On the 22nd of August 2020, paramilitaries from the Regional Organization of Coffee Farmers in Ocosingo (ORCAO), looted and set fire to the New Rainbow Dawn Commerce Centre, which is located at a site known as the Cuxujlá crossroads in the autonomous municipality of Lucio Cabañas (part of the official municipality of Ocosingo). This violent act follows another, on the 24th of February 2020, in which members of the National Indigenous Congress (CNI) were assaulted and kidnapped by the ORCAO, along with the recognised a paramilitary group the "Chinchulines" (or "Chitterlings"), and regional members of the political party MORENA. This event took place during activities related to the defence of indigenous territories and the Madre Tierra "We are all Samir" event, organised by the EZLN and the CNI. All inform
ation related to this violent incident is described and documented
in a report published by the Zapatistas: (see: https://enlacezapatista.ezln.org.mx/2020/02/27/pronunciamiento-ante-el-secuestro-de-miembros-del-cni-en-chilon-chiapas-por-su-participacion-en-las-jornadas-samir-somos-todas-y-todos/).
This new act of aggression forms part of an intensification in the war of attrition against the Mexican state of Chiapas and is characterized by increasing violence perpetrated by paramilitary groups and organized criminal gangs. For more information, see recent documentation collected by the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Centre for Human Rights (https://frayba.org.mx/agresiones-armadas-en-aldama/).
An increase in the dissemination of slanderous propaganda related to the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) forms part of this move towards counterinsurgency which is furthermore being carried out in a number of different ways: both directly and indirectly; openly and covertly, and through the media, as well as through political, economic and military means. This war-like scenario is not exclusive to the state of Chiapas. As is already well-documented on the webpage of the National Indigenous Congress (see: https://www.congresonacionalindigena.org/category/denuncias/), reports of violence carried out by criminal gangs as well as state and state-affiliated groups are currently extremely high among indigenous communities and organizations. This violence leads to a breakdown in community relations and has the effect of exhausting collective struggles against land dispossession and megaprojects in Mexico.
Those of us who have signed this document are calling on Mexican and international civil society to join us in denouncing recent aggressions against indigenous communities. We demand an end to the aggression and hostility aimed at the Zapatista support bases and the malicious destruction of essential community spaces and resources, which are not only the result of collective work, but within a context of multiple crises, have also shown themselves to have hugely important heritage sites. We ask those reading this declaration to take note of and be attentive to what we believe is a new and very worrying escalation of violence against the EZLN and the CNI; organizations that are world-leading in their defense of life (vida) and their universal struggle to create a better word.