Chiapas news from Sipaz: March 2012
On 16 March, the Good-Government Council (JGB) of Oventic denounced the unjust incarceration of Francisco Sántiz López, EZLN support base, as well as of Lorenzo López Girón, who lacks any political affiliations. Both are from the Tenejapa official municipality and are unjustly accused of a crime that occurred in December 2011. They were arrested on 4 December 2011. Sántiz López was "falsely accused of directing a provocation in which died Pedro Méndez López, from the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) in the Banavil ejido." Francisco was held for 2 hours in the municipal headquarters and later handed over to the Ministerial Police of San Cristóbal de Las Casas. They were both offered their liberty if they would pay 32,000 pesos for the murder and 40,000 for carrying arms, but they refused to pay, "because their incarceration is unjust."
The JBG denounced as "unsupportable, unacceptable, and inhumane the attitudes of the judges, ministry, and bad state and federal governments, which are so corrupt and accustomed to inventing crimes and condemning innocent peoples." The JBG considers these attacks to be attacks on the autonomy of Zapatista communities, toward the end of impeding "the exercise of our rights to autonomy and self-determination as indigenous peoples."
In a 19 March 2012 communiqué, residents of the community of Candelaria el Alto, Venustiano Carranza municipality, who are adherents to the Other Campaign denounced that on 15 March members of the Emiliano Zapata Campesino Organization-Carranza Region (OCEZ-RC) from the San José La Grandeza neighborhood began to burn the crops and trees located on their lands.
They recalled that since 6 April 2011 the OCEZ-RC had invaded the "El Desengaño" territory.
After informing the state government, they report that on the next day "arrived a PEP [Preventive State Police] truck, asking about the Candelaria el Alto case, wanting to enter the territory, adding that if we gave permission they would start patrolling and reach the place where the invaders came, beyond promising to protect those of the OCEZ-RC [...]. Upon hearing this we told them to leave our community, because we have told the government several times now that we do not have more land to sell. So why did they arrive and deceive us in this way, knowing that we will not sell the little we have left. We will not permit more looting, after the 98 hectares of land that the state bought for the benefit of [OCEZ-RC]."
They demanded a solution as well as respect: “we are now in the season close to the time to sow our crops (corn and beans), so it is urgent the state resolve our problems. If it does not, we will be exposed for another year without our basic crops, thus putting at risk the lives of the children, women, and elderly of the community."
Comrades, friends, relatives, and neighbours of Alberto Patishtán Gómez, who has been imprisoned since 19 June 2000, succeeded in bringing together on 17 March more than a thousand people in the community of El Bosque to demand Patishtán's return to Chiapas and his unconditional release. All believe him to be innocent and a political prisoner.
Professor Martín Ramírez López initiated the reunion, remembering the acts that occurred 12 years ago and the implications that his incarceration has had for his relatives, students, and compatriots. Painful memories from friends, work-colleagues, and the parents and friends who accompanied Patishtán on the day of the presumed ambush against police of which he is accused repeatedly stressed that he was not at the scene of the incident: "I spoke with him that day, at the very hour; he could not have been where the violence occurred." But their testimony was never taken into account: "We went to San Cristóbal and Tuxtla to declare the same thing we say now, but no one listened."
Expressing strong emotions mixed with dignified rage, participants made clear their opposition to his unjust incarceration. Later, women and men considered the words of the professor to reflect on the new types of actions they could undertake after the assembly to demand the immediate return and release of Patishtán Gómez.
In a 13 March bulletin, the Rural Association of Collective Interest Union of Democratic and Independent Unions (ARIC UU ID) denounced that the National Commission of Natural Protected Areas (Conanp) had given a six-day warning to the residents of San Gregorio, Ranchería Corozal, and Salvador Allende, communities located in the Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve, to accept payment and abandon their lands. If they refused, they would be displaced by means of the public forces. In light of these threats, the ARIC UU ID affirmed that "We will not allow one more displacement. Our rights and reason help us as indigenous peoples and shows our rights-claims. Furthermore, we remind our audience that we are descendants of the Mayan people, who lived on these lands since before colonization."
ARIC UU ID notes that "following more than 35 years of agrarian conflict, the three communities that are located on the terrain of Communal Lands Lacandon Region (BCZL) have come to an agreement of conciliation that ended in agrarian conflict and the recognition among interested parties regarding the possession of these three places." It stressed regardless that this agreement "to date has been met only with omission and threats of displacement against the three communities." On 28 February, representatives of Conanp and Ricardo Frías, delegate of the Environment and Natural Resources Secretariat, reported that the agreement among the three communities had not been accepted.
Since the beginning of March, residents of the three threatened communities have stressed that they will not abandon the region in which they have resided for more than 30 years, noting that they will not accept the proposal, the relocation, or the reparation payment, because they do not consider these to be solutions, in accordance with the experience that other communities have had that have been displaced from Montes Azules.
In a public denunciation released on 8 March, the organization People United in Defence of Electrical Energy (PUDEE) warned of harassment and electricity cut-offs directed toward members of its organization in several communities. With presence in the Sabanilla, Salto de Agua, Tila, and Yajalón municipalities, the adherents to Other Campaign reported that on 8 March, personnel from the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE), accompanied by the rural agent, cut off electricity to the 25 families organized with PUDEE in the Jol-Ako community, in the zone below the Tila municipality. Furthermore, they threatened to install digital meters, which the communities in resistance reject, a situation that has been seen since the beginning of the year also in Nicolás Bravo, Belisario Domínguez, Jolnopa Guadalupe, and Cantioc, from the same municipality. In the denunciation, they also reported that PUDEE members have been harassed by members of the Green Ecologist Party of Mexico (PVEM), whom they indicate as being members of the "Paz y Justicia" paramilitary group. It should be remembered that members of this organization have been investigated for their presumed responsibility for murders and forced disappearances during the years 1996-2011.