September 2010 Chiapas/Zapatista News Summary

Posted: 01 Oct 2010 10:16

Blog of Zapatista Support Group Wellington, Aotearoa/New Zealand

1. 170 Zapatista Bases Expelled from Chilon – On September 9, 170 Zapatista support bases were expelled from San Marcos Aviles, Chilon, Chiapas. Members of the PRI, PRD and PVEM political parties perpetrated the eviction in retaliation for building an autonomous Zapatista school in San Marcos. According to the Good Government Junta in Oventik, the Zapatistas fled into the woods after the political party members “came with machetes, sticks and firearms, entered two houses and attempted to rape two women.” The September 9 eviction followed a series of hostile acts against the Zapatistas over a period of several weeks. The Junta demanded that they be allowed to return to their homes.

2. More Army of God Aggression in Mitziton – Mitziton residents identified with the “Army of God” evangelical grouping spent the early part of September harassing and attacking residents of Mitziton belonging to the Zapatistas’ Other Campaign. They used slingshots to propel stones at women leaving the headquarters of the ejido (collective farm), attacked the ejido’s forest commission with sticks and stones, destroyed vehicles, stole money and “savagely” beat one man. When the police arrived, the “uncooperative ones” (as they are referred to by the Other Campaign residents) threw stones and shot at the police. Later, they robbed a store, burned fences and broke sheet-metal roofs. The recent incidents seem to stem from conflict over the dissident group’s illegal cutting of trees in Mitzton’s forest areas at the end of August. Despite repeated denunciations and presentation of evidence against the dissident group, authorities have not fulfilled an agreement to remove those who commit these crimes from the community.

3. Torrential Rains Batter Chiapas – Successive tropical storms ravaged areas of Chiapas this month. Mudslides severely damaged Motozintla early in the month. Heavy rains from these storms continued throughout the month and have saturated the land, caused rivers to overflow and required state authorities to release water from reservoirs as they were in danger of exceeding capacity. Consequently, when Matthew brought torrential rains to the state at the end of the month, the rivers and lands could not absorb all that water. Hillsides and bridges crumbled and rivers overflowed. As the month ended, flooding caused 3 deaths and severe water damage in Yajalon, while an end-of-the-month avalanche in Amatan buried houses and killed at least 16 people of the Zoque ethnicity. Three people died in Angel Albino Corzo, two in Chilon and one in Cintalapa as the result of mudslides. And the rain continues. One report from Chiapas indicated that the Zapatista community of Amador Hernandez may have been affected by flooding. It is located at the edge of the Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve.

In Other Parts of Mexico

1. Oaxaca: The Siege of San Juan Copala – The month began with the September 5 murder of Pedro Santos Castro, a municipal agent identified with the San Juan Copala autonomous municipality, allegedly by members of the Ubisort. That murder was followed by the September 14 occupation of Copala by armed paramilitaries from both the MULT and the Ubisort. On Saturday, September 18, two more men were murdered: David García Ramírez and Paulino Ramírez Reyes. Both murders were attributed to members of the Ubisort and the MULT. Meanwhile, at least 4 women were reported disappeared. Paramilitaries demanded that the remaining residents of San Juan Copala abandon their homes or be killed. After more than a week of paramilitary occupation, all the remaining residents were able to escape in the patrol cars that came to pick up the dead bodies. The sit-in by Triqui women in Mexico City’s Zocalo continues and at least 5 women are still said to be disappeared.

2. Hundreds of Thousands Affected by Rains – A month of torrential rain from successive tropical storms caused widespread flooding in large parts of eastern and southern Mexico. Hundreds of thousands of people have seen rapidly rising rivers overflow their banks and flood communities. Authorities have been trying to evacuate the worst hit areas but some people are refusing to leave, seeking refuge on the roofs of their houses. One of the areas severely affected is Tlacotalpan, Veracruz, a colonial-era town declared a world heritage site. Most of Tlacotalpan’s residents have left the town to seek shelter elsewhere in the state. Over the past few weeks, some 200,000 people in Veracruz have been forced to abandon their homes. The state of Tabasco declared bankruptcy because of the cost of emergency services and 11 people died in a landslide in Oaxaca. Tabasco was the scene of devastating floods three years ago. Tamaulipas, Guerrero, Puebla and Nuevo Leon have also been affected.

3. Hillary Equates Drug Trafficking With Insurgency – US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton caused a bit of a diplomatic stir when she referred to the criminal gangs of drug traffickers as an “insurgency” and went on to liken Mexico to Colombia before Plan Colombia, suggesting that maybe Mexico needed a Plan Colombia. The Mexican government shot back that what Mexico and Colombia have in common is the insatiable demand for illegal drugs in the United States! An editorial in La Jornada suggested that neoliberal economics combined with prohibitionist drug policies are responsible for drug trafficking. Obama corrected Clinton’s statements. A number of politicians in both the US and Mexico are beginning to question the prohibitionist laws that make the use of recreational drugs illegal. And here in California a ballot initiative (Proposition 19) proposes to make the personal use and possession of marijuana legal and subject to state taxes.

The US-Mexico Border

1. At Least 75 % of the Arms Confiscated from Drug Gangs Are from the USA – According to a report by the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), 75% of the weapons used to commit crimes and confiscated in Mexico have their origins in the border states of California, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. It will be interesting to see whether the drones, troops and agents now patrolling the border do anything about this illegal activity. A recent report in La Jornada indicates that US anti-terrorism agents are now also working with Mexican Customs operations and giving anti-terrorism training to Customs agents.

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