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Upside Down World

Mexico’s Drug War Victims Find Their Voice in Massive Silent March

Source: Upside Down World
Written by Kristin Bricker
Tuesday, 10 May 2011 16:19
Drug war victims finally made themselves heard in Mexico in the most unlikely way: a nation-wide silent March for Peace with Justice and Dignity. Photo courtesy of Notisystema.com.
Drug war victims finally made themselves heard in Mexico in the most unlikely way: a nation-wide silent March for Peace with Justice and Dignity.
Over 100,000 Mexicans took to the streets over the weekend to protest the war on drugs, impunity, corruption, and violence. The largest march lasted four days and covered nearly 100 kilometers from Cuernavaca, Morelos, to Mexico City. On Thursday, May 5, about 500 protesters began marching in Cuernavaca. Along the way, more contingents joined the march, while other marches set out from different states to join the protest in Mexico City. By the time the marches met in Mexico City’s main square on May 8, an estimated 100,000 people were gathered to protest the war.
Those who couldn’t make the trip to Mexico City held protests in their own states. In Chiapas, 25,000 masked Zapatistas marched in complete silence to the main plaza in San Cristobal de las Casas, where Comandante David read a communiqué from Subcomandante Marcos. “Tens of thousands of people have died in this absurd war,” said Comandante David. “Their only sin was to have been born or lived in a country that is badly governed by legal and illegal groups who are thirsty for war, death, and destruction.”
About seventy Central American migrants passing through Mexico to reach the United States also joined the March for Peace with Justice and Dignity. They marched along railroad tracks through Oaxaca, Veracruz, and Puebla, the route that migrants generally travel as they cling precariously to boxcars. Near the border between Veracruz and Puebla, armed men attempted to kidnap at least one woman during the march. The protesters don’t know if the attack was politically motivated, or just another example of the extreme violence migrants suffer daily as they travel through Mexico. Drug trafficking organizations frequently kidnap migrants for ransom or human trafficking. According to Eduardo Almeida of the Puebla-based Nodo human rights organization, the presence of reporters covering the march likely dissuaded the kidnappers in this case.
In Ciudad Juarez, about one thousand protesters marched in silence until they ran into the city’s mayor at the Benito Juarez monument. He fled the area on foot to avoid the protesters as they began chanting at him.
Protests occurred in all 31 states in Mexico. Protests were also reported in the United States, Canada, Europe, and South America. Mexican immigrants organized many of the protests that occurred in foreign cities.
“We Are Not Collateral Damage”
This weekend’s march, convoked by renowned Mexican writer Javier Sicilia after his son Juan Francisco was murdered in Morelos, allowed the drug war’s innocent victims to bring their stories to the national and international media, in many cases for the very first time. Prior to Sicilia’s public outrage over his son’s murder, the government stigmatized drug war murder victims, arguing that 90% of them are “cartel hit men.” Government agents have repeatedly doctored crime scenes and planted weapons on bodies to make innocent victims appear to be dangerous criminals. When the government does admit that innocent people have died in the drug war, it justifies the deaths as “collateral damage.”
However, from May 5-8, the drug war’s innocent victims stepped out of the shadows and into the international spotlight.
Many were meeting each other for the first time. When the marchers took breaks along Mexico’s 95D freeway, they sat down together to talk about their shared pain. Variations of the following exchange were frequently overheard during the march:
“Who is the young man in the photo you’re carrying?”
“He was my son. He was murdered. And who is the young man on your t-shirt?”
“He is my son. He’s disappeared.”
Some marchers lost family members within the past few months and had not yet politicized their search for answers; they were still in the initial stages of shock and desperation.
Carlos Castro marched with a 15-foot by 7-foot banner that pleaded “RETURN MY FAMILY TO ME” printed above photos of his missing wife, two daughters, and the family’s housekeeper. “I’m marching today to see if I can find my daughters,” Castro said as he choked back tears. The four women disappeared on January 6, 2011, from their home in Xalapa, Veracruz. Castro says he has no clue who took his family and housekeeper. “They entered [the house] and took the whole family. I’m doing this so that they [the kidnappers] receive this message and return them to me. I don’t know why they took them, they had no reason to take my daughters.” Castro’s wife Josefina Campillo Cerreto had just ended a stint as the Actopan (Veracruz) City Council’s trustee when the family was kidnapped. On December 13, 2010—just three weeks before the kidnapping—she updated her Facebook profile to list her job at the City Council and posted what would be her last status update: “I’d rather die fighting than give up without a fight.”
25,000 Zapatistas marched in Chiapas to demand "No more blood on Mexican Soil!" Photo by Moysés Zúñiga Santiago / La Jornada.
Most marchers had at least a general idea of who disappeared or killed their family members. Surprisingly, protesters at the march against President Felipe Calderon’s drug war weren’t just limited to victims of military and police abuse. Victims of both organized and unorganized crime also marched against the war in large numbers.
Teresa, a middle-aged woman who lives in Morelos, marched with a photo of her son, Joaquin. “They killed him ten months ago in Mexico City,” she recounts. “I’m carrying his photo so that everyone knows who he was, sees that he had a face and a mother, just like the over 30,000 dead in this country. The dead aren’t just numbers. They were loved ones.” Joaquin was apparently murdered during a mugging. Teresa filed a report with the government, but the investigation, if there ever was one, went nowhere. As long as the investigation remains open, the government won’t let her cremate her son and spread his ashes in Cancun, where he was born. Joaquin is buried in a temporary grave in Morelos. The protests convoked by Javier Sicilia were the first time Teresa took to the streets to demand justice for her son. “I identify with Javier,” she says. “He was a young, productive, happy boy. Joaquin was beginning his third year of college, studying architecture. Joaquin was the type of young man this country needs, just like Juanelo [Javier’s son] was.”
