Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

August 21, 2012

Zapatistas support from Peru and UK

Photo Brenda Norrell
Marcos and Commandantes in Sonora, Mexico
“Worldwide Echo in Support of the Zapatistas:
Freedom and Justice for San Marcos Avilés and
Francisco Sántiz López"
The renowned fighter for social justice and director of the Peruvian publication Lucha Indígena (Indigenous Struggle), Hugo Blanco, issues this important and beautiful statement as part of the “Worldwide Echo in Support of the Zapatistas: Freedom and Justice for San Marcos Avilés and Sántiz López” Campaign. The central task of the first phase of this campaign is to educate and raise consciousness at the international level regarding the severe repression and violence being carried out against our Zapatista sisters and brothers. In this letter addressed to “A quienes buscan un mundo libre” – or “To those who search for a free world” – our compañero Hugo consummates this task by offering us the gift of memory, as he throws light on the historical, economic, and political context in which this nightmare unfolds. With impassioned words, he makes clear the true reasons and forces which seek to do away with, what he calls, this “zone liberated from neoliberalism, where the people govern themselves.”
With great pleasure, we share with you, compañer@s, Hugo's letter in its entirety:
To those who search for a free world
In 1994, at the full glorious height of the neoliberal system that oppresses us, a voice of rebellion arose, the Zapatista movement in Chiapas, Mexico.

Naturally Salinas, the then president, launched a bloody military offensive thinking to rapidly crush the rebellion. Not so, the indigenous fighters resisted. The people of Mexico were outraged at the bloodshed and demanded an end to the attack.

The U.S. government was alarmed, because with the number of Mexicans and Chicanos who had been and were being oppressed in their territory, there was a danger that the Zapatista armed uprising might spread to the seat of the empire. Therefore they ordered the Mexican government to stop the attack, an order which, of course, their subject obeyed. The rebels announced that they were obeying the people of Mexico, who were ordering the war to stop, and suspended the armed conflict.

The government offered talks, the Zapatistas accepted. With the democratic spirit they have, they would not wish to be the ones to speak on behalf of the indigenous Mexicans; they called on indigenous and indigenists from across the country to set out the indigenous demands. This task was completed, and their arguments were so convincing that the government commission had to accept many of them. Both parties signed what were called the "San Andrés Accords." As these had to be in the form of a law to be approved by parliament, a commission was appointed with the task of putting them into the appropriate format. The commission completed its work and submitted it to both parties; the Zapatistas accepted, but the government did not. Instead they filed another document, thus betraying the agreements they had signed. The members of the chamber [of deputies] gave in to this outrage and agreed to discuss and approve the government document. Therefore, the Executive, supported by parliament, betrayed the agreement.

The military government made a treacherous attack on the Zapatistas, trying to liquidate the leadership of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN). They failed. But, (whoever is the current president), they do not abandon their intention of making this island of freedom that exists in the world disappear.

Do not forget that the first international gathering of those oppressed by the neoliberal system which is crushing the world was called by the indigenous Zapatistas, and took place in the mud of Chiapas, years before the World Social Forum

Recently the attacks on Zapatista communities have been increasing, the chief and fiercest ones are those being suffered by the Zapatista autonomous community of San Marcos Avilés. The Good Government Junta ‘Towards Hope’ and the Good Government Junta ‘Heart of the Rainbow of Hope’ have also reported attacks.

These attacks and the continued detention of Francisco Sántiz López and Alberto Patishtán Gómez, are the spearhead of the attack to crush the zone liberated from neoliberalism, where the people govern themselves through the Good Government Juntas. This is seen as the great enemy by the transnational corporations (the 1% of humanity that crushes the 99%), as they are a living example of the fact that "Another World is Possible", "A World where Many Worlds Fit".

We hope that the insurgent rebel movement in Mexico, # yosoy132, understands that their essential task is to defend the island of freedom that is in their own country; if they crush the Zapatistas, # yosoy132 will be easily crushed.
Let us fight in the defense of San Marcos Avilés and against other attacks in the area. Let us fight for the freedom of Francisco Sántiz López and Alberto Patishtán Gómez.

