Zapatista News Summary for March 2015
1. EZLN announce forthcoming events: In a communiqué, On The Bulletin Board, written by Subcomandante Galeano, the EZLN announce their calendar for 2015, starting with the report, due on 5th March, on the completion and grand opening of the School-Clinic in La Realidad Zapatista. Two homages are to take place: to Luis Villoro Toranzo (died 5th March 2014) and also to compaGaleano, on the anniversary of Galeano’s death, May 2nd, at the caracol of Oventic. This will be followed, on 3-9 May, by the Seminar “Critical Thought Versus the Capitalist Hydra,” beginning in Oventic and continuing in CIDECI, San Cristóbal de las Casas. From July to December, 2015, the World Seminar: “Critical Thought Versus the Capitalist Hydra” will take place on Planet Earth.
The communiqué also announces the next stage of the Escuelita (Little School). The second grade, (only for those who passed the first grade,) will be from July 31st to August 1-2, 2015. The Fiesta for the Caracoles will be from August 8-9, in the 5 Zapatista Caracoles, and the Third Grade of the Escuelita (only for those who pass the second grade) will take place from November-December 2015.
2. Thank you I, II and III: Starting on 5th March as promised, a series of three communiqués record that on March 1, 2015, after more than six months of work, the building that houses a health clinic and a school was presented to the Zapatista bases of support in La Realidad, and that it was the solidarity of people and collectives throughout the world which made this construction possible.
In Thank You I the EZLN presents the accounts for the building work, and gives the words of compañero Jorge and Comandante Tacho at the inauguration of the Autonomous Zapatista School “Compañero Galeano” and the Autonomous Clinic 26th of October “Compañero Insurgente Pedro.”
Thank You II – Capitalism destroys, the People Construct – consists of the words of the EZLN’s General Command in the voice of Subcomandante Moisés as he hands the new school and clinic over to the EZLN’s support bases.
Thank You III - The Most Expensive Building in the World – Subcomandantes Moisés and Galeano thank all those who supported the construction, “this clinic and school are also yours.” They also explain “The entirety of the funds required to construct the huge buildings where the powerful hide in order to organize their thievery and crimes would not be enough to pay for even a single drop of Indigenous Zapatista blood. That is why we feel that this is the most expensive building in the world.”
3. Increase in harassment of La Realidad by the Mexican Army – Frayba reports that it has documented, through its Civilian Observation Brigades (BriCO,) a growing number of military actions since July 2014 in the territory of the JBG of La Realidad. These consist of incursions in convoys with trucks, hummers, jeeps, and motorized equipment, with members of the Mexican Army ranging from 4 to 30 people. There are also low flyovers with light aircraft and helicopters photographing and filming BriCO members, BAEZLN and the installations of the Junta.
4. Another Communique: About the Homage and the Seminar- Subcomandante Galeano confirms that the forthcoming homage and seminar will take place despite the increase in army patrols, checkpoints and flyovers, which are particularly taking place in the caracoles of La Realidad and Oventic, and lists the names of those who have confirmed their participation in the two events.
5. Grave concern over the displaced community of Primero de Agosto: The 17 families (57 people) displaced from the community of Primero de Agosto on February 24th by members of Cioac-H (the same group who attacked La Realidad and murdered compa Galeano) continue to live in precarious circumstances, without water and under sheets of plastic, on the side of the road. Members of the attacking group continue to threaten them, and they fear more violence. There is an acute shortage of food, and the children and the women, one of whom is pregnant, are sick. Members of neighbouring communities have been showing solidarity and support, while the government does nothing, and continues to support the activities of Cioac-H.
6. Public Forces burn down the regional headquarters of San Sebastián Bachajón: On 21st March more than 600 members of the public forces burned down the newly built San Sebastián regional headquarters, with the participation of the ejidal Commissioner Alejandro Moreno Gomez and the Security Adviser Samuel Díaz Guzmán. Following this, two members of the free media, who were there to document human rights violations, were verbally and physically assaulted. Previously, political party supporters had been maintaining a roadblock at the Agua Azul turning in an attempt to discredit the ejidatarios adherents to the Sexta.
7. Pilgrimage from Simojovel to Tuxtla: Well over 15,000 people, many of them members of Pueblo Creyente, participated in a massive four-day peaceful pilgrimage against violence from Simojovel to Tuxtla Gutiérrez, a distance of 120 kilometres. The call for this pilgrimage arose from the situation of insecurity being experienced by indigenous communities in the region, resulting from an increase in narcopolitics and narcotrafficking and a rise in alcoholism due to a proliferation of bars (cantinas). Many death threats have been made against the priest of Simojovel, Marcelo Peréz Peréz, and the parish council. The pilgrims called for greater security and an end to impunity and corruption among state authorities.