Isaac Gomez Lopez, an art student who lives in Cuernavaca, argues, “A lot of people use the drug war as a pretext to attack other people. Now, it’s almost like anyone can kill someone and justify it by saying ‘it’s the drug war’ and it won’t be investigated. It just goes into a file.” Cuernavaca’s murder rate jumped after soldiers killed drug kingpin Arturo Beltran Leyva there in late 2009. Beltran Leyva’s death destabilized the territory his organization controlled, providing an opening for other organizations to move in an attempt a takeover, which inevitably led to more violence. “You start to see curfews, the streets empty because they’re not as safe,” says Gomez Lopez. “It’s really affecting tourism.”
Victims of organized crime marched against the war as well. “I’m a victim of human trafficking and organized crime,” declares Ivan Monroy Medina of the Regional Coalition Against Trafficking of Women and Girls. “Seven months ago they took my daughter. She was eleven months old and they violently took her from my wife in Mexico State.” Ramos says that human trafficking is a growing problem in his state. “There were meetings in the neighborhood where we were living. They warned us to be careful because a lot of children had been stolen from the neighborhood. Fifteen or twenty days later, it happened to us.” Monroy Medina and his wife reported the kidnapping to the authorities, “but since we don’t live in Predregal [an upscale neighborhood] and since we don’t know how to play golf and don’t know governors, they don’t pay any attention to us.”
Seven members of the LeBaron family drove down from the Mormon community of Colonia LeBaron, Chihuahua, to participate in the march. The LeBarons made international headlines in 2009 when they publicly refused to pay a million-dollar ransom for 16-year-old Erick LeBaron after he was kidnapped. “The kidnappers told Erick, ‘But there’s so many of you, can’t you all chip in and pay the ransom?’” recounts Adrian LeBaron, Erick’s uncle. The LeBarons feared that if they paid one exorbitant ransom, kidnappers would descend upon their community like vultures. Instead, Colonia LeBaron organized protests in Chihuahua City to demand that the government take action to bring Erick home. Their gamble worked; the kidnappers released Erick after seven days.
The LeBaron’s victory was short-lived. Only a few months later, a criminal organization punished Erick’s older brother Benjamin for organizing about fourteen local communities into an anti-kidnapping organization called SOS Chihuahua. “Twenty armed men went to his house and broke all his windows, and so his brother-in-law [Luis Widmar] came over to help him,” recounts Benjamin’s brother Julian. “They kidnapped them both and executed them about a mile down the road.”
Despite the fact that the LeBaron’s battle is with organized crime, Julian argues that his community’s problems started when President Calderon declared war on drugs. “The war on drugs has been a disaster for this country,” he insists.
Chihuahua, particularly Ciudad Juarez, is Mexico’s drug war “laboratory.” There, argues Proceso reporter Marcela Turati, “Not only drug traffickers, drug dealers, and even drug addicts, but also common citizens, above all youngsters, are involuntarily subjected to an experiment: how it would be, in Mexico, to live under military control.” A large contingent from Chihuahua participated in the March for Peace and Justice with Dignity to tell the president that the experiment has failed.
Maria Alvarado traveled all the way from Ciudad Juarez to participate in the march because the military disappeared her sister Nitza Paola Alvarado and cousins Rocío Irene Alvarado and José Ángel Alvarado on December 29, 2009, from Ejido Benito Juarez, where they were spending the holidays with family. “We tried to follow the them,” she recalls. “But it was very dark and they were taking them on back roads. We returned to the house because we were scared.” The military later left Nitza’s truck at a Chihuahua State Investigations Agency office without giving the local authorities any explanation as to why they were leaving it there.
The Alvarado family filed all of the necessary complaints with relevant government agencies, but they hit a brick wall. “The military has always said that there’s no indication that it was them, that they’ve never carried out operations in the town, which is a big lie,” insists Alvaro. “They stayed three weeks on the ejido in a hotel called Los Arcos, and they made rounds in the entire ejido.”
Regardless of who perpetrated the attacks on their families, all of the drug war victims in the march had the same demand: “We’re demanding that the authorities do their jobs,” says Alvarado. “All they do is create fat case files, and they don’t investigate.”
“They told us we had to take the legal route. ‘You have to go give your testimony and file your complaint and we’ll see if we get motivated to go chase the kidnappers,’” complains Adrian LeBaron. “We told them, ‘We don’t want to be another little paper in your mountains of files. We want our son.’ So we protested.”
A common slogan on signs and banners in the March for Peace with Justice and Dignity was directed at the authorities: “If you can’t do your job, then quit!”
National Pact for Peace
The movement to compel Mexican authorities to “do their jobs” and reduce the country’s staggering impunity rate doesn’t show any signs of letting up.
Javier Sicilia says that Zapatista spokesperson Subcomandante Marcos sent him a letter to tell him that the Zapatistas would join his march. The letter was hand-delivered and came with an oral message, too: “This march, this struggle, transcends the Left. This is a war against all of us, and all of us need to join together.”
“This is a struggle between those who want life and those who want death,” declared Comandante David during the Zapatistas’ march in Chiapas. “And we, the Zapatistas, we chose to struggle for life—that is, for justice, liberty, and peace.”
On May 8 in front of about 100,000 people, Olga Reyes, who has lost six family members in the drug war, and Patricia Duarte, whose son Andrés died in a fire at the ABC Daycare due to government negligence, read the proposal for a National Pact for Peace, a citizens initiative to reduce violence, corruption, and impunity in Mexico. The pact has six central demands:
  1. truth and justice
  2. an end to the war in favor of a focus on citizen security
  3. combat corruption
  4. combat crime’s economic roots and profits
  5. emergency attention for youths and effective actions to rebuild the social fabric
  6. participative democracy, better representative democracy, and democratization of the media
The proposal will be finalized and signed during a public event on June 10 in Ciudad Juarez, the deadliest city in the world.
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Radio Zapatista

