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LOCAL News :: Globalization

Zapatistas Lift Red Alert

Update from Jen Lawhorne, Richmond IMCista in Mexico:

After putting the world on its toes, the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) announced on July 11 that it was going to lift its red alert on indigenous Zapatista communities and later explained how the Zapatista movement would carry out its initiative of forging a new grassroots political left in Mexico.

“And so the EZLN has resisted 12 years of war, of military, political, ideological and economic attacks, of siege, of harassment, of persecution, and they have not vanquished us. We have not sold out nor surrendered, and we have made progress. More compañeros from many places have entered into the struggle so that, instead of making us weaker after so many years, we have become stronger,? reads the first part of the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandona Jungle.

The second section, issued a day later on June 30, is a strong indictment on capitalism and the Mexican government’s involvement in neoliberal politics. “…Capitalism means that there a few who have great wealth, but they did not win a prize, or find a treasure, or inherited from a parent. They obtained that wealth, rather, by exploiting the work of the many,? it says. “And neoliberalism is the idea that capitalism is free to dominate the entire world, and so tough, you have to resign yourself and conform and not make a fuss, in other words, not rebel.?

“And then what happens is that, with the people’s economy being totally screwed in the countryside as well as in the city, then many Mexican men and women have to leave their Patria, Mexican lands, and go to seek work in another country, the United States. And they do not treat them well there, instead they exploit them, persecute them and treat them with contempt and even kill them,? it continues.

The third part of the declaration puts forth a proposal to the Mexican people “to go about building, along with those people who, like us, are humble and simple, a national program of struggle, but a program which will be clearly of the left, or anti-capitalist, or anti-neoliberal, or for justice, democracy and liberty for the Mexican people.?

The EZLN hopes to bring together all different sectors of Mexican struggle to construct a new Mexican left free of corrupt party politics. They are making themselves open to different peoples’ movements’ suggestions and proposals by sending EZLN delegations to where they are invited. The EZLN also plans to hold an international encuentro in Chiapas during some time in December or January.

“We are inviting all indigenous workers, campesinos, teachers, students, housewives, neighbors, small businesspersons, small shop owners, micro-business persons, pensioners, handicapped persons, religious men and women, scientists, artists, intellectuals, young persons, women, old persons, homosexuals and lesbians, boys and girls- to participate, whether individually or collectively, directly with the Zapatistas in the national campaign for building another way of doing politics, for a program of national struggle of the left, and for a new Constitution,? the declaration says.

Julio Cèsar Ortega from the Center for Political Analysis and Social and Economic Investigations (CAPISE) in San Cristobal said, “The proposal offers us an exit to this difficult situation we are living in Mexico. Everything depends on the reaction of civil society.?
After putting the world on its toes, the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) announced on July 11 that it was going to lift its red alert on indigenous Zapatista communities and later explained how the Zapatista movement would carry out its initiative of forging a new grassroots political left in Mexico.

During the reopening of the five EZLN caracol headquarters four days later, a festive climate colored the Zapatista Caracol of Oventic, just north of San Cristobal de las Casas. Dozens of cars and trucks lined the highway near Oventic with people milling around the outside gates. Inside Oventic, hundreds of indigenous people were spread out through its vast fields as the brightly painted, mural-covered buildings of the caracol came back to life after a three-week closure. An intense game of basketball was closely watched as live music boomed with lush, emerald hills in the background guarding the celebration.

The governing body of the caracol, the Good Government Junta, was in session. It politely refused answering questions from an inquiring reporter and other requests from an individual visiting with a response to the EZLN proposal for a new Mexican left.

Fernando Magaña said he traveled from the Yucatan peninsula representing indigenous communities who were interested in engaging the Zapatistas.

“The people I know in the Yucatan want to know more details,? he said. “The EZLN presented us with a viable and concrete alternative on how to do another politic in Mexico. We see a lot of opportunity in this aspect.?

As to why the junta could not respond to his requests, Magaña said, “(The Good Government Junta) told me they didn’t have a lot of information at hand and that we should wait for more communiqués.?

Earlier in mid-June, the EZLN issued a series of four communiqués sounding off in a strong admonition that the Zapatista movement for indigenous rights and political inclusion was not dead. It also lambasted the political system of Mexico and thanked EZLN supporters for years of support. In its red alert, the EZLN decided to shut down its public operations for a period of internal consultation to seek a new step in its struggle.

Julio Cèsar Ortega from the Center for Political Analysis and Social and Economic Investigations (CAPISE) in San Cristobal said the red alert provoked alarm and restlessness in civil society. “The first two communiqués sounded a little grave,? he said. “But the third communiqué gave a complete turn. The red alert acted as a consultation period for the Zapatista bases and was always a defensive and not an offensive move.?

Some people decided to wait and speculate as the Zapatistas retreated. Some speculated the EZLN was going to give up its arms and form a political party with Subcommandante Marcos, the EZLN spokesperson, as its head.

