Each year our gratitude deepens for the many people we have come to know through our work on behalf of Maya women’s weaving cooperatives in highland Chiapas, Mexico. We want to thank you who have helped us in myriad ways, from volunteering at textile sales, to donating to our work, to carrying things to the weavers on your trips to Chiapas. Your support has really made a difference in the lives of women and their families.
Margarita, one of the founders of Tsobol Antsetik (Women United), a weaving cooperative in Chenalhó, once said, “Life is one moment happiness, the next sadness.” Although we write this message with the joy of thankfulness, we also write with sadness and a sense of urgency due to a humanitarian crisis in highland in the townships of Chalchuitán and Chenalhó, where the weavers in Tsobol Antsetik live.
Over 5,000 people in Chalchuitán and about 1,000 in Chenalhó have been driven from their homes by paramilitaries. Many are living without shelter on the mountainsides. Padre Marcelo, an indigenous priest, who has been to visit the displaced people and collected their testimonies is quoted in a La Jornada article:
“When I saw the children sleeping under the trees, with nothing to eat, sick many of them, I did not believe it. I never thought I was going to see so much suffering again, so much illness.”
Thankfully, the women and their families with whom we work have not been driven from their homes, but they are deeply concerned about the violence and suffering of people in neighboring communities. Judging from their actions during former crises, we imagine they are donating tortillas, firewood, and other necessities to the displaced people.
The displacement is the result of a 45 year old territorial dispute generated by government land reapportioning that has boiled over into a major conflict, with paramilitaries driving people from their homes. Some of these paramilitaries are the same ones who committed the massacre in Acteal, Chenalhó in 1997.
Letter Writing Campaign
The Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Center encourages us to also write to the Mexican Federal authorities and the Chiapas State authorities to take immediate action to resolve the crisis. Demands should include:
- urgent action to ensure the lives and safety of persons in Chalchihuitán and Chenalhó
- apply United Nations’ guidelines regarding protection of internally displaced persons
- investigate the murder which set off the violence and bring those responsible to justice.
- guarantee free passage and social peace in the two communities.
Emails can be sent to:
Lic. Miguel Ángel Osori Chong
Secretario de Gobernación
Manuel Velasco Coello
Gobernador Constitucional del Estado de Chiapas
Again, we thank you for all you do.
Weaving for Justice