Excerpt from the speech by the EZLN during the March for Justice and against Impunity (ENGLISH)

Excerpt from the speech by the EZLN in the voice of Comandante David: (Descarga aquí)  

Sounds of the march and words by the priest from Chenalhó and by Comandante David: (Descarga aquí)  

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Enlace Zapatista

Mobilizations of the Zezta Internacional on May 7 and 8 around the world. March for Justice and against Impunity

(Continuar leyendo…)

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Javier Sicilia

Speech by Javier Sicilia read in Mexico City’s Zócalo

Sorry, this entry is only available in Mexican Spanish. For the sake of viewer convenience, the content is shown below in the alternative language. You may click the link to switch the active language.

Nuevo pacto o fractura nacional
Domingo, 08 de mayo de 2011
Javier Sicilia

Hemos llegado a pie, como lo hicieron los antiguos mexicanos, hasta este sitio en donde ellos por vez primera contemplaron el lago, el águila, la serpiente, el nopal y la piedra, ese emblema que fundó a la nación y que ha acompañado a los pueblos de México a lo largo de los siglos. Hemos llegado hasta esta esquina donde alguna vez habitó Tenochtitlan -a esta esquina donde el Estado y la Iglesia se asientan sobre los basamentos de un pasado rico en enseñanzas y donde los caminos se encuentran y se bifurcan-; hemos llegado aquí para volver a hacer visibles las raíces de nuestra nación, para que su desnudez, que acompañan la desnudez de la palabra, que es el silencio, y la dolorosa desnudez de nuestros muertos, nos ayuden a alumbrar el camino.

Si hemos caminado y hemos llegado así, en silencio, es porque nuestro dolor es tan grande y tan profundo, y el horror del que proviene tan inmenso, que ya no tienen palabras con qué decirse. Es también porque a través de ese silencio nos decimos, y les decimos a quienes tienen la responsabilidad de la seguridad de este país, que no queremos un muerto más a causa de esta confusión creciente que sólo busca asfixiarnos, como asfixiaron el aliento y la vida de mi hijo Juan Francisco, de Luis Antonio, de Julio César, de Gabo, de María del Socorro, del comandante Jaime y de tantos miles de hombres, mujeres, niños y ancianos asesinados con un desprecio y una vileza que pertenecen a mundos que no son ni serán nunca los nuestros; estamos aquí para decirnos y decirles que este dolor del alma en los cuerpos no lo convertiremos en odio ni en más violencia, sino en una palanca que nos ayude a restaurar el amor, la paz, la justicia, la dignidad y la balbuciente democracia que estamos perdiendo; para decirnos y decirles que aún creemos que es posible que la nación vuelva a renacer y a salir de sus ruinas, para mostrarles a los señores de la muerte que estamos de pie y que no cejaremos de defender la vida de todos los hijos y las hijas de este país, que aún creemos que es posible rescatar y reconstruir el tejido social de nuestros pueblos, barrios y ciudades.

Si no hacemos esto solamente podremos heredar a nuestros muchachos, a nuestras muchachas y a nuestros niños una casa llena de desamparo, de temor, de indolencia, de cinismo, de brutalidad y engaño, donde reinan los señores de la muerte, de la ambición, del poder desmedido y de la complacencia y la complicidad con el crimen.

Todos los días escuchamos historias terribles que nos hieren y nos hacen preguntarnos: ¿Cuándo y en dónde perdimos nuestra dignidad? Los claroscuros se entremezclan a lo largo del tiempo para advertirnos que esta casa donde habita el horror no es la de nuestros padres, pero sí lo es; no es el México de nuestros maestros, pero sí lo es; no es el de aquellos que ofrecieron lo mejor de sus vidas para construir un país más justo y democrático, pero sí lo es; esta casa donde habita el horror no es el México de Salvador Nava, de Heberto Castillo, de Manuel Clouthier, de los hombres y mujeres de las montañas del sur -de esos pueblos mayas que engarzan su palabra a la nación- y de tantos otros que nos han recordado la dignidad, pero sí lo es; no es el de los hombres y mujeres que cada amanecer se levantan para ir a trabajar y con honestidad sostenerse y sostener a sus familias, pero sí lo es; no es el de los poetas, de los músicos, de los pintores, de los bailarines, de todos los artistas que nos revelan el corazón del ser humano y nos conmueven y nos unen, pero sí lo es. Nuestro México, nuestra casa, está rodeada de grandezas, pero también de grietas y de abismos que al expandirse por descuido, complacencia y complicidad nos han conducido a esta espantosa desolación.

Son esas grietas, esas heridas abiertas, y no las grandezas de nuestra casa, las que también nos han obligado a caminar hasta aquí, entrelazando nuestro silencio con nuestros dolores, para decirles directamente a la cara que tienen que aprender a mirar y a escuchar, que deben nombrar a todos nuestros muertos -a esos que la maldad del crimen ha asesinado de tres maneras: privándolos de la vida, criminalizándolos y enterrándolos en las fosas comunes de un silencio ominoso que no es el nuestro-; para decirles que con nuestra presencia estamos nombrando esta infame realidad que ustedes, la clase política, los llamados poderes fácticos y sus siniestros monopolios, las jerarquías de los poderes económicos y religiosos, los gobiernos y las fuerzas policiacas han negado y quieren continuar negando. Una realidad que los criminales, en su demencia, buscan imponernos aliados con las omisiones de los que detentan alguna forma de poder.

