dorset chiapas solidarity

May 21, 2015

EZLN: Words of Comandanta Miriam

Filed under: Women, Zapatistas — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 6:55 pm


EZLN: Words of Comandanta Miriam


6th May, 2015

Good evening compañeros and compañeras.

I also have the chance to talk to you a bit about what the situation was for women prior to 1994.

Women suffered through a very sad situation since the arrival of the conquistadors. They stole our land and took our language, our culture. This is how the domination of caciquismo [local despotism] and landowners came into being alongside a triple exploitation, humiliation, discrimination, marginalization, mistreatment, and inequality.

The fucking bosses had us as if they were our owners; they sent us to do all the work on the haciendas, without caring if we had children, husbands, or if we were sick. They never asked if we were sick; if we didn’t make it to work, they sent their servant or slave to leave the corn in front of the kitchen so that we would make tortillas for them.

Much time passed like this, with us working in the bosses’ house. We ground the salt because the salt then was not the same as it is now, now it comes finely ground. The salt we used before came in large balls, and we women had to grind it. Women also ground the salt for the livestock, and shelled coffee when it was coffee harvest time. If we started at 6 in the morning, we finished at 5 in the evening. Women had to keep preparing the bags of coffee throughout the whole day.

This is how the women worked. Women were mistreated in their work, carrying water and all of that and paid miserably; they were only given a little handful of salt or a handful of ground coffee, that was the payment given to the women.

Years passed and women suffered like this. And when our babies cried and we nursed them, we were yelled at, made fun of, insulted physically; they said that we didn’t know anything, that we were useless, that we were a bother to them. They didn’t respect us and they used us as if we were objects.

They did whatever they wanted to a woman; they chose the pretty women or the pretty girls as their lovers, and left children all over the place; they didn’t care that the women suffered, they treated them like animals, with their children growing up without a father.

They sold us as if we were commodities during the acasillamiento[i]; there was never rest for us women.

I’m going to talk a little bit about the acasillamiento. Acasillamiento refers to when people go to the haciendas or ranches with their families and stay there and work for the boss. The men were the ones who did the work of planting coffee, cleaning the coffee fields, harvesting the coffee, clearing the pastures, planting the grass, all this work, taking care of the corn and bean fields. The men did this work for the boss.

Apart from this, there is another thing I could tell you about the acasillamiento, which are the mozos or slaves there, men and women who are always going to live on the hacienda. Those men or women that are slaves or mozos, who live at the hacienda, are men and women that sometimes don’t have family. For example, a family comes just to work on the hacienda, and sometimes the dad and mom get sick and die and the children are orphaned. The boss takes these children and raises them on the hacienda. And what do these children do? Its not like the bosses adopt them as an adoptive child, but rather as a slave. Those children grow and this is the work they are given: if the boss has a pet, or pets, such as a dog, a monkey, or some kind of animal, the boss has the mozo take care of it, care for the animal. Wherever the monkey goes, that’s where the child is; they have to take care of it, bathe it, clean where it sleeps. That’s how it works.

Later, when the boss has a party—because before the priests would come to the large haciendas of the bosses and baptize their children, or for a birthday, or to perform a marriage ceremony for his daughters—and afterwards they would have parties and tell the mozos to guard the door. They would have the mozo watch the door while they were celebrating with their colleagues and friends. The mozo guards the door, he can’t let even a dog come into where they are partying, and he has to be there all day, for as long as the boss’s party keeps going.

And the women slaves were the ones who made the food, washed the dishes, and took care of the boss’s son, or the children of the boss’s friends.

That is how the people on the haciendas lived, and they didn’t get to eat what was eaten at the gatherings; they had to drink pozol[ii] if there was pozol, eat beans if there were beans. That was all they ate, meanwhile the boss ate the good stuff, but with his friends.

Later, when the boss wanted to go to the city, from his hacienda to a city that is, say, a 6-day walk, the mozo would go along. If the boss had children—sometimes the children are disabled—the mozo had to carry the boss’s child to the city. And if the boss’s wife came to the hacienda, the mozo goes again and carries the child back again.

And when they harvested coffee, in any harvest on the hacienda, the mozo had to be tending to the mules. I don’t know if you know about horses, but the mozo had to saddle and unsaddle the boss’s horse, herd the cattle, and take the loads to the city where the boss lives. If he lives in Comitán the mozo had to go all the way to Comitán. He had to leave the hacienda and go as the mule-driver. This is how many enslaved men and women suffered during that time.

If there are fruit tree orchards inside the hacienda and one of them climbed up to pick some fruit, the bosses wouldn’t let them. They got them down by whipping them, I don’t know if you know how the lash works; they would hit them with it. They can’t pick fruit without the boss’s permission because the entire harvest was to be taken to the city. This is how the men and women suffered.


After so much suffering by women and the exploitation during the acasillamiento, the men started realizing how their women were being mistreated. Some thought it better to leave the hacienda. One by one they started leaving and taking refuge in the mountains because these hill lands were not claimed by the plantation owners. So they took refuge there. They thought it better to leave so that the women would not continue to suffer on the hacienda.

After awhile in the mountains—and many spent a long time there—they realized that it was better to join together and form a community, and that’s how they came to live that way. They got together, talked, and formed a community where they could live. That is how they formed the community.

But again, once they were living in the communities, those ideas that came from the boss or the acasillado were brought in. It’s as if the men dragged these bad ideas along with them and applied them inside the house. They acted like the little boss of the house. It’s not true that the women were liberated then, because the men became the little bosses of the house.

And once again the women stayed at home as if it was a jail. Women didn’t go out; they were shut in their houses once again.

When girls are born, we are not welcomed into the world because we are women; when a little girl was born, it is as if we were not loved. But if a boy was born, the men celebrated and were content because they are men. They brought this bad custom from the bosses. That’s how it was for a long time. When girls were born they acted as if women were useless, and if a boy was born, as if they could do all of the work.

But one good thing they did was that they did not lose the memory of how to form a community; they began to name community representatives and hold meetings and gatherings together. It was good that this idea was not lost, it wasn’t taken away and it came to life again. The bosses and the conquest wanted to make this culture disappear, but the bosses were wrong, because the people could still form their community.

Another thing is that the man gives the orders in the house and the women obey what he says. And if he tells you that you’re going to get married, you have get married. He’s not going to ask you if you want to get married to the man who came to ask for your hand; your father already accepted the liquor they offered, he drank it already and this obligates you to go with this man that you do not love.

This is how we came to suffer once again with our husbands because they told us that women are only useful in the kitchen, or to take care of their husbands, or to take care of the children. The men didn’t hold their children; they didn’t support the women. They only gave you the child, and then who cares how the child is raised. And—I’m going to talk about how it really was for years—we women often say that a baby was born every year, every year and a half, growing up like a little staircase, every year or year and a half there is another one. But the father didn’t care if his wife was suffering because she had to carry firewood, plant the cornfield, clean the house, sweep, take care of the animals, wash the clothes, take care of the children, change the nappies, and all of that. All of that was women’s work.

This is why we say that we suffered triple exploitation as women. Women had to be awake and in the kitchen at 3 or 4 in the morning, depending on how much time the men needed to get to their fields. The women had to get up early to make pozol, coffee, and breakfast for the men. The men go to work, and when they come back in the afternoon they want the water for their bath to have been carried up to the house already and be ready for them to bathe. The men bathe and then leave the house to walk around, to play, and the women are once again stuck at home the whole day, until the night—around this time right now—the women are still awake; they don’t go to sleep until 8.

So we were really suffering. The men didn’t care if you were sick, or how you felt, they didn’t ask—that’s just how it was. That is how women really lived; we’re not lying because that is how we lived.

When you would go to church or a ceremonial centre for a festival, and women did go sometimes, you had to lower your head. You couldn’t raise your head, you had to walk with your head bowed, without turning to the sides, and covering your head with the rebozo [shawl] like this, so that just your face shows.

A lot of time went by like this, during which men dragged along these bad ideas, these bad learnings. That is how it happened, compañeros. As if we were nothing. As if only the men could be authorities, only the men could go into the street and participate.

There was no school. Later on in some communities there was school, but we didn’t go because we were women; they didn’t let us go to school because if we went they’d say that we only went to school to find a husband. And that it was better to learn to work in the kitchen because if we were indeed going to have a husband, we needed to learn how to take care of him.

And when our husband hit us, when he insulted us, we couldn’t complain. If we asked for help from the other institutions of the bad government they were much worse because they defended the men, and said the men are right; and so we remained silent, humiliated, and embarrassed at being women.


We didn’t have the right to come to meetings to participate, and they said that we were stupid, useless, and that we weren’t worth anything. They left us at home. We did not have freedom.

There was no health care. Even where there were clinics and hospitals that belonged to the bad government, they wouldn’t see us because we didn’t know how to speak Spanish. And sometimes we had to return to our homes, and many women and children died of curable diseases; we weren’t worth anything to them, and they discriminated against us because we were indigenous. They said that we were just dirty barefoot indians, and we couldn’t enter the clinics or hospitals. They wouldn’t let us, they only took care of people with money.

All this we suffered in our own flesh. We never had the opportunity to say what we felt for many years, because of the teachings of the conquistadores and the bad governments.

That is all, compañeros. Another compa will continue.

[i] Indicates the time period in which the caciques, or local land bosses, held great expanses of land and had almost total power over the indigenous workers in a kind of indebted servitude.

[ii] Pozol is a drink made from ground maize mixed with water and often consumed in the Mexican countryside as a midmorning or midday meal.



BoCa En BoCa 32 May 2015

Filed under: Boca en Boca — Tags: — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 6:32 pm


BoCa En BoCa #32 – English- May 2015 –

BoCa En BoCa is an independent newssheet that aims to disseminate what happens in the organized communities in Chiapas. The aim is to generate solidarity among communities, through summaries or extracts of their publications transmitting their words.








Police attack stall-holders in Arriaga Market

The CDH Digna Ochoa of Tonalá reported on 07/04 the arrival of “3 individuals in plain clothes aboard a white truck with the municipal government logo and accompanied by the municipal police; they headed for the Salón Corona to break the locks and welding on the gate, acting on instructions from the mayor Noé López Duque; those rooms are used by the stall-holders as economical kitchens and as a store room to keep some items to sell.”

They said that later, “the stall-holders organised themselves to demand that the mayor return their locks and repair the welding.” In the mayor’s office they were told that “the lock and the welding had been restored but as they left the office, members of the municipal police verbally and physically assaulted” a minor slapping him, hitting a man below the ribs, and assaulting two ladies. All were threatened with being taken to jail.

