Category Archives: Chiapas

Women in the Zapatista movement

Note: A belated celebration of International Women’s Day!

-The GJEP Team

March 7, 2014. Source: Schools for Chiapas

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Filed under Chiapas, Indigenous Peoples, Latin America-Caribbean, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration

Zapatista support bases under attack: Call for a week of national and international solidarity

By Jessica Davies, February 14, 2014. Source: Upside Down World

Photo: Upside Down World

Photo: Upside Down World

Following recent events in Chiapas, the Network for Solidarity and against Repression has urged “adherents to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle, and every organization, collective, and honest person in Mexico and the world who, from your own places, extend your embrace to the dignified rage of the Zapatistas,”  to participate in the Week of National and International Solidarity, “If they touch the Zapatistas, they touch all of us”, to be held from February 16 to 23, to “denounce the counterinsurgency war” and express that “the Zapatista communities are not alone.”

This call results from great concerns about recent events, denounced by the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Center as: “the Chiapas government’s failure to prevent attacks on the support bases of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) from the 10 de Abril community,” leading to “an imminent possibility of new attacks and an intensification of the violence, which would be a risk to life and personal integrity, in addition to the violations of the right to territory and autonomy of the Zapatista peoples.” Continue reading

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Chiapas, Food Sovereignty, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean, Political Repression

Chiapas: Localities declare ban against mining, hydroelectric development

December 29, 2013. Source: World War 4 Report

Eight municipalities in southern Mexico’s Chiapas state on Dec. 10 were declared territories free of mineral or hydro-electric development, asserting principles of local autonomy and prior consultation. The joint statement was issued by 56 communities, ejidos (communal agricultural settlements) and popular organizations in the municipalities of Tapachula, Motozintla, Huehuetán, Cacahoatán, Mazapa, Comalapa, Chicomuselo and Tuzantán.

The officially notarized statement directed to President Enrique Peña Nieto, Chiapas Gov. Manuel Velasco Coello and other authorities protested illegal entry onto communal lands by personnel from development interests, attempts at corruption of local officials, the pending neoliberal reform of the energy sector, and high electric rates. The statement was read aloud in a public gathering in the central plaza of Tapachula—after which, hundreds of attendees occupied the town’s municipal palace to demand that the mayor endorse the statement.

“Official” authorities in the eight municipalities generally did not endorse the statement. The municipalities are in the state’s rugged Sierra Madre, headwaters of the Rio Grijalva, already under major hydro-electric exploitation. The Grijalva hydro-dams are a major source of power for Mexico, yet impoverished Chiapas is the state’s least electrified state, and high rates have repeatedly sparked protests. (Rebelión, Dec. 24)

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Chiapas, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Hydroelectric dams, Mining

Notes on “Freedom according to the Zapatistas”

By Gilberto López y Rivas, 23 September, 2013. Source: Chiapas Support Committee

Photo: Chiapas Support Committee

Photo: Chiapas Support Committee

It was a privilege to attend the first grade course “Freedom according to the Zapatistas” as a student, which was paralleled in various territories of the autonomous governments, as well as in the Indigenous Center of Integral Capacity Building –Unitierra, in San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, from August 12 to 17.

Because of its multiple political, strategic, programmatic and tactical meanings in the current tragedy of a country devastated by the government of national treason and its corporate-repressor associates (including organized crime), the course imparted by Indigenous peoples from the different ethnicities that make up the autonomous Zapatista governments constitutes an urgent call to the national conscience, to men and women with dignity and integrity to organize, resist and struggle for a better world where those that govern obey the peoples, departing from the seven principles: 1. Serve and don’t self-serve, 2. Represent and don’t supplant, 3. Construct and don’t destroy, 4. Obey and don’t order, 5. Propose and don’t impose, 6. Convince and don’t conquer, 7. Go down and not up, and based on the maximum ethic that reigns in the EZLN: “Everything for everyone, for us, nothing,” that is, the opposite poll of conduct with which the Mexican political class acts. Continue reading

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Filed under Chiapas, Independent Media, Indigenous Peoples, Latin America-Caribbean, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration

EZLN communiqué: Military airplanes over the five caracoles

August 15, 2013. Source: El Enemigo Común

Transcription from Audio:

Zapatista Commandante Tacho in La Realidad, Chiapas, Mexico. photo: Langelle/GJEP

Zapatista Commandante Tacho in La Realidad, Chiapas, Mexico. photo: Langelle/GJEP

Compañeros, Compañeras, Good day. We always make our appearance in urgent situations. Allow me to read this communiqué that we are issuing at this time. It says:

August 14th, 2013, mid-morning.

