dorset chiapas solidarity

January 31, 2017

Zapatista News Summary for January 2017

Filed under: news, Uncategorized, Zapatista — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 11:53 am

 

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Zapatista News Summary for January 2017

 

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Zapatista News

1. CNI and ConCiencias: With the second phase of the Fifth National Indigenous Congress finishing on January 1st at Oventic, and the Gathering “the Zapatistas and ConCiencias (ConSciences) for Humanity,” coming to an end on January 4th at Cideci, the news for January tends to be dominated by the outcome of these two events, especially the decision to set up an indigenous council for government (CGI) in whose name an indigenous woman will run as a candidate for president in 2018. A great deal of analysis and discussion takes place, with inevitable misunderstandings and opposition.

2. Closing words: The closing words of the 5th CNI are given by SCI Moises on 1st January, 2017. He speaks of the need for their project, “Today, the conditions of the Mexican people in the countryside and in the city are worse than they were 23 years ago. Poverty, desperation, death, and destruction are not only wrought on the people who originally populated this land. Now, misfortune finds everyone.” Therefore “The National Indigenous Congress has decided to fight to heal our land and our skies, and has decided to do it through civil and peaceful means.” Everyone can join together in this struggle. “Now is the time of all people, from the countryside and the city,” to struggle together for peace and justice and to create an autonomous parallel government for the country. The CGI will be formally constituted on May 18th.

3. Declaration of the Fifth National Indigenous Congress: Also on 1st January, with a joint statement from the CNI and the EZLN “And The Earth Trembled! A Report from the Epicentre”, the Declaration of the 5th CNI is released from Oventic. It announces the decision:

“WE AGREE to name an Indigenous Governing Council with men and women representatives from each one of the peoples, tribes, and nations that make up the CNI. This council proposes to govern this country. It will have an indigenous woman from the CNI as its spokesperson, which is to say a woman who has indigenous blood and who knows her culture, and this indigenous woman spokesperson from the CNI will be an independent candidate for the presidency of Mexico in the 2018 elections.” 1st January was, of course, the 23rd anniversary of the Zapatista uprising, which is symbolized in their new strategy.

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4. The Zapatistas and ConSciences for Humanity: This well-attended event brings together scientists and adherents to the Sexta from many parts of the world, along with 200 Zapatiata support bases who will take their new learning back to their communities, after debating over a period of ten days. Moises says at the beginning “We don’t conceive knowledge as a symbol of social status or a measure of intelligence (…) We don’t want to go to the university, we want the university to be erected in our communities, to be taught and to learn together with our people.”

They are looking for “science for life.” Reflections by Sup Galeano, spoken at the event, are made available, such as this one for scientists; alsoavailable are accounts by people who attended.

5. “Joint Pronouncement From The CNI And The EZLN For The Freedom Of Our Mapuche Sister Machi Francisca Lincolao Huircapan” On 6th January, the CNI and EZLN issue a joint communique demanding freedom for the woman healer, religious leader and Mapuche political prisoner in Chile. This is part of the repression committed by the Chilean government against the indigenous Mapuche people. 60 year-old Francisca Linconao’s state of health is very weak following a hunger strike. She is “on a hunger strike to demand the justice that the bad government of Chile has denied her by keeping her imprisoned for the crime of continuing to defend the natural resources, sacred places, and cultural rights of her people.”

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Other

1.Anniversaries in Chiapas: January 25th, 2017 marks the 6th anniversary of the death of the belovedJtatik Samuel, Bishop Samuel Ruiz Garcia, in San Cristobal de las Casas, and the 25th anniversary of the foundation of El Pueblo Creyente (the Believing People). During that time they have been walking towards the construction of alternatives, denouncing the projects of death. A big march is held by the Pueblo Creyente. 5,000 people walk in procession to the cathedral in San Cristobal for a mass in memory of Bishop Samuel, seeking to construct their own autonomy. The occasion also marks 25 years since the creation of the Area of Women.

2.Activist murdered: Isidro Baldenegro López, a subsistence farmer and leader of the Tarahumara (Raramuri) community in the Sierra Madre mountain area is shot dead for his resistance to illegal logging and deforestation in the northern region. His father was previously assassinated for the same reason. At least 122 activists were murdered in Latin America in 2015 while trying to protect natural resources from environmentally destructive mega-projects such as dams, mines, tourist resorts and logging, according to research by the NGO Global Witness. In all, 2015 was the deadliest year on record for environmental activists globally with at least 185 killed.

 3. Atenco – more attempts to impose the airport: On 21st January members of the FPDT and inhabitants of the eastern shore of Lake Texcoco share with representatives of the United Nations their experience of human rights violations. The very next day crews of workers with two bulldozers enter the ejido of Atenco to carry out the construction of the highway Pirámides-Texcoco. With the protection of a military tank and federal police, the companies again violate the definitive suspension awarded against this project that is part of the new airport of Mexico City. The ejidatarios demand the removal of the machinery. Members of the FPDT continue to block the highway from Texcoco-Lechería to denounce the dispossession of more than 500 hectares of their cultivated lands.

4. Monsanto struggles to impose GM corn in Mexico: A Mexican court upholds a late 2013 ruling which had temporarily halted even pilot plots of GMO corn following a legal challenge over its effects on the environment. While Mexico is self-sufficient in white corn used to make the country’s staple tortillas, it depends on imports of mostly GMO yellow corn from the United States for its livestock. Several years ago, Monsanto submitted two applications for the commercial planting of GMO corn in Mexico. Progress with these has been very slow.

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January 30, 2017

Oxchuc Celebrates the “Day of Civil Resistance”

Filed under: Autonomy, Uncategorized — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 4:46 pm

 

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Oxchuc Celebrates the “Day of Civil Resistance”

 

oxchuc-chiapas-oxchuc-1400112503Aerial view of the town of Oxchuc, the capital of Oxchuc municipality, located in the Highlands of Chiapas, Mexico.

 

By: Isaín Mandujano

With marches, public assemblies, dance, food and sports activities, for two days, thousands of indigenous Oxchuc residents, celebrated the “Day of Civil Resistance” in that municipal capital, to remember that January 8, 2016 on which hundreds of state police attempted to enter the municipal capital but were repelled with a negative result for the police.

During Saturday and Sunday, residents of some 97 communities and the 22 neighbourhoods in the municipal capital congregated to remember that pitched battle, which they called a “historic gesture,” that they had with some 700 police who tried to enter the town to subject them.

The town of Oxchuc maintains a civilian resistance against the mayor elected in July 2015, María Gloria Sánchez and that the Electoral Tribunal of the Judicial Power of the Federation (TEPJF) ratified; they accuse her of having won by buying votes, and manipulating and coercing the vote during the elections to prolong the political boss system in that municipality that she maintains with her husband Norberto Sántiz.

In a plebiscite residents elected Oscar Gómez López, and although the local government already recognized him, the state government obliged him to install María Gloria Sánchez in his position because of a TEPJF resolution.

January 8, 2016 was marked in the history of Oxchuc, the bravery with which everyone went out in the streets to confront the state police. Minutes before, state police had detained 38 Oxchuc leaders during a negotiating session in San Cristóbal de Las Casas.

When the state police entered, residents burned a dozen buses and patrol cars which resulted in more than 50 injuries. The residents also captured 27 state police, among them eight women, as well as the Oxchuc judge for Indigenous Peace and Conciliation, Rogelio Sántiz López, and four of his sons and two little boys.

The Oxchuqueros (residents of Oxchuc) used the captured state police and civilians as hostages to demand the freedom of their 38 leaders. Therefore the state government had to accede immediately to the demand.

Last Saturday and Sunday, Oxchuqueros went into the streets to march, held a huge assembly with representation from the 97 communities and the 22 barrios of the municipal capital. There, they ratified Oscar Gómez López as their mayor-elect through uses and customs.

 

chis-702x468Mayor Oscar Gómez López and his Emiliano Zapata banner.

 

In an interview, Mayor Oscar Gómez López demanded that the state government and particularly the Treasury Secretary, release the Oxchuc municipal council’s bank accounts, because the situation has already reached a point at which it is not possible to support some expenses they must make, like paying police, repairing patrol cars and buying gas.

Also, thousands of men, women and children are affected by the lack of ambulances, because these already are lacking or rather there is no longer any fuel for taking out the sick and injured from the more than 100 rural communities.

Gómez López said that the people have made the decision to block that stretch of highway again on January 18, to demand that the state government release the frozen bank accounts; and if they are not released they will block that highway stretch until they are heard. [1]

Blocking Oxchuc is a crisis for the state government because it paralyzes the economy, the movement of tourists and the local population that travels from the Highlands to the Jungle Region and the Northern Zone of Chiapas.

Gómez López said that the people of Oxchuc remain firm in maintaining him as mayor-elect through uses and customs and that in no way will they permit the return of the political bosses María Gloria and Norberto.

[1] Oxchuc residents maintained a roadblock on Wednesday and Thursday (January 18 and 19) to demand that the state government release the city’s bank accounts, because thousands of inhabitants are suffering the consequences of the lack of public resources like water, public services like garbage collection, security and patrolling, and health care and other matters. The state government and the members of the Permanent Commission for Peace and Conciliation, the body that heads the civil resistance movement against the region’s caciques, reached an agreement and they lifted the roadblock. In the evening, after lifting the roadblock, residents of Oxchuc heard shots fired into the air and believe they came from groups that support María Gloria. There is concern about an outbreak of violence in the town and in the municipality.

http://www.chiapasparalelo.com/noticias/chiapas/2017/01/temen-enfrentamiento-en-oxchuc/

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Originally Published in Spanish by Chiapas Paralelo

Sunday, January 8, 2017

http://www.chiapasparalelo.com/noticias/chiapas/2017/01/celebra-oxchuc-dia-de-la-resistencia-civil/

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

 

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January 28, 2017

Learning to govern ourselves

Filed under: Autonomy, Uncategorized — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 9:43 am

 

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Learning to govern ourselves

 

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By: Gustavo Esteva

The storm rages; cold and hurricane-force winds threaten from the north, which will be accentuated after next Friday, January 20, and a cyclone forms level with the land all over the country. There is nowhere to take shelter.

There are those who seek refuge in the dominant system. They think that doing so is realistic. They consider it romantic or utopian, for example, to openly challenge capitalism. Likewise, although they know that the state apparatus is falling apart, dragged through the storm, and that the people distrust the parties and the electoral process more all the time, they hang all their hope on 2018. They think that circumstances will finally make it possible for their permanent candidate to win the elections; they are confident that, once in power, he will fix everything fixable.

They saw with disgust the decision of the National Indigenous Congress (CNI) to create a government council that will express itself in the voice of an indigenous woman, who will be an independent candidate in the presidential elections. They circulate new racist and sexist comments to disqualify the decision. They also warn that the decision will divide what is still called “the left” and will benefit the candidates who administer what remains of the government.

Debate has been scarce. Democratic dogmas are launched over rebel heads like projectiles. There is resistance to abandoning the dominant mental framework, although evidence and experiences showing that it is not sensible or realistic to take refuge in the remains of the institutional shipwreck multiply.

Along with that dogmatic nonsense, probably unyielding, disagreement and confusion also spread. It is not easy to escape from the dominant habits. For the CNI, for example, it will not be easy to constitute the government council from below cleanly. Different small groups are already mobilizing to insert their cadres into it. They perceive it as a body with power from which they will be able to impel their agendas, which embrace very diverse points on the ideological spectrum.

The challenge that we confront obviously demands a kind of imagination to which we are not accustomed. It implies, first of all, recognizing that far from escaping from the storm and seeking provisional shelters, it’s necessary to submerge oneself in it. There, from the inside, we will be able to realize that candidates, parties or even the dominant structures form part of our strategic adversary, which we still call “fascism,” and they nourish the “fascist” that we carry inside, hidden in the desire to be governed.

libertad-womanThe patriarchal mentality, rooted in the course of millennia, makes it very difficult to conceive the world without hierarchies and structures of control. Upon warning that without them we would fall into chaos, they deny the fact that we are in current disorder because of them; the illusion of governing ourselves through representatives deepens the chaos instead of remedying it: it pushed us to the abyss of violence and decomposition in which we find ourselves.

It is easy to talk about what we’re dealing with: governing ourselves: that we are capable of managing our own lives, nothing more nothing less. It turns out to be difficult because we are infected with the subordination virus: we allow publicists, business people, bankers, leaders, the Internet and almost anything or anybody to govern us. We believe that it is freedom and democracy to decide between the choices that the system presents us, between brands of soap or between candidates or parties. And the “fascist” that we carry inside is constituted.

There are places and spaces in which the people have not stopped governing themselves since millenniums ago. We must not idealize them; there one also observes patriarchal impositions and habits of domination. But the practice exists. A certain number of people are still born in contexts in which many aspects of daily life are the fruit of common agreement. In questions of enormous importance to people, heteronomy, regulation by others, can be kept at bay.

Although the majority aren’t accustomed to governing themselves, the impulse is profound and general. Nobody needs training to do it. It starts at home, when we create conditions so that the whole family, including small children and elders, may participate in the decisions that affect everyone. It passes from there to the condominium, the street, the district, to all the spheres of the reality in which each one moves.

Examples of how to change the pattern of behaviour that makes us desire someone to govern us exist everywhere. In San Cristóbal, for example, a city that was not constructed for automobiles, traffic lights and police govern traffic… with bad results. The “one by one” device in which the drivers themselves govern the crossing of each street has demonstrated the advantages of auto-governance.

On that path we are able to discover that the country still has immense reserves of autonomous wisdom. In popular sectors that collective possibility of self-government has been a condition of survival. And if we deal with the storm in that way, practicing our own forms of self-government at all levels, organizing ourselves for that, we will be prepared to do what we have to do inside of 18 months.

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Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Monday, January 16, 2017

http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2017/01/16/opinion/016a1pol

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

Posted by Dorset Chiapas Solidarity

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January 27, 2017

The FPDT Again Denounces the Intrusion of Machinery with Protection of the Army and Federal Police

Filed under: Corporations, Displacement, Women — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 8:29 am

 

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The FPDT Again Denounces the Intrusion of Machinery with Protection of the Army and Federal Police

 

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Today, January 22, crews of workers from the companies CIPSA and Pinfra entered the ejido of Atenco with two bulldozers intent on carrying out the construction of the highway Pirámides-Texcoco. With the protection of a military tank and federal police, the companies again violated the definitive suspension awarded against this project that is part of the new airport of Mexico City. This took place one day after sharing testimony of human rights violations against members of the FDPT and of the habitants of the communities on the Eastern shore of Lake Texcoco with a special reporter of the UN.