Their demands include an end to megaprojects such as the proposed new highway, to mining and the dispossession of land, to the structural reforms, to the privatisation of water, to forced displacement, violence, prostitution, disappearance and murder. The pilgrims were joined by members of Las Abejas from Acteal, and by displaced people from Primero de Agosto and Banavil.
8. Statement from CNI: From their gathering in the community of Amatlán de Quetzalzoatl, municipality of Tepoztlan, Morelos, the peoples, nations and tribes of the Indigenous National Congress (CNI) gave their position on “the narco capitalist rulers who are seeking to take over our country. The repression has not ceased, but neither has our resistance. We will not stop the struggle for life and for our continued existence.”
1. Torture in Mexico is out of control: On 9 March, Juan E. Méndez, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture and other cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatments, presented the report based on his visit to Mexico between April and May 2014. In his conclusions, he says that “torture and ill-treatment of the incarcerated after their arrest, and prior to their presentation to the justice system, are generalized phenomena in Mexico which take place within the context of impunity.” He adds that there is evidence of the active participation of police and military forces, “and also tolerance, indifference, or complicity on the part of some doctors, public defenders, prosecutors, and judges.” He indicated furthermore that torture is used “to punish the arrested and to extract confessions or incriminating information.” He highlighted that “the impunity afforded to torture and other abuses is sufficient to lead to its repetition and exacerbation.”
2. Attacks against journalists grow during Peña Nieto’s term: The frequency with which journalists are attacked during the government of Enrique Peña Nieto has grown by 80% according to the organization Article 19. In their report State of Censure, they point out that in the two years that Peña Nieto has been president, 656 attacks against the press have been documented, 330 in 2013 and 326 in 2014. This represents an attack every 26.7 hours and contrasts with the attacks recorded in the government of Calderón (2006-2012), in whose term 1,092 cases were recorded, that is to say, one every 48.1 hours. Of the 326 attacks documented by Article 19 in 2014, 156 are attributed to public officials, in particular to police who attacked the media within the context of demonstrations and social protests.
3. Farmworkers strike. Around 50,000 farmworkers in the San Quintín Valley in the Mexican state of Baja California went on strike on March 17 to demand higher wages and better working conditions. Agricultural production is at a standstill, and crops (strawberries, tomatoes, cucumbers) are rotting. About 80 percent of the workers are from the original peoples of Mexico from Guerrero, Chiapas, Oaxaca, Puebla, Michoacán and San Luís Potosí.
Ghost of César Chávez Visible in San Quintín Farmworkers’ Strike
Luis Hernández Navarro
La Jornada, 31st March, 2015
Last Sunday the ghost of César Chávez appeared in Tijuana and San Diego. In an historic event, Oaxacalifornianos from both sides of the border met to celebrate a binational solidarity meeting with farmworkers on strike in the San Quintín Valley.
As is known, César Chávez was a famous and combative union organizer of farmworkers in the United States. Author of the phrase “Sí, se puede” [Yes, we can] (later adopted by followers of Mexican soccer), in 1965 he directed a strike by grapepickers and successfully orchestrated a boycott of the agricultural enterprises that grew them. He successfully participated in hunger strikes and peaceful protests to win better wages and working conditions for farmworkers.
The deceased U.S. union organizer’s influence on these days of struggle is clear. One of the movement’s main leaders, Fidel Sánchez Gabriel, the 44-year-old father of six, told the Los Angeles Times: “I have no schooling. The only thing I have is my education in life, learning from others. I learned from the experience of César Chávez that we should not accept living submissively.”
As reported in La Jornada Baja California, on Saturday, in Calexico, California, members of the César Chávez Association marched in solidarity with Mexican farmworkers with the slogan: “César Chávez, the work continues.”
The work stoppage at San Quintín is clearly a binational movement for at least four reasons:
Contrary to what one might think, the work stoppage by the farmworkers in San Quintín was not a “spontaneous explosion”. It broke out just at the start of the season for harvesting strawberries.
Its precedent is the farmworkers’ struggle for water and services in the more than 80 settlements where they live. Also, the growing dissatisfaction with the disproportionate hiring of temporary workers. The combination of the demonstrations for basic demands and anger over the downward pressure on wages was weaving the invisible fabric that allowed the formation of the Alliance of National, State and Municipal Organizations for Social Justice.
