SIPAZ Activities (October – December 2004)


January 1

The tenth anniversary of the armed uprising of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN). The event is not accompanied by any political communiqué from the Zapatista Command. Instead it is celebrated in a private manner in the Caracoles [local administrative centres], attended by representatives of national and international civil society.

January 8

Residents of the community Emiliano Zapata (Municipality of Tila, in the northern zone of Chiapas) initiate a series of demonstrations demanding the withdrawal of the Army. Zapatista support bases and members of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) are supported by civil society groups and members of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). The PRI had previously requested the installation of the military base in the community, but they now begin to request its removal in light of the negative effects of the military presence, such as the use and trafficking of drugs and alcohol, and prostitution.

January 12

After denouncing outcome of the recent elections as fraudulent, the municipality of Tlanepantla in the state of Morelos declares itself “autonomous,” naming its own autonomous council. Days later the community is brutally repressed by the state government, resulting in the death of one protester.

January 21

Seven presumed members of the paramilitary group Paz y Justicia (Peace and Justice) are released from prison. They are absolved of crimes against the common law, such as homicide and unlawful imprisonment, among others. The individuals had been held prisoner in the Cerro Hueco prison since September 13, 2002, when they had undertaken an operation in the community of Miguel Aleman. Twenty seven other members of Paz y Justicia are also detained in the operation by Public Security forces.

January 22

The houses of the community of Nuevo San Rafael in the Montes Azules Reserve are all burned. According to the Secretary of Agrarian Reform (SRA), the inhabitants voluntarily decided to abandon their homes and return to their places of origin. NGOs accused the SRA of having divided the population so as to force residents to leave the Reserve.

January 25

Samuel Ruiz, Bishop Emeritus of the Diocese of San Cristóbal de Las Casas and ex-president of CONAI (the commission that mediated talks between the Mexican government and the EZLN), presents a pastoral letter “A New Hour of Grace” for the first time since he left his post. In this fashion he celebrates the 44th anniversary of his ordination as bishop, questioning, among other things, the process of globalization, and recognizing the important role of the Zapatistas in the emancipation of indigenous people throughout the Latin America.

January 27

The Government of the State of Chiapas signs an agreement with the European Union to co-finance the “Project for Integrated Social and Sustainable Development of the Lacandon Jungle” (PRODESIS). This project will be executed in the buffer zone of the Montes Azules Reserve. The EU will contribute 15 million Euros to the project, with another 16 million coming from the Government of Chiapas.

February 12

The Centre for Political, Economic and Social Analysis (CAPISE) publishes a report entitled “The Military Occupation of Chiapas: The Prisoner’s Dilemma.” The report is the product of an investigation of the 91 military installations located in the so-called “conflict zone” in Chiapas.

February 17

The Chiapas State Congress approves the so-called “Gag Law,” which modifies the penal code with regards to crimes of slander, libel and defamation of character. Sentences are increased to a minimum of nine years in prison, and fines of 1,000 days salary. Various NGOs denounce the law as a grave persecution of free expression in Chiapas, and highlight the risk it poses for journalists as well as for victims of criminal acts, as both could be sued for defamation.

March 19, 20 & 21

Third Chiapas Meeting Against Neoliberalism en Huitiupán (municipality of Los Altos de Chiapas). The meeting concludes with the participants demonstrating against the construction of a dam in the municipality.

April 10

Zapatista supporters from the municipality of Zinacantán are ambushed by members of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), leaving dozens wounded and displacing 125 Zapatista families. The act occurs as the Zapatistas finishing a march celebrating the anniversary of the death of Emiliano Zapata, and after delivering water to residents of the community of Jechvó, who had been deprived of it for months by members of the PRD.

April 14

While visiting Chiapas, the Secretary of the Interior, Santiago Creel says that “Chiapas has stopped being a headache for the federal government” and that, despite the confrontation in Zinacantán, it “enjoys political stability.” He describes the confrontation as “an incident.”

May 15 & 16

Thirteenth Meeting of the Central-Pacific Region of the National Indigenous Congress (CNI) in Unión Hidalgo, Oaxaca. The San Andres Accords are ratified as an “Indigenous Constitution,” and it is proposed that indigenous communities should continue their path of autonomous development through concrete actions.

May 28

Third Summit of State and Government Heads of Latin America and the European Union is celebrated in Guadalajara, Jalisco. Simultaneously, civil society celebrates the “Linking Alternatives” forum, questioning United States policy in Latin America. The “anti-summit” demonstration ends with 45 people arbitrarily arrested, beaten and tortured. Eight foreigners are arrested and arbitrarily deported.

July 4

Families from the community of San Francisco El Caracol in the Montes Azules Reserve are moved by the government to a “new population centre” called Santa Martha in the municipality of Marqués de Comillas.

August 4, 5 & 6

The “Compañero Manuel” Centre of Educational Promoters is opened in the Autonomous Rebel Zapatista Municipality of “Ricardo Flores Magón.”

August 7 & 8

These dates mark the First Anniversary of the Councils of Good Government and the Zapatista “Caracoles” (snails) [local administrative centres]. The EZLN releases a series of communiqués called “Reading a Video” which contain a summary of this first year of activity, examining the mistakes and defending itself against its critics. Additionally, each of the five Councils issues its own report describing the management of funds provided by national and international civil society groups.

August 16

The National Commission on Human Rights (CNDH) presents a report on the detention of foreigners at the Guadalajara Summit in May. It confirms that the authorities and public security officials of Jalisco state made 78 illegal arrests; it documents seventy cases of cruel and degrading punishment, seventy cases of solitary confinement of prisoners, and six cases of torture.

August 17

The Chiapas State Congress approves the temporary dismissal of the President of the State Commission on Human Rights (CEDH), Pedro Raúl López Hernández. Many NGOs express profound concern that the objective of this dismissal is to limit the CEDH’s ability to perform its function of independently denouncing violations of human rights.

September 1

President Vicente Fox presents his fourth State of the Union address in the face of multiple protests within and outside Congress.

The Council of Good Government in La Realidad announces for the first time its opposition to the displacement of communities in the Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve.

October 1, 2 & 3

The First National Meeting of People Affected by Dams in Mexico takes place in Aguas Calientes, Acapulco, in the State of Guerrero. Aguas Calientes is the home of the resistance movement against the construction of the “La Parota” dam.

October 3

Municipal Elections in Chiapas. The Federal Electoral Institute (IFE) negotiates with the EZLN to guarantee peaceful elections. The Zapatistas do not hinder the election process.

October 15

In a special communiqué the EZLN announces the reorganization of Zapatista communities located in the Montes Azules reserve, requesting economic support from national and international civil society.

November 16

José Luís Soberanes begins a second term as President of the CNDH over the protests of national human rights organizations, who complain of the lack of public consultation before his appointment.

November 17

The EZLN celebrates 21 years since being founded “somewhere in the Lacandón Jungle.” Many commentaries highlight the long road the Zapatistas have travelled in 21 years: from beginnings as a guerilla group through to the armed insurrection and the establishment of autonomous governments. “In 1983 we were six; today we are thousands” declares the Good Government Council of La Garrucha, during the internal commemoration that also occurred in the other Caracoles.

November 27 & 28

First National Dialogue of the Project for a Nation with Liberty, Justice and Democracy in Mexico City, called primarily by the country’s trade unions.

December 22

Seventh anniversary of the Acteal massacre. Several human rights organizations denounce the fact that, to date, an impartial and objective investigation of the massacre has not been carried out, and that justice has not been served.