Chiapas Support Committee

EZLN: 37 years of dignity and autonomy

By: Raúl Zibechi

In these fierce times there is little to celebrate. While the darkness of the system becomes routine, when those above dispossess us with death and violence, the lights from below shine with all their brilliance, tearing the night, illuminating the trails and slopes. The 37th anniversary of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, EZLN) is, surely, the most powerful light in the Latin American firmament.

The EZLN celebrates its 37th anniversary facing one of the largest military offensives in a long time, encouraged by the “progressive” government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the governments of Chiapas and of several municipalities in the state that launched a war of attrition against the autonomous territories, in order to dispossess and destroy the EZLN and the bases of support.

But, concretely, what do we celebrate? We celebrate the continuity and perseverance of a revolutionary movement different from all previous ones, something that we must value in all its transcendence. Not only did they not give up, not sell out and not surrender, rather they did not repeat the vanguardist scheme, which reproduces the dominant culture to convert its leaders into new elites.

We celebrate coherence, but also how much they taught us in these almost four decades. So as not to speak in general, I want to refer to what I have learned, either in the “little Zapatista School,” or in the different gatherings and exchanges in which I was able to participate.

The core of Zapatismo is autonomy. Not theoretical or declarative, but rather living practice of the peoples, in each and every one of the moments and spaces in which they make their lives, from the ejidos and communities, to the municipalities and the good government juntas. Autonomy is a way of life, it’s the dignity of the peoples; collective autonomy, not individual autonomy like certain Eurocentric thought transmitted to us.

We need autonomy to continue being peoples and social sectors that practice other ways than those above. Autonomy can be practiced in all spaces, in the barrios of cities, among campesinos, native and black peoples, in the most diverse collectives and communities.

Autonomy is that immense umbrella of dignity that we all hold together. It is not an institution; it consists of living human relationships, woven with the dignity that allows us to harmonize.

The support bases and the EZLN also teach us that autonomy must be complete, comprehensive, or at least tending towards it, encompassing all aspects of the life of the peoples. That’s why they construct schools, clinics, hospitals, cooperatives and all that rich web of production and care of life.

Autonomy is combined with self-government and autonomous justice; the engine of autonomy is collective work.

Defense of territories and communities is another of the EZLN’s teachings. But another feature of autonomy appears here, unprecedented in the field of revolution: the defense of our spaces cannot be a mere reaction to what those above do, to us. Choosing how, when and in what way we act is also a feature of autonomy, not falling into provocations, because they want war, because war benefits capital.

At this point, the EZLN has taught us not to respond to aggression with aggression, death with death, war with war, because there we stop being autonomous, that is, we stop being different. And that has nothing to do with pacifism.

We learned that there is no single mode of autonomy, valid for all peoples at all times. They have taught us that each one who walks his own way and according to his times, and that is what the pueblos of Latin America are doing.

I can testify to the way in which the autonomies are expanding across our continent. Dozens of Mapuche communities in southern Chile and Argentina are reconstructing themselves autonomously, confronting the politics of the states that present them as terrorists.

The Indigenous Regional Council of the Cauca, in southern Colombia is a notable expression of construction of autonomies. The indigenous guard is expanding to the black and campesino peoples, who have starred in the recent Indigenous, Black and Campesino Minga that culminated in Bogotá after walking 500 kilometers (

In Peru, the Autonomous Territorial Government of the Wampis Nation has been formed, a process that three other Amazonian peoples in the north are following. In the Brazilian Amazon, 14 peoples are moving towards autonomy to defend themselves from mining and agribusiness, as the militant geographer Fábio Alkmin has shown in an ongoing investigation.

It would be abusive to give the impression that all autonomies follow the paths that the EZLN is traveling. But I want to emphasize that the EZLN’s existence is an impulse, a reference, a light that tells us that it’s possible to resist capital and capitalism, that it’s possible to construct other worlds, resisting and living with dignity.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Friday, November 29, 2020

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee




Attack on humanitarian aid group in Chiapas; a bullet injures a nun

A displaced child in Aldama who moves from place to place to avoid the bullets.

By: Hermann Bellinghausen

In a direct attack on a humanitarian aid group for the displaced Tsotsils from Aldama, the Dominican nun María Isabel Hernández Rea, 52, known as Chabelita in Chiapas indigenous communities where she has worked for many years, was injured in the right leg by a high-caliber bullet. The events occurred in Tabak community, which together with Coco, the armed civilians of Santa Martha, Chenalhó have attacked the most in recent days.

