Protest paramilitary attacks on Zapatistas

Moisés Gandhi

An international mobilization was held June 8, with small protests in cities across the world, in response to a call for support by the Zapatista rebel movement in Mexico’s southern state of Chiapas. According to the statement, issued a week earlier, the Zapatista base community of MoisĂ©s Gandhi is coming under renewed attack by the local paramilitary group ORCAO. In a May 22 armed incursion at the community, MoisĂ©s Gandhi resident Jorge LĂłpez SantĂ­z was struck by a bullet and gravely injured. Several families were displaced as ORCAO gunmen briefly occupied parts of the community. The statement charges: “Chiapas is on the verge of civil war, with paramilitaries and hired killers from various cartels fighting for the plaza [zone of territorial control]…with the active or passive complicity of the governments of [Chiapas governor] Rutilio EscandĂłn Cadenas and [Mexican president] AndrĂ©s Manuel LĂłpez Obrador.” (El PaĂ­s, Spain; National Indigenous Congress, Mexico)

MoisĂ©s Gandhi is part of the Zapatista “autonomous municipality” of Lucio Cabañas, a rebel zone of control within the “official” municipality of Ocosingo. Although the Zapatistas have honored a ceasefire with the government for a generation now, government-aligned paramilitary groups have sought to reduce their territory through a campaign of attrition. ORCAO is an acronym for the Regional Coffee Growers Organization of Ocosingo, but following similar attacks by the group in September 2021, the Zapatistas released a statement charging that it is “a political-military organization with paramilitary characteristics: they have uniforms, equipment, weapons, and ammunition purchased with money they receive from [government-sponsored] ‘social programs’… They fire on the Zapatista community of MoisĂ©s Gandhi every night with these weapons.” (Mexico News Daily)

The new statement was signed by leading left-wing intellectual figures around the world, including Noam Chomsky.

Photo: Chiapas Support Committee