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Article about twinned community "16th of february"

Edinburgh Chiapas Solidarity | 25.02.2005 22:04 | Zapatista | World

The decision of becoming a Zapatista Autonomous Municipality in Rebelion was taken by the Zapatista supporters in the are in 2003.

Inauguration of the Autonomous Municipality Council Hall of Dieciséis de Febrero, in Simojovel.


Dieciséis de Febrero (16th of February), Chiapas, February 16th 2005. On the ninth anniversary of the San Andres Accords (agreement signed by the EZLN and the Mexican Government that never was implemented), the Autonomous Municipality in rebellion that took its name from the date the agreement was signed, 16th of February, opened officially its new Council Hall and openly declares its existence in the Simojovel area.

“This name will never be forgotten. We live it, we grow it”, said the president of the Autonomous committee before 1500 people in the square of the Tzotzil community of Las Limas, between the Chiapan’s Highlands and the North area, that attended the celebration.

“It was a common decision of the Zapatistas supporters from the area of San Marcos to the area of Tierra y Libertas, that we formed this Municipality in 2003 and in a general meeting we elected our authorities that will rule by obeying”.

33 people were elected to form the Autonomous Council. From the president to the security people, one by one they agreed to carry out their tasks. This will be a tough job carried out consciously.

“We voted to select the name. A name of a very important date for the indigenous people in Mexico”, continues the autonomous council president. “Then, on the 28th of May 2003 the Zapatistas supporters, the local and regional authorities and the Indigenous Clandestine Revolutionary Committee of the EZLN had a meeting in which the responsibilities for the autonomous representatives were distributed.” In August of the same year the Good Government Assemblies (Juntas del Buen Govierno-JBG) were formed and this municipality became part of the one in Oventic.

The event was honoured with the presence and the words of the members of the Autonomous Councils in Rebellion from San Andrés Sakamch'en de los Pobres, San Juan de la Libertad y Magdalena de la Paz, all part of the Caracol Resistance and Rebellious for Humanity.

With the economic support from the JBG, peasants of these three rebellious municipalities worked together to build up the Autonomous Municipality Council Hall and Library in 16th of February.

“Nobody will ever stop us. His is another step forwards in the path to Democracy, Freedom and Justice” said the Autonomous president from Magdalena de la Paz. “I hope our children one day understand the importance of our Autonomous governments”.

The president of the autonomous municipality of San Andrés, holding his black staff, wearing a hat with ribbons and his distinguished bearing said: “I would recommend to you, authorities on this municipality. Do not loose your hearts, keep on carrying out our compromise. We are not after some spare change, the money, we are here for the love to our people. And you, Zapatista supporters, I would recommend the same, keep on carrying out this struggle, keep organising yourselves, do not leave alone your authorities in this offices. Only together and agreeing we could move forward”.

Six members of the Zapatista militia in uniform, with their balaclavas and unarmed arrived carrying the Mexican flag in order to honour it. Other five members of the militia that carried the black and red flag of the EZLN followed them. The education promoter of the community of Las Limas directed the National Hymn and the Cumbia band Mágicos Locos played the Zapatista Hymn sung by everyone present.

The president of this young rebellious municipality, dressed in white and wearing a palm leaf hat and a red bandanna mentioned that for the two years that the local authorities started to work, they did not have a permanent meeting place. “The meetings took place under a wooden area, that is why it came out the idea of building a Municipal Council Hall”. He continued “it is 11 years of struggle, but the Autonomous Municipality 16th of February is very new. We have a small library, an area to reforest, two autonomous schools, a group of craftswomen working with fabrics and other of men and women working with amber. Furthermore, we are planning the development of a health microclinic and other productive projects that help us in resisting the bad government.”

The prisoner number seven

Due to the regional history of Simojovel, it had a big significance this Catholic ceremony officiated by the priest Joel Padrón who give his grace to the new autonomous premises before the inauguration. Padrón was the parish priest of Simojovel for many years and after the Zapatista uprising (1994) the ecclesiastical hierarchy transferred him to the parish church in El Bosque (neighbouring town).

He is well known because of his compromise with the indigenous people in the area. In the 80’s and 90’s he received many threats and accusations from the Mexican government and the local landowners. In 1990 he was imprisoned for several months by the local governor Patrocinio González Garrido in Cerro Hueco Prison.

Taking into consideration the age of the majority of the indigenous people present at this celebration it is possible that most of them were baptised or married by Padrón who nowadays if the peace vicar in the diocese of San Cristóbal de las Casas. He was invited specially by the Zapatistas supporters as they have good memories of him. Today, during the mass –something not very common in the Zapatista political events- in Tzotzil and in Castilian and accompanied by the music of a band formed by two trumpeters, two trombonist, two saxophonists and two drummers, Padrón said that the 16th of February “is not a name of the past but of the future”.

After this he showed a copy of his book about the period he spend in jail. He donated a copy to the autonomous council that reads the dedication “to this autonomous municipality, that I greet for having make the San Andrés accords reality for the people and history that nobody will be able to stop. With deep thankfulness and admiration: Joel Padrón".

While the party and the dance started the autonomous authorities went in the new Municipal Council Hall (a building of wood, with concrete floor and metal roof in which is possible to find the sheriff court, the office of the council and the meeting room). Here not only the San Andrés accords are implemented, those that were never recognised by the Mexican government, but also it is commemorated an achievement of the people and the shame of the power.

Edinburgh Chiapas Solidarity
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