1. The EZLN Is Now 27 Years Old! – On November 17, the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) celebrated 27 years since its founding deep in the Lacandón Jungle of Chiapas. As was the case with celebrations for the anniversary of the Juntas and Caracoles, the Zapatistas celebrated privately, without news reports, journalists or the general public. What is significant about the anniversary this year is the number of other celebrations and gatherings that took place in honor of that special date. Other Campaign groupings throughout Mexico and International Campaign members around the world hosted events to celebrate the date. In Oakland, California, the Chiapas Support Committee held our annual community celebration in solidarity with Zapatista communities on November 14. We remembered the EZLN’s founding with dinner, music and a talk that analyzed the effects of US policy on Mexico. Other gatherings are described below.
2. Other Campaign Members Meet in San Salvador Atenco – Members of the Other Campaign gathered in San Salvador Atenco over the weekend of November 12-14 for the National Encuentro of Organizations and Struggles to commemorate the 27th anniversary of the EZLN, share their struggles, their resistances and discuss a national plan of struggle. The meeting was called by the Peoples Front in Defense of Land (FPDT, in Spanish), of Atenco, and the Movement for Justice in the Barrio, from New York. Organizations. More than 70 organizations, collectives and alliances adhered to the EZLN’s Other Campaign attended. The Encuentro (Gathering) explored the path of autonomy as a form of government, as an educational project, and as a form of resistance to plunder and displacement of the communities. Film, art and music accompanied the discussion of repression and resistance.
3. National Forum for Defense of Water – On November 20 and 21, the National Indigenous Congress (CNI, its initials in Spanish) held a National Forum in Defense of Water in Vícam, Sonora. More than 50 delegates of indigenous peoples from Jalisco, Sonora, Chiapas, Oaxaca, the state of Mexico, Durango, Hidalgo, Morelos, the Federal District and Michoacán met together. Interestingly, they were joined by the Front in Defense of Water, a citizen’s group of small farm producers and local Sonora business people. The Front is opposed to taking most of the water from the Yaqui River and it is working together with the Yaquis to resist a government project that would send the river’s water to Sonora’s capital via an aqueduct. Those at the forum issued the Vícam Pronouncement regarding the plunder of water sources, their privatization and the proliferation of tourism projects, dams, etcetera. The pronouncement also insists on their right to autonomy and self-determination.
4. Inter-American Human Rights Commission Accepts Acteal Massacre Case – The Inter-American Human Rights Commission (IAHRC) has finally accepted the case of the December 22, 1997 Acteal Massacre for investigation. The Commission had previously refused to take on the case because so many of the alleged perpetrators were in prison. Now that many of them have been released from prison, the Commission agreed to investigate the case. A determination favorable to the survivors by the IAHRC would be a moral recommendation that could deter the release of more alleged perpetrators sentenced for the crime.
5. 103 Migrants Rescued in Chiapas – Over the weekend of November 13-14, federal agents, members of the Mexican Navy and members of the Special Office for Violence Against Women and Human Trafficking (Fevimtra, its acronym in Spanish) conducted a successful operation to rescue 108 people from the La Herradura banana plantation near Tapachula, Chiapas. 103 were Central American Migrants from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. They were subjected to work 12-hour days without pay and live in overcrowded conditions. They were fed once in a 24-hour period. They also found five Mexicans in the group. Eight “bosses” were detained for the crime of human trafficking for the purpose of labor exploitation. There were 33 minors in the group, including one pregnant 12-year old girl. Police were alerted to this situation by a minor who escaped.
6. Death Threats Against Human Rights Defenders – On November 24, human rights defender Margarita Martínez Martínez received death threats from unknown men in a white Ranger pickup. The unknown subjects extended the threats to include human rights defenders from the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Center (Frayba). Martínez Martínez works with Enlace y Comunicacion in Comitan, but has a residence in San Cristóbal. Frayba represents her and took the case of previous threats and actions against her to the Inter-American Human Rights Commission (IAHRC), which requested that the state of Chiapas take precautionary measures to protect her and her family. Therefore, she had a police escort. That escort mysteriously disappeared at the time of the threats. Importantly, the aggressors specifically mentioned the work of helping the Mitziton ejido mobilize in their threats.
7. Wal Mart Invades Chiapas – We learned this month that the international chain of department stores known in the USA as Wal Mart is opening a store on public parkland in a poor neighborhood of Tuxtla Gutiérrez, the state capital of Chiapas. Residents of the Patria Nueva neighborhood worry about the loss of parkland, the competition with small corner stores and the low-paying jobs that will accompany the store. They also object to the fact that Wal Mart’s profits will not remain in Chiapas. Meanwhile, the municipal council and the residents of Cuetzalan de Progreso, a municipality in the northeast mountains of Puebla state, where the majority of the population is indigenous, rejected the installation of a store by the Wal Mart chain.
In Other Parts of Mexico
1. 2010 Mexican Census – Preliminary results from the 2010 Mexican Census show that Mexico has a population of 112 million 322 thousand inhabitants. Approximately 40% of them are indigenous peoples. On November 20, Mexicans celebrated the 100-year anniversary of the 1910 revolution. It was characterized by military parades and an increase in security. A poll showed that 14 percent of the Mexicans polled think that armed revolution is the only way to change the country.
2. COP 16 Begins In Cancun – The 16th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 16) began November 29 in Cancun, Mexico’s mega-tourism center. It is scheduled to continue until December 10.
In the United States
1. November Elections in US Could Result In More Militarization – It is possible that the November 2 mid-term election in the United States, which resulted in a Republican majority in the House of Representatives, could produce more military responses to problems in Mexico and throughout Latin America. Of special concern are militarization of the US/Mexico Border and US financial support for Mexico’s drug war. Unfortunately, California voters failed to legalize marijuana, thus assuring that illegal drug trafficking across the border will continue.
Blog of Zapatista Support Group Wellington, Aotearoa/New Zealand