Chiapas: Zapatista supporters attacked for building autonomous school

Members of the Mexican political parties PRI, PRD and PVEM (Green Party) attacked 170 Zapatista supporters and expelled them from their homes in the Tzeltal community of San Marcos Avilés, in the municipality of Chilón, Chiapas, in retaliation for the construction of an autonomous school in the early morning hours of Sept. 9.

The Zapatista Good Government Junta (JBG) based in Oventik said the attackers were armed with guns, machetes and sticks, and broke into two houses where they tried to sexually assault two women. Many community residents fled to the mountain “where they suffer hunger, cold, sleeplessness and fear.”

Zapatistas from Pamalá, in the municipality of Sitalá, had previously informed the JBG that, at the end of August, a compa from their community, Manuel Vázquez, had been ordered by the authorities and leaders of the political parties in San Marcos and Pamalá to dismantle the autonomous school. On Aug. 21, Vázquez was jailed by municipal authorities. When Pedro Cruz Gómez came from another nearby community to try to help Vázquez, he was also jailed—and a knife was planted in his trousers in an apparent attempt to frame him for attempted murder. When the prisoners were freed, they were told to abandon the Zapatista organization and to leave their lands.

On the Aug. 24 and 25 the aggressors seized 29 hectares of land with 5,850 coffee trees, 10 hectares of maize, along with beans, cattle, horses and three houses, and destroyed a banana plantation. On the Sept. 8, they took cattle, pulled down fences and fired shots into the air. They threatened to “take the land next, and to evict the men, kidnap the women and children, and burn the houses.”

“The three levels of the bad government don’t know how to stop the Zapatista struggle for national liberation, so they are trying to stop our autonomous education,” stated the JBG. “However, we are going to continue with autonomous education throughout Zapatista territory; our sons and daughters will no longer attend the official schools where they will never be taught the truth about how we live as indigenous people, and how all the poor of Mexico live. We demand that our evicted companer@s be allowed to return home and be treated with respect.” (Upside Down World, Sept. 14)

See our last posts on Mexico and the struggle in Chiapas.

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