The acts occurred at 12:35 pm. It’s necessary to point out that these attacks are every day without exception since weeks ago, which are carried out with weapons for the exclusive use of the Army and that, according to a report from the Permanent Commission of the 115 Displaced Comuneros, this Wednesday’s attack occurred while the National Guard and the state police were patrolling in the area.

The shooting at Tabak started at 8:35 am, coming from Tojtic Telesecundaria in Santa Martha. At the same time a small delegation of volunteers from Caritas and the Trust for the Health of the Indigenous Children of Mexico (Fideo) left San Cristóbal de Las Casas to take food and blankets to the families who have suffered continuous displacement for months due to the shots that a dozen towns in Aldama receive daily.

For this reason, the actress Ofelia Medina, who presides over the Fideo, declared that humanitarian organizations had not dared to take aid to those displaced for many days “who are in the gravest humanitarian emergency.” She adds that: “in the more than 25 years that we have been visiting and supporting the Chiapas communities, never, not even in the times of the government’s worst war, have they attacked us like this.”

She remembers that she and her collaborators have received death threats, attempted expulsion from the state, espionage, robbery, but never an attack like this.

“It was an attack on Cáritas and Fideo,” she maintains. “They seek to prevent us from carrying out the minimum humanitarian actions that are, moreover, almost the only civilian contribution with quality food for the displaced.” These organizations distribute aid to people of all ages, from babies to the elderly, who move from one place to another, or take refuge with acquaintances, in permanent precariousness and anxiety and even now under the torrential rains that batter the region.

Hernández, the injured nun, works in San Andrés Larráinzar parish and is a widely known person. She and other volunteers were shot at noon when they were returning to their vehicle; she wasn’t able to protect herself in time and was hit in the leg.

Also since morning, Cotzilnam and Aldama were being shot at from T’elemax, Santa Martha. A little after the attack on Caritas and Fideo, at 12:54 pm, volleys of shots came from Slumka Saclum, Chenalhó, in the direction of Xuxch’en.

Currently, two more wounded from Aldama are also in the Hospital of the Cultures in San Cristóbal de Las Casas due to injuries that the paramilitaries caused.

The Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Center (Frayba) said this afternoon: “It should be noted that the state government of Rutilio Escandón Cadenas and the federal government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador have been remiss in response to the constant calls to stop the armed attacks on communities of the Maya Tsotsil people of Aldama, who survive the siege that increases the human rights crisis, especially the food and health crisis.”

The Frayba places responsibility for these events “on the Mexican State for not guaranteeing the security and integrity of pastoral agents, of civil society organizations and of journalists who enter, document and make visible the violence and accompany the communities in forced displacement.” Frayba also demanded: “disarming and disarticulating the armed civilian groups of a paramilitary nature in Chenalhó, those directly responsible for the attacks.”


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee



ORCAO’s armed attacks on Zapatistas in Lucio Cabañas

Last August 22, members of the Regional Organization of Ocosingo Coffee Growers (ORCAO, its initials in Spanish) looted and burned coffee warehouses belonging to the EZLN’s support bases at the Cuxuljá Crossroads, Ocosingo municipality, Chiapas.

By: Elio Henríquez

San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas

The Regional Organization of Ocosingo Coffee Growers (ORCAO, its initials in Spanish) and a “group of armed people seek to impose a daily and permanent state of war” against the Zapatista communities, denounced the Caravan of Solidarity and Documentation with the autonomous communities in the Nuevo San Gregorio and Moisés Gandhi region.

In a report prepared after visiting the site on October 29, it explained that the ORCAO and the armed subjects “violate the right to the use and enjoyment of land and territory that legitimately and in full exercise of the right to autonomy the families who are support bases of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, EZLN) have.”

It also detailed that: “they execute acts of physical cruelty and direct psycho-social violence,” by “enclosing and kidnapping families in their own houses and lands. They retain animals, natural springs and rivers,” which represent a “deployment and reconfiguration of the current way of operating in the war against life and the autonomies.”

They considered that these attacks “are an obvious act to attack and deal a blow to Zapatista autonomy and its organizational structure.”

In this context, they accused that on November 8, ORCAO members “kidnapped, beat and tortured Félix López Hernández,” an EZLN support base.

According to sources in civil organization, the campesino, who was released last Wednesday evening after national and international pressure, among them a mobilization in Mexico City, was “tied up, they put a belt on his neck and were at the point of killing him.”

