is much more than the absence of sickness; and it has to do with “the ability to feel like waking up, walking, laughing, going to the milpa. Health means that your heart is content, that you feel good about yourself and others.”

At the time the the Red Alert was declared, the EZLN closed all of its Caracoles and the Centers of Resistance and Rebellion (CRAREZ); Paralel to the declaration of a red alert, the EZLN closed the Caracols and the Centers of Resistance and Rebellion; similarly, the “administrative centers” that are the seats of its government and of its largest and most equipped clinics. The health promoters were trained in the prevention of Covid-19; after which they were sent to their own communities, the most remote as well, where there are small autonomous “houses of health.”

“It is a clearly strategic approach: to not have mobility to prevent the spread of the virus, and to have the capacity to provide seasonal, local care at each point where there is a health promoter,” Joel Heredia explained. It surprises me that they haven’t set up an “autonomous Covid Center” to isolate suspected cases. I suppose that making the cold calculation of the costs and benefits that they assume that it wasn’t worth trying to provide care, given the high risk of contagion amongst health personnel; instead they focused on community preventive action. Without a doubt, knowing that in balance, this carries some cost, as people with other illnesses are not being treated.”

The element that most complicates this strategy is that the territory under the influence of the EZLN is not clearly delineated. In it, Zapatistas live side by side with partisans, and it becomes very difficult for the autonomous authorities to exert strict health controls.

“When the coronavirus arrived in Mexico, in the community of Arroyo Granizo the Zapatista authorities called together the whole population, both Zapatista and partisan — in order to discuss safety measures,” Joel Heredia explained. It worked for a few days, and then the ability to maintain vigilance was lost, mostly because of the migrant people who returned.”

 As in many corners of the world, one of the greatest concerns of the EZLN is the reception of migrants returning to their communities after losing their jobs in the northern maquilas or on the beaches of the Caribbean. The recommendation of the Zapatista Command is to put them in quarantine.

“We know that the brothers and sisters of some communities, who come from outside, have been isolated. After 15 or 30 days, they re-join their families,” says Comandante Tacho in an WhatsApp audio that was broadcast among the EZLN support bases. “The care you have taken is the right thing to do. This way we are sure that we are avoiding a contagion that could come from outside. We don’t want it for anyone, but we have to take the necessary precautions so that we all come out of this alive confronting this disease that has spread so much in various parts of the world.”

Las Tazas Clinic. The sign read: Because of the emergency only 2 people can enter the clinic at the same time. Sincerely, The Compas.

The Autonomous Clinic of the Poor | La Clínica Autónoma de los Pobres

The autonomous clinic of Las Tazas opened in 1995; and it is located in the zone of Dolores Hidalgo, one of the new Zapatista caracoles announced a little more than a year ago. It is a clay building painted blue, with murals of women with stethoscopes, plants, and covered faces. A plastic banner hung from the outside wall describes the symptoms of the new coronavirus and its preventive measures. Outside a poster warns of the new rules. “For contingency reasons, only two people at a time may enter the clinic. Signed, the compas.”

The Autonomous Clinic of the Poor has a pharmacy; consultations are free, but the medicines have a cost. It also has a dental clinic and a doctor with an ultrasound and doppler machine. The Zapatista health promoter (fem) and the doctor on rotation from Sadec attend to patients every day of the week, afternoon and morning. Prior to the health emergency caused by the pandemic, they also made house visits. They receive some ten patients a day, people from Las Tazas as well as eight other communities.

The service that the autonomous clinic provides is essential to the population of the zone, Zapatista and partisan alike; now the the Rural Medical Unit of the IMSS (Mexican Institute of Social Security) in Las Tazas only opens three days a week, and in the month of May, the doctor only arrived a few days.

“Many people that come to the autonomous clinic had already been at the IMSS clinic, and they arrive asking us if the diagnosis of the other doctor is right,” says Luis Enrique Fernández of Sadec.

