DECEMBER 2011 ZAPATISTA NEWS SUMMARY
The CSC Wishes All of You A Happy New Year and a
Happy 18th Anniversary of the Zapatista Uprising
1. Marcos Letter to Luis Villoro: A Death… Or A Life – The 4th letter from Sub-comandante Marcos to Luis Villoro was published on the Enlace Zapatista website December 7. In the letter, Marcos remembers the lives of Tomás Segovia and Comandante Moisés, both of whom died in recent months. Marcos quotes extensively from Segovia’s writings regarding the left, Power and resistance, then recognizes that Comandante Moisés lived in resistance. This is an interesting letter! Rumors had circulated for months of Comandante Moisés’ death, with at least one electronic account confusing his background information with that of Lt Col Moisés. This letter confirms that it was the Comandante Moisés on the CCRI-CG, from Oventik, who was killed in an auto accident. He had participated in organizing for the EZLN since 1985 with Comandanta Ramona. Marcos ends with the a P.S. attacking the political class, as the 2012 presidential campaign is poised to begin in Mexico. The entire letter can now be read in English at: https://compamanuel.wordpress.com/2011/12/17/sci-marcos-a-death-or-a-life/
2. Las Abejas Commemorates the 14th Anniversary of Acteal Massacre – The civil society organization Las Abejas began commemorating the 14th anniversary of the Acteal Massacre with a 2-day walk through the Tzotzil mountains of Chiapas, fasting and prayer on December 20 and 21. 45 women, children and men were massacred by paramilitaries on December 22, 1997. On the 22, both Bishops Raul Vera and Felipe Arizmentdi attended the mass and commemoration ceremony in Acteal. Las Abejas emphasized that the ceremonies were also an act of resistance.
3. Guatemala Opens Consulate in Chiapas – While he was in Mexico for the Tuxtla Summit, Guatemala’s out-going president, Alvaro Colom, opened a new Guatemalan Consulate in Tuxtla Gutierrez, the capital of Chiapas. Besides the geographical and ethnic (Maya) closeness, Chiapas and Guatemala have many common issues of migration and trade. There are also new Guatemalan refugees in Mexico, displaced from the Peten by “conservation” measures.
4. Seminar in San Cristóbal – Between Dec 30 to Jan 2, Cideci-Unitierra, located on the outskirts of San Cristóbal de las Casas, is hosting an international seminar of reflection and analysis entitled Planet Earth Anti-Systemic Movements. The seminar coincides with the 18th anniversary of the Zapatista Uprising on January 1, 1994. You can read our translation of the seminar’s first day on our blog:
https://compamanuel.wordpress.com/2012/01/02/the-power-of-the-poor/ (More on this next month!).
In Other Parts of Mexico
1. Trinidad de la Cruz, an Indigenous Leader from Xayakalan, Murdered – On December 6, Trinidad de la Cruz, 73, was kidnapped while he was traveling in a vehicle with other members of the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity (MPJD) from the county seat of Santa Maria Ostula to the autonomous Nahua community of Xayakalan. A group of MPJD members were on their way to Xayakalan to hold a community assembly. They had a Federal Police escort up to Ostula. Soon after the police escort left, a gang of criminals, referred to as “paramilitaries,” held the vehicle’s occupants captive, then separated “Trino,” as he is known, from the rest of the group and proceeded to torture and kill him. His body was discovered the next day. Trinidad de la Cruz was the 28th person from Xayakalan murdered since the community’s founding. De la Cruz was a member of the EZLN’s Other Campaign and of the the MPJD and an important leader in the community. In spite of witnesses identifying the paramilitaries by name, none of them have been apprehended. After separating de la Cruz from the others, the rest of the MPJD’s members were escorted by the armed group to a city several hundred miles away and then released. The autonomous community of Xayakalan was founded on land recuperated from the region’s property owners in June 2009. 28 people from the small community have been murdered by criminal armed groups and four people are currently classified as disappeared. The community fears for the lives of the families that still live in Xayakalan and the MPJD suspended activities to review its security protocol.
2. Police Kill Two Students In Guerrero – On Monday, December 12, federal and state police killed two students from a teacher’s college in Guerrero. They were part of a group of 500 students protesting efforts by the federal government to close down teachers colleges throughout the country. Unarmed students blocked a major highway near Chilpancingo demanding a meeting with Governor Angel Aguirre and the re-opening of the Raul Isidro Burgo normal school in Ayotzinapa, a town about 90 miles from Chilpancingo. Protestors complained the governor had canceled four previously scheduled meetings. Blocking highways is a common protest tactic in Mexico. Federal, state and ministerial police working with army troops and armed paramilitaries used tear gas and live ammunition to clear the highway, killing Gabriel Echeverria and Jorge Herrera. Police fired live ammunition for at least 20 minutes, while students responded with stones and bottles. Some students were reported disappeared and at least two were seriously injured. More detailed information can be found in English at: http://mywordismyweapon.blogspot.com/
3. 13th Meeting of Tuxtla Summit – Countries participating in the Tuxtla Mechanism met in Merida, Yucatan, during the first week in December. A free trade agreement was signed by the presidents, thereby unifying previous free trade agreements between Mexico, Central America and Colombia. Mexico’s Congress still must approve. Some of the countries in attendance also signed a letter to the United States demanding that it take drastic measures to reduce drug consumption and the flow of money and weapons.
4. Official Numbers on Death Toll in Drug War – Relying on a number of both government and journalistic sources, La Jornada published the total number of deaths from President Felipe Calderón’s 5-year “war against organized crime” as 51, 918 as of December 30 2011, 11,890 in 2011. For those who have followed the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity (MPJD), led by Javier Sicilia, these numbers may seem confusing. The MPJD started using the number of “more than 50,000 dead in March of this year, which would mean that there are now more than 60,000 dead by its count. The difference may be that the MPJD number includes 10 thousand disappeared (and presumed dead). The government does not include a person as dead until a body has been found; apparently, the MPJD does.
In the United States
1. Congress Approves $248.5 Million More for Merida Initiative – On December 17, the US Congress approved $248.5 million more in aid for Mexico under the Merida Initiative for Fiscal Year 2012. It also approved an additional $33.5 million more for Mexico as development aid. The new funding for the Merida Initiative is in addition to the original $1.6 billion for 3 years. The original security agreement expired on December 31, 2011. Thus, the new funding extends the agreement for one year. So far, the US has only delivered equipment and training to Mexico amounting to $700 million, meaning that it still owes Mexico 3.6 million dollars promised under the expired agreement. Several naval helicopters and one Blackhawk helicopter were delivered to Mexico in December.
2. DEA Agents Launder Mexican Cartel Profits – On December 3, the New York Times published a story about US undercover agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) laundering profits from drug trafficking by Mexican cartels. These agents have shipped the money across borders, allegedly to identify how criminal organizations move their money, where they keep it and, most important, who their leaders are. DEA officials said agents had deposited the drug proceeds in accounts designated by traffickers, or in shell accounts set up by agents. The high-risk activities raise delicate questions about the agency’s effectiveness in bringing down drug kingpins, underscore diplomatic concerns about Mexican sovereignty, and blur the line between surveillance and facilitating crime. As it launders drug money, the agency often allows cartels to continue their operations over months or even years before making seizures or arrests. The same House committee that is investigating the Fast and Furious (gun-running) operation will investigate the money laundering operations. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/04/world/americas/us-drug-agents-launder-profits-of-mexican-cartels.html
Compiled monthly by the Chiapas Support Committee.
The primary sources for our information are: La Jornada, Enlace Zapatista and the Fray Bartolome de las Casas Human Rights Center (Frayba).
We encourage folks to distribute this information widely, but please include our name and contact information in the distribution. Gracias/Thanks.
Click on the Donate button of www.chiapas-support.org to support indigenous autonomy.
