OCTOBER 2010 CHIAPAS/ZAPATISTA NEWS SUMMARY

In Chiapas

1. Good News: 170 Zapatista Bases Return to Chilon - The 170 Zapatista  support bases that were expelled from San Marcos Aviles, Chilon, Chiapas, by members of the PRI, PRD and PVEM political parties in retaliation for building an autonomous Zapatista school have returned to their homes in San Marcos. According to the Good Government Junta in Oventik, they were accompanied in their return by a  group of Zapatistas from nearby communities and are now working their lands again. The return demonstrates the Zapatista practice of defending their lands with the non-violent solidarity of numbers!

2. The Army of God's "Commander" Writes To Blake Mora - Esdras Alonso Gonzalez, Director of the Eagle Wings Church and self-described commander of the evangelical grouping known as the Army of God, sent a letter to federal Interior Minister, Jose Francisco Blake Mora. In it he asks the federal government to intervene in the Mitziton Ejido against ejido members adhered to the EZLN's Other Campaign and against the Fray Bartolome de las Casas Human Rights Center (Frayba) for supporting the Other Campaign adherents. He claims that the Other Campaign adherents never stop provoking and destabilizing.The letter denies that the Army of God is an armed group or a criminal group and blames the Zapatista movement, including its supporters and its "outside" "advisors", as well as foreigners of supporting conflict and asks the government to check the visas of the foreigners. And on and on...

Prior to the letter, Mitziton had denounced that attacks and provocations were increasing. Much of the current conflict is over the Army of God's illegal logging on Mitziton's ejido lands. After the letters, members of the Army of God allegedly kidnapped and tortured 2 soldiers from the Rancho Nuevo Military Base. There is no report of any charges being brought against them.

3. Mitziton Responds - Mitziton Ejido owners adhered to the Other Campaign sent their own letter to Blake Mora. They indicate that the problem in the community is not because of religious divisions. "That has only been a pretext for those who attack and demean us. We know that the right to freedom of religion exists and we comply with it. We are not Catholic traditionalists. We are men, women, girls, boys and elderly that struggle for our indigenous rights, recognized in international laws and our own Constitution, which at times have been violated by the three levels of government." They assert that all the facts they state in their denunciations are true. In another denunciation, Mitziton once again demanded that the government relocate the ejido members belonging to the Army of God. 

4. Release 15 More Sentenced for Acteal Massacre - Another group of those sentenced for participating in the Acteal Massacre on December 22, 1997, were released early from the El Amate Prison in Chiapas due to "good behavior." Las Abejas of Acteal, the Catholic pacifist organization to which all the victims belonged, expressed their "rage and indignation" at the release. Bishop Arizmendi of the San San Cristobal Diocese criticized the "progressive liberation" of those involved in the killings, fearing that over time it would be like there was no massacre.

5.  Chiapas Wins Appeal Over Mining As New Threats Emerge Against Mining Opponents - An appellate court in Mexico City determined that the barite mine located in Chicomuselo Municipality will have to remain closed until the Canadian company Blackfire, concessioner of the deposit, fulfills the regulations indicated by the Chiapas Secretary of Environment, Housing and Natural History (Semavihn). The Semavihn closed the mine for alleged violations of state environmental law after the November 2009 murder of Mariano Abarca, leader of the community movement against mining. This April, Blackfire obtained a protective order (injunction) enabling the company to continue mining, but the Chiapas government appealed and won. The movement of Chicomuselo residents opposed to the barite mine continues and death threats have been made to a parish priest and to  Mariano Abarca's son, Uriel, who is working with those opposed to the mine because of the contamination it causes to the soil, air and water.

6. Police Dismantle Radio Proletaria - On October 12, police dismantled Radio Proletaria, a community based station operated for the past four years by the Emiliano Zapata Proletarian Organizacion (OPEZ-MLN) in the OPEZ-MLN offices in a barrio of Tuxtla Gutierrez, the capital of Chiapas.   At least five people associated with the station were arrested, including a 15-year-old who hosts a music program.  OPEZ is in the midst of a statewide protest, demanding the release from prison of two of  its leaders, Caralampio Gómez and Juan Díaz Gómez.  In recent days the radio station reported on permanent encampments maintained by OPEZ-MLN in front of the state government palace and the United Nations office in San Cristobal de las Casas. Gómez is considered a "political prisoner" by his organization.