Queremos afirmar aquí que no aceptaremos más una elección si antes los partidos políticos no limpian sus filas de esos que, enmascarados en la legalidad, están coludidos con el crimen y tienen al Estado maniatado y cooptado al usar los instrumentos de éste para erosionar las mismas esperanzas de cambio de los ciudadanos. O ¿dónde estaban los partidos, los alcaldes, los gobernadores, las autoridades federales, el ejército, la armada, las Iglesias, los congresos, los empresarios; dónde estábamos todos cuando los caminos y carreteras que llevan a Tamaulipas se convirtieron en trampas mortales para hombres y mujeres indefensos, para nuestros hermanos migrantes de Centroamérica? ¿Por qué nuestras autoridades y los partidos han aceptado que en Morelos y en muchos estados de la República gobernadores señalados públicamente como cómplices del crimen organizado permanezcan impunes y continúen en las filas de los partidos y a veces en puestos de gobierno? ¿Por qué se permitió que diputados del Congreso de la Unión se organizaran para ocultar a un prófugo de la justicia, acusado de tener vínculos con el crimen organizado y lo introdujeron al recinto que debería ser el más honorable de la patria porque en él reside la representación plural del pueblo y terminaran dándole fuero y después aceptando su realidad criminal en dos vergonzosos sainetes? ¿Por qué se permitió al presidente de la República y por qué decidió éste lanzar al ejército a las calles en una guerra absurda que nos ha costado 40 mil víctimas y millones de mexicanos abandonados al miedo y a la incertidumbre? ¿Por qué se trató de hacer pasar, a espaldas de la ciudadanía, una ley de seguridad que exige hoy, más que nunca una amplia reflexión, discusión y consenso ciudadano? La Ley de Seguridad Nacional no puede reducirse a un asunto militar. Asumida así es y será siempre un absurdo. La ciudadanía no tiene por qué seguir pagando el costo de la inercia e inoperancia del Congreso y sus tiempos convertido en chantaje administrativo y banal cálculo político. ¿Por qué los partidos enajenan su visión, impiden la reforma política y bloquean los instrumentos legales que permitan a la ciudadanía una representación digna y eficiente que controle todo tipo de abusos? ¿Por qué en ella no se ha incluido la revocación del mandato ni el plebiscito?

Estos casos -hay cientos de la misma o de mayor gravedad- ponen en evidencia que los partidos políticos, el PAN, el PRI, el PRD, el PT, Convergencia, Nueva Alianza, el Panal, el Verde, se han convertido en una partidocracia de cuyas filas emanan los dirigentes de la nación. En todos ellos hay vínculos con el crimen y sus mafias a lo largo y ancho de la nación. Sin una limpieza honorable de sus filas y un compromiso total con la ética política, los ciudadanos tendremos que preguntarnos en las próximas elecciones ¿por qué cártel y por qué poder fáctico tendremos que votar? ¿No se dan cuenta de que con ello están horadando y humillando lo más sagrado de nuestras instituciones republicanas, que están destruyendo la voluntad popular que mal que bien los llevó a donde hoy se encuentran?

Los partidos políticos debilitan nuestras instituciones republicanas, las vuelven vulnerables ante el crimen organizado y sumisas ante los grandes monopolios; hacen de la impunidad un modus vivendi y convierten a la ciudadanía en rehén de la violencia imperante.
Ante el avance del hampa vinculada con el narcotráfico, el Poder Ejecutivo asume, junto con la mayoría de la mal llamada clase política, que hay sólo dos formas de enfrentar esa amenaza: administrándola ilegalmente como solía hacerse y se hace en muchos lugares o haciéndole la guerra con el ejército en las calles como sucede hoy. Se ignora que la droga es un fenómeno histórico que, descontextualizado del mundo religioso al que servía, y sometido ahora al mercado y sus consumos, debió y debe ser tratado como un problema de sociología urbana y de salud pública, y no como un asunto criminal que debe enfrentarse con la violencia. Con ello se suma más sufrimiento a una sociedad donde se exalta el éxito, el dinero y el poder como premisas absolutas que deben conquistarse por cualquier medio y a cualquier precio.
Este clima ha sido tierra fértil para el crimen que se ha convertido en cobros de piso, secuestros, robos, tráfico de personas y en complejas empresas para delinquir y apropiarse del absurdo modelo económico de tener siempre más a costa de todos.

A esto, ya de por sí terrible, se agrega la política norteamericana. Su mercado millonario del consumo de la droga, sus bancos y empresas que lavan dinero, con la complicidad de los nuestros, y su industria armamentista -más letal, por contundente y expansiva, que las drogas-, cuyas armas llegan a nuestras tierras, no sólo fortalecen el crecimiento de los grupos criminales, sino que también los proveen de una capacidad inmensa de muerte. Los Estados Unidos han diseñado una política de seguridad cuya lógica responde fundamentalmente a sus intereses globales donde México ha quedado atrapado.

