Education is not only in San Marcos, it is in all Zapatista autonomous municipalities.
The compas have suffered so many injustices, but they have had had the patience not to respond with violence.
Skarlos, Regeneration Radio, September 1.
In the township of San Marcos Avilés, municipality of Chilon, support bases of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (BAEZLN) are under a constant climate of aggression, constant death threats, harassment, imprisonment, dispossession of their land, theft of crops (coffee , corn, bananas), animals (horses, cows, chickens, pigs), wire fences, all this by the three levels of government (official authorities of the municipality, state government and the Federal government) and people affiliated to the political parties, the Party of Democratic Revolution (PRD), the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and the Green Party of Mexico (PVEM) who are all found in this same community.
It is these people who foment differences within the community in order to create conflict and prevent the growth of the project of autonomy which the Zapatistas have been building since the armed uprising in 1994.
San Marcos Avilés belongs to the municipality of Chilon which is in Caracol II, Resistance and Rebellion for Humanity, situated in the community of Oventic, in the municipality of San Andrés Sakamch'en des Pobres in the Highlands of Chiapas.
What has triggered the state of tension between members of the community has been the beginning of an autonomous education project in the community, with the construction of the first Zapatista Rebel Autonomous Primary School "Emiliano Zapata", belonging to the Zapatista Rebel Autonomous Education System. The project was unveiled by the compas to the authorities during an assembly, the answer was: destroy the autonomous school if it is built.
Despite the threats and pressures to withdraw, from the official authorities of San Marcos Avilés ejido in the municipality of Chilon, together with those of the municipality of Pamala in Citalá, and people affiliated with the PRI, PRD and PVEM, the construction of the autonomous school began with donations from the compas support bases of the EZLN (BAEZLN).
The attackers, belonging to the political parties, threatened the compas with the theft of 25 hectares [of land]. On the 24th and 25th August, 2010, they carried out their threats and stripped [the compas] of 29 and a quarter hectares in different locations in the same community; in addition to the theft of 8500 coffee plants (360 sacks of coffee), 10 hectares of milpa with sowings of beans, a hectare of bananas, and 7 cows, 6 horses, and three humble shacks where the compas live.
All this was done in order to evict the Zapatistas bases of support from their land, but they remain steadfast in their struggle.
On September 9th 2010, at 2 am, the compas support bases of the EZLN were evicted. It happened when 30 people from the different political parties, armed with machetes, sticks and guns broke into two houses, and tried to rape two sisters. So as not to respond to aggression, the compas decided to leave their homes, leaving all their belongings.
In total 170 people, including men, women and children, were displaced to the mountain of the community of Guadalupe Picoté, where, in extremely precarious conditions, two women support bases gave birth; the contempt [with which they were treated] reached such heights that the people of the community of Picoté, party members, denied them water, food and blankets, the children being most affected.
1 month and 3 days later, on October 12th, the compas returned from the displaced peoples’ camp, after receiving indications, they were accompanied by the Good Government Junta of Oventic, observers from the Fray Bartolome de las Casas Human Rights Centre (Frayba) and BAEZLN, up the doors of their homes.
After the return, they found that all their homes had been robbed (corn, beans, modulares, musical instruments, pigs, chickens, corn on the cob), the fences broken and the land of the BAEZLN stolen. The horses stolen and killed. Several acres of sugar cane and banana plantations broken down. Several areas of planted crops had also been burned.
These acts of harassment and displacement resulted in the Good Government Junta of Caracol II in Oventic, and the compas BAEZLN in the community of San Marcos Avilés, deciding not to participate any more in the community assembly, nor to pay the tax for light or property.
A person identified as a former member of the Chilón Township Police has been supplying firearms to the aggressors in the community of San Marcos Avilés. The same hostile people have put up for sale the land that they have stolen, the price is 14 pesos each, and they have agreed to use the money to buy new weapons for the war against the Zapatista communities. The aggressors have approximately 25 or 30 firearms, including sizes 30-30, 38, 22, 16, and 38 pistols, and 12 gauge shotguns. The Leader of the armed group has also been identified, his name is Lorenzo Ruiz Gomez.
The compas mentioned that the food supply is inadequate, because their lands were stolen and are being worked by the aggressors, in addition they are being threatened with death if they try to work on them. This affects men, women and children by taking away their right to food.
As of April 6th, 2011, an international peace camp has been permanently installed in the community. Human rights observers who participated in it were threatened during late March and early April 2011, and were also accused of theft by the party members.
In short, we can say that the conditions in the community of San Marcos Avilés are those of acute poverty, and an increasing number of diseases are occurring particularly in the children; the theft of crops and plundering of land perpetrated by members of the various political parties have left the Zapatistas in a critical state.
Among the most outstanding issues are the serious Health Emergency from which the families of this community are suffering. During the last 15 days, about 28 members of this community have been reported with high temperatures, which they themselves describe as a fever, the cause of this illness is not yet known, but there has already been one death from this illness.
On Thursday, August 25, 2011 at 5:00 am, the young support base, Velasco Maria Ignacia Martinez, aged 10, died following suffering high temperatures during the the two days of her illness. The autonomous community assembly reported that at the time of her death, she had a black spot on her neck and a yellow liquid coming out of her mouth. The attackers have blamed the international observers who are currently in the community for having been carriers of the disease; this is an attempt to prevent their work of observation in solidarity with the BAEZLN.
Moreover, the assembly interviewed mentioned that the official authorities have had blood tests taken from other people from San Marcos Avilés. However, to date, no official information on the outcome of these studies is forthcoming, nor of the cause of this illness, which according to the description could be classified as an epidemic; this demonstrates once again the contempt in which Indian peoples are held; not only have the Zapatistas been denied this information, so have the whole community of San Marcos Avilés, including the attackers.
Importantly, the group that harasses, threatens, steals from and displaces the Zapatista support bases behaves like a paramilitary counterinsurgency group, since they carry firearms of different calibres and threaten to take the Zapatista women as spoils of war.
Without exception, the men, women and children are living in a state of constant anxiety and fear which is reflected in their very tense mood. The women in particular express their suffering resulting from their displacement, and the pain and suffering caused by having no security of any kind neither for themselves, nor, most especially, for their children. They do not have food, shelter, or water for their children, purely as a result of asserting their legitimate right to education.
From this space we ask for respect for the rights asserted by the declarations, conventions and treaties relating to the rights of indigenous peoples, particularly to their autonomy and self-determination as peoples, including the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (Articles 3, 4, 14.1 in relation to 1), the International Agreement on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (Article 1, 13), and Convention 169 of the International Labour Organization.
The Zapatista communities continue to resist in their dignified struggle for freedom, justice and democracy, and they walk firmly towards the construction of a world where many worlds fit.