Communiqué from the Indigenous Revolutionary Clandestine Committee – General Command of the Zapatista Army for National Liberation, Mexico.

To the people of Mexico:
To the people of the World:
To the Sixth:
To the students of the Zapatista Little School across the world:

Compañeros and Compañeras:

We are notifying you that on August 12th and 13th 2013, during the night, military planes were doing flyovers over the zones of the five Zapatista caracoles, the places where they are teaching the course “Freedom According to the Zapatistas.”

Maybe, serving their masters, the Mexican soldiers are spying for the US government, or, the North American planes are doing the work of spying directly. Or maybe the soldiers want to see what is taught in the Zapatista communities that they have attacked so much, but have been unable to destroy.

We say to the government of Peña Nieto, that if your soldiers want to learn in the little school, they should ask to be invited. We won’t, however, invite them. But then they can use the pretext that they are spying because we didn’t invite them. That’s all.

Democracy, Liberty, JusticeFrom San Cristóbal de las CasasChiapas, MexicoFor the Indigenous Revolutionary Clandestine Committee – General Command of the Zapatista Army for National Liberation, Mexico.

Comandante Tacho

México, August 2013

Thank you compañeros. That’s all.

Okay…well, continue studying compañeros, you’ve heard the communiqué.

That’s all, Thank you.


Filed under Chiapas, Forests, Indigenous Peoples, Latin America-Caribbean, Political Repression, War

Solidarity from Chiapas with California prisoners hunger strike

August 2, 2013. Source: El Enemigo Común

pelican-bay_rashid-johnsonFrom the United States, the heart of the empire that imposes its laws on the entire planet, thousands of voices of the most scorned and forgotten people are now being raised to show millions of men and women what dignity really is.

San Cristóbal de Las Casas, July 30, 2013

The 30,000 prisoners who have launched a hunger strike in the prisons of California in the United States are our brothers and sisters. All these men and women who refuse to be silent, who are right to rebel, who defend their dignity by defying a powerful government to which the European governments have bowed down, deserve the respect and admiration of the whole world.

The United States is a country where freedom is reserved for the rich and well-to-do classes, big businessmen, financiers, and the political class. They are free to earn as much money as possible through the business of war and prison after having caused people to become obsessed with the danger of terrorism and criminality.
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It begins with respect: The meaning of living well for the Tseltal and Tsotsil Mayans of Chiapas

Note: Jeff Conant is the former Communications Director for Global Justice Ecology Project.

-The GJEP Team

By Jeff Conant, July 30, 2013. Source: Intercontinental Cry

A dialogue with Pedro Hernández Luna and Miguel Sanchez Alvarez concerning el lekil kuxlejal, June 29, 2013

Throughout the Americas and the world, the name of Chiapas, Mexico, has become synonymous with struggles for indigenous resistance. From the First Indigenous Congress held in San Cristóbal de las Casas in 1974 to the 1994 uprising in which the Zapatista Army of National Liberation launched a struggle for land and liberty that would change the political geography of Mexico and shake loose historical memory across the continent and around the world, to the 2001 March for Indigenous Dignity in which thousands descended on Mexico City to demand that the congress of the nation amend the constitution to include a Law of Indigenous Rights and Culture, Chiapas has been at the vibrant heart of the construction of new forms of indigenous struggle and territorial autonomy.

One set of beliefs, generally translated as el buen vivir, or living well, is at the heart of indigenous resistance. A similar concept, the Quechua notion of sumak causay, gained a certain recognition among climate justice activists following the Cochabamba People’s Summit on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth convened by President Evo Morales of Bolivia in 2009. Assumak causay was brought to the awareness of the non-indigenous by Andean social movements a few years ago, now in Chiapas a generation of autocthonous scholars is bringing to light – theorizing, they would say – the local understanding of buen vivir: a concept articulated in Tseltal and Tsotsil as el lek’il kuxlejal.

