The UK groups chose October 12th as the day to present the letter because it is the Day of Indigenous Resistance, which marks the 520th anniversary of the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the Americas (and the start of the colonial endeavour to destroy the indigenous peoples of these lands). The date also marks the beginning of the second phase of the ‘Worldwide Echo in Support of the Zapatistas’ campaign.
The Zapatistas first came to international attention in January 1994 when they rose up against 500 years of oppression against indigenous peoples, as well against the NAFTA agreement that came into force that month. They later collectivised their land and became something of a cause celebre amongst the anti-globalisation movement.
But in recent years these communities in resistance have suffered an increasing number of attacks by government-backed paramilitary groups with a number of Zapatista members being imprisoned for crimes they have not committed.
In the short time since the international declaration was first drafted in July, 83 members of two villages have been displaced after being attacked by paramilitaries with firearms, openly supported by the local authorities and police force.