Dec '08/Jan '09 CHIAPAS / ZAPATISTA NEWS SUMMARY
[Members of the Chiapas Support Committee attended different phases of the World Festival of Dignified Rage, sponsored by the EZLN. We will present a community report about the Festival on Sunday, February 22 at 6:30 PM. Location: Niebyl-Proctor Library, 6501 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland.All are invited to learn about this important event. Members of other organizations attending the Festival will join us to report on their experiences.]
1. The “World Festival of Dignified Rage” - From December 26, 2008 to January 6, 2009, the Zapatistas celebrated their 25/15 Anniversary (25 years since the EZLN's founding and 15 years since the Jan. 1, 1994 Zapatista Uprising) together with organizations and individuals adhered to the Other Campaign and the International Campaign. The celebration took place in three locations: Mexico City (December 26-29 ); Oventik (December 31, 2008 and January 1, 2009); and San Cristóbal de las Casas (January 2,3,4,5, 2009). The theme of the Festival was Otro Mundo, otra política (Another World, another politics).
The Francisco Villa Independent Popular Front, UNOPII hosted one of the spaces and a national union of independent social movements (UNIOS) hosted another space for the first phase of the World Festival of Dignified Rage in Mexico City between December 26 and 29, 2008. Intellectuals and activist social organizations spoke regarding the four wheels of capitalism: exploitation, plunder, repression and contempt. Social organizations addressing each of the wheels spoke about their work. What distinguished this phase from other global EZLN gatherings was that the EZLN did not participate in this phase of the Festival. All participation was from invited intellectuals and social organizations. Those we know who participated in this stage reported very high attendance.
The second phase of the Festival celebrated the 15th Anniversary of the Zapatista National Liberation Army's Uprising on December 31, 2008 and January 1, 2009 in the Caracol of Oventik. Comandante David spoke in Spanish and Comandante Javier delivered the same talk in Tzotzil. Both commanders participated in the January 1, 1994 taking of San Cristóbal de las Casas. Buses carried many folks from Mexico City to Oventik, where they camped for the night. One of the messages of David's talk was that the government, the powerful and the political parties were intensifying their blows and persecution against indigenous peoples. Comandante David told the crowd that there were more people in Oventik on this New Years Eve than ever before.
The 3rd phase of Digna Rabia (Dignified Rage) began on January 2nd. Philosophers, activist organizations, journalists and the EZLN participated in panels, all addressing the general theme of Another World, another politics. Several thousand packed the CIDECI auditorium to overflowing and managed to fill three rooms in other buildings. In other words, this stage of the Festival was also very well attended. Banners from participating organizations decorated the grounds of the Universidad de la Tierra (University of the Land), also known as CIDECI for its capacity building center on the outskirts of San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico. Vendors sold T-Shirts, music, magazines and books. Indigenous cooperatives spread their embroidery and weaving for all to see and, hopefully, buy. Although a large delegation from the EZLN was present during all panels, the EZLN occupied only a small part of the speaking time. This shared participation was a big change from the “encuentros” where the EZLN did most of the talking.
Digna Rabia was clearly an important show of strength and support for the EZLN!
The words of all participants can be listened to on the Enlace Zapatista blog in Spanish. http://www.ezln.org.mx
(click on Enlace Zapatista). Talks by the different Zapatistas, including Marcos, can be read in Spanish at the same site. The EZLN delegation included:
Lt. Colonel Insurgente Moises
Companyera Comandanta Susana
Companyera Comandanta Miriam
Companyera Comandanta Hortensia
Companyera Comandanta Florencia
Companyera Capitana Insurgente Elena.