Every twenty days, Luis Enrique takes a shift at the autonomous clinic of Las Tazas with Juan Carlos Martínez Vásquez. This is another young doctor originally from Mexico City that, before arriving in the Lacandón Jungle, had no knowledge of Zapatista thought and practice. Although the health promoter helps him with translation, his biggest difficulty is communication in Tseltal, since a good number of the patients don’t speak Spanish.. Thanks to the health promoter, Juan Carlos Martínez came to know the medicinal plants and learned what they don’t teach in universities — to treat the person and not the disease. “If you were to see a promoter speak with a patient one day, it is truly the most human approach that you would get,” he says.

Las Tazas Autonomous Clinic of the Poor.

So far, six patients with symptoms of Covid-19 have come to the Las Tazas clinics, and are sheltering in their homes. The most severe cases would have to be transported to the Respiratory Attention Center opened by the Secretariat of Health in Ocosingo. This is located three hours away.

According to Joel Heredia, founder of Sadec, in Ocosingo and Palenque, attention in the public health system paradoxically improved with the pandemic. “Before, the hospitals didn’t have intensive care areas or ambulances because the people who most needed them were indigenous women who had complications during childbirth.”

“This pandemic let us see the vulnerability of the whole world, even the municipal president or a deputy. It’s not a good thing about the pandemic, but rather the terrible thing about the pandemic,” Heredia concluded.


This article was originally published in Spanish, on July 4, 2020 by Pie de Pagina. This English interpretation has been re-published by Schools for Chiapas and re-published with permission by the Chiapas Support Committee


Join us in new online film series: Zapatista | where reality is more real

The Chiapas Support Committee presents a new online program:

¡Viva Zapata Film Series!
rebellious films | películas rebeldes


Join us for the first screening in this series. We will be showing the documentary, ZAPATISTA, as the first installment of our new online film series.

Register here to receive the link to the online screening, showing online Sunday, July 12, 2020, 2:00–4:00pm.

The film screening will be followed by circle discussion with members of the Chiapas Support Committee in partnership with PM Press and A Radical Guide.

The Reality seen through this camera is more real.
—Subcomandante Marcos

The Zapatista uprising on January 1, 1994, has been the camera through which the anti-capitalist struggle has become more real, possible and desirable.

The EZLN, the Zapatista Army of Liberation (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, EZLN), broke the capitalist encirclement on the day U.S. “free” trade neoliberalism crossed into Mexico. And nothing has been the same ever since.

Join us to view and discuss the “definitive” film on the EZLN uprising. Afterwards, take part in a discussion of the roots of the EZLN rebellion, how it has unfolded over the last 26 years, changing the global terrain of justice and land struggles and movements everywhere.

About Zapatista

January 1, 1994. The day the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) comes into effect. A few minutes after midnight in Southeastern Mexico, several thousand Mayan soldiers take over half the state of Chiapas, declaring a war against the global corporate power they say rules Mexico. They call themselves the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN).

Zapatista is the definitive look at the uprising in Chiapas. It is the story of a Mayan peasant rebellion armed with sticks and their word against a first world military. It is the story of a global movement that has fought 175,000 federal troops to a stand still and transformed Mexican and international political culture forever.

Co-Sponsored by
PM Press
A Radical Guide

The Maya Train will emit 431,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year

The Maya Train will destroy wildlife, vegetation and emit carbon dioxide.

By: Angélica Enciso L.

In the construction and effectuation of the first phase of the Maya Train there are 130 adverse environmental impacts, although most of them have mitigation measures, Fonatur [1] pointed out in the environmental impact assessment (EIS) that it presented for evaluation to the Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources. In its operation, it will emit almost 431,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year because of diesel combustion, equivalent to 125,000 automobile emissions.

In the document of around 2,000 pages it indicates that the investment required for this phase is 44 billion 281 million pesos from public resources. The work is expected to begin next October; there will be three years of construction, so that in November 2023 it will start to operate. Its useful life is 50 years, although with maintenance it would be longer.