The CDH pointed out that “More than two years ago, the state and municipal governments demolished the old market and to date, the work remains unfinished.  This caused inconvenience to and protests by the 700 tenants.”


Agreement between PRI and government to finish off Bachajón

The comp@s of Bachajón released a new communiqué on 10/04. After a text in Tseltal the comp@s explained the new strategies of the bad government to put an end to their organization.

The previous day, “on 9/04 the Agrarian Procurator of Ocosingo, with the Lic. Juan René and the Undersecretary of Yajalón whose surname is Alpuche, adviser to the paramilitaries of Paz y Justicia, came to the community of Xanil where they had a meeting with the members of the PRI-green party, followers of Alejandro Moreno Gomez, to seek agreement on how to put an end to our organization because they say they no longer want there to be organizing in the community, because they like to be with the government and its lackeys and minions, handing over the land, despising autonomy and the life of the peoples.”

They denounced that the government is “looking for ways to divide, murder and imprison us, for the benefit of big business. The people will not remain silent and we will defend whatever the cost.”

Finally they announced that “the Third Collegiate Court of Tuxtla Gutierrez denied our amparo 274/2011, which was begun in March 2011. Because value was given to the agreement signed by the PRI with the thief Juan Sabines Guerrero and the judges of the court said that the agreement respects the human rights of the community and that it is for their benefit. These judges are traitors to the fatherland, corrupt and racist, they sold themselves to the government so as to continue sitting on their arses in their big offices, with their big cars and white houses like the one peña nieto has, because they do not care about the people.”

Migrants against Crime

On 5/04 in Tenosique, various organizations signed a declaration in solidarity with migrants, refugees and those who defend them, “… alarmed by the increase in hostilities and attacks against migrants and against those who defend them, perpetrated by the National Migration Institute and police from the 3 levels of government, who take part in such violent operations that they have even caused the death of people in circumstances that may involve culpable homicide, but have not been properly investigated, as happened on March 6 near Palenque.”  They denounced the “Southern Border Plan as a mechanism of persecution that contradicts the principles of hospitality, respect for humanitarian and human rights that should regulate the actions of the authorities in dealing with migrants who pass through our country.”

“In their communiqué, the signatories, CDH Frayba, Innocent Voices, Serapaz, Indignation Promotion and Defence of Human Rights, demanded the dissolution of the Southern Border Plan and “an immediate and thorough investigation to identify officials who have been involved in any abuse, extortion or aggression against migrants and even to investigate possible cases of culpable homicide in which they might have been involved; they demanded the “Right to Free Movement Now!, and we also say: we are ashamed of the authorities of our country.” They called for “an investigation and punishment of employees of the National Migration Institute who impede the work and harass those who accompany migrants or defend their rights”, and finally they affirmed their solidarity with “the actions taken on these days by the 72, and we make a strong and firm call to the authorities to immediately implement the necessary actions to protect life, stop the persecution, refrain from impeding the actions taken by the 72 and fully respect the human rights of migrants and people who defend them.”


16/03- Villagers of the Communal Lands of Venustiano Carranza, Casa del Pueblo announced “…we have the right to regain all of the 46 plots” invaded.

28/03- Zoque Artists denounce the State Centre of Literature, Art and Indigenous Language (CELALI) for supporting “a cultural dictatorship.”

29/03- Catholic members of the Parish of Chenalhó expressed their concern and sadness about the situation of alcoholism, drug addiction and prostitution that are destroying families.

09/04- Neighbours of Tlaxcala, San Cristobal de las Casas, are asking local authorities to suspend road works due to the damage they may cause.

09/04- After agreements on mutual respect, Indigenous from the Community of Communal Lands of the Lacandon Area denounced the government’s campaign for trying to divide and turn them against  the different communities.

09/04- Prisoner unjustly imprisoned from San Sebastian Bachajón, Esteban Gomez Jimenez, says, “I was imprisoned for organising for training in the defence of Mother Earth”.

09/04- Members of the Movement in Defence of Life and Territory, and Believing People from eleven municipalities reject the construction of the San Cristobal-Palenque highway.

10/04- Members of LaklumalIxim-Northern Jungle Tumbala and Tila took action in defence of their lands and territories,  and for a fair rate on electricity, and against the San Cristobal-Palenque highway

18 / 04- San Cristobal citizens gathered at the Forum in Defence of the Wetlands of the Valley of Jovel, expressing their concern about a development that neglects their environment.

23/ 04- Following 60 days of displacement in inhumane conditions, Tojolabal families from Primero de Agosto reported robberies and threats, and demanded compliance with the agreement for the return to their lands.

06/04 Luisa Margareth Castillo Mora ended her hunger strike after an undertaking to fulfill the agreed minutes.

13/04 Death threats continue against the believing people of Simojovel and Father Marcelo.

16/04 After nearly two months of forced displacement, Tojolabal women and children testify and demand their prompt return.


EZLN Bulletin: “The storm, the sentry and vigilance syndrome”

Sup Galeano issued a new bulletin on 1 April covering four points: the challenge, the sentry, the vigilance syndrome and the storm. The bulletin set out some reflections on the forthcoming seminar, with the following questions: what are we seeing? why? where is this taking us? from where? for what purpose? “It’s as if we were thinking about the world, musing on its slow gyration, thinking about its destination, questioning its history, disputing the rationality of its evidence.”

The sentry reminds us of the work at the “look-out posts,” where “the task is to keep watch on the surrounding area and the access points, and to raise the alarm.” “According to us, the Zapatistas, theoretical reflection and critical thought have this job as sentry. Whoever undertakes this analytical reflection has to take their turn at the look-out post”.

“The vigilance syndrome is not a scientific study, but the product of ’empirical observation’.” It explains the wearing down “over time of the capacity for vigilance,” which leads to a “kind of thinking in a loop, or constancy of perception.” To overcome the sentry’s fatigue the Sup says “the important thing is to be on the watch for any sign of danger. It’s not about warning of the danger when it’s already arrived, but of watching for the signs, evaluating and interpreting them, and thinking about them critically”.

The storm is that which “we, the Zapatistas, watch and listen for; the catastrophe in all senses of the word that can arrive”…“what we think is that we have to ask others, from other calendars, from other geographies, what it is that they see. We know the world is large and that others are also thinking about it, analysing, watching, considering, and that we do these things better through the discussion of ideas. Not, as it were, an exchange of goods, as happens in capitalism, but as an exchange of me sharing my thoughts and you doing the same. In other words, a meeting of thinking.”

Finally, he said, with respect to the seminar being held at Cideci, “we are making a seed-bed of ideas, of analysis, of critical thinking of what is happening in the capitalist system. So this seminary, or seed-bed is not a single place nor for a single moment. It is something that will last, and something that happens in many places.”

On 9/04, in relation to a cyber-attack, Sup Galeano issued a bulletin entitled “Why so serious?”

Brazil: Our struggle has no borders!

“On 12/07/14, the day before the final of the World Cup, the civil police in Rio de Janeiro accused 23 activists of organizing “violent acts” in demonstrations, of these 18 were detained in maximum security prisons, in an operation that included violations of the privacy of the homes and the dignity of the prisoners and their families,” declared the Group for Popular Education from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, which invites organizations and individuals from below and to the left from around the world to make statements and acts of solidarity with the persecuted compas and to demand the release of Igor Mendes and Rafael Braga.

“Dozens of activists and their families have had their phones tapped for months, including those of lawyers, whose conversations with their clients have also been listened to. In the days following, these activists have remained in prison, suffering abuse and torture. Particularly critical was the situation of an underage compañera who was subjected to torture every day of her captivity by state agents.”

“The 23 are teachers who were active in the strike for public education, educators working with popular education in favelas, students active in the student movement, or simply frequent demonstrators in protests against the World Cup”. “All are persecuted by the state, which accuses them of “forming an armed gang” […] “We know in fact that the only crime they committed was fighting against the powerful, seeking to build another world from below and to the left.”

On 8th April, “the prosecution has asked for the sentencing of 18 of the 23 compañeros. We are keeping very alert, because there is a good chance that the judge will try to arrest them in the next month, so we need all your solidarity.”

“There is also the case of Rafael Braga, arrested on 20/06/13 during the huge popular demonstrations in Rio de Janeiro […]; Rafael Braga, poor and black, is the first political prisoner convicted in Brazil for the June demonstrations.”

“It is clear that the proposal of the judiciary and the State is to silence the voices of those who struggle. Of those who said NO to the abusive expenditure on the World Cup, defending education and health for the people. Of those who will continue in the streets protesting against evictions in the favelas (poor communities) and against the cost of the Olympics in 2016.”


Eduardo Galeano

On 08/07/1996, the late Eduardo Galeano wrote “The Zapatistas come from the furthest point in time and from the deepest point in the earth. When the year 94 smelled of a new-born baby, the Zapatistas spoiled the celebrations of the Mexican government, who were mad with the joy of declaring the freedom of money. Though the mouths of their guns they echoed the voices of those who had never been heard, so they were listened to. But the guns of the Zapatistas want to be useless. This is not a movement in love with death; it gets no pleasure from firing shots or slogans, neither does it intend to take power. It comes from the furthest point in time and from the deepest point in the earth: it has a lot to denounce, but it also has a lot to celebrate. At the end of the day, five centuries of horror have not managed to annihilate these communities or their ancient way of working and living in human solidarity and communion with nature. The Zapatistas want to accomplish their task in peace, which in a nutshell means to help awaken the secret muscles of human dignity. Against horror, humour: we must laugh a lot to make a new world, says Marcos, otherwise, the new world is going to be square, and will not go round. Chiapas wants to be a centre of resistance against infamy and stupidity, and is working on it. And we are working on it, or would like to do so, those of us who have entered into the discussions of these days. Here in this community called La Realidad, where everything but desire is missing, and where the rain falls in full flow.”

+ => Letter from Sup Marcos to Eduardo Galeano:



May 20, 2015

Holloway: Critical Thought against the Capitalist Hydra

Filed under: Zapatista — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 6:38 pm


Holloway: Critical Thought against the Capitalist Hydra

Photo via Pozol Colectivo.

Photo via Pozol Colectivo.

By John Holloway

Talk by John Holloway presented to the Zapatista Seminar on “Critical Thought against the Hydra of Capitalism,” San Cristóbal de las Casas, May 7, 2015.

An honour, a joy to be here. I feel I want to dance, but I won’t do it, I’ll focus instead on what we were asked to do. I shall talk about critical thought and explain how to kill the hydra of capitalism. That’s what it’s about: we talk of the hydra not to frighten ourselves, but to think about how to defeat it. The myth of the hydra had a happy end and we too must reach a happy end.

