III Report of the Caravan of Solidarity and Documentation with the Zapatista Autonomous Community of Nuevo San Gregorio

Held on January 08 and 09, 2022

The Caravan visits the collective store in Nuevo San Gregorio. Photo: Red Ajmaq

Organizations, collectives and networks adhering to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle:

We present our report to communicate, disseminate and denounce the continued aggressions, threats, and harassment perpetrated by the group of “Los 40” – invaders targeting girls, boys, men and women of the autonomous Zapatista community of Nuevo San Gregorio1, in the area of Patria Nueva, territory recovered in 1994 by the EZLN.

We extend this report to individuals, families, collectives, organizations, networks and the media, so that they may contribute during the month of January to the campaign for the spread of this information.

We ask you to join us from your geographies – in accordance with your ways, times and creativity – with the objective of denouncing these crimes, and of letting the Zapatista families know that they are not alone. Also, to collectively demonstrate our connectedness in the face of the war against life which targets the autonomy of the Zapatista peoples.

Introduction: The Context of the Integrated War of Attrition against the Zapatista Communities and Peoples Belonging to the EZLN.

In this third report, we release the documentation that we were able to collect from testimonies and evidence of tangible facts, that the participation of the three levels of bad government: federal, state and municipal, has been one of inaction and omission in the face of the acts carried out with total impunity by the criminal group known as “The 40”2.

The bad government continues to be negligent in the face of an overwhelming number of complaints, disregarding all convincing evidence of the offenses committed by these individuals.

It is clear that these groups work with the consent and approval of the State.

For this reason, on January 8 and 9, 2022, a third Caravan was realized, called by the Network of Resistance and Rebellion AJMAQ to redouble the commitment to life, and insist on denouncing the continuation of this war against the Zapatista autonomous communities.

In this case, specifically in the community of Nuevo San Gregorio.

It is worth mentioning that these violations have been followed up and the cases have been evaluated.

On October 28, 2020, the First Caravan of Solidarity and Documentation was carried out to the community of Nuevo San Gregorio and the Moises and Gandhi region. On December 8, 2020, several human rights organizations carried out a Civil Observation Mission from the All Rights for All Network (RTDT). On January 12, 2021, a second Caravan of Solidarity and Documentation was carried out. And from March 2021 to date, the Civil Observation Brigades (BRICOS) of the Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Rights Center have been implemented.

In our reports we have insisted on emphasizing the foundational event of the uprising of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) on January 1, 1994.

Thousands of hectares of land usurped by landowners were recovered by their legitimate owners: the native peoples. Since these events, the bad government has insisted on designing and executing a war to again steal away and control the land and territory where the Zapatista peoples build a collective and autonomous way of life.

We reiterate that the path of the EZLN has not been easy.

The 1994 war, and its continuation in counterinsurgency, began to be implemented in different ways with the intent of wearing down and dismantling the Zapatista families, communities and peoples.

Resident of Nuevo San Gregorio. Photo: Red Ajmaq

Today, in times of the IV Transformation3, we continue to identify several fronts of attrition such as: the agrarian war front, which seeks to generate confusion about the ownership of land and territory, to then provoke disputes over access to it, triggering permanent harassment towards the Zapatista peoples settled in Recuperated Lands.

This harassment has also been encouraged by assistance programs such as: Procede, Procecom, Fanar, Raja, through which the State continues to deceive with supposed legal certainty, to affect the distribution, possession and availability of land.

In reality they are forms of dispossession allowed by legal trickery, to perpetrate the plundering of natural communal resources, and thus deprive the communities of their agrarian rights.

Similarly, the threats and intimidation come from the military, with the implementation of a geographic military encirclement, in coordination with paramilitary groups. These groups are financed and trained with the complicity and logistical support of the State and the Mexican Army, designed to besiege and intimidate the Zapatista communities.

Another front is that which aims to undermine the Zapatista economy through assistance programs implemented by the different political parties allied with paramilitary groups that are in charge of invading, stealing and destroying the products of Zapatista families; to which is added the media front that serves to misinform, delegitimize, criminalize and/or slander the political-ethical proposal of the EZLN.

The constant attacks on the Zapatista self-governing territory – and on the original indigenous peoples of Chiapas and Mexico as a whole – are a continuation of the policies of previous political parties of the PRI, PAN, now disguised as MORENA. It is the incessant and criminal actions of “those from above” to put an end to the Zapatista project of autonomy and to continue converting land and territory into commodities, regardless of the consequences — pushing humanity more and more to a point of collapse in all spheres.

Nevertheless, in the face of all these violent acts over 28 years, the autonomous communities of the EZLN continue to nourish hope by fighting for life: by caring for and defending Mother Earth, by promoting communal efforts, by appealing to a sense of solidarity in order to provide a non-violent solution to the assaults on their territories.