Phase 1 of the Maya Train, with an extension of 631 kilometers, is in the states of Chiapas, Tabasco, Campeche and Yucatán and will interconnect the principle cities and tourist sites on the peninsula.

This stage includes 13 stations and a medium-speed diesel traction train, although it would later be mixed (diesel and electric). It estimates air emissions of 431,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year for the consumption of 166 million liters of fuel.

The EIS indicates that the principle environmental impacts will be present in the site preparation and construction stage, due to the cutting and cleaning of the site, which will elevate particulate emissions. It recognizes that, for example, reduction of forest cover decreases habitable surface for the fauna, could give rise to habitat fragmentation and would affect biological corridors. The document outlines 40 wildlife passages.

From the existing vegetation in the project’s route, It anticipates that 6,637 trees will be removed, as well as 2,691 bushes and 1,700 from the herbaceous layer. It adds that the area’s landscape will be modified.

The document describes that the Regional Environmental System in the Maya Jungle has an extension of 100,000 square kilometers, where approximately 7 percent of the planet’s species and around 5.7 percent of the vertebrates are sheltered; “approximately 75 percent of its vegetation cover has been lost in recent decades due to deforestation, a process that continues to this date.”

It says that there is a tendency towards a loss of ecosystems, although there are areas of environmental importance decreed for the conservation of sensitive communities and ecosystems as part of the national strategy to conserve biodiversity.

It assures that the project will not cause environmental impacts that produce imbalances “that will affect the existence of man and other living beings, the integrity and continuity of ecosystems and environmental services.”

[1] Fonatur is the Spanish acronym for the National Fund for the Promotion of Tourism.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Monday, June 22, 2020

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee



The San Mateo del Mar Massacre

Ambulances arrive at the scene of the massacre in San Mateo del Mar.

By: Luis Hernández Navarro

San Mateo del Mar is in mourning. On Sunday, June 21, a criminal group killed 17 residents, including two women, together in the municipal agency of Huazantlán del Río to hold an assembly. The masked killers ambushed them in the Reforma District, using machetes, gasoline, sticks, stones and firearms. Not content with the attack, they burned several of their victims. Although people called the National Guard and it came, it withdrew when the attack began.

It’s not the first violent attack that defenders from the assembly suffer. Filemón Villalobos, a Huazantlán substitute municipal agent, was just murdered on May 3, without the crime being clarified or justice being done.

San Mateo del Mar is an Ikoot (Huave) municipality with high marginalization, in which live 15,000 inhabitants (6,000 of them in the municipal capital), surrounded with lagoons and seas. It’s located on a narrow bar that separates Lower Lagoon from the Gulf of Tehuantepec, with only a single dirt road for communication. Strong winds hit the region and the entire municipality between October and March. Most of its population is dedicated to fishing (

The municipality has suffered agrarian conflicts for more than 60 years. They were accentuated during the previous decade. Large wind energy companies want to take over that territory. Unlike other communities, in 2008 San Mateo rejected the installation of wind turbines, which individualize possession of land. It opposed the entry of the Preneal wind megaproject. And, together with San Dionisio, it impelled the expulsion of Mareña Renovables, which sought to install more than 100 windmills on the ecologically fragile Barra de Santa Teresa, sacred Ikoot territory (

San Mateo del Mar is located on the bar that separates the Lagoon from the Gulf of Tehuantepec.

Since 2017, San Mateo has suffered an electoral political conflict that threatens its internal normative system. The nuclei of residents who head the resistance characterize the aggression they suffer as “a war against the people and their maximum decision-making body, the assembly of the municipal capital and the municipal agencies, presided over by their civic-religious traditional authorities.”