By critical thought I understand not thought of catastrophe but the thought that seeks hope in a world where it seems that it no longer exists. Critical thought is the thought that opens that which is closed, that shakes that which is fixed. Critical thought is the attempt to understand the storm and more than that: it is understanding that at the centre of the storm is something that opens paths towards other worlds.

The storm is coming, or rather it is already here. It is already here and it is very probable that it will get worse. We have a name for this storm that is already here: Ayotzinapa. Ayotzinapa as horror, and as symbol of so many other horrors. Ayotzinapa as the concentrated expression of the Fourth World War.

Where does the storm come from? Not from the politicians — they do no more than implement the storm. Not from imperialism: it is not the product of states, not even of the most powerful states. The storm arises from the form in which society is organized. It is the expression of the desperation, the fragility, the weakness of a form of social organization that has passed its sell-by date, it is an expression of the crisis of capital.

Capital is in itself a constant aggression. It is an aggression that tells us every day “you have to shape what you do in a certain way, the only activity that has validity in this society is activity that contributes to the expansion of capitalist profit.”

The aggression that is capital has a dynamic. In order to survive, capital has to subordinate our activity more intensely to the logic of profit each day: “today you have to work harder than yesterday, today you have to bow lower than yesterday.”

With that, we can already see the weakness of capital. It depends on us, on our being willing or able to accept what it imposes on us. If we say “sorry, but I am going to tend my garden today,” or “today I am going to play with my children,” or “today I am going to dedicate my time to something that has meaning for me,” or simply “no, we will not bow,” then capital cannot extract the profit it requires, the rate of profit falls and capital is in crisis. In other words, we are the crisis of capital: our lack of subordination, our dignity, our humanity. We, as crisis of capital, as subjects with dignity and not as victims, we are the hope that is sought by critical thought. We are the crisis of capital and proud of it, we are proud to be the crisis of the system that is killing us.

Capital gets desperate in this situation. It searches for all possible ways of imposing the subordination that it requires: authoritarianism, violence, labour reform, educational reform. It also introduces a game, a fiction: if we cannot extract the profit we need, then we shall pretend that it exists, we shall create a monetary representation for value that has not been produced, we are going to expand debt in order to survive and also try to use it to impose the discipline that is necessary. This expansion of debt is at the same time the expansion of finance capital, expression of the violent weakness of capital as a social relation.

But this fiction increases the instability of capital and in any case does not succeed in imposing the necessary discipline. The dangers for capital of this fictitious expansion become clear with the financial collapse of 2008, when it becomes clearer than ever that the only way out for capital is more authoritarianism: the whole negotiation around the Greek debt tells us that there is no possibility of a gentler capitalism, that the only path forward for capital is the path of austerity, of violence. The storm that is here, the storm that is coming.

We are the crisis of capital, we who say No, we who say Enough of capitalism!, we who say that it is time to stop creating capital, time to create another way of living.

Capital depends on us, because if we do not create profit (surplus value) directly or indirectly, then capital cannot exist. We create capital and if capital is in crisis, it is because we are not creating the profit necessary for capital’s existence: that is why they are attacking us with such violence.

In this situation there are really two options of struggle. We can say “Yes, all right, we shall carry on producing capital, we shall continue to promote the accumulation of capital, but we need better living conditions for everybody.” This is the option of the left parties and governments: of Syriza, of Podemos, of the governments in Venezuela and Bolivia. The problem is that, although they can improve living conditions in some respects, the very desperation of capital means that there is very little possibility of a gentler capitalism.

The other possibility is to say “Goodbye, capital, time for you to go, we are going to create other ways of living, other ways of relating to one another, both among humans and between humans and other forms of life, ways of living that are not determined by money and the pursuit of profit, but by our own collective decisions.”

Here in this seminar we are at the very centre of this second option. This is the meeting point between Zapatistas and Kurds and thousands of other movements that reject capitalism and are trying to construct something different. All of us are saying “Right, capital, your time is past, now get out, we are building something else.” We express it in many different ways: we are creating cracks in the wall of capital and trying to promote their confluence, we are building the common, we are communizing, we are the movement of doing against labour, we are the movement of use value against value, of dignity against a world based on humiliation. It does not matter very much how we express it, the important thing is that we are creating here and now a world of many worlds.

But do we have strength enough? Do we have enough strength to say that we are not interested in capitalist investment, that we are not interested in capitalist employment? Do we have the strength to reject totally our present dependence on capital to survive? Do we have the strength to say a final goodbye to capital?

Possibly we do not have sufficient strength yet. Many of us who are here have our salaries or our grants that come from the accumulation of capital and, if we do not, then we shall have to go back next week to look for a capitalist job. Our rejection of capital is a schizophrenic rejection: we want to say a sharp goodbye to it, and we are not able to, or find it very difficult. There is no purity in this struggle. The struggle to stop creating capital is also a struggle against our dependence on capital. That is, it is a struggle to emancipate our creative capacities, our force to produce, our productive forces.

That’s what we’re at, that is why we’ve come here. It is a question of organizing ourselves, of course, but not of creating an Organization with a capital O, but of organizing ourselves in many ways to live now the worlds we want to create.

In the morning the comandantes asked us for provocative concepts. I suppose my talk can be summarized in three theoretical provocations:

  1. Critical thought is not the thought that speaks of catastrophe but the thought that looks for hope inside the catastrophe.
  2. We are the crisis of capital and proud of it. All thought about the storm starts from there.
  3. The only way of defeating the Hydra is by ceasing to create capital and dedicating ourselves to the creation of other worlds based not on money and profit but on dignity and self-determination.

It sounds easy, we know that it is not. How do we advance, then, how do we walk? Asking we walk, asking and hugging and organizing.

John Holloway is a professor in the Posgrado de Sociología, Instituto de Ciencias Sociales y Humanidades, Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla. His most recent book is Crack Capitalism (Pluto, 2010).



Ayotzinapa in London! EuroCaravan43

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 5:38 pm

Ayotzinapa in London! EuroCaravan43

Omar Garcia, an Ayotzinapa student who survived the Iguala police attack on September 26, 2014

Omar Garcia, an Ayotzinapa student who survived the Iguala police attack on September 26, 2014

Final stop for EuroCaravana 43 in London

Today in London marked the final stop on a month-long tour for the EuroCaravana43. The caravan was composed of Ayotzinapa student Omar García, who survived the brutal police attack in Iguala on 26 September 2014, human rights defender Roman Hernández from NGO Tlachinollan and Eleucadio Ortega, father of one of the 43 missing students.

Eleucadio Ortega (left), father of disappeared student Mauricio Ortega Valerio

Eleucadio Ortega (left), father of disappeared student Mauricio Ortega Valerio

The trio spent the day in meetings with human rights organisations, grassroots collectives and Mexican solidarity groups from across the UK. They were keen to not only share their stories, but to also make lasting connections with local groups struggling against similar forces.

Ortega spoke of the hardships the families of the 43 disappeared students have faced, as many have given up work in order to search for their children. He poignantly described how he always encouraged his son to study hard, so that he could avoid living the hard life of a peasant farmer. Hernández highlighted the intense surveillance and victimisation human rights defenders in Mexico face from the state.

Roman Hernandez from the Guerrero-based Tlachinollan Human Rights Center speaks in front of a packed room of grassroots collectives in London.

Roman Hernandez from the Guerrero-based Tlachinollan Human Rights Center speaks in front of a packed room of grassroots collectives in London.

“We did not come here to cry,” García declared to the gathered crowd. Instead, he countered, they had come to continue the fight and to make connections in this struggle. García called for an inclusive social movement, in which everyone who wants to participate is welcome. He said he has been touched by the number of first-time protesters who have taken to the streets in support of Ayotzinapa.

Many UK-based collectives turned out to meet the caravan in a show of solidarity. The day ended with a mass demonstration at UCL’s square, where supporters braved the cold and rain to chime in with the rallying cry – “You took them alive! We want them alive!”

The day culminated in a demonstration in the main square of a central London university.

The day culminated in a demonstration in the main square of a central London university.

See also:



Commander Nestora Salgado

Filed under: Political prisoners — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 5:08 pm


Commander Nestora Salgado

Photo: Desinformemonos

Photo: Desinformemonos

Luis Hernández Navarro

La Jornada, 19th May, 2015

For the past 22 months Nestora Salgado García has been living in hell. Locked up in the Cefereso 4 Northeast maximum security prison in Tepic, Nayarit, she occupies a small cell meant for the highly-dangerous criminals she fought against. She spends 23 hours each day in her cell, hardly seeing the light of day, and is nearly completely isolated. She is allowed just five or ten minutes to talk on the phone sometimes.

Nestora needs medicine, medical treatment and daily exercise. In 2004 she nearly saw death in a car accident. She was paralyzed for three months. As a result of that accident, she suffers from acute neck neuropathy and has difficulty moving her hands. She needs appropriate medical attention and medicine, but she is not receiving them. On the rare occasion that doctors visit her, they do not want to touch her. She needs nutritious food, but the food they give her, often spoiled, is rubbish. During the first six months she was in prison, they only let her drink tap water.

The Tepic jail is “the prison of exile,” wrote Marco Antonio Suástegui Muñoz, Nestora’s comrade and spokesman of the Council of Ejidos and Communities Opposed to the La Parota Dam (CECOP), in a letter to Nestora. For 10 months he experienced the nightmare of being jailed there. In the letter, he told her: “It makes us go out of our minds.”

Salgado García’s condition has become noticeably worse because of the hunger strike she started on the fifth of May to protest her unjust imprisonment. Since that day she has not eaten a bite. According to what Paula Mónaco told this newspaper, she told her daughters: “If dying is necessary, then so be it, because I am dead in life.”

According to her husband, José Luis Ávila, his wife “ran out of patience.”

The situation is so delicate that U.S. Congressman Adam Smith and Senator Patty Murray consider it “unacceptable” for Nestora to remain in prison in an environment that does not guarantee her life or integrity. They criticized the fact that her health is continuing to deteriorate without any action being taken by the Mexican government.

Despite the danger she is in, the Mexican authorities do not seem to care what happens to this social activist. They have ignored the decision from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), in which they demanded that the federal government offer her the medical attention she needs. Just last Saturday, Roberto Campa, Undersecretary of Government Affairs, confirmed that she was in good health.

Nestora Salgado was locked up because, as Marco Antonio Suástegui said, “she was bringing justice and offering security to her people, something the government cannot currently offer us.”

She was chosen by an assembly [decision-making body in indigenous communities] to be the commander of the Citizen Police of Olinalá. In the 10 months she spent at the head of this institution, the crime rate decreased 90 percent and there was not a single homicide.

