In the celebration for its 25th anniversary, between December 31, 2018 and January 1, 2019, from the Caracol de La Realidad, in Zapatista Chiapas, the EZLN sent a clear and powerful message. After thousands of Zapatista militiamen, men and women, marched demonstrating their discipline and coordination, Subcomandante Moisés gave a speech that would resound to the National Palace. In addition to ratifying the anti-capitalist position and the commitment to the autonomy of the Zapatista communities, the insurgent spokesman also stressed his rejection of megaprojects and his willingness to defend their territories: “That is why we will not allow any project that destroys the life of humanity and the death of our mother earth, because behind all this are the interests of the big national and transnational capitalists”.
The response was not long in coming: in the days that followed, the social networks were filled with messages of hate, lies, slander, and disqualifications against the Zapatistas. In the barrage, which had Twitter as the center of dispute, dozens of anonymous accounts participated, and some of public figures sympathetic to the government. The matrix of the anti-Zapatista media campaign started from questioning “where were the Zapatistas in the past”, trying to erase a long history of political initiatives, confrontations with power, resistance and rebellion. Deep down, they sought to pass them off as accomplices of the previous governments: a trend from the official narrative against critical sectors.
Let’s say it clearly to refresh our memory: if someone derailed the neoliberal integration project promoted by Salinas de Gortari, it was the Zapatista peoples and the indigenous peoples who defended their territories and the national territory. They were the ones who put their body and blood to defend this country.
The media attacks against the Zapatistas have been a constant in the six-year term. Forgetful “Influencers” and “bot” companies recycled old lies, such as the one that states that the EZLN is a creation of Salinas. They also dusted off the supposed disease of leaders or the hypothetical break between members of the General Command. The rumor of possible meetings with the federal government, or the Zapatistas’ support for candidates from different parties and in different states, were other of the spread inventions. In the repertoire of deceptions, and in total nonsense, it was even pointed out that the British Crown financed the Zapatistas. Slander and misinformation as counterinsurgency weapons: repeat a lie a thousand times and it will become the truth.
Added to the media attacks are the espionage, monitoring and harassment that areas of the current federal government have carried out against the Zapatistas and their solidarity networks. Since April 2019, the Zapatistas reported that the presence of “military, police, paramilitary, and spies, ears and informants” was increasing around their territories. Overflights by military planes and helicopters, as well as by armed vehicles, have reappeared.” The information leaked by the Guacamaya collective has revealed some of the reports that SEDENA has prepared or commissioned from other agencies on the Zapatistas and their networks in Mexico and abroad. The coordination of different State secretariats has even been revealed to map the organizations and people allied with Zapatismo in other countries.
Added to the media attacks and military espionage are the physical attacks against the Zapatista communities. The war waged against the communities in resistance by paramilitary, narco-paramilitary or paramilitary-type groups continues as it has since 1994, although with varying intensity. The burning of schools, of coffee warehouses, the kidnapping of compañeros, beatings, threats, invasions and other attacks are what the Zapatista communities face in some of their territories. Let’s do a brief recap:
1) April 2019. Ocosingo Regional Organization of Coffee Growers attacks Zapatista support bases in the Moisés Gandhi community.
2) February 26, 2020. Comrades belonging to the National Indigenous Congress (CNI), were violated, repressed, and kidnapped by paramilitary groups called “CHINCHULINES” and “ORCAO”.
3) August 22, 2020. Members of the ORCAO loot and burn the coffee warehouse of the Zapatista communities located in the “New Dawn of the Rainbow” Trade Center on the Cuxuljá cruise.
4) November 8, 2020. Kidnapping and torture of a fellow Zapatista support base, from the community of San Isidro, Moisés Gandhi Annex, by the paramilitary organization ORCAO
5) January 18, 2021. Members of the ORCAO attacked the Moisés Gandhi community of the Lucio Cabañas Autonomous Municipality with firearms. There were “around 170 shots from large calibers and 80 shots from small calibers.”
6) January 20, 2021. New ORCAO attacks on Moisés Gandhi were recorded.
7) January 21, 2021. The Junta de Buen Gobierno reported that at least 20 members of the ORCAO attacked the houses of the Zapatista support bases with firearms.
8) September 11, 2021. Members of the ORCAO kidnapped two people, autonomous authorities of the Junta de Buen Gobierno de Patria Nueva, Chiapas.
9) June 9, 2022. Nuevo San Gregorio, Lucio Cabañas Zapatista Rebel Autonomous Municipality in Chiapas, Mexico (official municipality of Huixtán) and the Good Government Board “New Dawn in Resistance for Life and Humanity”, Caracol 10 “ Blooming the Rebel Seed”; suffered attacks that endangered the lives, safety and personal integrity of 6 families Support Bases of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation. Human rights observers received death threats.
All these attacks have been denounced and documented by the Zapatistas themselves, by human rights organizations and by solidarity networks. The complicity of local governments and the use of public resources were even pointed out. The foregoing, added to the growth of criminal corporations in Chiapas and political disputes -among other factors- led the Zapatistas to alert in September 2021 that Chiapas was on the brink of civil war.
In recent days, since May 22 to be precise, the attacks have intensified. Once again, the ORCAO paramilitary organization attacked Zapatista support bases in the Moisés Gandhi autonomous community with high caliber weapons. The compañero Gilberto López Sántiz was seriously injured: “a wound that perforated the diaphragm, made three holes in the large intestine, then in the stomach and finally in the spleen, which means that the compañero is in serious condition; This situation is complicated by the insufficient medical attention that he has received, since he urgently requires intensive care without having been admitted or transferred to where he can receive the proper care,” reported the National Indigenous Congress. The attacks have lasted for several days.
It is the governments of the three levels, municipal, state and federal, responsible for these attacks. They have allowed the ORCAO to continue receiving public resources and have guaranteed it impunity to continue attacking.
Independent social organizations must urgently intervene to stop these attacks. Immediately, the demands are clear and the National Indigenous Congress has revealed them:
- Provide immediate adequate medical attention to compañero Gilberto López Sántiz.
- That the armed attack against the Moisés Gandhi community be stopped and that its autonomous territory be respected.
- That the material and intellectual authors of these paramilitary attacks be punished.
- The armed groups through which the war against the Zapatista communities is kept active and growing be dismantled.
The war against the Zapatista communities intensifies. Our solidarity is urgent throughout the world: Enough of the attacks against the Zapatista autonomous communities.