I first encountered el lekil kuxlejal in 2009 in a book by scholar Antonio Paoli called Education, Autonomy, and lekil kuxlejal. Paoli resists a simple definition of lekil kuxlejal in favor of giving its socio-linguistic context amidst related concepts such as k’inal, (meaning environment, including both ecosystem and mind) and the broader slamalil k’inal, a tranquility of mind on which the state of lekil kuxlejal depends. “lekil kuxlejal, or buen vivir,” Paoli writes, “is not a utopia, because it is not a non-existent dream. No, lekil kuxlejal has been degraded but not extinguished, and it is possible to recover it.”
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Filed under Chiapas, Climate Justice, Cochabamba, Indigenous Peoples, Latin America-Caribbean, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration, Solutions

San Sebastián Bachajón: Following the assassination of Juan Vázquez Guzmán, the struggle for the defense of the land continues

By Jessica Davies, July 25, 2013. Source: Upside Down World


“The government does not like the people to organize and defend what is theirs; they repress us with state forces and order assassination to silence our movement”, declared theejidatarios (communal landholders) of San Sebastián Bachajón recently. Despite the assassination of their much-loved community leader Juan Vázquez Guzmán, they insist: “we are here, we are staying here and we are not going to leave our land which is the birthplace of our mothers and fathers, our grandfathers and grandmothers, who also fought and gave their lives for the mother earth.”

Their struggle against luxury tourism in their territory

The indigenous Tzeltal ejido of San Sebastián Bachajón is situated in the jungle region of   the state of Chiapas in South-East Mexico. It is located in an area of great natural beauty, rich in flora and fauna. The common lands of the ejido straddle the access road to the spectacular series of turquoise waterfalls of Agua Azul, and are not far from the great Maya archaeological site of Palenque. For over 20 years, the Mexican government has planned, as part of the “Maya World” concept, a high class tourist mega-project in Chiapas to rival Cancun; Agua Azul is to be the “jewel in the crown” of this development, with a luxury “eco-lodge retreat” complete with arrival at the waterfalls by helicopter or seaplane. Unfortunately for the people who have lived on and cared for this land for centuries, for whom territory is the basis of a dignified life, they are now the only obstacle to what could become, for rich tourists, “one of the most special experiences in the Western hemisphere”, and, for the resort owners, a lucrative source of income. The realization of this project would inevitably involve dispossessing or co-opting the indigenous population, and taking over their ancestral lands and territory.

As a result, the ejidatarios of Bachajón have become the recipients of daily threats, aggressions, arbitrary detentions, forced disappearances, imprisonment, extensive use of torture, and attacks from paramilitary groups. The strategy of the three levels of government has been to develop alliances with, and give support to, local political party members so they will back the government plans, and to criminalise those who resist these plans, with the aim of generating conflict among the communities in the area.

Since 2006, Juan Vázquez Guzmán had been at the center of the struggle in defense of the common lands of the ejido of San Sebastián Bachajón. On 24 April, 2013, he was shot dead with six bullets in the doorway of his home. He was aged only 32, and the father of two small children aged four and seven. His community members were left devastated, and his assassins escaped into the impunity which reigns in Mexico. There has been no evidence of an investigation into the murder, and the material and intellectual authors of the crime have not been identified.
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Filed under Actions / Protest, Chiapas, Commodification of Life, Corporate Globalization, Forests, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean, Political Repression

BREAKING: Chiapas cancels ‘disastrous’ forest carbon offset plan linked with Calif. cap-and-trade

Note: Global Justice Ecology Project broke the story about the California-Chiapas-Acre REDD Deal and the impacts it would have on the Indigenous populations of the Lacandon jungle in Chiapas, Mexico following a trip taken by then-GJEP Media Coordinator Jeff Conant (quoted below) and GJEP Board Chair and co-founder Orin Langelle to the Indigenous village Amador Hernandez, deep in the heart of the Lacandon jungle in March of 2011.

