Zapatistas back in conflicted Chiapas

Subcommander Marcos of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) has arrived back in the Chiapas rainforest after concluding his tour of Mexico’s northern states in the second phase of the “Other Campaign.” Arriving first in the Chiapas highland city of San Cristobal de Las Casas, Marcos’ caravan then proceeded to the jungle settlement of La Garrucha. Fifteen other Zapatista commanders who had also been on tour arrived back in Chiapas days ahead of the Subcommander. They will now start preparing for an “Intergalactic Encuentro,” a meeting of their international supporters, to be hosted on their territory in a little over a month. (La Jornada, June 24) A highlight of Marcos’ tour came in Guadalajara, where he unveiled his new erotic novel Noches de Fuego y Desvelo (Nights of Fire and Sleeplessnes), illustrated with drawings by the author. Proceeds are to go towards programs for Chiapas’ autonomous indigenous communities. (La Jornada, June 15)

Meanwhile, misery and social conflict remain deeply entrenched in Chiapas. Juan González Esponda, leader of the state’s official Reconciliation Commission for Pueblos and Communities in Conflict, reports that some 500 families remain displaced in Chiapas as a result of political violence that was at its worst between 1994 and 2000. At the peak of the crisis, 20,000 people were displaced. He did not say how many individuals were represented by these 500 families. (Diario de Chiapas, June 23)

Marvin Lorena Arriaga Córdova, leader of the State Institute for Adults (IEA) reports that Chiapas has the highest rate of adult illiteracy of any state in Mexico, with some 560,000 adults who cannot read or write. (La Jornada, June 21)

Many communities remain bitterly divided. The Fray Bartoleme de Las Casas Human Rights Center reported June 23 that adherents of the PRI political machine in Tzuluwitz, San Juan Cancuc municipality, had cut electrical service to 13 families who adhere to the Zapatista movement. The wiring had been installed at the Zapatista families’ own expense, and was cut with the connivance of municipal authorites, according to the report. (La Jornada, June 23)

See our last posts on Mexico, and Chiapas and the Zapatistas.