»  » 

European and Mexican laws promote war in Chiapas

Armed attack on Zapatista coffee cooperative in Mexico

The Zapatista coffee cooperative Yochin Tayel Kinal reported to us on the night of May 1st that their warehouse in Altamirano, Chiapas, had been attacked by paramilitaries in the previous days. The front door of the warehouse, where green coffee is also processed, was broken down and shots were fired inside. The compas were able to take cover behind coffee sacks and flee. The armed attack on the harvest of small farmers and a communal production facility of the indigenous community is a further expression of the increasing escalation in southern Mexico. This makes solidarity and direct support for the new Zapatista self-government structures and autonomy all the more important

Militarization and land conflicts in southern Mexico

There have been armed attacks by paramilitary groups on Zapatista communities in southern Mexico for some time now and violence is on the rise overall. Human rights organizations such as Frayba and the Indigenous Congress CNI are now speaking of a war against the indigenous population, which is being promoted and supported by the government in order to break protests and resistance against megaprojects and to destroy local self-governing structures of communities.

Drug cartels and military structures have gained a massive presence in the region, particularly as a result of megaprojects such as the so called „Maya“ train. The rainforest on the Yucatán peninsula is to be opened up for tourism, mining projects and industry. A swathe of devastation is being cut through the ecosystems to create infrastructure. There is a „gold-rush atmosphere“, while state repression against environmentalists, corruption, armed activities and murders are also on the rise.

Solidarity with Compa José Diaz from the EZLN's support base, who has been imprisoned for over a year.
A de facto network of established politics, organized crime and paramilitary associations is establishing a climate of violence in southern Mexico. Achievements of indigenous uprisings and local self-government such as schools, the water supply and community centers are the focus of attacks. The background to this are land conflicts, which are being promoted by new laws introduced by the Mexican government.

The new laws create the basis for the privatization of farmland. Under the name of ecological and social programmes, among other things, traditionally communal land is being privatized and made available for commercial development. Once land is registered for a owner – as a prerequisite for participation in the programs – it can then be acquired by investors. This development threatens to turn back the clock on the land distribution that began in the course of the never-completed revolution for land and freedom at the beginning of the 20th century.


European politics intensifies conflicts

The EU does not sanction the attacks on indigenous communities and the destruction of the rainforest, but instead promotes them and profits from them. Trade agreements create favorable framework conditions for the entry of German and European investors and corporations. At the same time, laws such as the EU regulation on deforestation-free supply chains are enacted, which postulate that they want to protect indigenous communities, but are directed against them in their formulation and practical consequences.

This ‚Rainforest Protection Act‘ requires smallholder farmers to geo-map their land so that green coffee can still be imported into the EU in the future. By comparing satellite images, the aim is to prevent rainforest areas from being cleared for plantations. The idea originates from the control of the timber industry, but can hardly be transferred to the realities of smallholder, indigenous forms of production.

Indigenous communities do not cultivate coffee as a plantation, but often traditionally as diversified cultivation under shade trees in the secondary rainforest. At the same time, land is often communally used. Through privatization and the implementation of techniques such as geo-mapping and the resulting trade regulations, the framework conditions for access to the land and its gold plating by corrupt politicians, drug cartels, investors and multinational corporations are being massively expanded or created in the first place.

In the Mexican reality, the rainforest is not protected by the EU. Instead, its policies and legislation attack sustainable cultivation methods and civil society structures, and instead promote land conflicts, overexploitation and corporate interests. When the European institutions drafted the deforestation-free regulation, did they actually ask themselves how many trees were felled for the „Maya“ train railroad? And what part do companies such as Deutsche Bahn play in this destruction and how can they be sanctioned? As the Café Libertad collective, we will publish a position paper as soon as possible that clarifies our criticism of the EU’s rainforest regulation.

Indigenous perspectives instead of neo-colonial regulation

In response to the escalating war in Chiapas, the Zapatistas have also dissolved their previous self-administration structures and created new, more grassroots-oriented autonomy structures. In response to the increasing land conflicts, they have also declared that in future they will increasingly campaign in the communities for communally used land areas and manage these by free agreement as non-property. In Europe, such forms of communal ownership were known as commons and were widespread. With the rise of capitalism and as a result of industrialization, they were largely transformed into bourgeois property relations.

The current EU laws are also directed against such forms of communal cultivation, especially when compared with Mexican realities. Property titles and legal regulations for the capitalist development of „natural resources“ do not create a better climate, sustainable cultivation or rainforest protection. They are part of a neo-colonial policy that is primarily concerned with securing European interests and goals in international competition, while at the same time promoting conflicts in the Global South.

Illegal deforestation must be stopped locally. Indigenous communities are being left alone in the fight against the destruction of natural areas. The Zapatistas and other indigenous communities have been trying to live in harmony with nature for centuries. They are the first to pay attention to nature and the protection of the rainforest. Effective action should be directed against corrupt politics and multinational companies that destroy the environment and violate human rights. The coffee trade is still dominated by a few large corporations such as Nestlé or the Neumann Group. Their market power is strengthened by the new EU regulation, as the organization of smallholder cooperatives is made more difficult by eurocentric standards.

Instead of interest-driven regulations and lobby politics, we focus on strengthening indigenous producers and their self-organized associations as well as on solidarity with environmental activists. Instead of bureaucratic centralism and organizations that implement it, we rely on resistance and local experience. Indigenous communities bring with them their own understanding of sustainability and diverse knowledge, which must be heard and defended as autonomous practice.

Zapata vive!

Café Libertad Kollektiv, 2nd of may 2024

Source of English translation (thanks!): https://netz-der-rebellion.org/2024/05/03/armed-attack-on-zapatista-coffee-cooperative-in-mexico/

European Deforestation Regulation

The new EU regulation disregards the realities of Indigenous small-scale farmers and cooperatives. It is undermining their means of existence and aggravating land conflicts and repression. » more

Armed attack on coffee cooperative

A paramilitary assault on Zapatista structures is an expression of the escalation in Chiapas, which is being fuelled by Mexican and European legislation. » more

Report on the social situation in Mexico

In Mexico, repression and struggles against mega projects are increasing. A "civilising crisis" encompasses the region, an indigenous delegation reports. » more

Declaration of Solidarity: Stop the war against Zapatista communities!

The situation in Chiapas is escalating and paramilitary attacks are increasing. In the Zapatista community of Moisés y Gandhi, one person was seriously injured by gunfire. » more

New coffee harvest 2023

With the new harvest, our warehouses are filling up again with raw coffee, also from new cooperatives. Soon all 5kg bulk packs will be available again and we can recalculate our sales prices. » more

Resistance against mega project in the Philippines

Interview with an anarchist environmentalist campaigning against the hydropower station and dam project. » more

More favourable terms for orders from abroad

While prices are rising everywhere as a result of war and crises, we can now offer better conditions for international shipping. Domestic shipping costs remain stable. » more

New harvest, new prices

As the new harvest is arriving and raw coffee prices for small-scale farmers' coops have improved considerably, we now have to increase our sales prices as well. » more

Teaser Teaser
The idea of Zapatism

»For a world where there is space for many worlds« is one of the messages from the Lacandonian djungle » more