DECEMBER 2011 ZAPATISTA NEWS SUMMARY
The CSC Wishes All of You A Happy New Year and a
Happy 18th Anniversary of the Zapatista Uprising
1. Marcos Letter to Luis Villoro: A Death… Or A Life – The 4th letter from Sub-comandante Marcos to Luis Villoro was published on the Enlace Zapatista website December 7. In the letter, Marcos remembers the lives of Tomás Segovia and Comandante Moisés, both of whom died in recent months. Marcos quotes extensively from Segovia’s writings regarding the left, Power and resistance, then recognizes that Comandante Moisés lived in resistance. This is an interesting letter! Rumors had circulated for months of Comandante Moisés’ death, with at least one electronic account confusing his background information with that of Lt Col Moisés. This letter confirms that it was the Comandante Moisés on the CCRI-CG, from Oventik, who was killed in an auto accident. He had participated in organizing for the EZLN since 1985 with Comandanta Ramona. Marcos ends with the a P.S. attacking the political class, as the 2012 presidential campaign is poised to begin in Mexico. The entire letter can now be read in English at: http://compamanuel.wordpress.com/2011/12/17/sci-marcos-a-death-or-a-life/
2. Las Abejas Commemorates the 14th Anniversary of Acteal Massacre – The civil society organization Las Abejas began commemorating the 14th anniversary of the Acteal Massacre with a 2-day walk through the Tzotzil mountains of Chiapas, fasting and prayer on December 20 and 21. 45 women, children and men were massacred by paramilitaries on December 22, 1997. On the 22, both Bishops Raul Vera and Felipe Arizmentdi attended the mass and commemoration ceremony in Acteal. Las Abejas emphasized that the ceremonies were also an act of resistance.
3. Guatemala Opens Consulate in Chiapas – While he was in Mexico for the Tuxtla Summit, Guatemala’s out-going president, Alvaro Colom, opened a new Guatemalan Consulate in Tuxtla Gutierrez, the capital of Chiapas. Besides the geographical and ethnic (Maya) closeness, Chiapas and Guatemala have many common issues of migration and trade. There are also new Guatemalan refugees in Mexico, displaced from the Peten by “conservation” measures.
4. Seminar in San Cristóbal - Between Dec 30 to Jan 2, Cideci-Unitierra, located on the outskirts of San Cristóbal de las Casas, is hosting an international seminar of reflection and analysis entitled Planet Earth Anti-Systemic Movements. The seminar coincides with the 18th anniversary of the Zapatista Uprising on January 1, 1994. You can read our translation of the seminar’s first day on our blog:
http://compamanuel.wordpress.com/2012/01/02/the-power-of-the-poor/ (More on this next month!).
In Other Parts of Mexico
1. Trinidad de la Cruz, an Indigenous Leader from Xayakalan, Murdered – On December 6, Trinidad de la Cruz, 73, was kidnapped while he was traveling in a vehicle with other members of the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity (MPJD) from the county seat of Santa Maria Ostula to the autonomous Nahua community of Xayakalan. A group of MPJD members were on their way to Xayakalan to hold a community assembly. They had a Federal Police escort up to Ostula. Soon after the police escort left, a gang of criminals, referred to as “paramilitaries,” held the vehicle’s occupants captive, then separated “Trino,” as he is known, from the rest of the group and proceeded to torture and kill him. His body was discovered the next day. Trinidad de la Cruz was the 28th person from Xayakalan murdered since the community’s founding. De la Cruz was a member of the EZLN’s Other Campaign and of the the MPJD and an important leader in the community. In spite of witnesses identifying the paramilitaries by name, none of them have been apprehended. After separating de la Cruz from the others, the rest of the MPJD’s members were escorted by the armed group to a city several hundred miles away and then released. The autonomous community of Xayakalan was founded on land recuperated from the region’s property owners in June 2009. 28 people from the small community have been murdered by criminal armed groups and four people are currently classified as disappeared. The community fears for the lives of the families that still live in Xayakalan and the MPJD suspended activities to review its security protocol.
