Schools for Chiapas Summary 2019.

Saturday, November, 2019


To you, who make our work possible:

We want to thank you once again for your support. Over the last twenty-three years, your support has allowed “Schools for Chiapas”  to provide resources and training for Zapatista educational promoters, students, and community members who work at Mayan autonomous education centers and autonomous Mayan schools in the Mexican southeast. Every donation, and every purchase you make from our online store helps put cash directly into these indigenous communities in Chiapas, Mexico.


For several years now, “Schools for Chiapas” has invested energies and resources into helping establish food forests at 16 autonomous secondary schools in Zapatista territory. Drawing on ancestral Mayan forest gardening for inspiration, these food forests diversify access to food and medicine while establishing perennial poly-cultures that enhance biodiversity, prevent erosion, and help to retain soil moisture among other climate abatement measures. In 2019, we have made deliveries of hundreds of plants to each of these food forests.

Thanks to the tireless efforts of Schools for Chiapas staff and volunteers, we were able to complete a major expansion and revision of the Food Forest Plant text book. This unique text book features photos and cultivation information about 125 perennial plant species uniquely adapted for use in Chiapas food forests. These books are being distributed to all 16 secondary schools along with the plants specifically adapted to the schools specific climatic zone. Our goal in 2020 is to produce an electronic version of the textbook which we can then make available for download and comment on our web site. Stay tuned!

Also this year, our work to support the Zapatistas in their response to climate change began to address a problem on all farmer’s minds — that of water. As the lands of Chiapas and all of Central America continue to suffer drought and changing patterns of rainfall, many existing drinking water systems in Zapatista territory are failing. Wells and springs run dry, and crops suffer, even as the communities in resistance face militarization and threats to their survival posed by the relentless march of “development.” Women and children must spend hours of their day hauling water for daily activities, often through conflict-riddled territories. This is to say nothing of the challenges to agriculture.

In 2019, we embarked on extensive research into reforestation techniques with special species known to draw water to the sub-soil. Researchers working with Schools for Chiapas explored multi-pronged approaches to recovering soil moisture, recharging groundwater tables, and restoring the potentials of former wells. In our nursery in San Cristobal, we have begun grow-outs of these species to ensure we are able to successfully germinate and grow this stock for distribution. In the capable hands of our extraordinary nursery team, we nurture the young plants as we explore the potential to recover water sources in Zapatista communities.

Zapatistas, like indigenous communities around the globe, are on the front lines of resistance to the most egregious climate disrupters. Their very presence in communities scattered across the mountains and forests of Chiapas, create a problem for extraction industries and neo-liberal
development. Because they occupy the very land the power wishes now to inhabit, these communities regularly face violence and repression.

Militarization, mining, oil-development, tourism infrastructure, and sly counterinsurgency tactics all threaten to displace Mayan communities from their livelihoods, their ancestral lands, and their cultural heritage. Despite all of these challenges, the spirit of rebellious dignity remains strong. At the beginning of September, the Zapatistas announced the formation of 7 new caracoles or centers of governance. And just 2 weeks later, they Zapatista women called upon women of the world to attend the 2nd Encounter of Women in Struggle in Morelia at the end of 2019.

We at Schools for Chiapas continue to be inspired by the dignified struggle of the Zapatista communities, and want to keep bringing the story of this struggle to the world. In May, working with a talented media artist, we released our first podcast, “ Lupita’s Secret .” Lupita’s Secret tells the story of how the organized Zapatista communities of the Mexican southeast resist in the face of the mega-projects of the bad government. Schools for Chiapas is honored to stand in solidarity with these courageous warriors for justice in the world.

We humbly ask that you consider becoming a regular supporter of our work alongside the Zapatistas – the struggle for dignity, justice and democracy for all. There are several ways to do so: You can become a monthly sustainer of Schools for Chiapas’s work. Your automated credit card payment of even just a few dollars a month, makes all the difference in the world for our budgeting and planning.

Purchases from our online store schoolforchiapas.org/store/ helps Mayan women artists support their families. Or you can make a donation which supports education for planting trees, recharging water tables, and providing climate abatement.

We encourage you to sign-up for our newsletter, get involved in our work, and by all means, if you identify as female and are game to travel, to attend the upcoming Second International Gathering of Women Who Struggle scheduled for Dec. 26 – Dec. 29, 2019 in Chiapas (We would be delighted to offer you advice and consultation, should you be able to be part of this momentous event.) Thank you in advance for your contribution to a more just world.


Yours truly,
Schools for Chiapas Core Team ~ Adriana, Katie, Peter, Rich, Susan