CHIAPAS UPDATE: November 11-December 10, 2001
December 20, 2001
CHIAPAS UPDATE: November 11-December 10, 2001
The team visited the municipalities of Yashgemel and
Colonia Puebla, in preparation for an upcoming delegation.
People in Puebla were dealing with rumours of a potential
Zapatista attack on their community on October 29 or 30, and the
accusation of witchcraft against one of their pastors. (See
forthcoming release, "Sorcery and Politics.")
The team stopped in the Autonomous Community of Polho
to set up a visit for the delegation. They were not able
to set up a visit at the Majomut military base. In the evening the
team had a meeting with the Mesa (the governing bodyof the
Abejas) in Acteal, regarding the creation of a non-violent
response team and the upcoming delegation.
Team members arrived in Tzajalchen, and had a rugged
hike to the milpa (cornfield) of an Abejas member. In the
evening, the team met with two Abejas regarding the idea of setting
up a non-violent response team, which community members
thought was a good idea
The team traveled from Tzajalchen to Nuevo Yibiljoj,
stopping in at Majomut to visit the military there to get an
answer regarding the request for a delegation visit.
Although the military assured the team that the base was solely a
social labour camp (which the Mexican military says
provides social services to the local residents) residents know
that this is the primary military base of the municipality, with a
large number of troops and vehicles.
The team traveled to X'oyep, and on the way stopped in
at the base in Majomut. They again received no response
regarding the request for a meeting with the delegation. In
X'oyep, the team visited with an original community member (i.e.,
someone who lived there before there was a refugee camp) , who
has had close connections with the team. While helping to
clean yucca, the team discussed preparations for the delegation and
the idea of the non-violent response team.
San Cristobal de las Casas (SCLC)
The team worked on last minute plans for the SCLC
component of the delegation, along with the orgnaization
Cloudforest Initiatives. On the 19th, in the afternoon, the team
was visited by John Worrell and Linda Ammons, who have
worked in Palestine and and were part of a CPT Hebron
delegation several years ago.
San Cristobal (SCLC)
Angie Freeman and Cliff Kindy had a visit from Alicia
Gomez (SERPAJ), who shared that six people who had been
instrumental in perpetrating the Acteal massacre,were
released from prison on November 17. Four of the six returned
to the village of Los Chorros.
San Cristobal/Los Chorros
Kindy, along with John Worrell and Linda Ammons, left
early for Los Chorros to check on the current situation, and
determine if the delegation should shift plans to go there. From
the visit, they learned that the ex-prisoners were afraid to
leave their houses, and that the whole community was scared.
The team and delegation attended the monthly memorial
service in Acteal. The team had a positive meeting with Mesa
members, who encouraged the team to visit other non-violent
groups in other parts of Chiapas.
The team and delegation had a meeting with coffee
cooperative, Maya Vinic, where they heard about the the problem of
low coffee prices and plans of the cooperative. On the
way to Polho, they stopped in at the Majomut Military Base for an
unscheduled visit and conversation. The military did not want to
meet with the group but acknowledged the earlier attempts to set
up a meeting.
The delegation heard from a community member in Polho
about the history and philosophy of the autonomous community
before the team accompanied delegation members to Puebla and
Yashgemel. The delegation started planning an action
that would involve buying coffee at a fair price and taking
it to Nestle to be sold.
Kindy, along with delegation member Randy Meyer,
traveled overland to Los Chorros to talk about the possible
action and potential for a visit with the ex-prisoners, making
sure to talk with both Abejas groups there. The delegation and
team learned of the economic hardship and food shortage the
returned communities are facing.
The team and delegation work through details of the
action. By night, the first of the coffee started coming for
the action and prayer (See December 3 release, "Paying the Price of
The team, delegation, and coffee made their way back
to SCLC. Freeman and Kindy had an evaluatory check-in, and made
the decision to start the process of closing the project
in Chiapas (See December 10 release, "A light on the future and
an invitation to pray.")
The team began preparations to close the CPT Chiapas
project, as the delegation prepared for the action at Nestle.
Chiapa de Corzo/SCLC
The team, delegation and coffee traveled to the Chiapa
de Corzo (near Tuxtla) to request that Nestle buy coffee at a
fair price. (See December 7 release, "From Los Chorros to
Nestle.") The delegation left to return to their home countires.
The action was not covered by television because ex-Beatle George
Harrison's death dominated the news.
The team started visits to NGOs and partners to let
them know of the decision to close, and were met with
understanding and support. The Nestle action was covered in 'Expreso
The team traveled to Acteal to meet with the Mesa
regarding the project closing. The Mesa was conducting elections
when the team arrived.
The team shared stories and pictures from the Nestle
action with both groups of the Abejas. Plans to meet with the
released prisoners fell through.
The team accompanied MCC country representative, Sara
King, and four others people to Acteal for the day. The
team received a letter of introduction from the Abejas for upcoming
meetings with other non-violent groups in Chiapas.
Team traveled first to Bachajon (near Ocosingo) to
meet with members of Jyomblej, an indigenous, non-violent group
and made connections for future visits.
Team found the office of the Xi'nich (The Ants),
another non-violent group, and learned of another, the ORCAO
in Ocosingo, which they also visited.
Freeman and Kindy work on the final steps of closing
the project for an interim period of three months