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 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.

We welcome new people getting involved in the group, for info on our upcoming organising meetings please email us at edinchiapas@yahoo.co.uk.

Ex-President Ernesto Zedillo Claims Immunity in Acteal Massacre

Former Mexican president Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de León (1994-2000) filed papers in US district court in Hartford, Connecticut, on Jan. 6 claiming that his presidential status gives him immunity from a legal action stemming from a December 1997 massacre in the southeastern state of Chiapas. Ten unnamed survivors of the massacre of 45 indigenous campesinos in the community of Acteal are demanding $50 million in damages in a suit they filed against Zedillo in Hartford on Sept. 19. The former president is currently teaching at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. Since he is in the US, he is subject to two US laws--the Torture Victim Protection Act of 1991 andthe 1789 Alien Tort Claims Act--which permit foreigners to bring suits in US courts for violence that occurred in other countries.

The Acteal killings were carried out by indigenous paramilitaries against members of the Civil Society Organization Las Abejas (“The Bees”). The Mexican government has always contended that the killings arose from long-standing conflicts between indigenous communities. Dozens of men from neighboring villages were convicted of participating in the massacre, although the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN) overturned 22 of the convictions in August 2009.

Zedillo’s 122-page court filing called charges that the former president “was somehow complicit” in the killings “baseless and outrageous.” But the massacre occurred during conflicts between the government and the rebel Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN), and the Acteal community was sympathetic to the EZLN. A number of Mexican analysts feel that Zedillo’s government may have trained and backed the paramilitaries, or at the very least aggravated tensions between EZLN supporters and opponents in Chiapas.

“Without doubt, in Zedillo there was complicity or [guilt by] omission for the tragic events in Acteal,” former legislator Jaime Martínez Veloz told the left-leaning Mexican daily La Jornada. Martínez Veloz had been a member of the Concord and Peacemaking Commission (COCOPA), a multi-party congressional commission sent by the federal government to negotiate with the EZLN starting in 1994. “Ultimately, Acteal is the most brutal expression of the failure to comply with the San Andrés Accords,” he said, referring to an agreement COCOPA worked out providing more autonomy for indigenous communities in Chiapas. Zedillo’s government rejected the accords, leaving the conflicts unresolved. 

Oaxaca: Ex-director of Section 22 is murdered

On 24 December, Rafael Rodríguez Vicente, ex-director of Section 22 of the National Union of Education Workers (1995-8), was murdered in the municipality of Santa Lucía del Camino, Oaxaca.  The directorship of Section 22 released a communiqué that called on governor Gabino Cué quickly to clarify the crime and demanded better security conditions for the members of the popular movement.  The authorities are not dismissing any lines of inquiry.  Regardless, there are two hypotheses: one due to political conflicts resulting from his charge of assessor of the indigenous community of Santa María Zoquitlán and another related with his work as a docent.

Rodríguez Enriquez was an activist with the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca and presently had acted as director of the Broad Front of Marginalized Indigenous Communities.  He had been arrested in June 2002 presumably for having belonged to the Popular Revolutionary Army (EPR) and participating in the kidnapping of the relative of the director of merchants Gonzalo Rodríguez.


 A Happy New Year

and a

Happy 18th Anniversary of the Zapatista Uprising



Shooting of human rights defender Ms Norma Andrade

Re: Mexico – Shooting of human rights defender Ms Norma Andrade

On 2 December 2011, human rights defender Ms Norma Andrade was shot five times in Ciudad Juárez in the State of Chihuahua. She was hospitalised as a result of injuries sustained, and she is reportedly in a stable condition. Norma Andrade is the founder of Nuestras Hijas de Regreso a Casa – NHRC (May Our Daughters Return Home). Her human rights work focuses on fighting for justice for the victims of femicide and their families in the State of Chihuahua.

Ejidatarios from Bachajon reclaim land

The community of San Sebastián Bachajón, adherents to the Other Campaign, issued a statement on November 30th, in which they inform of the decision taken by the men and women, ejidatarios of the community, to reclaim the toll booth at Agua Azul and the entrance facilities to the tourist eco-centre, taking into consideration that these buildings have been located on ejidal land without the consent of the assembly.


EZLN celebrates its 28th anniversary, commission visits Alberto Patishtan in his Sinaloa prison, and COCOPA to promote Indigenous Rights Law in congress amongst other news from the Chiapas Support Committee.





To the Other Campaign

To the Zezta Internazional

Compañeras and compañeros:

Given the repressive onslaught of the federal and state governments in this country [continued]:


For nearly 18 years now, the Zapatista communities in resistance have been enduring a counterinsurgency war designed to put an end to their movement. In recent years, acts of aggression, repression, intimidation, violence, theft, land eviction, and provocation have increased, and in 2011 their frequency and cruelty have markedly intensified. In August and September 2011, an Observation and Solidarity Brigade visited some of the communities to listen to the voices of those under attack, to document the repression, to witness continuing advances in autonomy, and to show solidarity with the men, women and children surviving this daily reality.

They found that many acts of aggression by Govenment backed paramilitiaries towards Zapatista communities, such as recent attacks in San Marcos Aviles, have been directly linked to the establishment of autonomous schools. In her article Jessica Davies looks at this worrying trend in the Chiapas Government's counter insurgency strategy and the brutal impact it has on the civilian support bases of the Zapatista movement.

To read the article click here.


After 39 days without food, 11 indigenous prisoners in Chiapas ended their hunger strike on November 6th, citing the deterioration of their health and the need to survive to continue their fight against repression. They had been protesting against the torture and human rights violations they have received at the hands of the Chiapas authorities and the harassment of their families.

Their family members and supporters have taken up the struggle by launching an ongoing protest vigil (plantón) outside the State Center of Social Reinsertion (CERSS), and blockading the San Cristóbal-Ocosingo highway that passes by the facility.

Hostilities could Re-Emerge in Autonomous Zapatista Zones

- NGOs (including EdinChiapas) and communities denounce counterinsurgency strategies in a letter to the President

- Human rights are only a publicity slogan of the official bad government discourse

By: Hermann Bellinghausen,

San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, November 5, 2011

Under a counterinsurgency strategy scenario, according to the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Centre (Frayba), “the autonomous communities in resistance whose populations constitute civilian support bases of the Zapatista National Liberation Army, are within the focus of a possible confrontation and reactivation of hostilities like those that we guard in the collective memory of a wronged Mexico.”

This is said in a public letter to the president of the Republic, Felipe Calderón Hinojosa, and to Governor Juan Sabines Guerrero, which has been subscribed to within a few days by more than 350 organizations, collectives, communities and peoples of Mexico and numerous countries, who “share that which signifies the deepening of the forgetfulness in which the official agenda has placed the demands and denunciations of hundreds of subjects and processes in Chiapas.”

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We invite you to join our email list (sign up here) and to attend our regular organising meetings.

Edinburgh Chiapas Solidarity Group,
c/o 17 West Montgomery Place

Email: edinchiapas@yahoo.co.uk

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The EdinChiapas group is part of the 'UK Zapatista Network': ukzapatistas.wordpress.com