The murder of two radio activists in Oaxaca has brought the repression suffered by indigenous Mexicans into sharp focus. Oaxaca has the biggest percentage of indigenous people who speak many different languages and suffering serious discrimination including the theft of their natural resources.
One such example is the village of San Isidro Aloapam who have been fighting the destruction of their local forest by commercial loggers who are bending the law to justify their activity. Attempts by the villagers to protect the forest have been met with extreme violence leaving many villagers injured and imprisoned. The village is represented politically by indigenous action group CIPO-RFM who have organized a series of media and international solidarity events to highlight the struggle. CIPO-RFM activists Miguel Cruz Moreno and Pedro Bautista Rojas were recently interviewed by IMC UK about the struggle.
There will be a prisoner support benefit gig in London on Wednesday April 16th.
Related links: IMC UK coverage of Oaxaca election 2007: ‘1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | IMC UK coverage of CIPO-RFM 2004/5: Intro | Assemblies | Protest camp | Raid | Repression | CIPO/Zapatistas feature | CIPO Speaking tour
"We are on the eve of either a great uprising or a civil war," the EZLN's Delegate Zero stated recently, referring to the current situation in Oaxaca in southern Mexico. Whilst the 45,000km-long Other Campaign tour around "the forgotten corners of Mexico", which the Zapatistas started on 1 January, 2006, ends in Mexico City, the repression in Oaxaca is worsening by the day. And this is why the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) is now calling for a global wave of active solidarity with the people of Oaxaca, to culminate with a "worldwide day of action" on 22 December to "say and to demonstrate that the people of Oaxaca are not alone" [Full communique | Words from Delegate Zero | APPO's response]. Closer to home, the Network of UK Zapatista Solidarity Groups called for a national week of solidarity actions from the 9 to the 17 of December, 2006.
Meanwhile, the popular uprising continues in and around Oaxaca city, and so do the illegal detentions of the so-called 'leaders' of the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO), which have increased in the last few days, forcing many people into hiding. APPO is a grassroots movement organising for popular democracy, and it is currently at the centre of the Mexican government's latest wave of repression, which has already resulted in mass illegal arrests of more than 500 people [Flavio Sosa's arrest | more | Interview] and the 'disappearance' of up to 100 people [APPO Communique | APPO activist interview | Eyewitness report].
At the same time, there is also a concerted effort by the Mexican government to try to silence any independent media that is reporting the truth on what is happening in Oaxaca. Following the murder of Indymedia videographer Bradley Will, who was shot dead by paramilitaries whilst documenting an APPO barricade on the 25th of October, the attacks against international and national independent media have continued. Two documentary filmmakers and a translator were illegally detained on 3 December while they were eating at a restaurant in Oaxacxa city centre.
Oscar Beard is an independent journalist from London currently travelling in the southern estates of Mexico. He has regularly contributed text, video and photo reports to the Indymedia newswire. See a list of his reports from Mexico.
"They might have the strength to impose their will, but we will never give them our consent". (Extract from the Radio APPO log)
Outrage spread around the world over the weekend following the killing of the documentary filmmaker and Indymedia video reporter Brad Will, from New York City at the hands of pro-government supporters who opened fire on unarmed protestors on the outskirts of Oaxaca, Mexico. Three others were also killed alongside him (making four dead in total); one member of Radio Universidad was injured.
On Sunday, more than 10,000 military swept the streets of Oaxaca. At their head were tanks with water cannons, laced with tear gas, followed by lines of 3,500 riot cops with batons. Behind them, a further 3,000 military police with automatic rifles. 5,000 army troops were waiting in the outskirts of the city while the paramilitaries continued attacking. Reports came in of snatch squads operating within the city centre, with police and military using helicopters and ambulances to grab protestors and injured people. Many arrests were reported, and at least two protestors were confirmed to have been killed in the clashes. See timeline of events. Photos: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5.
