CHIAPAS / ZAPATISTA NEWS SUMMARY
Comandanta Ramona Women’s Encuentro - The Third Encuentro of the
Zapatista Peoples with the Peoples of the World; Comandanta Ramona and the
Zapatista Women was held in the Zapatista caracol of La Garrucha, Chiapas,
Mexico, from December 28 to January 1. Only women were able to enter the
inside of the auditorium where the sessions took place. Men were asked to
remain in an outdoor section with a good speaker system so that they could
hear. Under sunny jungle skies, the Zapatista women spoke about their
lives as grassroots supporters, insurgents, comandantas, “consejas,” of
all their roles within their organization. La Garrucha’s residents opened
their hearts to all those who attended and contributed to making the
Women’s Encuentro a great success. There were 3,000 of us registered
as participants and approximately 5,000 people at the Closing ceremony on
New Years Eve.
More OPDDIC Attacks in Northern Zone - While much attention was focused
on the Women’s Encuentro, several attacks on Zapatista supporters occurred
in the region near the Agua Azul Cascades, in the Northern Zone of Chiapas.
One Zapatista was attacked with machetes in Agua Azul Chico on December 27
and another Zapatista was shot and injured in Betel Yochiv on December 29.
The aggressors in both cases were members of the Organization for the
Defense of Indigenous and Campesino Rights (Opddic). In the second
incident, the Opddic members were in the company of 2 state police officers.
The ongoing violence in the Agua Azul region appears to be connected to the
government’s planned extensive expansion of tourism, facilitated by the
construction of a turnpike between San Cristóbal de las Casas and Palenque,
the state’s two tourist meccas. Also easing tourist access to the Agua
Azul-Palenque region is the planned expansion of the Palenque airport. Both
the turnpike and the airport expansion are infrastructure projects
envisioned by the Plan Puebla-Panamá (PPP).
NAFTA Removes Tariffs - On January 1, 2008, NAFTA provisions
took effect which completely abolished protective tariffs on corn, beans,
powdered milk and sugar. The impact on the Mexican countryside,
already reeling from subsidized imports of US agricultural grains, is
expected to be devastating. Campesino organizations and other
organizations are organizing anti-NAFTA protests, the largest of which took
place in Mexico City’s Zocalo on January 31 (an estimated 200,000 people).
Many voices are calling for renegotiating the agricultural chapter of NAFTA
because the Mexican government’s drastic reduction of farm subsidies has
made it impossible for Mexican farmers to compete with subsidized products
from the U.S. without protective tariffs. This is one of the factors
driving the migration of these rural farmers to other parts of Mexico and/or
across the border.
14th Anniversary of the Zapatista Uprising - On New Years’ Eve,
5,000 Zapatistas and their supporters celebrated the closing of the highly
successful Women’s Encuentro and the 14th Anniversary of the Zapatista
Uprising in the Caracol of La Garrucha. Comandanta Rosalinda and Comandante
Omar spoke, followed by the Zapatista Hymn and all night dancing to the
music of an excellent local dance band.
Atenco Prisoners Freed - On January 25, seven members of the People’s
Front in Defense of Land (FPDT) were released from the Molino de Flores
prison after spending one year and eight months behind bars on charges
related to the May 2006 police violence in San Salvador Atenco. A
federal judge found insufficient evidence to hold the seven on charges of
kidnapping and blocking highways. FPDT supporters, who maintain a
24-hour vigil in front of the prison, organized an impromptu celebration.
Those released are: Guillermo Selvas Pineda and his daughter Mariana Selvas
Gómez, David Medina Neri, Vicente García Munguía, Martín Garrido Romero,
Cecilio Ramírez Espinosa and Jorge Armando Ramírez Aguilar.
monthly by the Chiapas Support Committee
folks to distribute this information widely, but please include our name and
contact information in the distribution. Gracias/Thanks.
from previous months are posted on our web page:
Support Committee is a grass roots all-volunteer human rights organization
in Oakland, California. We work with indigenous and campesino
organizations in Mexico. We have an hermanamiento (partnership) with
San Manuel autonomous Zapatista municipality. In the Bay Area we
provide public information about Chiapas through public events, our
newsletter (Chiapas Update), our listserv and web site. 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!