NOVEMBER 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 territory 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 has just been posted on the zeztainternazional web page (in both English and Spanish). You may contact the Chiapas Support Committee for information on how to get there, what to expect, places to stay, and so forth.  Our contact information is below.  According to the Women’s Information Center in Mexico, Friday, December 28 is the day of arrival and registration.  Workshops will take place  December 29, 30 and 31.  On January 1, 2008, the 14th anniversary of the Zapatista Uprising will be celebrated. 

2.  Floods Devastate Tabasco - Rains which began the last several days of October continued into November and caused severe flooding in this low-lying Gulf state. The Grijalva  river swelled to as much as 10 feet above its normal levels.  Estimates are that one million people are affected. In the capital city of Villahermosa, both homes and businesses were destroyed or damaged.  Crops, farm animals and cattle were also destroyed. Economic loss is estimated in the billions of dollars and some in Mexico compare the disaster to New Orleans after Katrina. Relief efforts to the many victims are slow and inadequate. An estimated 150,000 jobs have been lost. The good news is that only 3 deaths were reported, although there are still some people missing. The bad news is that more heavy rain is feared soon and the Chiapas dam which caused the problem to worsen is once again expected to discharge water. There is some talk of forced evacuations of several hundred thousand people.

3.  Chiapas Landslide Kills 16. Nine Still Missing - Chiapas shares a border with the state of Tabasco on the north.  The heavy rainfall which caused flooding in Tabasco also fell on Chiapas. Although Chiapas experienced some flooding, damaged homes, broken bridges, damage to roads and mudslides, it escaped widespread flooding like that in Tabasco. A large landslide buried the village of Juan de Grijalva, in the northwestern part of the Chiapas, municipality of Ostuacán. 16 bodies have been found. 9 people are still missing and presumed dead. The village is located on the edge of the Grijalva River, at a low elevation, not far from the Peñitas Dam. That dam was allegedly too full and had to discharge water into the Grijalva River, which flows to the northeast through the city of Villahermosa, and eventually into the Gulf of Mexico.  That discharge of water added to the flooding in Tabasco state. The landslide which buried Juan de Grijalva went into the river, causing a stoppage in its flow. Crews are still working to remove the enormous mound of dirt in order to get the river flowing again. However, when it does begin to flow, a lot of backed-up water will go into the Peñitas dam, which will have to discharge some water. This does not bode well for Tabasco. There are some indications that the lower elevations of this northwestern zone of Chiapas are unstable and relocation of communities is planned.  Cracks are appearing in the earth and tremors have been felt. This is the region where oil and gas are extracted. Pemex and Halliburton are active there. The northwestern region also has two large dams on the Grijalva River: Malpaso and Peñitas. 

4. Paramilitary Attack in Bolon Ajaw - The Organization for the Defense of Indigenous and Campesino Rights (Opddic, its initials in Spanish) has been harassing and threatening the Zapatista residents of Bolon Ajaw (aka Bolom Ajaw) for months. The most recent attack was on November  24, when these cowardly PRI members entered the village while the men were working their fields and beat a man unconscious who had stayed home from work because he was sick. They later attacked a child and bent his wrists back as he screamed in pain.  On November 20, the Opddic’s members had confronted Zapatista companeros in their fields. Some Opddic members were armed with guns, machetes, clubs, radio transmitters and photographic equipment. On November 13, the Opddic members entered the community’s field, wanting to cultivate it. They shot into the air and threatened that “They have good weapons” and that “if you don’t leave that place your bodies will be torn to pieces and thrown into the river.” On November 16, they delivered a message in writing to the Zapatistas saying that the Army was going to enter Bolom Ajaw that night or the next morning. On November 17 (the EZLN’s 24th Birthday!), an Opddic group brought a government official into Bolom Ajaw to see “whether the community had been abandoned.” The ongoing harassment of this community is connected to its proximity to the Agua Azul Cascades, an important Chiapas tourist attraction not far from Palenque. A new super highway is in the works between San Cristobal and Palenque to accommodate the state’s plans for large increases in tourism. Bolom Ajaw occupies land where the state seeks to expand the Agua Azul site.  CAPISE has asked for a tourist boycott of Agua Azul.

5. 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. This December 22, there will be services commemorating the massacre held in Acteal and many thousands from all over the world are expected to witness the services. 

6.  Marcos to Attend International Colloquy -  Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos will be one of the speakers at an international colloquy (dialogue) in honor of the late Andrés Aubry. It is planned for December 13-17 in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas.  According to an article in La Jornada, other speakers include John Berger, Naomi Klein, Immanuel Wallerstein, Pablo González Casanova, Peter Rosset and many more. The theme will be: 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 in September. 

7.  Zapatistas Deliver Aid to Flood Victims in Tabasco - At the beginning of the month, Zapatista support bases in the Northern Zone (Zona Norte) of Chiapas began collecting food supplies and taking them to Tabascan flood victims. Sometimes it was necessary to travel through the mountains on foot because the roads were destroyed. The Good Government Junta in Roberto Barrios continues to deliver aid to flood victims through the Other Jovel, an Other Campaign grouping in San Cristobal de las Casas.  Some of the assistance is going to Zapatistas in the Northern Zone who lost crops, belongings, farm animals or their homes.
 

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Compiled monthly by  the Chiapas Support Committee
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. 
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