The ejido members and habitants of the communities went to the place of intrusion to demand the fulfilment of the suspension and the respect of their human rights. They talked with the workers to remove the machinery. The machine returned to the company with the condition that the land would be restored to its place and the policemen would not be involved.

We call on all social organizations, media, and people in solidarity with our cause in defence of mother earth to be alert to the continued provocations, actions of intimidation, and aggressions against our communities. These actions operate in complicity with businesses and local, state and federal authorities to impose the plundering involved in the new airport project of Mexico City. We appeal to the respect of our human rights and to the respect of due process in each one of the different cases of appeals and denunciations that we have opened against these abuses.

Frente de Pueblos en Defensa de la Tierra

https://atencofpdt.blogspot.mx/2017/01/el-fpdt-denuncia-nueva-incursion-de.html?m=1

https://palabrasrebeldes.wordpress.com/2017/01/24/the-fpdt-again-denounces-the-intrusion-of-machinery-with-support-of-the-army-and-federal-police/

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January 26, 2017

Zapatismo, conscious science and the purpose of the rainbow

Filed under: CNI, Indigenous, Zapatistas — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 12:10 pm

 

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Zapatismo, conscious science and the purpose of the rainbow

 

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By: Eugenia Gutiérrez, the Radio Zapatista Collective.
Mexico, 4 January 2017.

How does science explain the formation of a rainbow, why it is said to have 7 colors and what is its purpose?

mg_0245-350x233That was a question put forth by Zapatismo a few days ago, and people who dedicate themselves to the study of the natural and hard sciences can answer the first two parts, and in fact, they already have. They understand the phenomenon we associate with the encounter of rain and sun, and how the light breaks down into colours on contact with the water in the rain, or a waterfall, or a fountain. They understand why we see it as an arc, why we can distinguish the colours in the spectrum from red to violet, what visual perspective is needed to see it, and how it can appear even during a storm. By now this question has been answered with clarity and detail. But the Zapatista communities also asked what purpose the rainbow has. Yet since natural phenomena have no specific function, no purpose, science cannot answer that. Science understands “why” natural phenomena happen but not “for what ends”.

This question was one among more than 100 addressed from the first day of the gathering of the Zapatistas and ConSciences for Humanity that ended today in CIDECI-Unitierra in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico. It is unprecedented that at a scientific gathering, questions such as this one, and others, were presented collectively after having been discussed for months by numerous people living in indigenous communities in resistance. Likewise the answers will be taken back to the communities for more discussion. And then to add to all this, more questions about each topic emerged during the heated debates. But there is something that is not new when it comes to Zapatismo, and that is that many of the questions, collective or individual, concerned something more than scientific knowledge: our conscience. Some of the women and men scientists gathered at the University of the Earth (CIDECI-Unitierra) carefully explained what science is:  knowledge obtained through observation and reasoning; trial and error; proving or disproving something; the systematisation of information in order to deduce laws or general principles about the functioning of the cosmos. But how do we define conscience?

The word “conscience” encompasses an ambiguous concept. According to the Association of Spanish Language Academies the word comes from Latin, and on the one hand it means “the faculties of the human spirit to recognise itself in its essential attributes and in all the modifications that it undergoes”; and “reflective knowledge of things”; and “mental activity about which only the subjects can know themselves”; and from the field of psychology, “a psychic act by which subjects perceive themselves in the world.” On the other hand, viewed culturally and morally, conscience is our “inner knowledge of good and evil,” while “erroneous consciousness” would mean “a person who out of ignorance judges truth for falsehood, or falsehood for truth, mistaking good for bad, or bad for good “. This all means that consciousness is an individual capacity. To the best of our knowledge, we know we are, that we exist, and after some time, we will not be here, we will no longer exist. The Zapatista contribution made by Sup Moises and Sup Galeano pointed out that speaking about conscience is also word play, that being “with” (con in Spanish) science also suggests closeness, commitment, and accompaniment. And as the young Zapatista Marina explained, it is also knowing that only by “working together to create something shared” that we can overcome “the forces of gravity” of a System that crushes us.

No science can systematise “essential attributes” or the “changes” that the human spirit experiences, and neither can the social sciences or the humanities. And up until now, it is not possible to deduce the principles and general laws about the conscience. And further, if conscience is an individual mental activity, how do we generate a collective, constructive and humanistic conscience, so that community science and technology can emerge with such force it counteracts what destroys us? Zapatismo proposes that we need other definitions, new concepts.

We have our imagination. Conscience and imagination. And while biology explains that we may not be the only species with a conscience and imagination, biology also points out that we are the only species capable of reasoning and generating complex technology from our conscience and imagination. This distinguishes us as a species, but as many presentations stated our conscience destroys as well.

 

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The conscience can be humanistic and it can imagine a better world, but transformation requires a lot. The women and men scientist gathered at CIDECI during these days have explained that science and technology are immersed in economic, political, social and cultural systems which define the objectives and scope of the work. Having an understanding of Nature then becomes linked to economic, political, social and cultural matters. This brings great risks for our societies because technology, the product of science, has negative and positive effects, depending on who created it and to what ends it was created. There is conscience which destroys and conscience which constructs. It is from a constructive conscience that Zapatismo invites us to transform before we destroy our own history just as we are beginning.

 

What Zapatismo proposes can be achieved. With their own scientific knowledge, many of the participants and presenters at Unitierra were like the reflection of the spectrum of colours that our human eyes can see.  The perspective required to observe this phenomenon was offered by Zapatismo and the questions it proposes. The storm we know where it comes from. Then a novel configuration produced a light that projected itself beyond the spectrum that the naked eye can perceive. The mirrors of the resistance of the National Indigenous Congress and the collective voices of the Zapatista students Marina, Sofia, Esther, Cecilia and Claudia, in perfect harmony. The confluence of all the necessary factors to contemplate that unique moment, that moment that makes us stop to look with respect and silence because a rainbow, whatever it is, is also a fascinating opportunity that stimulates our reason and imagination to reflect on the temporary but infinite magic of life.

In the map presented by Cristian with Mary Chuy at his side and both from the CNI, they explained a way to use reason and imagination based upon a conscience of the constructive and humanistic collective to create science and community technology. The Wixaritari people call it “takiekari” which means “our everything” explained Cristian. They call it the world, the universe, and down to the micro-cosmos where “the struggle for land is inalienable.” Then comes the idea of the “yurameka”, the “essence of life” that the Wixárika ancestry nominated to care for “all that grows from the beginning of life” and that care “depends on each of the vital components of ecology” of the macrocosm. In the imaginary and real dreams of Zapatista women, it is intuited that it is possible to “do science with the ends to mean life,” says Marina. In her speech to compañeros she said we know that the nightmare of the storm we confront and that envelops us can be stopped when we learn how to “govern with our knowledge”.

It’s not easy to care for the land, and the balance of life. But the indigenous communities of Mexico and other nations have done so for many years. There was a time, when they even created other science and technology that functioned for centuries. The civil engineering of Teotihuacan served a fully functioning mega-city:  the roads in perfect lines, with slopes correctly inclined for water management; the prudent diversion of a river; appropriate adhesives that archeology still cannot reproduce. Europe could not have maintained the hydraulic engineering operation that the great Tenochtitlan had. There was the intelligent separation of fresh and salt water, the management of springs, drinking water and drainage systems, and the “chinampas”(*).  In Xochicalco, in the city, there is a cave with an opening so precise it connects the underworld to the map of the constellations above, allowing us to observe solstices, equinoxes; and it can x-ray our hand if we hold it up to the strong rays of the sunshine. In Palenque, Copan, and Quirigua – an exact understanding of spatial bodies’ cyclical movements. En Tzin Tzun Tzan, Mitla or Machu Picchu the magnificent, age-enduring architecture. In all of the indigenous communities of the Amercias there is the tradition of herbal medicine; and of improving corn in mutually respectful ways, agriculture, beekeeping, other traditions; painting and pottery technologies that combine to be substances producing form and colour which have endured for millennia; not to mention navigation, the construction of artificial lakes, dykes, piers, pyramids, and cities plastered and bathed in colour. In the Isthmus of Tehuantepec and the Maya area, hundreds of kilometres of paved roads; the invention of a writing system; a solar and lunar counting system, and many others; the design of a method for the anticipated recording of eclipses of the sun and moon (including those which could not observe); the discovery of accounting for absence of when measuring in units. In Coba, a woman recorded a great explosion in exponential cycles of 13 raised to power 20. More than 28 thousand quadrillions of tonnes.

But they did not know steel and or gunpowder, and they had not developed antibodies for bacteria and viruses which came from afar.

It’s not easy to care for the land, and the balance of life. But the indigenous communities of Mexico and other nations are doing so, and will continue to do so, in the midst of the ongoing war. We are conscious that we don’t have to be assassins or a voracious companies because we are the cradle of civilizations. There’s where reason and imagination come to life; where it is known that science does not transform for greater good if it is not communitarian; and consciousness is not enough if it is not constructive and it also must be collective and humanistic. Thousands of women and men students are preparing themselves. The National Indigenous Congress is too.

This is rare. The invisible ones, the ones who didn’t exist yesterday, are today and tomorrow breaking the laws of optics and physics. Deactivating a storm with energy. Those who prepared for death and war learned to do that, and that prepares us for life, thanks to the life force of ancestral knowledge and strength in confronting pain. But above all, thanks to the life force’s collective consciousness that builds, the life force with its vibrant imagination and the will to fight from a position of reason and autonomy. Now the life forces prepare to live demonstrable knowledge, among other things.

According to the Gregorian calendar, another year is beginning. We went around the sun again, and we lived to see it, we lived to see this rainbow, this milestone on the threshold of another time. What purpose does it serve? If it were a natural phenomenon, scientifically it would have none. But the rainbow we speak about is of an origin that has yet to be explained, and the colours to be defined, it fulfills a function in our conscience because it is not a natural phenomenon.

 

(*) Chinampa is an agricultural practice of growing crops on small rectangular gardens floating in th shallows of the lake beds in the Valley of Mexico.

Colectivo Radio Zapatista

 

Translated by the UK Zapatista Translation Service

 

http://radiozapatista.org/?p=20150

 

 

 

January 25, 2017

Thoughts on ConCiencias

Filed under: CNI, Indigenous, Uncategorized, Zapatistas — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 1:30 pm

 

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Thoughts on ConCiencias

ConCiencias resembled July’s CompARTE in many respects. The central corridor that wends its way between the CIDECI’s buildings was similarly filled with artisanal and culinary offers, which steadily grew over the course of the 10-day long meet, although more quickly than in July. Again, we were treated to the delicious baking of the CIDECI, with sweet coffee or tea, twice a day for a voluntary donation.
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Guests of the CNI queue to eat in the CIDECI canteen, while ‘escuchas’ chat between seminars (Photo courtesy of MIC, XochiTlanezi)

 

But inside the auditorium and the classrooms in the seminar block, carpentry building and basketball court, it was a different story. For starters, the format of the programme was nothing like that of CompARTE, with two general sessions a day, in the morning and evening, concentrated in the auditorium, and one or two lots of ‘parallel sessions’ in between. This meant long queues of ‘listeners’ (escuchas), who were far more numerous than the capacity of even the auditorium would allow.

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Escuchas listen to one of the general sessions at the back of the auditorium (Photo courtesy of MIC, XochiTlanezi)

 

The general sessions were live streamed on TV screens in the cafeteria and seminar room 1, as well as on the radio played on loudspeakers in two or three spots around the campus. Many people could be seen with headphones on, listening in to one of the temporary radio stations via their mobile phone – simultaneous translation into French and English was offered on sister channels (I tried to assist with the latter service on one occasion having got wind of the fact that they were short of translators, without much success I must say, since the speed and jargon-heavy subject matter, coupled with the fact that the lecture in question was one of several presented via video, made it hard to keep up!)

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Students watch Dr Manuel Fernández Guasti’s presentation on prehispanic astronomy in Salón 1, in the seminar block.

I won’t go into detail about the subjects covered by the dozens of scientists, as these have been listed elsewhere, but I will say that there was a degree of repetition that, for a humanities and social sciences student like myself, helped to cement a few key points about the role of science today, particularly in Mexico. These topics included the institutional and economic barriers towards democratising science in Mexico; evolution, particularly theories that human beings are empathetic, not competitive; and astronomy. It was on this last topic, that the best class I had the chance to attend was given, on the penultimate day of the event. Contagiously passionate, highly dynamic and extremely didactic, Dr. Manuel Fernández Guasti explained some of his research into pre-hispanic astronomical methods in Xochicalco, a site of encounter between numerous indigenous peoples in the time before colonisation. Dwelling longer on the photos from his fieldwork than on the complex equations, and complementing the slideshow and talk with student participation, Dr. Fernández Guasti gave a lively and comprehensive introduction to this fascinating area of study. Without reducing its complexity he nevertheless took great care in moulding his pedagogy to his students; the Zapatista pupils (alumnas and alumnos) representing all their near and far-flung base communities. SubGaleano emphasised in his early participation that the content of these talks was not only for the 200 students present, but for the thousands of Zapatista women, men, children and elders to whom the students would relay their new knowledge, following the meet. This skill was epitomised in the interaction of three zapatista students representing the earth (a globe), sun (a torch) and moon (a book!), who Dr. Fernández Guasti guided around one another, encouraging the rest of the students to shout ‘eclipse!’ when the three aligned so as to represent that phenomenon. This caused much hilarity in the classroom, and was repeated successfully several times – it seemed that the lesson had been learnt.

Unfortunately, Dr. Fernández Guasti was more of an exception than a rule and both the evaluation given by the spokeswoman for the 200 Zapatista students and the final interventions by SubMoises and SubGaleano lamented the inaccessibility of the discourse used by the majority of the scientists. It was but a first encounter though, and SubGaleano thanked the scientists and urged them not to be disheartened by the limitations of the dialogue at this stage. SubMoises invited them to return to CIDECI in Dec 2017/Jan 2018 to resume the debate amongst themselves and thus further the cohesion of their ideas as a body of scientists.

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Final evaluation by the Zapatista bases and the comandancia

The evaluation of the Zapatista students and indeed their very presence was of course the biggest difference between ConCiencias and July’s CompARTE, and gave the encounter quite a different tone, although there was ample mention of the arts alongside the sciences in the subcomandantes’ reflexions on this new didactic tactic of the Zapatistas. So clear were the objectives of the encounter for the Zapatistas that they carefully chose the scientists to invite, unlike the kaleidoscopic free-for-all that was CompARTE. For me this reflects the relative rigidity of the perception of science, in comparison to art, in the Zapatista perspective as expressed by the subcomandantes. The former has certain rules and stipulations, and the Western rational model is by no means rejected in the name of anti-capitalism; rather, the idea is to use it against its masters.

