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Zapatista News Summary March 2012

Posted: April 2, 2012 in Mexico Drug War, News Summary

Tags: Biden Visit to Mexico and Honduras, Eviction from Montes Azules, political prisoners





In Chiapas



1. New Charge Against Zapatista Prisoner Halts Release – On March 28, the Good Government Junta in Oventik denounced the new federal charge against Francisco Santiz: “Carrying firearms for the exclusive use of the Army.” Francisco Santiz Lpez is a civilian Zapatista support base who was arrested and unjustly charged with killing a PRI member in Banavil community during a violent conflict there on December 4, 2011. Santiz Lopez received notice on March 22 that he had been cleared of the murder charges and would be released from prison. A “few meters” away from leaving prison, he was informed of the new charge and was not released. The non-Zapatista detained along with Santiz Lopez has been released with two bullets still in his body. His is one more example of the lack of necessary medical attention Other Campaign prisoners have been complaining about recently.



2. Three (3) Jungle Communities Threatened With Eviction - San Gregorio, Rancheria Corozal and Nuevo Salvador Allende communities received a threat of eviction from the federal government, unless they agree to a “relocation.” The campesino organization to which the communities belong, ARIC-I, said they would not agree to leave. The 3 communities are within the Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve. To the best of our knowledge, these communities have no political relationship to the EZLN or the Other Campaign. What we think is of interest here is that the government allegedly told them is that: “only tourism, research and the controlled use of natural resources is permitted in the Montes Azules.”



3. The Struggle Continues to Support Alberto Patishtán – On March 17, more than 1, 000 friends, relatives, and neighbors of Alberto Patishtán Gómez, a prisoner since June 19 2000, gathered together in the community of El Bosque to demand Patishtán’s return to Chiapas (from a federal prison in Sinaloa) and his unconditional release. All believe him to be innocent and a political prisoner. The Fray Bartolome de las Casas Human Rights Center (Frayba) had earlier reported that Patishtan’s lawyers won a protective order (like an injunction) from a judge to return him to Chiapas. The government was delaying any implementation of the order. It was discovered among the paperwork and evidence in Patishtan’s file that the government of Chiapas had requested his transfer to Sinaloa.



4. Campesinos Denounce Ultimatum to Accept Digital Meters or Cut Off Electricity - On March 8, Peoples United for the Defense of Electric Energy (PUDEE, its initials in Spanish) denounced that the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE, its initials in Spanish) threatened to cut off their electricity supply if they do not accept the new digital meters. PUDEE organizes communities in resistance to paying high energy rates in the Northern Zone of Chiapas and is an adherent to the Other Campaign. PUDEE further denounces that the CFE is working hand-in-hand with the Green Party of Mexico (PVEM, its initials in Spanish) to intimidate people and, in several communities, even threatened to install the dreaded meters by force. PUDEE also alleges that government authorities are requiring proff of payment of electric bills in order to participate in a welfare program known as “Opportunities.” Finally, it reminds folks that the PVEM is linked to the Paz y Justicia paramilitary group in the Northern Zone of Chiapas.



In Other Parts of Mexico



1. National Data Base for Missing or Disappeared Persons - On March 6, Mexico’s Senate approved a law creating a national registry of data on missing and disappeared persons. Its purpose is to create an information data base of individuals who are reported as missing or disappeared. Until now, there has been no coordination or information sharing among the various Mexican states. There are currently 8, 898 dead that have not been identified and estimates of missing and disappeared persons vary widely from government agencies, human rights organizations and social organizations.



2. US Vice President Joe Biden Visits Mexico and Honduras - On March 5, under extremely heavy security, US Vice President Joe Biden met with Mexico’s President, Felipe Calderón, for a meeting reported to last about an hour and a half. He next met with presidential pre-candidates from Mexico’s 3 largest political parties. While other issues were surely discussed between Biden and Calderón, it is widely believed that the main purpose of his visit was to insure continued cooperation in the drug war. That was likewise the purpose of his meetings with the 3 presidential pre-candidates. Following this 1-day visit to Mexico, Biden continued on to Honduras for a meeting with President Porfirio Lobo. (See item below.)



In the United States

1. US Vice President Joe Biden Visits Honduras – Vice President Biden left Mexico and continued on to Honduras, where he first met with President Porfirio Lobo and other Honduran officials. At Lobo’s invitation, Biden also met with members of the Central American Integration System (SICA, its initials in Spanish). SICA is Central America’s regional security organization to which the United States, the Inter-American Development Bank and some European countries are giving funding to fight a “war on drugs.” It was in Honduras that the Obama Administration’s concern became clear: it is worried about the proposal by Guatemalan President Otto Perez to decriminalize drugs as an alternative to the drug war. The Administration’s concern was that Perez would pick up support at a Summit of Central American presidents on March 24, which would then carry over to April’s Summit of the Americas in Colombia. As it turned out, the Central American Summit was poorly attended and Perez accused the United States of encouraging a boycott.