Until that year, municipal authorities were elected by rotation, according to the territorial division of the town and its agencies. However, starting then, as a result of pressure from a citizen who demanded his right to be elected an authority despite not having served in the system of responsibilities, the State Electoral Institute and Citizen Participation of Oaxaca ordered holding elections through a list of candidates. A candidate was imposed with support from business by means of an enormous electoral fraud against the assembly, buying votes. However, the spurious municipal president could not carry the staff of command, nor carry out the duties in city hall, although he disposed of the budget.

In 2019, the de facto powers headed by the impresario Jorge Leoncio Arroyo Rodríguez, repeated the fraud. Now in the administration, they quickly dealt out large public works contracts and the administration of municipal funds. Like his predecessor, Bernardino Ponce, the new municipal president also cannot attend to the responsibilities of his position in the municipal palace.

As victims of the attack report, the builder Camerino Dávalos, Sofía Castro Ríos, Anabel Sánchez Hernández, Emanuel Bustillo (commander of the Only Front of Agencies) and Roberto Rueda Velázquez, among others, make up part of the power group embarked on the war against the assembly,

Additionally, organized crime has encamped in some municipal agencies. They began their activities with the theft of copper cable from the high voltage power line in Santa Cruz. The local bad guys are merely one island of a larger criminal archipelago, which was established and expanded in Juchitán and Salina Cruz with the arrival of Gabino Cué in the governorship of Oaxaca. Drugs, kidnapping, piracy, migrant trafficking and extortion are some of the businesses to which they are dedicated.

On June 23, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador made a diagnosis about the massacre’s origin. “It is –he said– a confrontation over the municipal government; on the one hand there are residents of the municipal capital and residents of communities. It usually happens that in the city halls when there are elections and someone from the municipal capital remains the municipal president; there is discontent in the communities because it is felt that what support arrives in public works or the budget is only applied in the capital and is not distributed in the rural communities.”

In this case, however, the nature of the conflict is different. Those attacked, besides belonging to the municipal capital, also represent other agencies. The massacre is part of the offensive of the behind-the-scenes regional powers, functional to the wind power industry, to dismantle or weaken the organized nuclei that are opposed to the megaprojects and articulate the defense of their territory, natural resources and worldview, and that have advanced in an alliance with their neighbor Santa María. The issue is aggravated due to the construction of the inter-oceanic corridor.

The San Mateo del Mar Massacre must not remain unpunished. There is an urgent need to provide precautionary measures to the community. The town’s mourning must find truth, justice and reparation of the damage.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee


Pedro Uc, language and territory

By: Luis Hernández Navarro

Pedro Uc Be is by far one of the most important indigenous intellectuals in Mexico. Maya born in the community of Buctzotz, Yucatan, 90 kilometers northeast of Merida, he is, simultaneously, poet, educator, theologian, translator of the Bible and popular organizer. He has won three awards for poetry and one for narrative.

Last December 16, he and his son were threatened with death. “Now we’re fed up with you, get out of here in 48 hours or we kill you and your old lady together with the pigs of your honorary children,” they told them in WhatsApp messages. “Now you’re going to stop sucking or your people are dying, you are affecting a lot of local people with your blowjobs and your defense of territory.”

Pedro was born in 1963 in the bosom of a campesino family, monolingual in Maya. His grandparents were slaves on a cattle-ranching estate in Buctzotz. He learned Spanish in his community’s public primary school. He continued his instruction in a Presbyterian seminary in Merida, where he trained in theology. Upon finishing, he traveled to San José, Costa Rica, where he took more theology courses and a bachelor’s degree in education in the area of social sciences. He continued studying literary creation in Mayan language at the State Center for Fine Arts in Merida.

In Costa Rica “the scales fell from his eyes,” upon entering into contact with a different church than the one he knew, and with liberation theology. Later on, upon collaborating with Samuel Ruiz and the Diocese of San Cristóbal, he approached Indian theology and became its promoter on the Yucatan Peninsula. In this way, he rediscovered his history, his language and his values. That caused them to run him out of the church.