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Escuchas (Photo courtesy of MIC, XochiTlanezi)

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Alumn@s (Photo courtesy of MIC, XochiTlanezi)

Some of the scientists did allude to the world of knowledge outwith the bounds of ‘Science’ with a straightjacket ‘S’, but the discourse from the comandancia was clear; this was a forum for narrowly defined rational scientific discussion. Narrow in form, that is to say – where evidence and methodology were lacking in the presentations, the critique was not subtle. And in spite of the breadth of topics covered, at times the meet also seemed narrow in content, due to the aforementioned repetition of certain topics.

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Zapatista women on their way to the CIDECI canteen (Photo courtesy of MIC, XochiTlanezi)

So, the message to the scientific community was that there is more to be done: more self and peer critique, a better developed pedagogy, and above all, more organisation. With the political year ahead, particularly the imminent arrival of a certain bastion of stupidity in the power house of Mexico’s neo-imperial neighbour, I think we’re going to need all three.

Of course, politically, 2017 has begun with what is arguably a much more important turn of events than the arrival of Donald Trump. The announcement of the CNI’s final decision to launch its presidential candidacy in the middle of ConCiencias did not go unnoticed, and cannot go unmentioned, particularly as the plenary was attended by nearly all the escuchas and scientists from the festival, as well, of course, as the Zapatista students. Following the hundreds of CNI representatives and guests, we filled and spilled out of the assembly building in Oventik, and afterwards were privileged to share a celebratory meal of beef soup, courtesy of the Zapatistas, and enjoy the anniversary festivities, which included dancing on the football pitch to live bands until well after dark.

conc8An interlude in the music: new soldiers’ military display on football pitch

How can we relate the reflections and discussions of ConCiencias to the activity of the CNI? Well, for starters, the political proposal of the governance of Mexico by an Indigenous Governmental Council (the Consejo Indígena de Gobierno), with a woman at its helm, demands a reevaluation of the institutionally imposed racial, economic and gendered knowledge hierarchy of Mexico’s particular capitalist system. The persuasions and limitations of science under the current system, including the underrepresentation of women, not to speak of indigenous scientists, and the harm science is currently doing to the planet in the hands of the rich and powerful, were frequently discussed.

Proposals for community science like that of Colectivo Alterius, several of whose members gave presentations, coincide with the horizontal, communal leadership proposed by the CNI. This is just one example from the blossoming of self-managed collectives in Mexico (autogestión) and communities fighting for the right to autonomous, communal governance; the proposal of the CNI hasn’t sprung out of nowhere. The significance of the coincidence of these two seminal events, ConCiencias and the 5th National Indigenous Congress is perhaps subject for another article, so I’ll leave my reflections here. Their trajectories will continue to intersect, I am sure, over the coming year, and when the scientists return to resume their discussions in December, the relevance of the CNI’s decision will be even more pressing.

 

Ruby Zajac

UK Zapatista Translation Service

Photos author’s own unless otherwise stated.

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January 24, 2017

The Arts and the Sciences in the history of (neo) Zapatismo

Filed under: CNI, gal, Indigenous, Marcos, Uncategorized, Zapatista — Tags: , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 2:38 pm

 

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The Arts and the Sciences in the history of (neo) Zapatismo

Words of Subcomandante Insurgente Galeano

 

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December 28, 2016.

Last night I spoke to you about the interplanetary upheaval that had given rise to the question “Why is this flower this colour? Why does it have this shape? Why does it have this scent?”

Ok, maybe I was exaggerating with the claim of “interplanetary.” I should have said the upheaval created by the question that young Rosita had put to Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés in the micro-cosmos Zapatismo had provoked.

Although I believe it is obvious, it doesn’t hurt to mention that the response that SubMoy gave to the young Zapatista woman was the same one that, I’m not sure, but probably, I’m imagining, has fuelled the advance of science since its very beginning: “I don’t know.”

Now I think that, certainly, the young woman knew what his response would be, but she also hoped that SubMoy would understand that, within the flower, there was a larger question.

We know now, because we are here in this meeting, that SubMoy knew that the response, “I don’t know” was not only insufficient, but also useless if it did not lead to other questions.

In a few minutes he is going to talk to you about what, as it were, is the context of the question…and about his response.

I am meant to speak to you briefly about the prehistory of this question and this response.

The arts and sciences prior to the uprising, within the eezeelen, had a very small universe and a brief history. Both the sciences and the arts had a purpose, a direction, and an imposed reason: war.

First in the guerrilla encampments, then in the barracks, and later in the communities, the arts were limited to music, poetry, and a little bit of drawing and painting, all with exclusively revolutionary messages. Of course, it was not unusual that soon songs of love and broken hearts, corridos, rancheras and even the occasional Juan Gabriel ballad would appear, but that was only clandestinely within our clandestinity.

Film or cinematography had its exclusive location, its VIP room, in our imagination. One of the insurgents narrated the same film to us over and over again, but he would find a way to change it a little bit each time he told it, or to combine it with the plots of other films. That was how we saw both the original and various “remakes” of “Enter the Dragon,” with Bruce Lee playing the only role, because the compa would spend hours explaining his movements and punches to us. This went on until, with a small electric source and a heavy and cumbersome 16mm projector, we saw a Vietnamese film that I think was called “Point of Contact” or something like that and which, of course, was only in its original language, and so we used our imaginations to add dialogue in Spanish, turning it into a different film than the original. I’m not sure, but I think you call this “artistic intervention.”

I call attention to this because I think that it was the first time that the sciences and the arts came together in a Zapatista encampment. And by the sciences, I’m not referring to the portable generator and the projector, but to the popcorn, which someone had kindly included when they sent the machine and the film.

Of course, we chowed down on the popcorn with the shout of “eat today or die tomorrow.” And the next day we nearly made the slogan come true: beginning in the wee hours of the morning, with collective diarrhoea, the entire insurgent battalion abandoned the spot as if a herd of wild boars had taken it over. We consoled ourselves afterward, imaging that it had been a case of bacteriological war. Moral of the story: be careful with your slogans.

Contact with the communities broadened this limited horizon: in the celebrations, the compas would set aside time for “the cultural program,” as they called it and “for the party.” And, in a program that got shorter over the years, they recited poetry, read thoughts aloud, and sang songs, all about struggle. Gradually, the duration of “the party” got longer and better. At that time they danced and sang whatever was in fashion at the time. Eventually what we call “pop music,” started to be displaced by music that was produced locally. First, they changed the words of the songs; later they wrote the music as well.

The dances changed: from dancing in two lines facing one another, to dancing in couples. Originally, in the dances in the communities, they used to dance in two lines: one was made up of women, and, in front of them there was another line made up of men. This had its own logic: with a clear line of women, the mothers could control their daughters, and they could see whether they escaped or if they had remained in the continuous repetition of “the Red Ribbon.” Later, little by little and after some very heated assemblies, they were allowed to dance in couples, although to the same rhythm. But the existence of the line was deep, and it was not uncommon to see a couple dancing, but with her looking to one side and him looking to the other side. Theatre, or what we called “sign,” happened very sporadically. The drawings and paintings of the periodic murals of the mountains moved to the communities, but the themes remained the same.

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If it seems like artistic activity was rather sparse, science was practically non-existent (because the book by Isaac Asimov, which the deceased carried in his backpack, doesn’t count as science). For contact with nature, we used the knowledges of the communities, which is to say, we limited ourselves to knowing facts, without knowing the explanation, or we explained those facts according to the stories and legends that circulated in the communities. For example, regarding the rainy season and the times for planting, there was empirical data that indicated whether it was going to rain or not, and this functioned statistically. In the encampments in the mountains, for example, when the mosquitos grew in number and aggressiveness, it meant that it was going to rain. Of course, we also had barometers and altimeters, but the mosquitos were more accurate. If someone had asked us at that time what the relationship was between the mosquitos and the rain, we would have responded, “I don’t know,” but we wouldn’t have gone any further, and what we did know was that it meant that it was time put up the plastic roofs or hurry to arrive at a community or at the encampment, but not time to do scientific research.

The most scientific thing that we did was calculate the force and trajectory of bullets and the resistance of different materials to those bullets (because we had to know how to protect ourselves from the gunshots of the enemy), align the scopes on the guns, fabricate explosives, and we did “terrestrial navigation” with the use of maps, altimeters and inclinometers, for which it was necessary to study the basics of trigonometry, algebra, and calculus. We wanted to learn how to use a sextant in order to orient ourselves at night, but we didn’t really get to learn how to use it. It was no longer necessary because the compas from the communities knew the land so well that we didn’t need any kind of machine to help us to get around. And they could already “predict” natural phenomena based on other phenomena, or on usos y costumbres.

The world was inhabited then by magical people, with the Sombrerón and Xpaquinté walking along the royal roads, trails, and misplaced paths, and sitting with us in the insurgent encampments in the mountains of southeast Mexico.

In medicine we applied two fundamental methods. Since we didn’t know about the existence of curing with quartz, biomagnetism, or other things of equal scientific rigour, we resorted to the power of suggestion or autosuggestion. Given that it was more than a few times that we didn’t have medicine, if we had a fever, we would repeat over and over: “I don’t have a fever, it’s all in my head.” This might make you laugh, but the deceased SupMarcos told us that he overcame various cases of salmonella with this method. “And did it work?” we would ask him. He responded with his customary modesty, “Well look at me, I’m alive and more beautiful than ever.” Ok, this was before we made him die.

When we did have medicine, we used the scientific method of “trial and error.” Which is to say that if someone became ill, we gave them one medicine, and if that didn’t work, we tried another, and we went on like that until we got it right or until the illness, surely tiring of our methodology, yielded.

Another scientific method for curing illness was called “the shotgun.” If someone had symptoms of an infection, we gave them a wide spectrum antibiotic. This almost always worked and, of course, chemically purified the patient, with just the bare minimum to survive until the next infection.

Years later, as the deceased would tell it, the medical treatments given were based in a simple statistic: in the mountains, x or y symptoms would be treated with x medicines in x% of cases; if in a given troop of x numbers of combatants, a certain number take ill with certain symptoms, there was x% of probability that they have the same illness.

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An anecdote from the mountains, also told by the deceased SupMarcos years ago, might serve to contrast with what we are showing you now: the deceased told us that in an exploratory trip into the depths of the Lacandon Jungle, a section of the insurgent infantry was far from the base encampment and found itself obliged to stay overnight with no blankets other than the treetops and the plant leaves; they made a fire to see if they could roast a water moccasin, which was the only thing that they had been able to hunt. At that time, SupMarcos wasn’t “sup” but Lieutenant Infantry Sergeant and he was in charge of this military unit.

As was customary at the time, when the night finally fell from the trees and sat among the insurgents, with the shadows descending to also sit alongside the fire, every kind of history, stories and legends which, among other things, fulfilled their role of mitigating hunger and drying clothes of the sweat and the rain that had drenched them. The then-Lieutenant Infantry Sergeant sat apart from the group and limited himself to listening to what the troops were discussing.

One of the new recruits had rubbed up against, as happens when one walks forgotten paths, the leaves of a plant called La’aj or Ortiga, which had caused hives in one of his hands and it had swelled up. Between hurting and itching, the recruit asked another combatant why this plant, which did so much damage, even existed. The veteran, feeling obliged to educate the new recruit, responded: “Look compa, of course I must inform you that only God and the leaf know why.”

Maybe this story is the reason why the deceased SupMarcos, when he was the Zapatista spokesperson, told and retold legends, stories, and anecdotes that referred more to the explanations of reality that linked to ancestral culture, like, for example, the stories of Old Antonio.

If at that time the deceased was a window to look through onto Zapatismo, and now it is Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés who does this, it is not only that the window has changed, but also what is seen and heard through this window has changed. Zapatismo today in the communities is quantitatively and qualitatively different, not just from what it was 30 years ago, but even from 10 or 12 years ago, which is the period in which the little girl who calls herself “Defensa Zapatista” was born.

With this I want to tell you that if the children that 25-30 years ago were born during the preparation for the uprising and those that were born 15-20 years ago were born in resistance and rebellion; those born in the last 10-15 years were born in a process of consolidated autonomy, with new characteristics, among which is the need for Science. Now Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés, to whom I am ceding the word, will talk to you…

 

Words of Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés

 

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Good evening brothers and sisters, compañeros, compañeras.

The science that we Zapatistas are discussing here, the kind of science that we want is science for life. I don’t need to further explain what Sub Galeano was saying, about the fact that, yes, we also studied science when we were in the mountains, during the period of preparation. And when we finally applied this science, that is when we went to war, killing and dying, our compañeros and compañeras from the communities, the bases of support, told us that there was another way to make war without losing sight of the principles that we wanted. And so from that moment on something good happened. We men and women combatants recognized that something important exists within our compañeros and compañeras, within the communities. So we started to learn, to understand and to know that to be an army, any kind of army, whether an army of the rich or of the poor who struggle, is to be exclusive, because not all men, women, and children can fight in the army. And our compañeros and compañeras proposed that we fight together in order to achieve what we wanted. And they told us that in order to fight together, the weapon of struggle is resistance and rebellion.

And so then that meant that if we didn’t want the bad government, the bad system, we had to reject all of the forms through which they deceived us, and so we, the combatants, the insurgents, we learned how this was done. We learned how to do this. And so we men and women began to understand how to fight together, how the communities themselves lived and still live today in common, in collective. In the face of that the system, now the bad government, tries to divide the communities, but it hasn’t been able to do so. The communities themselves understood, for example, that even though in some communities there are various political parties, or various religions, they are still a community. And so this community has a piece of their land invaded by another community, this invaded community immediately comes together, which is to say they forget that they are divided in various political parties or religions. And that is how it works where they cannot erase what it means to be in common, to be in community.

And so then we started to understand what they were saying, what our compañero and compañera bases of support were saying to us, which was that we had to fight together. And so it ended up being much much better than what we had imagined because when we did that it meant that not only the combatants fought, everyone did. And so we, the combatants began to work together with the communities and what happened was that in this struggle, in this organization, we began creating the very forms that we were seeking. That is to say that the compañeras and compañeros, began at that time to put into practice that which they were seeking.

And so, with their autonomy, with the autonomous government of our compañeros and compañeras, something began that we had not yet known about during our time of clandestinity, during our preparation. So then we started to understand this, which was a new way of thinking about change, and this is what we have done during these 23 years that we are self-governing with our communities. The truth is that since that time we don’t have as many deaths, or bullets, or as many people injured, tortured, or disappeared as we did at first, in 1994. With these 23 years, what our compañeros and compañeras have shown us is another way to make war on the system, where you don’t die and you don’t kill. But to do this, you need organization, you need agreement, you need work, you need to struggle, and you need practice.

