May 2007 Chiapas/Zapatista News Summery

a1.  Remembering Atenco -  The month of May began with ceremonies in remembrance of the bloody police rampage on May 3 and 4, 2006 in San Salvador Atenco. On May 3, the Peoples Front in Defense of Land (FPDT, its initials in Spanish) and members of the EZLN’s Sixth Commission marched to the Interior Ministry (Gobernación) headquarters in Mexico City.  Subcomandante Marcos, Comandante Amoos, Comandanta Hortensia and her daughter Lupita marched with the campesinos. Amoos and Hortensia delivered a message from Zapatista support bases in Chiapas. The march included Other Campaign members from many organizations. March organizers estimated the number of marchers at approximately 3,000 people. On May 4, the FPDT marched from Atenco to Mexico City’s Zócalo, once again clanging their machetes on the pavement as they did when they marched to defeat the construction of an airport on their land near Texcoco. Although the Sixth Commission did not participate in this second march, many Other Campaign members did march, including some APPO members from Oaxaca. Comandante Moisés participated in a march in Zacatecas and demanded the liberation of all  political prisoners.

  2.  Atenco Leaders Sentenced to 67 Years in Prison! - On May 5, 2007, three FPDT leaders were each sentenced to 67 years in prison for “kidnapping” members of the police. Ignacio del Valle, Felipe Alvarez and Hector Galindo were arrested by police during the incidents one year ago and have been held in the maximum security prison of the Altiplano (formerly La Palma) in Almoloya de Juárez ever since. They have remained in prison during the one-year pendency of their case.  The sentence was announced as members of the Sixth Commission were riding with approximately 1,000 Other Campaign adherents in a motorized caravan from Mexico City to the Santiaguito Prison. More charges are pending against the same three leaders.  28 people remain in prison awaiting sentence as a result of the 2006 incidents in Texcoco and Atenco. More than 100 are free on bond with pending charges. 

  3.  Drug Trafficking And Militarization -  Mexico is experiencing a prolonged period of extreme violence, supposedly originating in turf wars between drug-trafficking cartels. President Felipe Calderón has inserted the Mexican Army into this scenario, and its actions create even more violence, sometimes against innocent civilians. Some observers say it is questionable whether drug trafficking and the violence it generates are being seriously confronted by the Army.  The daily murder rate continues to soar, including the murder of high police officials. Heads are rolling in the streets as warnings. Political observers believe that inserting the military is merely an excuse to quell social unrest. In Tepic, Nayarit, Marcos declared himself to be among this latter group. (La Jornada, 5/29/07). 

  4.  Comandantes Meet with Adherents living on the Other Side -  On May 12, three commanders from the Sixth Commission (Zebedeo, Eucaria and Miriam) met with Other Campaign adherents from Houston, San Antonio and Austin, Texas in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, Mexico to further the work of Texas adherents with Blanca Navidad colonia in Mexico. On May 20 in Tijuana, several commanders from the Sixth Commission met with some Other Campaign adherents on the Other Side (the United States). Those who attended made proposals for doing the Other Campaign’s work on this side of the border. One result of the May 20 meeting is that regional meetings are called for August 12 among adherents in the United States. Different commanders are traveling through states in northern Mexico, meeting with adherents in each state and region to develop proposals which will move them forward towards the elaboration of a national plan of action and to offer what help is needed wherever possible.  

  5.  Hurricane Barbara - As the month ends, Tropical Storm / Hurricane Barbara is headed for the Pacific Coast of Chiapas, which has still not recovered from the destruction caused by Hurricane Stan in 2005.

Compiled by Mary Ann Tenuto-Sánchez for the Chiapas Support Committee