Tuesday, April 15, 2014


On 24 April, 2013, Juan Vázquez Guzmán, indigenous Tzeltal, aged only 32, father of two small children aged four and seven, human rights defender and much-loved community leader, was gunned down in the doorway of his home. The territory and community for which Juan gave his life was the communal landholding (ejido) of San Sebastián Bachajón, in the jungle region of the state of Chiapas in South-East Mexico. 

Juan was the Secretary General of the adherents to the Sixth in San Sebastián Bachajón, Chilón municipality.

At the time of his assassination neighbors said  that Juan was attacked just when he was arriving at his home, and the attackers escaped aboard a red double-cabin pickup truck, which took the highway that leads to the Sitalá municipal headquarters.

Describing what led up to his murder the  Wellington, New Zealand Zapatista Support Committee wrote:

Since 2007, the ejidatarios of San Sebastián Bachajón have suffered violence and repression at the hands of Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI)-backed authorities and paramilitary organizations. Their resistance to the take-over of Tzeltal traditional lands for transnational projects, particularly the site of the Agua Azul waterfalls which the ejidatarios have been responsibly and sustainably managing for many years, has placed them squarely in the firing line of those who seek to dispossess them of their lands for commercial gain.

Concerted attempts to break up the community and its resistance began in 2009, with the detention of eight ejidatarios and adherents to the Other Campaign by state and federal police, and the arrest and vicious assault of Ricardo Lagunes at a PRI paramilitary checkpoint after he left a meeting in Bachajón. Two years later in 2011, 117 ejidatarios were arbitrarily detained by police during an eviction attempt at the toll booth at the entrance to the Agua Azul area. Ten, including Pérez Álvaro, remained political prisoners for an extended period of time.

Physical violence and repression have been coupled with legal and judicial abuses, including court decisions denying the rights of ejidatarios, and their arrests and eviction in 2011 enabling authorities to take control of the collectively-owned lands.

The ongoing assaults on Bachajón autonomy culminated on the night of April 24, 2013 in the assassination of Juan Vázquez Guzmán in the doorway of his home.

Last July, the Fray Bartolome de Las Casas Center for Human Rights (CDHFBC) released a statement in which it stressed that,

Juan Vázquez together with thousands of ejidatarios who adhere to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandona Jungle have distinguished themselves through their struggle for the defense of territory, despite the reprisals of the Mexican government by means of the legal repression of their process toward autonomy.  It is important to stress that before the murder of Juan Vázquez, a branch of the large tree of the conscious and dignified struggle of the Ch’ol and Tseltal peoples of the region had been cut.  However, this branch has left its remnants and pathway which has eased the process and sprouts elesewhere in other struggles and comrades who join the defense of their people in the construction of autonomy and self-determination for life: a life that flows through the rivers, the wind of the jungle, smell of dignity that is inspired in each breath taken by humanity.”

On March 21st, 2014, Juan Carlos Gómez Silvano, aged only 22, was shot down.  At the time of his death, he held the post of regional Coordinator of the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle for the ejido San Sebastián Bachajón and was the father of a baby aged six months.

A Communiqué from the Ejido San Sebastian Bachajon, Adherents to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle, Chiapas Mexicoa read in part,

They, those from above, think they know how to damage our rebellion, they are almost certain that by ravaging our compañerxs, tearing up their bodies, they will spread fear and terror and we will stop fighting. We, those from below, we think that dignity, strength, and fighting in the defence of the reproduction of life have deep roots, and cannot be finished off with bullets because the body is something other, it is a collective body, remembering our dead not with nostalgia but by naming them when walking in confrontation against the bad government and the economic groups who exploit, dispossess, despise and repress us.

Juan Carlos Gómez Silvano was killed yesterday, March 21st, in the official municipality of Chilón in the state of Chiapas, trying to stain the spring with blood. They pierced his body with more than twenty bullets of power, bullets of profit, bullets of deception, the bullets of the war against the people which does not end. But they have not killed his history of struggle.