This unprovoked aggression by the Mexican State against the pacific and unarmed people of Oaxaca is one of the largest in the recent history of México and Latin America. As a result, the Zapatista Army of National Lberation (EZLN) is calling for a day of action on November 1st and announces a nationwide strike on November 20th [Call]
A peaceful demonstration against the repression by the Mexican state (police and military) of the Oaxaca workers and the general population took place in front of the Mexican Embassy in London on Monday evening [Press release]. 60-70 or more gathered in front of the Embassy, with a screening of Brad Will's final footage projected onto the Embassy's facade - violently interrupted by the police, resulting in eight arrests [Update on arrests: Tuesday | Wednesday]. Reports: 1 | 2 | Photos: 1 | 2 | 3 and Video. On Wednesday night red paint was thrown on the walls, stairs and doors of the Mexican Embassy in London to symbolise the blood of the people of Oaxaca.
'William Bradley Roland, also known as Brad Will, 36, a documentary filmmaker and reporter for Indymedia New York in Mexico, Bolivia and Brazil, died today of a gunshot to the chest when pro-government attackers opened fire on a barricade in the neighborhood of Santa Lucia El Camino, on the outskirts of Oaxaca, Mexico. He died with his video camera in his hands.' (source: Narconews) Read NYC-Indymedia statement and a Call to all independent journalists to support the struggle in Oaxaca.
Brad had been in Oaxaca taking video and reporting on the state wide popular uprising and teacher strike that began in June with the violent attempted removal of the striking teachers from their encampment in the centre of Oaxaca City by federal police forces. 3 others were also killed alongside him (making 4 dead in total); 1 member of Radio Universidad was also injured: he was taken to the hospital in a volkswagen van as police would not let any ambulances come.
Since the beginning of the strike in June, teachers and other groups have formed the APPO - the Popular Assembly of the Oaxacan People - and have called for the removal of the governor of state Ulises Ruiz of the PRI. There is a long history of Mexico using government sponsored paramilitaries to repress social movements, including a massacre of hundreds of students in Mexico City in 1968. As reports of protesters surrounded by armed government forces and police continue to pour in, activists in cities around the world are planning protests at Mexican embassies and in cyberspace in outcry against the violent aggression against the people of Oaxaca.
On Friday 12th May, several activists and human rights campaigners, including people from different groups such as the London Zapatista Action Project (z.a.p.), Bristol Solidarity group Kiptik and the Comite Cerezo support group in the U.K, staged a peaceful occupation and noise demonstration at the Mexican Embassy in London [Photos and Report]. Four people locked on in front of the Embassy, effectively closing it down for business for most of the day. Meanwhile a Samba band was playing whilst other activists held banners referring to the events that have been taking place in San Salvador de Atenco, northern Mexico [Press Release]. Another protest outside the Mexican embassy had already taken place on Wednesday 10th [Pics and Report]. The Electronic Disturbance Theater and the Borderlands Hacklab also called for a virtual strike against the Mexican Government on May 5th.
Last week, residents of Atenco, a municipality near Mexico City, suffered massive police brutality and repression, after local organisations helped 60 flower vendors of the Texcoco local market to resist a blockade by state police that prevented them from setting up their stands. People from Atenco quickly responded by obstructing the highway that borders their town and leads to Texcoco market. The events that followed speak of unprecedented levels of police brutality. More than 3000 armed police forces stormed the town beating everyone in their path [Photos: 1 | 2 | 3 | Videos: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4] and arrested more than 200 people after a house to house search around the town. Francisco Javier Cort�s, a 14 year old local boy, was killed as a result of police violence on the first day, and many were severely injured. Since then there have been reports that a total of up to 300 people were arrested (of which the authorities have only recognised 109), 18 people were disappeared, 5 women were raped whilst in custody, and 5 foreigners deported.
Reports in the IMC-UK newswire by: Global Exchange | The Other Campaign Montreal | Irene of Mexico City | Erika Del Carmen Fuchs from Mexico DF | Kasa de Kultura para Tod@s | Edinburgh Chiapas Solidarity Group.
