CHIAPAS: CPT witnesses during Lent
April 12, 2001
CHIAPAS: CPT witnesses during Lent
CPT Chiapas team committed itself to doing an action a week during Lent.
The following is a compendium of the larger actions, with brief mention
given to the smaller ones.
Praying and Fasting for Indigenous Rights in Mexico City
On March 9th, Members of Las Abejas (the Bees), Moviemiento Por La Paz
("Movement For Peace," a Mexican peace and justice group), and CPTer Scott
Kerr hosted a 12-hour prayer/fast vigil in front of the Mexican
Congressional building. The purpose of the vigil was to pray that COCOPA,
the law written to implement the San Andreas Accords on Indigenous Rights
and Culture, would be passed. The passing of COCOPA is one of three
"signs", the Zapatistas claim must be completed before peace talks between
them and the Mexican government can resume. (the other two are closing three
military installations in Chiapas, and releasing all political prisoners.)
Though both the Zapatistas and the Mexican government signed the peace
accords February 16, 1996, the government has yet to write them into law.
The coalition of Abejas, Moviemiento Por La Paz and others maintained a
presence in front of the legislative building for over twelve hours. During
this time Antonio, a representative from the Bees, was invited to enter the
congress and speak with representatives from the PRD party. This party is
supportive of the COCOPA initiative, but does not hold a majority in the
Congress. After the meeting between Antonio and the PRD, representatives
came out to address those who were gathered at the vigil.
Proclaiming Release of the Captives
On March 9th, the rest of the CPT team Claire Evans, Fred Bahnson, and
Chris Schweitzer, held a prayer vigil outside Cereso #5, a prison outside of
San Cristobal. The team was joined by members of a Loyola University
delegation. With fiddle music, songs, prayer, and a reading from Isaiah 58,
the vigilers brought to light the injustice present at the prison. During
the litany they called for the release of political prisoners, fair trials
for all prisoners, and an end to the system of domination of which this
prison is a part. Guards were invited to join the service, but declined.
However, Bahnson gave copies of the litany to one guard, who said he would
pass them on to the prisoners.
CPTers Join Abejas on March for Indigenous Rights
On March 11th, CPTers Claire Evans, Chris Schweitzer, and Fred Bahnson
accompanied nearly 2,000 members of Las Abejas on a march from Yapteclum to
Acteal, as distance of about ten kilometers. The Abejas organized this
march to demand that the federal government implement the San Andres
Men, women, and children of all ages joined the nonviolent procession.
Along the way, the marchers passed Majomut military base, where they raised
their cries for justice even louder. The only response from the military
was to videotape the event. Upon reaching Acteal, a press-conference was
held where several of the Abejas read a statement calling on the Mexican
government to pass the COCOPA law into the constitution.
CPTers vigil at Nestles
On March 12th, team members Evans and Schweitzer returned to the local
Nestle plant, site of a previous action with the February delegation, and
held a prayer vigil. They called on Nestle to change their oppressive
policies regarding coffee. The two dumped liquid coffee on the ground in a
symbolic protest of low coffee prices brought about in part by Nestle's
unjust business practices.
Two local TV crews covered the witness, and the local paper ran an article
taken from the team's press release.