Zapatistas march for Ayotzinapa in San Cristobal

(via CIP Americas Program / Upside Down World)

Some twenty thousand members of the bases of the Zapatista Army for National Liberation marched briskly through San Cristobal de las Casas on October 8. They gathered on the outskirts of the city, under a blue sky stained with clouds that threatened rain and then walked in long, orderly lines toward the central plaza of the city. The long river of Zapatistas moved fluidly and silently; the only sound was the steps of their shoes and boots. They carried signs that read “Your rage is ours”, “Your pain is our pain” and “You are not alone”.

front of the march with banners (ezln, mexican flag, signs of support for victims)

The message was for the students of  Ayotzinapa, Guerrero and for the families that found out that on on Sept. 26-27 their sons were killed or kidnapped as they traveled by bus, at the hands of municipal police in complicity with the drug trafficking organization Guerreros Unidos. Two weeks from the attacks there are 6 dead and 43 disappeared.

“In Ayotzinapa the state appears as the intersection between official powers and criminal powers that dispute political control, using new forms of social discipline. We have arrived at a point of dehumanization,” said Dolores González Saravia, director of the NGO SerAPaz, during the presentation of the 2013-2014 report of the Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Center for Human Rights.

masked zapatista mujeres showing solidarity with the disappeared

The bone-chilling story of these youth and the indignation at the corruption of the police and the Mexican institutions spurred many acts of solidaryt. Oct. 8 more than 60 cities in Mexico and throughout the world responded to the call to mobilize. They organized marches, roadblocks, occupations and blockades of government offices.

In Chilpancingo, the capital of the state of Guerrero, thousands of students demonstrated, along with teachers and other citizens, while the community police of the  Unión de Pueblos Organizados de Guerrero (UPOEG) organized an independent search for the 43 students. In Mexico City 15,000 people joined the march. In Barcelona, New York, Montreal and Buenos Aires they showed pictures of the youth, talked about their personal stories, demanded their appearance alive and punishment for the guilty.

“The institutions are not going to do justice, they won’t bring justice, since the whole chain of command is corrupt, but to demand the appearance of the students alive is a form of pressure to present them if they know where they are. However, even this is not complete justice, because presentation of the missing will not repair the incalculable damage suffered by the students and their families,” one Zapatista supporter who preferred to remain anonymous told us.

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In San Cristobal de las Casas members of the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle joined students, teachers, famlies and civic organizations that organized two marches that came together in the plaza.

The EZLN route went through the plaza, a where it has a long history, crossing through without stopping. The Zapatistas marched in silence just as they had on Dec. 21, 2013 and May of 2011, when the indigenous organization answered another call in solidarity with the victims of state violence, launched by the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity. Then the Zapatistas joined national marches against the war on the cartels started by  ex president Felipe Calderón. The Mexican government’s  anti-drug crusade, instead of decreasing crime, caused some 100,000 deaths and 30,000 disappeared. Today the country is inundated by corrupt institutions, drug cartels and paramilitary groups; the EZLN leader Galeano, assassinated by paramilitary groups May 2, is one of the victims.

Most of the Zapatistas who marched on Oct. 8 were young, like the students of  Ayotzinapa. The tourists that strolled through the streets of the colonial city were amazed at the unexpected procession. The people of San Cristóbal de Las Casas –a historically conservative city–looked out from the stores and restaurants and took pictures of the long march of masked indigenous people. No one spoke, some whispered. One women outside a hotel applauded, shouting, “Long live the people!” and the eyes of some of the Zapatistas smiled behind their masks.

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Cops and Paramilitaries Tortured, Burned, Massacred Mexico Students

poster for october 8 march against state disappearances(by Dawn Paley, via Media Co-op)

It appears that a mass grave found near Iguala, Guerrero, over the weekend which is said to contain up to 34 bodies, contains the remains of at least some of the 43 students who were kidnapped by police on Friday.

The students were rural youth studying to become teachers. Their student association is known to be one of the most organized and combative in the country. They were brothers, sons, and friends, and some of them were fathers. They were tortured, dismembered and burned before being buried.

This isn’t the first grave of its kind to be dug in Mexico, far from it.

There have been hundreds of clandestine mass graves dug and filled with corpses since Felipe Calderón declared the war on drugs in December, 2006. The discovery of some of these graves garnered international attention, while others went under the radar almost completely. There’s no solid, reliable count of bodies, or of graves. Then there are those which have yet to be discovered. Migrant activists go so far as to call Mexico a giant cemetary, claiming that as many as 120,000 migrants could be secretly buried across the country.

The US media is struggling to tell the story of the bad Guerrero police who passed detained students off to crime gangs. The first thing we can do to break the silence about what is happening in Mexico is call things by their name.

The killers in Iguala were not drug gangs. They were cops and paramilitaries. Paramilitaries are non-state armed groups who work with state forces. There can be no clearer example of the horrors of state and paramilitary violence than what has happened to these students.

Parts of Mexico are deeply paramilitarized, a process which was accelerated and fortified by the Merida Initiative as well as internationally sponsored police professionalization programs.

I’m a grad student in Mexico, and in talking with my peers over the past couple days, the fear and the rage is tangible. On Wednesday, students around the country will bravely march against this barbarity, this terror at the hands of the state. The worst thing we can do is to be silent about this.

Colombian paramilitaries murder farmers and union leaders to silence community resistance

“In Colombia the 21 day national strike, which enjoyed broad support, was a victory for the farmers movement, after 12 deaths, 4 disappearances, and 485 injured, according to official numbers; they got a law to control seeds suspended, along with subsidies to gas and supplies, to compensate the farmers for their losses, competing with international multinationals brought in the country by free market treaties.

The government and the strike board are currently negotiating new farming and mining laws, along with a revision of 10 free market treaties, trying to compensate or reduce the losses of farmers and miners; in the cities, while the solidarity with the farmers was the spark for the protests the privatization of health care and education brought even more people to the streets.

Facing police repression, and despite the threat of paramilitary violence they got a political victory, paralyzing the country while president Santos saw his popularity fall to an all time low of 24%, which forced him to negotiate.

But even after such demonstration for farmers to oppose mining and oil projects can be a very dangerous activity in this country, Julio farmer and human rights defender from Guayabero, has received dead threats, he believes not only him but everyone else in town is also in danger […]”