Now we see that with this resistance and rebellion as our weapons of struggle, the system has been unable to do anything against our compañeros and compañeras. The system has not been successful at anything that it has tried to do to us. Why? Because the compañeras and the compañeros already live in what they have for 23 years been constructing. As Sub Galeano put it, we ourselves were surprised, because we had never even dreamt this, but if we didn’t see it, it is because it is the compañeros and the compañeras that have managed to do it, through their thinking, by figuring out what they need and thinking about what to do about it. They have managed to do something to make things better and to take steps for the good of our peoples.

And so now these same compañeras and compañeros can confirm this themselves. And of course their mothers and fathers support them, because they had not seen this before. For example there are compañeras who work as, I’m not sure what you call it, the ones who help the doctors by passing them the tools that they need, like mechanics assistants who are like, here are your clamps, here is your hammer, here is your marro, as they call it. Well the compañeras are now working as assistants to doctors in order to pass them the tools that they need while they are doing medical surgeries. They know how to use the ultrasound machines, and because the doctors have taught them how, then can even make diagnoses with these machines. They know how to read the images or the photos that come from the ultrasound machine, and it is the same thing with many other medical devices, which the compañeras and compañeros already know how to use – devices used by dentists, devices for pap smears, and many other things related to the area of health and medical labs.

We never imagined that this would be possible, and now we think back and say, would we have been able to build this with 23 years of bullets? And our response is that with 23 years of bullets we would not be here speaking to you now, brothers, sisters, compañeros, compañeras, scientists. If we had had 23 years of bullets, we would not have even known you. But thanks to their way of seeing, that of our compañeros and compañeras, we are here speaking with you. That is how significant the advances of our compañeros and compañeras were. Of course, we had to separate ourselves from the mode of exploitation, from capitalism, or from the bad government in order to create this freedom that they imagined, that we have achieved, and in order to begin to build our way of understanding it.

And that is how now they have their education, their Agroecology, their community radio, their own exchange of experiences. Our compañeras and compañeros have their own “sharing,” because what they want is life. Just like in the example that Sub Galeano gave from the stories shared by the compañeros of how to stop a baby’s death, as explained in one of the questions posed to the scientists about a baby’s placenta –they boil the placenta in water until they manage to stabilize the life of the baby. But this knowledge comes from struggle, because there is no study that shows whether this is the best way to save the baby.

And so there are many generations that have moved this learning forward. This is what Sub Galeano was saying when he was talking about how the flower is to blame, which is that Zapatista Autonomous Education has advanced to such an extent that the young women and men see that they have already learned so much. And so what happened is that the son of one of the compas, one of the Tercios Compas, started to ask questions. He told his father that he had already finished his primary school, his first level as the compañeros in the communities call it. He said to his father, “dad I already finished my school, but I’m going to continue because I want to learn more.” And so the Tercio Compa who is his father responded, son, let me see how you can, because the second level, or secondary school as they call it, is still being planned, because we want to make sure that in the education that we want we don’t learn things that aren’t useful or that we don’t need, and we are still in the process of thinking about what we should learn and what it will be useful for. And so the young man, who was only 13 or 14 years old said: “Dad, don’t think about sending me there to Cideci, because in Cideci all you learn is how to make clothes, make shoes, and other things. It is better for us to do it here in the Caracol, it’s just that we haven’t decided to do that yet.” And so the young man continued, “what I want to learn is what substance is in the estafiate and what it can cure.” And so the compa, he’s over there with his son, wanted me to tell him when and where he could learn this, and so I told him, well, let me see, I don’t know.

And so I was really surprised, which is a good thing. And even I thought, is it even possible to learn this? And so I was talking to Sub Galeano and he said, well, this has to do with the scientists, with science, with those who study science and are scientists. And so what we are seeing is that the generations now and those that are growing up are already seeing the need to know new things. And the good thing is that they are thinking, because the young man that I was telling you about is in the communities that have the “sharing” as we call it, where they talk about the three areas, or where the compañeros and compañeras go to exchange their experiences about medicinal plants, midwifery, and bonesetting, and that is where this young man heard about this estafiate and other plants that they say cure certain things and not others, right? But what they don’t know there is exactly what it is, what substances the plants have that do the curing.

And so the very practices that they have, their very knowledges that the compañeras and the compañeros in the communities have open the way to other experiences, but they simultaneously open up other needs, the desire to learn more, and so on. And so I think that in listening to what is being put forth here among us, maybe then you will come here to put it into practice with the communities, in collective, it would make the compañeros and compañeras really happy to take advantage of this knowledge because with the little bit that they know, they are doing, well…as I told you, that is what they are doing, what the compañeros and compañeras are building others can see, the brothers and sisters who aren’t Zapatistas. That is, for example, in the hospitals that the compañeros have, in the autonomous hospitals, there are more partidista brothers and sisters who are operated on than there are Zapatistas. And so that is where non-Zapatista people, partidistas as we call them, see that what the Zapatistas are doing is better. They even say that what the Zapatistas are doing is much better. But it isn’t just that the compañeras and compañeros help them to have somewhat better health, but they also help to orient them, or to do politics, to explain to them why they are being deceived, or why they are manipulated, or why they are dominated.

And so if there had been a little bit more support from science, then there would have been more advances among the compañeros and compañeras. So we wanted to tell you that maybe we really should start this, here and now with our compañeros and compañeras in the communities. We could see if they could have classes, workshops, practical things, because the compañeros see that this stuff is so interesting and necessary in order to confront the capitalist hydra. They see that we have to improve health, and we have to improve nutrition, but for this we need to learn, we need science.

The compañeros and compañeras do it, but as we have already said many times, it is through usos y costumbres, or that is to say that they have the proof that if you plant corn you will see that it grows. The same goes for the squash, or the sweet potatoes. You see how they will grow, because there is no scientific study about what is going to grow on this land, or about which plant will grow right here in this location. And living like this has caused a lot of suffering, but if you saw that there is a science, a laboratory for example, then it would be different, it wouldn’t be a question of trying stuff out because there would be a scientific study that could tell us that Mother Earth is missing this or that, or that this thing is what will grow well here, and so on.

And so you see, that is how the compañeras and compañeros do their studies as well, and where what we are here for can be born. The truth is that this thing about the estafiate that the young man was saying that he wanted to know about what the substance was, we also saw there that the other Zapatista Autonomous Schools had other needs so that they could provide what the young people want to learn.

 

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And so, brothers, sisters, compañeros, compañeras, together with the compañeros and compañeros we invite you to join us in making a collective, because we Zapatistas move in collective, and we can later show the people of Mexico that the people themselves can create a way of life. We can show them that we don’t need anyone who manipulates us and our wealth, or who expropriates what belongs to the people. Rather, we as peoples need to come together – the originary peoples with the science of the scientists and the science of the artists. We can show them that together we can imagine or construct, or practice and demonstrate for ourselves what we can do as compañero and compañera bases of support. We can show them that with more and more of your own strength, your own resistance, and your own thinking to see and create, imagine, that even though you may not know how to read and write, and even though you may not speak Spanish very well, but in your deeds you have, as we say here, placed the system, the bad government of Mexico, aside. We are practicing what we think and what we believe, but we feel alone because not only are we indigenous people of Mexico exploited, but the brothers and sisters in the countryside and the city are as well. But for this we need the Sciences, we need a way to build the new world.

We feel the need for this. It is just as the young man was saying, that being a young man he is thinking about what he wants to know, and he wants to know why the substance in the estafiate is so important, because it is much discussed in collective, in the “sharing” that the compañeras and compañeros have. And so this is what we want to propose to you – that perhaps we should unite in order to create another way of seeing, another way of thinking and imagining how we can create change that is more than simply a change in name or in colour.

That is what we wanted to share compañeros and compañeras, brothers and sisters.

Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés       Subcomandante Insurgente Galeano

 

http://enlacezapatista.ezln.org.mx/2016/12/28/las-artes-y-las-ciencias-en-la-historia-del-neo-zapatismo/

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January 23, 2017

Together We Defend Our Mother Earth: Documentary on the Ejido Tila, Chiapas, Mexico

Filed under: Autonomy, Indigenous, La Sexta, Uncategorized — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 10:04 am

 

Together We Defend Our Mother Earth: Documentary on the Ejido Tila, Chiapas, Mexico

 

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 ‘Together We Defend our Mother Earth’,‘Mi Lak Tyeñ Kotyañ Lak Ña’Lum’: Documentary on the Inseparability of Land, Culture, Governance and Sociality

Many indigenous populations in the Southern Mexican State of Chiapas have been at the forefront of the struggle for land and culture, understood by them as inseparable. For centuries they have been subjected to cultural and territorial dispossession – with territorial dispossession almost always leading to cultural dispossession. Federal, state and international governments, corporations and business couch this in a discourse of ‘development’ and ‘progress.’ Human Rights Organizations and the affected populations, in contrast, explain that dispossession has to be understood in the context, and as part, of low-intensity warfare and counterinsurgency, which has intensified in response to the Zapatista Uprising in 1994 and the establishment of the Zapatista Good Government Councils in 2003. One of the bones of contention in these struggles against dispossession is the legal figure of the ejido. The ejido is social property of the ejidatarios, and its affairs are conducted by an assembly and by elected commissioners. It was enshrined in the Mexican Constitution after the Revolution. Free Trade Agreements and policies seek to abolish or undermine this important legal figure.

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The indigenous ch’ol community of Tila has been dragged into a decade-long struggle for 130 hectares of their ejido. This land is located in and alongside the small town of Tila, and it comprises agricultural as well as urban land. In the community of Tila live the (indigenous Ch’ol) ejidatarios, and the (mestizx) villagers. The former govern themselves through an assembly; until December 2015, the latter were governed by the municipal government. The legal figure of the ejido protects commonality and communal landownership; the town, in contrast, was governed and legislated according to the laws of private property.

imagesThe 130 hectares in question were unlawfully occupied in the 1960s by the non-Ch’ol municipal government. Years later, the ejidatarios won a legal case against the dispossession of their lands; however, the municipal government offered them a financial compensation, whereas the ejidatarios want the land itself because it is the basis of their social and cultural life. They have taken their case to the Supreme Court of Justice. With the decision pending, the municipal council attempted to destroy the community cohesion of the ejidatarios, and to wear out their insistence on not taking money for their land, through a campaign of everyday harassment, for example by introducing water meters and charging for water even though the springs are located on the communal land.

 

Together We Defend our Mother Earth’,‘Mi Lak Tyeñ Kotyañ Lak Ña’Lum’

Together We Defend, co-directed and co-produced by the indigenous Ch’ol community of Tila and the independent producer Terra Nostra Films, uses the genre of the documentary as a type of public letter: initially it was meant to be sent to the judges of the Supreme Court. In the documentary the ejidatarixs explain in word and image what makes this land inherently and essentially priceless, and why the legal figure of the ejido, similar to the old English ‘Commons,’ is never only about communal land, but just as much about social and cultural life and about the possibility of self-governance. The documentary was completed before the ejido, which is an adherent of the Zapatista Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle, declared its autonomy on 16th December 2015, as a response to the decades of dispossession and in resistance to a wave of violence and repression.

The camerawork invites a way of looking at the land, landscapes, the people, the communal spaces and practices, without using the camera to capture, or the gaze to take possession. As in other previous Terra Nostra productions, there is no external narrator: the community members speak for themselves, and the viewer/listener is challenged to learn to listen to inflections and speech patterns of the people involved in the struggle for their land. This is how a visual and verbal poetics of resistance emerges as part of an ethical, political, philosophical and practice-inspired approach to living and engaging with each other, social surroundings, built and natural environments – not as a way of ‘making them our own’ or ‘accessing,’ but as an engagement with a plenitude that is inherently and essentially priceless.

 

The documentary is available here in original version with English subtitles:

‘Together We Defend our Mother Earth’,‘Mi Lak Tyeñ Kotyañ Lak Ña’Lum’

 

For information from the community itself see
http://laotraejidotila.blogspot.mx/
https://www.facebook.com/ejidotila.sexta

 

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January 20, 2017

Who dares to say it is a bad fight?

Filed under: CNI, Indigenous, Uncategorized, Zapatistas — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 2:45 pm

 

CNI & EZLN at “The Zapatistas and ConSciences For Humanity

Who dares to say it is a bad fight?

 

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By: Magdalena Gómez

Who dares to say it is a bad fight? With that question on the first of January, Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés emphasized the support of the EZLN for the agreements reached in the second stage of the fifth National Indigenous Congress (CNI). And he reflected: “Twenty-three years ago we began our uprising, but our path was exclusive, not all could participate. Now, the CNI calls us to a struggle in which we can all participate. Regardless of age, colour, size, race, religion, language, pay, knowledge, physical strength, culture, sexual preference. Those who live, fight and die in the countryside and in the city now have a path of struggle which unites them. The struggle that the National Indigenous Congress calls and invites us to is a struggle for life with freedom, justice, democracy and dignity; a whole agenda of peaceful struggle that the EZLN endorses at all times. The most recent was the meeting of the Zapatistas and Consciousness for Humanity, held from December 26, 2016 to January 4, 2017 in CIDECI, San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, in which they raised questions scientists should respond to. They showed evidence that these are problems that the new Zapatista generations are facing. Science was defended and was separated from pseudoscience and charlatans. So was the recognition that mere ancestral knowledge is no longer enough to deal with the impact on nature caused by destructive projects in the logic of capitalism. We do not need, they said, scientists who come to flatter or shout Zapata lives, the struggle continues or to expose their tribulations in the National System of Investigators (SNI) as some did, clarifying that they are not willing to lose their scholarships. From these perspectives the Zapatistas invited the scientists to share knowledge with the communities.

The second stage of the fifth congress of the CNI culminated in a public assembly held in the auditorium of the Oventic Caracol, where they explained that during the months of October, November and December they consulted on the proposal to create an indigenous council of government and to apply for an Indigenous woman as an independent candidate to run for the Presidency of the Republic in 2018, 43 indigenous peoples from 523 communities in 25 states of the country were consulted, of which 430 communities approved the proposal.

Another 80 consultations continue in process, and more will be added as other indigenous peoples, afro-descendants and migrants request it from the CNI. Delegates also explained that in some communities it was not possible to conduct the consultation because of the violence that is experienced in various parts of the country. And they announced their agreements: 1) to appoint an indigenous government council with men and women representatives of each of the peoples, tribes and nations that comprise it. This council intends to govern this country. And the council will have as its voice an indigenous woman of the CNI, that is to say, who has indigenous blood and knows its culture. That is to say that it has as spokeswoman an indigenous woman of the CNI that will be an independent candidate for the Presidency of Mexico. Our point is for indignation, resistance and rebellion to appear on the ballots of 2018. They clarified that it is not their intention to compete in anything with the parties and all the political class that still owes us much for every person dead, disappeared, or imprisoned, for every act of plunder, every repression. Do not become confused, we do not pretend to compete with them because we are not the same, we are not their lying and perverse words. Both the members of the council and their spokesperson will be proposed and legitimized in assembly and appointed according to customs and traditions, and their positions will be revocable by the assembly of the CNI. In addition, a series of measures were agreed to strengthen the CNI and indigenous peoples, such as eliminating all that divides, such as political parties and government projects, and focus on developing autonomy in all its axes, especially in education, justice and self-government. 2) Convene a assembly to appoint the indigenous governing council for Mexico in May 2017, in which they will decide who will be the indigenous woman presidential candidate in 2018. The next five months the CNI will seek to build bridges with the broader sectors of society where it will have to be determined if as a matter of principle racism is banned and it endorses the CNI’s decision, that still independent of the decision about the 2018 vote. Who dares to say that it is a bad fight?

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Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2017/01/10/opinion/014a2pol

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

 

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January 19, 2017

Words of the EZLN at the closing ceremony of the Second Stage of the Fifth Congress of the National Indigenous Congress

Filed under: CNI, Indigenous, Uncategorized, Zapatistas — Tags: , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 4:21 pm

 

Words of the EZLN at the closing ceremony of the Second Stage of the Fifth Congress of the National Indigenous Congress

 

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Enlace Zapatista version

ZAPATISTA ARMY OF NATIONAL LIBERATION

MEXICO.

JANUARY 1, 2017

Sisters and brothers of the National Indigenous Congress:

Compañeras, compañeros and compañeroas of the national and international Sixth:

Peoples of Mexico and the world:

Twenty-three years ago we rose up in arms against oblivion.

Our indignation and desperation compelled us to be willing to die in order to live.

To live the only way that’s worth living: with freedom, justice, and democracy.

The Mexican people saw us and spoke to us: they told us that our struggle and our demands are just, but that they are opposed to violence.

As the inhumane conditions of our life and death became known, people agreed that the causes of our uprising were just, but they questioned our way of enacting our dissent.

Today, the conditions of the Mexican people in the countryside and in the city are worse than they were 23 years ago.

Poverty, desperation, death, and destruction are not only wrought on the people who originally populated this land.

Now, misfortune finds everyone.

The crisis also affects those who believed that they were safe and who imagined that the nightmare was only meant for those who live and die below.

Governments come and go, under different colors and flags, and all that they do is make things worse.

Their policies only bring misery, destruction, and death to greater and greater numbers of people.

Now our sisters and brothers in the organizations, barrios, nations, tribes, and originary peoples, organized in the National Indigenous Congress have decided to scream, “ENOUGH!”

They have decided that they will no longer allow the destruction of our country to continue.

They have decided not to allow the peoples and their history to die from the sickness that is the capitalist system; a system that exploits, dispossesses, represses and devalues human beings and nature all over the world.

The National Indigenous Congress has decided to fight to heal our land and our skies, and has decided to do it through civil and peaceful means.

Their causes are just, undeniably so.

Who will now question the path they have chosen and to which they are calling all of us, all women, all men, all others [todoas]?

If they are not respected, if they are not saluted, if they are not supported in their struggle and the path they follow, what message is society sending? What paths will be left for indignation?

Twenty-three years ago we began our uprising, but our path was exclusionary: everyone could not participate.

Now, the National Indigenous Congress is calling us to a struggle in which everyone can participate, no matter their age, colour, size, race, religion, language, salary, knowledge, physical strength, culture, or sexual preference.

Those who live, struggle and die in the countryside and the city now have a path for struggle where they can join together with other women and men.

The National Indigenous Congress is calling and inviting us to a struggle for life with freedom, justice, democracy, and dignity.

Who dares to say that this struggle is a bad one?

It’s time for working people, together with the originary peoples, under the banner of the National Indigenous Congress, which itself is the banner of the originary peoples, to join together in this struggle – a struggle for people who have nothing but pain, rage and desperation.

Now is the time of all people, from the countryside and the city.

That’s what the National Indigenous Congress is telling us.

It’s telling us: enough waiting for other women and men who want to tell us what to do and how to do it; who want to boss us around, who want to manage us, who want to trick us with promises and bold-faced lies.

It’s telling us that every person, wherever they are, in their own way, at their own pace, should be in charge of him or herself; that communities should manage themselves. No more lies, no more tricks, no more politicians who only see their work in the government as an opportunity to steal, to betray, and to sell out.

It’s telling us that we have to fight for truth and justice.

It’s telling us that we have to fight for democracy, which is another way of saying that the people themselves are in charge.

It’s telling us that we have to fight for freedom.

The National Indigenous Congress is made up of wise women and wise men.

They’ve been resisting and fighting for life for centuries.

They know about resistance. They know about rebellion. They know about struggle. They know about life.

They know who is responsible for the pain that beats down every woman and man, everywhere, all the time.

Because of this fight that begins today, the National Indigenous Congress will be attacked. It will be insulted. There will be attempts to divide it, and to buy it off.

Every effort will be made to make them give up, sell out, give in.

But those efforts will not succeed.

We have known one another personally for more than twenty years, for more than 500 years we have known one another in destruction, in death, in disdain, in theft, in exploitation, in history.

The CNI’s strength, conviction, and commitment does not come from individual men and women.

It comes from the organizations, neighbourhoods, nations, tribes and originary peoples in which they were born and in which they matured.

We Zapatistas prepared ourselves for ten years to begin our struggle on January 1 twenty-three years ago.

The National Indigenous Congress prepared for twenty years to arrive at this day and to show us a good path forward.

Whether or not we follow will the decision of each person.

The National Indigenous Congress is going to speak the truth and listen closely.

The struggle of the National Indigenous Congress is no game.

They have told us that this time, they want everything, for every woman and every man.

And that means that:

They want respect for human rights.

They want the release of all political prisoners.

They want all disappeared people to be given back alive.

They want justice for those who have been murdered.

They want truth and justice for the 46 missing from Ayotzinapa.

They want support for peasants and respect for mother earth.

They want dignified housing for all those from below.

They want sufficient food for all those who are defenceless.

They want dignified work and a just salary for the workers in the countryside and the city.

They want complete and free medical care for all workers.

They want free, secular, scientific education.

They want land to belong to those who work it.

They want the factories to belong to the workers.

They want the stores and banks to belong to the employees.

They want respect for street vendors, and for small and medium-sized businesses.

They want public and commercial transportation to belong to those who drive the vehicles.

They want the countryside to belong to the campesinos.

They want the city to belong to its inhabitants.

They want the territory to belong to the originary peoples.

They want autonomy.

They want self-organization.

They want respect for all forms of life.

They want the arts and sciences.

They want freedom of thought, of work, and of creation.

They want freedom, justice and democracy for the Mexico of below.

That is what they’re after.

Each person can decide whether that fight is good, whether that idea is good, whether to respond or not to the call.

As the Zapatista women and men that we are, we say: yes, we’re with you. Yes, we’re with the National Indigenous Congress.

We will find ways to support them with all of our strength.

We will support you because the fight you are proposing, sisters and brothers of the National Indigenous Congress, is perhaps the final opportunity to stop this land and these skies from disappearing through destruction and death.

So all we have to say to you is:

Listen to your heart, to the pain and the rage that exist in all corners of this country.

Walk, and may the earth tremble at its core with your steps.

May these Mexican soils be astonished.

May the skies look upon you with surprise and admiration.

May the peoples of the world learn and take heart from your decision and your conviction.

And above all, regardless of whatever may happen and of everything that stands against you, even if they attack you in every possible way, whatever it takes: don’t give up, don’t sell out, don’t give in.

 

FREEDOM!

JUSTICE!

DEMOCRACY!

From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast.

In the name of the women, men, children and elders of the EZLN.

 

Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés

Mexico, January 2017

 

http://enlacezapatista.ezln.org.mx/2017/01/01/palabras-del-ezln-en-la-clausura-de-la-segunda-etapa-del-quinto-congreso-del-cni/

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A Few First Questions for the Sciences and their ConSciences

Filed under: CNI, Indigenous, Uncategorized, Zapatistas — Tags: , , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 3:52 pm

 

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A Few First Questions for the Sciences and their ConSciences

 

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December 26, 2016

Scientists [Científicas and Científicos]:

Compas of the Sixth:

Observers and Listeners who are present here and those who are at a distance:

Good morning, afternoon, night, and, as always, the dark hours before dawn:

My name is SupGaleano. As I am only a little over two and a half years old, my version of what used to be called a “curriculum vitae” and now is called a “user profile” is quite brief. In addition to being an insurgente and a Zapatista, I have various other professions. One of them, for example, is to make those who consider themselves fine upstanding citizens uncomfortable, and to awake the basest instincts of those who do not. I do this by showing my clearly seductive and voluptuous figure, which I have achieved, through much effort, via a rigorous diet of greasy meals along with supplementary junk food at my discretion.

I am also, much to my own dismay and that of many readers, the unwilling scribe for the whims of a particular being—mythological for people over 12 years of age and of obvious existential importance for any person passionate about science and any child [niño, niña, or niñoa] who doesn’t care about calendars except to play with. I am referring, of course, to that being whose mere existence lays social and biological Darwinism to rest and marks the emergence of a new epistemic paradigm: the cat-dog. Perhaps, when this entity abandons the prison of the word, world history will be marked and its calendar redefined with “a before and after the cat-dog.”

(The Sup takes out two figurines of the Cat-Dog, carved out of wood and painted by insurgentes).

Another of my professions, at times and on the orders of my bosses, is to feed the paranoid conspiracy theories against the always “suffering,” “selfless,” and well-behaved institutional left that, for lack of real arguments and proposals, resorts to the role of eternal victim in the hopes that pity will translate into votes and for whom fanaticism substitutes for reason and even a minimum of decency.

Yet another of my professions is transgressor of laws such as those of gravity, seriousness, and good manners.

One more profession, which is most relevant in this case, is that of alchemist. Really I should be a scientist, but as I have not yet managed to transform the essence of one thing into its contradictory opposite, I have not received the level of recognition that my admirable labours deserve. But not to despair, I continue experimenting in my laboratory with test tubes and plants, under the ever-critical gaze of the cat-dog, trying to eliminate the essence of that aberration of nature called squash soup and transmute it into something likable and nutritious like pecan ice cream, which, along with popcorn and hot sauce, are some of the few things that science has produced for the benefit of humanity and which differentiate us, along with the opposable thumb and despite the specimen of Donald Trump, from non-human primates.

Thus, today it is my job to try to make you feel, not know, our happiness as Zapatistas that you have accepted our invitation and, despite the calendar, have found the way and means to participate in this gathering.

As Zapatistas we have been waiting for you for almost 23 years. As original peoples, well, you can do the maths.

Of course, many will say that it is not their first time here and that they have, in heart and body, come before. They are right. They have been here, but not as they will be here in the coming days, that is, here to teach and maybe, possibly, to learn from us.

We as Zapatistas are here as your students, your apprentices.

Although we are ready to learn like anybody else, we are a very other kind of student. So that you can get to know us as Zapatistas, we will start by telling you what we don’t want and what we do want.

For example, we won’t help you to haul around your books, nor prepare a bibliography, nor bring your lab materials. Nor we will be hoping that you don’t show up so that we have an excuse to leave. We aren’t looking for good grades, credits, degrees, or, upon finishing our studies, to start our own business based on science, pseudoscience, or false science hidden behind an official letterhead.

We do not aspire to profit from knowledge, nor to achieve prestige by offering the glass beads that are the pseudosciences and philosophies claiming “change comes from within,” “love will redeem the world,” “this concoction/party/politician/leader-of-the-moment-will-bring-us-happiness” that come into fashion or not in times of crisis when the least common of senses, common sense, is defeated by the offer of magical solutions for everyone and everything.

We do not think of knowledge as a social status symbol or measure of intelligence. It’s clear that anybody can graduate using plagiarized material, or by pretending to have valid solutions thanks to the increasingly weak magic of the mass media.

We don’t want to go away to the university, we want to build a university in our communities, for you to teach and learn alongside our peoples.

We don’t want to go to the big laboratories and scientific research centres of the metropolis; we want them to be built here.

Instead of army and police barracks, open air mines and fancy hotels, we want—constructed here, under our leadership and collective operation—astronomical observatories, laboratories, physics and robotics workshops, sites for the observation, study, and conservation of nature, and even a Large Hadron Collider or something that allows us to free the graviton from the hypothetical prison of that particle and to thus begin to determine, once and for all, whether the physicists who subscribe to String Theory are members of a frustrated neo-cult or a group of paradigmatic scientists.

We want to erect schools to train scientists, not workshops disguised as schools that only teach vocations that serve capitalism (cheap and unskilled labour), or that only serve to pass the time or for the bad governments, or whoever aspires to become them, to say they built new schools or institutes.

We want scientific study, not just technical study.

We don’t just want to know how to drive or repair a vehicle, a sewing machine, a carpentry tool, a microscope; we also want to know the scientific principles of mechanical movement and optic physics, what combustion is; we want to know that speed is not the same as acceleration; one shouldn’t confuse value and price.

We don’t want to enter those scientific and technological competitions that so enthuse the public and private universities in order to see which machine or machinist is best. We want to learn and do science and technology to win the only competition that is worthwhile: that of life against death.

We don’t want to go to the big cities and get lost there. And that isn’t because we don’t have the knowledge to do so—the kids who have been educated in the autonomous schools have a greater level of knowledge then those who were educated in the state-run schools—nor is it for lack of intelligence or money.

It’s because we do not want to cease to be what we are. And we are originary peoples, indigenous, as they say. What makes us what we are is our land, our people, our history, our culture, and as Zapatistas, our struggle.

In sum, we want to understand the world, to know it. Because only by knowing the world can we make a new one, a bigger one, a better one.

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A wise man of the originary peoples, Purépecha by blood, Mexican by geography and internationalist by heart, Tata Grande Juan Chávez Alonso, once said that the life of the original peoples is, among other things, a continuous preparation. “We have to prepare ourselves for everything: to be born, to grow, to love, to hate, to learn, to build, to destroy, to struggle, to die. And in the end, this is what we leave for those who come after us. We do not leave them an inheritance of riches, surnames, and positions. We only leave them the lesson that they must prepare themselves—for everything, all of the time, everywhere.”

That is why you should know that we have been preparing ourselves for this event for months.

We didn’t just show up here in front of you to see what you say, to see how you are, what your ways and times and geographies consist of. No, we came here prepared.