Made up of organizations, collectives and networks adhered to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle, the mission documented “the attacks, threats and harassment perpetrated by armed groups against girls, boys, men and women of the EZLN’s autonomous Zapatista communities belonging to Lucio Cabañas autonomous municipality,” and the New Dawn in Resistance and Rebellion for Life and Humanity Good Government Junta.

The report said: “in the context of counterinsurgency, “the attacks on communities and peoples that organize to live and resist has been constant in the last months of 2020,” as happens in the communities of Lucio Cabañas autonomous municipality.

In August, they burned the coffee warehouses

The community of Moisés Gandhi belongs to the municipality of Lucio Cabañas, where, on August 22, members of the ORCAO “burned the coffee warehouses, the Compañera Lucha Diner and looted the Arco Iris (Rainbow) store, among other outrages.”

In its report the caravan said that: “the attacks have increased since June 2020, now with more shooting, felling of oak trees, more destruction, looting and physical attacks on members of the population of Moisés Gandhi.

Between June and October, the ORCAO has been mostly shooting with different caliber firearms at the autonomous communities, thereby putting at risk the men, women, boys, girls and elderly who have to seek refuge from the bullets or throw themselves in the mud in the wee hours of the morning, since there have been attacks for entire days and nights,” it indicated.

The report also said that: “this situation has not allowed the Zapatista compañeros to work the land, since they have had to stay inside their houses or in shelters.”

The Caravan said that the violence in Moisés Gandhi has left losses of $1,456, 021 pesos, according to a report from the New Dawn Good Government Junta.

The mission stated that there have been “attempts to establish an approach to dialogue between the EZLN and the ORCAO; however, they have not advanced, “since the armed attacks have not stopped and there has been a breach of agreements.”


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee




Join us in the air & on the ground: 11/14: Women and Autonomy films | 11/17: Celebrate the Zapatistas!

Join the Chiapas Support Committee in two events—one in Oakland, the ¡Viva Zapata! film showings on “Women & Autonomy” November 14; and one online on November 17 to celebrate the Zapatistas 37th anniversary. Read invitations below. 

+NEWS: Paramilitaries kidnap a Zapatista. The Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Center (Frayba) asked the Mexican State to intervene “immediately for the release of Félix López Hernández,” a support base of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN, its initials in Spanish), who members of the ORCAO have held since last Sunday.
Read the new report on the CSC bloghere.
En español,read the Frayba’s report on the kidnapping.

The ¡Viva Zapata Film Series
Saturday, November 14, 2020, 6:00pm PST in Oakland

  •  Musical performance by Mother & the Boards
  •  Short films about indigenous resistance in Mexico featuring women fighting for autonomy.  
  • Q&A with filmmakers following the screening

Co-Sponsors: Chiapas Support Committee, Liberated Lens and Community Foods in Oakland.

Click on thislink to get the location in a social-distancing safe gathering to listen to great music and view films to transform your understanding of Mexico. Bring a face mask!

The Films
Selections from Dispatches from Resistant Mexico, a series of shorts on pockets of anti-capitalist resistance in southern Mexico. The short films: Angelina Gómez López; The Women of Candelaria; and Maya Train: Eye of the Storm. Directed by Caitlin Manning with Joe Bender

Lupita. Directed by Monica Wise Robles: In a country where indigenous people are increasingly displaced, their land stolen, where students disappear without a trace following police arrest, and journalists are murdered at an alarming rate, a courageous new voice emerges: Lupita, a Tsotsil Maya massacre survivor, at the forefront of a new movement of indigenous women. If anyone can change the conscience of Mexico, it is Lupita, confronting corrupt militares, mobilizing her pueblo’s resistance, and cultivating a new generation of organized and vocal Maya activists.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020, 6:30-8:30pm PST REGISTER HERE.
A Waffles & Zapatismo educational workshop.

Three panelists will share stories and invite participants to dialogue on the precursors to the Zapatistas, the conditions and political struggles that led to the formation of the EZLN.

On November 17, 1983, the EZLN was founded in the mountains of Chiapas. 2020 marks the 37th anniversary of the Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional (EZLN) organizing struggles at the heart of indigenous and revolutionary transformations and working with communities across borders.

Join us to celebrate and to deepen our understanding of how a revolution from below emerged and took shape and continues to this day!

Register in advance for the November 17 Waffles & Zapatismo: HERE

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Chiapas Support Committee | Comité de Apoyo a Chiapas
P.O. Box 3421 | Oakland, CA 94609 
CSC Blog:

Paramilitaries kidnap a Zapatista

Frayba demands that the authorities liberate Félix López, EZLN support base [1]

Mural in Moisés Gandhi community.

