FELIZ AÑO! HAPPY NEW YEAR!
DECEMBER 2009 CHIAPAS/ZAPATISTA NEWS SUMMARY
1. 16 Years of Zapatista Resistance! - January 1 marked the 16th Anniversary of the 1994 Zapatista Uprising. The Zapatistas closed the five Caracoles to the public (both national and international) on December 30 with signs announcing that they would reopen after January 2, 2010. Meanwhile, the Mexican Army moved into Tuxtla Gutierrez, the capital of Chiapas, with 26 armored tanks and 600 additional soldiers, to "dissuade" any possible confrontations.
2. San Cristóbal Seminar in Honor of Andrés Aubry - On December 30 and 31 and January 1 and 2, an international seminar of reflection and analysis took place at Cideci in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas. The 4-day gathering coincided with the publication of a book from the gathering 2 years ago in which the EZLN and some leading anticapitalist and antisystemic thinkers participated. It also coincided with the 16th Anniversary of the Zapatista Uprising, leading to much speculation about whether any Zapatistas would appear or participate in the seminar. That did not happen.
3. A New Cocopa Arrives in Chiapas - The Mexican Congress (federal) appointed a new Commission of Harmony and Pacification (Cocopa, for its initials in Spanish), as required by the 1995 law of the same name. Its legal mandate is to mediate between the federal government and the EZLN in a process of dialogue and negotiation to reach peace agreements. The new Cocopa is currently lodged in San Cristobal, trying to make contact with the EZLN. The commission did not explain why the EZLN should return to dialogue and negotiate with a government that failed to implement the first agreement it reached with the EZLN, known as the San Andres Accords on Indigenous Rights and Culture.
4. Scathing Human Rights Criticisms of Mexico - Mexico came under scathing attack from 3 sources this month for its human rights abuses. On December 9, Amnesty International accused the federal government of being complicit in serious human rights abuses committed by the Mexican army, often under the guise of fighting drug trafficking. AI accused the government of inadequate responses and ineffective investigations at all levels, leading to a general climate of impunity among security forces. A recent AI study found that human rights abuses by the army tripled under the Calderon administration.
On December 10, the Inter-American Human Rights Court accused Mexico of egregious human rights violations related to the femicides in Ciudad Juarez. Ruling on a case from 2001, the court found Mexico guilty of violating the most fundamental rights outlined in the Constitution, including the right to life, personal liberty, judicial protection and equal treatment. The wide-ranging decision ordered Mexico to repair the damages, fully investigate and process the crimes, sanction those responsible, and publicly recognize the state's international responsibility for its egregious failures.
On December 21, Alberto Brunori, representative of the United Nations' Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that cases of impunity almost always go hand in hand with smear campaigns designed to discredit denunciations of human rights abuse. He maintained that Chiapas is one of the states where there are serious cases of impunity and it is "difficult for humanitarian defenders to work," because of situations of insecurity and the smear campaigns against them. Brunori was in Chiapas to meet with government officials, campesino organizations and to attend the 12th commemoration of the Acteal Massacre.
5. The US Delivers 5 Helicopters to Mexico - Oblivious to the rampant human rights abuse by Mexico's security forces, the United States delivered 5 Bell-412 helicopters to Mexico's Secretary of Defense on December 15. John Brennan, an advisor to Barack Obama on internal security and counterterrorism, personally handed over title to the helicopters as part of the Merida Initiative (Plan Mexico) to help Mexico in its "War Against Drugs." Meanwhile, in Washington DC, the Senate was approving more money for Plan Mexico.
6. OCEZ Ends Its Protest on Cathedral Plaza - On Christmas Eve, as a result of negotiations with the Chiapas government, the Emiliano Zapata Campesino Organization (OCEZ) removed its sit-in on Cathedral Plaza in San Cristobal de las Casas. The Chiapas government agreed to legalize certain disputed lands occupied by OCEZ members and to study the possibility of legalizing others. It also agreed to give OCEZ 1,150,000 pesos for a number of "productive projects," with which its communities can start small businesses. Another meeting on the agrarian issues will take place on January 13, 2010. The state government also agreed to pay lifetime pensions to the widows of the two men killed in the accident that occurred while they were attempting to stop the detention of Jose Manuel Chema Hernandez Martinez. It also agreed to pay disability benefits to a man who was paralyzed as a result of that same accident, and to reimburse OCEZ for the truck that was in the accident and its expenses for maintaining the sit-in.
7. Chiapas State Congress Passes Anti-Abortion Law - The local Chiapas Congress approved the "Law of Responsible Paternity," which grants rights to persons from the moment of their conception, and revokes the penalty of prison against women that abort but imposes psychological treatment on them "to reaffirm the values of maternity." The legislation was approved over strong protest by women's rights organizations. The bill now goes to the 118 municipalities for approval as it involves a change to the state Constitution.
In Other Parts of Mexico...
1. Mexico City Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage - Gay activists in Mexico City received a Christmas present from Mexico City's Congress. It approved legislation granting same-sex couples the right to marry. The law sets a precedent in Mexico and will also give gay couples the right to adopt children. The law is scheduled to take effect in March. There is currently an intense backlash against the legislation led by the Catholic Church.
2. Charges Against APPO Member in Brad Will Murder Reversed - A district court judge in Oaxaca granted a protective order to Juan Manuel Martinez Moreno, an APPO member accused of the murder of Indymedia jounalist Brad Will. This means that Martinez Moreno will be released from prison if the Attorney Generak of the Republic does not appeal within the next ten days. The judge found a lack of evidence against the accused and absolved him of the crime.
3. Lack of Health Care Cited in Guerrero Deaths - The Guerrero Network of Civil Human Rights Organisms reported that 22 people died in an indigenous region of the state in the last two months because of a lack of adequate health care facilities. 46 communities do not have even a casa de salud and those that have one lack medicines. Clinics in the region do not have doctors or nurses 24-7, and some clinics completely lack doctors. This same situation is also found in rural Chiapas. It is one of the first problems the Zapatistas began to address and advance in. It is why the Chiapas Support Committee's Pharmacy Warehouse Project, and others like it, are so important.
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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News Summaries from previous months are now posted on our web page.
Chiapas Support Committee/Comité de Apoyo a Chiapas
P.O. Box 3421, Oakland, CA 94609
Tel: (510) 654-9587