National and International Statement in Response to the Aggression Against the Community of Moises Gandhi

June 2023 

To the peoples of Mexico and the world 

To the individuals, collectivities and peoples who defend Life 

To those who feel the urgency to act in the face of a Mexican southeast in flames 

Today, at this moment, Mexico is at the limit; at that limit that always seems distant, until a bullet from above detonates the rage of Mexico from below. Our Zapatista compañero Jorge López Santíz is on the edge between life and death because of a paramilitary attack by the Regional Organization of Coffee Growers of Ocosingo (ORCAO is its acronym in Spanish), the same group that has been attacking and harassing the Zapatista communities. 

Chiapas is on the verge of civil war between paramilitary groups and gunmen from various cartels fighting turf wars and local self -defense groups. This is happening with the active or passive complicity of the state and federal governments of Rutilio Escandón Cadenas and Andrés Manuel López Obrador. 

The Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN), that has kept the peace, developed its autonomous project in its own territories, and has tried to avoid violent clashes with paramilitary and other forces of the Mexican state, is constantly being harassed, attacked, and provoked.

Since the end of the 20th century, and up to now, the EZLN has opted for political struggle by civil and peaceful means, despite the fact that their communities are being fired upon, their crops burned, and their cattle poisoned. Despite the fact that, instead of investing their efforts in war, they have built hospitals, schools, and autonomous governments that have benefited Zapatistas and non-Zapatistas alike. Yet Mexican governments, from Carlos Salinas to López Obrador, have tried to isolate, de-legitimize, and exterminate them. 

Today, a few months before the EZLN struggle celebrates its 40th anniversary, the paramilitary attack by ORCAO has left one man’s life hanging by a thread, the same thread from which dangles the prospect of an eruption of the Mexico from below that can no longer bear the pressure on its dignity or the war against its communities and territories. 

The ORCAO attack is not a conflict between communities, as Carlos Salinas would characterize it, and as López Obrador will surely try to do. The attack is a direct responsibility of the government of Chiapas and the Federal government. The first, for covering up the growth of criminal groups that have caused Chiapas to go from relative tranquility to being a red spotlight of violence.The second for remaining silent and passive in the face of the evident situation in the southeast. 

Why does ORCAO attack the Zapatista communities? Because they can. Why does the government of Rutilio Escandón allow it? Because in the Chiapas of above, governing means bathing in indigenous blood. 

Why does López Obrador keep silent? Because the governor of Chiapas is the brother -in -law of his beloved Secretary of the Interior, Adan Augusto López. Because like his predecessors, he cannot tolerate that a rebel group can be a referent of hope and dignity. Because he needs to justify a military action to “cleanse” the southeast and finally be able to impose his megaprojects. 

In the same way, we also understand this attack as the result of the current government’s social policies to divide and corrupt, destroying the social fabric of the communities and peoples in our country, particularly in Chiapas. We see with concern that programs such as “Sembrado Vida” (“Planting Life”), which practically has the same budget that the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, and other similar programs promote confrontation between communities historically stripped of their lands and their rights. They are used as mechanisms of political control and as bargaining chips for groups such as ORCAO to gain access to the supposed benefits that these programs provide, at the cost of the theft of recovered Zapatista autonomous lands. For us it is clear that it is not a matter of conflicts between peoples; it is a counterinsurgency action that seeks to destroy them, destroy the EZLN and all the communities and peoples that continue fighting for a life with dignity.

Those of us who sign this letter do so in order to come together with all those that believe that dignity and the word should be lifted up to stop the massacre that is looming; to call upon those who support the current government to open their hearts to the injustices that are currently flooding this country, beyond their personal affinities or political sympathies, so that we can come together in the need to act with the common purpose of stopping this atrocity.

We sign this letter because we see the urgency to put a stop to the paramilitary violence in Chiapas, because failure to do so means letting Mexico sink deeper into this endless war that is tearing it to pieces. We demand justice for Jorge López Santíz. We demand the total dissolution of the ORCAO. We demand a thorough investigation of the government of Rutilio Escandón. We demand that the silence of López Obrador cease to be an accomplice of the violence in Chiapas. 

Taking up the demands presented by the National Indigenous Congress, we also demand: 

1. That the health of compañero Jorge be guaranteed, and that he be provided with all the medical attention necessary, for whatever time may be required. 

2. That the armed attack against the community of Moisés Gandhi be stopped, and its autonomous territory be respected. 

3. That the material and intellectual authors of these paramilitary attacks be punished. 

4. That the armed groups, through which the war against the Zapatista communities continues to be active and growing, be dismantled. 

In addition, we demand the immediate release of Manuel Gómez, a support base of the EZLN, of whose unfair imprisonment we have not forgotten. 

Together with the CNI, we warn that the war that has been declared against the original peoples, guardians of Mother Earth, forces us to act in an organized manner to stop the growing violence and to reestablish our connection with and care of Life. 

We call upon all of us to demonstrate in the streets, embassies and consulates, centers of study and workplaces, on social media, everywhere possible and essential for us, against military, paramilitary and organized criminal violence, and in defense of Life. 

We call on ourselves and upon you to join efforts to weave a campaign of dislocated actions from May 27th to June 10th, with a national and international coordinated action on June 8th. 

Stop the war against the Zapatista peoples! 

If they touch one of us, 

they touch us all! 

For the original statement and list of 55 pages of signers, as well as translations in French, German, Italian, Greek, Finnish, and Russian, please see the original post at

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