JANUARY 2008 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 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.  

2.  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).

3.  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. 

4.  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.

5.  7 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.
 

Compiled monthly by  the Chiapas Support Committee

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 posted on our web page: 
http://www.chiapas-support.org
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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 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!
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Chiapas Support Committee
P.O. Box  3421
Oakland, CA  94609
Tel: (510) 654-9587
Email: cezmat@igc.org