Photo by Antony Guerra
By Ñaní Pinto
Translated by Scott Campbell
With a sense of urgency, several collectives, organizations and adherents to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle, as well as support networks for the Indigenous Governing Council (CIG), met on May 9 to agree upon actions against the increased military and paramilitary presence in Zapatista territories.
The collectives also spoke out against the recent increase in attacks, including the killings of members of the National Indigenous Congress (CNI), particularly in the states of Guerrero and Oaxaca.
For these reasons, the organizations agreed to hold a Global Action on May 31 against the militarization in Zapatista territory and in defense of the land, territory and autonomy of the indigenous peoples and communities of the CIG-CNI.
With the action a few days away, several organizations and collectives in France, Greece, Austria, US, Italy, Spain, Brazil, and multiple states in Mexico have joined onto the call.
One of the main demands is the immediate departure of the army from Chiapas, particularly from territory liberated by the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN). On May 2, the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Center (Frayba) reported the Defense Ministry (SEDENA) made 14 incursions in the month of April alone around the Caracol of La Realidad, one of the headquarters of the EZLN in the Lacandón Jungle.
The same report from Frayba states that “on four occasions, soldiers made incursions into the community and on another four they carried out helicopter flyovers.”
“The military incursions constitute acts of intimidation and harassment against the indigenous Zapatistas in resistance. They signify an attack on their right to autonomy and represent a risk to the life, well-being and security of the entire population,” the organizers of the Global Action said in a statement.
Along with the harassment of communities in Chiapas, there have also been the assassinations in Guerrero of José Lucio Bartolo Faustino and CNI delegates Modesto Verales Sebastián, Bartolo Hilario Morales and Isaías Xanteco Ahuejote. In Morelos, Samir Flores, an indigenous Nahua, was murdered in February. He was well-known as an opponent of the Morelos Integral Project (PIM) and a member of the CNI.
From the first day of this new government, baptized by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) as the “Fourth Transformation,” the CNI-CIG has documented the following: increased harassment by the Navy against the autonomous process in the community of Santa María Ostula in the Aquila municipality of Michoacán; harassment of the Community Assembly of the indigenous Binniza community of Gui’ Xhi’ Ro’ in Álvaro Obregón, Oaxaca; persecution and arrest warrants against Mateo López Cruz and Juan Sánchez Torres from the community of Suclumpa in the Salto de Agua municipality in Chiapas; threats of displacement from lands reclaimed by the Chol people in 1994 in the community of San José El Bascan in the Salto de Agua municipality in Chiapas; forced disappearances of five members of the Guzmán Cruz family, P’urhépechas from Tarejero, Michoacán; disappearances and murders of members of the Committee for the Defense of Indigenous Rights (CODEDI) in Oaxaca, among many others.
During the May 9 assembly, attendees categorically condemned the killing of their compañeros, “who were murdered for defending life and for defending Mother Earth.” They demanded of the Mexican president, “truth and justice for our murdered compañeros. We demand the punishment of those responsible, since organized crime, the political class, and the owners of power and money, as well as federal, state, and municipal authorities enjoy full impunity in the face of these events.”
Those joining these actions have also staked a firm position against the megaprojects that Mr. Obrador will implement with his new National Development Plan, such as the so-called “Maya Train”, the “Trans-Isthmus Corridor”, the “Morelos Integral Project,” the “planting of a million hectares of fruit and timber trees,” as well as extractivist mining and oil projects, dams, wind farms, tourist complexes, and the airport in Santa Lucía, among others.
Given all of the above, the organizers stated, “We reject the militarization of the country through the creation of the National Guard, we reject [the government’s] complicity with paramilitarism and its collusion with organized crime, we reject the continuation of a war against the people who oppose the neoliberal capitalist system, and above all, because it responds to the interests of Trump, offering itself as a new government of well-being and development.”
The Global Action, in the case of Mexico, will happen on May 31 at 7 a.m. in Mexico City in front of the National Palace.
Lastly, they reiterated the call to solidarity, for it to be known that the EZLN is not alone, and offered an “invitation for all those who fight against capitalism and whose heart beats from below and to the left, that according to their calendars and geographies, their ways and their very forms, to hold similar and/or simultaneous actions in support of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation and against the militarization in Zapatista territory.”