NOVEMBER 2009 CHIAPAS/ZAPATISTA NEWS SUMMARY
Thanks so much to everyone who attended, supported and volunteered at our Community Celebration. It was an honor to have all of you present with Carlos Marentes, MamaCoAtl and our "special guests."
1. The EZLN's Silence on 26th Anniversary - November 17 was the 26th Anniversary of the founding of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN). Traditionally, this day is celebrated with festivities in all 5 Zapatista Caracoles and the EZLN's CCRI-CG (Indigenous Revolutionary Clandestine Committee-General Command) issues a communiqué. This year, the CCRI-CG issued no statement and there were no celebrations in the Caracoles. Hmmm! We're wondering what the Zapatistas are up to.
2. Supreme Court Releases 9 More Prisoners in Acteal Case - On November 4, Mexico's Supreme Court ordered the release of nine more prisoners convicted for participating in the 1997 Acteal Massacre of 21 women, 15 children and 9 men as they prayed for peace in a chapel located in the community of Acteal, Chiapas. The Court ruled that their convictions were based on illegally obtained evidence. New trials were ordered for 16 others.This ruling was made over the objections of the surviving victims and family members of those murdered and after the United States released intelligence reports establishing that the government trained paramilitaries in that region. In August, the Court released 20 prisoners convicted for the massacre and ordered new trials for six. Many analysts believe the Court's decision was purely political and that it implemented a campaign promise made by now President Calderon. The governor of Chiapas, faced with the problem of what to do with these former paramilitaries, has apparently obtained an agreement that they will not return to their communities in Chenalho Municipality in exchange for the government providing them with housing and other benefits.
3. Chiapas Repression Includes OPEZ-Historic -The Emiliano Zapata Proletarian Organization (OPEZ-Historic) denounced military harassment of its communities in La Trinitaria, Las Margaritas, Socoltenango, Venustiano Carranza, Nicolas Ruiz and Comitán. The organization says that soldiers enter communities when the women are alone with the children, break into houses and frighten everyone. It also reports that the Army has set up camps in or near some of its communities and that there are military checkpoints throughout this area. OPEZ-Historic is one of the several current factions of the OPEZ. It is the faction known for cooperating with the Chiapas state government.
4. What's Behind the Current Repression in Chiapas? - La Jornada obtained a document compiled by the Chiapas Attorney General's Office which concludes that
an armed movement is being forged for next year (2010). The document is titled The Prevailing Situation in Venustiano Carranza Municipality," and supposedly documents the existence of a subversive network whose axis would be Jesús Landín, a Catholic priest in Venustiano Carranza parish. It also concludes that imprisoned OCEZ-RC leader, Jose Manuel Hernandez Martinez (Chema), is the leader of the Popular Revolutionary Army (EPR) in Chiapas. It implicates Diego Cadenas of Frayba and the National Front of Struggle for Socialism (FNLS) in the subversive network. This document, which seems to mix apples with oranges in order to arrive at itsconclusions, is thought to be the origin of the rumors and leaks from the state government to the media. It also serves to justify the repression in Venustiano Carranza and neighboring municipalities. Apparently, the document also anticipatted an outbreak of violence on the 99th anniversary of the Mexican Revolution (November 20) this year, which did not occur.
5. OCEZ Leader, El Chema, Free on Bail - José Manuel Hernandez Martinez and two other OCEZ leaders were released from prison on November 23, free on bail only a couple of days after Chiapas Governor Juan Sabines Guerrero met with Felipe Arizmendi, Catholic bishop of the diocese of San Cristobal. Next, there were a series of what appear to be announcements paid for by the state government in La Jornada about Sabines' great desire to calm the tension in Chiapas. The 3 OCEZ leaders were then released and the government offered a negotiations to reach "detente" with the OCEZ. The OCEZ met with the state government on November 27. This did not result in the end of the sit-in (encampment) in front of the cathedral. OCEZ is demanding that criminal charges against the 3 leaders be dropped and the 11 warrants for the arrest of other OCEZ members be cancelled. It appears that OCEZ is also demanding a building to use as a shelter for its "internally displaced" members. The commitments reached in the November 27 meeting did, however, result in OCEZ vacating the UN offices in San Cristobal on November 30.
6. 1400 U.S. Agents Active in Mexico - La Jornada reported that there are now approximately 1400 U.S. agents gathering intelligence on Mexican soil. Half of them are Mexican citizens and previously worked for Mexican police or intelligence agencies. The agents work for the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF). The ICE and ATF agents are concentrated mostly along the border, but DEA agents spread out all over Mexico, including Chiapas.
7. Mining Opposition Leader, Mariano Abarca, Murdered - Mariano Abarca was murdered outside his home in Chicomuselo, Chiapas, on November 27 by an unidentified gunman on a motorcycle. Abarca had been a leader in the opposition to mining in the Sierra Region of Chiapas. The Black Fire mining company is suspected of possibly having some responsibility for the crime.
8. Disinformation About Zapatistas by Chiapas Government - La Jornada carried a news note claiming that the 5 Zapatista Juntas had asked the state government for legal recognition of their autonomous municipalities and a share of the state budget. The source for the story was a PAN elected official. All 5 Juntas denied the story, each with an interesting choice of words.
In Other Parts of Mexico...
1. Electrical Workers Union (SME) and Allies Stage National Strike - The SME called for a national strike on November 11 and received lots of support across the country. They filled Mexico City's Zocalo with approximately 200,000 people and had large marches in other cities around the country too. On November 29, as President Calderon was giving a speech at the National Palace, electrical workers, organized a demonstration in front of the National Palace which was tear gassed by the Federal Police. In response the electrical workers threw eggs at the police. The local police, controlled by Mexico City's Mayor, put themselves in between the Federal Police and demonstrators, effectively preventing the Federal Police from further action. Currently, 4 women are on a hunger strike demanding reinstatement of Central Light & Power. (See last month's news summary.) Peasant organizations and electrical workers will commemorate the anniversary of the Mexican Revolution on December 4 by carrying out a symbolic takeover of Mexico City.
2. U.S. and Colombian Law Enforcement Personnel Train Mexico's Federal Police in San Luis Potosi - Funds from the Merida Initiative (Plan Mexico), distrubuted by the U.S. State Department, are financing training of Mexico's new Federal Police agency at a secure police academy in San Luis Potosí. The training program is run by a private logistics company, Kaseman LLC, in Virginia. FBI agents, ICE officers, U.S. marshals, DEA agents and detectives from city police departments give the training, as well as police from Colombia and other countries. According to the Arizona Republic, which visited the site, the Colombians are graduates of similar U.S. training efforts in Colombia, where Plan Colombia funds helped counter leftist rebels and drug traffickers.
3. ERPI Commander Murdered - Comandante Ramiro of the Insurgent People's Revolutionary Army (ERPI, its initials in Spanish) was shot dead in Palos Grandes, Ajuchitlan del Progreso Municipality, Guerrero, on November 4 with an AK-47. The ERPI alleges that a hired gunman did the job for the government. The ERPI issued a communique alleging that the gunman was tied to the biggest cacique (political and economic boss) in Guerrero and also to the police and military. The Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Guerrero (APPG) claimed Ramiro's body and buried him.
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