7. Shooting at Zapatista Bathing Spa; Zapatistas Detain 1 Man - On October 22, 2 men began to shout death threats at Zapatistas who were working at the El Salvador Spa, adjacent to Agua Clara Ejido, Comandanta Ramona autonomous municipality. When the 2 men palmed their machetes while making the death  threats, the Zapatistas decided to detain them. One was able to escape and, from a distance, fired 50 shots at the Zapatistas. The other man was detained. Both men are known as assailants who rob tourists on the highway between Ocosingo and Palenque. In fact, the man detained is none other than Manuel Perez Gomez, who had been detained previously by Zapatistas after the 2009 incident in Bachajon. In that incident, police detained 7 Other Campaign adherents and 1 Zapatista after anti-Zapatistas accused them of being the ones who were robbing tourists. The Zapatistas then detained the "real robbers" and announced their detention. After that announcement, the Zapatista was quickly released and the Other Campaign members were eventually all released.

 

In Other Parts of Mexico

1. Oaxaca: 2 More San Juan Copala Murders  -  Two members of the Movement of Unification and Triqui Struggle Independent (MULTI), identified with San Juan Copala autonomous municipality, were murdered on October 17 in an ambush perpetrated on the highway to Yosoyuxi by men that were carrying high power rifles. One of the victims, Teresa Ramirez Sanchez, together with another 134 inhabitants of San Juan Copala, enjoys the precautionary measures dictated by the Inter-American Human Rights Commission (IAHRC). Jordan Ramirez Gonzalez, husband of the dead woman, to whom the organism also granted said measures, was injured in the attack. Serafin Ubaldo Zurita, the 34-year-old driver, and Teresa Ramírez Sánchez, 30, died in the vehicle, while Domingo Ramírez Ortega, 62, and Jordan Ramirez Gonzalez, 34, were injured. On October 9, the IAHRC had asked the Mexican government to implement precautionary measures to protect the 135 Triquis of San Juan Copala. The IAHRC is a commission of the Organization of American States (OAS).

2. Oaxaca: CODECI Leader Murdered in Tuxtepec - On October 22, Catarino Torres Pereda, Secretary General of the Citizen's Defense Committee (Codeci) and one of the first prisoners because of the APPO's 2006 popular movement in Oaxaca, was executed in the organization's offices, located in the city of Tuxtepec, in the northeast corner of Oaxaca near the Veracruz border. Torres Pereda was a leader in the struggle for indigenous and campesino rights, an adherent to the EZLN's Other Campaign and a leader in the APPO. Codeci is pointing fingers directly at the state government of Ulises Ruiz (PRI). Torres Pereda worked for the election of the successful PRD candidate for governor.

3. Oaxaca: MULT Leader Also Murdered in Triqui Region - On October 23, a leader of the Movement of Unification and Triqui Struggle (MULT), Heriberto Pazos Ortiz, was executed in Cinco Senores, located to the east of the city of Oaxaca. Earlier in the month, on October 12 (Dia de la Raza), Pazos Ortiz was one of the MULT leaders calling for a dialogue with the rival Triqui group, the MULTI. Church officials have called for a peace dialogue between the 2 groups and the MULT marched for peace and introduced its representatives to the dialogue. The MULT is also a member of the Other Campaign.

Pazos Ortiz was shot and killed as he was riding in the back seat of a vehicle, escorted by 3 guards; one private bodyguard and 2 agents from the State Investigation Agency (AFI, in Spanish). The killers pulled alongside the car and shot at Pazos Ortiz through the open back window, killing him. The guards did not immediately realize what had happened because the guns had silencers. State officials are investigating the murder and have detained the 3 guards. The MULT is defending the guards and claiming they are innocent. Meanwhile the current PRI government of Ulises Ruiz leaves office at the end of November. A PRD Governor will take office December 1.
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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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Chiapas Support Committee/Comité de Apoyo a Chiapas
P.O. Box  3421, Oakland, CA  94609
Tel: (510) 654-9587
Email: cezmat@igc.org
http://www.chiapas-support.org