The commander is now in prison, accused of crimes she did not commit. On March 31, 2014, the judge of the First Unitary Tribunal of the Twenty-first Circuit, José Luis Arroyo Alcántara, dismissed the accusations of kidnapping and organized crime, determining that Salgado’s actions fell within the powers of the Community Police recognized by the Guerrero law itself. Her success in the fight against the bad guys was so great that the governor at the time, Ángel Aguirre, ran to take a photo with her and put her as an example of what people should do. He called the struggle of the residents of Olinalá “heroic”.

But the praise from the government did not last long. Nestora made the “mistake” of naming the “wolf”. She often said that “to start with public security, we have to clean the corral. We are in a corral, and we do not know who the wolf is. We should start by figuring out who the wolf is.” When she found out, she did not hesitate to report it.

First, she revealed the threats that the partners of corrupt politicians were making to local business owners so they would stop selling materials and goods, and thus to monopolize the local market. Then she published a press release in which she denounced the involvement of the mayor and other public servants in drug trafficking. The affront was too much for the “narco-politicians”. The commander was arrested and brought by plane to a maximum security prison, 3,000 kilometres from her pueblo [traditional village].

From the very start of her imprisonment, the process was full of abnormalities. Her transfer to the Cefereso jail was not the result of a court order, but of an illegal request to the federal authorities made hours before the arrest by the Secretary of Public Security of Guerrero, Sergio Lara Montellanos. For the transfer, the judge’s opinion was not even taken into account.

The commander is not the only community police member from Guerrero unjustly imprisoned for fighting against public insecurity and organized crime. Twelve other members of the Regional Coordinating Committee of Community Authorities (CRAC-PC) are in jail, several in high security prisons, accused of crimes like kidnapping, carrying firearms that only the Army is allowed to use, terrorism and injury. Due process has not been followed in any of their cases.

Nestora Salgado García could have lived the American dream without any problem. In 1991, at age 20, without a future at home, she emigrated without papers to the United States. She worked very hard in the state of Washington as a maid, servant, nanny and waitress. Without giving up her Mexican nationality, she legalized her immigration status and became an American citizen. But she decided to return to her town, Olinalá, and from there to lead the struggle against organized crime and the “narco-politicians”. For that she has had to pay a very high price. Today, her life is in danger.

Note: The federal government agreed to move the coordinator of the Community Police of Olinalá to a state prison. Nestora should not be in that or any other prison.

Translated by Sally Seward



May 19, 2015

Tlatlaya, Ayotzinapa, Apatzingán: State Terror in Mexico

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 6:49 am


Tlatlaya, Ayotzinapa, Apatzingán: State Terror in Mexico


Dawn Paley

The first attack came at 2:30am on January 6, 2015. Federal Police opened fire on members of the Fuerzas Rurales, who were protesting in the central square of Apatzingán, in Michoacán. The Fuerzas Rurales were born of the co-optation of part of theautodefensa movement, the armed uprising in rural Michoacan that caught the world’s attention last January. The men were protesting the fact that they hadn’t been paid.

According to a report by journalist Laura Castellanos, eyewitnesses heard a shout from the Federal Police before they opened fire: “Kill them like dogs.” An unknown number of people were killed, some with their hands up, down on their knees.

Six hours later Federal Police attacked again just down the street from City Hall, this time opening fire on trucks carrying members of the Fuerzas Rurales and their families.

An anonymously posted YouTube video shows the carnage. One man in a red-striped shirt lays face-up on the road. A pool of blood connects him with two other men. He moves his left arm as if scratching his head. The other two lay completely still. All three are on the driver’s side of a bullet-ridden white pick-up. Behind the truck lay two other men, one on his stomach, the other on his back.

Between the two attacks that day, at least sixteen people were murdered by Federal Police in Apatzingán. Dozens more were injured. In a macabre twist, two of the wounded men were dumped on the sidewalk in front of a hospital by bystanders who rescued them. Neither has been seen since.

The official version of events claimed that there were nine deaths in total, and that the killings resulted from “friendly fire” or “crossfire” between Fuerzas Rurales and police. That version held nationally for over three months, until Castellanos released her investigative piece in late April which blew through the government’s line.

Events in Apatzingán mark the third time since last June that federal forces in Mexico are known to have participated in massacres and mass disappearances.

On June 30, 2014 twenty-one men and one woman were executed by soldiers in Tlataya, a rural area in Mexico State. The local governor maintained that the army had, in “legitimate self-defense, taken down the criminals.” One witness, whose daughter was among the dead, claimed that soldiers had in fact lined up the twenty-two people killed before executing them one by one. The eyewitness said she told the soldiers not to do it, not to kill those being interrogated. Their response, she reported, was that “these dogs don’t deserve to live.”

The cover-up that ensued involved bureaucrats from various levels of government. It was only because of reporting by Esquiremagazine and the work of local journalists in Mexico that the truth about what happened in Tlatlaya came out. Eight soldiers are believed to have been directly involved in the killings. Seven have been charged, three of them for murder.

The massacre in Tlatlaya was quickly overshadowed by another perpetrated by police and gunmen in Iguala, Guerrero. On the night of September 26, 2014, six people were killed, three of them students at a nearby teacher-training college. One of the young men who was killed had his face pulled off and pulled down around his neck. Others were denied medical treatment. By the next day, forty-three more students from the Raúl Isidro Burgos Rural Teachers’ College of Ayotzinapa were missing. A ll of the students were last seen as they were being arrested by municipal police, allegedly for participating in taking over buses in order to use for transportation to a march in Mexico City. The police handed the students off to a local paramilitary group, which the media dubbed Guerreros Unidos (United Warriors). The students remain disappeared.

In the words of writer John Gibler, who wrote an extensive piece about the events of September 26-27 in Iguala:

Although it was neither an isolated event nor the largest massacre in recent years, what occurred in Iguala has struck at the core of Mexican society. Perhaps it was the scale of the violence, or the sheer brutality, or that the victims were college students, or that the perpetrators were mostly municipal police, or that the mayor of Iguala, his wife, and the police chief were probably behind the attack, or that the state and federal governments were deceptive in their investigation and callous in their treatment of the mothers and fathers of the murdered, wounded, and disappeared. Whatever the cause—and it was likely a combination of all these reasons—it is impossible to overstate the effect of the attacks on the country.

Tlatlaya, Ayotzinapa, Apatzingán. Three massacres perpetrated by state forces in less than a year in Mexico. Three massacres that we know about, though there could well be more. In Tlatlaya and Apatzingán, the government claimed that that killings came in the context of an armed battle. In Iguala, they tried to claim that criminal groups had confused the students for other criminals, and suggested that the students could have been involved in criminal activity.

In Tlatlaya, Ayotzinapa and Apatzingán, because of journalists and eyewitnesses, the government line didn’t stick. But how many times has it?

There have been at least 140,000 homicides in Mexico since the 2007. In December 2006, Felipe Calderón was inaugurated, he immediately went to work declaring a war on drugs and organized crime. Mexico’s national statistics agency reported over 121,000 homicides during the six years Calderón was president, which is just over twice as many as during the Presidency of Vicente Fox (2001-2006). According to a new report from the Justice in Mexico Project at the University of San Diego, “No other country in the hemisphere has seen such a large increase in the number or rate of homicides over the last decade.”

Another recent report published in American Statistician found that where there were military interventions during the drug war during Calderon’s term, there were more murders. According to the article, “the military interventions resulted in an increase in the average homicide rate” in eighteen regions of Mexico. One of the telling titbits in the report is that there is not “a comprehensive list of interventions,” which is to say that we don’t even know about all of the military interventions that have taken place in Mexico since December 2006.

The state-perpetrated killings which have stunned Mexico have come at a time of unprecedented cooperation in military and police training between Mexico and the United States. Between 2008 and 2014, the United States trained over 22,000 federal and state police in Mexico. Washington came on board to back the drug war in Mexico and coordinate with security forces throughout the country through the Merida Initiative, on which the United States spent over $2 billion between 2008 and the end of 2014. The Intercept reported recently that five members of the battalion involved in the massacre in Tlatlaya were trained by the US Northern Command.

We are told that this training will lead to better policing, an idea with surprising credibility under the circumstances. As evidence of more state-sponsored massacres continues to surface, police across the United States have been the focus of outspoken resistance and mass protests in the wake of repeated cop killings of young (mostly) Black men. Indeed, the problem of police violence in the United States has led to increased calls to disarm and disband police and abolish prisons.

In Mexico, meanwhile, concrete experiences of community resistance to police violence and abuses have resulted in successful organizations like the Community Police in Guerrero State (CRAC-PC). They have also led to moments of organization like those which saw the creation of the autodefensa groups in Michaoacán last year—among the first actions of many of these groups was the disarming of local police, understood as prime predators on community members. Mexico’s latest police scandal—the massacre of members of the factions of the autodefensa movement who cooperated with state efforts to legalize—is a message to self-defense groups of all stripes that even cooperation does not guarantee survival.

Ongoing surges in violence attributed to drug cartels (or what are, more likely, paramilitary groups), like the shooting down of a military helicopter and dozens of fiery blockades in the state of Jalisco in early May, or ongoing events in the state of Tamaulipas, sow confusion and are used to reinforce calls for reformed and better police and military institutions as safeguards against the extreme violence of non-state actors. But there is a limit to these kinds of calls, a limit that dwells in the terror inflicted by state forces against civilians with near total impunity.

Tlatlaya, Ayotzinapa, and Apatzingán are three places whose names today conjure the most recent examples of naked state violence in Mexico. We don’t know how many more events like these have taken place over past years. The number of mass graves being discovered (again, we know about only a fraction of all of those which are found) and the amount of people who have been disappeared in Mexico since 2006 (over 27,000) indicate that these three events could represent but the tip of the iceberg of state violence in a drawn out war on the people.

Dawn Paley is the author of Drug War Capitalism. She is based in Mexico. Follow her on Twitter at @dawn_.

Photograph via the Latin America Working Group.



May 18, 2015

Zibechi: Crisis and collapse

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 6:40 pm

Zibechi: Crisis and collapse


By: Raúl Zibechi

Stop the harassment of Zapatista Communities

One of the difficulties that the anti-systemic movements and those who continue to be pledged to constructing a new world confront consists of not attaining agreement on the definition of what is happening before our eyes. In broad strokes, two not necessarily opposed but very different views coexist: those who maintain that we are facing a crisis, greater even than the cyclical crises of capitalist economies, and those that tend to consider that humanity is being led to a situation of collapse by the system.

