I am going to work in the Alto Rio Negro region of the Amazon with the ISA
(Instituto soci Ambiental)NGO, doing math with Tuyuka people.
Hope this is encouraging news to you.
Here is more for the season from South of the Border
Dec. 25, 2000
Vicente Fox’s Government Allows San Diego Teacher to Return
The Mexican government has unconditionally overturned the 1998 expulsion
of San Diego teacher Peter Brown and granted him a visa to spend the
holidays in the southeastern state of Chiapas.
“I look forward to spending New Years with my friends among the indigenous
students, teachers and parents of Chiapas, Mexico,” exclaimed San Diego
teacher Peter Brown. “I want to respectfully thank the thousands of
grassroots supporters, the journalists, the lawyers, and the many Mexican
and U.S. NGO’s and officials who have worked so hard to reverse the
festering injustice of my expulsion.”
In a strongly worded statements faxed to San Diego Congressman Bob Filner
and other comments published in the Mexican media, high ranking Mexican
government officials underscored their total reversal of Mr. Brown’s
expulsion. Brown was charged in 1998 with supporting indigenous schools
described as “unconstitutional” and deported by the previous administration
of Ernesto Zedillo.
“…I am happy to communicate that the Ministry of Foreign Relations, in
agreement with the Ministry of the Interior, has instructed the San Diego
consulate to inform Professor Brown that he has authorization to enter
national territory,” stated a letter from the current administration
published by the Mexican daily La Jornada.
“To finally be vindicated and allowed to travel in Mexico is wonderful!”
exclaimed Brown who was clearly in a joyful mood. “I am also greatly
encouraged at hints that other expelled foreigners might be granted visas
and that the Zapatista prisoners could be allowed to join their children
for New Years!
“Let’s hope Leonard Peltier is with his people for New Years,” added Brown
while commenting on the case of an indigenous prisoner in the United States
being considered for amnesty. “I sincerely wish Bill Clinton will match
Vicente Fox’ openness by freeing Leonard Peltier, a Sioux Indian who has
spent over 30 years in prison for a crime he did not commit!”
Finally, Brown mentioned that Schools for Chiapas, the cultural and
education program he directs, is continuing its support for indigenous
schools by organizing several teams of Mexican and international volunteers
to live and learn in indigenous Maya communities of Chiapas over New
For additional information:
Peter Brown, Oventic, Aguascalientes II
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Lic. Amado Avendaño, San Cristóbal de las Casas
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The San Diego Union-Tribune * Friday, December 22, 2000
Chiapas peace awaits fundamental change
by Peter Brown
Mexico has a new administration, but peace remains as elusive as justice
in the Mexican southeast.
Three years ago on the morning of Dec. 22, a paramilitary group associated
with Mexico’s ruling party massacred 45 Maya villagers huddled inside a
humble chapel in the highlands of Chiapas, Mexico. The anniversary of the
massacre at Acteal affords an excellent opportunity to reflect on the roots
of an Indian insurrection that won’t seem to fade away.
In his Dec. 1, 2000 inaugural speech Vincent Fox acknowledged that the war
quietly raging in Chiapas is at the top of Mexico’s national agenda. He
promised to introduce legislation to finally implement the Peace Accords of
San Andres and open dialogue for peace. Adopting the words of the Indian
rebels known as Zapatistas, Fox pledged a “new dawn” for the indigenous
peoples in Mexico.
President Clinton quickly moved to publicly support Fox’s statements
regarding Chiapas. Perhaps Clinton, who counts the North American Free
Trade Agreement (NAFTA) as a major foreign policy victory, is particularly
uncomfortable with a rebellion that insists his “free trade” schemes offer
nothing but death for indigenous peoples.
In fact, the Maya of Chiapas believe that the massacre at Acteal
demonstrates the lengths to which globalization will go to crush any
opposition to corporate control of their economic and social lives. They
contend that the Mexican government cooperated in the training and arming
of numerous terrorist groups in order to crush their rebellion against
NAFTA. Most significantly, despite horrific repression tens of thousands of
Maya people remain steadfastly committed to the Zapatista resistance.
I am familiar with this Maya view because over the last five years I have
worked directly with Maya communities of Chiapas in their efforts to build
community controlled schools in the highlands of Chiapas. On Dec. 22, 1997
I was preparing to lead a team of volunteers into Chiapas to build help
build schools. Two weeks later, after reports of the massacre published by
the San Diego Union prompted donations of several thousand dollars in
humanitarian aid, I found myself surrounded by weeping survivors of the
massacre in a mountainous refugee camp.
In front of a sixth grade classroom housing survivors of the massacre at
Actael and other less publicized murders, I presented the humanitarian
donations from San Diego to the municipal president. Dozens of women and a
few men spent hours describing horrific scenes of rape and pillage as they
were driven from their traditional villages. All had lost homes and family
members; many were obviously still in shock. (Verbatim transcripts of these
interviews from the first days of 1998 are available in both English and
Spanish at www.schoolsforchiapas.org.)
However unlike other regions of Mexico where repression results in
emigration, most of the refugees did not plan to leave for the big cities
or the long trip north. One woman whose young child had died of exposure
that very morning said, “I don’t want my other children to grow up cleaning
toilets in San Diego. We are indigenous people who have lived in these
mountains forever. Our ancestors are buried here. We are resisting and we
will never surrender.
”Several weeks later Father Michel Chanteau, a French born priest who had
ministered to the villagers in and around Acteal for 32 years, was
permanently expelled from Mexico because he spoke out against the massacre
of his parishioners. Seven months after my experience with the refugees, I
too was captured, sequestered, and finally expelled from Mexico because of
my support for community controlled Maya schools. Nevertheless the vision
of the Zapatistas have become a source of hope and inspiration for people
throughout Chiapas and the world.
Today over 20,000 Maya people in Chiapas are still living as refugees;
Father Chanteau, and hundreds of other international supporters of
“globalization from below” still cannot visit our friends in Chiapas though
I was given tentative approval this week to return.
And, despite government promises to the contrary, tens of thousands of
heavily armed Mexican troops still surround indigenous communities
As people of conscience everywhere mark the winter solstice with
remembrances of the massacre at Acteal, we must all understand that the
Indians of Chiapas continue resisting and continue refusing to surrender.
The roots of today’s Maya resistance run far deeper that any election
season or public relations coup.
Peace will only arrive when a new social contract based on dignity,
democracy and justice is forged with all the indigenous peoples of Mexico.
Rua Pau de Canela 1101
Fone: 55 48 237 3140
Fax: 55 48 338 2686 (Talvez você precise avisar. May need oral warning)
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