Zapatismo Is Under Attack: Call for International Solidarity

International

31st May 2023
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Once again, Chiapas has found itself under siege. Over the past few years, attacks against the Zapatistas have been nearly constant, whether it be from the paramilitaries, the federal government or the armchair analysts that support them. Once again, the Zapatistas call for international solidarity from their friends and comrades in the international community. We can only support them in their struggle against capital and the state. Here we present our translation of a statement published in Camino al Andar by Raúl Romero. ¡Zapata Vive! ¡La Lucha Sigue!


In celebration of their 25th anniversary, between 31 December 2018 and 1 January 2019, the EZLN sent a clear and powerful message from the Caracol de La Realidad, in Zapatista Chiapas. After thousands of Zapatista militiamen and women marched, demonstrating their discipline and coordination, Subcomandante Moisés gave a speech that resonated as far as the national palace. In addition to ratifying the anti-capitalist position and the commitment to the autonomy of the Zapatista communities, the insurgent spokesperson also reiterated their rejection of the mega-projects and their willingness to defend their territories: “We will not permit any project that destroys human life and causes the death of our Mother Earth, because behind all of this are the interests of the big national and transnational capitalists.”

The response didn’t wait long: in the days that followed, social networks were filled with messages of hate, lies, calumnies and insults against the Zapatistas. Dozens of anonymous accounts and some public figures sympathetic with the government, took part in the onslaught, with Twitter at the centre of the dispute. The matrix of the anti-Zapatista social media campaign was based on questioning “where the Zapatistas were in the past”, intending to erase a long history of political initiatives, of confrontations with power, of resistance and rebellion. Basically, they were trying to make them look like accomplices of previous governments: a tendency from the official narrative against the critical sectors.

We say this clearly to refresh our memory: if anyone derailed the neoliberal integration project promoted by Salinas de Gortari, it was the Zapatistas and the indigenous peoples who came out and defend their lands and national territory. They were the ones who put their bodies and blood on the line to defend this country.

The social media attacks levelled against the Zapatistas has been a constant in this sexenio (“six years”). “Influencers” and “bots” recycled old lies, like those that claimed the EZLN was a creation of Salinas. They also dusted off the supposed illness of leaders or the hypothetical rupture between members of the General Command. The rumour of possible meetings with the federal government, or Zapatista support for candidates of different parties and in different states, were among the other confounding fabrications spread online. In their repertoire of hoaxes, and totally nonsensical ones at that, they claimed that the British Crown had financed the Zapatistas. Slander and disinformation are weapons of the counterinsurgency: if you repeat a lie a thousand times, it will be converted into the truth.

Alongside the media attacks, the current federal government has also carried out espionage, surveillance and harassment against the Zapatistas and their solidarity networks. Since April 2019, the Zapatistas reported that their territories were being surrounded by the presence of the “military, police, paramilitary, spies, surveillers and informants. Military planes and helicopters are reappearing, along with artillery vehicles.” The information leaked by the Guacamaya collective revealed some of the reports that the SEDENA had produced, or commissioned from other agencies, about the Zapatistas and their networks in Mexico and abroad. The coordination of different state ministries, in mapping the organizations and people allied to Zapatismo in other countries, was also revealed.

In addition to the media attacks and military espionage, there have also been physical attacks against the Zapatista communities. The war waged against the communities in resistance by paramilitary and narco-paramilitary groups continues as it has since 1994, although with varying intensity. The burning of schools and coffee warehouses, the kidnapping of our comrades, the beatings, threats, invasions and other aggressions, are what the Zapatista communities are facing in some of their territories. Let’s give a brief recap:

  1. April 2019. The Regional Organisation of Coffee Growers attacked Zapatista support bases in the Moisés Gandhi community.
  2. 26 February 2020. Comrades of the National Indigenous Congress (CNI), were violated, repressed and kidnapped by paramilitary groups called the “CHINCHULINES” and “ORCAO”.[1]
  3. 22 August 2020. Members of the ORCAO sacked and burned a Zapatista coffee warehouse located in the Commercial Centre “Nuevo Amanecer del Arcoíris en el crucero de Cuxulja”.[2]
  4. 8 November 2020. A comrade of the Zapatista support base was kidnapped from the community of San Isidro, in Moisés Gandhi, and tortured by the paramilitary organization ORCAO.[3]
  5. 18 January 2021. Members of the ORCAO attacked the Moisés Gandhi community, in the Lucio Cabañas Autonomous Municipality, with gunfire. “There were around 170 shots by high-calibre and 80 shots by low-calibre weapons.”
  6. 20 January 2021. We recorded new aggressions by ORCAO against Moisés Gandhi.
  7. 21 January 2021. The Good Governance Council reported that at least 20 members of the ORCAO attacked the houses of Zapatista support bases with firearms.[4]
  8. 11 September 2021. Members of the ORCAO kidnapped two autonomous authorities of the Good Governance Council of Patria Nueva, Chiapas.
  9. 9 June 2022. Nuevo San Gregorio, in the Lucio Cabañas Zapatista Rebel Autonomous Municipality Municipio, in Chiapas, Mexico (offical municipality of Huixtán) and the Good Governance Council “Nuevo Amanecer en Resistance por la Vida y la Humanidad”, of Caracol 10 “Floreciendo la Semilla Rebelde”; suffered attacks that put the lives, security and personal integrity of 6 Zapatista families at risk. Human rights observers received death threats.[5]

All of these attacks have been denounced and documented by the Zapatistas themselves, by human rights organisations and by solidarity networks. The complicity of the local governments and the use of public resources in these attacks, has even been pointed out. The above, added to the growth of criminal cartels in Chiapas and political disputes – among other factors – led the Zapatistas to warn in September 2021 that Chiapas was on the brink of Civil War.

Recently, since 22 May 2023, the attacks have intensified. Once again, the ORCAO paramilitary organisation has attacked Zapatista support bases in the Moisés Gandhi autonomous community with high-calibre weapons. Comrade Gilberto López Sántiz was seriously wounded. The National Indigenous Congress reported that he was suffering: “a wound that perforated the diaphragm, made three holes in the large intestine, then in the stomach and finally in the spleen, which means that the comrade is in a serious condition; a situation that is complicated by the insufficient medical attention he has received, as he urgently requires intensive care without having been admitted or transferred to where he can receive the necessary attention”. These attacks have lasted for several days.

The three levels of government, municipal, state and federal, are all responsible for these attacks. They have continued supplying the ORCAO with public resources and have guaranteed it impunity to continue its attacks.

Independent social organisations must urgently intervene to stop these attacks immediately. The demands are clear and have been clarified by the National Indigenous Congress:

  1. Comrade Gilberto López Sántiz must be given immediate and adequate medical attention.
  2. The armed attack against the Moisés Gandhi community must be stopped and their autonomous territory must be respected.
  3. The material and intellectual authors of the paramilitary attacks must be punished.
  4. The armed groups that wage an active and intensifying war against the Zapatista communities must be dismantled.

The war against the Zapatista communities is intensifying. We beg for solidarity from all over the world: stop the aggression against the Zapatista autonomous communities.

[1] See: https://enlacezapatista.ezln.org.mx/2020/02/27/pronunciamiento-ante-el-secuestro-de-miembros-del-cni-en-chilon-chiapas-por-su-participacion-en-las-jornadas-samir-somos-todas-y-todos/

[2] See: https://frayba.org.mx/index.php/nuevas-agresiones-armadas-de-la-orcao-la-comunidad-moises-gandhi

[3] See: https://enlacezapatista.ezln.org.mx/2020/11/10/los-zapatistas-denuncian-el-secuestro-de-un-base-de-apoyo-por-paramilitares-de-la-orcao/

[4] See: https://frayba.org.mx/index.php/nuevas-agresiones-armadas-de-la-orcao-la-comunidad-moises-gandhi

[5] See: https://frayba.org.mx/220511_au06

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