By: Elio Henríquez

San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas

The Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Center (Frayba) asked the Mexican State to intervene “immediately for the release of Félix López Hernández,” a support base of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN, its initials in Spanish), who members of the Regional Organization of Ocosingo Coffee Growers (Orcao) have held since last Sunday.

In an “urgent action” published Tuesday night, the Frayba also demanded from the authorities: “effective actions to stop Orcao’s armed attacks, since there is a high risk to the life and integrity of women, girls, boys and men” the Zapatista support bases of Moisés Gandhi and other localities located in Ocosingo territory.

The human rights center said it had received information from the Zapatista Good Government Junta (Junta) New Dawn in Resistance and Rebellion for Life and Humanity, belonging to the Patria Nueva Caracol, that: “since November 8, at approximately 3:30 pm, Félix López Hernández, a native of the San Isidro community, an annex of (the autonomous town) of Moisés Gandhi, was arbitrarily deprived of his freedom and tortured by approximately 20 Orcao members.”

It stated that, according to testimonies, “Félix was coming back from the official municipal capital of Ocosingo and was headed to his house when they took him to an unknown location; later, it was learned that it was a few meters from where the Orcao burned and looted the cooperative store located at Cuxuljá on August 22.”

The Junta added that on Tuesday at 10:40 am “Orcao members shot, a just 150 meters away, at another inhabitant, an EZLN support base, when he was gathering fire wood.”

The Frayba demanded that: “the jurisdiction, autonomy and self-determination of the Zapatista Good Government Junta New Dawn in Resistance and Rebellion for Life and Humanity be respected.”

“At the close of this urgent action (released Tuesday evening) we received the report that Orcao members continue shooting towards Moisés Gandhi community, so there is a grave risk to the life and integrity of the life and integrity of the EZLN support EZLN,” it added.

Members of the Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Center (Frayba) documented an attack on the Zapatista support bases by members of the Regional Organization of Ocosingo Coffee Growers, committed last August 22 on a house that was used as a coffee warehouse in the autonomous community of Moisés Gandhi, Chiapas. Photo: courtesy of the Frayba

According to the Junta, Orcao members took Félix López away “and keep him tied up, locked up, without water and without food.” The Junta pointed out in a communiqué that this case was denounced, but “the bad government, instead of solving the kidnapping, justifies the paramilitaries” of the Orcao, “telling the lie that we Zapatistas went to provoke at their workplace.”

It assured that the government’s argument that the Zapatistas provoked their ORCAO neighbors “is completely false,” because “the compañero was coming back from the official municipal capital of Ocosingo” on the way to his home when he was kidnapped.

[1] The Frayba reports that the ORCAO has turned Compañero Felix López Hernández over to its staff.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee



Death toll rises to 20 in Chiapas from tropical storm Eta

Flooding in Chiapas.

By: Isaín Mandujano

At least 20 people died [1] in the last several hours in Chiapas, after intense rains that caused rivers to burst their banks, houses smashed in landslides, traffic accidents and roads collapsed by mudslides in 32 municipalities and 7 regions of Chiapas.

The Preliminary Register of Damages in the face of Emergencies and Disaster (REPDAED) reported that due to the rise in the levels of rivers and the overflows, landslides and mudflows, 32 municipalities in 12 regions have been affected, which are: Ocozocuoautla, La Concordia, Chilón, Tumbalá, Chamula, Mitontic, Pantelho, Oxchuc, Tila, Yajalón, Salto de Agua, Sunuapa, Pichucalco, Amatán, e Ixhuatán.

Equally, Ixtapangajoya, Mezcalapa, Ocotepec, Tecpatán, Ocosingo, La Grandeza, Amatenango de la Frontera, San Andrés Duraznal, Jitotol, Bochil, El Bosque, Siltepec, Larráinzar, Juárez, El Bosque, Rincón Chamula San Pedro, Arriaga y Huixtla.

2,845 homes have been affected, 26 sections of road interrupted by landslides of unstable slopes, two pedestrian bridges damaged, 5 rivers overflowed, three communities have lost communication due to flooding, one section of electrical line was affected, and 5 sections of potable water pipe.

One of the municipalities with the greatest impact on homes is Chilón, in the Tulijá Region, where more than 684 homes are flooded at this time. The affected communities are El Mango, Sacum San Miguel, Sacum San Pedro, and Sacum Guadalupe. Due to the overflowing of the Agua Azul river, families have been evacuated.

