JANUARY 2011 CHIAPAS/ZAPATISTA NEWS SUMMARY
1. Bishop Samuel Ruiz Garcia Dies - The Bishop Emeritus of the Catholic Diocese of San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico, died on Monday, January 24, in a Mexico City hospital. He was 86 years old. His body was sent to Chiapas and he was buried in the Cathedral in San Cristobal. Bishop Ruiz served the diocese as bishop from 1960 to 2000, when he retired at age 75, the Church's mandatory retirement age. He was a passionate and tireless advocate for the indigenous peoples of Chiapas and he founded the Fray Bartolome de las Casas Human Rights Center (Frayba), over which he still presided at the time of his death. Bishop Raul Vera, currently the Bishop of Saltillo, succeeds him on the Board of the Frayba Center. Because of don Samuel's enormous importance in Chiapas, there are many articles in both English and Spanish that detail his long career and honor his amazing pastoral work. Laura Carlsen wrote an excellent piece in English at:
2. EZLN Communique Honoring Bishop Ruiz Breaks Long Silence - On January 26, the EZLN's General Command, the CCRI, broke its nearly 2-year silence with a moving communique honoring don Samuel Ruiz Garcia, known as Tatic (father) to indigenous peoples in Chiapas. The EZLN communique honors not only Bishop Ruiz but all Christians inspired, like Ruiz Garcia, by Liberation Theology. It is signed by Lieutenant Colonel Moises and Sub-comandante Marcos for the CCRI-CG and can be found translated into English on the CSC's website. A must read!
3. The Other Campaign Denies Links to Diego's Kidnappers - While the Zapatistas were peacefully celebrating the 17th anniversary of their 1994 Uprising, a New Years surprise appeared on the web pages of various Spanish language newspapers in Mexico and around the world. Someone calling himself Balam Warrior sent an email to media outlets attributing responsibility to the EZLN and the Other Campaign for the kidnapping of Diego Fernandez de Cevallos. It alleges that the admitted kidnappers, the Red por la Transformación Global (Network for Global Transformation, RTG), constitute the armed wing of the Other Campaign. The Balam Warrior claimed to be a "loyal member of the EZLN" or an "adherent" (depending on which newspaper version you read). He based his allegations on the language used by the RTG in its Epilogue of a Disappearance, the 3-part communiqué issued upon Diego's release. To its credit, La Jornada did not print Balam Warrior's email. The following day, Javier Elorriaga and Sergio Rodriguez Lascano, editors of Enlace Zapatista (enlacezapatista.ezln.org.mx), the Zapatistas' official website, published a response contradicting Balam Warrior's allegations. Jose Narro Cespedes, current president of the Commission for Harmony and Pacification (Cocopa), told the press that he considered the email and subsequent publication of the email to be the beginning of a counterinsurgency move by the government and demanded a full investigation. The Cocopa is a legislative commission composed of deputies and senators from all parties in Congress charged with mediating peace in Chiapas.
The response is translated into English at: http://www.chiapas-support.org/CSC-Special-Bulletin-January-2011.html
In Other Parts of Mexico
1. Mexican Youth Killed By US Border Patrol in Nogales - On January 5, a US Border Patrol agent shot and killed Ramses Barron, 17, who was returning to the Mexican side of the border after allegedly crossing from Nogales, Sonora, Mexico to Nogales, Arizona, USA. His body was dropped off in front of a hospital by 3 unidentified people. A similar incident occurred in June 2010, when Border Patrol agents shot and killed 15-year old Sergio Adrian Hernandez Guereca, who was on the Mexican side of the border. The family of Ramses Barron said they were filing a formal complaint for damages.
2. Hillary Clinton Visits Mexico - US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, paid a brief visit to Mexico on January 24. She first met with Mexico's Foreign Minister, Patricia Espinosa, in Guanajuato. Afterwards, she went to Mexico City to meet with President Calderon. According to press reports in both the US and Mexico, Clinton was in Mexico to encourage the Calderon Administration to continue the drug war and also to do a little damage control over the Wikileaks cables that revealed US frustration with in-fighting among Mexico's security forces. Interestingly, the US State Department announced publicly that Mexico's drug cartels presented a national security risk to the Unites States. This caused analysts in Mexico to think that Clinton's "support" was more of a demand to continue the drug war. Some Mexican academics and politicians note that while Mexico has suffered 35, 000 deaths and spent 7 billion dollars fighting the drug gangs, the demand for drugs is in the United States, which suffers no deaths and has committed $1.4 billion dollars through the Merida Initiative, all of which has not been received by Mexico. They perceive that the struggle against organized crime is unequal. Students from the University of Guanajuato demonstrated outside Clinton's meeting with Espinosa.
In the US
1. The US Helps to Finance Colombia's Training of Mexico's Army and Police - This month, the Washington Post revealed that Colombian police "commandos" are training Mexican soldiers and police, allegedly to battle the drug "cartels" in Mexico. Based on their experience with Plan Colombia, the US government apparently thinks the Colombians are well-equipped to do this training. The Post reports that 7, 000 Mexicans have participated so far and the US has contributed some 800, 000 dollars to partly pay for this training. However, it is interesting to note that the practice target in a Colombian training exercise was a heavily defended rebel camp, not a drug cartel. Moreover, the article omits the number of dead, disappeared and displaced in Colombia as a result of Plan Colombia.
2. Obama's Omissions - There is not much we can say about an omission except that President Obama's State of the Union Speech failed to mention anything about Mexico (the day after Clinton returned from there) and failed to mention any reform of US immigration law.
3. Obama's Achievements? - On January 31, US Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano spoke at the University of Texas in El Paso UTEP) about what she termed President Obama's achievements, including the fact that the US has deported 770, 000 undocumented people in the last 2 years. She also warned the Mexican drug carteles not to bring their violence to the US and said that the cartels would be crushed if they tried to do that. She stated that the US is extremely concerned about drug violence crossing the border. UTEP students protested US policy outside the building where Napolitano spoke.
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