Press release of May 14

Danish Sculptor Held Back in Chiapas, Mexico
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After setting up the controversial sculpture The Pillar of Shame on Wednesday 12 May in Acteal in the highlands of Chiapas - the village where paramilitary groups slaughtered 45 unarmed indigenous people in 1997 - the Danish creator of the sculpture Jens Galschiot was stopped at a military checkpoint, and cited to an interrogatory on his activities in Mexico in the office of the migration authorities in San Cristóbal.

Jens Galsciot arrived in Mexico on 16 April to set up the 8 metres high sculpture as a contribution to an international festival of popular culture.

The sculpture is a sort of Nobel Prize of the Atrocities. About once a year a Pillar is set up somewhere in the world to mark a severe encroachment against the humanity. The first sculpture was erected in Hong Kong 1997 to denounce the crackdown of the democracy movement on the Tiananmen square in Beijing 1989.

The Mexican Pillar of Shame had its debut in the biggest park of the capital on 17 April to mark the International Day against Impunity. Subsequently, in connection with the 1 May demonstration, the sculpture was displayed for three days on the Zócalo in front of the Federal Parliament as an overt denunciation of the Government’s handling of the conflict with the indigenous peoples.

On the gathering between then zapatistas and the civil society 7-10 May in the aguascalientes (autonomous community) of La Realidad delegates from the CNI (Congreso Nacional Indígena, an umbrella body of all indigenous peoples of Mexico) decided to adopt the Pillar of Shame as a symbol of encroachments against the indigenous peoples. On the same gathering that the Pillar of Shame be erected permanently in the village of Acteal, where one of the most outrageous atrocities against the indigenous peoples occurred on 22 December 1997.

The inhabitants of Acteal had arranged a welcome ceremony for the Pillar of Shame and the visitants. The families of the victims had gathered in front of the by candlelight illuminated memorial chapel for the 45 martyrs who personally greeted the visitants. Throughout the day there were plenty of cultural activities such as speaks, music, and theatre delivered by a local band and the visitors. More than 500 Indians from nearby villages had arrived to applaud and witness the emotional event of setting up the Pillar, which now rises monumentally at the entrance of Acteal.

At this moment Jens Galschiot is waiting in San Cristobal to be interrogated by the Mexican authorities of his activities in Mexico with a serious risk of being expelled from the country because of interference in Mexican internal affairs.

Photo material and further information is available on
and at AFP and AP who witnessed the events.

CLETA (Centro Libre de Experimentación Teatral y Artística)
Donato Guerra 7, interior 3
Col. Juárez
México D.F., C.P.06600

Tel. (52) 5 600 4721 / 5 592 3328
Fax: (52) 5 694 0747
Correo electrónico:

CNI (Consejo Nacional Indígena)
Tabasco 262 - Of. 102
Col. Roma
México D.F.

Tel. y fax: (52) 5 525 2545
Correo electrónico:

Jens Galschiot
Banevaenget 22
DK-5270 Odense N

Tel (+45) 6618 4058
Fax (+45) 6618 4158
mobile telephone in Mexico (+52) 7327 4511

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1999: The Pillar of Shame in Mexico

Additional Information:
Categories: 1999: The Pillar of Shame in Mexico | Happenings and Art Installations | 1996-?: The Pillar of Shame
Themes: Criticism of governments | Indigenous peoples | Massacres
Sculptures: Pillar of Shame
Type: Press releases
Dates: 1999 | 18th April 1999 | 29th April 1999 | 1st May 1999 | 12th May 1999
Locations: Acteal, Chiapas, Mexico | La Realidad, Lacandona jungle, Mexico | Chapultepec park, Mexico city, Mexico | Zócalo, Mexico city, Mexico | San Cristóbal, Chiapas, Mexico
Co-operators and Helpers: Amado Avendaño, governor in rebellion | Bishop Samuel Ruiz | Carlos Rodrigo F. Sáenz | CIEPAC | Claudio Cifuentes | Colette Markus | Daniel Markus | Danish Embassy in Mexico | Finn Damgård Andersen | Fray Ba - Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Bartolomé de las Casas | FZLN - Frente Zapatista de Liberación Nacional | Gómez Hernández Eliseo | Gloria Rico | Guy Markus | Internationalt Forum (Mayo) | Julie Greve Nielsen | Kasper Markus | Luca Martinelli | Mette Lindgren Christophersen | Niller Madsen | Ofelia Medina | Robert Etches | Silvie Cifuentes | Sofus Markus | Tinku (Mikkel og Doris) | Town Hall of México DF
Partners: CLETA (Centro Libre de Experimentación Teatral y Artística) | CNI (Consejo Nacional Indígena) | Enrique Cisneros, CLETA | Las Abejas en Acteal
Related Persons and Entities: Government of Mexico, 1999 | Immigration Office in San Cristóbal
Sponsors: BUPL | DeTrey Dentsply AG, Schweiz | Fredsfonden | Funch Fonden | Gelsted/Kirk/Scherfig fonden | Kultursekretariatet i Odense Kommune | Lysgaard Fonden | Socialpædagogernes Landsforbund / National Federation of Social Educators | Socialpædagogernes Landsforbund i Vejle | Vedstaarup Lerfabrik A/S