The doubt that moves us, the scientific curiosity, the eagerness to learn and know, comes from long ago, so long ago that the scientific calendars can’t keep track.

For example, we prepared questions.

We know well that just as you have to prepare to teach, we who don’t know yet have to prepare to learn.

 

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We also know that, just as one has to study to give answers, one also has to study to ask questions.

It hasn’t been easy. For example, we had to study how to say and write words like “anabolic,” “salbutamol,” “clenbuterol” “pre-eclampsia” and “eclampsia.” We had to learn to say “el mioma” [myoma] and not “la mioma.” We had to find a way to explain to you what it means “to burst out fish” and other things that we see in our world as indigenous people.

We met multiple times. First we met as zone-level assemblies. There we chose who would participate in this event given their area of work, for example, those who are promotores [trained practitioners] in the area of health, education, agro-ecology, medicinal plants, community radio, bone-setting and midwifery, etc. It didn’t matter if the person is young or old, if they are 15 or 524 years old. They did however have to understand Spanish, in order to understand all of you. And of course, they had to be interested in science.

Later the compañeras and compañeros who were selected met multiple times to prepare our questions. The first and most important questions we created were: what are we going to ask these brother and sister scientists? Do we only ask them what they know about science? Or do we also ask them how they see the current situation, if they think things are bad or everything is calm? Do we ask them how they view their scientific work? Do we ask them how they struggle for justice and freedom?

These questions that we are going to read to you now are some of the ones that we prepared in our meetings. As you will see, many of the questions don’t correspond to the exact and natural sciences, which should give you an idea of what the next gathering will be. Here goes:

Do genetically modified organisms do harm to Mother Nature and human beings or not?

Is there a scientific explanation for why, in some regions, in gullies where in times of drought there is no water, as soon as the first rains come (in May and June), there is a sudden spike in the production of fish? This is what we call “bursting with fish.”

Let me see if I can clarify these questions. Many years ago, let’s say about 30, about the middle of 1986, we were in the mountains…

1986, when Michael Jackson was still of African American complexion…

1986, when the Green Ecology Party of Mexico, the Citizens Movement, the Workers Party, the Democratic Revolutionary Party [PRD] and the party of the Movement for National Regeneration [MORENA] were all still called the Institutional Revolutionary Party [PRI] and they had as designated successor Carlo Salinas de Gortari whose economic policies they all still back today. The New Alliance Party and the Social Encounter Party still went under the name of National Action Party.

(Decades later, the eezeeelen has recognized its defeat and has another structure; Michael Jackson, even with a different colour, kept being Michael Jackson; the PRI and the PAN are still all the same people, although now with other colours)…

Around the middle of 1986, during the soccer World Cup, that intermediary between heaven and earth, the dervish named Diego Armando Maradona, took off from midfield, leaving every British player in the dust until, satisfied, he shot the ball into the net in a play that marked the 20th century and still causes old fans to say, when watching Lionel Messi play, “Pfff! I saw Maradona perform a scientific demonstration that god exists and is round.”

Okay, I guess that wasn’t a very orthodox example.

Well, in 1986, we were in an insurgent camp called “Recruits.” A group of recruits asked the commander in charge for permission to go to a nearby village to collect fish. “You mean to go fishing,” the commander said. “No,” they replied, “to collect fish, because this is the time when the stream bursts with fish.” The commander wanted to know what this was all about, and they told him: “the stream is dry, and at the first rain, it bursts with fish, but since there is no water, you just grab them.” “So are they tiny fish then?” the commander asked skeptically. “No, they’re grown, big fish, sardina or bobito,” they replied. “There’s no such thing as magic, but go ahead,” the commander said. The next day they came back with a burlap sack full of fresh fish. That afternoon we ate so much fish soup that the trees that shaded the camp took on a fluorescent light that could have been seen without difficulty from the space telescope Hubble.

In sum: there’s just a dry riverbed, a first, timid rain, and then, with the riverbed just barely moist and spotted with a few puddles, thousands of adult fish flap around disconcerted with that same distrustful look that you all have right now. What is the scientific explanation? End of the pointless clarification. Continuing with the questions:

When a patient suffers a bone fracture, a doctor amputates the affected area or installs a metal rod or screw. But if the patient is treated by a bonesetter, they’re cured. What is the explanation for this?

With all of the damage that the capitalists have done to the people through their misuse of science, scientifically can you create a science that is truly human in order to avoid falling into a science that is inhuman, and if it is possible create a truly human science, who can create it?

In our struggle for liberation we see and feel the reality produced by the capitalist hydra. We are therefore creating a new society and a new world to save nature for the sake of a humanity without injustice, inequality, exploitation, and poverty. For this we need the originary peoples, all exploited people, the artists and you as scientists to be united, because your inventions and discoveries are very important for the development of humanity. What do you think and what do you have to say about this?

Brother and sister companer@ scientists, you have a different kind of knowledge, but we, and other sectors, all have something in common, because capitalism exploits us all and appropriates our knowledges for its own evil ends. Do you think that we are going to allow this exploitation to continue, or is there another way to live with justice and freedom, a way to work collectively and with unity, to defend life and humanity?

Brother and sister companer@ scientists, the exploitation and abuse of human beings and nature has caused much suffering and death. We want the exploiters and also whoever doesn’t suffer as we do to put themselves in our shoes. This has made us think that something must be done and made us ask who should do it. We have concluded that the artists, scientists, originary peoples, and those below must put together our wisdom and begin to construct a new world where those of us who live will live well. Will you agree to be part of the construction of a new world together with us?

Brother and sister companer@ scientists, as Zapatistas we think that science itself is a series of knowledges that can help us to develop a more human system, where our dreams of unity and the conservation of Mother Earth and living beings can be possible. Simultaneously they will help us to soon destroy this capitalist monster. So we ask, is there room for your dreams, your knowledges and your science in the world of oppression? Is there room for your dreams within dispossession, horror, fear and the extermination of life? Do you believe that science can humanize in conjunction with the peoples of the countryside and the city?

Brothers and sisters, companer@s, scientists, what do you think about the women who are being exploited, manipulated, marginalized, assassinated, tortured, kidnapped, racially discriminated against and used as objects to promote capitalist commodities? What do you think about the fact that they use us as publicity for their propaganda and their transport of drugs, and as objects to satisfy their sexual needs? That they prostitute us to sell articles to make money? Why must we suffer to see the violence and death faced by millions of women across the world on an everyday basis? And we do not only feel pain, but also rage and fury. For example, as Zapatista women we are exercising our right and freedom to participate in our autonomous government of lead-by-obeying, which we see is a space for us to construct a new society. What do you think as scientists can be done to free us from all of this suffering and evil that the capitalist system does to us? And what can we do about it, you and us together? And given that without us women the world cannot live, how much time to you think that we women have to wait to be free? Is it now or never? As Zapatista women we see that it is possible to organize, struggle and work, we see that you and us need one another.

-*-

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And so to bring this section to a close, I put two questions to you. The first came from Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés:

What is the scientific explanation for why whenever you start to talk about politics the insurgentas and insurgents fall asleep? Some of them even claim that they have trouble sleeping, but all that you have to do is start talking about politics and they start snoring. Is there a scientific explanation for this? Or are they just acting a fool?

The second question will make more sense in the next session:

Why is this flower this colour? Why does it have this shape? Why does it have this smell?

-*-

(The Sup takes out his little Einstein and Sherlock Holmes dolls and places them in the middle of the table, surrounded on either side by a pair of cat-dog figures).

Like any self-respecting alchemist, I feel a mixture of envy and admiration for the person who, without stopping to attend to the global problems of injustice and slavery, also practices the hard sciences (like Albert Einstein here) and for those who manage to go beyond the abstract universe and apply the sciences in pursuit of human justice (like detective Sherlock Holmes). Einstein and Holmes, both represent the commitment of their scientific and technical work to social transformation. Both remind us that, as Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés highlighted earlier, we cannot delegate our tasks as full human beings to others.

That is why, despite the fact that I am only a mediocre alchemist, you, who have made scientific work your motor and your destiny, share with me and with those who are huddled here with you, the idea that we must do something. And this something doesn’t have anything to do with the irresponsibility of delegating the responsibility of doing something to others.

Of course, you will say that I am setting a trap. That, in placing the figures of Albert Einstein and Sherlock Holmes in front of you, I am resorting to a crude and caricatured form of blackmail in order to oblige you to adhere to a political proposal that seeks to hegemonize and homogenize everything: the sciences, the arts, life.

Maybe, maybe not. Let’s leave aside for a moment the blackmail, perhaps more appropriate for adolescent romance and the politics of above that pays lip-service to “love” and “fraternity” while they traffic in discrimination, racism, intolerance and the “with me or against me” that all fascists resort to.

Note that alongside Einstein and Holmes I have placed the little Cat-dog figures, which are both looking at them and looking at you.

The Cat-dog is acting like Doctor Watson, ready to sum up his scientific achievements, that is, his human ones.

But the Cat-dog is also pointing to the shadows of Moriarty and the Manhattan Project, alerting you to the ominous and predatory presence of the Hydra, the system that is always inclined to operate its perverse alchemy and convert knowledge made for life and for creation into knowledge for destruction and death.

That is how – one more blackmail – I am showing you what this encounter is about, an encounter between your science and the conscience of us Zapatistas.

I am showing you that we look at you and that our gaze is also a form of listening to you and understanding you.

That our gaze has this mix of admiration and envy for what you are; for what it is that, at least according to us Zapatistas, makes you special.

And our gaze is neither hopeful, nor not hopeful,

Our gaze is simply asking:

And what about you? What are you doing?

 

From CIDECI_Unitierra, Chiapas, Mexico, Latin America, Planet Earth, Solar System, etcetera.
SupGaleano.

Mexico, December 26, 2016

 

http://enlacezapatista.ezln.org.mx/2016/12/26/algunas-primeras-preguntas-a-las-ciencias-y-sus-conciencias/

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“The flower is to blame”

Filed under: CNI, Indigenous, Zapatistas — Tags: , , , , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 2:56 pm

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“The flower is to blame”

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December 27, 2016

“Earlier this year, on February 30, 2016, the Swedish electronic science magazine, River’s Scientist Research Institute, published a study that may revolutionize science and its social applications.

A group of scientists, led by Swedish doctors Stod Sverderg, Kurt Wallander, and Stellan Skarsgard, presented a complex, multidisciplinary analysis that arrived at the following provocative conclusion: There exists a direct correlation between the increase in quantity and quality of feminist movements, and the decrease in birth rates.

Combining statistical methods, embryology, molecular biology, genetics, and analytical behaviour, the scientists concluded that the rise in the diversity of feminism’s belligerence provokes libido inhibitors in males, and thus reduces the rate of frequency of sexual reproduction.

But there’s more. Laboratory analyses established that male spermatozoa exposed to feminist activism are weaker than unexposed spermatozoa. Known as astebizisoermia, or “lazy spermatozoa” syndrome, it is more prevalent in male populations where feminism occupies a protagonist role in social organization. According to the published article, Dr. Everet Bacstrom of the Rainn Wilson Institute, headquartered in London, tested the investigation’s theory with a sample of European, WASP, middle class males and reached the same conclusion.

In an interview with the publication, European feminist activists Chloë Sevigny and Sarah Linden said that the study was merely a dirty example of “patriarchal scientism.”

Meanwhile, the international advisory centre for governments, Odenkirk Associated, declared through its spokespersons, James Gordon and Harvey Bullock, that it recommended that governments in the First World “inhibit the activism and belligerence of feminist groups” so that national birth rates may increase in developed countries. At the same time, they recommended that the governments of Third World countries, particularly in Africa and Latin America, encourage the participation of feminist groups, especially in marginalized zones so that birth rates might decline in those areas, preventing more general social disturbances.

Consulted on the matter, advisors of the European Economic Community, Stella Gibson and Gillian Anderson, refused to confirm or deny that the study is to become the basis for a new international policy between Europe and the Third World.”

Well, what I’ve just read to you is an example of the new scientific journalism. Although it is completely my own writing, it is our gift to you all for the December holidays. Take it and conduct an experiment: publish it.

Don’t appeal to the written press. With the exception of the author and a diminishing number of people, nobody reads newspapers and magazines to inform themselves. Come on, not even those who write for these places read them. They only look at whatever comments are made about their texts on social media. In fact, it is social media that dictates to them which topics they should cover. Just a couple of months ago, I read a “thought leader” and “expert analyst” ask their “followers” which topic they should cover in their column: “fav, if on the female candidate of the National Indigenistic Congress” (I’m pretty sure that’s how they put it), “rt if on the great comrade and leader, sun of our way forward, and illustrious builder of the future.” I don’t need to tell you that the rt’s won.

No, if you want to have some “media resonance,” then appeal directly as a primary source to social media.

Find one of those social media stars, for example, an adolescent “twitstar” with hundreds of thousands of followers. Someone constantly preoccupied with giving their fans the type of material that promotes critical tolerance, rational debate, and profound reflection (things that, clearly, are found in abundance in the stimulating environment that is social media). Someone like, for example, John M. Ackerman (253,000 followers). Yes, I know that I said it should be an adolescent, and yes, Mr. John Ackerman is a little long in the tooth, but I’m referring to mental age so bear with me.

After that, “follow” him and make sure he doesn’t block you. This is very easy; you don’t need to write anything that is even half intelligible. It’s enough to fill your timeline with retweets of all the grand, iron truths that emanate from the keyboard of said person.

Okay, now you only need to somehow get this “influencer” to briefly reference the scientific study, and his hundreds of millions of followers will automatically fave or retweet it.

This is how the “scientific” study will become a hit. It will become the basis for future analyses, colloquia, round tables, and it will find entry into the bloated library of conspiracy theories.

No, you won’t need to worry about anyone taking the time to critically analyze the supposedly scientific article and notice the following:

.- February does not have 30 days.

.- “River” is a British police drama where the main character, John River, is played by the Swedish actor Stellan John Skarsgård.

.- Stod Sverderg and Kurt Wallander are characters in the Swedish police TV series “Wallander.”

.- Everet Backstrom is the name of the main character on a detective TV comedy-drama called “Backstrom,” played by Rainn Wilson.

.- Chloë Sevigny is the name of the actress who plays Catherine Jensen in the Danish TV crime drama “Those Who Kill”

.- Sarah Linden is the name of the main character in the U.S. police TV series “The Killing,” played by Mireille Enos.

.- Bob Odenkirk is the name of the lead actor in the series “Better Call Saul,” which they say is the prequel to “Breaking Bad.”

.- James Gordon and Harvey Bullock are characters in the show “Gotham”

.- The European Economic Community no longer exists. It was disbanded in 2009 to make way for the European Union.