Companyero Comandante David
Companyero Comandante Zebedeo
Companyero Comandante Tacho
Companyero Comandante Guillermo
Companyerita, la niña Lupita
Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos
2. Bosque Bonito Attack - On the last day of the Digna Rabia Festival (January 5), 60 members of the Regional Organization of Ocosingo Coffee Growers (Orcao, its initials in Spanish) attacked Zapatistas at a place called Bosque Bonito, close to the Cuxulja crossroads. The problems started several days before when Zapatistas from Moises Gandhi discovered that the Orcao members had cut the fence around their pasture in many places and that a cow was missing. They went looking for the cow and found it had a machete cut. On January 5, the Orcao members approached launching sticks with the ends carved into spears at the Zapatistas, injuring 3. The Orcao members have had land disputes with the Zapatistas ever since the two organizations parted ways 7 years ago. The Zapatistas identified those causing trouble this time as the same people who tried to burn the Zapatista store at the Cuxulja Crossroads. Apparently, Orcao went to the local media and claimed numerous injuries and that the Zapatistas were the aggressors. On January 9, 220 members of Orcao arrived in trucks at the gate of the Caracol in Morelia. At first, they attempted to crash the gate. They demanded that 30 of them talk to the Junta. The Junta was willing to dialogue with 15 and eventually the situation calmed down. At issue is not only the Bosque Bonito dispute, but also ongoing problems in the community of Patria Nueva, very close to the city of Ocosingo.
3. Agua Clara Dispute over “Ecotourist” Site - On the evening of January 9, two tourists were detained by PRI members from the Agua Clara ejido. The PRI members thought they were international observers and were verbally abusing them. The Zapatistas went to see if they were the observers sent by the Junta. Once they discovered that they were not international observers, the Zapatistas returned to their houses, but the PRI members followed them hurling beer bottles filled with liquid. A government delegate and agents from the district attorney's office arrived on the scene. Once they realized that it was the PRI members who detained the tourists, they went away without taking any action. The same PRI members have committed numerous provocations ever since a state PRI official
advised them to dishonor an agreement signed with the Zapatistas giving the Junta in Morelia control of the land on which is located a beautiful swimming/ bathing place. In Chiapas government lingo, it's called an “ecotourist” site. Someone reported to the local media that 4 PRI members from Agua Clara had been kidnapped by Zapatistas, but those 4 people were seen walking around free in the city of Palenque. Agua Clara is part of the tourist corridor between Agua Azul Cascades and the city of Palenque, scheduled for a dramatic expansion by the state and federal governments.
4. Conflict Over Tonina Archaeological Site - On January 22, the Good Government Junta in La Garrucha issued a denunciation regarding the property adjacent to the Tonina archaeological site, just outside of Ocosingo. A Zapatista support base companero owns the adjacent piece of land in question. The Junta investigated the dispute and found: that the archaeological site had an encampment on the companero's land; that the companero paid the property taxes; and that the government received the entry fees it charged visitors to the archaeological site. The Junta judged that to be unjust and ordered the government to remove its encampment so that the companero could sell the land in question. It warned the government that if it did not do so, the Junta would proceed to administer the site.
(Conflicts over archaeological sites in Chiapas are perhaps becoming a pattern. The takeover of Chinkultic resulted in a massacre and Lagos de Montebello in an eviction of the indigenous people. While the Chiapas Support Committee was in Chiapas recently, we heard reports that there was a symbolic “taking” of the Palenque site for a few hours by local indigenous people who think they should care for the site and receive the entry fees.)
5. Women's Day Festival in Oventik - In a communiqué dated January 28, 2009, the EZLN announced a Festival on International Women's Day, March 8, in honor of Mama Corral, a social struggler from Chihuahua and adherent to the Other Campaign. The Festival will be held in Oventik on March 7 and 8. It will feature sports (soccer, basketball and volleyball), cultural events, including music for dancing, and political events. The Festival is organized by the comandantas of Los Altos. As in the Comandanta Ramona Encuentro in La Garrucha, men will only be able to participate in a supportive role.
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.
We encourage folks to distribute this information widely, but please include our name and contact information in the distribution. Gracias/Thanks.
News Summaries from previous months are posted on our web page:
The Chiapas Support Committee is a grass roots all-volunteer human rights organization in Oakland, California. We work with indigenous and campesino organizations in Mexico. We have an hermanamiento (partnership) with San Manuel autonomous Zapatista municipality. In the Bay Area we provide public information about Chiapas through community events, our newsletter (Chiapas Update), our listserv and website. We organize delegations to Chiapas and also recruit and certify human rights observers and volunteers. We participate in the Other Campaign and the International Campaign. Our contact information is below!
Chiapas Support Committee
P.O. Box 3421
Oakland, CA 94609
Tel: (510) 654-9587