Since we founded the communities of Nah Choj and Virgen de Dolores in 2010, our organization has been harassed at various times by the army and state preventive police, threatening us with eviction because of pressures from those who say they are the owners of the property, among them a former municipal president of Chilón, fomenting division and buying the consciences of some ex compañeros with their crumbs, like they did with Carmen Aguilar Gómez and his son of the same name who, when he sold out to Noé Castañón León, the Secretary of Government of Juan Sabines Guerrero, organized for the eviction of our ticket booth on February 2, 2011 and dispossessed us of our lands in complicity with the ex ejidal commissioner of San Sebastián Bachajón Francisco Guzmán Jiménez (alias el goyito).

The bad government wants to finish us off completely by assassinating our compañeros, like they did with Juan Vázquez Guzmán on April 24, 2013, using their paramilitary gunmen, who with complete impunity, whether by night or in the full light of day, are capable of vilely murdering our compañeros who are working and struggling to construct a world in which other worlds fit, and who are daily resisting the attacks of the capitalist system which wants to make us disappear so they can take over our mother earth, water, rivers, waterfalls and all that will serve to make them more money at the cost of our lives and suffering.

The real criminals, assassins and corrupt ones are the party politicians who, despite reaching their position through fraud and buying votes, consider that they are the owners of all that exists in our lands. Every day they want to get richer and it doesn’t matter how many indigenous they have to kill to achieve this. Like the current mayor of Chilón, Leonardo Guirao Aguilar, a member of the Green Ecologist Party, and one of the authors of the dispossession of our lands, because he financed the weapons of the group led by Carmen Aguilar Gómez the elder, Juan Alvaro Gómez and Manuel Jiménez who evicted our compañeros from the ticket booth in February 2011.

There is now a call for a worldwide action this month in the names of these men and to demonstrate that there is nothing that the State, Global Capital, or anyone else can do to stop the struggle of the world's multitudes.  At the same time the action will demand justice for the deaths of these two men, and many others like them.

The following is from The Flower of the World Will Not Die.

Call for the “Two Weeks of Worldwide Action: Juan Vázquez Guzmán lives! The Bachajón struggle continues!”

From Thursday, April 24th to Thursday, May 8th, 2014
bachajon circulo_Mesa de trabajo 26 copia 6 English round large 
To our sisters and brothers of the ejido San Sebastián Bachajón:
To our compañer@s adherents to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandón
To our Zapatista sisters and brothers:
To the people of Mexico and the world:
To the independent media:
To the Committees of the True Word:
Movement for Justice in El Barrio, Dorset Chiapas Solidarity Group, the Committee of the True Word from Kolkata, India and the Committee of the True Word from Alisal propose that we join together our hands, our voices and our struggles to carry out the