It is in the direct interests of humanity to defend the island of freedom that is the Zapatista area.

Hugo Blanco


TheUK Zapatista Solidarity Network would like to propose that we all issue a joint statement from our various places in every corner of the world. We invite everyone to sign this worldwide declaration in support of the dignified struggle of the Zapatista support bases of San Marcos Avilés and the Zapatista political prisoner Francisco Sántiz López. This declaration is being circulated in association with the “Worldwide Echo in Support of the Zapatistas: Freedom and Justice for San Marcos Avilés and Sántiz López” Campaign, called by our compañer@s from the Other Campaign New York.
The plan is for the declaration to be presented, with all the collected signatures, during the second phase of the Campaign in September 2012.
We ask you to send your signatures of support, including the name of your group, organization or collective, and your town or country, to before 20th September, 2012. Following this date, we will ask that you join us in actively distributing the signed declaration as widely as possible, particularly to local, national and international media, and Mexican government offices, Embassies and Consulates, to demand an immediate end to the repression confronting our Zapatista compañer@s.
To watch a video message from San Marcos Avilés:


We view with profound concern, and demand an immediate end to, the continued acts of intimidation and aggression and the human rights abuses being committed against members of the Zapatista support base community in San Marcos Avilés, official municipality of Chilón, Chiapas, Mexico. We also call for the immediate liberation of the Zapatista political prisoner Francisco Sántiz López, who has been jailed since December 2011 in a flagrant abuse of justice.
Responding to the numerous denouncements and calls issued by the Zapatista Good Government Junta of Oventic and the community of San Marcos Avilés, we manifest in this declaration our solidarity with our brothers and sisters there, as well as with Francisco Sántiz López.
We are aware of the very serious new threats being made against the community of San Marcos Avilés by representatives of political parties in the area. Of particular concern are the open and blatant threats of displacement, physical violence, and the on-going climate of hostility promoted by these individuals. We consider such reprehensible aggression to be extremely serious in light of the events of September 2010, when vigilantes from the Green Ecological Party of Mexico (PVEM), the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), led by Lorenzo Ruiz Gómez and Vicente Ruiz López, attacked Zapatista support bases, displacing 170 people and destroying their property and crops.
In relation to the case of Francisco Sántiz López, a Zapatista support base from the Banavil ejido of Tenejapa, who was originally detained in December 2011 under false charges of having orchestrated a conflict in Banavil, we affirm the evidence collected by the Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Centre and recounted by several witnesses, that he indeed was not present at the location where the events took place on 4th December 2011. His false imprisonment and the continued refusal of local authorities to examine this evidence are, in our view, further indication that the judicial system in Chiapas is wielded as tool of political repression against those who struggle for justice.
In respect to current events in San Marcos Avilés, we demand:
Ø An immediate end to all death threats, verbal and physical harassment, and threats against the property and well-being of the Zapatista Support Base members by elements of the political parties in the San Marcos Avilés ejido
Ø Protection for the life and safety of the Zapatista support base members of San Marcos Avilés
Ø Respect for the Zapatista Support Base community's inalienable right to autonomy as indigenous peoples, as enshrined in the internationally recognized ILO Convention No. 169 and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, both of which the government of Mexico has signed
In respect of the case of Zapatista support base Francisco Sántiz López, we demand his immediate and unconditional release, as well as a swift investigation and prosecution of the perpetrators of violence in Banavil, Tenejapa Municipality, Chiapas.
To our brothers and sisters suffering injustice and violence in Chiapas, we remind you that your struggle is not carried out in silence, nor is it invisible. Indeed, countless individuals, organizations, and communities from around the world remain vigilant regarding your situation and have joined an international campaign in solidarity with your struggle. For our part, from cities across the world we send you a warm embrace, to let you know that we know who you are and what you are fighting for, and to say that we will do whatever we can to support you. We will all continue to make an echo of your just demands, an echo that resonates with the collective heartbeat of the earth.

To watch a video message from the compas in San Marcos Avilés:
For further information please go to:
Please send your signatures of support, including the name of your group, organization or collective, and your town or country, to before 20th September, 2012.

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