.- And Stella Gibson and Gillian Anderson are the main character and its actress, respectively, in the show “The Fall.”

Here, please forgive me if my English pronunciation is pretty off from international scientific standards, and even sounds like that of a “wet back” of the 1940s, but solidarity with Latino emigrants who currently suffer the Trump nightmare takes surprising, not always obvious paths. In any case, those who are reading rather than listening to these words have no devotion to the horror that is being lived north of the Rio Bravo.

Sure, it would have sufficed for any of you to Google these primary references to realize that the ostensibly “scientific study” described above is a complete fraud.

-*-

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Does science have to worry about these frauds, which reduce scientific activity to a caricature for massive consumption?

Do you all think that only religion and creationism deserve to be challenged? Religion is religion—it doesn’t pretend to be scientific. On the other hand, pseudoscience is a major problem. If you think that you’re in the era of Enlightenment, and you’re happy with ridiculing religious paradigms and staging livestreamed popularity contests where atheists battle believers, then it might be because you haven’t noticed the gaping hole that exists below the waterline of the “ship of science.”

The pseudosciences, or false sciences, not only keep on winning, they are becoming acceptable explanations of reality.

If you don’t believe me, try undergoing some quartz-based bioenergetic balancing therapy. Or enrol in a course on “The Theory of Science” in a department of higher learning at a respectable university, and allow yourself the surprise to learn that you’ll need to engage with material under the banner of “Scientific Philosophy” (the oxymoron that lives on from even before the time of Prometheus, Sisyphus, and Theseus).

Believe it or not, the dark times on the horizon now take science from the court dock to the social gallows.

I’ll return to this point in greater depth on another occasion.

For now, this applies to this case, or thing, depending, as you all need to confront the invasion of these false sciences. We Zapatistas confront that, and several other things.

-*-

In our participation in yesterday’s first general session, I presented a few of the questions prepared by my compañeras and compañeros, who have been selected to be your students.

Those are not my questions. If they were mine, they would have sounded different. They would have been these types of questions: What relationship is there between squash soup and cognitive deficiency? What are the nutritious qualities of that wondrous food that is referred to as pecan ice cream? Are injections a pseudoscientific form of torture? Etcetera.

So the only thing I did with my compas’ questions is group them together. I removed some of them because we imagined they would be answered in the presentations, as well as for another reason which, if there’s time, I will discuss.

These 200 compañeras and compañeros, 100 women and 100 men, were selected to attend—that is to say, to respond to collectives. Their presence here is not for their personal interest or benefit. When they leave here, they will each need to return to their collective and describe what this encounter was all about, what they learned or what they didn’t, what they understood or what they didn’t. In other words, they are obligated to socialize knowledge. This is the reason why you see these compas writing and writing in their notebooks, consulting each other with a fervour I doubt you would find in your university’s student body.

What I want to say here is that, although it appears that you are all confronted by 200 masks, in reality, your words will reach tens of thousands of indigenous people who speak different native languages.

Yeah, it is a little scary. Or a lot, depending.

The interest in science inside the Zapatista communities is legitimate, it is real. But it is relatively new; it has not always been this way. It relates to one of the transformations that our struggle has undergone: our process of constructing our autonomy. That is, our liberty.

This will be elaborated on by the compañero Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés in tomorrow morning’s session. For now, let me just take a moment to provide you with some details:

  1. – The indigenous Zapatista communities represented here by these 200 transgressors of the indigenous stereotype that reigns in both the institutional right and left, do not conceive of this encounter as a single event. Please understand: this is not a fleeting moment. They, the Zapatista people, hope that this encounter becomes the beginning of a stable and enduring relationship. They hope to keep in touch with you and maintain an ongoing exchange. Or as the people say, “Let this time be neither the first nor the last.”
  2. – The ways of our ways: So that you don’t become frustrated and so that you understand why there aren’t any questions at the end of each presentation, allow me to explain what our method is as students.

We do not raise individual problems. As a student body, we continue to function as a collective. Everyone takes notes, then after the class or the lecture, the collective gets together and they complete their notes by taking down everybody else’s. This way, if a student had become distracted or understood things differently, the rest can help complete that student’s notes or clarify things for him or her. For example, in yesterday’s presentation, the one written by the physicist and read to us by the doctor, there’s a part where he points out that someone could say that we have no scientific advancements compared to the developed countries because in Mexico we are Indians. A Zapatista compa became really upset at that because, according to him, the physicist was criticizing us for being the indigenous people that we are, and blaming us for the lack of scientific advancement in our country. In the collective recap, they cleared up that the physicist wasn’t saying that, and that he was instead criticizing those who do say that.

With questions, the same thing happens. First the students ask their questions amongst each other. This way, a good part of the questions are answered because the problem was that they didn’t hear, or that they didn’t take down the notes well, or that they didn’t understand what was being said. Another part of their questions, they answer amongst themselves. And then what are left are the questions that truly are collective questions.

I know that, to you, this can appear to be a tedious, slow process, and that at least a few of you might become disillusioned, thinking that we don’t participate, or that you weren’t able to capture our attention. You’d be mistaken: after the collectives get together in each zone, they will write out the questions they came up with and we will send them to you through the same line of communication that we used to invite you to this encounter. At least until we come up with an agreed upon medium and way of keeping in touch.

Of course, all of this is part of our certainty that this encounter will be the first of many, and that all of you will keep in touch with your students, and through them, with tens of thousands of Zapatistas.

So, have patience. At least the same patience you provide your investigations and experiments, or the type that would otherwise drive you to despair while you wait to learn that your project proposals have been accepted.

Having said that, allow me to propose the Zapatista methodology par excellence: Answering a question with another question.

With this, you will need to begin your answers with a fundamental question: “Why do you ask that?”

So let me explain. Because of the ways of Zapatismo, our practices in the communities do not seek to hegemonize or homogenize. This means that we do not relate only among Zapatistas, and we do not try to make everyone Zapatistas. While our setbacks and mistakes are ours alone, our successes and advancements we share with non-Zapatistas even with anti-Zapatistas. To understand why this is so, it would be necessary to study our history, something that surpasses the aims of this encounter.

For now, it suffices to say that, for example, the health promoters also care for the health of partidistas [political party followers]. So then, if a health promoter is giving out vaccines, it wouldn’t be rare for them to come up against partidistas who refuse because, they argue, vaccines are not natural, or are poisonous, or make you sick, or introduce illnesses into your body, or other superstitions or whatever else, which are due to the fraud that is the government’s health system. In effect, the senior and best promoters of bad health in the partidista communities are the governmental authorities.

Because of this, in light of the partidistas’ disasters, the health promoter tries to argue for and convince people that vaccines are good. This is why it’s logical that one of the questions I read yesterday was, “Scientifically, is it necessary to vaccinate yourself and why, or are there other ways and/or forms that substitute vaccines for other things? For example, for whooping cough, measles, smallpox, tetanus, etc?” With this question, they are asking you to provide them with arguments.

It’s the same with education promoters, the community radio announcers, and the authorities and coordinators of the collectives.

Another example: when a person in a community convulses or becomes ill and exhibits strange symptoms, the partidistas begin to say that it’s because somebody cast some kind of witchcraft. Because accusations of witchcraft usually end up with lynchings, the Zapatistas take great efforts to convince the partidistas that there is no such thing, that the convulsions have a scientific explanation and not a magical one, and that it’s not witchcraft but epilepsy that provokes those attacks. That’s why they are asking about the supernatural, the occult sciences, telepathy, etcetera. Statistics on this aren’t kept, but more than one partidista is indebted to neo-Zapatismo for not having been lynched for witchcraft, the evil eye, and things like that.

There are also questions on topics that they have received contradictory views on. For example, genetically modified organisms. There are some who say that they are harmful, and others who say that they are not, and others who say that of course they’re not. So the compas request scientific proof, not the slogans for either of these positions.

Yesterday, the biologist told us about a survey she conducted, it seems to me, using social media. She told us that someone replied that they would participate when she included the option to answer something like, “science is evil.”

Well, the Zapatista communities are visited by all kinds of people. The majority come to tell us what we should or should not do. People come, for example, who tell us that it’s good to live in houses with dirt floors and mud and clay walls; that it’s good to walk barefoot; that all of this is beneficial to us because it puts us into direct contact with Mother Nature, allowing us to directly receive the beneficial auras of the universe’s harmony. Don’t laugh at me, thinking I’m exaggerating. I’m transcribing word for word the assessment of a former student of the Zapatista Little School.

“Modernity is evil,” they say, and along with that they include: shoes, manufactured flooring, wall, and roofing material, and science.

To be sure, science doesn’t have much going in its favour. Open-pit mining, machines that build hotels and subdivisions, farming techniques imposed by donors and government programmes promising “progress,” have all arrived at its hand.

It is said that religion arrived in indigenous communities by the sword; that is true. But what’s forgotten is that pseudoscience and anti-science have arrived at the hand of good vibes, naturalism as non-religion, esotericism as “ancestral knowledge,” and microdosing mushrooms as neo-medicine.

I understand that those things take place in the hipster establishments of San Cristóbal de las Casa or in certain Coyoacan neighbourhoods near and dear to your hearts, and that they sound nice while smoking a joint (puff-puff-pass), consuming smart drinks, and ingesting soft drugs. Ok, so everyone escapes from reality according to their respective budgets—we are not judging.

But understand that the challenge that we have proposed to confront as the Zapatistas that we are, requires tools that, I regret to disappoint more than one person out there when I say, ONLY “scientific science” can provide us with—which is how Subcomandante Insurgente Moises refers to the sciences “that really are sciences,” in distinction to the sciences which are not.

-*-

Yesterday, we also heard about an experiment about something like “science and gender.” I think that it went like this: they put a man and a woman up for an academic job, each with identical CVs. The search committee was composed of the same number of men and women. They selected the man, were asked why they had selected him and not her, and their response was that the woman was submissive, conciliatory, and weak.

Sure, my biological chemical makeup includes the complete works of de José Alfredo Jiménez and Pedro Infante, so I celebrated the decision. But then, together with SubMoy, we got to thinking and started doing the figures.

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We asked Insurgenta Erika (present here) what she thought about that. She, for her part, asked me what “submissive” was. I responded, “obedient.” Then she asked me what the word “conciliatory” meant. “That she doesn’t fight, that she doesn’t impose, that she tries to find an agreement,” I answered. The word “weak” she said she understood. She thought for bit and then told us: “I don’t think I know those things.”

So then, forgive me if we live in another world, but we don’t know of any compañera who is submissive, conciliatory, and weak. Maybe because if they were, they wouldn’t be Zapatistas.

However, I think that in these lands, this experiment would have the same result but for the opposite reasons. That is, they would still select the man but precisely because the woman is neither submissive nor conciliatory, and much less weak.

And I mention this for what I am about to explain:

The following anecdote was told to me by Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés and I narrate it here for you, after having confirmed the details with him.

It may have taken place in a caracol in a meeting for the Hydra course given to the mensajeros and mensajeras, he’s not sure.

What happened was that a compañera jóvena [female youth] ran into SubMoy and asked him something like, “Hey compañero Subcomandante, I have a question. Let’s see if you can answer it.” ([When she said it in Spanish] she kept switching the gendered nouns’ pronouns between masculine and feminine, which is now part of the “way” that Spanish is spoken in many of the communities.)

SubMoy answered something like, “Ok compañera, tell me and if I know, I’ll answer. And if I don’t, well, let’s see how we do.”

It was clear that this question had been spinning in the jóvena’s head for many days and nights because she blurted out:

“Why is the flower that colour, why is it that shape, why does it have that scent?”

She didn’t stop there. Now having overcome the main obstacle (expressing the question), she added:

“And I don’t want you to tell me that Mother Earth in all her wisdom made the flower like that, or that it was God, or whatever else. I want to know the scientific answer.”

SubMoy could have responded in the way any military type, whether left or right, would have responded: that the compañera needed to cut her nonsense and go back to her post, or finish her work, or get to studying the seven principles, or that she study the Hydra lectures. Or maybe he would have referred her to the JBG or MAREZ or to the education or health commission.

He could have done all that, but he didn’t. Yes, SubMoy told me how he answered. But I got to thinking about the multitude of options that, in different calendars and geographies, would have inspired other answers.

Now looking back, it occurs to me, this unpublished anachronistic alchemist, that the compañera Zapatista was not looking for SubMoy to answer why the damn flower was the way that it was. Instead, she was looking for him to capture, how they say, all of the complexity that resides within that flower.

With just that question alone and who posed it we could have an entire seminar on the history of Zapatismo. No, I won’t overwhelm you by telling you a story that you surely won’t be interested in. All of you right now, like I was then, are more interested in learning what SubMoy’s answer was for the compañera.

SubMoy said to me, in his signature paused, teaching tone, that he had realized that, behind the question there was not only another question, but an even bigger question.

It was a question that had to with what, then and now, are referred to as the changes that have taken place in the Zapatista communities.

The jóvena, in contrast to her mother and grandmother when they were the same age, has already rejected two marriage proposals (“As if I were thinking about a husband,” was the identical response that greeted the two suitors who, only moments before, had used up half a bottle of cologne and styled with a gel that will help maintain their hair’s position for centuries); she is fluent in two languages (her mother tongue and Spanish);  she can read and write with an accuracy that college students at a certain national university would envy; she has completed the primary and secondary autonomous schools; she carries out her duties as a health promoter and Tercio Compa; she can work a computer and on three different operating systems (iOS, Windows, and Linux) without difficulty; in addition to operating cameras and video editing software, she can easily navigate the internet—of course, as long as the atmospheric climate allows the JBG’s satellite link to withstand the upload and download bandwidth of 0.05 kb per second, and that the limit hasn’t already been reached with the communities’ denouncements.

With this background, it’s no surprise that she wasn’t going to be satisfied with the answer about “Mother Earth in all her infinite wisdom made the flower like that because everything is in harmony with the universe’s forces that emanate from within nature.” (Here everyone can close their eyes, take each other by the hands, and repeat after me: “ommm, ommmm.”)

It would make sense to assume that, when her mother, in response to her questions, would have instead sent her to fetch water or firewood, the jóvena would have gone for the aforementioned items without protest but would have kept pondering the question along her 4 kilometre walk to fetch the wood, and 2 kilometre trip to fetch the water.

Of course, if I were to tell you that the jóvena Zapatista in question is named Azucena [Lily], or Camelia, or Dalia, or Jazmín, or Violeta, or sure, Flor [Flower], you are all going to wonder if there aren’t already enough absurdly obvious occurrences that there’s no need to keep on raining on those things that are already wet. And I won’t tell you the truth, which is that the compañera’s name is Rosita, that her mother’s name is Rosa, and that her grandmother is Rosalia. Imagine the horror if the compañera has a baby girl. For sure her name would end up being Rositía.