Starting in 1985, he visited communities on the Yucatan Peninsula; first, to teach workshops on Indian theology and on Liberation theology. Following his expulsion from the church, he gave workshops on human rights with a focus on indigenous law on identity and territory. Since then, more than 35 years have passed in which Pedro has toured the majority of the region’s communities. He has firsthand knowledge of them, from top to bottom.

The teacher Uc Be was initiated into poetry and narrative in Mayan out of necessity and impotence. Reading books about philosophy and economics led him to discover the reasons for marginalization, poverty and the flattening that the poor suffer. The finding caused him a pain that obliged him to name things with the written word in Mayan, narrating what he experienced from work with the communities.

Pedro speaks Mayan. He always has, just like his family. At the end of the seminar he joined a team of specialists that was working on the translation of the Old Testament into Mayan. He participated in the project for two years. The experience allowed him to understand very important things inside the language. He began to translate other texts and write his own. From there, he discovered the philosophical thought that exists in the Mayan language and he realized the enormous wealth that it has.

In 1992, the so-called celebration of the 500 years since the discovery shook him. He responded by turning to the communities to denounce the event. He participated actively in the big national march on October 12 of that year in Mexico City. The experience marked him. Two years later, the Zapatista insurrection impacted him again. His closeness with Samuel Ruiz allowed him to be informed about the uprising and to comprehend its nature. At the beginning of 1996 h became involved in the National Indigenous Congress (CNI, its initials in Spanish). He then turned to constructing autonomy and self-determination in the region, and to building a peninsular organization capable of becoming the backbone of the resistance and reconstitution of the peoples as peoples.

Since 13 years ago, with the arrival of the Mennonites to the region and the cutting down of thousands of acres miles of jungle and planting of transgenic soybeans, Pedro has been committed to the defense of land and territory. The “modernizing” offensive in the region, sponsored by the governments, walked hand in hand with the devastation and dispossession caused by photovoltaic wind farms, pig farms and “green” tourism.

To confront the entrepreneurial invasion, in 2918 Pedro and his compañeros founded the Assembly of Defenders of Maya Territory Múuch Xíinbal. The organization, born of decades of community work, has deep roots, possesses an indisputable regional authority and representativeness, and has harvested important victories against different megaprojects.

The construction of the Maya Train is, according to the poet, a continuation of the assault against the indigenous lands and territories of previous projects. For him, it is an imposition not consulted with the communities. It’s a big grab, in the sense that it dispossesses the peoples of many thousands of acres of land and also of their language and ways of life. The death threat against Uc and his son is a direct result of his active opposition to this colonizing project (

In talking about his struggle against the Maya Train, Pedro Uc says: “Yes, as Monsiváis says, we are about lost causes. We are accustomed to losing. But it’s not about wining; it’s about struggling. We don’t want to collaborate in our own murder. We want to struggle to avoid it. That is what is in our hearts.”


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee



Campaign for Las Abejas: End the Famine

Displaced women and children of Las Abejas of Acteal.

Dear Friends and Supporters,

There is a deepening humanitarian crisis in the Highlands of Chiapas; it involves 3,304 members of Las Abejas of Acteal. We are asking you to join the Chiapas Support Committee in supporting the indigenous people under attack.

For several years, “armed civilian groups” (read: paramilitary groups) have mounted armed attacks against Tsotsil Maya people in the Highlands. These attacks have forcibly displaced members of Las Abejas. They live in crowded conditions in borrowed houses and have been subjected to relentless violence from these paramilitaries.

When armed violence occurs these displaced families flee for safety in the mountains, living outdoors or in caves. Paramilitaries have burned, destroyed and/or shot-up the homes of several families. Living in desolation, the Tsotsil are now facing starvation.

The displaced Tsotsiles are without access to their lands. As a result they cannot plant and harvest their corn, beans, fruits and vegetables. As of today, they have no ability to go out to work anywhere and cannot harvest their coffee, which is one of their main sources of income during the year. And thus, according to the Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Center (Frayba), in the midst of a global pandemic, these displaced persons are on the verge of a famine. These indigenous families belong to Las Abejas in Chenalhó, Chalchihuitán and Aldama municipalities.