¿Como reestructurar esta realidad que nos ha puesto en un estado de emergencia nacional? Es un desafío más que complejo. Pero México no puede seguir simplificándolo y menos permitir que esto ahonde más sus divisiones internas y nos fracture hasta hacer casi inaudibles el latido de nuestros corazones que es el latido de la nación. Por eso les decimos que es urgente que los ciudadanos, los gobiernos de los tres órdenes, los partidos políticos, los campesinos, los obreros, los indios, los académicos, los intelectuales, los artistas, las Iglesias, los empresarios, las organizaciones civiles, hagamos un pacto, es decir, un compromiso fundamental de paz con justicia y dignidad, que le permita a la nación rehacer su suelo, un pacto en el que reconozcamos y asumamos nuestras diversas responsabilidades, un pacto que le permita a nuestros muchachos, a nuestras muchachas y a nuestros niños recuperar su presente y su futuro, para que dejen de ser las víctimas de esta guerra o el ejército de reserva de la delincuencia.

Por ello, es necesario que todos los gobernantes y las fuerzas políticas de este país se den cuenta que están perdiendo la representación de la nación que emana del pueblo, es decir, de los ciudadanos como los que hoy estamos reunidos en el zócalo de la Ciudad de México y en otras ciudades del país.

Si no lo hacen, y se empeñan en su ceguera, no sólo las instituciones quedarán vacías de sentido y de dignidad, sino que las elecciones de 2012 serán las de la ignominia, una ignominia que hará más profundas las fosas en donde, como en Tamaulipas y Durango, están enterrando la vida del país.

Estamos, pues, ante una encrucijada sin salidas fáciles, porque el suelo en el que una nación florece y el tejido en el que su alma se expresa están deshechos. Por ello, el pacto al que convocamos después de recoger muchas propuestas de la sociedad civil, y que en unos momentos leerá Olga Reyes, que ha sufrido el asesinato de 6 familiares, es un pacto que contiene seis puntos fundamentales que permitirán a la sociedad civil hacer un seguimiento puntual de su cumplimiento y, en el caso de traicionarse, penalizar a quienes sean responsables de esas traiciones; un pacto que se firmará en el Centro de Ciudad Juárez -el rostro más visible de la destrucción nacional- de cara a los nombres de nuestros muertos y lleno de un profundo sentido de lo que una paz digna significa.

Antes de darlo a conocer, hagamos un silencio más de 5 minutos en memoria de nuestros muertos, de la sociedad cercada por la delincuencia y un Estado omiso, y como una señal de la unidad y de la dignidad de nuestros corazones que llama a todos a refundar la Nación. Hagámoslo así porque el silencio es el lugar en donde se recoge y brota la palabra verdadera, es la hondura profunda del sentido, es lo que nos hermana en medio de nuestros dolores, es esa tierra interior y común que nadie tiene en propiedad y de la que, si sabemos escuchar, puede nacer la palabra que nos permita decir otra vez con dignidad y una paz justa el nombre de nuestra casa: México.

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Narco News

Zapatistas Flood San Cristóbal by the Thousands, Join Call to Stop the War

Source: Narco News

Saturday’s Silent March in Chiapas Was Prelude to Sunday’s Convergence on Mexico City

By Natalie Long
Special to the Narco News Bulletin

May 8, 2011

On Saturday the Zapatistas, The Other Campaign, and members of the civil society of San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas took to the streets, conducting a silent march that proceeded from the northwestern part of the city to the town center.

With participants numbering in the thousands, this march was held in solidarity with a larger, nationwide march that is currently taking place. The nationwide march started in Cuernavaca, Morelos this past Thursday, March 5, and will arrive Sunday in Mexico City.


DR 2011 Gerardo Ozuna

The larger nation-wide march is largely due to the efforts of renowned Mexican poet Javier Sicilia. This past March 28, Sicilia’s son was found dead near Cuernavaca, Morelos, with the body showing signs of torture prior to his death. Roughly a week after his son’s death, Sicilia published a letter in the Mexican magazine Proceso on April 3, denouncing the system of violence in Mexico. In this letter, Sicilia stated that Mexicans were “hasta la madre” (“had it up to here”) with the violence and corruption present in their country, and he called for the mobilization of civil society to reclaim Mexico for its citizens. His most recent call for mobilization is that of the ongoing march, also known as the Caravan for Peace with Justice and Dignity.

Following Sicilia’s convoking of this march, the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) released a communiqué on Thursday, April 28, announcing its intent to hold a silent march on Saturday, May 7, in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas. In a letter from Subcomandante Marcos released on the same day as the communiqué, he noted that financial constraints meant it would not be possible for the EZLN to travel to Cuernavaca or to Mexico City to participate in the larger nationwide march. Thus, in accordance with the modest means available to the EZLN, Subcomandante Marcos announced the EZLN’s intention to march in silence in San Cristóbal. The EZLN communiqué further indicated that this silent march would be to support and stand in solidarity with the national voice that seeks to reclaim justice for the people.

Thus, Saturday saw the gathering of the EZLN and its supporters in San Cristóbal de las Casas. By 10:00am, a large contingent of Zapatistas was lined up outside of CIDECI, the Indigenous Center for Integral Training, also known as the University of the Land. When arriving on the street that leads to CIDECI, one had to travel by foot to cover the 10-minute walk from the end of the street to the university, given that the street was filled with masked Zapatistas, prohibiting the passage of vehicles.

The Zapatistas came from all parts of the state of Chiapas. Various regions were represented, not only by the traditional outfits of the women, but by the symbols sewn onto the pasa montañas worn by members of the EZLN. On the front of the majority of the pasa montañas, a patch identified a person’s caracol by number and a person’s region by color. The different colors of the patches included red, yellow, orange, purple, blue, white, grey, and green, amongst others.


