Day 10. Palenque, Chiapas. First health, food and justice, not a Train that is not Mayan.

Photo: Gabriela Sanabria

El Sur Resiste caravan arrived at its final destination, Palenque, Chiapas prior to the launch of El Sur Resiste International Gathering 2023, which would take place on the 6th and 7th of May in the Caracol of Jacinto Canek. In Palenque, we carried out a march and rally in protest of the discrimination, criminalization, and imposition of the megaprojects upon the Originary Peoples of Chiapas. 

The march had wide participation from compañeras and compañeros from various communities in the region who carried signs and banners with the demand to respect the rights to land and territory of the Originary Peoples, and denouncing the imposition of megaprojects in the region. 

Upon arriving to main esplanade (the central square) of Palenque, the rally begins in which the Coordination of Indigenous Social Organizations CDLI-Xni’nic; Families of the Victims; Survivors and Disaapeared  of the Viejo Velasco Massacre in the Lacandon Jungle;  Toblej Yu’un Wocoltic; UCISECH; Autonomous Mayan Pueblos “OPAM”; National Network of Civil Resistance POMACA; SADEC; CAM; CNI-Palenque; National Network Pakal-Na; and IXIM Asetic among others, share their word and testimony about the violence and discrimination that they suffer at the hands of the Mexican state, and about the resistance of their communities.

The massacre of Viejo Velasco completely unpunished

The family members and victims of the Viejo Velasco massacre, municipio de Ocosingo, which occurred in 2006, denounced that the investigations during these 16 years have been completely “ineffective and inefficient” and that two of their companions, Antonio Peñate López and Mariano Pérez Guzmán, are still missing to this day.

The Viejo Velasco massacre ended in the murder of 6 people extrajudicially executed, one of them, María Núñez González was pregnant, 2 people disappeared and 36 people were forcibly displaced.

Photo: Gabriela Sanabria

To this day, the Mexican Government has refused to acknowledge the massacre despite the fact that it was perpetrated by the paramilitary group Organization for the Defense of Indigenous and Campesino Rights (OPDIC), accompanied by State Police and other public servants.

Currently, 36 people from the Viejo Velasco community are forcibly displaced without any guarantee for their return and four members of the Committee for the Defense of Indigenous Xinich Freedoms have arrest warrants for unjustly accusing them of committing the Massacre.

“They mercilessly killed our sisters and brothers, others took them tied up and dragged like animals in the darkness of the night in the middle of the Lacandon jungle”.

Resounding rejection of the Mayan Train

During the rally the organizations expressed their rejection of the Mayan Train works planned for this region.

The Palenque station is part of Section 1, which will reach Escárcega, Campeche. The latest reports from the Mexican authorities in charge of construction have announced 80% progress on this section, including the train station in Palenque and a center around it inspired by the mask of Pakal.

The complex will have an area of 1,112 meters of boulevard, with six lanes, a pedestrian walkway and a bicycle lane. It will have a new long distance train, operated by Alstom Mexico with a capacity of 260 passengers. During the rally, the Mayan and Zoque organizations in attendance expressed the following reasons for rejecting the project, some of which include violations of their rights as Indigenous Peoples:

  1. The Original Peoples were not consulted according to law in violation of the law of consultation with Indigenous Peoples and international treaties.
  2. The real owners of the Mayan Train are large foreign economic powers and transnational corporations.
  3. The Mayan Train will bring poverty, dispossession of lands and territories, and in defending ourselves we will end up in jail or dead.
  4. The project will make our children and grandchildren leave their villages to work in exploitative jobs, for a pittance of pay and without social security.
  5. For the pollution and destruction of all living things, water, plants, forests, animals.

Photo: Gabriela Sanabria 

The Mayan and Zoque Peoples also mentioned the lack of health services, hospitals and other services in the region. They pointed out as hypocrisy and discrimination that trains are being built for tourists before health services for the communities.

“Have a little shame Mr. President Lopez Obrador, the only thing you came up with is a train and not a hospital for the people which is a historical demand.”

They demand Freedom for Political Prisoner Manuel Gómez Vázquez.

The Network of Resistance and Rebellion Ajmaq participated in the forum in Palenque, with the reading of a communiqué on the situation of political prisoner Manuel Gómez Vázquez, a 22-year-old campesino Maya-tseltal, who makes up part of the EZLN Support Bases.

On December 4, 2020, Manuel was detained by an armed civilian group, who tortured him physically and psychologically to hand him over the next day to the Attorney General’s Office to incriminate him for a crime he did not commit. To date, he has been deprived of his freedom for 2 years and 3 months, without a sentence or a fair trial.

Photo: Gabriela Sanabria 

Manuel is originally from the Autonomous Rebel Zapatista Rebel Municipality, Ricardo Flores Magón, Caracol IX, in Ocosingo, Chiapas. He is currently being held in the State Center for Social Reinsertion of Sentenced Prisoners (Centro Estatal de Reinserción Social de Sentenciados número 16).

The Good Government Council and the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Center have pointed out that this imprisonment is due to his work as a Zapatista Support Base, since the Prosecutor’s Office lacks evidence to accuse him.

In a public denouncement, the Good Government Council, indicated the following:

“For the bad governments, being a Zapatista is a crime punishable by slander, persecution, jail and death.”

The call is for national and international solidarity to join the demand for freedom for Manuel Gómez Vázquez.

At the end of the day, we left for San Cristóbal de las Casas to prepare for the “Encuentro Internacional El Sur Resiste 2023”, where communities from all over the Mexican Southeast and the entire country, as well as independent media, civil society and human rights organizations, will take stock of all the testimonies, evidence and information obtained during the El Sur Resiste Caravan.  The objective will be to coordinate actions and strengthen networks to face the policies of death and the megaprojects of the bad Mexican government. 

Originally published on May 5th, 2023. by El Sur Resiste.
English translation by Schools for Chiapas.

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