DECEMBER 2007 CHIAPAS / ZAPATISTA NEWS SUMMARY

1.  Comandanta Ramona Women’s Encuentro - The Third Encuentro of the Zapatista Peoples with the Peoples of the World; Comandanta Ramona and the Zapatista Women will take place in the Zapatista caracol of La Garrucha, Chiapas, Mexico, from December 28 to January 1. Only women will have voice at this Encuentro (Gathering), however, men are welcome as observers. The invitation/ convocation is posted on the zeztainternazional web page (in both English and Spanish). Friday, December 28 is the day of arrival and registration, although participants may also arrive and register on Dec. 27.  Workshops will take place  December 29, 30 and 31.  On January 1, 2008, the 14th anniversary of the Zapatista Uprising will be celebrated, closing the Encuentro.  

2. Chiapas Governor Asks Feds to Investigate the Opddic -  At the end of November, Chiapas Governor Juan Sabines asked Mexico’s Attorney General and the National Human Rights Commission to investigate the Opddic, allegedly a paramilitary organization. Due to the repeated press releases from the Zapatistas denouncing Opddic’s attacks on Zapatista communities, Sabines asked for an investigation into Opddic’s activities, who finances the organization and how, its purpose and the interests involved. 

3.  4 Opddic Members Charged and Jailed - The December 15 edition of La Jornada carried a story about 4 members of the Organization for the Defense of Indigenous and Campesino Rights (Opddic) who shot and brutally beat two Zapatista support bases  on August 10, 2007. The attack occurred in Ba yulumax community, Olga Isabel autonomous Zapatista municipality (Chilón official municipality). The incident was part of the ongoing struggle by the Opddic to take recuperated land in Olga Isabel away from the Zapatistas. The 2 Zapatistas were seriously injured and taken to a hospital in the state capital of Tuxtla Gutiérrez. Both recovered from their injuries. Recently, four of the Opddic members alleged to be responsible were charged with attempted murder and are being held in jail. La Jornada describes one of them, Vicente Jiménez Díaz, as an Opddic leader.  It is interesting that this case was specifically referred to by Governor Sabines when he asked for a federal investigation into the Opddic. 

4.  Boycott the Agua Azul Cascades! - Civil Society is mobilizing in support of the besieged community of Bolom Ajaw, located on land adjacent to the Agua Azul cascades, a major Chiapas tourist attraction.  They are urging Chiapas tourists to boycott the Agua Azul Cascades until attacks on Zapatista supporters in that region stop. The Opddic members who operate the tourist attraction and profit from it are said to be those attacking the Zapatista community of Bolom Ajaw. The Other Campaign in the Jovel Valley (San Cristóbal de las Casas) has also established a peace camp at Bolom Ajaw. 

5.  Diego Mendez Arcos Released from Jail - Diego Méndez Arcos was released from jail in Chiapas and exonerated of any role in the Viejo Velasco Suarez killings on November 13, 2006. Mendez Arcos, a member of the Xi´Nich, a Chol campesino organization, lived in Nuevo Tila, a neighboring community, and went to Viejo Velasco to see if he could help the injured. He is a health promoter.  Four people were killed in the violent eviction of Viejo Velasco Suarez by members of the Lacandón Community who wanted the land. Another four people are still missing and presumed dead as a result of the eviction. Mendez Arcos was considered a “political prisoner” by Amnesty International, which alleged that the murder charges against him “can have a political motivation to dissuade other communities and members of Xi´Nich from opposing the evictions.”  

6.  International Conference in Honor of Andrés Aubry -  From December 13-17, an international conference in honor of the late Andrés Aubry took place in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas.  Speakers included John Berger, Naomi Klein, Immanuel Wallerstein, Pablo González Casanova, Peter Rosset and many more. The theme was: Planet Earth: anti-systemic movements. Andrés Aubry was a historian, anthropologist, member of Unitierra and one who enthusiastically accompanied the Zapatista peoples. He was killed in an auto accident this past September.  Subcomandante Marcos spoke at each of the conference’s 7 segments, delivering a 7-part essay. In the seventh part, entitled "Feeling Red: The Calendar and the Geography of War," Marcos announced that he would not be attending conferences, encuentros or giving interviews for a “good while.”  He said the Zapatista communities are surrounded by military camps and paramilitaries and are preparing for the war which they see coming.  "Those of us who have made war know how to recognize the paths by which it is prepared and brought near," Marcos said. "The signs of war on the horizon are clear. War, like fear, also has a smell. And now we are starting to breathe its fetid odor in our lands." 

7.  Marcos Interview in Gatopardo Magazine -  An interview with Subcomandante Marcos appeared in the print edition of Gatopardo, a Colombian magazine. A review of the article appears in the online version of Proceso  magazine in Mexico. According to Proceso, Marcos attributes the Other Campaign’s lack of success to the EZLN’s criticisms of Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO).  Marcos admits that this has isolated them. He also says that if he could change anything, it would be his own “protagonismo” (media star leadership).  

8. 10th Anniversary of Acteal Massacre -  On December 22, 1997, 45 men, women and children belonging to the Tzotzil Catholic campesino organization called Las Abejas (the Bees) were murdered in the community of Acteal, Chenalhó Municipality, Chiapas, while they prayed in a tiny chapel. Members of an indigenous paramilitary organization known as Mascara Roja were convicted of the crime and remain in prison. An “Encuentro Against Impunity” took place in Acteal during the several days prior to the 10th Anniversary of the massacre. It was attended by many from national and international civil society, as well as Bishop Emeritus Samuel Ruiz and Bishop Raul Vera, the bishop and auxiliary bishop of San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, at the time of the massacre.  On the 22nd, the government again arrested Antonio Santiz Lopez, allegedly a key paramilitary figure in the massacre, on state charges related to the massacre.

9.  Agua Azul Leaders Put On a Show - Leaders of Agua Azul village, who operate the Cascades of the same name as a profitable tourist attraction, first announced publicly that they will no longer have anything to do with the violent behavior of the Opddic. Next, these suddenly ex Opddic members went to the Justice Ministry in Tuxtla Gutiérrez to announce their rejection of violence and turn in their weapons (shades of Albores Guillén!). Both announcements received wide distribution in the various communications media of Chiapas.  
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Compiled monthly by  the Chiapas Support Committee
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