DR 2011 Gerardo Ozuna

By 12:15pm, the Zapatistas began lining up outside of CIDECI, preparing to file out. The Zapatistas included the entire age spectrum, from children being carried by their mothers to senior citizens with gray hair poking out from beneath their masks. The women seemed to outnumber the men two to one. The Zapatistas also showed representation from both urban and rural areas. Rural female Zapatistas were easily identified by their traditional trajes, or, dresses that many wore. Some of the women were present at the march despite the absence of shoes on their feet. Many of the rural male Zapatistas bore the usual dress of the campesino, including rainboots, long-sleeve cotton shirts and cotton pants. Some of the men had traditional outfits as well, though not as many as the women. The urban Zapatista contingent provided a curious contrast, perhaps best exemplified by one young woman wearing large headphones over her pasa montaña. Other urban Zapatistas sported tighter shirts and jeans, items that are more familiar to those living in an urban setting with access to retail stores.

At approximately 1:10pm, a woman at the head of the march wearing a pasa montaña received an order through her radio, and ordered those at the beginning of the march to file out. It seemed that the march was underway, the masked EZLN members walking silently in their ranks bearing their signs with phrases such as “Estamos Hasta la Madre por la Guerra de Calderon!” (“We Have Had it Up to Here with Calderon’s War!”), “Alto a la Guerra de Calderon” (“Stop Calderon’s War”), and “No Mas Sangre” (“No More Blood”).

By 1:25pm, however, the march had stopped. The silence was broken by the chatter of radios as those at the head of the march worked to orient themselves inside of the colony from which the march was supposed to exit. As those with the radios consulted one another, people from nearby houses, stores, and workshops came out to look at the halted procession of masked Zapatistas. After roughly ten minutes of conversation, the march got underway once more, proceeding down a street in the direction of the highway to San Juan Chamula.

The column was met by yet another challenge, however, before it was to exit onto the highway. Around roughly 1:35pm, the head of the march met up with another group of Zapatistas – it seemed that the head of the march had met with the tail of the march. On the one hand, that was an impressive occurrence, showing that the Zapatistas had convoked so many people that the streets were not navigable. On the other hand, this caused general confusion, with the roads being blocked up. The head of the march could not proceed with their fellow members impeding their path, and thus had to patiently wait for the rest of their compañeros to file by. By 2:00pm, the conch shell was blown once more and the head of the march proceeded a ways further. This progress was stopped short once more as the head of the march ran into more Zapatistas coming in their direction.

With this new obstacle, roughly five or six authorities gathered around to confer. Radios in hand, they stood in the middle of a circle created by men joining hands, creating a protective space for the authorities to speak and make decisions. As the authorities spoke softly amongst themselves and into their radios, the ranks of Zapatistas watched and waited patiently for their orders.

Throughout the whole process, various actions served to remind the onlooker that indeed, the EZLN is an army, and should be regarded as such. Between the quick response to marching orders given by the authorities, the organized lines in which the Zapatistas proceeded, and the clear chain of command that was present, the bystander was obligated to remember that the procession passing by was that of a military organization, able to be summoned if necessary by the heads of the EZLN.

By 2:35pm, the Zapatistas had reached a consensus about how to proceed, and the march began orienting itself. First the EZLN authorities proceeded down the road, with other Zapatistas joining hands to form a protective circle around the authorities. Immediately behind the authorities came the head of the march, bearing their banner decrying Calderon’s War. The procession snaked its way through the jungle of cars and trucks parked on the sides of the road, the very vehicles that had delivered members of the EZLN to that part of town earlier on. Some Zapatistas remained on the side of the road, waiting for their moment to join the march. Many of those waiting had set up camp, pulling out their lunches as their compañeros marched by.

By 2:55pm, the march met the highway that leads to the center of town in one direction, while leading to the municipality of San Juan Chamula in the other direction. As the EZLN met the oncoming cars, the Zapatistas spilled out onto the street stopping traffic. Some cars simply came to a stop, while others began turning around. As the march proceeded through the streets, the sounds predominantly heard were a mixture of protesting car horns, the slapping of sandals and boots on the asphalt pavement, and the eerie sounding of a conch shell. The occasional comment was shared between marchers, but overall the Zapatistas remained silent as they proceeded down the highway to the center of town. As luck would have it, upon arriving at a streetlight, the EZLN had a green light and proceeded through the intersection unimpeded.

With the march in full force proceeding through the street toward the center of town, it was led first by a group of several men with radios, followed by the Mexican flag and the EZLN flag. One man and one woman bore the Mexican flag, as did a male-female team bearing the EZLN flag.

At 3:45pm, the head of the march arrived at the town center, greeted by a variety of onlookers, including waiters peering out from restaurants, tourists snapping photos, and locals standing by watching the march pass through the center. Patrons at nearby coffee shops put down their mugs to come watch the Zapatistas march by, some commenting quietly that the sight was impressive. By 3:50pm, the EZLN began filing into the plaza in front of the main cathedral in the city, heading for a stage on which several microphones were set up. The speech, however, was not yet ready to begin.

During the wait, many Zapatistas sat down to take a short break, pulling back masks to grab a quick drink of water or soda, some running to the nearby convenience store, masks still on, to pick up a snack. Conversations began quietly to circulate amongst those sitting together, some conversations in Spanish, others in various indigenous languages.

Although the initial movements of the march were perhaps a bit rough, upon arrival in the cathedral plaza, the EZLN showed impressive organization, coordinating which delegations were to be placed in certain locations in preparation for the speech. Around 4:45pm, the march continued to arrive in the plaza. A representative of the EZLN came to the microphone, asking the Zapatistas already in the plaza to move forward, since there were compañeros backed up for nearly 20 minutes who had not yet arrived.