The Frayba is asking those of us in international civil society to make a donation to purchase food for the women, children and men of Las Abejas (The Bees, in English) who are displaced from their homes and fields and risk famine.

About Las Abejas | The Bees

Las Abejas of Acteal is an indigenous and Catholic campesino organization in the Highlands of Chiapas belonging to the National Indigenous Congress-Indigenous Governing Council (CNI-CIG).

In an incident so horrific that it shocked the conscience of the world, a paramilitary group called Red Mask (Máscara Roja) attacked Las Abejas members on December 22, 1997 in the community of Acteal while they were praying for peace in a chapel. The Red Mask paramilitaries massacred 45 women, children and men in a murderous episode so depraved that it reminded many of the prolonged civil war in Guatemala, right across the border from Chiapas. The alleged motive for the massacre was retaliation for the refusal of Las Abejas to contribute money for the purchase of weapons to use in an attack against the Zapatista National Liberation Army (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, EZLN).

Survivors of the Acteal Massacre were able to identify the killers and, consequently, 81 members of the paramilitary group were sentenced to long prison terms. The evangelical churches to which many of the killers belonged were determined to obtain their release in order to clear the names of their church members and, one supposes, the names of the churches involved. These churches were ultimately successful and the killers were released after serving approximately 10 years of their sentences.

End the famine: dismantle the paramilitaries

Members of the “civilian armed group” currently shooting at La Abejas are thought to be some former members of Máscara Roja who were not identified and sentenced to prison, their children, the children of those who were sentenced and, perhaps, even some of those released. Human rights organizations are demanding that the Mexican government dismantle the current armed group. To date, both the Chiapas state government and the Mexican federal government have failed to take action.

Meanwhile, Frayba says that the current situation of forced displacement poses a grave risk to both the life and health of the displaced, who are struggling to survive with a constant lack of food, no medical attention and the emotional damage caused by the permanent fear and despair of being under attack. Children, women and the elderly are the most vulnerable.

For more information, please see the article by Chiapas journalist Isaín Mandujano on our blog.

Join us in supporting Las Abejas of Acteal! 

Please join the Chiapas Support Committee in making a generous donation to purchase food and address the health needs of displaced members of Las Abejas. To make a donation via PayPal, just click on the donate button on our website. (Monthly PayPal donations are also appreciated.) Venmo: @Enapoyo1994. You can also send a check or money order payable to the Chiapas Support Committee to:

Chiapas Support Committee

PO Box 3421

Oakland, CA 94609

Las Abejas of Acteal is a critical organization in the struggle for Indigenous Rights in Chiapas and in the CNI-CIG nationally. Chiapas Support Committee members and the folks we work with in Chiapas will thank each donor from the bottom of our hearts.

In solidarity, peace and justice,

Chiapas Support Committee

Arnoldo Garcia

Carolina Dutton

Roberto Martinez

Jose Plascencia

Evette Padilla

Caitlin Manning

Jason Bayless

Mary Ann Tenuto Sanchez



Federal judge suspends work on Section 1 of the Maya Train


The Maya Train as new infrastructure for connecting the agro-industrial and tourist-real estate capitals on the peninsula. Courtesy: Gasparello and Quintana

 By: Isaín Mandujano

A federal judge in Chiapas today granted the definitive suspension to indigenous Ch’ol facing the Maya Train project, for the Palenque-Escárcega section, and therefore the National Fund for Promotion of Tourism will have to stop any work relative to that first section, as long as the pandemic lasts.

The non-governmental organization Indignation, Promotion and Defense of Human Rights A.C (hereafter, Indignation AC), which in legal matters represents diverse indigenous Ch’ol communities in Palenque, Salto de Agua and Ocosingo, announced that with this decision the federal government is ordered to abstain from carrying out acts tending to execute the project called the “Maya Train” on Section 1, which runs from Palenque to Escárcega.