Today, and from the example of the Zapatista community of Nuevo San Gregorio, we can confirm that the political commitment is FOR LIFE and through autonomy.

We see families organizing themselves to create and sustain the communal production of corn, beans and wheat, as well as the women’s pottery cooperatives, the artisan’s co-op, the communal market and the woodworking workshop. These are their initiatives of resistance.

In Nuevo San Gregorio, they support the healthcare and autonomous education sectors with their own promoters. All of these measures come from their own system of self-governance, and from the respect, devotion and care for Mother Earth.

Situation of the Community of Nuevo San Gregorio

Since November 2019 the group of the 40 invaders began their provocations by fencing off the fields and the autonomous high school, preventing access to the fruit trees and medicinal plants found there.

On February 27, 2020, both the community of Nuevo San Gregorio and the Junta de Buen Gobierno tried to establish a dialogue with the invaders by making 3 concrete proposals: 1) That the land be worked collectively; or 2) That they be given hectare per person; or 3) Dividing the 155 hectares in half.

However, these proposals were rejected by the invaders. And from then on, the only thing that has been done by this group have been provocations, aggressions and threats against the Zapatista bases. This concrete fact clearly demonstrates that they do not want the land because they need it to live on, but rather as a business, (and to go against the organization of the EZLN) since all the invaders have their own lands in the 4 communities to which they belong.

Throughout 2020 and 2021, the invaders began to fence off the water storage tank that distributes water to the town, the electrification pole where the water pumping line comes out, and the tractor in the region, preventing its movement. They’ve taken vegetables, medicinal plants and fruit trees; they’ve threatened and harassed the Zapatista women; they’ve attacked men, surrounding them while carrying sticks, machetes, clubs and slingshots.. In addition, they watch and intimidate them from a distance, taking photos and video in the direction of the Zapatista people in order to harass the families on their own land.

To date, January 2022, of the 155 hectares of recovered land, the invaders have reduced the space and way of life, movement and production of the Zapatista families to three and a half hectares. The population center is left in half of an hectare, leaving three hectares dispersed and fragmented. The families are currently fenced in and sequestered on their own land.

Similarly, the roads, forests, springs and rivers have been fenced off and sequestered. In all this time, the invaders have plundered the crops and stolen animals from the collective works; they continue to destroy the forests, kill the animals and execute the mercantile use of the land. They try to sell Mother Earth.

This offensive on land and territory demonstrates an attack on the three fundamental axes of the Zapatista Autonomy in Nuevo San Gregorio: a)Food-production for self-sufficiency; b) Autonomous education; c) Autonomous health.

The caravan meets with the community of Nuevo San Gregorio. Photo: Red Ajmaq

Axis of Production: Being that the land is for food self-sufficiency, we see that the fencing and seizure of bean, corn, wheat and pea fields, as well as the destruction of orchards, fruit trees and the collective of livestock and fish, cause the hunger of families and the death of animals.

Here are some testimonies:

They want to do away with our collectives, they want individualism, they want to parcel the land out of interest, not out of necessity.

This season, the animals (cattle) are going to be screwed, we don’t even have enough to gather pasture. We are struggling to find stubble.

We are not the owners of these lands, we are guardians. These lands belong to thousands of Zapatistas.

The land is worked in common.

Our land is our life, we have no other place to live.

What fault have the fish that they killed ?

The invaders will not be able to pay for the damage they did to us, and the fish do not come back to life, we don’t know if our cattle will survive, they put up wires, and we have wounded animals, and we don’t know where it will stop.

Lopez Obrador has it well planned. The 3 levels of government turn a deaf ear. The government is nowhere to be found.

Not only we are suffering this, other Zapatista communities are also suffering and the three levels of government turn a deaf ear, they do nothing, they only steal and that is what they teach their people.

The voice of the people, the people demand justice and life.

We all live here, we were born here, we grew up here and we will continue to live here.

Axis of Education: The enclosure and seizure of the high school.

Testimonies:

In school we teach the girls and boys collectivism.

The children have changed, before they were happier and more animated in class, now they are sad. It does affect them. That’s what we see, they are not very well. As they already said: there is little encouragement –Education Promoter.

Axis of Health: Psycho-social-emotional damage. As it is a war designed to affect women, girls, boys, youth and men, to destroy the psycho-social-emotional integrity of families, there are persistent acts of cruelty that impact on the physical and mental health of people, such as

  • Constant surveillance from strategic points towards the Zapatista bases,
  • Infringement on the free movement of people as a result of wire and barbed wire fences,
  • The close presence of invaders with machetes, knives, clubs, slingshots, harassment and threats on the roads,
  • Destruction of the family and community fabric through the disparaging ofthe Zapatista way of life,
  • Forced alteration of the nuclear community fabric for the families affected in their daily lives, which are serious violations of human rights.