Understanding that we’re dealing with a theoretical debate with strong practical implications, since we would be facing two very different situations. It’s worth remembering that in other periods of recent history, the rise of Nazism for example, provoked deep divergences between the lefts of the epoch. Not a few failed to consider the importance of Nazism as a real systemic mutation, and thought that it was about an authoritarian regime similar to others that we had known. Nevertheless, with the passage of time we are able to agree with Giorgio Agamben that the field of concentration modified politics at the root, together with what he defined as a permanent state of emergency.

The seminar-seedbed Critical Thought versus the Capitalist Hydra, organized by the EZLN from May 3 to 9 in Oventik and San Cristóbal de Las Casas, was the scene of the diverse views that cross through us, and their extraordinary wealth and fecundity. Many diverse analyses about the current world coexist within the anti-capitalist field, some well-founded, others more romantic, some focused on the economy and others on ethics, and many others are combinations of these and other forms of gazing and comprehending. I think that all of them have their importance, but they lead along partially different paths. Or, better, they can contribute to squandering forces.

What’s most complex is that no one can claim to have truth in his or her hands. This point seems to me extraordinarily complex, because it doesn’t permit discarding any proposal, but neither can it lead us to giving validity to any argument.

It seems to me necessary to distinguish between crisis and collapse, not because they are exclusive, but rather because they embody two distinct analyses. The concept of crisis is associated, in the anti-systemic field, with the periodic crises that the capitalist economy crosses through. On this point, the work of Karl Marx is an obligatory reference for anti-capitalists of all colours. His analysis of the crisis of over-accumulation has been converted, with complete justice, into the crucial point for comprehending how the system functions. From there derives a group of strictly present considerations.

Although some economist currents have coined the idea of the “collapse” of capitalism because of its own internal contradictions, and fail to consider the importance of collective subjects in its fall, it is evident that Marx is not responsible for this drift that he knew to have firm followers in the first part of the 20th Century.

In the same direction as Marx, Immanuel Wallerstein mentions the existence of a systemic crisis underway, which, after several decades of development, will give way to a different world than the current one (since at a certain moment it will produce a bifurcation), which can lead us to a better or worse society than the present one. We would be facing a window of temporary opportunities, during which human activity can have a large confluence in the final result. In this analysis, the crisis will be converted into chaos, from which will come a new order.

The idea of crisis is associated with periods of change, disorder, instabilities and turbulences that interrupt the normal development of things, and that after a certain time become a new but modified normality. In the crisis factors of order can emerge in the crisis that will give the new a different physiognomy. From the movements’ point of view, it is important to discard two things: that the concept of crisis is associated too much with the economy and that it appears linked to transformation and changes.

If I understood correctly, following the words of Subcomandante Insurgente Moiséswho said at the closing of the seminar-seedbed that: “we don’t know whether we’ll have time to multiply this,” what lies in wait is not a crisis, but rather something more serious.

He insisted: “time is not waiting for us,” and said that walking is no longer sufficient, but it’s rather time to trot, to go faster. The previous night, Subcomandante Insurgente Galeano said that up to 40 percent of humanity would be migrants and that there will be depopulation and destruction of zones in order to be restructured and reconstructed for capital. I believe that he wasn’t thinking about a crisis, but rather about something that we could call collapse, although he didn’t use that term.

The collapse is a large-scale catastrophe that implies the bankruptcy of institutions, in the form of rupture or definitive decline. There were many crises in history but few catastrophes/collapses. For example it occurs to me what happened with the Tawantinsuyu, the Inca Empire, because of the arrival of the invaders. Something similar can have happened to the Roman Empire, although I don’t have sufficient knowledge to assure it. Anyhow, the collapse is the end of something, but not the end of life, because, as happened with the Indian peoples, they rebuilt after the catastrophe, but as different subjects.

If in truth we face the perspective of a collapse, it would be the sum of wars, economic, environmental, health and natural crises. Just one fact: the World Health Organization warned that in the immediate future antibiotics will be incapable of combating the super-bacteria causing tuberculosis and pneumonia, among others. In sum, the world as we know it can disappear. If this is the immediate perspective, and those above know it and prepare for it, the Moisés’ haste is fully justified. It is time to accelerate our step.



Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Translation: Chiapas Support Committee

Friday, May 15, 2015

En español:



Mexico’s Ordinary People Struggle for Life, Land, Water and Work

Filed under: Indigenous, Mining, water — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 6:24 pm


Mexico’s Ordinary People Struggle for Life, Land, Water and Work

Miguel Concha

La Jornada, May 16th,2015

Mexico finds itself immersed within hundreds of disputes over land, native territory, water and shared resources. It is precisely these aforementioned resources that benefit each and every one of us—those of us at present, in addition to generations to come. If we embrace the knowledge of the pueblo [traditional village], we would not only conserve, but would also hold a deep respect for the natural world. At the same time, we would ensure the proper stewardship of our resources, and a full guarantee to others that they would also be able to enjoy them.

However, much to our regret, we know that at present, the agendas of those at the top are in opposition to the maintenance and care of our resources. The conflict also seems to lack the appropriate mechanisms to provide for the State’s effective response to the problems suffered by traditional villages and indigenous communities—the result of the imposition of megaprojects, the dispossession of shared natural resources, and the violation of rights as indigenous peoples or campesinos.

We have also witnessed the struggle against the lack of consultation [under Mexican and international law, indigenous communities must be consulted about any development project affecting their territory] and their participation in development plans, road infrastructure, or legal reforms that invalidate and ignore forms of organization and management of resources typical to indigenous communities and traditional villages—not only in rural areas, but also in metropolitan and urban areas.

It is an unprecedented crisis in the history of mankind, and this war against the pueblos goes beyond life, dignity and true democracy. As so eloquently written by Don Pablo González Casanova in his paper presented at the seminar, Critical Thought against the Capitalist Hydra, organized by the EZLN:

“Those at the top put all of their attention into the resources that the war brings to them and none to the suffering they cause. They are effective and efficient presidents, managers, governments, and commanders—who maximize their power and reap the benefits—whether through indirect and unclear ways, or through wars and open measures that they put into play daily, which Harvey called the economy of dispossession.

It is, in fact, an economy of plunder, open and concealed, formal and informal, direct or by sub-planting, with formal armies or duly trained, sadistic criminal bands. All of this is at the conscious or unconscious service of networks and corporations that take billions and billions of dollars from the poor and the Earth’s resources (La Jornada, 9/5/15).

11138145_1449219808704763_2476360292965428636_nIt is precisely against these managers and commanders at the top that the pueblos respond and organize. They mobilize to prevent them from gaining access, and they resist the attempt to convert their resources into spoils of war. In recent weeks, we have witnessed two revelatory experiences of these movements coming from below: The Caravan of the Fire of Dignified Resistance and The National Caravan for the Defence of Water, Land, Work and Life.

The first was held from April 29 to May 15 and through it, indigenous peoples, traditional peasant farmers, social organizations, independent systems for drinking water, and student collectives are strengthening their struggles. They denounce the imposition of a political and economic project that violates the dignity and identity of organizational forms of the indigenous communities and traditional villages.

11174715_979110498775197_6051646316108744441_oRepresentatives from the pueblos of Atenco, Coyotepec, San Francisco Magú, Tecamac, San Francisco Xochicuautla and San Lorenzo Huitzizilapan, among others, gave life to a revitalized social movement in the State of Mexico and its nearby regions, whose aim is the defence of their human rights, the creation of alternatives, and the recovery and conservation of their history, culture, and collective organization. It is in this very state of the Republic, so plagued by the scourge of the heavy hand of regimes and their violation of human rights, where fire, energy and passion for justice is embodied within alternatives and resistances that come into being one step at a time. [MV Note: the PRI, the Party of the Institutional Revolution, has held control of the state since the 1920s. Peña Nieto was governor 2005-2011]

11233157_1591814717764492_1411579587_o-300x232The second caravan is headed by the Yaqui tribe [of Sonora]. It began on May 11 and is due to arrive in Mexico City on May 22. They come from Vicam, Sonora, from Pijijiapan, Chiapas, and others from Piedras Negras, Coahuila. In 11 days, the group will pass through 23 Mexican states, and visit nearly 75 cities and towns. It provides an opportunity for people from traditional villages and indigenous communities that are part of the resistance to exchange thoughts, share experiences, and strengthen their partnerships to address the war that has been declared against them.

Interestingly, both caravans—one touring the cities and towns of Mexico, and the other arriving from the north and south to Mexico City—have denounced the widespread dispossession suffered more each day throughout our land. They highlight the imposition of water transfers through the creation of aqueducts, toxic mining, risks associated with fracking, dams, wind farms, pipelines and power stations, as well as deforestation, rampant urbanization, the construction of highways, and the privatization of energy [oil, gas and electricity] and water systems.

11251159_889723621069331_1994182215851632178_nParticipants also bear witness to industrial and agrochemical pollution, and to the control and destruction of our indigenous seeds [via GMOs] and the overexploitation of our workers. Both examples of struggles have arrived at a sense of understanding in their shared pain. They know that the land and water war is already upon us, and yet, you have to recognize that the pueblos are mobilizing despite the fact that the situation that surrounds them is quite bleak.

The way in which vigour has been strengthened from below in order to make possible a more dignified and just world is almost prodigious. New times are coming. After the tempestuous war, there will come, without a doubt, a time of justice and dignity. Traditional pueblos and indigenous communities are making sure of this. Will we all join in this struggle? Could it be possible? The answer will be given in resistance against those who intend to take ownership of our shared resources.

Translated by: Laura Turner



May 17, 2015

Caravan from Yaqui Nation in defence of water arrives in San Cristóbal

Filed under: caravan, water — Tags: — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 3:56 pm


Caravan from Yaqui Nation in defence of water arrives in San Cristóbal


 On 12 May the National Caravan for the Defence of Water, Land, Work, and Life arrived in San Cristóbal de las Casas Chiapas, having been organized by the Yaqui people of Sonora, Mexico.  Via three different routes (northern, north-western, and southern), Yaqui have been touring the country to raise awareness about their struggle against megaprojects.

About 50 members of the Southern Caravan marched in San Cristóbal de las Casas, together with constituent members of other social processes in favour of the right to water, neighbours from Cuxtitali, defenders of wetlands, and female members of the Movement in Defence of Land and Territory, which struggles for the participation of women and their recognition within decision-making processes, among other goals.

It should be stressed that the indigenous Yaqui people, who have for 3 centuries striven to defend their autonomy, territory, and right to water, have two of its members politically imprisoned: Mario Luna and Fernando Jiménez, both of whom are charged with kidnapping and robbery during the protests against the Independence Aqueduct, which transfers water from the Yaqui River to Hermosillo.  This outcome was based on the violation of the indigenous peoples’ right to prior consultation.