A 200-liter drum of water per week is all the vital fluid that many families of San Quintín’s farmworkers have for drinking, cooking and bathing. It’s not free. They must pay for it. In contrast, the agro-export farms arrange for the blue gold to irrigate about 9,000 hectares [22,240 acres], drawn from almost a thousand wells.
But Ensenada’s aquifers are over-exploited. The region suffers a deficit of between 100 and 150 liters per second. Water cut-offs and rationing are frequent. The poorest people are the ones most affected. Water scarcity makes them victims of gastrointestinal and skin diseases.
In contrast, the large agriculture exporting companies rely on concessions granted to them by the National Water Commission [CONAGUA]. In point of fact, they do not comply with the water volumes assigned to them.
Many farmworkers live in crowded bunkhouses of 18 square meters or in sheds of between 50 and 200 rooms. [The facilities] lack practically everything. Given the situation, they have struggled for years to get the most basic services, starting with potable water. Also for sanitation services, schools, drainage, electricity and daycare centres.
It is common for women to give birth without medical attention. Labourers who are mothers must work in agricultural holdings accompanied by their children. In Baja California, San Quintín is number one in illiteracy. Of some 80,000 workers who labour in the region, only 28,000 are formally affiliated with the IMSS [Mexican Social Security Institute; it provides health and pension benefits].
The corporate decision to increase, without any limit, the hiring of temporary workers coming from other states, especially Guerrero, also stirred up the discontent of farmworkers established in the Valley. The manoeuvre allows them to lower production costs by depressing the wages of permanent workers and privileging piecework.
Beyond the great achievements that the Alliance of National, State and Municipal Organizations for Social Justice have won, it confronts the problem that the agreements reached are political in nature. This means that they are not supported in any contract; moreover, the farmworkers lack (for now) an independent legally recognized union. Under these conditions, the challenge of following up the fight requires the Alliance to engage in a bold exercise of political imagination and organizational effort. An innovative wager like the one that César Chávez and Ricardo Flores Magón and his comrades made in their day.
Translated by Jane Brundage for Mexico Voices
Chiapas mobilization against organized crime
by Chiapas Support Committee
Pilgrimage against organized crime in Chiapas
Thousands of people wound their way on foot down and around the mountain roads of the Chiapas Highlands during the first two days of the Pueblo Creyente pilgrimage. On March 23, at least 15 thousand pilgrims (according to a local online media source ) left the town of Simojovel, Chiapas, on a pilgrimage to the state capital of Tuxtla Gutiérrez. The parish priest of San Antonio de Padua Parish in Simojovel and members of Pueblo Creyente (Believing People), both lay and religious, along with members of parishes in neighbouring municipalities, went on a Lenten Way of the Cross, a walking pilgrimage to denounce the advance of organized crime in their municipalities, and also to denounce that the threats and attacks from local politicians against the priest, the parish council and members of Pueblo Creyente have increased. Complaints from this region, in the north central part of the state, include: Alcoholism, drug addiction, prostitution, armed robbery, murder, large groups of bad guys, arms trafficking, drug trafficking, cattle rustling, extortion, anonymous threats, kidnappings, corruption of authorities, insecurity and impunity. As the marchers walked down the winding mountain roads, people in the villages came out and joined the march because they are also experiencing the advance of organized crime.
Pueblo Creyente is a political-religious organization in the Catholic Diocese of San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico. Its members have participated in demonstrations and marches, which they call pilgrimages, for years. For the past several months, however, members of Pueblo Creyente in Simojovel have been denouncing the increase of cantinas, drugs, prostitution and organized crime, as well as political corruption. They state that this has led to threats of violence against the parish priest, Marcelo Pérez, and the parish council. The local politicians they name as responsible for the threats, attacks and corruption are Ramiro Gómez Domínguez, a pre-candidate to the municipal presidency, and Juan Gómez Domínguez, a candidate for (local) deputy. Both are members of the Revolutionary Institutional Party (PRI).
On November 4, the politician Ramiro Gómez Domingo filed a complaint with the Attorney General of the Republic (PGR) against Father Marcelo Pérez, accusing the priest of destabilizing the region. Pueblo Creyente sees the charge as a reprisal for an October 8 pilgrimage. More than 12,000 people participated in that pilgrimage to denounce the proliferation of cantinas, the sale of drugs, prostitution and arms trafficking, motivated by the participation of local authorities. During the November 25 hearing on the charges filed against him, Father Marcelo Pérez denounced the advance of organized crime in the municipality and the corruption of the authorities.
