JANUARY 2010 CHIAPAS/ZAPATISTA NEWS SUMMARY
1. Chiapas State Congress Passes Indigenous "Rights" Law - On December 30, 2009, the Chiapas State Congress passed a law regarding Indigenous Rights and Culture without consulting indigenous peoples in the state. This new state law conditions these rights on not conflicting with the state or federal Constitution or any state or federal law. In other words, rather than creating new indigenous rights, the new law merely reinforces the counter-reform passed by the federal government in 2001 and enforces the rights of government.
2. Cocopa Asks Chiapas Governor Not to Publish the Law - The Commission for Harmony and Pacification (Cocopa, for its initials in Spanish), met with deputies and senators who make up the local Congress in Chiapas. Cocopa's president, Jaime Martinez Veloz, asked Governor Juan Sabines not to publish the new law on indigenous rights and culture and to consult with the state's indigenous peoples before passing any law about them. Martinez Veloz pointed out that consultation is required by international law (Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization).
3. Human Rights Defender Receives Death Threats - Adolfo Guzman Ordaz, a human rights defender in Comitán, Chiapas, received a note slipped under the door of his home threatening him with death threat. That allegedly occurred on January 6. Earlier the same day, state preventive police had gone to his home looking for him. Their motive is not known. Guzmán Ordaz was not at home, but later that afternoon the note arrived. He had previously received a phone call on December 25 saying it would be his last Christmas. Guzman Ordaz works for the civil organism Enlace, Communications and Capacity Building (ECC, its initials in Spanish). Ministerial police broke into Guzmán Ordaz' home last November without a warrant and terrorized his wife and small children.
4. Opddic Invades Zapatista Ejido - Bolón Ajaw is a small indigenous Zapatista village that was under siege off and on for years by its PRI neighbors in Agua Azul ejido. At some point in the last year or so, the Zapatistas reached an agreement with the state government to convert the "recuperated" land on which Bolón Ajaw sits into a legal ejido. The violent attacks by PRI members belonging to the Organization for the Defense of Indigenous and Campesino Rights (Opddic) seemed to stop for awhile. However, on January 21, 57 Opddic members invaded the new ejido (collective farm), carrying pistols, machetes and radios and began to construct 3 cabins while smoking marijuana, which is strictly prohibited in Zapatista communities. Bolón Ajaw has a spectacular virgin waterfall and is adjacent to the Agua Azul Cascades tourist area.
5. 2 Indigenous Communities Evicted from Montes Azules - Federal and state police report that on January 20 they evicted two indigenous communities from the Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve in the Lacandon Jungle. The communities are known as El Suspiro (aka El Semental) and Laguna San Pedro (San Pedro Guanil). Police allege that 2 men from Laguna San Pedro were detained for possession of firearms. Police say they took the community's remaining members to a state-run aid organization for shelter. Police reported that El Suspiro residents fled into the woods. The request for eviction came from members of the "Lacandon Community." The Good Government Junta in La Garrucha denounced the eviction and stated that those evicted from Laguna San Pedro are EZLN support bases.
6. The Politics of Mining and Elections in Chiapas - On January 13, Chiapas police detained Walter León Montoya pursuant to an arrest warrant. León Montoya is a former federal PRI deputy (congressman) and is currently a representative of Canacar, a national organization of truckers. León Montoya is accused of being the "intellectual author" of the murder of anti-mining activist Mariano Abarca. The Network of Those Affected by Mining (REMA), Abarca's organization, criticized the accusation and detention as scapegoating and a ploy to give the Black Fire mining company impunity. Curiously, or should we say conveniently, León Montoya filed a lawsuit against the PRD government of Juan Sabines over the cancellation of 2010 elections in Chiapas! His arrest apparently means he cannot pursue the lawsuit. Looks like another slick move by Governor Sabines.
In Other Parts of Mexico...
1. Mexico's "Anti-Drug" War Claims 7,724 Lives in 2009 - El Universal reported that a total of 16,205 lives have been lost since 2007, when Mexico's president, Felipe Calderón, sent the federal Army out into the city streets to perform police functions in a war against drug traffickers and organized crime.
2. Judge's Decision in Brad Will Murder Case Appealed - A district court judge in Oaxaca granted a protective order to Juan Manuel Martinez Moreno, an APPO member accused of the murder of Indymedia journalist Brad Will. The Attorney General of the Republic filed a timely appeal, so Martinez Moreno will remain in prison while the appeal is pending.
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.
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