The amparo suit filed before the Second District Judge for Amparo and Federal Criminal Trials in the state of Chiapas was resolved last Monday, June 22, when the court granted a definitive suspension to a group of people belonging to the Ch’ol people from the communities of Palenque, Salto de Agua and Ocosingo municipalities, who found protection against said project.

That civilian body said that on May 7 members of several Ch’ol communities presented a request for amparo against the President of the Republic, the Secretary of Federal Health and the Director General of the National Fund for Promotion of Tourism (FONATUR) because of the issuance of both the Secretary of Health’s April 6 agreement and the April 23rd Decree signed by the President of the Republic.

The continuation of the project called the “Maya Train,” as well as other administration projects, was decided in that agreement, despite the pandemic derived from Covid-19.  Therefore, in the request for amparo they argued violations of their right to health, as well as effects on the environment and to their rights as indigenous communities.

That very same May 7, the Second District Judge for Amparo and Federal Criminal Trials in the state of Chiapas decided to grant the provisional suspension, pointing out, among other things, that continuing with work on the so-called Maya Train put the health of the Ch’ol communities of those municipalities at risk, as well as their rights to a healthy environment.

Next, magistrates of the Collegiate Court in Administrative Matters located in Tuxtla Gutiérrez revoked said provisional suspension, “with the implausible argument that the risk of Covid-19 infection to the Ch’ol Maya community derived from work on the train constituted a future act of uncertain realization.”

However, on June 22, “after having deferred the incidental hearing five times because of FONATUR’s refusal to provide information that the Court requested, the Second District Judge for Amparo and Federal Criminal Trials in the state of Chiapas decided to grant a definitive suspension to members of the Ch’ol communities.”

After this judicial decision, the non-governmental organization Indignation AC said, there is now an obligation both for FONATUR and for the companies that won the bidding on that section “to stop all work corresponding to any work that other than maintenance of the existing tracks, until the amparo lawsuit is not resolved.”

Indignation AC explained in a letter that the judge, in order to justify said suspension, reasoned that members of the “self-recognized indigenous communities, inhabitants of the community where the project called the Maya Train will have impact, specifically in the municipality of Palenque, could suffer an affectation to its legal sphere, concretely in its right to health.”

Since the execution of the Maya Train project currently collides with the national health phenomenon caused by the Covid-19 virus, whose existence and dynamic spread is recognized by the “Agreement establishing extraordinary actions to address the health emergency generated by the SARS-CoV2,” which establishes, among many measures, social distancing of at least one and a half meters, and in which it recognizes that its spread is closely related to social interaction”

The judge pointed out that if the Maya Train project were carried out, the fundamental right to health could be exposed, because “it collides with the right to the health of the complainants -and also with the collective-“ given the prevailing health phenomenon in the country, recognized at the national, state and municipal levels, which constitutes a notorious fact, insofar as the diverse General Agreement of March 31, 2020 recognizes the existence of the pandemic and the need to establish social distancing measures.”

Indignation AC indicated that the definitive suspension has the effect of “stopping any activity relative to the implementation of the project, except that related to maintenance of the tracks, until the amparo lawsuit is definitively resolved.”

It said that this suit for amparo has derived information that shows that the project named the Maya Train “is illegal and lacks legal support, as for example the absence of an environmental impact statement on the project, as well as irregularity in the bidding process, in addition to violations of the rights of the Native peoples.”

For this reason, members of the communities warned that they have decided to expand the demand for amparo (protection and suspension) pointing out these violations, which will oblige the Federal Judicial Power to analyze the essence of the project starting with what said communities claim.


Originally Published in Spanish by Chiapas Paralelo

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee



The anticapitalist left, neither liberal nor conservative

[Admin’s intro: Mexico’s president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), has consistently referred to the Zapatistas, indigenous territory defenders, as well as supporters of the EZLN and the CNI-CIG as “conservatives” for opposing the Maya Train and the Trans-Isthmus Corridor, claiming that these anti-capitalists are conservative because they oppose progress and development.]