The three routes of the caravan will continue their paths toward the Mexican capital, where they plan to arrive on 22 May in a joint concluding action.



2 children dead and 6 gravely ill following immunizations in Simojovel

Filed under: Indigenous — Tags: , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 3:45 pm


2 children dead and 6 gravely ill following immunizations in Simojovel


Following the application of an immunization campaign to 52 indigenous children from the Simojovel municipality, 29 of them had adverse reactions and had to be hospitalized.  Two have died, and six others have been seriously injured.  The perished newborns, Yadira (30 days of age) and Emmanuel Francisco (28 days), had not yet been officially registered.

The Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS) announced on 9 May that it would suspend only the application of Hepatitis B immunizations within the Simojovel municipality, thus overturning the previous order to suspend the BCG (tuberculosis), Hepatitis B, Rotavirus, and Quadrivalent immunizations at the national level, and to contain the Hepatitis B lots as the suspected cause of the adverse reactions.

The Chiapas state governor, Manuel Velasco, and the director general of the IMSS, José Antonio González Anaya, visited those affected and their relatives in the Tuxtla Gutiérrez hospital, where they have been admitted.

images1Civil-society organizations have demanded that the State authorities investigate the incident in a profound and impartial way, and they called on the appropriate authorities to determine the chain of culpability among those responsible, as well as to provide the necessary support for families, in addition to access to justice.  They expressed their “concern for the situation of newborns in the State, particularly those who subsist in conditions of extreme material poverty.  Data from the National Council on the Evaluation of the Politics of Social Development (CONEVAL) indicate that, in 2012, 74.7% of the Chiapas population finds itself in extreme poverty, with 24.9% reporting lack of access to health services.  It is notable that this outcome, which has to do with immunizations, takes place in one of the states with greatest material need in the country, where the percentage of unvaccinated children is 18%, and the mortality rate of infants is 13.5 deaths higher than the national average of 13.2 (2010), in accordance with the official data that are presented in the report Infancy Counts in Mexico.”



La Garrucha Good-Government Council (JBG) denounces two paramilitary attacks

Filed under: Paramilitary, Zapatista — Tags: , , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 3:36 pm


La Garrucha Good-Government Council (JBG) denounces two paramilitary attacks 

(@Centro de Medios Libres)

(@Centro de Medios Libres)

On 11 May, the La Garrucha Good-Government Council (JBG) from Caracol III publicly denounced two attacks: one in the El Rosario community, on recovered lands belonging to the autonomous municipality of San Manuel, and the other in the Nuevo Paraíso community, which pertains to the Francisco Villa autonomous municipality.  According to the JBG, there are two paramilitary groups in the region: one made up of 21 people from El Rosario, and the other comprised of 28 individuals from the Chikinival neighborhood, which pertains to the Pojkol ejido, in the Chilón municipality of Chiapas state.

The acts described in the denunciation took place on 10 May, when the Chikinival group arrived at El Rosario and began to measure the recovered lands of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN), where Zapatista support-bases (BAEZLN) also live.  Two paramilitaries entered the house of one Zapatista, and another fired on the Zapatista daughter when she tried to escape the home.  The father of the child then threw a stone at the aggressor, causing him head injuries.  The next day, the family of the injured attacker came to demand 7,000 pesos from the BAEZLN as compensation.  The JBG assures that this amount will not be provided, given that the Zapatista did not seek or initiate the violence.

It bears noting that in 2014, residents of the Pojkol ejido killed a stud bull belonging to a Zapatista, destroyed homes and a cooperative, robbed possessions, fumigated land with herbicides, opened fire intermittently, and left a written note among the burned domiciles: “Pojkol territory.”

Also on 10 May 2015, 16 people from Chikinival entered the Nuevo Paraíso community, armed with two pistols and a rifle.  “They came to leave a letter in the street which blames the Zapatista support-base comrades for having provoked these conflicts,” says the JBG.  Beyond this, the JBG adds that in this case it has initiated mediation, deciding to transfer 21 hectares to put an end to the threats, though this has not yet resolved the problem.  The authorities from the Pojkol ejido claim to oppose this group from Chikinival, given its lack of respect and obedience for the ejidal authorities.

These two incidents took place the day after the close of the seminar on “Critical Thought amidst the Capitalist Hydra,” which was organized by the EZLN and held from 3 to 9 May in CIDECI-Unitierra Las Casas, where academics and activists shared their thoughts and reflections regarding the present context and alternatives to the capitalist system.




May 16, 2015

Lessons from the San Andrés Accords

Filed under: Indigenous, Zapatistas — Tags: — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 2:40 pm


Lessons from the San Andrés Accords

A Zapatista rebel shouts slogans during a march through San Cristobal de las Casas Monday, Sept.8, 1997, beginning a journey that will take many to Mexico City this week. Masked, but without guns, the Zapatistas are marching on the country's capital to demand support for Indian rights and their struggle in the troubled state of Chiapas. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

A Zapatista rebel shouts slogans during a march through San Cristobal de las Casas Monday, Sept.8, 1997, beginning a journey that will take many to Mexico City this week. Masked, but without guns, the Zapatistas are marching on the country’s capital to demand support for Indian rights and their struggle in the troubled state of Chiapas. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

Duane Champagne

It is often unusual for Indigenous Peoples to have the opportunity to express their views and visions about their needs and futures. There remains considerable ignorance and misunderstanding about what Indigenous Peoples want and are striving for. The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) is one place to look. The UNDRIP document is the product of over 30 years of negotiation. Many Non-Government Organizations and indigenous persons and nations contributed to the discussions. And perhaps above all else what emerged from those discussions is the voice and needs of Indigenous Peoples.

UNDRIP is very good—despite the diplomatic language—at identifying the key issues that indigenous people believe they need addressed to secure their futures and social cultural and political wellbeing. To a large extent, UNDRIP leaves the solutions to indigenous rights in the hands of national governments and judicial systems. UNDRIP asks Indigenous Peoples to work within the political and judicial processes of nation states. This is one possible solution if nation states are willing at some level to accept Indigenous Peoples’ rights to culture, political and land autonomy.

A rare case where Indigenous Peoples in contemporary times have had the opportunity to express their views was in the San Andrés Accords worked out with the Mexican government in 1996. Here the activism of the Zapatistas, at least briefly, gave Indigenous Peoples leverage to express their needs and views. The position of the Zapatistas was also circulated among many of the Indigenous Peoples of Mexico, who were favourable to the agreements made in the San Andrés Accords.

The Accords requested that the Mexican state recognize the diversity of the Indigenous Peoples. The Indigenous Peoples were not a homogeneous ethnic or minority group, but rather spoke many languages and had many distinct cultures and histories. The Indigenous Peoples wanted protection for the natural resources located on their lands. They wanted the right to prohibit resource extraction from externally managed companies, especially when the Indigenous Peoples gained little or no benefit. In terms of indigenous and Mexican state government relations, indigenous people wanted greater participation in the decision-making and distribution of government funding.

The Indigenous Peoples were not rejecting participation in the Mexican state, but saw the national government as a resource for local governments and development. However, the Indigenous Peoples wanted greater voice in the distribution of public funding, so publicly funded projects were informed by their own cultures and local issues. Indigenous Peoples wanted greater political influence, more attention to establishing common cultural ground, and recognition of indigenous local and traditional governments, and more control over future social and economic development plans.

The Mexican state should be a partner in indigenous economic and political futures, and recognize and respect indigenous ways of managing land, justice, and government. Local indigenous control and influence over courts and police were very critical for development of more democratic relations, and toward incorporation of indigenous views of justice and order. Indigenous Peoples did not want to separate from the Mexican nation and state, but rather asked for assurances that Indigenous Peoples and voices would have access to, participate in, and have effect within Mexican political processes.

Since 1996, however, the Mexican state has not honoured the San Andrés Accords. The position of the government was that the government granted rights, and that the indigenous people do not have inherent rights to territory, self-government, and their cultures were uncivilized. Additional troops, paramilitary actions, and legislation put increased power in the hands of the majority groups within Mexican state governments. The Mexican government immediately rejected the views and aspirations of the San Andrés Accords. The Indigenous Peoples of Mexico were and are left with little hope of realizing their visions of cooperative and progressive cultural, political, and economic alliances with the Mexican nation state.



May 15, 2015

JBG Path of the Future Caracol III La Garrucha denounces attack by paramilitary group

Filed under: Paramilitary, Zapatista — Tags: , , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 5:13 pm


JBG Path of the Future Caracol III La Garrucha denounces attack by paramilitary group


Path of the Future Good Government Junta,* 

La Garrucha, Chiapas, Mexico

Mural on front of former offices of Good Government Junta in La Garrucha carries the name of the Caracol in both Spanish and Tseltal.

Mural on front of former offices of Good Government Junta in La Garrucha carries the name of the Caracol in both Spanish and Tseltal.

May 11, 2015


To public opinion:

To the communications media, alternative, autonomous or whatever you call them:

To the national and international adherents of the Sixth:

To the honest human rights organisations:

Sisters and brothers of the people of Mexico and of the world:

We energetically denounce what the paramilitary groups of Rosario are doing to us. There are 21 paramilitaries in Rosario and 28 paramilitaries from the Chikinival barrio of the Pojkol ejido in the municipio of Chilón, Chiapas.

Our compañero support bases live there in Rosario, because it is recuperated land, belonging to San Manuel autonomous municipio of Caracol III La Garrucha.

There are 21 paramilitaries living in Rosario and they are supported by the 28 paramilitaries from barrio Chikinival who are invading our recuperated land.

It has been the same problem since August 2014, when they killed a stud bull of ours, when they destroyed homes and destroyed our collective cooperative, stole our belongings, when they fumigated a hectare of pasture land with herbicide, when they were shooting and leaving letters in the ground with spent shells that said: “Pojkol territory.” [1]


On May 10, 2015, at 9:35 in the morning, 28 people arrived who belong to the Chikinival barrio of the Pojkol ejido in the official municipio of Chilón, some 40 minutes away by car from the town of Rosario. They arrived aboard eight motorcycles, in the recuperated town of ROSARIO where the compañero support bases live, because they want to take our land away by force.

These paramilitaries of Rosario, accompanied by the paramilitaries from the Chikinival barrio of the Pojkol ejido, started to measure the sites where the compañero support bases are already living, during the day while they were working there.

