The Pope’s Encounter with Indigenous Mexico

Orsetta Bellani, Americas Program (Photo: O.B.)

Pope Francisco’s visit to San Cristobal de Las Casas in the southern state of Chiapas was perhaps his most symbolic visit on his six-day tour of Mexico last week. Here the Bishop of Rome held mass with indigenous peoples, in a city internationally known for the uprising of the Zapatista Army for National Liberation in 1994, which inaugurated an era of indigenous self-government in parts of the state. Continue reading…

Interview with Carlos Beristain, independent expert who investigates Mexico’s Ayotzinapa Case

Orsetta Bellani, Americas Program

The reconstruction of events from the Attorney General’s office regarding the Ayotizinapa case has completely come undone. The results of the six month long effort by the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI), named by the Interamerican Commission on Human Rights (ICHR), confirmed the doubts that had already been raised by independent forensic investigators and media reports: that it is scientifically impossible that the 43 students from Ayotzinapa that disappeared in Iguala on the 26th of September, 2014 could have been incinerated in the waste dump of Cocula. Continue reading…

Zapatista Intellectuals and Base Communities Discuss “Critical Thought and Capitalism”

Orsetta Bellani, Americas Program (Foto: O.B.)

Selena is 17 and her face is covered by a ski mask. She comes from the same community where Galeano, teacher and sergeant in the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) was born. Galeano was killed on May 2, 2014 by members of the government-allied organization Independent Central of Agricultural Workers and Campesinos-Historical (CIOAC-H). A few days after the death of the Zapatista, Selena was approached and threatened by the murderers of her fellow community member, but she was not afraid.

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Mexico: The Agua Azul dispute

Orsetta Bellani, Latinamerican Press (Photos: O.B.)

From their vehicles, tourists stared in awe at the hooded Tzeltal indigenous people, who were sat on the edge of the road that leads to the Agua Azul waterfalls. Their machetes and facemasks were incongruous with the image of a quiet earthly paradise that is promoted by the state government of Chiapas.

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Mexico: Sexual torture is an institutionalized practice

Orsetta Bellani, Latinamerica Press (Photo: O.B.)

On the morning of Aug. 7, 2012 Claudia Medina Tamariz, natural products saleswoman, was arrested by members of the Mexican Navy at her home in the port of Veracruz. She was tortured with electric shocks and asphyxiation; they threw buckets of water on her and inserted their fingers into her vagina. When they threatened to harm her children, she confessed to a crime she did not commit:  belonging to the Jalisco New Generation drug cartel.
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Mexico: Government refloats airport project

Orsetta Bellani, Latinamerican Press (Photo: O.B.)

Looking down from the Huatepec hills, Ernesto Cruz, a member of the Community Front in Defense of Land (FPDT), explains that below the grassy plains there is an aquifer critical to Mexico City, a metropolis with severe water problems that could increase if the area is paved. Continue reading…

Mexico: women without access to reproductive and sexual healthcare

Orsetta Bellani, Latinamerica Press (Photo: O.B.)

Antonia Pedro Blas is an Otomi indigenous woman who lives in Mexico City. Accompanied by her husband, she gave birth the last two times in the bathroom of the Gregorio Salas Hospital, part of the Health Secretariat of the Federal District. According to Cimac News, a service of the Women’s Communication and Information agency, the hospital personnel denied Pedro Blas care in a delivery room, saying that they were overfull despite the fact that she was about to give birth in the emergency room area. Continue reading…

The rights of Zapatista women

Orsetta Bellani, Latinamerican Press (Photo: O.B.)

Fabiana wakes every morning at 4:30 a.m., like all the women in her community. She grinds the corn she boiled the night before until it becomes soft dough, from which she forms a few balls that once flattened and cooked on a griddle become tortillas. Fabiana, who is ethnically Tzotzil Maya, is 23 years old, with a husband and two children, and also a member of the support base for the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN).
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