Autonomy, dignity and happy rebellion!

By: Gilberto López Y Rivas

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador seeks to impose a dichotomous perspective in the political debate about the complex reality that the country is experiencing. He limits that: “there’s nowhere to do it,” calls for “no half measures” and demands definitions: “either we are conservatives or we are liberals,” “or you’re with the 4T or against it.” This disjunctive, in addition to the equivocally overlapping terms that defined the oligarchic groups confronted in the 19th century by divergent nation-State projects, leaves out political forces and worldviews that have resisted the exploitation and domination of capitalism, in its different stages of accumulation.

The governing group attempts to deny the existence of various leftist currents in national life that, for more than a century, have boldly contributed to seeking structural transformations, beyond the mere rotation of political elites, with a cost of innumerable deaths, forced disappearances, torture, prison and the exile of men and women who were committed to the cause of “national liberation” and “socialist revolution,” regardless of their meanings to each group.

Also, the complaints, denunciations and statements of the broad and representative strip that below and to the left converge with the Zapatista National Liberation Army, the National Indigenous Congress and the Indigenous Government Council are ignored. Also, critical positions of movements and organizations anchored in community territories in which megaprojects are implanted are not taken into account; nor are the protests of civil society in the face of ongoing militarization, the daily organized crime violence, femicides and police brutality, or in the face of unjustifiable cuts in the ambit of culture and defense of cultural heritage, which have been seriously affected in their substantive functions.

The effort to make the lefts invisible or publicly defame them reaches the presidential cabinet. The Secretary of the Semarnat, Víctor Toledo, classifies the EZLN’s political positions as “extreme and outdated” and “a set of vulgar expressions, offenses that reveal the intolerance of the 4T’s spokespersons in the face of criticism and, in particular, the derogatory treatment towards a movement of historical significance and scope, such as that of the Zapatista Mayas, who, for some years, had warned about the “storm” that was coming, and who, in their last communiqué, on March 16 of this year, announced the closure of the Caracoles and Centers of Resistance and Rebellion because of Covid-19, and called to: “not drop the fight against femicidal violence, continue the fight in defense of territory and Mother Earth, keep up the fight for [email protected] [email protected], [email protected] and [email protected], and raise the banner of the fight for humanity high (…) We call to not lose human contact, but rather to temporarily change the ways of knowing our compañeras, compañeros, sisters and brothers. The word and the ear, with the heart, have many ways, paths, calendars and geographies for meeting with each other. And this struggle for life can be one of them.”

The movements of indigenous peoples in particular, which originate in the depths of the earth, refuse to accept and support a transformation based on megaprojects that, in the midst of a health emergency, are underway in spite of numerous denunciations, statements, calls, open letters, research studies, expert opinions, recommendations from international organisms, legal filings, protest demonstrations, etcetera, unnoticed by the 4T government.

From ethnocentric concepts of “progress and development“ the megaprojects are forced on subjects considered, as in the past, passive agents of State action, without recognizing their contributions to a project of nation and society that arises from a constituent power of the peoples. If we’re dealing with transformations, the original peoples contribute the collectivist sense of their socio-political and cultural structures; they have a strategy as a socio-political subject, autonomy, for resisting capitalist re-colonization, from a class and gender perspective, egalitarian and emancipatory, which is expressed in “govern obeying” (“mandar obedeciendo“), the seven principles and the EZLN’s Women’s Revolutionary Law. It’s a strategy that establishes a relationship of respect for Mother Earth and one of collective responsibility towards the coming generations. The autonomic processes pose a step towards a post-pandemic world that avoids the disappearance of the human species and, even of life on Earth.

But these don’t seem to be themes that interest either “liberals“ or “conservatives.“


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Friday, June 12, 2020

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee