Over the past week, some 1,500 activists from around the world converged on Mexico's Chiapas state for the Zapatista rebels' first international organizing workshop, the Little Freedom School (Escuelita de Libertad), with course names such as "Freedom According to the Zapatistas." On Aug. 15, three days into the gathering, the rebels' Comandante Tacho issued a statement charging that "military planes were doing flyovers over the zones of the five Zapatista caracoles." The caracoles (snails) are the community centers the rebels have built to govern their territory in open assemblies, and where the Freedom School is being held. Tacho signed off: "We say to the government of [President Enrique] Peña Nieto, that if your soldiers want to learn in the Little School, they should ask to be invited. We won't, however, invite them. But then they can use the pretext that they are spying because we didn't invite them." (El Enemigo Común via Climate Connections, Aug. 15; Waging Nonviolence via Upside Down World, Aug. 12)
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
On Dec. 22, followers of the indigenous pacifist group Las Abejas (the Bees) held a ceremony at the hamlet of Acteal, in the highlands of Mexico's southern Chiapas state, to remember the massacre there in 1997, and demand justice in the case. The group accused then-president Ernesto Zedillo and his Government secretary Emilio Chuayffet—today Secretary of Education—of being responsible for the attack, in which 45 unarmed Abejas were killed by a paramilitary group. The Abejas gathered at the "Pillar of Infamy," a monument erected at the massacre site, joined by supporters and those displaced by the violence of the 1990s from throughout the Chiapas Highlands.
Thousands of Maya followers of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) marched, masked but unarmed, on the towns of San Cristóbal de las Casas, Ocosingo, Las Margaritas, Palenque and Altamirano, in Mexico's southern state of Chiapas, marking the turning of the Maya calendar Dec. 21. The largest march was in Ocosingo, on the edge of the Lacandon Selva, the rebels' jungle stronghold, with 6,000 arriving at dawn for a silent procession through the town's center. A mass silent vigil of thousands of Zapatistas in the town's central square continues at press time, despite unseasonable rain. There were no speakers, and no visible leaders present. The EZLN is expected to release a communique for the occasion. The group's last communique was in May 2011, proclaiming solidarity with the poet Javier Sicilia and his movement against Mexico's Drug War militarization. The EZLN's spokesman Subommander Marcos also issued a presonally signed statement on the then-upcoming Mexican elections later last year. (CNN Mexico, W Radio, APRO, Dec. 21)