The Northern Region is registering damages to the road infrastructure from instability of the mountain side in the sections of road Ixtapangajoya-La Unión (Teapa, Tabasco). The communities of Chapayal, Zaragoza and Zapata in the municipality of Ixhuatán remain out of communication due to flooding.

Four people have been reported dead in the community of Altagracia, municipality of El Bosque, one adult, and three minors. Additionally, in the community of Toquian de la Grandeza, two people are reported injured and 4 dead. Mr. Bulmaro Velásquez Velázquez said that due to heavy rains a section of land above his house broke free, burying it and breaking the walls of the room where his four youngest children, now dead, slept. His children were 14-year-old, Aile Celina Velásquez Cruz, 4 year-old Javier Velázquez Cruz, 8-year-old Margarita Concepción Velázquez Cruz, and 10-year old Alexa Xucoa Pérez.

Also, 10 dead bodies were found in the river that crosses the community of Kaomtealhucum II, located in the municipality of Chenalhó; the people who died were originally from the community of Muquém, in the municipality of Chamula. The first reports indicate that they were swept away by the strong currents in the stream that passes through the community; the same happened with a minor in Mitontic.

In Oxchuc one person was confirmed dead having been swept by the current of the stream, besides the death of a minor in the hamlet of Mitontic.

In total, 20 people have died so far, and more people have yet to be found who disappeared in the various events brought about by these intense rains.

Families escape fooding in Chiapas.

Regarding the activation of temporary shelters in Juarez, one is located in the Ejido Santa Cruz Tepate Abajo with 10 families, and one in the Rancheria Nicolas Bravo 1a. Meanwhile, in Ocosingo one was installed in the local cattle ranch with a total of 22 families. And in Ixhuatán, 25 people from the Ejido Chapayal are given lodging. In San Cristóbal de Las Casas, 30 people are being cared for.

For this purpose, the State Emergency Committee is in permanent session, activating the protocols of attention to the population through federal, state and municipal agencies.

[1] The death toll in Chiapas from tropical storm Eta has climbed to 22.


Originally Published in Spanish by Chiapas Paralelo

Friday, November 6, 2020

Re-Published with permission by the Chiapas Support Committee with English interpretation by Schools for Chiapas



The fall of the Empire

The Capitalist Ruler, art from the Zapatista communities.

By: Raúl Zibechi

In periods of deep confusion like the one we live in today, exacerbated by a tsunami of information that clouds understanding, it’s convenient to focus our attention on the data that don’t depend on the whims of the moment and embody profound tendencies. We should not limit ourselves to economic information, which has considerable weight, but not defining.

I want to deploy some elements for reaching the conclusion that imperial decline is inevitable, regardless of who is in charge of the White House in the next four years. Donald Trump or Joe Biden can accelerate or slow down said decline, but in no way can they prevent it. In the same sense, the rise of China and of the Asia-Pacific doesn’t depend on factors of a conjuncture, although I don’t envision Chinese hegemony, but rather a multipolar world.

The primary tendency is what I call the “human factor,” the state of the population ( China is a flourishing society, the population has been benefited by development, its standard of living has improved and everything indicates that it will continue doing so. The people of the United States are divided, one half hates the other half, a portion of them are sick and depend on the consumption of legal drugs.

China has created the world’s largest social security system, with basic health insurance that covers 1.3 billion people, while pension insurance covers almost one billion. The health system in the United States doesn’t reach the entire population; it’s expensive and unaffordable for half of the people with lower incomes (

In half a century, the “bottom” half of the US population was impoverished. It went from an annual income of $19, 640 dollars in 1970 to $27, 642 in 2018, 42 percent more, but below inflation. One dollar in 1970 is equivalent to $6.82 dollars today (

At the opposite extreme, 0.1 percent of the population multiplied its income by 5, while the middle class receded, according to a study in The Washington Post ( It’s a polarization impossible to sustain; a society unhinged, adrift and unprotected that takes up arms to defend itself.

Life expectancy in China today is 76.7 years; it was 43 in 1960. In the United States it’s 78.5 years, but it has been stagnant since 2010 and has fallen slightly since 2012, a unique case among developed countries ( The United States is ranked 37th in the world in life expectancy at birth, below most European nations and behind countries in the Americas like Chile, Cuba and Costa Rica.

