Anti-mining protests in Mexico, Canada

The July 22 Global Day of Action Against Open-Pit Mining, most widely observed in the Andean nations, also saw coordinated actions in NAFTA partners Mexico and Canada. In the Oaxaca village of Santa María Zacatepec, a national gathering was held, bringing together some 100 indigenous and popular organizations, who pledged a campaign of protests against mining projects and "structural reforms" announced by the Enrique Peña Nieto government. The Declaration of Santa María Zacatepec said that "it is time to pass from resistance to the offensive," and for "respecting all forms of struggle." Participating organizations included the Mexican Alliance for the Self-Determination of the People (AMAP); the Indigenous Agrarian Zapatista Movement (MAIZ); the Peoples' Front in Defense of Land and Water of Puebla, Tlaxcala and Morelos; the National Civil Resistance Network; the Council of Ejidos and Communities Opposed to La Parota Dam; the Peoples' Land Defense Front of Atenco; and the Mexican Electrical Workers Union (SME).

Chiapas cancels carbon deal with California

The state government of Chiapas, Mexico, has cancelled a controversial forest protection plan that critics said failed to address the root causes of deforestation and could endanger the lives and livelihoods of indigenous peoples. The program is linked to California's cap-and-trade program through a complex "carbon offset" scheme that has yet to see the light of day. Carlos Morales Vázquez, the state's environment secretary, on July 8 told the Chiapas daily El Heraldo that the UN initiative that provided the model for the pact, Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD), "was an utter failure, and the program is cancelled."

Nine indigenous prisoners released in Chiapas

The southeastern Mexican state of Chiapas released nine indigenous prisoners from its Los Llanos prison near San Cristóbal de las Casas in the state's highland region on July 4. State governor Manuel Velasco Coello arrived at the prison from Tuxtla Gutiérrez, the state capital, to deliver the release papers in person. The nine prisoners, described as adherents of the 2006 Other Campaign of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN), had participated in hunger strikes and other actions over several years to win their freedom. Rosa López Díaz, the only woman in the group, was pregnant when she was arrested in 2007; she lost her child, reportedly as a result of torture.

Mexico: Israel training Chiapas police?

Israel's embassy in Mexico City denied reports in the Mexican media that Israeli military advisors are training police in the southern state of Chiapas. Early last month, Chiapas' Secretary of Security and Civil Protection, Jorge Luís Abarca, announced that he had met with Yaron Yugman of the Israeli Defense Ministry to discuss the program. This supposed meeting was widely reported in respected newspapers such as El Universal and Excelsior, but Israeli officials in Mexico City contacted by Fox News Latino denied knowledge of the meeting, calling the news reports "nonsense" and "completely wrong." Said Yael Hashaviet, deputy chief of mission at the Israeli embassy: "I don’t know whether to laugh or to cry. This never happened and this will never happen." 

Latin America: marchers reject Monsanto, back food sovereignty

According to organizers, hundreds of thousands of environmentalists and other activists participated in marches in 436 cities and 52 countries on May 25 to protest the Missouri-based biotech giant Monsanto Company, whose products include genetically modified (GM) seeds and the glyphosate-based herbicide Roundup. The global March Against Monsanto generated events in countries including Australia, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, the UK and the US. (La Jornada, Mexico, May 26, some from AFP, Prensa Latina)

Mexico: thousands march for release of Chiapas schoolteacher

Some 15,000 protesters marched in Tuxtla Gutiérrez, capital of the southeastern Mexican state of Chiapas, on April 19 to demand the release of Alberto Patishtán Gómez, an indigenous schoolteacher who has been serving a 60-year sentence since 2000 for his alleged involvement in the killing of seven police agents in El Bosque municipality in June of that year. Patishtán is a supporter of the rebel Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN). Actions demanding his release have taken place in at least 11 countries over the past year.

Mexico: EZLN supporter freed after year in jail

Francisco Sántiz López, a civilian supporter of Mexico's rebel Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN), was released from prison in San Cristóbal de las Casas, in the highlands of the southeastern state of Chiapas, on Jan. 25, more than 13 months after his arrest. Over the past year a movement has formed in some 30 countries to demand the release of Sántiz López and another prisoner, the schoolteacher Alberto Patishtán Gómez, a supporter of the ELZN-initiated Other Campaign.

Hezbollah link to Zapatistas? Not!

Israeli news portal YNet on Dec. 29 ran an incredibly irresponsible story entitled "Hezbollah's cocaine Jihad," the introdek reading: "Faced with dwindling Iranian funding, Shiite terror group partners with Mexican drug cartels; uses millions of dollars in drug money to support weapon acquisition habit." Now, this is a quesitonable claim at best, but before the story even gets to the rather sketchy evidence for this assertion it spends a full six paragraphs talking about Chiapas and the Zapatista rebels—complete with a prominent photo of masked Zapatistas marching with their red-and-black flag! The message sent to the uninitiated is that the Zapatistas are mixed up with both drug cartels and Hezbollah. What is the basis for this Hez-bollocks? There is none. The article notes that an Islamic micro-sect called the Murabitun has been converting Indians in Chiapas in recent years, but aside from the fact that they are both in Chiapas, there is no link between the Murabitun and the Zapatistas, and no link between either and the drug cartels. Furthermore, the Murabitun are Sunni not Shi'ite, and based in Spain not Lebanon—so not even remotely linked to Hezbollah.

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