INTERNATIONAL PRESENCE AND ACCOMPANIMENT
THE SITUATION FOR HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS
- At the beginning of December we took part in a meeting for analyzing the Situation of Human Rights Defenders, held by Amnesty International in Mexico City, and attended by organizations from all over the country.
- At the end of February we sent out a communication about the death threats received by members of the Centre for Economic and Political Research for Community Action (CIEPAC). This declaration documented 25 reports of threats and harassment against human rights defenders and activists in Chiapas from November 2005 to the present date.
In November, December and February we visited several towns and communities in the north of Chiapas, interviewing people and organizations: displaced persons, leaders of various political groups, government authorities, church members, Zapatista support bases, as well as peasant and social organizations. In our most recent visits we also spent time at Choles de Tumbalá near Palenque, a Zapatista community that was displaced for three months last year after being violently expelled from their homes.
On December 22 we took part in the commemoration of the ninth anniversary of the massacre at Acteal, Chenalhó (where 45 people died in 1997).
In February we visited Fracción Guadalupe (Pantelhó) where, since 1998, a group of displaced persons has been waiting to be relocated.
In December and February we interviewed several nongovernmental, religious and social organisations in Ocosingo, Chilón, Bachajón and Yajalón. In November we spent 15 days visiting communities in Las Cañadas.
Following the Zapatista Red Alert, we visited 4 of 5 Caracoles. Between 30 December 30, 2006 and January 2, we attended the Encounter between the Zapatistas and the Peoples of the World in the Caracol of Oventik (see article in this report).
On January 3 we attended the round table discussion “Building Counter-Powers” held at the CIDECI – University de la Tierra in San Cristóbal de las Casas, in which members of the Zapatista Command and intellectuals took part.
- In November we accompanied the “Caravan for Peace and Solidarity between the towns of Chiapas and Oaxaca” held by the Chiapan organisation “Las Abejas”, in order to document the potential human rights violations that could occur along the way or during the time the members of “Las Abejas” were staying in Oaxaca.
- We met with visitors (including the France Latin America Episcopal Commission, and CCFD, the French Catholic Committee Against Hunger and For Development, Pax Christi, FoodFirst Information and Action Network International), delegations (eg Witness for Peace and Cloudforest), students and reporters (including one who works for Kurdish television) to help familiarize them with the situation in Chiapas and our work here.
- In January we interviewed Miguel Álvarez from SERAPAZ (Services and Consultancy for Peace) in the program “Untying knots” which took place at TierrAdentro en San Cristóbal de las Casas. The program dealt with the conflict and peace negotiations in Chiapas and Oaxaca, in which Miguel Álvarez had been directly involved.
- In February we took part in a workshop on the rights to information, hosted by Maderas del Pueblo del Sureste.
- On January 26 we attended a forum for analysis hosted by SERAPAZ and the Swiss Program of Observation and Promotion of Peace in Chiapas (PROPAZ), in which 70 people from Chiapas, Mexico City and Oaxaca took part.
- We are continuing to participate in the seminar series “The Work of Immanuel Wallerstein: A Grammar for Understanding the Current World from a Critical Perspective” coordinated by the Immanuel Wallerstein Centre for Study, Information and Documentation.
PROMOTION OF PEACE
- We attended the Second Meeting for Peace Builders and Reconciliation, held by CORECO (Commission of Support for Community Unity and Reconciliation) in Montebello, Chiapas, from 21 to 23 November.
- In January we began a series of workshops on the Transformation of Conflicts with DESMI (Civil Association for the Economic and Social Development of Indigenous Mexicans, working in 17 municipalities in Chiapas).
- We are taking part in the monthly meetings held by Network For Peace, a space for action and reflection comprised of 16 organizations seeking to support the peace and reconciliation process in Chiapas.
- We completed the “Project for Observation and Monitoring in Chiapas with respect to political and civil rights in rural communities during the election process and the Other Campaign”, undertaken in 2006, in collaboration with the Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Centre, Civic Alliance, PROPAZ and Peace Watch (Switzerland). On November 11 and 12 we jointly organized an analysis meeting in which 60 people from different parts of the state took part.
- In November we co-hosted with the Ik Collective a meeting for organizations working with prisoners, in which participants exchanged information and analyzed problems. Another meeting was held in February for the same purpose. It ended with a visit to the prison in Chiapa de Corzo.