JUNE 2009 CHIAPAS / ZAPATISTA NEWS SUMMARY
[As this news about Mexico, Chiapas, the Zapatistas and the Other Campaign is being compiled, the military coup is unfolding in Honduras. Please call the White House and ask President Obama to demand President Zelaya's return to office and to cut off aid to Honduras until Zelaya is restored as president. The White House phone numbers are: Comments: 202-456-1111, Switchboard: 202-456-1414]
1. Inter-American Gathering Against Impunity
- On June 20 and 21, the Zapatista Good Government Junta of Morelia hosted the Inter-American Encuentro (Gathering) Against Impunity. Human rights defenders, analysts, activists from the past and the present joined together this weekend with organizations and popular movements from Peru, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, Cuba, Brazil, Haiti, Guatemala, Ecuador, United States, Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Bolivia and Mexico to join together the way things are now and memory, the only real way of proposing a future. "Within the context of free trade agreements, constitutional and legal reforms promoted by the bad governments through legislators from all the parties, they have approved the modification of laws and of our 1917 Constitution, putting our lands, natural resources, knowledge and wisdom on the market. We disavow, as indigenous peoples, this group of reforms that put the integrity of our peoples and the very life itself of human beings at risk," said Juan Chavez on behalf of Mexico's National Indigenous Congress (CNI, its initials in Spanish). Hugo Blanco spoke about the massacre of indigenous people in the Peruvian Amazon and said their struggle had not ended. You can listen to the workshops on a web site for the Inter-American Encuentro (Gathering) Against Impunity (in Spanish) at: http://www.contralaimpunidad.org
2. EZLN Analyzes Plan Mexico As U.S. Congress Approves $420 Million - As the U.S. Congress was approving $420 million more dollars for Plan Mexico, formally known as the Merida Initiative, the Good Government Junta of Morelia denounced the Plan. Upon closing the Inter-American Gathering Against Impunity on Sunday night, June 21, the Zapatista Good Government Junta of Morelia said that the "Mérida Plan" is not against crime, but an instrument for "incarcerating, torturing and disappearing" those who struggle for their rights. Those who attended the Gathering identified the capitalist system as the fundamental cause of impunity and concluded that alternative tribunals must be formed to try those who commit egregious human rights violations against the civilian population.
3. Frayba Center Receives Human Rights Award - On June 10, the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Center (commonly referred to as "Frayba") received the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Award in Spain. Confused? Fray Bartolomé de las Casas was a Catholic friar who, during the Conquest, championed the cause of the indigenous peoples of Central America (Chiapas was considered part of the Guatemala region during that time) to the Spanish Crown. He objected strongly to indigenous peoples' enslavement and mistreatment. The Frayba Center and the city of San Cristóbal are named after him. Each year, the current Spanish Crown (the Prince of Asturias) gives the award to individuals and institutions that work in favor of indigenous peoples. The 2 representatives who traveled to Spain to receive the award on behalf of Frayba were Diego Cadenas, its director, and Bishop Raul Vera, Vice President of its Board of Directors. The prize is a gift of $70,000.00. The money will be used to build an office for the Frayba Center and to install some security. The Center's current office is rented. Some of Frayba's employees, including Cadenas, are being "watched." Frayba's founder and current Board president, Bishop Samuel Ruiz, was unable to travel to Spain for health reasons.
4. Mexican Army Tortures Villagers in Guerrero - Amnesty International (AI) denounced that in April, the Mexican Army tortured, threatened and harassed villagers in the state of Guerrero during a military operation against the Ejército Revolucionario del Pueblo Insurgente (Revolutionary Army of the Insurgent People). Specifically, AI documented that from June 9 to 13, soldiers entered villages in the Coyuca de Catalán municipality, tortured two men and attacked, threatened and harassed women and children with their weapons. Violence and human rights abuses are on the rise in Guerrero. According to the Community Development Workshop (Tadeco, its initials in Spanish) of Chilpancingo, more than 1100 violent deaths have been reported, distinct from those related to drug trafficking and common crime. Most involve some police or military force, related or not to movements or actions of society: all, innocent civilians. And the United States government is sending over one billion dollars to those same security forces!
5. Update on San Sebastian Bachajon - State police maintain their new camp on land belonging to the San Sebastian Bachajon ejido, the seven political prisoners remain in prison and construction companies extract gravel from the ejido's gravel pit. Opddic members continue threats and thefts and they recently detained and handcuffed an ejido member, but he was rescued before the Opddic folks could take him away. At the Agua Clara bathing spa operated by the Zapatistas, near Bachajon, police patrols are constant. This area is experiencing incredibly high tension and it is only expected to mount as the San Cristóbal-Palenque highway construction proceeds.
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.
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 participate in 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