Edinburgh Chiapas Solidarity Group
The Edinburgh Chiapas Solidarity Group is one of many groups across the world which support the Zapatistas in their struggleand is part of the 'UK Zapatista Network'. Our main purpose is to raise awareness of the Zapatista struggle and to give practical help wherever possible.
We do this by organising talks, film showings, benefit gigs, street stalls and direct actions as well as publishing articles. We import Zapatista produce such as coffee, clothing and jewellery for sale with the money going directly back to the communities.
In Spring 2004 the Edinburgh-Chiapas Solidarity Group and the Glasgow Zapatista Solidarity Group twinned with the '16 de Febrero' Zapatista autonomous municipality. The municipality is in a poor, rural community which lacked access to basic medical care and education. We have raised funding that enabled the community to build a health clinic in their area and further help is now needed to purchase medical equipment and supplies.
The major Zapatista news has been the recent announcement that the Other Campaign is set to recommence, having been halted earlier in the year in order to show support with the 29 victims of State assault in Atenco who are still in prison. The newly proposed plan has been ratified by the Zapatista municipalities and involves senior Zapatistas moving to Mexico City to enable the support of the Atenco prisoners to continue, while Marcos/Delegate Zero continues his tour of Mexico. Analyses of recent events are also promised, so watch this space! Doubtless connected with the resumption, Marcos briefly returned to Chiapas, as reported in the following report, with his talk there illustrating what may be an increased focus on the fraudulent election results in addition to continuing to highlight Atenco and other social issues.
A sneak preview of the upcoming camcorder guerillas film focussing on the Zapatistas and the work of their Scottish supporters can be seen on the 14th September at the CCA (Centre for Contemporary Arts) on Sauchiehall Street in Glasgow. A map can be found here and the screenings and discussion lasts from 12pm to 3pm.
The event is part of the human rights film festival Doc 4 , and will include a discussion on Latin American struggles and the role of the media and a full screening of the argentinian film (i).
Things are still heated in Oaxaca where the economic conditions seem to be worsening, leading even local businesses to put pressure on the unpopular state governor to "do something". Notably, the recent attempt by the state government to relocate to Juchitan in order to begin functioning was thwarted.
Meanwhile, Marcos addressed the Second Indigenous Encounter of the Yuctan Peninsula, stating that the Other Campaign participants "have found equal ground when we searched for and found the party responsible for our pains: the capitalist system", and that the next steps for the Zapatistas are being prepared. In response, the closing statement at the Encounter stressed that indigenous struggles "are the heart of the 'Sixth Declaration of the Selva Lacandona'".
Meanwhile, a very informative piece on the Other Campaign in practice among immigrant communities in Spanish Harlem, New York is now available.
A relatively quiet news week so far, with a disparate set of news items... Firstly, the new governor of Chiapas has been confirmed as Juan Sabines of the PRD, wining by 6,350 votes out of over a million cast and forcing Jose Aguilar of the PRI into second place. A PRI challenge to the results may be forthcoming. Elsewhere, it seems like the room for Lopez Obrador to maneouver in the Presidential election is becoming smaller and smaller after the most recent recount made little overall difference to results. Obrador has, however, pledged to keep fighting so things are not necessarily settled, especially as Obrador's supporters are pressuring him to adopt a more left-wing platform.
Meanwhile, the situation in Oaxaca remains very heated, with the Mexico Solidarity Network sending out a good recent update and some commentary (relatively critical of the alleged anarchist presence) from some present in Oaxaca City.
In light of the recent events in Atenco, Oaxaca and the Presidential election its worth noting the recent statement by the Popular Revolutionary Army based in Oaxaca that "military action is the last resort when the forms of peaceful protest fail".
Edinburgh Chiapas Solidarity are having an exhibition of photos taken recently in Chiapas at the Peace and Justice Centre, Edinburgh. The exhibition includes photographs taken by teenagers living in the '16 de Febrero' autonomous municipality which we are twinned with. It begins on 12th August.
We will also have a stall at the West End Craft Fair which will be selling amber jewellery, textiles and other handicrafts made by the indigenous people of 16 de Febrero featured in this exhibition. All money raised from sales will go to fund the health clinic being built there.
