Conflicts & War

Indigenous groups say civil war brewing in southern Mexico

Mexico City, May 31 (EFE).- Chiapas, Mexico’s southernmost state, is “on the verge of civil war” involving paramilitaries, gunmen from various cartels and local self-defense groups, organizations representing indigenous people said Wednesday in a statement signed by Oscar-winning filmmaker Alfonso Cuaron and public intellectual Noam Chomsky, among other notables.

“The Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN), that has kept the peace, developed its autonomous project in its own territories, and has tried to avoid violent clashes with paramilitary and other forces of the Mexican state, is constantly being harassed, attacked, and provoked,” according to the document.

Though the EZLN announced itself to the world on Jan. 1, 1994, with an armed uprising, the Zapatistas soon abandoned rebellion in favor of “political struggle by civil and peaceful means.”

The organizations said that they were moved to sound the alarm by a paramilitary attack on the community of Moises Gandhi that left Zapatista activist Jorge Lopez Santiz with life-threatening injuries.

They blamed the assault on the Regional Organization of Coffee Growers of Ocosingo (ORCAO), “the same group that has been attacking and harassing the Zapatista communities.”

“A state of terror” prevails in Chiapas, Mayvelline Flores of the Anticapitalist University Network said during a press conference in Mexico City.

The statement accuses authorities in Chiapas of concealing the growth of criminal groups in the state, while blasting the administration of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador for remaining silent about the situation.

For more than two decades, the EZLN has abstained from armed struggle “despite the fact that their communities are being fired upon, their crops burned, and their cattle poisoned,” according to the text.

“Instead of investing their efforts in war, they have built hospitals, schools, and autonomous governments that have benefited Zapatistas and non-Zapatistas alike,” the statement says.

Besides Cuaron and Chomsky, prominent signers of the document include actors Diego Luna and Gael Garcia Bernal, writer Jorgi Volpi, film producer Bertha Navarro, philosopher Michael Hardt, and sociologist Michael Lowy. EFE jsm/dr

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