Some testimonies:

We as compañeras are afraid in our houses. As compañeras we get sick a lot, we live in fear. We can’t go out alone to get firewood. We are afraid.

Our house is outside the fence, but our chicken coop is inside the fence put up by the invaders, we have to cross it every day.

Health is life. It is for compañeros, compañeras and not compañeros and not compañeras. We work more with the medicinal plants inherited from grandmothers and grandmothers (…) For us, for the promoters, it is an obligation, the people elected us, we have to carry out the work –Health Promoter.

We used to have medicinal plants, but now the invaders have fenced it in and we had to build another one behind the health center. We have just started, but because of the drought they are not growing (…) We are trying very hard to survive because health is life — Health Promoter.

However, in the face of this harsh reality, we have witnessed the persistence, organization and dignity with which the Zapatista families maintain themselves in spite of everything.

While the invaders generate destruction and death, the Zapatista families build life from collective work, through their knowledge and creative initiatives such as pottery, the embroidery collective, carpentry and the community store. As well as trying to strengthen production from the collectives of chickens, fish, cattle and the collective corn, bean, pea and wheat farms. Supporting the axes of autonomous health and education.

Conclusions

The organizations, collectives and individuals who participated in this III Caravan of solidarity, convened by the Network of Resistance and Rebellions AJMAQ, give an account of the documentation from testimonies and evidence of concrete facts of the acts of harassment, threats, destruction and dispossession of the Zapatista families and community of Nuevo San Gregorio, from a structure of crime, death and annihilation against a life project that is building autonomy.

We denounce that the continuous acts of violence by the group of 40 invaders.

These acts involve invading, fencing off, seizing and killing the land and territory with wire fences. This is a violation of the right to the use and enjoyment of the land and territory that the Zapatista families have, legitimately and in full exercise of their rights, to exercise autonomous forms of organization.

We emphasize the following acts of violence committed by Los 40:

  • The crime of fencing off the vital, elemental spaces that every person and community needs to live in dignity.
  • The crime of obstructing access to water and food to provoke hunger, thirst and physical and emotional exhaustion of the people.
  • Of murdering animals.
  • Of violating women, girls, and children.
  • In addition, violating the right to autonomous education, health and the self-sustaining economy of the Zapatista families.

The day after the Caravan of Solidarity and Documentation, members of “The 40” connected the cable from the light pole to “Casa Grande” of the ex-finca, destroying the PVC pipe that carried water to the collective cattle, and advanced one more hectare of land.

The recovered lands are legitimately reclaimed EZLN lands. It is from there that the fabric of life and autonomies are built.

It is the place of resistance, where humanity is built for humanity.

It is the place that enforces a relationship of respect, conviviality, community and care for Mother Earth.

Ratified by:

1. México Gruppen. Foro Internacional de Dinamarca
2.Adherentes a la Sexta Internacional (Argentina)
3. Mujeres y la Sexta (Ciudad de México)
4. Red Mix Zapatista (Ciudad de México)
5. Red Universitaria Anticapitalista (Ciudad de México)
6. Desarrollo Económico y Social de los Mexicanos Indígenas (DESMI, AC)
7. Espacio de Lucha Contra el Olvido y la Represión (ELCOR)
8. Espacio de Mujeres adherentes a la Sexta ( valle de Jobel)
9. Defensoras Comunitarias (valle de Jobel)
10. Colectivo de Familiares de Presos en Lucha
11. Adherentes individuales a la sexta (valle de Jobel)
12. Promedios
13. Red de Resistencias y Rebeldías AJMAQ
13. Acompañamiento del Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas.

This report was published by Red AJMAQ. https://redajmaq.org/es/iii-informe-de-la-caravana-de-solidaridad-y-documentacion-con-la-comunidad-autonoma-zapatista-de Schools for Chiapas thanks Taller Ahuehuete for sharing this translation.

Footnotes

  1. Belonging to the Autonomous Municipality Lucio Cabañas, Caracol 10, Floreciendo la Semilla Rebelde, Junta de Buen Gobierno, Nuevo Amanecer en Resistencia, and Nuevo Amanecer en Resistencia: Nuevo Amanecer en Resistencia and Rebeldía por la Vida y la Humanidad.
  2. “Whose main leaders are: Nicolás Pérez Pérez Pérez (ex-regidor of the Huixtán city council), his sons Roberto Pérez Huet and Alejandro Pérez Huet, Nicolás Mosan Huet, Alonso Bolom Ara and Nicolás Gómez Pérez.”
  3. The Fourth Transformation (Spanish: Cuarta Transformación) refers to Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s (commonly known as “AMLO”) 2018 campaign promise to do away with privileged abuses that have plagued Mexico in recent decades. López Obrador defined the first three transformations as the Mexican War of Independence (1810–1821), the Reform War (1858–1861) and the Mexican Revolution (1910–1917).