Pressure has continued in Oaxaca City, with the Popular Assembly of the Oaxacan People (APPO) taking control of the entire state apparatus in the last few days and having control over much of the state. However, recent reports suggest the situation is incredibly tense, with gunmen firing off shots at protestors. Reports from a week ago stated that four protestors had died and at least ten were wounded. Please read the letters we have recently received from Oaxaca City (found after this news update) which provide a first-hand account of events.
Meanwhile, a case filed by a lawyer representing the People's Front in Defense of the Land has been (surprisingly) accepted by the Mexican Supreme Court, giving them 10 days to show their rights were violated by the hugely repressive police action in early May. Less positively, Ricardo Lopez Espinosa, one of the most active members of the People's Defense of the Land, has recently been arrested.
Following earlier reports [see news for 2nd - 10th August] of eviction, harassment and arrests of Zapatista villagers in the El Trabajo autonomous municipality, comes news of judicial police invading the land of campesinos in Oxcum, Yacatan who are allied to the Other Campaign.
The police and the paramilitaries have evicted the hill where the aerials for the signal of the TV station and the radio that was taken by the women (TV and Radio APPO) are. The action took place at around 3.00am. Various people were wounded, many disappeared. No numbers are confirmed yet. The repression here is escalating.
The situation here is very scary, shootings are taking place daily, threats and harassments are the common way of the government repression... sorry for this crap message, but I cannot think clearly enough in English to express this. The situation at the hill last night was very scary, the panic took over everyone there. The wounded people had to be attended by untrained medical staff and the ambulances did not come close to the area for a while. Blood, screams, panic all over.
Please try to do whatever you can wherever you are. Do not remain silent.
PS At the same time, during the APPO meeting last week, the PRD, masked as the APPO, attempted to take control of all the voices and called the participants of the APPO not to take more radical actions. Some voices of dissent were heard but the PRD silenced them calling them radicals, anarchist and anti-democracy. You won't read about this in any of the main papers including La Jornada as they are PRD supporters.
On Tuesday night there was a fight between two different groups at the University radio station. The trigger for this fight was the different approach and politics the two groups have. There were also disputes about the fact that one of the groups that is supporting the occupation of the station has used drugs and alcohol on the premises, which is not allowed for obvious reasons. On the same night of the dispute a small group of young troublemakers paid by the government (according to the sources of the radio station) spilt some acid over the radio equipment so the signal has been off for the last few days.
During the last couple of days some people have been creating some trouble in order to create an atmosphere of fear in all the places that are occupied by the APPO (Popular Assembly of the People of Oaxaca) - mainly in the TV and radio station Channel 9 that were taken over by the women a while ago. There have been shootings outside various places (not at people, but just at the air), plain clothes police and people paid by them filming and taking photos, paramilitaries provoking and threatening people constantly (there is a long hidden agenda/black list with the name of many people that are part of diferent social organisations, unions and individuals that have been politically involved in different kinds of resistances in Oaxaca)...
Two days ago a doctor was traveling in his car when two people on a motorbike shot him. Various bullets were found in the doctor's body but the cause of death was put down to the car crashing aginst a wall. The doctor was a person of the APPO.
Specific Zapatista news includes reports of an attack on Atenco prisoner David Medina Neri while in Santiaguito prison and the shocking eviction, harassment and arrests of Zapatista villagers in the El Trabajo autonomous municipality. Amnesty International have also launched an urgent action over the safety of human rights defender Manuel Gomez Hernandez.
The struggle in Oaxaca City continues, with mass blockades aiming to make the city government unworkable and Federal Police creating havoc.
Debate over election fraud has continued, with reports of new evidence and splits within the PRD being presented by Mexico Solidarity Network, and the small recount of ballots beginning. John Ross has written an interesting piece on electoral fraud and the response to it amongst Obrador supporters. Ross' viewpoints on the Other Campaign and the recent Red Alert have proved controversial, with Mary Ann Tenuto-Sanchez critiquing one of his more recent articles here.