JUNE 2011 CHIAPAS/ZAPATISTA NEWS SUMMARY
1. ORCAO Kidnaps and Tortures 2 Zapatistas; Releases Them 3 Days Later - On June 20, the Organization of Ocosingo Coffee Growers (ORCAO, its initials in Spanish), a local campesino organization, kidnapped 2 Zapatista support bases. The kidnapping followed several weeks of continuous harassment and provocation against Zapatista communities in Primero de Enero autonomous municipality. The Zapatista Good Government Junta in the Caracol of Morelia denounced the kidnapping and acts of aggression, including the theft of crops, wire fencing and belongings, a house burning, and the destruction of crops and fences. The 2 Zapatistas were beaten badly and threatened with being burned alive. Orcao said the dispute arose when a group of Zapatistas took over a piece of land named San Antonio Chivaljá, to which the Orcao alleges some legal right. They were finally released on June 23, bleeding and badly beaten all over their bodies. The Junta maintains that the land in question was recuperated after the 1994 Zapatista Uprising and has been peacefully worked by EZLN support bases ever since.
2. Marcos Letter Greeting the Caravan for Peace
- During the first week in June, Subcomandante Marcos sent greetings to the (motorized) Caravan for Peace with Justice and Dignity, led by Javier Sicilia, as it began its tour through northern Mexico. His letter was mostly directed to the June 5 Citizens Movement For Justice, which seeks justice for the 49 little children that died in the ABC Nursery School fire on June 5, 2009 in Hermosillo, Sonora, as well as the children that were injured in the fire. See: http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2011/06/07/politica/014n2pol
3. Residents of Nuevo Juan de Grijalva Rural City Finally Released From Prison - On June 22, 8 residents of the "world's first sustainable rural city" were released from a Chiapas state prison in Pichucalco. Their defense lawyer has also been released. The tragedy of Juan de Grijalva began in 2007, when nonstop rains caused a hill to collapse on their riverside community, destroying homes and displacing residents that escaped. The Chiapas state government promised to build permanent housing for the displaced in the world's first sustainable rural city called Nuevo Juan de Grijalva. It also promised to indemnify them for the losses they suffered due to the natural disaster. On March 17 of this year, residents of Nuevo Juan de Grijalva mounted a demonstration protesting the government's failure to pay the indemnifications. After the demonstration, ejido members were detained by police in different places and at different times, accused of "criminal association and rioting." Their defense lawyer was also detained and imprisoned. Their lands surrounding the original Juan de Grijalva ejido are currently being used by corporations for public works, although the government has still not paid for the lands. This is one example of why the government wants to place rural peasants in rural cities: the government gets the rural land and it can control social protest more easily.
4. A "Hotel Complex" at Lake Miramar? - According to a series of articles in La Jornada this month, an agreement was reached with the Emiliano Zapata ejido for the construction of a "hotel complex" at Lake Miramar, located in the Montes Azules Integral Biosphere Reserve. It's important to remember that the federal government's environmental agency (Semarnat) has removed many communities, possibly 40 or so, from the Montes Azules under the pretext of environmental concerns. Some of those evicted from their homes have been removed at gunpoint, all their belongings burned and/or stolen. Semarnat says it will not be a "hotel complex," but just some cabins.
5. Frayba Fears Forced Displacement in San Marcos Aviles, Chilon - The Fray Bartolome de las Casas Human Rights Center (Frayba) warns of a possible forced displacement in San Marcos Aviles ejido, Chilon Municipality. Last September (2010), death threats by ejido members who belong to several political parties drove 160 Zapatista support bases to seek refuge in the surrounding woods, where they stayed for a month. The aggressions and threats have started again and have even extended to peace camp observers, an escalation of the conflict. There are complaints of harassment by Zapatista bases and Other Campaign adherents throughout Chilon, a municipality that includes the large San Sebastian Bachajon ejido.
In Other Parts of Mexico
1. Javier Sicilia Receives GX Human Rights Award - On June 1, Global Exchange presented a human rights award to Javier Sicilia. In his speech, Sicilia said that US citizens would be complicit in the deaths of Mexicans if they did not try to deal with their country's prohibitionist drug policies, weapons industry and funding for the Merida Initiative (Plan Mexico). Later, in El Paso, Sicilia said: “We ask the people of this country that you stop those weapons, that you have to tell the government that the drugs you consume are not an issue of national security, but one of public health. You have to impede that Plan Merida, which has been nothing more than fuel for the violence, or you will be accomplices of that crime against humanity in Mexico.”
2. Caravan for Peace Tours Northern Mexico and Meets With Calderon - Beginning June 4, the movement started by poet and novelist Javier Sicilia after the murder of his son, formed a caravan for peace with justice and dignity that traveled to cities in northern Mexico, ending up in Ciudad Juárez on June 10, where a National Citizens Pact was signed. Sicilia also met with exiled Mexican families in El Paso, Texas on June 11. A group of family members of the victims accompanied Sicilia to a June 23 meeting with Calderon, which was broadcast on national television. The televised meeting got mixed reviews. Calderon defended his "war against organized crime," and showed little sign of changing his deadly strategy. There is some indication that the members of the Caravan will head south in the near future; that is, towards Chiapas.
In the US
1. Bill to Let States Regulate Marijuana Introduced in House
- This month, two US Congressmen (Barney Frank and Ron Paul) introduced a bill that would end the federal restrictions on marijuana, thus leaving it up to the individual states to decide how to best serve their constituencies. Oakland's own Congresswoman Barbara Lee is one of the co-signers. In addition to letting the states decide, this apparently would mean that federal agents could only deal with interstate smuggling. June 2011 represented the 40th anniversary of the "war on drugs" declared by Richard "Tricky Dick" Nixon. Consistent with Sicilia's position, the International Drug Policy Commission issued a report recommending that drugs be legalized and treated as a public health issue. The report can be read in English at: http://www.idpc.net/publications/global-commission-drug-policy-report
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