Embassy and Mexican Consulate in London, in solidarity with the Zapatistas and in opposition to the attacks on their communities by the state and paramilitaries.
Street. Wearing the symbolic Zapatista red bandanas, demonstrators took
over the doorway and draped a huge banner STOP THE REPRESSION right across
the front entrance, maintaining this position for several minutes. Then
police moved in and manhandled the protestors over to the other side of
the road, where the noisy protest continued. Deafening whistle blasts
were interspersed with chants of "Zapata vive, la lucha sigue" (Zapata
lives, the struggle continues).
"Mexican Government forces evicted two indigenous villages in the
Lacandona jungle on 18th August. What's more the state is aiding
paramilitary groups who are launching violent attacks on Zapatista
villages," said Esther McDonald of the UK Zapatista Solidarity Network.
"Today's demonstrations show that people all round the world are prepared
to act in solidarity with the Zapatistas' struggle for autonomy. The one
thousand "communities in resistance" in Chiapas, with their autonomous
health clinics and schools, are an inspiring example of people taking
control over their own lives - but they are now under threat."
"We must act now to stop any possibility of another horrific massacre like
Acteal when, on 22 December 1997, 45 people were massacred by
paramilitaries with the connivance of Mexican state forces in the Chiapan
Highlands," she emphasised.
The protestors delivered a letter for the Ambassador, detailing the human
rights abuses carried out in recent weeks against at least 21 Zapatista
communities. On 24th November 80 members of the paramilitary-type group
OPDDICC invaded the village of Bolon Ajaw menacing the residents with guns
and machetes and brutally beating a health worker unconscious.
After demonstrating at the Embassy for one and a half hours the protestors
moved to the Mexican Consulate in nearby Halkin Street. The
demonstrators were able to totally take over the entrance porch, once more
completely closing off the entrance by draping banners right across it.
The protestors controlled the entrance for around 15 minutes before the
arrival of armed diplomatic police, who forced people to the other side of
Among the 20-25 demonstrators were those who had travelled from York,
Manchester, Dorset, Reading, Birmingham, Nottingham, Edinburgh and
elsewhere to participate. The demonstration was organised by the UK
Zapatista Solidarity Network and the new edition of the network's
newsletter was distributed, detailing not only the repression in Chiapas
but the positive work of the Zapatistas and solidarity groups in building
drinking water systems, health clinics and schools.
The Zapatista movement made world headlines when it staged an armed
uprising in the southern state of Chiapas on New Years Day 1994, the day
the North American Free Trade Agreement came into effect. Following the
rebellion many of the big local landowners fled. The Zapatistas took the
land into communal control and have built their own autonomous
communities, with their own health clinics, schools, justice system and
grass-roots decision-making structures.