Others chose to act. In an action on June 30 in Mexico City, a band of activists painted a 40-meter wide Zapatista red star on the national zocalo in a message of support to the EZLN. The group, Direct Action Laboratory, said the red alert was not just for Chiapas but for the entire
country of Mexico.

Abigail, of DAL, explained why it was a national red alert. "In the city of Juarez, there have been almost 400 deaths, along the entire border there have been 70 narco-executions, to settle debts, for political deals... along the southern border we are seeing a rise in the military forces. The government is adding more police without warning. The situation is getting worse."

"The red alert should be a national one because we are witnessing this rise in militarization as well as living in this level of extreme violence that is for the most part organized and supported by the government," said Abigail.

After apparently not reading any of the communiqués, Mexican President Vicente Fox was quoted in the Mexican leftist daily La Jornada that he was at the orders of Marcos. He said he welcomed the EZLN to put down their arms and involve themselves in the political process of Mexico.

On June 28, the EZLN announced that it had finished consulting its bases. “The results were that more than 98 percent approved the new step, and less than 2 percent decided not to support the proposal,? its communiqué stated while adding that a Sixth Declaration of the Lacandona Jungle would be circulated.

Although doubt remains that the EZLN received 98 percent support from its bases, the declaration was given to the Mexican people in three parts. It
also assures that the EZLN would not give up the armed struggle and maintain its offensive ceasefire. The first part gives an eloquent
explanation of what the Zapatistas are and the progress of their struggle since the previous declaration a few years back.

For the past four years, the EZLN has been carrying on its quest for autonomy despite the government’s failure to adjust the nation’s constitution in accordance to the San Andres Accords. These negotiations recognize Zapatista demands for indigenous rights and culture that include land, food, education, housing, health services, democracy, justice, peace and autonomy. Although the government commission set up to negotiate with the EZLN primarily agreed to the San Andres Accords, the national government ultimately negated its passage. These were the demands the EZLN brought to the table when it launched its armed uprising in 1994.

“And so the EZLN has resisted 12 years of war, of military, political, ideological and economic attacks, of siege, of harassment, of persecution, and they have not vanquished us. We have not sold out nor surrendered, and we have made progress. More compañeros from many places have entered into the struggle so that, instead of making us weaker after so many years, we have become stronger,? reads the first part of the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandona Jungle.

The second section, issued a day later on June 30, is a strong indictment on capitalism and the Mexican government’s involvement in neoliberal politics. “…Capitalism means that there a few who have great wealth, but they did not win a prize, or find a treasure, or inherited from a parent. They obtained that wealth, rather, by exploiting the work of the many,? it says. “And neoliberalism is the idea that capitalism is free to dominate the entire world, and so tough, you have to resign yourself and conform and not make a fuss, in other words, not rebel.?

“And then what happens is that, with the people’s economy being totally screwed in the countryside as well as in the city, then many Mexican men and women have to leave their Patria, Mexican lands, and go to seek work in another country, the United States. And they do not treat them well there, instead they exploit them, persecute them and treat them with contempt and even kill them,? it continues.

The third part of the declaration puts forth a proposal to the Mexican people “to go about building, along with those people who, like us, are humble and simple, a national program of struggle, but a program which will be clearly of the left, or anti-capitalist, or anti-neoliberal, or for justice, democracy and liberty for the Mexican people.?

The EZLN hopes to bring together all different sectors of Mexican struggle to construct a new Mexican left free of corrupt party politics. They are making themselves open to different peoples’ movements’ suggestions and proposals by sending EZLN delegations to where they are invited. The EZLN also plans to hold an international encuentro in Chiapas during some time in December or January.

“We are inviting all indigenous workers, campesinos, teachers, students, housewives, neighbors, small businesspersons, small shop owners, micro-business persons, pensioners, handicapped persons, religious men and women, scientists, artists, intellectuals, young persons, women, old persons, homosexuals and lesbians, boys and girls- to participate, whether individually or collectively, directly with the Zapatistas in the national campaign for building another way of doing politics, for a program of national struggle of the left, and for a new Constitution,? the
declaration says.

In its usual transparent manner, following communiqués announce the establishment of an EZLN committee that would fulfill the work of the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandona Jungle. They explicitly state that they do not plan to craft this new left themselves but that it will involve the input from all people interested in engaging in a new left. They also announce a schedule for meeting with people in Chiapas to further discuss
issues.

Cesar from CAPISE said, “CAPISE believes it’s a viable and clear proposal. This is a proposal that they’ve been putting out since 1994. The sixth declaration is meant to reactivate this idea. It could be that it’s nothing new and it’s the same initiative.?

“The proposal offers us an exit to this difficult situation we are living in Mexico. Everything depends on the reaction of civil society.?
 
 


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