In the United States, deaths from heroin overdoses have quadrupled since 2002. While addiction was high in poor black ghettos in the 1960s, new users are now overwhelmingly white, according to the Boonshoft School of Medicine, in Dayton Ohio (

Half a million people between 45 and 54 died due to cirrhosis, suicide, alcohol and drugs, an unprecedented situation that had never affected demographic groups in developed countries, with the exception of the AIDS epidemic, a study by Princeton University says (

The use of hard drugs has skyrocketed among the middle classes, with a strong incidence in the industrial cities in decline due to the movement of industry [and industrial jobs] to China, Asia and Central America. While the weight of the financial sector in the gross domestic product doubled since the end of the 1990s; half of the 25-year old population now lives with their parents because they cannot become independent, versus 25 percent in 1999.

Empires collapse from the inside and population is the most important data, although it’s often dismissed for overestimating the economy that not a few economists believe consists only in a sum of numbers and statistics, forgetting that it is people who produce, consume, enjoy and suffer in the inevitable cycles of material life.

Fernand Braudel said that: “events are dust,” because he was convinced that the short-term is the most capricious of all times, that we must give priority to the long-term and to the continuities, to better understand the turns. The assertion is valid for evaluating electoral results in the United States.

More important than the name of the winning tenant is that 19 million weapons have been sold in seven months, 91 percent more than in the same period of 2019, and days before the voting, many businesses protected themselves with fences for fear of post-electoral violence (

The Economic Policy Institute in the United States, assures that the salaries of the chief executive officers (CEOs) of the 350 principal companies are now 320 times superior to the average salary of a worker, while in 1989 the difference in income was at 61 to one ( This means that the salary gap grew five times in two generations.

Even inequality has limits. After a certain threshold, as we should have learned from history, it becomes a time bomb.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Friday, November 6, 2020

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee


Caravan heads out to deliver support to Zapatista communities

By: Elio Henriquez

San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas

Members of organizations, collectives, and individuals, adherents to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle, traveled this Thursday to the communities of Moíses Gandhi and Nuevo San Gregorio in the autonomous municipality of Lucio Cabañas, in order to bring humanitarian aid, conduct human rights observation activities and “document the recent aggressions, threats and harrassment perpetrated by armed groups opposing the support bases of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN).”

The caravan made up of different vehicles left at 6 AM, with various products suchs as corn, beans, salt, sugar, coffee, oil, pasta, and soap, among others.

The participating groups reported in a communique that “since the previous year, these autonomous communities, located in the official municipality of Ocosingo — a couple of hours in a vehicle from San Cristóbal — “have suffered constant attacks on their lands, crops, houses and workers.”

They added that what happened previously “is added to by the events that took place the 22nd of August 2020 when autonomous facilities were burned, like the Arcoiris (Rainbow) store, the Compañera Lucha cafeteria, and the coffee warehouses, that represent a guarantee of their food and sustenance, as well as attacks against the community with firearms.”

They reiterated that their position “is in favor of peace,” while demanding respect for the right to Zapatista autonomy and self-determination where the recuperated lands are located that are part of their territory, as well as respect for and guarantee of the integrity, security and life of the bases of support of the EZLN.”

They said that they asked the International Service for Peace (Sipaz) to accompany the caravan to conduct international observation activities during the tour, work that the Fray Bartolomé Center of Human Rights (Frayba) will also do.

The caravan was made up of members of the Chiapas Center for the Rights of Women; Civil Association for the Economic and Social Development of Indigenous Mexicans (DESMI); Space of Struggle Against Neglect and Repression (ELCOR); Doctors of the World, Switzerland-Mexico; Living Memory, ProMedios Community Communications; Ajmaq Network of Rebellion and Resistance; Community Health and Development; Digna Ochoa Center for Human Rights; and other collectives, organizations, and adherents to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee




The “ya basta” of the indigenous Otomí community

Marichuy and the CNI-CIG support the Otomís.

By: Magdalena Gómez

A movement is underway that did not begin on October 12 with the decision of the Otomí community of indigenous Otomí residents in Mexico City to take over the central offices of the National Institute of Indigenous Peoples (INPI, its initials in Spanish) indefinitely. This movement must be analyzed in its different dimensions. Indigenous natives of Santiago Mexquititlán, Amealco municipality, Querétaro, residents in Mexico City for more than 20 years, are heading the takeover. Since then, they have fought for their right to access dignified housing, they have toured government agencies, have done the paperwork, without results. They have lived crowded, without basic services on four abandoned properties on 74 Zacatecas Street and 200 Guanajuato, in the Roma District; 1434 Zaragoza Avenue, by Pantitlán, and Roma 18, in Juárez. This latter one has been abandoned since the 1985 earthquakes, but the 2017 earthquake made it uninhabitable and forced them to camp on the street, Last year, public forces evicted them without fulfilling the promise to legalize their situation..