Chiapas Support Committee/Comité de Apoyo a Chiapas
P.O. Box 3421, Oakland, CA 94609
Neither Calderón Nor Sabines Want to Do Justice for the Massacre in Acteal, Las Abejas Points Out
** That is the only path that will bring us peace, warns Bishop Raúl Vera during a mass
** 14 years after the 49 murders no intellectual or material author has been punished
By: Hermann Bellinghausen, Envoy
Acteal, Chiapas, December 22, 2011
Upon commemorating the massacre that occurred at this spot in the mountains of Chenalhó on a day like today 14 years ago, the Bishop of Saltillo, Raúl Vera López, maintained that: “defending justice is the only path that can bring us peace.” He remembered that in those years, while President Ernesto Zedillo extended a hand to the insurgent Zapatistas with the San Andrés dialogues, “with the other [hand] he was organizing death and destruction for the indigenous communities of Chiapas.”
At its turn, the organization Civil Society Las Abejas, to which the victims belonged, declared in its message during the concurrent civil and religious ceremony that the governments of Felipe Calderón Hinojosa and Juan Sabines Guerrero “have not done justice, other than to ridicule our organization and struggle.” They “do not want justice, peace, or liberty at all,” and they continue “with the policies of the previous governments, and even worse.”
Homage to jTotic
Vera López, who received a special homage from Las Abejas, that call him jTotic (in Tzotzil), exposed with clarity: “Faced with the panorama that we live in the country, of an open war by the current President, where he once again places the Mexican people as the principal victims, as here in Chiapas, justice is not important. In this supposed war against organized crime he once again uses the Army, which is violating human rights and carrying out extrajudicial executions, and their crimes remain unpunished.”
The police –he continued– “are accomplices of those who commit robberies, murders, kidnappings and forced disappearances. The criminals have allies inside the three levels of government: federal, state and municipal; otherwise they would not have the protection that keeps 98 percent of their crimes unpunished.”
The Catholic prelate of Saltillo, who was a bishop here jointly with Samuel Ruiz García at the time of the massacre, summarized that 14 years ago, “victims of the Mexican government’s low-intensity war, which had paramilitary groups, armed, paid for, and trained by the Army as its principal actors, were 49 murdered people: nine men, 16 children and adolescents, 20 women and four not yet born, still in their mother’s womb.”
Accompanied by the bishop of San Cristóbal, Felipe Arizmendi, Vera spoke this noon having on one side two large canvases, one with the printed names of all those murdered on December 22, 1997, and the other, with the crimes’ intellectual and material authors: Ernesto Zedillo, Emilio Chuayffet, Julio César Ruiz Ferro, Homero Tovilla Cristiani, Uriel Jarquín Gálvez, Jorge Enrique Hernández Aguilar, David Gómez Hernández, Antonio Pérez Hernández and Generals Enrique Cervantes and Mario Renán Castillo. “They are the principal intellectual authors of the Acteal Massacre,” Las Abejas had asserted minutes before.
According to the Dominican prelate, the preliminary investigation by the Attorney General of the Republic (PGR) “was prepared in such a way” that even now the intellectual authors cannot be judged, and the material ones “achieved their release from prison with the intervention of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN).” The crime remains unpunished –he said– because the PGR considered that every one of the murderers were held to account, and not as criminal associates constituting a paramilitary group.” Besides, the SCJN’s inquiry in 2010, which permitted the release of more than 40 paramilitaries from prison, “was only based on the PGR’s records,” because the survivors were not called [to testify].
“Those armed groups attacked the peoples to expel them from their lands, pull them out of their houses and burn them, steal their belongings, the product of their harvests and their scarce heads of cattle. They destroyed their dispensaries and made a gala of violence against their chapels.” “Soldiers and state police were also responsible for the looting, forced disappearances and murders by the paramilitaries.” They were established in the communities “with the excuse that there was violence in those places.”
Vera López explained that the governmental counterinsurgency strategy sought “to take the water from the fish,’” the fish being “the Zapatista insurgents, milicianos and bases, and the water the social fabric.” The paramilitary action, “driven by the Army,” sought “to impede that the communities could provide any kind of support to the insurgents, because of which they were not able to produce food nor form any kind of organization that would empower the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN).”
Said strategy was proposed “to annul any organization that would strengthen the insurgents, thus they went against Las Abejas, which were neither Zapatista bases nor were in a violent attitude, but were pacifists, and nevertheless living as displaced, were organized to vindicate rights and generate conscience faced with the injustices that are lived in here since before the beginning of the armed movement.”
He thanked Las Abejas “because it continues resisting so many abuses by the state government as well as the federal, preserving the memory of this abominable crime and reviving our conscience, today, for defending justice.”
The Tzotzil organization’s board of directors, adherent to the Other Campaign, pointed out that the commemoration “is not a political theater or act with electoral and economic interests, but for the fallen of Acteal and the victims of war by a repressor and undemocratic government.”
In reference to the civil proceeding that is continuing against former president Zedillo in a US court, Las Abejas clarified that it does indeed want him to be punished “for his responsibility in this State crime, but not that they profane the respect and the memory that the martyrs deserve, with hidden, electoral and economic interests.” At the commemoration, they gave Vera López a “cane of power for service to the people, a power not corrupt or with impunity.”
Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada
Friday, December 23, 2011
Para leer en español: http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2011/12/23/politica/011n1pol
A DEATH… OR A LIFE
Who names summons. And someone goes, without prior notice, without explanations, to the place where his name, spoken or thought, is calling.
When that occurs, one has the right to believe that no one is leaving everything while the word that’s summoning, blazing, doesn’t die, brings him.”
Eduardo Galeano. “Window on Memory,” in Walking Words. Ed. Siglo XXI.
To: Luis Villoro Toranzo
From: Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos
Health and Greetings!
Before anything else, congratulations on your November 3 birthday. We hope that with these letters you will also receive the affectionate hug that, still from a distance, we give you.
Well, we continue with this exchange of ideas and reflections. Perhaps more solitary now because of the media hype that goes up around the definition of the names of the 3 rascals that will be disputing rule over the blood-soaked soil of Mexico.
With the same frenzy with which they expedite their invoices over “expenses for image promotion,” the communications media is aligning with one side or the other. All of them agree that the weaknesses that the respective aspirants brashly exhibit can only be covered up by making more noise about the opponent.
The Christmas buying furor now coincides with the sale of electoral proposals. They are like the majority of the articles that are purchased at this season of the year; they have no guaranty and no possibility of return.
After the burial of his now ex Interior Minister, Felipe Calderón Hinojosa ran gleefully to the “happy ending” to demonstrate that what’s important is to consume, it’s not important that the Secretaries of State are perishable and with an unforeseen expiration date.
But even in the midst of the noise there are sounds that beat for one who knows how to look for them and have the daring and sufficient patience to do it.
And in these lines that I send you now, Don Luis, beat deaths that are lives.
I. – The power of the Power.
“Freedom of election permits you to elect the sauce with which you will be eaten.”
Eduardo Galeano. “Window on Invisible Dictatorships” Ibid.
“That the whores may govern, judge and take care of us, since their sons have failed.” Taken from the blog laputarealidad.org
I must have read or heard it some place. It was something just like “Power is not having lots of money, but lying and that many, all, or at least all that are important believe you.”
Telling the big lie and doing it with impunity, that is Power.
Giant lies that include acolytes and faithful that give them validity, certainty, status.
Lies made electoral campaigns, government programs, alternative projects for the nation, party platforms, articles in newspapers and magazines, commentaries on radio and television, slogans, credos.
And the lie must be so big that it is not static. That it may change, not to become more effective, but to prove the loyalty of his followers. The bad guys of yesterday will be blessed barely after a few pages on the calendar.
Is Power –or its nearness- the great corruptor?
Do men and women with grand ideals reach it and is it the perverse and perverting operating of Power that which obliges betraying them to come to do the opposite and contradictory?
From full employment to the bloody (and lost) war…
From “the mafia in power” to the “amorous republic”…
From the “six thousand pesos per month stretches for everything” to “not even in the happy ending is there a poll that favors me”…
From “My God, make me a widow” to “Lupita D´Alessio, make me a lion before the lamb”…
From the San Ángel Group to the Yunque totally palace…
From the… from the… from the… forgive me, but I don’t find anything significant that Enrique Peña Nieto has said…
What’s more, I don’t find that he has said anything, as if we’re dealing with a bad secondary actor, one of those that come out in the telenovelas, babbling some parley and of which no one takes note. Moreover, since it is evident, it would do him no harm to enroll in the CEA of Televisa (according to the study plan, they teach verbal “expression” from the first year).
I know well that in the communications media the registration photograph of Peña Nieto as the only pre-candidate of the PRI (where the principal personages of that Party appear) has been “read” as a show of the party support that the man has.
Hmm… at first glance it seemed to me that it was the photo for a journalistic note about a new blow against organized crime; that a gang of thieves had been dismantled and that the bulletproof vest, with which they are accustomed to presenting those “discovered,” had been substituted for the red shirt.
Later I looked at the photo more closely. Hear me well; they are not presenting a show of support. It is a gang of vultures that have realized that Peña Nieto is no more than an orphan puppet and that one must keep him in hand because, upon arriving in the presidency, it’s not him that will be important, but the ventriloquist that manages him.
His designation as a candidate for the presidency will be one more display of the decomposition of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI); and the dispute to see who manages him will be a death (and this image among PRI members is not rhetoric).
The situation will be so pathetic that even Héctor Aguilar Camín offers himself for adoption… and for the urgent literacy training of the baby.
Finally, we continue asking:
Is it Power that corrupts or must one be very corrupt in order to accede to Power, to stay in it… or to aspire to it?
On one of the long Other Campaign tours, passing through the capital of Chiapas, Tuxtla Gutiérrez, I commented that the Chiapan governmental seat had something that converted moderately intelligent people into stupid finqueros (cattle ranchers) with tyrannical poses. Julio managed; Roger was the copilot; one of the two marked off “or they were already like that and therefore they became governors.”
And afterwards he added, more words, less words, the following anecdote: “Passing in front of the building where the congress was meeting, a woman listened to the shouts: “Ignorant, idiot, whore, thief, criminal, murderer, defrauder,” and other even ruder classifiers. The woman, horrified, went to a man that is reading a book outside the building. “It is a scandal,” she says to him, “we maintain them with our taxes and these deputies do nothing more than fight and insult each other.” The man looked at the woman, then towards the legislative chamber and, returning to his book, says to the woman: “they are not fighting or insulting each other, they are taking roll call.”
II. – The Power and Reflection on Resistance.
The left is the Voice of the Dead
Tomás Segovia. 1994.
Hmm… Power… the unquestionable evidence, the wet dream of the intellectuals up above, the reason for being of the political parties…Now, with the death of the master Tomás Segovia, we name him, we summon him and bring him to sit down with us to, jointly, re-read some of his texts.
Not his poems, but his critical reflections on and in the face of Power.
Few, very few, were and are the intellectuals that have persisted in understanding, and not in judging, this uneven pace that is ours and which we call “Zapatismo” (or “neo-Zapatismo” to some). In the rickety count appear, among others, Don Pablo González Casanova, Adolfo Gilly, Tomás Segovia and you Don Luis.
To all of them, to you, we embrace you as you only embrace the dead, in other words, for life.
And those who now remember Tomás Segovia only as a poet do it now to split that man off from his libertarian being. As Don Tomás cannot do anything to defend himself and to defend his total word, the “cut and paste” homages continue, editing and arming the nice pieces, leaving the uncomfortable ones to be forgotten… until other uncomfortable ones remember them and name them.
And to not interpret his words (that can be understood as a nice form of usurpation) I transcribe parts of some writings.
In 1994, in the right’s full condemnatory euphoria, widely known indeed because Octavio Paz headed it (one of his courtesans was the impresario Enrique Krauze, -oh, don’t confuse him with don Krauze, one cannot reproach the intellectuals that may be on the right or the left, but, as is his case, he who in order to excel, instead of using intellect, resorts to the adulation of gangsters like those who are now the government-), Tomás Segovia wrote the following (the emphasis is mine):
One form or another of fascism always prevails. Truth and justice take the form of Resistance.
But it can also be said that the left is constitutively resistance. Without a doubt the left rushed headlong in our century into an unhealthy historic error, but that error consisted by all means in believing that the left would be able to take power. The left in power is a contradiction. The history of this century has shown it to us enough (…).
Today it is clear, it seems to me, that the left is not the other of the right, both situated in an opposing relationship but symmetrical with respect to power: the left is before all the other of power, the other ambit and the other meaning of social life, which stays buried and forgotten in the constituted power, the return of the repressed, the voice of common life drowned out by community life, the voice of the dispossessed before the voice of the poor (and that of the poor only because they are in the majority, but not exclusively, the dispossessed) – the left is the Voice of the Dead.
One of the ideas that did us the most damage was that of “reactionary,” which let us think to that the right is opposed to progress, which is resistance and talks in the name of the past, about the roots, about what’s “overcome.” So, the left was convinced that resistance is power as the measure in which it would continue being on the right and in which it would be opposed to the progressivism of the left in tentative desperation to conserve its privileges and its dominion, without seeing that power, the same for the right as for the left, is only resistance in a different sense and much simpler: in that of resisting being substituted for another power, the same for the left as for the right; but that before history power is always progressive.
In Mexico, as is the custom, that is seen with particular clarity given the crudity of relations of power in this country: today we know clearly that no government was more decided and actively progressive than that of Porfirio Díaz, and that in our day it is the PRI that monopolizes and exploits all the rhetoric of progress, of change, of modernization, of the overcoming of nostalgia and the “emissaries of the past,” and even of democracy.
(And that makes me think of the past that also the democracy in power or of power is a contradiction: democracy no is not “people-ocracy” –the people in power is a utopia or a metaphor, very dangerous to take literally, because “the people,” supposing that it exists or even if it doesn’t exist but as a perfection of being, is by definition what is not in power, the other of power.)
But when my enchanting colleagues deliver knowledge to the Government that their promises are false, is it that they are seduced? Impossible: seduction is desire in a pure state; it implies the shining vision that your enjoyment is my enjoyment. A vision is not possible in which the enjoyment of Power is the enjoyment of the “people.”
And in 1996 he pointed out:
Similarly, in a country that does not now practice violent prohibition of direct expressions of primary social life, the ideology of power will blackmail us calling us whores –in other words insolvent, negative, resentful, ill-tempered–, or will try to persuade us, like the political scientists and other intellectuals try to persuade the Zapatistas, as my colleagues (starting with Octavio Paz) try to persuade me, that the “true” way of expressing ourselves and of having influence on social life is to enter into the institutions –or into what’s instituted in general.
Don Luis, I believe you will agree with me in that, responding to those provocative texts by Tomás Segovia, the reflection on Ethics and Politics ought to touch on the issue of Power.
Perhaps on another occasion, and calling on others, we can exchange ideas and sentiments (that not anything else are the facts that animate these reflections), on this issue.
For now, this call goes out to Don Tomás Segovia, who declared that he had no time to not be free and without restraint confessed: “almost all my life I have earned honestly, in other words, not as a writer.”
Not just to bring here his unredeemed word, because it is indeed to the point.
Also, and above all, because he is the thinker that opened a third door to the indigenous Zapatista movement., he is more than a poet with two edges. Looking, seeing, hearing and listening, Don Tomás Segovia crossed through that door.
In other words, I understood.
III. – The Power and Practice of Resistance.
Autonomous Rebel Zapatista Municipality San Andrés Sacamchen de Los Pobres, Highlands of Chiapas
The Morning of September 26, 2011, Comandante Moisés headed out to work his coffee field. Like all of the EZLN leaders, he did not receive a salary or any soft job. Like everyone else, the EZLN’s leaders had to work to maintain their families. His sons accompanied him.
The vehicle in which they were traveling went over the cliff. All were battered, but the injuries that Moisés suffered were mortal. He was already dead when he arrived at the clinic in Oventik.
Already in the afternoon, as it is the custom in San Cristóbal de Las Casas to spread rumors, the death of Moisés attracted tacky journalists that thought it was the death of Teniente Coronel Insurgente (Insurgent Lieutenant Coronel) Moisés. When they knew that it was a different Moisés (Comandante Moisés), they lost all interest. Someone that had not appeared publicly as a leader could not be important to any of them, someone that had always been in the shadows, someone that apparently was just one more indigenous Zapatista…
It must have been in 1985-1986 on the calendar. Moisés knew about the EZLN and decided to join the organizing effort when the Zapatistas in Los Altos (the Highlands) of Chiapas could be counted with the fingers of both hands… and with fingers left over.
Together with other compañeros (Ramona among them), he began to walk through the mountains of the Mexican Southeast, but then with an idea about organization. His small figure went out from the mist to the Tzotzil places in Highlands Zone. And his quiet word was arranging the delayed history against those who are the color of the color of the earth.
“One must struggle,” he concluded.
In the early morning of January 1, 1994, as one more combatant, he went down from the mountains to the Highland city of San Cristóbal de Las Casas. He participated in the column that took the municipal presidency, overcoming the governmental force that was guarding it. Together with the other Tzotzil members of the CCRI-CG, he showed up on the balcony of the building that looked out on the principal plaza. Behind, in the shadows, he listened to the reading that one of his compañeros gave of what’s called the “Declaración de La Selva Lacandona” (Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle) to a multitude of incredulous or skeptical mestizos, and hopeful indigenous. He withdrew to the mountains together with his troops in the first hours of January 2, 1994.
After resisting bombings and incursions by the governmental forces, he again went down to San Cristóbal de Las Casas as part of the Zapatista delegation that participated in the Dialogues of the Cathedral with representatives of the supreme government.
He returned and continued walking the places to explain and, above all, to listen.
“The government has no word,” he concluded.
Together with thousands of indigenous, he erected the Aguascalientes II, in Oventik, when the EZLN still suffered the Zedillo persecution.
He was one more of the thousands of indigenous Zapatistas that, with their bare hands, confronted the column of federal tanks that wanted to position themselves in Oventik in the unfortunate days of 1995.
In 1996, in the San Andrés dialogues he was guarded, as one more, by the security of the Zapatista delegation, encircled as it was by hundreds of soldier.
On foot, in the frosty early mornings of the Chiapas Highlands, he resisted the rain that made the soldiers flee to seek roof and shelter. He was not moved.
“The Power is a traitor,” he said as excusing himself.
In 1997, together with his compañeros, he organized the Tzotzil Zapatista column that participated in the “March of the 1,111,” and obtained vital information for clarifying the Acteal Massacre, on December 22 of that year, perpetrated by paramilitaries under the direction of the federal army general, Mario Renán Castillo, and with Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de León, Emilio Chuayfett and Julio César Ruiz Ferro as intellectual authors.
In 1998 he organized and coordinated the support and defense that, from the Highlands of Chiapas, was given to the compañer@s evicted by the attacks against the autonomous municipalities by “Dog Biscuits” Albores Guillén and Francisco Labastida Ochoa.
In 1999 he participated in the organization and coordination of the indigenous Tzotzil Zapatista delegation that participated in the national consulta, when 5, 000 Zapatistas (2500 women and 2500 men) covered all the states of the Mexican Republic.
In 2001, after the treason by all of the Mexican political class to the “San Andrés Accords,” (the PRI, PAN and PRD were allied then to close the door to the constitutional recognition of the rights and culture of the original peoples of Mexico), he continued walking through the Tzotzil places in the Chiapas Highlands, talking and listening. But then, when he was finished listening, he would say: “One must resist.”
Moisés was born on April 2, 1956, in Oventik.
Without proposing himself and, above all, without having any profit, he became one of the most respected indigenous chiefs in the EZLN.
Just a few days before his death, I saw him at a meeting of the Indigenous Revolutionary Clandestine Committee-General Command of the EZLN (Comité Clandestino Revolucionario Indígena-Comandancia General del EZLN, CCRI-CG) where the local, national and international situation was analyzed, and the steps to follow were discussed and decided.
We explain that a new generation of Zapatista was arriving in the position of responsibility. Young men and women that were born after the uprising, that were formed in resistance, and that were educated in autonomous schools, are now elected as autonomous authorities and achieve being members of the Good Government Juntas.
It was discussed and agreed how to support them in their tasks, to accompany them; how to construct the bridge of history between the Zapatista veterans and them. Like our dead they inherit commitments from us, memory, the duty of continuing, of not being discouraged, of not selling out, of not giving up, of not surrendering.
There was no nostalgia in any of my bosses (jefes).
Nor nostalgia for the days and nights in which, in silence, they forged the force of what would be known worldwide as the “Zapatista National Liberation Army.”
Nor nostalgia for the days in which our word was listened to in many corners of the planet.
There were no laughs, it is certain. There were serious faces, preoccupied in finding together the common path.
There was, that indeed, what Don Tomás Segovia sometimes called “nostalgia of the future.”
“One must tell the story,” Comandante Moisés said, as a way of conclusion, at the end of the meeting. And the Comandante went off to his little house in Oventik.
That morning of September 26, 2011, he left his house saying “be back later,” and he went off to his work field to get sustenance and tomorrow from the land.
To write about him hurts my hands, Don Luis.
Not only because we were together in the beginning of the uprising and later on shiny days and cold early mornings.
Also and above all, because upon making this rapid trace of his history, I realize that I am talking about the history of any one of my leaders and leaders, of that collective of shadows that frames the direction, the path, the step for us.
About those who give us identity and heritage
Perhaps the death of Comandante Moisés doesn’t interest the coleto rumormongers and the rest of the fauna, because he was only one more shadow among the thousands of Zapatistas.
But to us he leaves a very large debt, as large as the meaning of the words with which, smiling, he said goodbye to me at that meeting:
“The struggle doesn’t end,” he said while he picked up his little shoulder bag.
IV. – A Death, a Life.
One could elaborate about what it is that brings my words to tender this complicated and multiple bridge between Don Tomás Segovia and Comandante Moisés, between the intellectual critic and the high indigenous Zapatista commander.
One could think that it is his death, by which we again name them to bring them among us, as the equals because they were, and are, different.
But no, it is their lives that come to attention.
Because their absences do not produce in us frivolous homages or sterile statues.
Because they leave in us something pending, a debit, an inheritance.
Because in the face of the temptations of fashion (media, electoral, political, intellectual), there is one who asserts not to surrender, nor sell out, nor give in.
And he does it with a word that only is pronounced with authenticity when it is lived: “Resistance.”
There above death is exorcized with homages, at times monuments, street names, museums or festivals, awards with which the Power celebrates giving in, the name in golden letters on some wall to bring down.
That death is affirmed like that. Homage, heartfelt words, a turn of the page and what follows.
Eduardo Galeano says that no one goes away from everything while there is someone that names him.
And Old Antonio said that life was a long and complicated puzzle that could only be armed when the heirs name the deceased.
And Elías Contreras says that death needs to have its size, and that it only has it when it is placed next to a life. And he adds that one must remember, when a piece of the collective heart that we are leaves us, that death was and is a life.
Naming Moisés and Don Tomás, we bring them again, we arm the riddle of their life of struggle, and we reaffirm that, here below, a death is above all a life.
V. – Until Later
I think that with this missive we finish our participation in this advantageous (it was for us) exchange of ideas, at least for now.
The pertinence of the windows and doors that were opened with the coming and going of your ideas and ours, is something that, like everything around here, will go away accommodating in geographies and calendars yet to be defined.
We thank with every heart the accompaniment from the pens of Marcos Roitman, Carlos Aguirre Rojas, Raúl Zibechi, Arturo Anguiano, Gustavo Esteva and Sergio Rodríguez Lazcano, as well as Rebel Magazine, which was the host.
With these texts, neither they, nor you, nor us, look for votes, followers, faithful.
We look for (and I believe we found) critical, alert and open minds.
Now above will follow the commotion, schizophrenia, fanaticism, intolerance, the disguised bending of political tactics.
Later will come the re-draft: the surrender, the cynicism, and the fall.
Silence and resistance continue below.
Always the resistance…
Vale Don Luis. Health and may we inherit lives that are deaths.
From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast,
Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos
Mexico, Octubre-November, 2011.
PART VI. The P.S. Attacks Again
We weren’t going to say anything. Not because we didn’t have anything to say, but because those who are now justly indignant against illiterate slander, slandered us until closing our bridges to other hearts. Now, our small word, only a few, some of those stubborn ones that are accustomed to being the ones who start turning the wheel of history, look for our thought, they look for us, they name us, they call to us.
We weren’t going to say anything, but…
One of the 3 rascals that will be disputing for the throne over the rubble of Mexico has come to our lands to demand our silence. He is the same one that has not finished maturing and recognizing his errors and stumbles. The same one that heads a group avid for power, full of intolerance, who sought, seeks and will seek responsibility for his clumsiness and schizophrenia in others. With a discourse closer to Gaby Vargas and Cuauhtémoc Sánchez than Alfonso Reyes, now predicates and lays the foundation for his ambitions on love… to the right.
Will those that criticized Javier Sicilia for his displays of affection for the political class, now criticize the “Amorous Republic?” Will those that added on and preached that Televisa was the evil to conquer now criticize the amorous handshake with the star lackey of the stellar timetable?
Will Octavio Rodríguez Araujo now write an article demanding “congruence, leader, congruence?” Will John Ackerman demand radical action arguing that that is what the people want and hope for? Will the Ciro-Gómez-Leyva of La Jornada, Jaime Avilés, launch his brown shirts of lime and stone to denounce him for negotiating with the Chuchos, the impresarios, his hated López Dóriga? Will the Laura-Bozzo of La Jornada, Guillermo Almeyra, judge and condemn him as a collaborationist intoning the refrain “May the unfortunate happen!”
No, they will look the other way. They will say that it is a tactical question, that he is using that to win votes with the middle class. Well, just like nothing is what it seems: the occupation of Reforma was not to demand the recount of votes that would have made the fraud evident, but so that the people would not be radicalized; the criticisms of Televisa were not to denounce the power of the media monopolies, but so that that corporation’s spaces would open to (and once again be open to their client in the electoral spots). What’s next: the brigades joining resources for the telethon?
But we could understand that he may only be following a tactic (dull and childish, according us, but a tactic). That he does not seriously believe that the impresarios are going to support him, that the Chuchos are not going to betray him, that the PT and the Citizen Movement are parties of the left, that Televisa is changing, that his privileged interlocutor in Chiapas must be the PRI (like he was before Sabinas). Even that he believes that he is more intelligent than all of them and that he is going to dupe them all simulating that he is useful to them, or exchanging uses and customs in the impossible political game of “they all win” and “peace and love.”
Ok, it’s a tactic… or a strategy (they don’t understand one from the other anyway). What is established is that he adds to his right (deserters from the PAN included) and that nothing appears to his left. He follows in the footsteps of his predecessor, Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas Solórzano, who broke bread with the powerful, gambling that the lefts would have no more recourse than to support him “because there is nothing else.” Ok once again, strategy or tactic, now the cartoonists will explain it in their workshops. We only ask: When, in Mexico, has the left running to the right given positive results? When has being servile with the powerful ones gone beyond amusing them? Sure, the “Chuchos” can realize the success of that political tactic (or strategy?), but aren’t we dealing with traveling on the same path… or yes?
Meanwhile, the illustrious group of fans that promotes him will continue juggling to justify the change of direction… or they will gamble on a lack of memory.
Anyway, it will not lack someone to blame for third place, no?
Vale once again.
El Sup smoking and awaiting the avalanche of slander that, in the name of “freedom of expression” and without the right to reply, the opposition prepares from above.
Originally Published in Spanish by Enlace Zapatista
December 7, 2011
Translated into English by Chiapas Support Committee
NOVEMBER 2011 ZAPATISTA NEWS SUMMARY
Thank You for Supporting Our Annual Zapatista Celebration
1. EZLN Celebrates 28th Anniversary – On November 17, the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) celebrated 28 years since its founding on that date in 1983, when 6 members of the National Liberation Forces (FLN) entered the Lacandón Jungle to begin organizing. In keeping with current security measures in Zapatista communities, members of the press are not permitted entry to report on the celebrations, so there are no details about the celebrations.
2. The Hunger Strike Ends, Only 2 Are Released – As we reported in our mid-month news update, the hunger strike was suspended on November, 7. Although the government agreed to review the records of the indigenous prisoners involved in the hunger strike, the prisoners suspended their protest to prevent anyone from suffering permanent organ damage. A week later, Jose Díaz and Andrés Nuñez Hernández were released from the state prison in San Cristóbal de las Casas, apparently without conditions. On November 16, Juan Collazo was transferred back to the San Cristóbal prison, where his fellow members of Solidarity with The Voice of El Amate are held. He had been isolated from his compañeros for more than a year in the Motozintla State Prison.
3. Child of Hunger Strike Couple Dies – On November 3, it was learned that the son of a couple participating in the protest by Chiapas prisoners had died the week before. Neither of the parents were released after the hunger strike ended. The heart-wrenching story of this couple and their first-born child is posted on our blog at: https://compamanuel.wordpress.com/2011/11/06/child-of-hunger-strikers-dies/
4. Commission Visits Alberto Patishtán in Sinaloa Prison – A commission made up of Alberto Patishtán’s daughter (Gabriela), Sacario Hernández and a member of the civil society group working in support of the prisoners visited Alberto Patishtán in the federal prison located in Guasave, Sinaloa. The commission reported that Patishtán was not receiving appropriate medical care for his glaucoma and is confined to an individual cell 23 hours per day. In other words, he is being punished for organizing other indigenous prisoners and defending their rights.
5. Cocopa to Promote Indigenous Rights Law in Congress – The Commission of Concordance and Pacification (Cocopa) will promote before the plenary session of the Chamber of Deputies its initiative in favor of peace in Chiapas and the recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples. In order to impel said project, three forums will be held in the San Quintín Valley of Baja California, in Comitán, Chiapas, and a third yet to be defined to collect society’s opinion. Jaime Martínez Veloz, representative of the Chiapas state government in the Cocopa, maintained that the indigenous theme is pending on the national political agenda and in no way can a democratic transformation of State be impelled if the voice and participation of the indigenous peoples is not included. The first forum is scheduled for December 11.
In Other Parts of Mexico
1. Interior Minister Blake Mora Dies in Plane Crash – On November 11, Mexico’s Interior Minister Francisco Blake Mora, and seven others, including pilots and staff members, died in the crash of a government helicopter. Although investigations are on-going, all current evidence points to poor visibility as the cause of the crash. The Interior Minister is the 2nd most powerful federal official (after the president) in Mexico. Blake More was also the one responsible for the “war against organized crime.” Alejandro Poire, the head of Mexico’s national intelligence agency, Cisen, has been appointed to replace Blake Mora. Poire was also spokesperson for the national security cabinet and a strong supporter of Calderón’s “war against organized crime.” Poire is the 5th Interior Minister since Calderón took office 5 years ago.
2. Complaint Against Calderón Filed in International Criminal Court for War Crimes – On November 25, Mexican attorney Netsaí Sandoval filed a complaint with the International Criminal Court in The Hague, alleging that Calderón has covered up and tolerated war crimes and crimes against humanity. Propelled bIt accuses them all of y Mexican human rights groups, the complaint is signed by 23, 000 Mexicans and documents 470 cases. The complaint also includes several members of the Calderón Cabinet, among them the Secretaries of National Defense, Navy and Public Security, Guillermo Galván, Francisco Saynez and Genaro García Luna, respectively, besides the leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, Joaquín El Chapo Guzmán. It accuses them all of of “systematic repetition” of abuses against civilians. The lawyer said he wanted the Court’s chief prosecutor to begin monitoring the situation in Mexico, where La Jornada reports over 50, 000 people have died since 2006 when Calderón began his war against organized crime. President Calderón vowed to vigorously defend against the complaint.
3. Movement For Peace Activist Murdered in Hermosillo, Mexico – On November 28, unidentified men shot repeatedly from a passing vehicle and killed Nepomuceno Moreno Munoz, an activist with the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity (MPJD). The murder occurred in Hermosillo, capital of Sonora state, a little after noon in a downtown area. The MPJD organization had requested protection for Moreno Munoz from President Calderón because he was investigating the disappearance of several youths, including his own son. He had testified against some people involved in the disappearances, which allegedly included police. Last month, Pedro Leyva Dominguez, who also participated in the MPJD, was murdered. Leyva Dominguez was a member of the Commission for Defense of Communal Property in Santa María Ostula and one of the Communal Guards. He served as a representative to the MPJD. He was also one of those who struggled to recuperate the Nahua lands in Santa María Ostula and to establish the community of Xayakalán.
In the United States
1. Pentagon Giving Contracts to Mercenaries for Mexico – Wired Magazine reports that an obscure office in the Pentagon is awarding military contracts totaling over $3 billion to private security firms for services designed to stop drug-funded terrorism on a global scale. The article specifically mentions Afghanistan, Pakistan, Colombia and Mexico as countries in which contracts would be awarded. No specific dollar amounts are indicated in the article. The little-known office with all that money is the Counter Narco-Terrorism Program Office (CNTPO) in the Defense Department. Possible contracts related to Mexico include: training for armed forces drivers; training for pilots, mechanics for UH-60, Schweizer 333 or OH-58 helicopter teams, for the Public Security Ministry; the training of up to 48 people to command and pilot Bell 206 helicopters; the development and delivery of a study program, offering all the necessary personnel, equipment and materials, and conducting night vision training to pilots and crew members of helicopters. The entire article is available in English at: https://compamanuel.wordpress.com/2011/11/27/195/ or en español: http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2011/11/23/mundo/032n1mun The awarding of these contracts takes place as the Merida Initiative is set to expire. (See below)..
2. Merida Initiative Set to Expire – The 3-year security agreement between the US and Mexico known as the Merida Initiative expires on December 31, 2011. Also known as “Plan Mexico,” the security agreement provided Mexico with 1.4 billion dollars to fight a drug war. A recent report by the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) criticizes the Merida Initiative as contributing to human rights abuses in Mexico and makes a comparison to Plan Colombia The entire report can be downloaded in English from WOLA’s web site: http://www.wola.org/
Compiled monthly by the Chiapas Support Committee / Comité de Apoyo a Chiapas
P.O. Box 3421, Oakland, CA 94609
Tel: (510) 654-9587
Pentagon’s War On Drugs Goes Mercenary
By: Spencer Ackerman
An obscure Pentagon office designed to curb the flow of illegal drugs has quietly evolved into a one-stop shop for private security contractors around the world, soliciting deals worth over $3 billion.
The sprawling contract, ostensibly designed to stop drug-funded terrorism, seeks security firms for missions like “train[ing] Azerbaijan Naval Commandos.” Other tasks include providing Black Hawk and Kiowa helicopter training “for crew members of the Mexican Secretariat [Ministry] of Public Security.” Still others involve building “anti-terrorism/force protection enhancements” for the Pakistani border force in the tribal areas abutting Afghanistan.
The Defense Department’s Counter Narco-Terrorism Program Office has packed all these tasks and more inside a mega-contract for security firms. The office, known as CNTPO, is all but unknown, even to professional Pentagon watchers. It interprets its counter-narcotics mandate very, very broadly, leaning heavily on its implied counterterrorism portfolio. And it’s responsible for one of the largest chunks of money provided to mercenaries in the entire federal government.
CNTPO quietly solicited an umbrella contract for all the security services listed above — and many, many more — on Nov. 9. It will begin handing out the contract’s cash by August. And there is a lot of cash to disburse.
The ceiling for the “operations, logistics and minor construction” tasks within CNTPO’s contract is $950 million. Training foreign forces tops out at $975 million. “Information” tasks yield $875 million. The vague “program and program support” brings another $240 million.
That puts CNTPO in a rare category. By disbursing at least $3 billion — likely more, since the contract awards come with up to three yearlong re-ups — the office is among the most lucrative sources of cash for private security contractors. The largest, from the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security, doles out a $10 billion, five-year deal known as the Worldwide Protective Services contract.
CNTPO is “essentially planning on outsourcing a global counternarcotics and counterterrorism program over the next several years,” says Nick Schwellenbach, director of investigations for the Project on Government Oversight, “and it’s willing to spend billions to do so.”
For the vast majority of people who’ve never heard of CNTPO, the organization answers to the Pentagon’s Special Operations Low-Intensity Conflict Directorate, within the Counter-narcotics and Global Threats portfolio. It’s tucked away so deep, bureaucratically speaking, that it doesn’t actually have an office at the Pentagon.
The organization, run by a civilian named Mike Strand, has been around since 1995. In 2007, it made a big push into contracting, hiring the Blackwater subsidiary U.S. Training Center as well as defense giants Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and ARINC for “a wide range of Defense counter-narcotics activities,” according to a statement provided to Danger Room by the agency. That award, which has doled out $4.3 billion so far, is the precursor to the current bid.
Maybe that’s why an “Industry Day” last week at a Fredericksburg, Virginia hotel to introduce CNTPO to would-be contractors attracted “approximately 180 companies,” CNTPO boasts.
CNTPO might not be well-known. But in some circles, it’s infamous.
In 2009, a bureaucratic shift plucked the responsibility for training Afghanistan’s police out of the State Department’s hands. Suddenly, the contract — worth about $1 billion — landed with CNTPO. CNTPO quietly chose Blackwater for the contract, even though Blackwater guards in Afghanistan on a different contract stole hundreds of guns intended for those very Afghan cops.
The incumbent holder of the contract, Blackwater competitor DynCorp, protested. It didn’t help that a powerful Senate committee discovered Blackwater’s gun-stealing antics. In December, DynCorp finally received the contract — administered by an Army office, not CNTPO.
But that hasn’t stopped CNTPO’s expansion. In its new contract, the office explicitly stakes out a broad definition of its mandate: “to disrupt, deter, and defeat the threat to national security posed by illicit trafficking in all its manifestations: drugs, small arms and explosives, precursor chemicals, people, and illicitly-gained and laundered money.” It declares its practices “beyond traditional DoD acquisition and contracting scopes.”
How broad is that in practice? Tasks contained in the CNTPO contract range from “airlift services in the trans-Sahara region of Africa” to “media analysis and web-site development consultation to officials of the Government of Pakistan.”
The small agency is “worldwide,” the contract says, as “the primary regional areas of interest include Central and Western Asia, Sub-Sahara Africa, and Central and South America.” But its contracting oversight efforts are comparatively local.
According to CNTPO, oversight for its contracts are themselves outsourced to an Army Contracting Command outfit in Hunstville, Alabama. CNTPO “provides all contracting support for this effort, with 10 contracting officers/contracting specialists and legal/policy review of all contracts and task orders,” CNTPO’s statement reads, with “program management and customer support requirements” provided by CNTPO itself. That’s 10 bureaucrats to review billions of dollars in private security contracts, spent all over the world.
A member of the Wartime Contracting Commission, created by Congress to stop war profiteering, came away from an interaction with CNTPO concerned about that level of oversight.
“The overriding consideration tends to be helping the military with their mission,” says commissioner Charles Tiefer, a law professor at the University of Baltimore who interviewed CNTPO officials about the Afghanistan police contract. “Economies for tight supervision of private security activities take a back seat.”
CNTPO’s rise underscores an emerging trend in private security contracting: a move into some of the most sensitive missions the military performs. Mercs protect the bases in Afghanistan where U.S. Special Operations Forces live and work. When soldiers are taken prisoner, hired guns are entrusted to rescue them. Their tracking technology finds terrorists for U.S. commandos to kill. Now they’re training foreign commando forces.
“These are special-forces operations, and they’re best left in hands of our SF folks,” Schwellenbach says. “This stuff isn’t delivering paper clips or even fuel or bullets. It’s complex, sophisticated services, and there’s a reason we have Special Forces do this kind of training, not the regular Army. This is something you really want to keep a tight lid on.”
Spencer Ackerman is Danger Room’s senior reporter, based out of Washington, D.C., covering weapons of doom and the strategies they’re used to implement.
EZLN: 28 Years of Persistence For An Ideal
Jaime Martínez Veloz
On November 17, 1983, 28 years ago, a small nucleus of men and women arrived in the heart of the Lacandón Jungle, bringing with them an accumulation of dreams and ideals for transforming Mexico into a just and democratic country. With patience, intelligence and method they linked with the communities and organizations that were living in different regions of Chiapas, as well as with the struggles that for years had fought with indigenous peoples against centuries-old oppression and humiliation. For a resident of Mexico’s urban zones, it is not easy to adapt to jungle conditions, but when higher proposals and firm convictions exist, they tolerate those conditions until achieving the ideals that motivate them.
In a State crossed by social, political and religious contradictions, the work of the original nucleus that impelled the formation and organization of the Zapatista National Liberation Army had to process natural differences and different conceptions around how to conduct the struggle against injustice and oblivion of which the indigenous communities of Mexico have been the object. A lot of work had to be carried out to achieve that on January 1, 1994, Mexico and the world turned over to look at Chiapas and had to recognize that the issue of the relationship of the Mexican State with its original peoples is a pending issue that has been outside of the national agenda.
The impact of the armed Zapatista Uprising mobilized Mexican society to oblige the State to dialogue with the insurgents to resolve the causes that required indigenous Chiapanecos to take up arms as the ultimate means to achieve the resolution of their centuries-old demands and their cries for justice.
The transcendence of the insurgent actions motivated the then PRI candidate, Luis Donaldo Colosio, to hold a more committed definition than any leader of that party had held, when in his March 6, 1994 speech in front of the Monument to the Revolution, he proposed: “We PRI members must reflect before Chiapas. As a part of stability and social justice it shames us to notice that we were not sensitive to the great complaints from our communities; that we were not at their side in their aspirations; that we were not at the height of the commitment that they hope for from us. It is the hour of doing justice to our indigenous peoples, of overcoming their backlogs and lacks; of respecting their dignity. It is the hour of celebrating a new pact by the Mexican State with the indigenous communities.”
After his assassination, this definition was filed in the forgotten box.
During the term of President Ernesto Zedillo, an intense negotiating process between the federal government and the EZLN was produced, where the National Mediation Commission (Conai, its Spanish acronym) played a relevant role. Bishop don Samuel Ruiz headed the Conai. The Congress of the Union, by conduct of the Cocopa had a relevant role; the figures of Heberto Castillo and Luis H. Álvarez were the principal support.
After an arduous negotiating process, the federal government and the EZLN addressed the first theme from the agenda agreed to by the parties, the theme of “Indigenous Rights and Culture,” and signed what today are known as the Accords of San Andrés Larráinzar, which were not recognized by ex President Zedillo, brandishing lies and false statements that hid the underground strategy that the federal government was impelling, for delivering assets, territory and sovereignty. In this way, seaports, airports, mining concessions, banks, railroads, satellites, energy production, oil exploration and the natural gas business were delivered to transnationals, some of which contracted the former president’s services and several of his closest collaborators. The EZLN was not only betrayed by the Mexican State, it was also persecuted, stigmatized and on several occasions has suffered the attempt at larger actions for the purpose of dealing a blow that could annihilate it or, at least, reduce it to a minimum.
Because of all that, the Zapatistas decided to carry out a strategy that would permit them to consolidate their communitarian structures, to establish mechanisms to resolve their issues and eventual internal differences, as well as with other organizations close to their communities. In this way, in 2003 the good government juntas were born, which have permitted them to strengthen their internal work and, at the same time, bring to a head important tasks in the areas of salud, education, food production and development of agricultural projects, despite their modest resources.
The enormous economic spill that the Federation has invested in Chiapas after the armed insurrection has been made public, where, paradoxically, those who exposed their life live in the same communities with the same lacks as in times previous to the uprising. Thanks to the EZLN, Chiapas now has an infrastructure that it did not have before January 1, 1994. Nevertheless, despite the needs of each community the ideal of one day achieving peace with justice and dignity continues alive that keeps them at the foot of the struggle, resisting in the most adverse conditions, interweaving dreams and longings, guided by the Zapatista ideal in effect that has kept them united for 28 years.
An affectionate hug to all the Zapatistas on this anniversary of their insurgent formation, as much to the support bases as to the general command, with the wish that some day their ideals of justice and liberty may take shape in the Mexican Constitution and are converted into a reality.
Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada
Friday, November 18, 2011
Para leer en español: http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2011/11/18/opinion/024a2pol
History and Time Prove EZLN Right
By: Jaime Martínez Veloz
Para leer en español: http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2011/11/04/opinion/024a1pol
On February 16, 1996, the federal government and the EZLN signed the agreement on matters of indigenous rights and culture. It was the first theme on the agreed-upon agenda between the Zapatista delegation and its government counterpart. Arriving at that moment was the result of multiple collective and individual efforts. Many provocations had to be dodged, to be able to achieve a first agreement that permitted sheltering a hope for changes in our country.
After a few weeks, the expectations were radically modified: the attitude of ex president Zedillo changed, his conduct expressed irritation and what was agreed upon by his government’s delegation was not known publicly, while what was that agreed to in San Andrés was disqualified through a media offensive seldom seen. With a campaign of lies and fraudulent interpretations of the San Andrés Accords, he accused the EZLN and the Cocopa of wanting to create a “State within the State.”
In the 2000 [presidential] Campaign, Vicente Fox promised to resolve the conflict with the Zapatistas in 15 minutes and to send to the Congress of the Union the initiative in matters of indigenous rights and culture, which the Cocopa had formulated, with support in the San Andrés Accords. Nevertheless, the same arguments managed by Zedillo were imposed and terminated por denaturizing that agreed on between the federal government and the EZLN. The Fox government’s action, of sending the initiative to the Senate of the Republic, merely fulfilled his campaign propaganda.
One of the agreements in San Andrés, included the legislative initiative, points out that the “indigenous peoples of Mexico will have the right to the use and enjoyment of the natural resources of their lands and territories, except for those that are the dominion of the nation.” This paragraph, which does not contain any risk to the country and that vindicates the just longings of indigenous Mexicans, was used by the official propaganda of the Fox and Zedillo governments to accuse the Zapatistas of attempting to Balkanize the country.
What happened in Mexico in the 15 years previous to the San Andrés Accords permits us to see where the causes of irritation were for the governments of Vicente Fox and Ernesto Zedillo. Upon sending the Indigenous Law initiative to the Congress of the Union, seeking the mere media effect, the Fox government secretly granted permits to the US oil company Halliburton –property of then Vice President of the United States, Dick Cheney– to perforate wells in the Mexican Southeast, especially in Chiapas and Tabasco.
While the governmental propaganda of Ernesto Zedillo and Vicente Fox never tired of accusing the EZLN of wanting to appropriate the resources that belong to the nation, they delivered mining concessions to both Mexican corporations and foreign ones, whose business model favors their owners, not the country; the only tax that mining companies pay to Mexico is the ridiculous amount of five pesos per hectare (about a penny per acre). No tax exists that burdens the profits of those corporations. Mexico is a paradise for these companies, whose mines are located on lands of indigenous and ejidal (collective) communities. As a sample we can mention the mine of gold, copper and silver del National Agrarian Flatland Ejido of Mexicali, with proven reserves of almost 300 tons of metals. The owner of that concession pays the ejido owners 11, 000 pesos ($1,100.00 dollars) a year for rent. Even so, the power of attorney has the impudence to assert that the ejido owners “are not the owners of anything,” that the nation is the owner, but omits saying that the benefits and profits of that natural resource are not for the nation, but for the corporation that he represents.
Starting with the signing of the San Andrés Accords, officials from the areas of finance, energy and communications from the three previous governments have constituted the principal line of attack against them. Curiously, said officials now appear as members of the administrative councils of the energy and mining transnationals. Luis Téllez Kuenzler, former Energy Secretary and former Secretary of Communications and Transportation (SCT); Carlos Ruiz Sacristán, another former SCT Secretary; Gilberto Hershberger Reyes, former assistant secretary for Ordering of Rural Property in the Agrarian Reform Ministry, and Antonio Lozano Gracia, the former Attorney General of the Republic that requested the expedition of arrest warrants against the Zapatista leadership, are, among others, some of the former officials that are now members of the executive boards or the legal office of transnationals, those who have benefitted many of them (the transnationals) during their time in the public administration positions that they have occupied.
Vicente Fox’s statement comparing the EZLN’s struggle with drug trafficking sounds ridiculous within this context and has an air of provocation. That comparison offends indigenous peoples’ centuries-long struggles and demonstrates that he did not have a genuine interest in resolving an ancestral problem of deep Mexico. Placing subcomandante Marcos as “a criminal” is an absurdity from the ex president that at the start of his term of office, in his clumsy and awkward way, declared that the Sup was his “friend.” With friends like that who needs enemies. Maybe because of that, the Zapatistas have been suspicious of relationships with government personnel, because one never knows when they are going to bite you.
One of the few opportunities that the Republic has of walking through less thorny paths is to look to the best of our past and our recent history. For that the Accords of San Andrés Larráinzar constitute one of the most important reference points for reconstructing a large part of the social fabric, now torn by poverty and insecurity.
Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada
Saturday, November 4, 2011
Translation: Chiapas Support Committee
A Child Dies In Chiapas While His Parents Fast For Freedom; Hunger Strike Reaches Critical Point
On September 29, 11 indigenous prisoners in 3 Chiapas state prisons started a hunger strike and fast, demanding their freedom. Two more joined the fast and two others were released, leaving 5 on a total hunger strike and 6 fasting 12 hours per day. Then, in a move analyzed by the hunger strikers as an attempt to break up the protest action, the government transferred Alberto Patishtán to a federal prison in the distant state of Sinaloa. He had been the protest’s spokesperson from the state prison number 5 in the municipality of San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico.
As the critical danger point of 40 days approaches, two of those fasting for 12 hours per day recently joined the total hunger strike, there are 8 prisoners on a total hunger strike and 2 fasting.
A young couple, Alfredo and Rosa López, are both incarcerated at the state prison located in San Cristóbal de las Casas Municipality (County), Alfredo in the men’s part of the prison and Rosa in the women’s section. Unidentified men detained and tortured both Alfredo and Rosa on May 10, 2007 in San Cristóbal. During the torture, they were told that they were being detained because they had allowed Alfredo’s cousin, Juan Collazo, and his wife Claudia to stay at their house. Claudia’s father filed the complaint against them because Claudia, a minor, ran away with her boyfriend Juan so that he did not have to pay the customary dowry to the parents. According to local custom, the young woman is considered “stolen,” but legally not kidnapped. The same unidentified men took Alfredo to his house where Juan and Claudia were eating and also detained both of them.
They put a plastic bag on Juan’s head and a wet piece of flannel in his mouth to asphyxiate him. He received blows and electric shocks so that he would confess that he obtained 600, 000 pesos. They transported him to the Public Ministry, where they warned both Juan and Rosa: “If you don’t confess to being guilty, we are going to kill you.”
Rosa, 34, was also tortured and punched in the stomach. She asked them to stop because she was pregnant “but they didn’t stop.” They took off all her clothes and threatened to rape her, if she did not admit to the kidnapping. “How am I going to say something that I have not done,” she replied to them. One of the agents threw her on the floor and another two tied her up. Rosa tells that at that moment she said: “don’t rape me, I am pregnant” and her attackers promised: “If you say that you did it, we won’t do anything to you.” Then Rosa admitted to everything, although it was false. She did not even know the person “kidnapped.”
“We were so injured and tired that we confessed to being guilty,” tells Alfredo, who spent 15 days in bed without medical attention. The MP obliged him to sign blank pages and others that he didn’t read. He did not have a lawyer or a translator. On May 12, they transferred both to the San Cristóbal de las Casas Prison.
Several months later, Rosa gave birth in prison to a son, Natanael. He was born with cerebral palsy and has been cared for by grandparents ever since. A doctor told the grandparents that Natanael’s condition was the result of the torture inflicted on Rosa while she was pregnant with him. On October 25, Natanael’s condition worsened. His grandfather took him to a hospital in the city of Teopisca and was turned away. No reason is stated in news reports. The grandfather next took Natanael to a “field clinic” in San Cristóbal, where he was denied medical treatment because the grandfather had no money. Natanael died.
As if the government had not already done enough to this young couple, prison authorities threatened Rosa with taking away her healthy 2-year old son who lives with her in the women’s section of the prison if she did not abandon the hunger strike and fast.
The brother of the young woman who ran away with Juan has signed a statement admitting that there was no kidnapping and that the complaint filed was an act of revenge. The family of the prisoners has this statement. They presented evidence in court of their innocence, but were sentenced to 27 years in prison anyway.
Juan Collazo and another relative, Pedro López Jiménez, are also in prison due to the same “kidnapping.” Both participate in the hunger strike. Pedro López Jiménez became the new spokesperson for the hunger strikers, following the transfer of Alberto Patishtán.
The above is only one example of the terrible injustices perpetrated against indigenous people in Chiapas that motivate such drastic protest actions as a hunger strike.
JOIN US at La Peña Cultural Center on Sunday, November 13 for an update on the hunger strike and the Drug War in Mexico, the counterinsurgency war in Chiapas and a global analysis from our panel on immigration issues and a report from Occupy Oakland PLUS son jarocho music by SonRisas. For details see: https://compamanuel.wordpress.com/2011/11/02/zapatista-anniversary-celebration-2/
ZAPATISTA ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION
November 13, 2011 3-7 PM
La Peña Cultural Center, 3105 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, CA
3-4 PM – Dinner (Reservations Required)
4-7 PM – SonRisas, an all-women group performing son jarocho Mexican music and
Keynote Panel Featuring Monami Maulik of DRUM: Desis Rising Up & Moving, from New York City
PLUS Report from Occupy Oakland and Report from Chiapas
Dinner, Music & Keynote Panel – $35-50 (Sliding Scale)*
Musical Performance and Keynote Panel only – $10-$20 (Sliding Scale)*
*Proceeds go to build autonomous schools in Chiapas
Sponsored by: Chiapas Support Committee
For more information or for dinner reservations call: (510) 654-9587