Well, the point is that, when days later SubMoy told me that we had to think of how we were going to be in touch with the scientists, I gave him that same confused expression that you all had when you saw the title of this presentation. Of course SubMoy didn’t take it personally, so he forced me to ask him, “What’s that mean, where you going with that?”

SupMoy lit a cigarette and responded laconically, “The flower is to blame.”

For my part, of course, I lit a pipe and remained silent but my facial expression said, “Ah, you think?” Nah, that’s not true. I gave him an expression that said, “What?!” Nah, that’s not true either. But I did give him some kind of expression because I didn’t have my mask on and SubMoy laughed and explained his response, as I already mentioned.

The context, as they say, of the question and of the answer, is what SubMoy will talk to you about tomorrow.

So then all you scientists, when you return to your world and somebody asks you what this encounter resulted in, or why you came, or what it was about, or how it went, you can begin your long or short answer this way:

“The flower is to blame.”

Thank you very much.

From CIDECI-Unitierra, San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, México, Latin America, planet Earth, Solar System, etc.

SupGaleano.

December 27, 2016.

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From the Notebook of the Cat-Dog: Zapatista Defence, Art, and Science

It hasn’t yet been possible to clear up the reason why. Some say that it was a bet. Others say that it was because Pedrito just took it too far. A very small number of people say that what was witnessed that day was an extraordinarily intense game whose result was decided in the final seconds, when the referee, SupMoisés, called the penalty.

Whatever the case, this places the little girl, Zapatista Defence, only a few metres away from the penalty line, where a frayed ball awaits her.

At the goal, Pedrito holds his arms up above his head like the goal keeper of what used to be the soccer team of what used to be the Soviet Union: Lev Yashin, “The Black Spider.” Pedrito smiles cunningly, for, according to him, he can already predict where the girl will aim her shot: “Zapatista Defence is perfectly predictable. Since she just came back from the discussion with the mensajeras, she will for sure aim her kick below and to the left.”

For her part, the girl, who barely stands a metre off the ground, turns her gaze toward one side of the field. (Actually, it’s a pasture which occasionally erupts with cows and their young calves, in addition to a one-eyed horse.)

On this side you can see: a strange being, half dog and half cat, happily wagging its tail. As well as two individuals who, if these weren’t Zapatista lands, one would say they totally clashed with the landscape. One of them: medium-complexioned, short grey hair, sporting a type of raincoat. The other: skinny, tall, gawky, with an elegant coat and a ridiculous sombrero on his head.

The girl heads toward the strange group. The one-eyed horse comes closer, too. They gather, and the skinny man draws strange figures on the dirt. The girl pays close attention, once in a while, nodding her head.

The girl, Zapatista Defence, returns to the middle of the field and assumes her position. She begins to trot toward the ball but she runs past it, without even touching it. She stops a few centimetres from the right side of the goal that’s being defended by Pedrito, who looks at her suspiciously. Zapatista Defence stops, squats down, and begins to scratch a bit of dirt so that she can pick a flower by its roots. She carefully takes the flower in her hands, replants it far from the goal, and returns to the field.

The audience is in suspense, sensing that they’re witnessing one of those events that will never again be repeated the world over.

Pedrito, for his part, is now more than confident. If he previously had any doubts, Zapatista Defence has committed a serious error: as she moved to pick the flower from its place, the girl signalled the direction she was going to kick to: below and to the left of Pedrito. Clearly, Pedrito told himself, because girls care about flowers, Zapatista Defence didn’t want the ball to uproot the flower.

As if that wasn’t suspenseful enough, the girl has now positioned herself no longer some distance from the ball and in front of the goal. Instead, she is standing right next to the ball with her back turned to a smiling Pedrito who is thinking about all of the ways he will make fun of Zapatista Defence when she misses the penalty kick.

Zapatista Defence turns her face over to where the strange Cat-Dog is, who starts to jump up and down and spin like a little dancing toy. The girl smiles and she initiates a movement that will divide opinions for decades to come:

Some participants from CompArte say that she first began in a ballet position, raised her left leg up, and began to whirl in that movement they call “pirouette en dehors”, and “relevés” and rotating “passes.” “It was impeccable,” they added.

The now deceased SupMarcos said that, what Zapatista Defense had just done, was none other than the Ushiro Mawashi Geri Ashi Mawatte, a martial arts technique where you turn your back to your target and spin just about 360 degrees before kicking it with the heel of your foot.

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The insurgentas that were gathered in the section, “Like the Women that we Are,” for their part, said that the flower that Zapatista Defence picked up belonged to the liana known as “Chenek Caribe,” whose flowers look like little chicks or little birds, and are what the littlest of girls play with in the indigenous communities of the Lacandon Jungle. The “Chenek Caribe” tend to bloom in pastures and tall grasses, signalling that the soil is ready to sow maiz and beans.

SubGaleano who, as always, crashes these stories, says that he was certain that Pedrito would become confused by what was so obvious: that, in effect, Zapatista Defence was going to shoot below and to the left, but Pedrito assumed that it was going to be to HIS below and to the left. The kick did go below and to the left, but from the perspective of the girl.

Dr Watson said that what Zapatista Defence had done was briefly emulate the meditative dance Sema practiced by Sufi Dervishes just as he had seen performed live during his stay in Turkey, where the dancers spin their bodies in repetitive circles, imitating the movement of the planets orbiting the sun.

The detective consultant Sherlock Holmes explained that everybody was mistaken. That what the girl did was the application of a scientific explanation he had given her on the rotational inertia of a body, and the application of centrifugal force on the sphere. “Elementary, my dear Watson,” said the detective, who found himself lost in the Mexican South-eastern Mountains. “It was clear that, given the height and weight of Zapatista Defence, it was necessary to increase as much as possible the force that was to connect with the sphere, providing the ball the necessary velocity and acceleration to travel 11 metres. Sure, the probability of success was 50/50. That is, the goalkeeper could have moved toward the opposite side, or moved toward the side the ball was headed to, thus stopping it without difficulty.”

“And the flower?” asked Dr Watson. “Ah,” Sherlock responded, “that, my dear Watson, is the girl’s own contribution which didn’t occur to me. Further, I was surprised as much as the goalie was. With what she did, she increased the chances that the goalie would move toward the direction where she first found the flower. It was something that, of course, had nothing to do with science or with art. If you will permit me, Dr Watson, it was as if she had succeeded in synthesizing both. Very interesting, my dear Watson, very interesting.”

After the commotion died down, the Tercio Compas interviewed Pedrito. When they asked him how it was that the ball successfully made it into the goal, Pedrito responded laconically:

“The flower is to blame.”

I can vouch for that.

Bark-meow.

http://enlacezapatista.ezln.org.mx/2017/01/16/the-flower-is-to-blame/

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January 15, 2017

Joint Pronouncement from the CNI and the EZLN for the Freedom of our Mapuche Sister Machi Francisca Lincolao Huircapan

Filed under: CNI, Indigenous, Zapatistas — Tags: — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 5:37 pm

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Joint Pronouncement from the CNI and the EZLN for the Freedom of our Mapuche Sister Machi Francisca Lincolao Huircapan

 

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To the Mapuche People:
To the Chilean People:
To the International Sixth:
To the Media:

We peoples, nations, and tribes of the National Indigenous Congress send a fraternal greeting of solidarity to Machi [1] Francisca Lincolao Huircapan, of the Mapuche People, in Chile, imprisoned since March 30, 2016. We know that compañera Machi Francisca is on a hunger strike to demand the justice that the bad government of Chile has denied her by keeping her imprisoned for the crime of continuing to defend the natural resources, sacred places, and cultural rights of her people. They are letting her health deteriorate to the point that it threatens the life of the compañera, whose state of health is summarily delicate.

We denounce the fact that while the Chilean government represses Machi Francisca, they blatantly protect transnational capitalists and bosses such as the landlord Alejandro Taldriz, with his illegal logging that the corrupt state works to protect.

The National Indigenous Congress and the EZLN demand:

  1. The immediate release of compañera Machi Francisca Lincolao Huircapan.
  2. An end to the repression against the dignified Mapuche people and the revocation of the racist and repressive Anti-terrorist Law that is meant to criminalize the territorial defence of the Chilean Originary Peoples.
  3. Absolute respect for the Mapuche territory.

January 2017

For the Full Reconstitution of our Peoples
Never again a Mexico without us

NATIONAL INDIGENOUS CONGRESS
ZAPATISTA ARMY OF NATIONAL LIBERATION

 

[1] A machi is a traditional healer and religious leader in the Mapuche culture of Chile and Argentine. Machis are more frequently women than men

 

http://enlacezapatista.ezln.org.mx/2017/01/14/joint-pronouncement-from-the-cni-and-the-ezln-for-the-freedom-of-our-mapuche-sister-machi-francisca-lincolao-huircapan/

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Zapatistas and Indigenous Mexicans Create Parallel Government for Indigenous Autonomy

Filed under: Autonomy, CNI, Indigenous, Uncategorized, Zapatistas — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 12:06 pm

 

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Zapatistas and Indigenous Mexicans Create Parallel Government for Indigenous Autonomy

 

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Article originally published on Upside Down World. The opinions are the author’s.

A coalition of indigenous Mexican communities has announced the creation its own, parallel government with the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN). Dubbed the Indigenous Governing Council (CGI), the parallel government will aim to promote autonomy for indigenous Mexicans.

“This council proposes to govern this country,” the EZLN said in a communique.

The EZLN is an indigenous guerrilla movement who waged an armed insurgency against the Mexican government throughout the 1990s. Today, the EZLN retains a presence in the highlands of the southern state of Chiapas, where it has been experimenting with a form of direct democracy that draws from anarchist and socialist traditions blended with indigenous practices.

According to the Zapatistas, the CGI represents the next phase of the National Indigenous Congress (CNI). The CNI was founded in 1996 by the EZLN as a project aimed at uniting Mexico’s dozens of indigenous groups. Since then, the CNI has become one of Mexico’s largest indigenous organizations, and remains closely linked to the EZLN.

According to the EZLN’s communique, the CGI’s spokesperson will also double as a candidate in Mexico’s 2018 presidential elections.

The CNI/EZLN first announced plans to field a presidential candidate last October. The name of the candidate won’t be released until May 18, after the CGI holds a “constituent assembly.” This assembly will also officially inaugurate the CGI.

No other details of the candidate have been made public, though the CNI and EZLN have already said they have agreed it will be an indigenous woman.

The announcement of the CGI’s creation came following the conclusion of a CNI summit in Chiapas. According to representatives who spoke to the press, the decision to create the CGI was made after three months of consultations with indigenous communities. This was followed by two days of closed door talks between indigenous groups during the CNI summit. A total of 43 indigenous groups from 25 states were involved in the talks, the CNI said.

“Indignation, resistance and rebellion will feature on the 2018 electoral ballots,” one representative said in the EZLN’s de facto capital of Oventic, according to the Mexican magazine El Proceso.

The CGI’s Proposed Structure

The representatives provided only limited details on how the CGI will actually function, though they expressed hope it will be a more comprehensive form of organization than the CNI. According to those who spoke to the press, the CGI will have a more permanent presence in indigenous communities than the CNI. El Proceso reported the CGI will have “commissions” on the community, regional, state and national level. The CGI will also reportedly have different administrative commissions, mirroring the Mexican government secretariats. Some of these are likely to include commissions of finance, environment, health, communication and security. According to El Proceso, there will also be a commission for “Mother Earth”, and an elder’s council.

Although the spokesperson will be the public face of the CGI, as an individual they will have no real power. Instead, all of the CGI’s decisions will be made by consensus among representatives of indigenous communities, who comprise the CNI’s assembly. These representatives will also be able to recall the spokesperson at any time if they feel they are not fulfilling their duties.

“Our resistances and rebellions constitute the power from below,” the EZLN said.

They continued, “We do not offer empty promises or actions, but rather real processes for radical transformation where everyone participates and which are tangible in the diverse and enormous indigenous geographies of this nation.”

Remembering the EZLN Uprising

The CNI’s summit was timed to coincide with the 23rd anniversary of the EZLN’s uprising on January 1, 1994. On that day, thousands of EZLN guerrillas caught Mexican security forces off guard, and quickly occupied a handful of towns across Chiapas state. The uprising was prompted partly by the creation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which the EZLN argued would deepen Mexico’s wealth disparity, while doing little to help indigenous Mexicans in poor regions like Chiapas. In 1994, 75.1 percent of the population of Chiapas lived in poverty, according to official data. Today, that figure is 78.8 percent.

“Nowadays, the conditions of the Mexican people in the countryside and the city are worse than 23 years ago,” EZLN spokesperson Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés said.

Speaking from an undisclosed location in the highlands of Chiapas, Moisés said the plight of indigenous Mexicans remains ignored by the government.

“Governments come and go, of different colours and flags, and all they do is make things worse,” he said.

Although the EZLN has survived over two decades of struggle with the Mexican government, the movement has been criticized by some on Mexico’s left who have accused the group of being too insular.

The EZLN has always refused to engage in mainstream politics, and has long opposed all political parties. The 2018 election will be the first time the group has ever endorsed a presidential candidate, but not necessarily the first time they have played a role in a national election.

In 2006, the EZLN sparked controversy when it refused to endorse the campaign of presidential hopeful Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. Obrador was the favoured candidate for much of the Mexican left.

Instead of backing Obrador, the EZLN led the Otra Campaña (Other Campaign) during the 2006 presidential race. This campaign sought to promote changes to Mexico’s constitution, including proposals to enshrine protections for indigenous autonomy. Although the campaign significantly broadened the EZLN’s support base beyond Chiapas, some on the left claimed the move drew attention away from Obrador’s election campaign. Obrabor lost to the right wing Felipe Calderón by less than 250,000 votes. Obrador is planning a comeback in 2018.

However, Moisés argued the EZLN’s struggle is more inclusive than ever before.

“We started our uprising 23 years ago, but our way was exclusive, and not everyone could participate,” he said.

“Now, the National Indigenous Congress calls us to a struggle we can all participate in, regardless of age, colour, size, race, religion, language, salary, knowledge, physical strength, culture or sexual preference,” he said.

Moisés continued by stating the CNI has taken up the same fight as the EZLN, “and they have decided to do it by civil and peaceful means.”

“Its causes are just, [and] undeniable,” he said.

Ryan Mallett-Outtrim is an independent Australian journalist based out of Mexico. More of his work can be found at dissentsansfrontieres.com.

http://upsidedownworld.org/archives/mexico/zapatistas-and-indigenous-mexicans-create-parallel-government-for-indigenous-autonomy/

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