The advance of organized crime, “a reflection of what is happening throughout the country”
The entry of organized crime into the northern part of the state is no secret. The cultivation, distribution and sale of drugs in the region is public knowledge, as is arms trafficking. In a February call for the pilgrimage, Pueblo Creyente stated: “Simojovel is a reflection of what is happening throughout the country. Institutionalized corruption is governing the country, therefore all peoples must rise up and organize to defend life; what is in danger is human life, the future of our children.”
On February 3, 2015, Pueblo Creyente issued a call for the pilgrimage with the following words:
“The town of Simojovel has no safe drinking water; the health centre is in pitiful condition, but the cantinas, prostitution centres, drug trafficking, arms trafficking, sex trade, corruption etc. are increasing. The worst thing is that some PRI political leaders are the ones that are promoting these acts that keep the people kidnapped. Therefore, they want to kill or incarcerate the priest and members of the parish council and representatives of Pueblo Creyente in this town of Simojovel.
Therefore, the Pueblo Creyente of Simojovel make a call for a huge Lenten Way of the Cross Pilgrimage from Simojovel to Tuxtla and all the towns that suffer violence: like Acteal, Ayotzinapa, Banavil, Chicomuselo, the towns that suffer high electricity rates, foreign mega-projects, etc.; “the consequence of the corruption, complicity, impunity and ambition of the system of government and of the legal reforms that are generating more poverty.” 
Part of the civilian resistance
Pueblo Creyente participates in marches/pilgrimages with other social organizations to protest the megaprojects, high electricity rates, land grabs, displacements and political prisoners. Pueblo Creyente also sends representatives to gatherings of other social organizations and they made the call to those all those social organizations to join them in the pilgrimage. Pueblo Creyente is part of the civilian resistance to the advance of capitalist accumulation, as well as the advance of organized crime.
Members of Catholic parishes from Simojovel, Bochil, Amatán, Pueblo Nuevo and El Bosque are accompanied on their pilgrimage by social and human rights organizations, including the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Centre (Frayba), which issued a press bulletin asking that the government guarantee the personal safety of the marchers. 
Frayba’s press bulletin went on to say that during the four days of the tour other Chiapas parishes, Ecclesiastic Base Communities and churches of other religious denominations were expected to join the pilgrimage, and that did, in fact occur. Members of the Frayba, representatives of civil society organizations, international observation organizations, members of the clergy from the Archdiocese of Tuxtla and from the San Cristóbal Diocese, as well as members of the free media accompanied the marchers.
The mobilization arrived in the state capital of Tuxtla Gutiérrez on Thursday, March 26. The Virgin of Guadalupe parish in Tuxtla received the marchers and they held a religious ceremony there. They read their demands in Tuxtla’s central plaza, in front of the government palace. Their demands reflected the broad spectrum of organizations supporting and accompanying the pilgrimage and their rejection of the advance of capitalist privatizations and megaprojects. One group present was the Popular Movement in Resistance against the dams and mining companies in the north region of Chiapas.
The indigenous and campesino participants in the pilgrimage summed up their demands in six categories: Stop the impunity and corruption of all the state’s authorities; no to the mega-projects, no to the Palenque-San Cristóbal Superhighway, no to hydro-electric dams, no to mining projects and to the dispossession of lands; no to the structural reforms, abolition of the neoliberal reforms, the property reforms, no to the high cost of electric energy, no to the privatization of water; adequate use of public resources for better services; no to forced displacement, true justice and return for Banavil in Tenejapa and Primero de Agosto in Las Margaritas; and a stop to the violence, drug trafficking, prostitution, murder and kidnapping, as well as the cancellation of arrest warrants and freedom for political prisoners. 
This was an important mobilization. Rather than shrinking in fear of the threats made, Pueblo Creyente of Simojovel and their neighbours in the north central part of Chiapas mobilized thousands to stand up and resist the corruption and impunity that accompanies the advance of organized crime.
By: Mary Ann Tenuto Sánchez
Indians of Chiapas, among the displaced indigenous groups in Latin America
UNAM researcher highlights the importance of the human rights of the vulnerable groups of the continent.
From Mexico to Brazil the greatest number of people forced to move from their territory are individuals from indigenous communities, said Katherine Isabel Herazo González, professor at the Faculty of Psychology (FP), UNAM.
This can be seen in Chiapas, with the Zapatista movement; in Nicaragua, with the miskito; in Colombia, with the Nasa and Embera Katio, or in Peru, with the Ashaninca, each associated with a socio-political process, said the graduate of the Postgraduate Programme in Latin American Studies, Faculty of Arts and Letters (FFyL), UNAM reported.