GJEP, along with Friends of the Earth, Indigenous Environmental Network and others have continued to monitor the situation in Chiapas, as well as to actively oppose the inclusion of REDD in the California cap-and-trade program, and to fight against REDD at the UN climate conferences.  While it is surely great news that Chiapas has decided to suspend the disastrous REDD program, we know that the fight is far from over.

To view the photo essay from GJEP’s 2011 trip to Chiapas, click here.  To view the 28 minute film we produced on the topic, click here.

-The GJEP Team

July 18, 2013. Source: Friends of the Earth-U.S.

Image: IEN

Image: IEN

The state government of Chiapas has cancelled a controversial forest protection plan that critics said failed to address the root causes of deforestation and could endanger the lives and livelihoods of indigenous peoples. The program is linked to California’s cap-and-trade program through a complex “carbon offset” scheme that has yet to see the light of day.

Carlos Morales Vázquez, the Mexican state’s secretary of the environment, on July 8 told the Chiapas daily El Heraldo that the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation program “was an utter failure, and the program is cancelled.”

What the suspension of the program means for California’s agreement with Chiapas remains to be seen. The program, instituted in 2011 after Chiapas signed an agreement with California as part of California’s Global Warming Solutions Act, AB32, has been widely criticized by civil society groups for its lack of clear objectives, absence of baseline measures of deforestation, and failure to engage indigenous people’s organizations or take into account historic tension over land rights that plague the region.
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Filed under BREAKING NEWS, Chiapas, Climate Change, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, Indigenous Peoples, Latin America-Caribbean, REDD

Undocumented workers from across New England march on ICE detention center

Note: Global Justice Ecology Project campaigner Will Bennington traveled to Boston on Thursday with Burlington, Vt.-based Justicia Migrante/Migrant Justice to participate in the Not One More Deportation demonstration.

GJEP believes that the root causes of climate chaos and migration are inextricably linked.  Many farmworkers in Vermont come from Chiapas, Mexico, where GJEP has worked to expose the impacts that free trade agreements and international carbon trading schemes (most notably REDD) have on indigenous and peasant farming communities.

Free trade agreements and neoliberal economic domination destroy local communities and economies, resulting in massive land grabs and migrations.  These same policies also erode the ability of communities to protect their ecosystems and land against the relentless march of the industrial economy.  There is no climate justice without migrant justice.

-The GJEP Team

By Dylan Kelley, June 28, 2013. Source: Vermont Commons


Joining others from across the region, a bus-load of Vermonters traveled to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) regional detention facility outside of Boston on Thursday to confront the federal agency over the unparalleled rate of detention and deportation of undocumented workers. In addition to ramping up their fight to stop the deportation of organizer and “Human Rights Hero” Danilo Lopez, Vermont’s Migrant Justice organization also made the journey to Beantown to show solidarity with the rapidly growing NOT1MORE campaign that has rallied across the nation against the Obama administration’s unprecedented policies of sweeping detention and deportations.

Departing from Burlington in the morning, a bus-load of Vermonters (including performers from Bread & Puppet Theater) discussed the import of the day by considering what is at stake for their most cherished organizer as well as others like Pancho, an undocumented worker that had lived with “shackles of fear” of U.S. Border Patrol while working with farms near the Vermont-Canada border. “I was living in fear, then [after getting involved with Migrant Justice] I decided to get rid of that fear” said Pancho. “Migrant Justice has opened a door for me… this feels like one big family.” Echoing that sentiment was Telma, another undocumented worker onboard: “Life is hard, but not because the work is hard. Working on the farm; you can’t leave, you are shut in and are always in fear of Border Patrol and the police. Migrant Justice changed life for me. Now, I live with less fear; I have rights; I feel powerful.”


Organizers Natalia Fajardo and Danilo Lopez speak to Burlington Press before departing for Boston Thursday Morning

Finally arriving in Boston, the workers met for a networking lunch with other organizations such as SEIU; Matahari; Jobs with Justice; the National Day Laborers’ Organizing Network; and various other organizations working towards a halt to the massive waves of deportation brought on by ICE and the Obama administration.
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