At 15:15 pm, a group of them withdrew from working, another group stayed in the same place, but 5 minutes later three of them headed to the home of a support base compañero, and the majority of them stayed on the highway 30 metres from the compañero’s house.  They found only the 13-year old daughter of the support base compañero at home sweeping her room, not the father. The mother was outside on one side of the house.

Two of these paramilitary aggressors belong to the Chikinival barrio of the Pojkol ejido and one belongs to Rosario. His name is ANDRES LOPEZ VAZQUEZ.  The 2 from Chikinival entered inside of the house, while Andrés, the Rosario paramilitary, stood guard at the door of the house. Upon seeing that the compa’s young daughter went out running for the door, ANDRES shot at her 4 times with a 22-calibre pistol. Her father arrived at the moment of the shots and the compañero defended his daughter, throwing a stone at the attacker that hit him in the head. None of the bullets hit the young woman. His compañeros that were at 30 metres carried the injured man away.

Yesterday afternoon, May 11, the injured man returned the family members of the aggressor went to the compañero’s house, in other words, the wife and 3 sons to say that they have to pay him 7,000 pesos for his care.

It’s clear that the compañero will not pay, because he is not the one who sought and provoked what happened.

On May 10 at 6:50 pm, 16 people arrived in village of Nuevo Paraíso in Francisco Villa the autonomous municipio. Three of them were armed with two 22-caliber pistols in hand and one 22-caliber long arm. They were aboard 8 motorcycles. These people belong to the Chikinival barrio of the Pojkol ejido. They came to throw a letter in the street, wherein they blame the support base compañeros for provoking these problems first.

But in reality we are not the ones provoking any problem, because we have been seeking peaceful alternatives for trying to resolve this matter, but they have never understood us. We have even delivered one hectare to each one of the 21 persons that are provoking, even so they have been threatening us. From February until today, May 11, those from Chikinival in the Pojkol ejido are threatening us daily because they ask those of Rosario to patrol armed. Those from Pojkol are always armed every day.

Therefore, we contradict what they are doing and blaming. It’s clear who provokes first.

We have cited (sent a notice to appear) the Pojkol ejido’s authorities and they came and said that they cannot do anything, because that group is not recognized now in the ejido, because they are totally some hoodlums, they do not respect or obey in the ejido. He also advised that the State of Manuel Velasco Coello also does nothing because it is his paramilitary.

Compañeros and compañeras, brothers and sisters of the world, these are the strategies with which the three levels of bad federal, state and municipal government are provoking us, when they use people that don’t understand our just cause so that that way we fall into their traps; but we are clear about what this bad government is doing: organizing, preparing and financing organizations and people that let themselves be bought off or that sell out.

We say to those without brains up there above: we are never going to stop resisting, nor are we going to fall into their traps; we will continue resisting here, working our lands and constructing our autonomy.

Whatever may come to pass, we place responsibility directly on the federal, state and municipal governments and on the paramilitaries from Chikinival barrio of the Pojkol ejido and from Rosario.

Sisters and brothers, we will continue reporting what may happen with our peoples and we want you to remain attentive to what may happen.


Good Government Junta

Jacobo Silvano Hernández                                            Lucio Ruiz Pérez


* We have translated the name of the Good Government Junta as “Path of the Future” because in that region of the Jungle the word camino is used to refer to one’s current path in life.

[1] For background  on what happened last August 2014, see:


Originally Published in Spanish by Enlace Zapatista

Translation: Chiapas Support Committee

Monday, May 11, 2015



EZLN: On Elections, ORGANIZE

Filed under: Zapatista — Tags: , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 7:11 am

EZLN: On Elections, ORGANIZE


MAY 5, 2015

April 2015

To the compas of the Sixth:

To those who are reading because it interests them, even though they’re not part of the Sixth:

These days, every time that this thing they call the “electoral process” happens, we hear and see the stuff that comes out saying that the EZLN calls for abstention, that the EZLN says that people shouldn’t vote. They say this and other idiocies, these big-headed people who don’t study history or even try to understand. And they even put these absurdities into history books and biographies, and then charge for them. That is to say, they charge for these lies. Like politicians.

Of course, you know that we’re not interested in these things that those above make up in order to try to convince those below that they’re concerned about them.

As Zapatistas, we don’t call for people not to vote, nor do we call for them to vote. As Zapatistas, every time we get the chance we tell people that they should organize to resist and to struggle for what they need.

We, like many other originary peoples of these lands, already know how the political parties operate, and it’s a bad history of bad people.

And for us Zapatistas, it is a history is already in the past.

I think it was the late Father Juan Chavez Alonso who said that political parties separate and divide the people, creating confrontation and conflicts between them, even among members of the same family.

And here we see this happen again and again.

You all know that in many of the communities where we live, there are people who aren’t Zapatistas, and who aren’t organized, and are scraping by hoping that the bad government will give them a few handouts in exchange for letting them snap a photo that makes the government look good.

And so we see that every time there are elections, some dress up in red, others in blue, others in green, others in yellow, others in faded colors and so on. And they fight amongst themselves; sometimes they even fight among family members. Why do they fight? Well, they fight over who is going to be in charge of them, who they are going to obey, who is going to give them orders. They think that whatever particular colour wins, the people who supported that colour will receive more handouts. We see thay they say they are very aware and decisive in their political party choice, and sometimes they even kill each other over a fucking colour. Because it’s the same thing among all those who want a political position, regardless of whether they dress up red, or sometimes in blue, or green or yellow, or sometimes they put on a new colour. And then they say they are of the people and that therefore the people have to support them. But they aren’t of the people, they’re the same bad governments who one day are local representatives, and the next are union leaders, then they are party functionaries, and then municipal presidents, and that is how they work, bouncing from one position to another, and also from one color to another. They are the very same people, with the same last names, from the same families as always, the sons, grandchildren, uncles, nephews, relatives, brothers in-law, boyfriends, lovers, friends of the same cheats and bullies[i] as always. And they always say the same thing: that they are going to save the people, that this time they are going to behave themselves, that now they won’t steal so much, that they are going to help those who have nothing, that they’re going to pull them out of poverty.

Well, then they spend their money, which is of course not theirs but rather what they take from taxes. But these little cheats and bullies don’t spend that money helping those who are down-and-out. No. They spend it on their political propaganda, putting up their posters and photos, on radio advertisements and TV spots, on ads in newspapers and commercial magazines, and even in the movie theatres.

Well, the people in the communities who are partidistas [people who identify with a political party] during election times and very conscious of which colour they’re supporting, as soon as it’s clear who won they all switch to that colour because they think that way they’re going to get their little handout.

For example, supposedly now they’re going to get a television. Well, as Zapatistas, we say that they are being given a garbage can because through this television they are going to get a mountain of garbage.

But, regardless of whether the parties gave them what was promised before, now they’re not nor will they give them anything at all.

If the parties gave them anything at all, well, it was in order to make them lazy. They even forgot how to work the land. They’re just there, waiting for the next government payment to arrive so they can waste it on booze. And there they are in their houses, making fun of us because we are cultivating, while they just sit there waiting for their wife or daughter to return from collecting the pay-out, the government’s handout, that they sent her after.

It goes on like this until the day comes that the pay-out doesn’t arrive. There is no notice, it isn’t announced by the paid press, no one comes to tell them that they are their saviours. There is simply no more support. And then this brother or sister realizes that now they have nothing, that there is no money for booze, but there’s also none for corn, beans, soap, or underwear. And so they have to return to the farm plot that they had abandoned, now so overgrown that they can’t even walk through it. And because they have forgotten how to work, soon their hands are covered in blisters and they can’t even hold a machete. That’s how useless they have become living off handouts from the government instead of working.

And this kind of thing is already happening. They don’t talk about it in the news controlled by the bad government. On the contrary, the news says that there is a lot of government support. But nothing is getting to the people. Where does the money go that the government says it’s spending on handouts for the campaign against poverty? Well, we know that those up above have already said that there is going to be less money, or that there isn’t going to be any at all. Do you all think that if the campesinos accustomed to getting hand-outs stop working, those above distributing the handouts really do work? Well no, that guy up there is also accustomed to getting something for nothing. He doesn’t know how to live honorably from his own work; he only knows how to live if he has his government position.

Well, now that there is less money, there are no handouts. All of the money remains up above. The governor takes a chunk; the judge takes some, so do the police, a bit goes to the local representative, some to the Municipal President, some to the trustee, some to the campesino leader and well, there’s nothing left for the partidista’sfamily.

Before there was a little something, but now there’s nothing. “What’s happening?” asks the partidista. He thinks that it’s because his colour doesn’t work any more and so tries another colour. The result is the same. In their assemblies the partidistas get angry, they shout and accuse each other of things, they call each other traitors, sell-outs, corrupt. Ultimately, it’s both the ones who are shouting and being shouted at who are all traitors, sell-outs, and corrupt.


And so, the ones that they call the party’s base lose hope, worry, and feel bad. They stop joking because they realize that in the Zapatista’s homes there is corn, beans, vegetables, there is a little bit of money for medicine and clothes. Our collective labour helps us support one other when there is need. There is a clinic; there is a school. And it’s not because the government has come to help us. We, ourselves, have helped one other as Zapatista compañeros and compañeroas[ii] of the Sixth.

So the partidista brother comes to us all sad and asks us what to do, saying that he is screwed.

Well, you know what we say to him:

We don’t tell him that he should change to another party, the one that is now the least bad option.

We don’t tell him to vote.

Nor do we tell him not to vote.

We don’t tell him that he should become a Zapatista, because we already know, through our history, that not everyone has the strength of heart to be a Zapatista.

We don’t make fun of him.

We tell him that he should organize, plain and simple.

“And then, what do I do?” he asks.

And so we say to him: “then you will see for yourself what to do, what emerges in your heart and your head, no one else is going to tell you what to do.”

And he says: “The situation is really bad.”

And we don’t lie to him, or make grand narratives or speeches. We tell him the truth.

“It’s going to get worse”.

– * –

Well we know that’s how things go.

But also, as Zapatistas, we are clear that there are still people, in other parts of the city and countryside, that fall into being partidistas.

And well, being involved with the party seems very attractive, because you can get money without doing any work, without toiling away to make a few cents and have something dignified to eat, clothe and take care of your health.

But what those above do is deceive people. That is their job and that is how they survive.

And we see that there are people who believe it, that yes, now the situation is going to get better, that this leader is going to fix their problems, that he is going to behave himself and not steal much, that he’ll only be involved in a couple of dodgy dealings, and so that they really have to give him a try.

So we say that these are pieces of little histories that need to happen. That people have to learn for themselves that no one will solve their problems for them, but that instead we have to solve them ourselves, as organized collectives.

