Tens of thousands of people demonstrated in Mexico and internationally on Oct. 8 to protest the killing of six people and the wounding of at least 20 more the night of Sept. 26-27 by municipal police and people in civilian dress in the city of Iguala in the southwestern state of Guerrero. The demonstrators demanded the return of 43 students who have been missing since that night; all are from the militant Raúl Isidro Burgos Rural Teachers’ College in the town of Ayotzinapa. "They were taken alive, we want them back alive" and "We are all Ayotzinapa" were among the slogans protesters chanted in at least 25 Mexican states and 60 cities, including many in other countries, along with calls for the Guerrero state government and Mexico’s federal government to "go away.”
Amid growing concern about horrific human rights abuses by Mexico's security forces, Amnesty International on Sept. 4 issued a report, aptly entitled "Out of Control," harshly criticizing the Mexican government for its failure to adequately investigate allegations of torture and other "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment" at the hands of the military and police. The report finds that such practices are condoned, tolerated or ignored by superior officers, prosecutors, judges and even official human rights bodies. The report calls on Mexico to enforce its own human rights laws—echoing similar demands made by Amnesty last year, urging the Mexican Senate to adopt legislation to protect against rights violations by the military. (Jurist, Sept. 5)
A new communique from Subcommander Marcos of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) (online at Enlace Zapatista, and in translation at Roar Magazine) states that he is stepping down as the public voice of the indigenous Maya rebel army in Mexico's Chiapas state. It says he is to be replaced by a "Subcommander Galeano," named for the nom de guerre of José Luis Solís López, the Zapatista adherent killed on May 2 in a confrontation with a rival campesino group. "I declare that the one known as Insurgent Subcommander Marcos ceases to exist," the statement reads. "The Zapatista National Liberation Army will no longer speak through my voice." The text cites changes in the rebel movement since it announced its existence to the world in a brief armed uprising launched on New Years Day 1994, the exact moment that NAFTA took effect:
State police arrested six indigenous Mexicans on May 17 in connection with the killing on May 2 of an activist in La Realidad, a village in the official municipality of Las Margaritas in the southeastern state of Chiapas. La Realidad is one of a number of indigenous communities that supporters of the rebel Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) have considered autonomous municipalities since December 1994. The victim, José Luis Solís López ("Galeano"), taught at a "little school" (escuelita) that since last year has provided international activists with an introduction to the Zapatistas' experiment with autonomous communities. Another 15 EZLN supporters were wounded in the May 2 violence, and a school and a clinic were destroyed.
One supporter of Mexico's rebel Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) was killed and several were wounded on May 2 in violence involving rival indigenous groups in La Realidad, Las Margaritas municipality,* in the southeastern state of Chiapas. EZLN sources say La Realidad resident José Luis Solís López died after being shot three times; he also suffered machete wounds. The mostly indigenous Chiapas highlands and Lacandón forest, where La Realidad is located, have experienced several fights between rival groups recently.
Four people died the morning of April 5 in a confrontation between indigenous Mexicans over land in Chilón municipality in the highland region of the southeastern state of Chiapas. The violence broke out when some 25 people tried to remove members of the Regional Organization of Autonomous Ocosingo Coffee Growers (ORCAO) from a 84-hectare ranch; sources differ on whether the ranch is called San Luis or Luis Irineo. The attackers were apparently egged on by the former owner of the ranch, which a group of ORCAO members took over in 1994. On April 6 the state attorney general's office announced that four people had been arrested in the incident. (La Jornada, Mexico, April 6; SDP Noticias, Mexico, April 6)
Mexico's Network for Solidarity and Against Repression (RvsR) is calling for international support for the Zapatista base communities in Chiapas state following attacks late last month, urging, "If they touch the Zapatistas, they touch all of us." (UDW, Feb. 14; Enclace Zapatista, Feb. 13) The Zapatista Good Government Junta at the village of Morelia announced on Jan. 31 that several communities within its zone had been attacked by a "mob" of some 300 followers of the Independent Central of Agrarian Workers and Campesinos (CIAOC), who menaced residents with machetes and left three injured. (La Jornada, Feb. 1) The executive committee of CIAOC later disavowed the attacks, saying they had been carried out by the breakaway "CIAOC-Democratic" faction. (La Jornada, Feb. 15) Chiapas state police on Feb. 18 detained CIAOC leader Corazón Gómez Consuegra on charges related to factional violence within the organization in Tapilula municipality. (Es!DiarioPopular, Chiapas, Feb. 19)
On Jan. 24 the government of the north-central Mexican state of Zacatecas sent about 200 riot and ministerial police to remove some 30 campesinos and their relatives from an entrance they were blocking to the Peñasquito open-pit gold mine in Mazapil municipality. Campesinos from the Las Mesas ejido (communal farm) and the Cedros annex began blocking the entrance on Jan. 16 to get attention from state and federal authorities for their demand to reopen negotiations with the mine's owner, the Vancouver-based Goldcorp Inc., about the rent the company is paying to use ejido land. In addition to removing the protesters, the police arrested two campesino leaders, the brothers Epifanio and Mónico Morquecho, and took them to the prison in Concepción del Oro municipality, 40 km away; they were charged with damages, looting and extortion, based on a criminal complaint from Goldcorp.