16 St George Street,
London W1S 1FD.
Part of the 5 Days of Worldwide Action for the Bachajón 5 –
to contribute to the liberation of the 5 political prisoners of the Zapatista-iniated Other Campaign in San Sebastián Bachajón.
On 2 February, a day after the visit of President Felipe Calderón to Chiapas to promote the “Year of Tourism” in the state, there was a confrontation between a group of adherents to the Other Campaign and a group linked to the official authorities. The confrontation arose due to a dispute regarding a toll booth at the entrance of the famous Agua Azul waterfalls.
On 3 February 117 members of the Other Campaign were detained. 107 were released on 5 February. 5 others were released after national and international demonstrations, but 5 remain in prison. These compañeros were taken hostage, as part of a strategy to enable the bad government and multinational corporations to seize the natural resources from their ejido (communal farming land).
These recent arrest along with the threats and harassment that they received from the state police and prosecutors, as documented by the Human Rights Centre Fray Bartolomé de las Casas, shows once again that the Mexican Government is prepared to use State force in order to implement its development projects.
It is undeniable that what is at stake is the transformation of Agua Azul into a high revenue tourist complex that will economically benefit those in power and some private investors. However, in order to achieve this, the ejidatarios of Bachajón, who are defending their land and their territory, are in the way.
Oblivious to the reports and news wires that portray Mexico as a country devastated by a Drug War, the Mexican Government still wants to go ahead with projects that will promote the country as a tourist paradise, even if this means the implementation of policies that violate human rights or the use of violence in order to placate social discontent.
European tourists visiting the area will have to know that their sightseeing has been constructed through dispossession, harassment and intimidation. Futhermore, a modern democracy cannot afford to have political prisoners and the ejidatarios of San Sebastian Bachajón can certainly be called so.