It is the people who create solutions, not leaders or parties.

And we’re not saying this because it sounds pretty. It’s because we see it in reality, because we already do it.

– * –

It could be said that a long time ago, before they became part of the institutional apparatus, some of the partidistas on the left sought to build awareness among the people. That they weren’t seeking power through elections, but rather to move people to organize themselves, struggle and change the system. Not just the government, the whole system.

Why do I say partidistas of the institutional left? Well, because we know that there are parties on the left that aren’t involved in the dealings of above; they have their same form, but they don’t sell out, or give up, or change their belief that we must end the capitalist system. And because we know, and as Zapatistas we do not forget, that the history of struggle from below is also written with their blood.

But money is money, and above is above. And the partidistas of the institutional left changed their thinking and now they seek out paid positions. It’s that simple: the money. Or, in other words, the pay.

Do you really think that it’s possible to create political consciousness by disdaining, humiliating and scolding those below? Telling them that they’re a bunch of “sandwich-gobblers”[iii] who don’t think? That they are ignorant?

Do you think that you create political consciousness by asking people to vote for you while simultaneously telling them that they’re fools who would sell out for a television?

Do you think that you create political consciousness if, when you say to them, “hey you, partidista of the left, this cheat or bully who says that that he’s the hope for the future actually used to work with the other colours and is a rat,” they (the people) respond that you’ve sold out to Peña Nieto?

Do you think that you create political consciousness if you lie to people, telling them that we Zapatistas say not to vote, because you are seeing that you might not have enough people on your voter registry, or in other words, enough for more pay, and you’re simply looking for someone to blame?

Do you think that you create consciousness if you now have the same people working in your party who used to be yellow, or red, or green or blue?

Do you think that you create consciousness by saying people who have no formal education shouldn’t vote and that are poor because they are ignorant fools who only vote for the PRI?

If in Chiapas, Velasco slaps people around with his hand,[iv] those partidistas slap people around with their poorly-hidden racism.

It is clear that the only thing about which those partidistas are creating consciousness is that in addition to being arrogant, they’re also imbeciles.

What do they think?

That after being insulted, lied to, and scolded, that the people from below are going to get down on their knees in front of that colour, vote for them, and beg to be saved?


What we Zapatistas say is: there you have the proof that in order to be a party politician above one has to be shameless, a fool, or a criminal—or all three.


We Zapatistas say that we shouldn’t be afraid of having the people rule. It’s the most healthy and just way. Because it is the people themselves who going to make the changes that are truly necessary. And that is the only way that a new system of government is going to exist.

It’s not that we don’t understand what selecting a candidate or elections are. We Zapatistas have a different calendar and geography for how to have elections in rebel territory, in resistance.

We have our own ways in which the people truly choose, and not through spending millions, much less producing tons of plastic rubbish and banners with photos of rats and criminals.

It is true that it’s been just barely 20 years that we’ve been choosing our autonomous authorities, with true democracy. This is how we have been walking together, with the Freedom that we have achieved for ourselves and with an ‘other’ Justice of an organized people – where thousands of women and men are involved in the process of choosing. Where everyone finds agreement and organizes to ensure compliance with the mandates of the people. Where the people organize to determine the work that will be undertaken by the authorities.

In other words, the people command their government.

The people organize in assemblies, where they begin to express their opinions and from there proposals emerge and these proposals are studied for their advantages and disadvantages, to analyze which one is best. And before making a decision, the proposals are taken back to the people and the assembly for approval so that a decision can be made in accordance with the majority of the communities.

This is Zapatista life in the communities. It is already a true culture.

Does that seem very slow to you? That is why we say that it is according to our calendar.

Do you think this is because we are Indigenous peoples? This is why we say that it is according to our geography.

It is true that we have made many mistakes and had many failures. And it is true that we will have more.

But they are our failures.

We make them. We pay for them.

It’s not like in the political parties where the leaders make mistakes, where they even charge for them, and those below pay for them.

That is why the elections coming in the month of June mean nothing to us either way.

We don’t call for people to vote, nor do we call for them not to vote. It doesn’t interest us.

And more, it doesn’t worry us.

For us, Zapatistas, what we’re interested in is knowing how to resist and confront the many heads of the capitalist system that exploits us, represses us, disappears us and steals from us.

Because it not just in one place or in one way that capitalism oppresses. It oppresses you if you’re a woman. It oppresses you if you’re a white-collar worker. It oppresses if you’re a blue-collar worker. It oppresses if you’re a campesino. It oppresses if you if you’re a young person. It oppresses you if you are a child. It oppresses you if you’re a teacher. It oppresses you if you’re a student. It oppresses you if you’re an artist. It oppresses you if you think. It oppresses you if you are human, or plant, or water, or earth or air or animal.

It doesn’t matter how many times they wash it or perfume it, the capitalist system is “dripping from head to toe, from every pore, with blood and dirt” (you can figure out who wrote this and where).[v]

So our idea isn’t to promote voting.

Nor is it to promote abstention or casting blank votes.

Nor is it to provide recipes for how to confront capitalism.

Nor is it to impose our thinking on others.

The seminar is to see the different heads of the capitalist system, to try to understand whether it has new ways of attacking us or whether they are the same ones as before.

If we are interested in other ways of thinking, it is in order to see if we are right about what we think is coming, that there will be a tremendous economic crisis that will connect with other bad things and do tremendous damage to everyone everywhere, all over the world.

So if it’s true that this is coming, or that it’s already happening, we need to think about whether it will work to keep doing the same thing that has been done before.

We think that we have the obligation to think, to analyze, to reflect, to critique, to find our own pace, or own way, in our places and in our own times.

Now, I ask those of you who are reading this: whether you vote or not, is it harmful to think about what is going on in this world that we live in, to analyse it, to understand it? Does thinking critically impede voting or abstaining from voting? Does it help us to organize or not?

– * –


Finishing up on elections:

Just so that it’s very clear and you aren’t misled about what we say and don’t say.

We understand that there are those who think that it is possible to change the system by voting in elections.

We say that’s a difficult spot because it is the same Ruler that organises the elections, who decides who the candidates are, who says how, when, and where to vote, who announces who wins, and who says whether the election was legal or not.

But well, there are people who think that this can work. It’s fine, we don’t say no, but we also don’t say yes.

So, vote for a colour or one of the washed-out colors, or don’t vote, what we say is that we have to organize ourselves and take into our own hands the decision of who governs and make them obey the people.

If you already decided that you won’t go and vote, we don’t say that’s good, nor do we say that it’s bad. We only say that we think that it is not enough, that you have to organize yourselves. And, of course, that you have to prepare yourself because they will blame you for the miseries of the institutional parties of the left.

If you already decided that you are going to vote and you already know who you will vote for, well same thing, our opinion isn’t that it’s good or bad. What we do say clearly is that you should prepare yourself because you’re going to get really angry about the cheating and fraud that will happen. Because those in Power are experts in cheating. Because what’s going to happen has already been decided by those above.

We also know that there are leaders who deceive the people. They say that there are only two paths to change the system: electoral struggle or armed struggle.

They say this because they’re ignorant or shameless, or both.

First of all, they aren’t fighting to change the system, or to take power, but to be government. That’s not the same thing. They say that once they are in government, they will do good things, but they are careful to make it clear that they’re not going to change the system, they’re only going to get rid of the bad stuff.

Perhaps they should to study a little and learn that to be in government isn’t to have Power.

You can see that they don’t realize that that if they get rid of the bad parts of capitalism, then it won’t be capitalism. And I’m going to tell you why: because capitalism is the exploitation of man by man, of the many by the few. Even if they include women, it’s the same. Even if they include otroas, it’s the same. It’s still the system in which unoas enrich themselves with the work of otroas.[vi] And the otroas above are few, and otroas below are few. If those partidistas say that this is fine and they just have to be careful that they don’t push it too far, that’s fine, let them say it.

But there are more than the two ways that they describe (the armed path and the electoral path) to get into government. They forget that the government can also be bought (or they’ve already forgotten how Peña Nieto got there?) And not only that, but perhaps they’ve also forgotten that it’s possible to rule without being in government.

If these people say that it’s only possible with weapons or with elections, the only thing that they’re actually saying is that they don’t know their history, that they haven’t studied well, that they have no imagination, and that they have no shame.

It would be enough for them to see just a little of what happens below. But their necks are already cramped from looking up so much.

That is why we, the Zapatistas, don’t get tired of saying organize yourselves, let’s organize ourselves, each person where they are, let’s struggle to organize ourselves, let’s work to organize ourselves, let’s begin by thinking about how to start to organize and let’s gather together in order to unite our organizations for a world where the people command and the government obeys.

In summary, as we said before, and we say now: whether you vote or not, organize yourself.

And well, we Zapatistas think that we have to have good ideas in order to organize ourselves. Which is to say, we need theory, critical thought.

With critical thought we can analyze the ways of the enemy, of the one who oppresses us, exploits us, represses us, disdains us, and steals from us.

But with critical thought we also examine our own path, our own steps.

For this reason we are calling on all of the Sixth to have meetings of thought, analysis, theory, of how you see the world, your struggle, and your history.

We call for you to have your own seminars and share with us the ideas that you cultivate there.

– * –

As Zapatistas, we are going to continue governing ourselves as we already do, where the people rule and the government obeys.

As our Zapatista compañeros say: Hay lum tujbil vitil ayotik. Which means: how good it is, the way that we are now.

Another: Nunca ya kikitaybajtic bitilon zapatista. Which means: we will never stop being Zapatistas.

One more: Jatoj kalal yax chamon te yax voon sok viil zapatista. Which means: Even after I’m dead, I’ll still be called a Zapatista.

From the mountains of the Mexican southeast.

In the name of the EZLN, the men, women, children and elders of the Zapatista Army for National Liberation.

Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés

Mexico, April-May of 2015.

[i] The text uses “cabrón,” like bully or asshole, and “cabra,” (literally “goat”), playing with the feminine form of gendered nouns in Spanish. We will use “cheats and bullies” throughout the rest of the translation for this phrase.

[ii] The text uses “compañeroas,” to give a range of possible gendered pronouns including male, female, transgender and others.

[iii] A reference to those who accept gifts or handouts—often a sandwich at a rally—from the political parties in return for support.

[iv] A reference to the slap Chiapas governor Manuel Velasco gave to an assistant at a December 9, 2014, public event, which was caught on camera.

[v] From Karl Marx’ Capital Volume 1, Chapter 31.

[vi] The text uses “unoas” (some) and “otroas,” (others) to give a range of possible gendered pronouns including male, female, transgender and others.



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