Zapatista Support Bases Under Attack: Call for a Week of National and International Solidarity

 FROM 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.”

These events came to light on January 31, when the Zapatista Good Government Junta, Heart of the Rainbow of Hope, from Caracol IV, and Whirlwind of our Words (based in Morelia, Chiapas) denounced new aggressions suffered by Zapatista support bases (BAZ). The attacks were made on the iconic Zapatista community of 10 de Abril in the autonomous rebel municipality 17 de Noviembre, by groups of government supporters belonging to the group Independent Center of Agricultural and Campesino Workers (CIOAC) Democratic, from the nearby Tojolabal community of 20 de Noviembre. Six BAZ members were injured, three of them seriously, and one is in danger of losing his sight. Furthermore, a shocking attack also took place on staff from the San Carlos Hospital in Altimirano who came to give assistance, but were attacked and prevented from attending to the injured.

Background to Events in 10 de Abril

One of the most remarkable achievements of the Zapatistas following the historic uprising of January 1, 1994, one which transformed the lives of tens of thousands of indigenous people, was the reclamation, or recuperation, of huge areas of land and territory. As in many cases prior to 1994, the BAZ of what is now the ejido (communal landholding) of 10 de Abril worked their ancestral lands, taken from them after the Spanish conquest, as paeons or servants of the landowners who used the lands for cattle ranching, and treated their workers with abuse and contempt. Following the uprising, the serfs descended from the rocky hillsides to the fertile valley and reclaimed their heritage. In March 1995 they set up the community of 10 de Abril (named in honor of Emiliano Zapata, assassinated on April 10, 1919,) and worked their own land again in community as free men and women. They now use their land to grow crops including coffee, corn, beans, vegetables and bananas, and have declared the rest, which is forest and mountain and rich in unusual species, to be an ecological reserve.

The CIOAC Democratic was founded in 1975, and is known for its close links with the three levels of the Mexican government and for its support of political parties. It actively promotes government social welfare programs and receives finances from the state for activities designed to deactivate resistance and dissent. According to the Morelia Junta, this organization has been threatening and provoking the Zapatistas in this area since 2007 with the aim of dispossessing the BAZ from the lands which they have recuperated since 1994 “because they wanted to become the owners.”

Last October and November 2013, according to an earlier denunciation by the Junta, members of a related organization, also from 20 de Noviembre, known as CIOAC historic, invaded the lands of the ejido 10 de Abril, committing aggressions and issuing death threats. The invaders “claimed as their own more than 20 hectares of coffee, corn, beans and bananas” planted by the BAZ. Groups from Europe denounced the attack: “Those who seek to take away their land now are campesinos (small farmers) who did not receive land when the ejido to which they belong, 20de Noviembre, divided up their ejidal lands following the dictates of the bad government; and now, supported by the organization CIOAC historic, they are trying to take by force the land of the Zapatista compañeros.”

The Recent Attacks

The Junta tells how, on January 27, “250 people from the organization CIOAC democratic, from the ejido 20 de Noviembre, official municipality of Las Margaritas, came to provoke us.” The aggressors cut down and destroyed the signs at the entrance to the ejido, and then proceeded to the ecological reserve, where “they began to work with 5 chainsaws chopping down 9 pine trees, 40 oak trees, 35 coffee trees, and three banana trees.” Altogether they took away “a total of 41 pickup trucks” full of timber to sell, leaving with threats to return. “We assessed the cost of what they stole from us, it comes to 40,530 pesos.” READ MORE

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