The difficult situation extends to countries in the region through community, political and economic conflicts. The phenomenon begins to occur as a way to win internal wars, in other words, displacement becomes a political-military strategy.
She said she worked with Tzotzil and Tzeltal populations and that in the first group their language has no words for human rights, marking the first epistemological dilemma, because they conceived of them as something remote, coming from the West.
“From their cosmovision, human rights are not only built by regulations or human regularization, but there are others in existence, customary in nature, based on uses, customs and ways of understanding reality,” she explained.
That notion is strengthened in their political affinity, as in the civil society group Las Abejas, who are defending their land, autonomy and territory, but peacefully. When they are displaced, ethical and religious elements play a fundamental role.
“Their way of cohesion and living together in community allows them to generate support networks, which are very important when they have to move from their place.”
About the title of her thesis, the academic explained that for these people Chiapas the term to be displaced does not exist and those who this happens to are described as those who fled. “The way of naming the world reveals the particularity of conceiving it; for them, those who departed did so due to fear, terror and harassment.”
The researcher was in first place in the V Thesis Prize about Latin America and the Caribbean 2013 – convoked by the Centre for Research on Latin America and the Caribbean (CIALC) – Doctoral category.
In her work for her degree: Those who fled (jataveletik). Social representations and human rights of the displaced indigenous, the university researcher argues that these movements change as social forces and hegemonic and counter-hegemonic powers become in tension.
Herazo González rescues the history and the voices of those who were forced to leave their home place and establishes that human rights are a pillar to strive for.
“If someone is displaced they lose not only their land but also their social fabric and history, which cause a breakdown of identities. In addition, for the indigenous their relationship with their territory is sacred,” said the academic in a statement from the highest seat of learning.
The graduate of the Postgraduate Programme in Latin American Studies, Faculty of Arts and Letters indicated that there are also other non-indigenous displaced populations, although research is focused on that nucleus, being historically the most vulnerable.
“At a micro level my idea was to highlight how they experienced individual guarantees in these communities, how vulnerable they are and to study their social representations in the field. This showed why the debate over their rape and violation persists.”
“We will not allow cases such as Ayotzinapa, Acteal and Pueblo Nuevo to happen because of corruption,” – Pilgrimage for Justice.
Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas, March 26th. “We will not allow cases such as Ayotzinapa, Acteal and Pueblo Nuevo to happen because of corruption,” warned participants in the Pilgrimage of the Pueblo Creyente (Believing People) in the capital of Chiapas, concluding their four-day walk through the municipalities of Simojovel, Bochil, Ixtapa, Chiapa de Corzo and Tuxtla Gutiérrez.
“It is necessary to add the sufferings and petitions of those who answered the call to this pilgrimage,” said the pilgrims in the central square of Tuxtla. “The situation in Chiapas is serious. How do they say that Chiapas is a safe state? If we are here in our thousands saying that our lives are in danger, from the narcopoliticians, such as the Gómez Domínguez family from Simojovel, who are supported by the parties of the PRI and the Green Ecologist of Mexico,” they said.
Meanwhile, the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Centre (Frayba), said that they will be aware of the situation of all these human rights defenders, “who are courageously giving their testimony against authority, against society.” “We are greatly concerned that during the whole journey the life of Father Marcelo Perez was at risk,” they stress and state that “we have been taking notes about all these events, we hold the authorities responsible for anything that happens to the people who have given their testimony today.”
Frayba adds that “the state government had only a couple of meetings before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, based in Washington, learned of these events, ie two years after having demanded that they solve the problem.” “We had to resort to international bodies in order to register the pressing demands of the population,” they say.
The indigenous and campesino participants in the pilgrimage summarized their petitions in six points:
An end to the impunity and corruption of all state authorities; no to megaprojects, no to the Palenque San Cristobal superhighway, no to hydroelectric projects, no to mining projects and land dispossession; no to structural reforms, abolition of the neoliberal reforma, to the Mexican tax reforms, no to charging high energy costs, no to the privatization of water; proper use of public resources for better services; no forced displacement, justice, truth and a return for Banavil in Tenejapa and Primero de Agosto in Las Margaritas; and an end to violence, drug trafficking, prostitution, murder, kidnapping, as well as cancellation of arrest warrants and the release of political prisoners.
This is day in the capital of Chiapas the teachers’ movement held a megamarch, which left the premises of the Mactumactzá Rural Normal School and ended with a rally in front of the central park of the capital city. Here they remembered the normalistas disappeared by the state last 26th September, and confirmed their rejection of the neoliberal reforms of Peña Nieto. Similarly they announced that they will soon carry out a total strike.