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News > Latin America

Zapatistas Blast Mainstream Media for Botched Massacre Coverage

  • Zapatistas rally in memory of Jose Luis

    Zapatistas rally in memory of Jose Luis "Galeano," a Zapatista killed by paramilitaries in La Realidad community in May 2014. | Photo: teleSUR / Road to Resistance

Published 31 July 2016
Opinion

The EZLN accused mainstream media of interviewing experts instead of truly investigating what happened during the San Juan Chamula massacre.

The Zapatistas have slammed mainstream media over its coverage of the recent massacre in the Chiapas community of San Juan Chamula, accusing the “paid press” of focusing on the death of the town’s “corrupt” mayor while ignoring up to dozens of other victims of the bloody tragedy.

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Clashes erupted in San Juan Chamula July 23. Initial media coverage reported that Mayor Domingo Lopez Gonzalez, trade union leader Narciso Hernandez, and three others were murdered. But a report in the Mexican daily newspaper La Jornada, later indicated that at least 20 eople were fatally shot or hacked to death by machete in the violent outbreak.

The Zapatista Army of National Liberation, or EZLN, said in a statement by Subcomandante Moises on Friday that media narrowly focused on “weeping and mourning” Lopez Gonzalez’ murder because he is a member of the Chiapas Governor Manuel Velasco’s Ecological Green Party and that Velasco tried to downplay the incident as a “small problem.”

Chamula's main square after the massacre July 23, 2016. I Photo: EFE

“They don’t say anything about the other deaths, those who went to die in their own places or whose whose injured or already deceased bodies were taken away by their relatives,” said Moises, who was introduced as a new subcomandante by the iconic Subcomandante Marcos in 2013. “For the government and journalists these deaths don’t matter.”

“There were dozens of deaths, not just the five who were corrupt authorities,” continued Moises in reference to the news stories that only reported five fatalities in the bloody clashes, slamming the mainstream media narrative as a “lie paid for with a few cents.”

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The statement claimed that residents of San Juan Chamula and the surrounding communities in the Los Altos region of Chiapas “know that it was the guard of the corrupt Green (Party) mayor who started the gunfire and killed and injured many of those who were in the square.”

The EZLN deferred to the victims and the families of those killed in the attack to share the precise details of what happened in the July 23 attack, but described an “immense pain” over the events. The movement accused the media of failing to go to the source to report the fact, saying “paid media prefer to interview ‘experts’ instead of investigating what really happened.”

Moises also stressed that the Zapatistas regard tragedies such as the massacre as the result of meddling by political parties, drug gangs, and the Catholic church.

EZLN women and girls. I Photo: teleSUR / Road to Resistance

“Better for us to organize ourselves to build a new house, a new society,” said Moises in the statement presented at the opening of an artistic festival in the community of Oventic Friday. “No one is going to fight for us.”

“It doesn’t matter to us that they are not Zapatistas in the community of Chamula,” he added. “They are our brothers and sisters. They are Indigenous and part of our native peoples, our original race.”

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The Zapatista leader, embodying the “many selves” of the movement through the rank of Subcomandante, also highlighted how Indigenous communities have resisted for centuries in the face of systemic abuse, mistreatment, and insults that continues today when politicians “use” Indigenous people and call them dehumanizing names.

“They have wanted to destroy us and make us disappear,” said Moises. “But they will never be able to.”

Ahead of the San Juan Chamula massacre, the Zapatistas had warned in an open letter to the government of Chiapas of the risks of “playing with fire” in the community, referring to a campaign of repression against the dissident teachers’ movement. On July 20, paramilitaries allegedly from San Juan Chamula helped carry out a violent eviction of a teachers blockade in San Cristobal de Las Cases on July 20.

“You are fomenting discontent and division within the people,” wrote the EZLN in an open letter to the state government the day after the crackdown on protests in San Cristobal. “With your nonsense you could provoke an internal conflict whose terror and destruction could not be contained.”

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