By 5:05pm, the members of The Other Campaign finally arrived at the plaza. Delegations arrived from a whole host of communities, perhaps the most visible being Cruztón, Mitzitón, the Ejido Tila, Huixtan, and Bachajón. Other members of civil society were represented as well, including members of the Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Bartolemé de Las Casas (Center of Human Rights FrayBa), the Centro de Derechos de las Mujeres (Center of Rights for Women), and the Brigada Feminista por la Autonomia (Feminist Brigade for Autonomy). Although an important sign of solidarity, the Zapatista presence by far dominated the entire event.

For the women of the collectives from the communities of Aguacatengango, La Grandeza, Napite, Corostik, Coquiteel, Sulupwitz, Frontera Comalapa, Santa Rosa de Coban, Yaluma, Chihuahua, and Bella Vista del Norte, they provided their word and their reason for marching. Recognizing the sorrow they feel and the tears they shed when they hear news of violence, the women also noted the courage they feel in defending themselves against the rapes and murders perpetrated by those whom the government allows to go free. The women spoke out against violence, not only in the form of weapons, but in the inherent violence present in sentencing a population to poverty, saying the government “not only murders us with weapons, with its guns, it also murders us with poverty, with the hunger in our village that they use to cheat us with. . . .” The women then called for justice, an end to violence, for respect, and liberty for the Mother Earth, amongst other demands to society and to the government.

The FrayBa also provided its word to the public regarding the march. Protesting President Felipe Calderon’s politics of war that has claimed the lives of nearly 40,000 victims, the FrayBa noted that impunity was the key to continuing this climate of violence. The FrayBa signaled the march as sign of the hope for life and for the demand of justice as civil society strives to achieve a dignified life for all.

Amongst those Zapatista sympathizers participating in the march, one in particular commented that the nation-wide march was a necessary event that the country had been awaiting. The EZLN march was a promise given by the Zapatistas that they had fulfilled, making good on their word to those participating in the larger movement.

After over an hour since the head of the march arrived in the plaza, at 5:10pm the EZLN authorities took to the stage. Calling the assembly to a salute, the crowd first sang the Mexican national anthem, followed by the EZLN anthem. Hardly surprising, the EZLN anthem resounded a bit more forcefully than the national anthem. Upon completing both anthems, a representative stepped up to the microphone to provide those gathered with the word of the EZLN.

The representative who spoke condemned the violence present in Mexico, stating that the history of Mexico has resulted in the spilling of innocent blood, and that peace and justice are nowhere to be found in the country. The speaker decried the fact that “the only guilt of these victims is to have been born or to live in a country that is misgoverned by legal and illegal groups thirsty for war, death, and destruction.” He denounced the converting of schools and universities into zones of war, and the overall state of fear for one’s life that is present in the simple act of traveling to work. Further, the speaker criticized the government, whom he stated as having provided false declarations and promises to the mothers and fathers who demanded justice on behalf of their murdered children. Yesterday, declared the speaker, was when the people of Mexico heard the dignified words of the victims and their families. Today is the day of their dignified silence, a silence that states, just as loudly as their words, that they want peace, justice, and a dignified life. The struggle of these victims and their families was not born of personal interest, but was rather “born of the pain of losing someone whom you love as much as you love life.” Reaching the end of the speech, the orator declared that today, the people who convoked the nation-wide movement are calling for those gathered to fight for life, and that the people gathered in the city today were there to respond to that call.

Wrapping up the speech, the representative and the crowd raised their fists and shouted seven times, sending a message of solidarity to the victims and their families, saying, “No estan solos!” (” You are not alone!”).

At 5:45pm, the Spanish presentation concluded and was followed by cheers, applause, and approving whistles. The same speech was then presented in various indigenous languages, including Tzotzil and Tzeltal. Around 7:00pm, nearly three hours after the head of the march arrived in the center of town, the EZLN authorities descended from the stage, bringing the assembly to a close. With the close of the ceremony, the silence was officially broken, as chatter arose amongst the Zapatistas as they filed out according to their groups. Despite having taken the better part of the day to assemble the members of the EZLN and its supporters in the plaza, within thirty minutes there was not a mask to be seen in the center of town. The cleanup crews went to work, and the members of the communities set out for home, taking word of their experiences back with them.

radio
Hora Sexta

Special program by Hora Sexta in solidarity with the National March for Peace with Justice and Dignity and the EZLN

Special program broadcast on March 7, 2011, by the community radio 99.1 Frecuencia Libre, hours before over 12 thousand members of the EZLN and adherents to the Other Campaign Chiapas and citizens in general marched from CIDECI/Unitierra Chiapas to the Plaza of Resistance in San Cristóbal de Las Casas in solidarity with the National March for Peace with Justice and Dignity called for by the poet and journalist Javier Sicilia and organizations of civil society. (Descarga aquí)  
(Continuar leyendo…)

radio
Flashpoints

The war of Felipe Calderón and Mexico’s civilian movement for peace

Special program on Flashpoints in KPFA – Pacifica Radio on the war by Felipe Calderón and the national mobilizations called for by Javier Sicilia and the EZLN, with the participation of John Gibler, Gregory Burger and Alejandro Reyes.

radio
KMN, imágenes en movimiento

Video sobre ma movilización zapatista en apoyo marcha nacional por la paz y la justicia

On April 28, 2011, the EZLN declared with a communiqué that it would participate on May 7 in the Silent March for Peace, called for by the poet Javier Sicilia. On May 7 in San Cristóbal de Las Casas, tens of thousands of Zapatista bases of support, together with communities, organizations and individuals adherents to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle, marched to the Plaza of Resistance in front of the San Cristóbal Cathedral. Comanders of the EZLN read a speech sent by Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos for the Clandestine Revolutionary Indigenous Committee – General Command of the EZLN.