Follow the unfolding events in: Narconews Bulletin | IMC-Chiapas | IMC-Mexico | IMC-UK Zapatista Page
Radio webstream with daily reports (Sp): Ke-Huelga Radio Zapote
On January 1 2006, twelve years after the Zapatista uprising in Chiapas (Mexico), a delegation of the EZLN departed from the Garrucha Caracol to San Cristobal de las Casas [Report and Pics]. This marked the first step in the new Zapatista political initiative known as The Other Campaign (or 'La Otra') - a proposal that aims to forge an anti-capitalist alliance "form below and to the left" in Mexico and beyond. The Other Campaign, timed to coincide with this year's Mexican presidential race, will take the delegation of the EZLN - which includes Subcomandante Marcos (or SubDelegate Zero as he is known in relation to this campaign) - throughout Mexico's 32 states, "so to meet, talk and decide together how fo build another way of doing politics. A programme of struggle that will construct democracy from below, with all these national and international organizations that resist neoliberalism and fight for humanity."
Words: To the Alternative Media | To the National & Int’l Press | SubDelegado Zero on security issues | EZLN denounces harassment and threats | On the Intercontinental proposed in the Sixth Declaration | Revista Rebeldia (Sp)
Translations of EZLN's communiques 1 | 2.
From 22nd to 24th of July a european-wide gathering of Zapatista Solidarity Groups was convened in Barcelona. More than 120 delegates of 36 organisations from Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, France and Belgium have gathered to discuss the new initiative of the Zapatista Army for Liberation EZLN to build up broad non-parliamentary left alliances.
The Initative to build broad non-parliamentary left alliances was published in the “Sixth Declaration from the Lacadonian Jungle” [1|2|3] start of July.
MP3 audio streams from "The Other Campaign" Zapatista meetings (Sp) 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 Photos 1 | 2 | 3 Videos 1 | 2
Almost a month after the EZLN announced a Red Alert in all the autonomous Zapatista communities, the Clandestine Revolutionary Indigenous Committee – General Command of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation announced on July 11 that "with the completion of the internal consulta the EZLN has decided to lift the Red Alert which it has been maintaining since June 19, 2005". The EZLN also informed that "the Zapatista Caracoles will be reopened" and that "the different Good Government Juntas will also once again begin their work in their respective headquarters". [ Read full Communique ]
This follows a period of internal consultation with the Zapatista autonomous municipalities and support bases, where "meetings and assemblies were held in more than one thousand indigenous communities in the southeastern Mexican state of Chiapas". On June 26 a new Communique announced that "the results were that more than 98% approved the new step, and less than 2% decided not to support the proposal", and that over the next few days, the EZLN would make public a series of texts which would form the "Sixth Declaration of the Selva Lacandona."
On June 29 the First Part of the Sixth Declaration of the Selva Lacandona is published. This is followed with Part 2 in which the Zapatistas describe how they "see what is going on in the world and in our country", and Part 3 that not only states what the Zapatistas "want to do in the World and in Mexico" but also how they are going to go about doing it.
On July 13, the CCRI-CG of the EZLN publishes two further communiques in which the Zapatistas explain the "Ways and Means" of the new phase of the Zapatista struggle to all those "individuals, organizations, collectives, groups and associations of the left who support what has been proposed in the Sixth Declaration of the Selva Lacandona".
“The art world belongs to everybody. It is not just for the illuminated that have access to the so-called temples of art. It’s like the history made by the people and now it is up to us to make worlds where many worlds fit, to paint them, to sing them, to write poems to the free men and women and to sing and sing. Let the words and the music and the poems and the colours announce that art belongs to everybody and is for everybody, like this world, like these dreams, like freedom!”. Gustavo C. P.
