Zapatistas Inaugurate Two Peace Camps in Huitepec
By Laura K. Jordan, Special to The Narco News Bulletin
March 13, 2007
Huitepec Section II, Municipality of San Cristóbal, Chiapas, México — The Huitepec Zapatista Community Natural Protected Area and Reserve was inaugurated without incident Tuesday morning by the Junta de Buen Gobierno (Good Government Council) of the Highland Region. The event simultaneously launched two permanent Peace Camps on the site intended to monitor the Reserve.
The event was preceded by a caravan that travelled from the city of San Cristóbal to the rural locality of Huitepec Ocotal Section II, where the inauguration ceremony itself was conducted. The caravan and inauguration were attended by hundreds of indigenous Zapatistas from surrounding areas, as well as activists and journalists from Mexico and around the world.
Protecting Land and Water
The 30+ trucks and cars that took part in the caravan congregated early in the morning near the city’s Coca-Cola bottling plant before setting off to Huitepec.
The plant, owned and operated by Coca-Cola FEMSA—the American soft drink company’s Mexican bottler—was not likely a coincidental choice for a gathering point. The plant’s intense water extraction practices at the foot of Huitepec Hill—home to one of the region’s major aquifers—has provoked the anger and criticism of many, including the Zapatistas.
“Defending and fighting for our mother Earth, and all of the living beings and natural resources, is like defending our own life agains the destruction and death imposed by the neoliberal capitalist system”, the Junta stated in a communiqué explaining the rationale behind the Ecological Reserve.
“For us, the earth and all of its natural resources are sources of life, and not a business, as they are for the bad governments and the businessmen.”
The second motivating factor for the establishment of the Reserve is the growing amount of intimidation towards Zapatista autonomous communities by government and paramilitary forces, which threaten to force Zapatista communities off their land.
Once the caravan arrived in Huitepec Section II, the voluminous crowd of participants congregated around the Junta, the Mexican flag and large banners. After leading the crowd in singing the Mexican national anthem, a spokesman of the Junta outlined the nature of the new Peace Camps.
The first camp will be populated by members of civil society: national and international adherents to the Otra Campaña, environmentalists and affiliated observers.
The second camp is to be manned and administered by EZLN support bases affiliated with the second Caracol.
“The objective of the camps is to continue defending our indigenous culture, and to protect our mother Nature, including our hills and water,” said a representative of the Junta.
Although the atmosphere in which the inauguration took place was peaceful and calm, before closing the Junta cautioned everyone to continue to pay close attention to the situation in the days that come. “The government now knows what we’re doing [with the Camps], but who knows what they are thinking—because bad governments like to abuse [the people],” said the representative. “We must pay attention wherever we are.”
The Camps were recorded as officially established at 10:20 Southeast Time (9:20 Central time) on March 13, upon which the ceremony closed with the singing of the Zapatista anthem. Thereupon the Junta exited to place signs on the perimeter of the Reserve, “in warning that this is indigenous Zapatista land.”
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