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).





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Chiapas Communities Reject Adventure Tourism Project

by Chiapas Support Committee





Photo by Moisés Zúñiga




Chiapas Communities Reject Adventure Tourist Project


By: Hermann Bellinghausen


Laguna (Lake) Miramar, Chiapas, May 26, 2012


The large and beautiful lake (above) that marks a boundary of the Montes Azules is the new goal for tourism investors. Approved by the Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources and by the Environment, Natural Resources and Fishing Commission of the Senate, the Miramar Live Nature Stays (Estancias Vivas Natura Miramar) project contemplates the construction of “dwellings” for lodging tourists on the banks of a body of water, a hotel that the authorities call “alternative tourism.”


Only the Emiliano Zapata ejido has been considered in the official plan; 11 double rooms and four suites, a restaurant, bar, offices, laundry and an “employees’ zone” would be built on its lands. Not all are in agreement; many have not been consulted. For years, a regular tourist flow has existed here, never abundant, but which does not seem to alter the life of the village. It (the project) has a major impact here, and worse on the neighboring San Quintín ejido, the large military base, just a few kilometers from the lake.


Emiliano Zapata, Benito Juárez, Nueva Galilea and Tierra y Libertad are the towns around Lake Miramar, although only the first one is “legal;” its residents consider themselves guardians of the lake, although others may also be, as in their fashion are the Zapatistas of Nueva Galilea that defend it without government “supports” or tourist investments, more and more private every day.


At a spot inside the lake with little islets, a hand-painted sign on wooden boards expresses their rejection: “We don’t want adventure tourism, because the government is creating the tourism of adventures from hell. This plan is full of rats and traps. It is a counterinsurgency campaign and low-intensity war. Here we want justice, liberty and democracy. Here the people govern and the government obeys. EZLN.”


Zapatista bases of support live at a corner of the lake and say they care of the last boundary, the current border between the jungle of man and one which has done without humanity through centuries of change. Seen from here, it represents the last refuge of the Desert of Solitude (Desierto de la Soledad), as the first conquistadors called it; today the Integral Reserve of the Biosphere or, colloquially, the Montes Azules “Biosphere,” which is not saying if they are mountains, and if they are blue. In the classic Maya period there were cities and communities of farmers in the heart of this jungle, now “reserved,” like Tzendales (a notable unexplored archaeological vestige, near the Río Negro), Miramar and, for sure, Bonampak in the extreme north.

Investors’ promises put the sun, the moon and the stars to the indigenous in the form of infrastructure for “nature tourism.” Here where there already are the sun, moon and stars, the best water and the biggest sky in the Lacandón Jungle, what more can hotel owners, restaurant owners, construction companies, contractors, environmental and agrarian officials meddling in tourism, senators, governors, candidates, television networks, soft drink companies and banks offer? What could be better than this?


Some communities are –and all of them should be– guardians of the jungle, the water, the territory and what it contains and nourishes, what each morning they receive from the land, called Mother in the four Mayan languages that are spoken in this principal summit of the canyons, also a convergence of the roads to Las Margaritas and Ocosingo, they even achieve looking like highways. It is the summit where the boisterous Río Perla is suddenly added to the calm and mannerly, finally navigable Jataté, a large robust basin en route to becoming the Lacantún and finally the Usumacinta, far away from that little overrun waterfall in Corralito, in los Altos, between Oxchuc and Ocosingo.


Emiliano Zapata, although majority Chol, is one of the few jungle communities where Tzeltals, Tojolabals and Tzotzils also live, one of the most “cosmopolitan.” The ejido members (not all are in Zapata) tend to disqualify the neighboring villages, which lack property titles, and particularly accuse those from Benito Juárez of destroying forests and contaminating the lake. Benito Juárez’ boat, a huge launch, is accustomed to using a motor, but it is no longer permitted. Now they have to row from there to cross to Zapata, which is the exit for residents of the lakeshore. Or it was, because the road that comes from Amatitlán, Lacantún below, already reached Chuncerro, inside of the Montes Azules.


According to César, a young Chol that guides the envoys from La Jornadaaround the lake, the current management of visitors is rational, sufficient and self-sufficient to a certain point, no need for a private hotel. “He who wants to come to Miramar, from anywhere, comes. Just a few days ago 20 visitors came from Comitán and Tuxtla Gutiérrez, families. They came in trucks and camped for three days, so peaceful. The Gringos and French arrive in waves. In vacation time up to 50 people camp or hang hammocks at the beach,” a modest tourism, presumably ecological (more than a hotel), sufficient for a community that eats from the land and lives surrounded by water, between two large rivers and a portentous lake.