[Edinburgh Chiapas Solidarity Group | Glasgow Zapatista Solidarity Group | Indy UK Zapatista section | IMC Chiapas | Indy Scotland ]
At the end of last year activists from UK Indymedia spent a month in Mexico. A country where the gap between rich and poor is higher than ever and extreme poverty is evident everywhere. However in the southern states of Oaxaca and Chiapas we encountered some truly inspiring tales of indigenous resistance.
In Oaxaca CIPO-RFM are organising direct action against the polititions and institutions that oppress them. They organise through democratic assemblies and maintain a CIPO PROTEST CAMP which has been attacked by the authorities. The state repression against them has recently increased though they remain defiant and should hopefully be speaking at UK events this February.
In neighbouring Chiapas we visited the Zapatista Caracol of Oventic. Here we interviewed the Zapatistas about their present situation. It is now exactly 11 years since the 1994 uprising, we were shown some of their more impressive achievements including the health service and education systems that they have installed for local people. They are presently appealing for international assistance for the Oventic.
NB Most links are to IMC photo essay posts.
Anniversary: 20th birthday of the MST and EZLN in the university of Sao Paulo (USP)
Easter Saturday, 10th of April, a peaceful demonstration of Zaptistas got attacked with stones, guns and fireworks in the highlands of Chiapas near San Cristobal de las Casas.
Result of the ambush: 29 Zapatistas injured, and 3 seriously, one with life threatening injuries.
More information, reports and pictures on Chiapas Indymedia or on La Jornada, [en] | Photo gallery Jechvó/Zinacantán
Update (13.4.2004): Manuel Gomez Hernandez, one of those wounded in the attack , is in critical condition in hospital with a machete wound to the head, it is in the balance whether he will survive or not.
The Zapatistas in the hospital in San Cristobal de Las Casas are suffering poor medical attention and even worse are being harrassed constantly by the police.
125 zapatista families have fled their homes in the municipality of Zinacantan, Los Altos, Chiapas, fearing attack by militants of the PRD (Revolutionary Democratic Party).
A press conference by ngos including the network of community human rights defenders and solidarity protests are called for.
Sign an international letter of support with the Zapatistas (esp) from Barcelona's Zapatista Solidarity Collective.
Mexican armed forces have attacked the Chol indigenous community of Nuevo San Rafael, burning down 23 houses and violently evicting the inhabitants, who are Zapatista sympathisers. The attack, reported variously as happening on either 19 or 22 January, took place in the remote Montes Azules jungle area of Chiapas.
Resource-rich Montes Azules has long been coveted by multinationals. As the governments and multinationals press forward with the Plan Puebla Panama and Free Trade Area of the Americas, the “war of low intensity” against the thousand-plus Zapatista autonomous communities erupts into blatant repression. The Secretary of Government of Chiapas, Rubén Velázquez López, promises more evictions, declaring that land invasions will no longer be tolerated.
The fate of the inhabitants of Nuevo San Rafael is unknown, as the army is preventing reporters and human rights observers from entering the area. Local indigenous Chol, Josué Jiménez Cruz, has been arrested, and is apparently imprisoned in the town of Ocosingo. International solidarity activity is vital, declare Zapatista solidarity groups. Protesters call to ring the Mexican Embassy in London on 0207 499 8586 (open 9am-6pm)
Riot police stormed the autonomous, indigenous town of Tlalnepantla, south of Mexico City, in the early morning at 1am last Wednesday, 14th of January.
Eye witnesses talk of at least 2 deaths, a dozen injured and a dozen missing persons, and of widespread police brutality and intimitation.
GREG BERGER, independant reporter and documentary film maker in the Interview [ audio | 128kbs stream | 250 kbs stream] with Democracy Now!
“An armed incursion by the state police of about 1,500 riot police stormed the town. There were snipers placed on buildings, a rain of bullets fell on the people who were holding the city hall as an autonomous municipality, and at least two people were killed. Many people were beaten. I personally spoke with several old women who were beaten in the face and body by the riot police. Many of the people from the town ran into the hills and are currently being chased with helicopters and police dogs through the woods. And the entire town is basically in a state of siege.”
