UK Zapatista Feature Archive
“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.
17-07-2004 10:40The zapatista "Committee of Good Government" for the Morelia zone has denounced a brutal attack on a zapatista child in the municipality of Chilon, Chiapas, Mexico.
Anniversary: 20th birthday of the MST and EZLN in the university of Sao Paulo (USP)
200 Mexican and international observers answered the call from the zapatista “committee of good government” for the Highlands of Chiapas and accompanied the returning refugees. A similar number of zapatistas, all wearing their trademark balaclavas, journeyed from the different autonomous municipalities of the Chiapas Highlands to ensure their fellow-zapatistas safely regained their homes.
28-04-2004 20:26Conservation International And it’s cronies
Conservation International (CI), a so-called environmental NGO founded in 1987, states that its duty is to 'conserve the Earth's living natural heritage, our global biodiversity, and to demonstrate that human societies are able to live harmoniously with nature'. It operates in over thirty countries, in the Americas, Asia, Africa and the Pacific, and claims indigenous communities are a threat to the environment, because of their illegal logging, overpopulation and slash-and-burn agriculture. However, in March 2003, Global Exchange convened an emergency delegation to the area and found that the destruction was most pronounced around military encampments, while Indigenous villagers had outlawed slash-and-burn techniques and were practicing sustainable organic agriculture.
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.
But 1,000 Zapatistas gathered to defend Morelia, one of the five new Zapatista Caracols, and base for the Zapatista regional “Committee of Good Government”.
After a stand-off the PRI-istas (supporters of the Institutional Revolutionary Party) backed down and dispersed, though the threat to the Caracol remains.
The Zapatistas have declared: “We are prepared to face up to anyone, whoever they might be, to defend our Caracol - to the death if necessary.”
Pictures from Morelia below.
"Make ourselves children of rebellion and resistance", declare the Zapatistas.
The last few weeks have seen the Zapatistas issue several communiques of major importance.
“It is possible to govern and to govern ourselves without the parasite that calls itself government.”
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!"
13-03-2003 23:00As the situation in Chiapas, Mexico, intensified over the last couple of months, international solidarity and awareness becomes more and more important.
The autonomous communities of the Indigenous people and the Zapatistas are in struggle against the threat of US economical trans-latin-american interests and the consequences of globalisation with its associated ecological and human exploitation in their local environment.
The Edinburgh Chiapas Solidarity Campaign invites interested people along to its presentation of the issues.
[ report | Chiapas indymedia | special page on ImcUk , special page on ImcScotland]
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
31-03-2001 22:00Zapatista caravan to Mexico City
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.
The final stage: Mexico City
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".
Reflections on the March
"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)
12-03-2001 23:00Monday, March 12: Subcommandante Marcos spoke at the "Paths of Dignity: Indigenous Rights, Memory and Cultural Heritage" intercultural meeting organised by the ENAH (National School of Anthropology and History) - a meeting also attended by writers like Jose Saramago and Alain Touraine. He reflected on the march:
"We zapatistas have seen a part of the map of the national tragedy which is not shown on primetime on the radio and television news programs. (...) The zapatistas have also seen part of rebel Mexico, and this seeing themselves and seeing others, is nothing other than dignity. The Mexico of below, especially the indigenous, speak to us of a history of struggle and resistance which comes from afar and which beats in the today of every place. Yes, but it is also a history which looks forward."
Marcos on culture, chess, clocks and boots