2. Police Kill Two Students In Guerrero – On Monday, December 12, federal and state police killed two students from a teacher’s college in Guerrero. They were part of a group of 500 students protesting efforts by the federal government to close down teachers colleges throughout the country. Unarmed students blocked a major highway near Chilpancingo demanding a meeting with Governor Angel Aguirre and the re-opening of the Raul Isidro Burgo normal school in Ayotzinapa, a town about 90 miles from Chilpancingo. Protestors complained the governor had canceled four previously scheduled meetings. Blocking highways is a common protest tactic in Mexico. Federal, state and ministerial police working with army troops and armed paramilitaries used tear gas and live ammunition to clear the highway, killing Gabriel Echeverria and Jorge Herrera. Police fired live ammunition for at least 20 minutes, while students responded with stones and bottles. Some students were reported disappeared and at least two were seriously injured. More detailed information can be found in English at: http://mywordismyweapon.blogspot.com/
3. 13th Meeting of Tuxtla Summit – Countries participating in the Tuxtla Mechanism met in Merida, Yucatan, during the first week in December. A free trade agreement was signed by the presidents, thereby unifying previous free trade agreements between Mexico, Central America and Colombia. Mexico’s Congress still must approve. Some of the countries in attendance also signed a letter to the United States demanding that it take drastic measures to reduce drug consumption and the flow of money and weapons.
4. Official Numbers on Death Toll in Drug War – Relying on a number of both government and journalistic sources, La Jornada published the total number of deaths from President Felipe Calderón’s 5-year “war against organized crime” as 51, 918 as of December 30 2011, 11,890 in 2011. For those who have followed the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity (MPJD), led by Javier Sicilia, these numbers may seem confusing. The MPJD started using the number of “more than 50,000 dead in March of this year, which would mean that there are now more than 60,000 dead by its count. The difference may be that the MPJD number includes 10 thousand disappeared (and presumed dead). The government does not include a person as dead until a body has been found; apparently, the MPJD does.
In the United States
1. Congress Approves $248.5 Million More for Merida Initiative - On December 17, the US Congress approved $248.5 million more in aid for Mexico under the Merida Initiative for Fiscal Year 2012. It also approved an additional $33.5 million more for Mexico as development aid. The new funding for the Merida Initiative is in addition to the original $1.6 billion for 3 years. The original security agreement expired on December 31, 2011. Thus, the new funding extends the agreement for one year. So far, the US has only delivered equipment and training to Mexico amounting to $700 million, meaning that it still owes Mexico 3.6 million dollars promised under the expired agreement. Several naval helicopters and one Blackhawk helicopter were delivered to Mexico in December.
2. DEA Agents Launder Mexican Cartel Profits – On December 3, the New York Times published a story about US undercover agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) laundering profits from drug trafficking by Mexican cartels. These agents have shipped the money across borders, allegedly to identify how criminal organizations move their money, where they keep it and, most important, who their leaders are. DEA officials said agents had deposited the drug proceeds in accounts designated by traffickers, or in shell accounts set up by agents. The high-risk activities raise delicate questions about the agency’s effectiveness in bringing down drug kingpins, underscore diplomatic concerns about Mexican sovereignty, and blur the line between surveillance and facilitating crime. As it launders drug money, the agency often allows cartels to continue their operations over months or even years before making seizures or arrests. The same House committee that is investigating the Fast and Furious (gun-running) operation will investigate the money laundering operations. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/04/world/americas/us-drug-agents-launder-profits-of-mexican-cartels.html
Compiled monthly by the Chiapas Support Committee.
The primary sources for our information are: La Jornada, Enlace Zapatista and the Fray Bartolome de las Casas Human Rights Center (Frayba).
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Chiapas Support Committee/Comité de Apoyo a Chiapas
P.O. Box 3421, Oakland, CA 94609