The 1st of January 2004 marks the tenth anniversary of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation(EZLN) uprising in the state of Chiapas, southern Mexico, and 20 years of modern Zapatismo. Under the campaign "El Fuego y La Palabra - EZLN 20y10" (The fire and the word), thousands of indigenous and non-indigenous peoples of Chiapas, Mexico and all over the world, have been remembering and celebrating that early morning of 1st January of 1994, when an army of primarily indigenous people shouted Ya Basta! (Enough!) whilst taking over San Cristobal de las Casas and several other major towns of the state of Chiapas. With that rebellion, the Zapatistas not only declared war on the Mexican government, but also to NAFTA, the free trade 'agreement' that went into effect that same day, and which, the rebels claimed, "it meant death to indigenous peoples".
Throughout the following decade, the EZLN has been a key reference for anti-neoliberal and anti- racist struggles around the globe. The Zapatistas have not only injected the anti-capitalist and anti-globalisation movement(s) with notions of horizontality and direct democracy as a way of organising and operating, but they have also consistently pointed out the need for autonomy and diversity within a global 'movement of movements', made up by a civil society that has many different faces, voices, ways of expressing and modes of being visible.
Click at the link below for full feature, which includes reports and photos from the cellebrations in the rebel Zapatista territories, as well as in other parts of the world. It also includes background information and links to the recent developments in the Zapatistas struggle.
As we write indigenous peasants in Nuevo San Isidro and Nuevo San Rafael in Chiapas, Mexico are facing the threat of imminent violent eviction and possible massacre. On April 12th armed men accompanied by government officials entered the two communities. They threatened the inhabitants with guns and machetes, and vowed to return on 19th April to forcibly evict the villagers, who live deep in the resource-rich jungle area of Montes Azules, much coveted by transnational corporations.
In Nuevo San Isidro the paramilitary-style invaders stated they would kill the villagers if they did not leave their land. International observers in Chiapas fear another massacre like that of Acteal in 1997 [pics | videos]. The Chiapas-based Network of Community Defenders has issued an urgent international appeal: "It is vital to send letters, emails and faxes to Mexican government authorities and embassies, publicise the critical situation and undertake all possible solidarity activity". In London a Zapatista solidarity action took place at the Mexican embassy on May 1st.
In the Zapatista village of Nuevo San Rafael, Marisela explained how the women responded to the incursion and the threats. She stated: "All of the women armed themselves with machetes and sticks. If they come in here, we have to rise up. We are going to live here. This is where we are going to be and no one is going to force us out of here. So, if they want to kick us out of here they'll have to kill us!"
January 1st 2003 marks the 9-year anniversary of the Zapatista uprising, and the day when the Zapatista rebels of the EZLN broke their silence and took on San Cristobal de las Casas once again, the main town in the Mexican southern region of Chiapas. The Zapatista uprising of 1st January 1994 coincided with the introduction of the USA's lead North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which imposed, amongst other trade rules and regulations, the removal of all Mexican tariffs against US agricultural products.
Ever since that day, the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) and the Zapatista autonomous communities of Chiapas have been rebelling against the neoliberal policies of NAFTA and the Mexican government, as well as resisting the attacks and repression by the Mexican Federal Army, whilst, at the same time, upholding the rights and culture of the indigenous people of Chiapas through a system of direct democracy, autonomy and participation.
Currently the Mexican government is renewing its threats of arrests and evictions in the Monte Azules Biosphere Reserve region of Chiapas (read report by the Social Justice Committee) whilst still rejecting the Zapatista demands for autonomy, dignity and justice for the indigenous peoples of Mexico.