“Two Weeks of Worldwide Action: Juan Vázquez Guzmán lives! The Bachajón
struggle continues!” from Thursday, April 24th to Thursday, May 8th, 2014
This initiative is supported by the ejidatarios of San Sebastián Bachajón, adherents to the Sixth.
Compañeras and Compañeros:
We send you greetings and embraces from New York, Dorset, Kolkata and Alisal.
On April 24th, 2014, it will be a year since the cruel and cowardly assassination of our beloved compañero Juan Vázquez Guzmán, activist, community leader and spokesperson for the indigenous Tzeltal community of the ejido San Sebastián Bachajón, in the municipality of Chilón, Chiapas, Mexico. He was killed by six gunshots in the doorway of his home.
Still there is no justice. There has been no effective investigation into his murder, and Juan’s killers and those who ordered his execution remain safe in impunity. Meanwhile the efforts continue to dispossess Juan’s people, the ejidatarios adherents to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle from the ejido San Sebastián Bachajón.
The three levels of government, with their army, their police, their allies in transnational corporations, their locally-funded paramilitary groups and their lackeys from the political parties, do not cease their attacks and their plundering, using deceptions and lies, threats,violence, imprisonment, torture and even murder to achieve their ambition to seize the ancestral common lands of the ejido in order to construct a luxury tourist complex beside the beautiful waterfalls of Agua Azul.
Now there has been a second assassination, another vile attempt to force our compañer@s to give up their just and dignified struggle and resistance.  On March 21st, 2014, Juan Carlos Gómez Silvano, aged only 22, was shot down with over twenty bullets. Juan Carlos worked in the construction of autonomy in the recuperated land of the Virgen de Dolores. He was a regional coordinator of the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle of the ejido San Sebastián Bachajón. No one has been arrested or charged with his murder. We respond with sorrow, but also with rage.
We demand justice! The killers must not remain unpunished! No more impunity!
Compañeras and Compañeros,
Although the war against the people does not end, neither does the resistance of those from below.
Despite the continuing racist repression directed against the original people of these lands, despite displacement and occupation, aggression and murder, the tireless struggle of the indigenous Tzeltal people of Bachajón to defend the basis of their life, the mother earth, the land and the territory, also has no end.
The ejidatarios will not give up their common lands, which they inherited from their grandparents, so they can be used for the building of hotels and golf courses, roads and helipads. They will not allow the mother earth and her richness of nature, jungle and water, to be destroyed by the greed and rapacity of those who would be lords of all.
For our sisters and brothers in struggle from San Sebastián Bachajón, Juan Vázquez Guzmán still lives, he is still there beside them, fighting, so they can never give up their resistance. He often told them that their struggle was “for the life of the people and to continue being what we are”.
Juan Vázquez Guzmán denounced repression and corruption everywhere, and he fought for the rights of his people and for the liberation of their prisoners. On a national and international level he made people aware of the threat to the lands of Bachajón from those from above and their plans to build an “eco” tourist megaproject.
His words had strength and his vision and heart were free from fear in the struggle for the defense of the territory. We remember his warm smile, his contagious laughter, his love for the land and the people and his commitment to the creation of another world.
But the capitalists, the governments and the corporations, in their greed for more money, more plunder, more profit, plan to destroy the whole of the mother earth, and to rip out the heart of the planet. They want to turn the water, the trees, the earth, the air into commodities. It is only the organized resistance of the autonomous communities, from below and to the left, against the wars and the destruction of our natural resources, which can save the mother earth for our children.
Compañeras and Compañeros,
We call on all people of good heart and all the children of the earth who strive, day after day, to construct another, better, world, one with freedom, justice, respect and dignity, each according to their own customs, ways, times, and geographies:
1.     To carry out the “Two Weeks of Worldwide Action: Juan Vázquez Guzmán lives! The Bachajón struggle continues!” from Thursday, April 24th to Thursday, May 8th, 2014
2.     To show our solidarity with the just and dignified struggle against dispossession of the women, men, children and elderly of the ejido San Sebastián Bachajón
3.     To screen the film Bachajón – Dispossession is death, Life is resistance, available in Spanish and with English subtitles, in as many countries and places and as many times as possible:
4.     To keep alive the memory of Juan Vázquez Guzmán and to commemorate  the anniversary of his savage assassination on April 24th, 2014, along with his compas, who here invite us to join them:
5.     To organize any other solidarity activities that you may choose, in your own places and according to your own different methods of struggle
We ask you to please let us know as soon as possible if you are able to accept our proposal and if you will be able to participate in the “Two Weeks of Worldwide Action: Juan Vázquez Guzmán lives! The Bachajón struggle continues!” from Thursday, April 24th to Thursday, May 8th, 2014

Please confirm your participation by email to: laotrany@yahoo.com
Juan Vázquez Guzmán, beloved compa, we embrace you. We will always be thankful to you for having given so much inspiration to each of us in our own struggles.
You are the heart of your people, and you gave your life for your people.
Your life is like a seed of hope that is growing in the hearts of every child, woman, man and old person from San Sebastián Bachajón and in the hearts of compañeras and compañeros from around the world.
We believe that everyone should know of your dignified life and the dignified resistance of your people.
We demand a full investigation of your assassination, and punishment of those responsible.
Your voice will not be silenced, nor will the work of your heart be ended.
Juan Vázquez Guzmán, beloved compa and brother, guardian of the land, the struggle continues.

Land, Freedom and Justice for the Ejidatarios of San Sebastián Bachajón!
Stop the aggressions against the adherents to the Sexta!
No more impunity!
No more forgetting!
Juan Vázquez Guzmán Lives!
Juan Carlos Gómez Silvano Lives!
The Bachajón struggle continues!

With love and solidarity,
Movement for Justice in El Barrio, Dorset Chiapas Solidarity Group, the Committee of the True Word from Kolkata, India and the Committee of the True Word from Alisal

For further information in English:

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