(Listen to and read the full speech here.)

radio
Radio Zapatista

Images of the Zapatista March for Justice and Against Impunity in San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas

[portfolio_slideshow] (Continuar leyendo…)

radio
Comunidad de Mitzitón

Attacks in Mitzitón during and after the Slient March for Justice and Against Impunity

Sorry, this entry is only available in Mexican Spanish. For the sake of viewer convenience, the content is shown below in the alternative language. You may click the link to switch the active language.

Comunidad de Mitzitón, adherente a La Otra Campaña. A 8 de mayo de 2011.

A la Comisión Sexta del EZLN
A las Juntas de Buen Gobierno
Al Congreso Nacional Indígena
A compañeras y compañeros nacionales e internacionales
adherentes a la Sexta Declaración de la Selva Lacandona
A los medios libres e independientes

Reciban un saludo de las mujeres, hombres, niñas, niños y personas mayores que formamos este pueblo organizado de Mitzitón adherente a La Otra Campaña. Queremos saludar a nuestros compañeros y compañeras de la otra campaña y a todas las personas de buen corazón que el día de hoy están marchando en el Distrito Federal por la paz en México y también queremos informarles hechos recientes en nuestra comunidad y pedirles que estén muy pendientes.

El día de ayer 7 de mayo, nos sumamos a la Marcha Nacional por la Justicia y contra la Impunidad, junto a nuestros compañeros y compañeras de La Otra Campaña, bases de apoyo de los 5 Caracoles Zapatistas, y adherentes de las regiones, altos, selva, norte,  centro y costa. 120 hombres y mujeres nos trasladamos desde temprana hora al punto de reunión en San Cristóbal de Las Casas, el resto de familias se quedaron en la comunidad pendientes de cualquier cosa que pudiera suceder y realizando sus trabajos cotidianos del campo.

Aproximadamente a la 1:00 PM unas compañeras estaban pastando sus borregos en terrenos que colindan con los de la 31 Zona Militar, Rancho Nuevo. Entonces les empezaron a disparar y lograron ver a los paramilitares agresores que eran 2, pero solo reconocieron a uno de ellos que era el hijo de Roberto Vicente Pérez  conocido paramilitar dueño de la camioneta que permanece en el corralón porque fue utilizada en el ataque que sufrimos el día 13 de febrero y que gracias a la impunidad y complicidad que tienen con el mal gobierno salió libre, aunque hubo muchas pruebas del ataque armado que nos hicieron y nuestro compañero fue gravemente herido.

A las 7:28 del horario del mal gobierno, recién estábamos llegando de la marcha, cuando escuchamos 4 disparos. Luego a las 8: 46 otra vez  los paramilitares hicieron 4 disparos. Así que ya no pudimos dormir tranquilos sino que tuvimos que quedar pendientes. Los policías que el mal gobierno tiene apostados en nuestra comunidad, decían que ya habían reportado con su comandante pero a nosotros nos decían que eran cuetes. Y nosotros conocemos muy bien la diferencia de cómo se escucha y se ve el cuete cuando explota y como se escucha la bala. 2 de los agresores fueron reconocidos, sus nombres son: Andrés Jiménez Hernández  Segundo y Pascual Zainé Díaz Jiménez. Alcanzamos a ver a uno más pero no lo reconocimos y no sabemos si había otros más escondidos.

A las 9:00 el Gregorio Gómez Jiménez,  líder de paramilitares del Ejército de Dios, daba vueltas con su camioneta, de su casa, a la carretera internacional, y se metía en la terracería como buscando alguien, nosotros pensamos que querían ver si alguno de nosotros caminaba solo por ahí para agarrarlo.  El día de hoy continúa la tensión y las amenazas.

Sabemos que el 3 de mayo en el periódico cuarto poder se publicó una declaración del Delegado de la  Secretaría de Comunicaciones y Transportes Ernesto Jaúregui Asomoza diciendo que el proyecto de la autopista San Cristóbal Palenque no está muerto y que se llevará a cabo tal y como fue trazado.  Ha de ser por eso y porque ven que seguimos organizados y que no estamos solos, que nos quieren provocar, torturar, reprimir, asesinar, para que dejemos de defender nuestro territorio.

El mal gobierno de Juan Sabines  y de Felipe Calderón han de pensar que así nuestra mente sólo se va ocupar en el miedo, en defendernos de los paramilitares del Ejército de Dios, pero que tengan claro que nosotros no olvidamos los motivos de nuestra lucha, que son los derechos que tenemos como pueblos indígenas, la defensa de nuestra tierra y territorio y la construcción de nuestra autonomía.

A todas compañeras y compañeros les pedimos que estén pendientes de cualquier cosa que pueda pasar, pues vemos que el mal gobierno rápidamente responde a nuestra muestra de organización civil y pacífica, de la única manera que sabe, con la violencia hoy en manos de sus paramilitares, mañana con su policía.

Nosotros seguiremos pendientes y no caeremos en sus provocaciones del mal gobierno.

¡VIVA EL EZLN!

¡VIVA LA OTRA CAMPAÑA!

¡VIVA EL CONGRESO NACIONAL INDIGENA!

¡FUERA PARAMILITARES DE MITZITÓN!

¡YA BASTA DE IMPUNIDAD: JUSTICIA!

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