As a result of this situation, the Zapatistas chose the anniversary of their uprising to call for a day of protest in Mexico. Peasant organisations called for the blockade of the highways, the airports and even the frontiers, and more than 25,000 Zapatista women, children and men - many wearing masks and carrying machete knives - of all ages and from all over Chiapas, came out of the mountains of the Lacandon jungle to march into the city of San Cristobal de las Casas, thus ending a period of silence that had begun nearly two years ago, after the EZLN's Caravan to Mexico City took place in April 2001.
Photos: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14
Getting ready for the march: photo library from IMC-Chiapas
Zapatistas arriving in San Cristobal the night before (photos): 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5
On February 24th, 23 EZLN commanders, one subcommander, and hundreds of supporters from all over the world embarked on a journey through a large number of Mexican states to the capital Mexico City, to bring the seven year-long Zapatista struggle to the centre of Mexican political power. Their demands were: implementation of the San Andres accords of indigenous rights, release of all political prisoners, and closure of seven military bases in Chiapas.
During this caravan, they held rallies and public meetings in many Mexican towns, took part in an indigenous congress in Nurio, spoke in front of 200.000 people on the central square of Mexico City and later in front of the Congress. Most importantly, they mobilised civil society both in Mexico and abroad for indigenous rights, against neoliberalism, and for an "inclusive, tolerant and plural tomorrow - which is, incidentally, the only tomorrow possible" (Subcommandante Marcos).
On this page, you will find a detailed account of the various stages of the caravan and of the events during the EZLN's stay in Mexico City, reflections on the caravan, and some background on the Zapatistas.
Also, read a comprehensive update on the situation in Chiapas (May 2001) since the last round of negotiations between the EZLN and Fox's government broke down on April 29.
After two weeks of holding public meetings in several places around the capital and putting pressure on President Fox and the Congress, the Zapatista delegation was finally invited to speak in front of the Mexican Congress. On Wednesday 28th March, the EZLN commanders and representatives of the great majority of the Indian peoples of Mexico met the Congress of the Union in the San Lázaro Legislative Palace. Comandanta Esther, Comandante David, Comandante Zebedeo, Comandante Tacho and representatives of the Indigenous National Congress spoke in front of the Mexican legislators to promote the constitutional recognition of indigenous rights and culture. Afterwards, The EZLN held a rally in front ofCongress Palace and announced their return to Chiapas.
A week earlier, the EZLN had announced that they would leave on Friday 23 March in response to the government's unwillingness to meet their demands. President Vicente Fox had responded to that with a promise of imminent release of prisoners and of dismantling of three army bases in Chiapas.
Meanwhile in Chiapas, the federal army proceeded in dismantling its fifth military base, Rio Euseba. When the Zapatista delegation arrived back in Chiapas, the sixth and seventh base were also abandoned by the military, fulfilling one of the Zapatista's three central demands. However, there have also been reports of renewed military harrasment in the area.
After several weeks of negotiations between the General Command of the EZLN and the Federal Government, the EZLN finally decided to break the dialogue with the Mexican legislators because "the reforms accorded by the Mexican parliament do not respect the San Andres accords".
On the 29 of April, the EZLN announced with two communiques their decision and stated that "we are going to continue with our resistance and rebellion until such a time when the rights and culture of indigenous peoples are constitutionally recognised in Mexico".
"Today war is a bit further away than it was, and peace, justice and dignity a bit nearer", Subcommandante Marcos affirmed in front of thousands of zapatista indigenous people in the heights of the mountains of Chiapas on April 1st. He pointed out that one of the main achievements of the Zapatista March has been that of bringing the issue of indigenous rights to the centre of national consciousness and making it one of the main debates in the whole of Mexico.
- Marcos on culture, chess, clocks and boots
- The Caravan of Dignity (Part 1)
- The Caravan of Dignity (Part 2)
- Solve the Seven-Part Zapatista Riddle... (Narconews)
- Picture gallery (IMC Chiapas)
- Video documentary (Big Noise Films, Paper Tiger, Chiapas Media Project)
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