So far, we have located the local dimension of the problem. However, for four years the National Indigenous Congress (Congreso Nacional Indígena, CNI) and the Indigenous Government Council (Concejo Indígena de Gobierno, (CIG) have been linked to the demands of the peoples for their collective rights. That’s why they call their brave decision “Takeover for the dignity of our peoples.” They added: “It’s time to raise your voice and not remain silent. They have oppressed us for 528 years, they have dispossessed us, as if to leave us 528 more years,” indicated Maricela Mejía, a councilor of the CIG, backed up by her compañeras. At first they asserted that the INPI doesn’t represent them, nor did the previous initials, but that now it will be true that this building will be their home. As such, they proceeded to occupy two of its six floors and upholster them with posters of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, EZLN). In the installations of the INPI the Otomí community, last October 17, held the forum “528 years: our little light of resistance and rebellion is still lit,” with the participation of the CIG spokesperson, María de Jesús Patricio (Marichuy), who supported the action of the Otomí community in the CDMX (Mexico City). She told them: “We’re going to continue because you have a very important tool, which is your voice. We may not have weapons, but our weapon is the voice and we don’t have to keep quiet.” They are part of the national indigenous movement. In their press conferences the Otomís include questioning of the megaprojects in progress, demand that real indigenous consultations be held and state that they oppose the Tren Maya/Maya Train, the Morelos Integral Project, which includes a thermoelectric plant, and the Interoceanic Corridor on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec.

The peoples and organizations of the CNI and the National Indigenous Network (Red Nacional Indígena, RNI) have added themselves to their demands and expressed support for them, in contrast with other indigenous groupings that suppose it necessary to close ranks with the director of the INPI, allegedly aggrieved by the takeover of its offices.

It’s interesting to observe how the Government of Mexico City, the one directly responsible for the long-standing lack of attention to the Otomí community, has been camouflaged in the INPI, which shows that it represents the federal government of Mexico in its official communiqués. To date, its posture is not known. The CDMX Secretariat of Government and the CDMX Human Rights Commission are referred to as the mediating institution (press release 10/15/20). Surely the Otomí community will be analyzing the proposal to participate in a work group that will cause it doubts, since throughout the years that it has been expressing its demands and carrying out official procedures, they now la invite them to dialogue in order “to know their needs and requests and to advance in attention to them.” Already Nashieli Ramírez, president of Mexico City’s Human Rights Commission, went to the takeover and offered, with respect, mediation in a dialogue, as well as follow-up on compliance with the agreements that are made, and is awaiting their response.

The “ya basta” of the Otomí community has placed a mirror on the “neo-indigenism” underway, for now the evidence that individual support programs or scholarships are not enough, as long as the structural problems of the indigenous peoples with respect to their self-determination and autonomy are not addressed. This movement grows with the national agenda, which adds previous grievances to the current ones in the times of the so-called 4T. It’s unthinkable that the government would propose and the CNI-CIG, much less the EZLN, would accept a “dialogue” that will produce a new version of the unfulfilled San Andrés Accords. It’s a coin toss. To begin with, it’s uncertain whether they will provide housing to Otomí residents in Mexico City.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Wednesday, October 27, 2020

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee





Chenalhó asks for 50 million pesos to end the conflict with Aldama

A view of the mountains that form the natural border between Aldama and Chenalhó municipalities, in the Chiapas Highlands Photo: Carlos Ogaz.

By: Isaín Mandujano

Indigenous Tsotsils in Santa Martha community, Chenalhó, asked for 50 million pesos to cede 32.5 hectares of land to their adversaries in Aldama, as well as 200,000 pesos for each one of their dead and 100,000 pesos to repair the damage to the 16 who were injured.

Communal authorities of Manuel Utrilla Santa Martha made public a copy of their official record through the Digna Ochoa Grass Roots Human Rights Committee of Chiapas (“Digna Ochoa Committee”) [1], wherein they respond to a government proposal to resolve the agrarian conflict that exists between residents of Aldama and Santa Martha, Chenalhó.

The official record was delivered last October 9 to the Secretary General of Government, the Commissioner for Dialogue with the Indigenous Peoples in the Interior Ministry (Secretaría de Gobernación) and the Undersecretary for Human Rights and Population in the Interior Ministry. Members of the Manuel Utrilla Santa Martha Communal Wealth (the commons) Assembly responded to the proposal that the el Secretary General of Gobierno, Ismael Brito Mazariegos, sent.

