The Caravan “El Sur Resiste,” arrived at its last stop, Palenque, Chiapas before beginning the “El Sur Resiste 2023 International Gathering” which will take place on May 6 and 7 at the Caracol Jacinto Canek. In Palenque, we held a march and a rally to claim discrimination, criminalization, and the imposition of megaprojects against the Original Peoples in Chiapas.
The march had the broad participation of comrades from various communities in the region, who carried banners and canvases demanding to respect the right to land and territory of the Original Peoples, and denouncing the imposition of megaprojects in the region.
Upon reaching the main Palenque Plaza, the rally begins where the organizations, Coordinadora de Organizaciones Sociales Indígenas CDLI-Xinich; Relatives of victims, survivors, and disappeared persons of the Viejo Velasco massacre in the Lacandona Jungle; Toblej Yu’un Wokoltik; UCISECH; Autonomous Mayan Towns “OPAM”; National Network Civil Resistance POMACA; SADEC; CAM; CNI-Palenque; Pakal-Na National Network; IXIM Ansetik; among others; they share their word and testimony about the violence and discrimination they suffer from the Mexican State, and about the resistance of their communities.
The Viejo Velasco massacre in complete impunity
The relatives and victims of the massacre of Viejo Velasco, municipality of Ocosingo, which occurred in 2006, denounced that the investigations during these 16 years have been completely “inefficient and ineffective” and that two of their comrades, Antonio Peñate López and Mariano Pérez Guzmán, they remain missing to this day.
The Viejo Velasco massacre ended in the murder of 6 people extrajudicially executed, one of them, María Núñez González, was pregnant, 2 disappeared people, and 36 forcibly displaced people.
To this day, the Government of Mexico has refused to acknowledge the massacre despite the fact that it was perpetrated by the paramilitary group, Organization for the Defense of Indigenous and Peasant Rights (OPDIC), accompanied by State Police and other public servants.
Currently, 36 people from the Viejo Velasco community are in forced displacement without any guarantee for their return and four members of the Xinich Committee for the Defense of Indigenous Liberties have arrest warrants who were unjustly accused of committing the Massacre.
“They mercilessly killed our sisters and brothers, others took them tied up and dragged them like animals in the dark of the night in the middle of the Lacandon jungle.”
Photography Gabriela Sanabria
Resounding rejection of the Mayan Train
During the rally, the organizations expressed their rejection of the works of the Maya Train that are planned in this region.
The Palenque station is part of Section 1, which will reach Escárcega, Campeche. The latest reports from the Mexican authorities in charge of construction have announced 80% progress in this section, including the train station in Palenque and a center nearby inspired by Pakal’s mask.
The complex will have a surface area of 1,112 meters of boulevard, which will have six lanes, a pedestrian walkway and a bicycle path. It is set to be a long-distance train, operated by Alstom Mexico with a capacity of 260 passengers.
During the rally, the Mayan and Zoque organizations present expressed the following reasons for rejecting the project, some of which include violations of their rights as Native peoples:
- The Original Peoples were not consulted in accordance with the law, violating the law on consultation with Indigenous Peoples and international treaties.
- The true owners of the Maya Train are great foreign economic powers and transnational companies.
- The Maya Train will bring poverty, dispossession of lands and territories, and when we defend ourselves we will end up in jail or dead.
- Because the project will make our children and grandchildren leave the villages to work in exploitative jobs, for a misery of pay and without social security.
- For the contamination and destruction of all living things, water, plants, forests, animals.
Photography Gabriela Sanabria
The Mayan and Zoque peoples also mentioned the lack of health services, hospitals and other services in the region. They pointed out as hypocrisy and discrimination that trains for tourists are built before health services for the communities.
“Have a little bit of shame Mr. President López Obrador, the only thing that occurred to you is a train and not a hospital for the peoples, which is a historical requirement.”
Demand Freedom for Political Prisoner of Manuel Gómez Vázquez
The Ajmaq Resistance and Rebellion Network participated in the forum in Palenque, reading a statement on the situation of arbitrary deprivation of liberty of Manuel Gómez Vásquez, a young 22-year-old Mayan-Tseltal peasant who was part of the Base of Support of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (BAZ).
On December 4, 2020, Manuel was detained by an armed civilian group, who physically and psychologically tortured him to hand him over the next day to the Justice Prosecutor’s Office to incriminate him for a crime he did not commit; to date it has been 2 years and 3 months deprived of their freedom, without a sentence, or a fair trial.
Manuel is originally from the Rebelde Zapatista Autonomous Municipality, Ricardo Flores Magón, Caracol IX, in Ocosingo, Chiapas. Currently, he is being held at the State Center for the Social Reintegration of Sentenced Persons number 16.
The Junta de Buen Gobierno and the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Center have indicated that this imprisonment is due to his work as a Zapatista Support Base and that the Prosecutor’s Office lacks evidence to accuse him.
In a public complaint, the Junta de Buen Gobierno indicated the following:
“For the bad governments, being a Zapatista is a crime that is punishable by slander, persecution, jail and death.”
The call is for national and international solidarity to join the demand for freedom for Manuel Gómez Vázquez.
Photography Gabriela Sanabria
At the end of the day, we left for San Cristóbal de las Casas to prepare the “El Sur Resiste 2023 International Gathering”, where communities from all over the Mexican southeast and the entire country, as well as independent media, civil society organizations and human rights, will take stock of all the testimonies, evidence and information obtained during the Caravan “El Sur Resiste.” The objective will be to articulate actions and strengthen networks in order to face the policy of death and megaprojects of the bad Mexican government.