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zapatistamarcha7.jpgOnly the resonating echo of rain pattering down on the cobblestone streets of Chiapas' colonial cities sounded as tourists from around the globe awaiting the end of the world in the center of the Mayan Civilization were surprised by the silent marches of more than 40,000 masked Mayan Zapatistas who descended on their apocalyptic misinterpretations of the Mayan 13 Ba´ktun.


A faint sound of a baby's cry would occasionally emerge from a bundle beneath a plastic tarp on the back of a masked Zapatista in the endless lines of Mayan rebels who quietly held formation in the rain. They marched four file booted and bare-footed into the same cities they surprised on a cold new year's eve night 19 years ago, shouting their first YA BASTA!


Yesterday's weapon, differing from the 1994 armed indigenous uprising, was the Zapatista silence, their moral authority, the echo of a unified and deafening silence that shouted YA BASTA! once again. A silence that in their massive presence in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Ocosingo, Altamirano, Las Margaritas and Palenque shouted without a word that the a new Mayan era has begun and the Zapatistas are present. A silence that was meant to remind Mexico's recently inaugurated President Enrique Peña Nieto and his PRI party that the root causes of the Zapatista struggle are as prevalent today as they were 19 years ago: lack of health care, education, housing, land, food, indigenous rights, women's rights, gay rights, dignity, and justice. A silence that reminded the returning PRI that there is a Mexico profundo, a Mexico jodido, a Mexico con hambre, and a Mexico dispuesto a luchar and in struggle. The Zapatistas and the EZLN need not say a word today, their actions and silence said enough. Aqui estamos!


As early as 4 a.m. the Mayan indigenous, Tzeltales, Tzotziles, Tojolobales, Choles, Zoques, and Mames began their mobilizations from their five cultural centers of resistance, known as Caracoles, emerging from the Lacandon jungle, the Chiapas Canyon lands, and the rain soaked highlands. They quietly moved along the mountainous, fog-bearing roads towards the same cities (plus Palenque) that they descended upon when these ill-equipped ragtag rebels launched their armed uprising on January 1st 1994, the day the North American Free Trade Agreement went in to effect.


Yesterday's marches by the Zapatista National Liberation Army comprised of Mexico’s Mayan indigenous peoples was the first mobilization since their May 7, 2011 march demanding an end to the widespread violence and impunity in Mexico. That march echoed Poet Javier Sicilia's movement for justice demanding the end to PANista President Felipe Calderon's US-backed War on Drugs that has claimed up to 80,000 lives over the last six years. Calderon, who departs Mexico leaving a bloodstained country, will follow his predecessor Ernesto Zedillo’s footsteps to a safe haven in US academia, entering Harvard and moving to Cambridge, a town ironically that has one of the world´s lowest per capita murder rates, contrary to a Mexico ranking in the world’s top 10 country’s with major violent death tolls. Today’s Zapatista march, explains award winning Mexican Journalist Jose Gil Olmos, marks a symbolic moment being December 21st on the Gregorian calendar and 13 Ba´ktun, or the end of the 144,000 day Mayan long calendar, silently saying that this is beginning of a new calendar, a new era and the Zapatistas are present:


"The mere presence of the Zapatistas here today just as the new government of Enrique Peña Nieto is getting started and the return of the PRI is a message in and of itself that the EZLN exists and is here, that the EZLN is a social and political force and they are reminding the PRI that things are not good, That the voice of the voiceless and the faceless are saying listen up! There is a forgotten Mexico here, a Mexico that is starving and disparate and the march, a silent march is an emblematic message in and of itself."


There were no visible Zapatista Commanders in the marches, no words spoken, no chants could be heard, nor banners seen. Only two flags accompanied the thousands of Mayan rebels, a Zapatista five pointed red star on black and the Mexican flag. The same scenario could be seen in each of the five cities that the Zapatistas descended upon despite the unusual rains for the beginning of the Chiapas dry season. The Zapatistas arrived, marched on the city centers, built make-shift stages on top of cars and marched thousands of Zapatistas four by four, fists in the air, over the stages in front of their flags. Then, as quickly and quietly as they arrived, the Zapatistas disappeared into the fog and rain that camouflaged their arrival.


Late in the day a one-page communiqué signed by Zapatista rebel leader Sub-Comandante Marcos, El Sup, began to go viral on the internet. The communiqué simply read the following:




Did You Hear?

That is the sound of your world falling apart.

It is the sound of our resurgence.

The day that was the day, was night.

And night will be the day that will be the day.










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Tim Russo is a long time media activist, photographer and journalist. Russo has covered Mexico and Latin America for over twenty years. He is on the Board of Directors of Free Speech Radio News www.fsrn.org, regularly contributes to KGNU in Boulder, Colorado and is active with the Red Mesoamericana de Radios Comunitarias, Indígenas y Garifunas.

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