The document signed by all the authorities of the Manuel Utrilla Santa Martha Commons and the 20 municipal rural agents from the communities that group together the communal wealth and represent the 3,336 comuneros put forward a proposal regarding the solution to the conflict over the 59.5 (147 acres) hectares of land in dispute with Aldama.

State authorities mentioned that they would cede 32.5 hectares (80 acres) and retain 27 hectares (67 acres), with an economic contribution of 3 million pesos, plus 100,000 pesos for each of the families who lost a family member as a result of the conflict.

However, the indigenous Tsotsils said that they accept retaining 27.5 hectares and ceding 32.5 to Aldama, but that it’s for the amount of 50 million pesos and that in the process of attention to the solution of the agrarian conflict, the Municipality of Aldama will cease attacks with firearms.

With respect to the offer of 100,000 pesos, as economic support for each family of those who dies due to the agrarian conflict, they asked for 200,000 pesos; without forgetting that there 16 injured, and for them they asked as indemnification the amount of 100,000 pesos for each one.

Additionally, they demanded the immediate freedom of their imprisoned compañeros, Enrique López Pérez and Efraín Ruiz Alvares, as well as cancellation of the arrest warrants in effect against inhabitants of communities in the Santa Martha Sector.

Likewise, they asked for Infrastructure works for the benefit of 20 communities in the Santa Martha Sector, such as the expansion and paving of the highway stretch from Central Santa Martha to Saclum and from Saclum to the municipal seat of Chenalhó and the opening of the road from the town of Yoc Ventana on time.

The Digna Ochoa Committee said that once this document was delivered unfortunately armed attacks and shooting started coming from the Aldama side, the communal authorities acknowledging that there was “crossfire” in accordance with what they have investigated, and that Sunday they were in Saclum to see the situation and that they heard the rain of shots coming from Tabak, Coco and Xuxhen on the Aldama side attacking Saclum community and Pajaltoj on the Santa Martha side.

However, the “Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Center, denounced that the attacks are constant from Chenalhó towards the residents of Aldama. And the Permanent Commission of 115 Displaced Comuneros of Aldama denounced that members of the National Guard and the State Police who are in Santa Martha, Chenalhó and in Aldama don’t act efficiently to stop the armed attacks and to protect the population.

Counting Hugo Alfredo Pérez Hernández, 29 people have been injured and six murdered during attacks with high-caliber weapons on the communities of Maya Tsotsil People in Aldama, coming from de civilian armed groups of a paramilitary nature in Santa Martha, Chenalhó, since March 2018, the Frayba said.

They also pointed to the disappearance and subsequent execution of the then municipal president of Aldama Ignacio Pérez Girón [2], whose body was found on May 05, 2019, at the entrance to Yalebtay, in the municipality of Zinacatán.

The persistent omission and complicity of the Chiapas government and the federal government causes the escalation of violence in the Highlands region and increases the risk to life of the population within 13 communities in the municipality of Aldama, mostly women, children, adolescents and the elderly, the human rights body indicated.

What’s the conflict between Chenalhó and Aldama about?

The Undersecretary of Human Rights, Population and Migration in the Interior Ministry described that the conflict that exists in the Chiapas Highlands is a dispute over 59 hectares (approximately 47 acres) between the “Manuel Utrilla” Commons in Chenalhó and 115 community members in Aldama.

He detailed that in 2009, the Chiapas government signed an agrarian settlement between the two parties, in which it gives possession of the lands to the Aldama community members and an indemnification of 1 million, 300 thousand pesos to Chenalhó.

Nevertheless, in 2014 the conflict re-emerged due to the fact that the Aldama community members did not want to provide water from the Chayomté spring to Santa Martha, so the latter declared the 2009 settlement broken, as well as the 59-hectares solution.

Encinas stated that the conflict has cost the life of 26 people: 5 from Aldama and 20 from Chenalhó, as well as 24 injured: 13 in Aldama and 11 in Chenalhó.

[1] According to an article by Hermann Bellinghausen, the “Digna Ochoa Committee” was started by several people from the National Front of Struggle for Socialism (FNLS) and denounced by those in Aldama as always supportin g and backing up the para,military groups.

[2] Ignacio Pérez Girón was a member of the National Indigenous Congress (Congreso Nacional Indígena, CNI).


Originally Published in Spanish by Chiapas Paralelo

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee