dorset chiapas solidarity

March 24, 2017

IACHR finds the State responsible for death of Tzeltal

Filed under: Autonomy, Indigenous, Uncategorized, Zapatistas — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 1:33 pm

 

IACHR finds the State responsible for death of Tzeltal

By: José Antonio Román

flag-map_of_zapatista_chiapasThe Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) concluded that the Mexican State is responsible for violating the right to life of the Tzeltal Gilberto Jiménez Hernández, executed at the hands of members of the Army in Altamirano, Chiapas, on February 20, 1995, inside the so- called Chiapas 94 Campaign Plan, with which it [the army] sought to retake the territory in which the Zapatista National Liberation Army (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, EZLN) had operated.

The IACHR points out that after 22 years the Mexican State has not complied with any of the recommendations issued to repair the damage and to guarantee that the acts are not repeated. They also committed offences and crimes against relatives of the victim and the villagers.

The acts occurred in the La Grandeza ejido in Altamirano municipality, when Army officials extra-judicially executed Jiménez Hernández while he was fleeing with his family and some 70 other residents. There were allegedly investigations in ordinary federal and state agencies, as well as military, but impunity prevailed.

The State’s version is that his death resulted from a confrontation between members of the EZLN, the group to which the victim belonged, and members of the Army.

These acts occurred after February 9, 1995, when then President Ernesto Zedillo launched the Army against the EZLN, betraying his offer of dialogue. That same day, the Attorney General of the Republic announced that members of the Zapatista leadership had been accused of the use of weapons for the Army’s exclusive use and also terrorism.

According to the testimonies of villagers, the soldiers “opened continuous fire” against the people that had taken shelter in an improvised encampment on the hill after being warned that the soldiers were coming. They also said that the Army destroyed the interior of the houses in the empty community.

The villagers fled after the shooting on February 20. Gilberto Jiménez attempted to hide, but he couldn’t because he was carrying his 2-year old daughter “tied to his back with a shawl.” Abner García Torres, a soldier, found him and in Spanish ordered him to stop.

Gilberto obeyed and was extended on the ground, but the soldier, “without any warning or motive, shot him without considering that he was carrying his daughter on his back.” One of the bullets penetrated his right eye and caused his immediate death. His wife and several of his ten children with whom he was fleeing were witnesses to the execution.

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Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2017/03/21/politica/005n3pol

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

 

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March 11, 2017

Bachajón Ejido closes Palenque-Ocosingo road and demands freedom for political prisoners

Filed under: Autonomy, Bachajon, Political prisoners, Uncategorized — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 4:44 pm

 

 

Bachajón Ejido closes Palenque-Ocosingo road and demands freedom for political prisoners

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Published by Pozol Collective, 6th of March 2017, Chiapas.

Jmololabex ants winiketik icha spatil a wotanik ta pisilik machatik nokol skoltabel te lum kinalik te yuun ta skuenta te nokol spojbel te chopol ajwalil.

Compañeros and compañeras, this communication comes from the adherents to the Sixth Declaration from the ejido of San Sebastián Bachajón, Chiapas, with greetings of struggle for your organisations and peoples in resistance.

In this communique, we raise our voice to demand justice and the immediate freedom of our three compañeros imprisoned in different detention centres.

Today the compañeros who are adherents to the Sixth, of the Ejido San Sebastián Bachajón, find ourselves in Nahilte, on the road between Palenque-Ocosingo, holding a road block. We are from the three centres that make up the Ejido, and we are determined to carry out this peaceful direct action, to demand the freedom of our unjustly imprisoned compañeros with immediate effect; prisoners of conscience Esteban Gómez Jiménez, imprisoned in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, (CERSS #5), and Santiago Moreno Pérez and Emilio Jiménez Gómez, imprisoned in Playas de Catazaja, Chiapas (CERSS #17). They were arbitrarily detained, their crimes were fabricated and they were imprisoned following false accusations for crimes they never committed, simply because they were committed to fight for and defend Mother Earth. This was their crime, speaking up and defending natural resources, territory and life.

We also denounce the actions of official ejidal commissioner Manuel Guzmán Alvaro to promote, together with the Agrarian Commission the advancement of PROCEDE and FANAR, to parcel off our land with the aim of privatising it and stripping our people of it, in the interest of Big Business (megaproyectos). We reject the ejidal commissioner’s work for the Bad Government and beseech the people of San Sebastián Bachajon not to be taken in by the lies of the commissiones and the Bad Government. We do not need PROCEDE or FANAR, because as peoples, we have learned how to defend our land and see autonomy as the solution to all problems within the community.

From the northern part of Chiapas, men and women of San Sebastián Bachajón send greetings of struggle to all the compañeros and compañeras, communities and peoples, of Mexico and the world, who fight and resist bad governance.

Never again a Mexico without us
Land and freedom

Long live Zapata!
Ever onward to victory!
Freedom for political prisoners!
Juan Vázquez Guzmán lives, Bachajón struggles on!
Juan Carlos Gómez Silvano lives, Bachajón struggles on!
No to the eviction of indigenous lands!
State police out of our indigenous territory!
Immediate presentation of the compañeros disappeared and assassinated in the normal school Raúl Isidro Burgos in Ayotzinapa!
¡JUSTICE FOR OUR COMPAÑERO JUAN VAZQUEZ GUZMAN, AYOTZINAPA, ACTEAL, ABC, ATENCO!

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March 10, 2017

The transition blossoms, although we may not see it

Filed under: Autonomy, Corporations, Human rights, Indigenous, Lacandon/ montes azules, Maize, Uncategorized, Zapatistas — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 10:26 am

 

 

The transition blossoms, although we may not see it

 

artesania1 (1)Autonomous Zapatista cooperatives produce hand-woven artistry for the local market. Photo by Carolina Dutton.

By: Raúl Zibechi

We are transitioning towards a new, post-capitalist world. In the measure that it is a process we are experiencing, we don’t have sufficient distance to know which period we’re in, but everything indicates that we’re crossing through the initial phases of said transition. Although it has deep similarities to previous ones (transitions from antiquity to feudalism and from feudalism to capitalism), a remarkable fact is the inability to comprehend what’s happening before our very eyes: a true process of the collective construction of new worlds.

In emancipatory thinking and especially in Marxism, the idea that all transition begins with the taking of power at the nation-State level has been converted into common sense. This assertion should have been re-thought after the Soviet and Chinese failures, but above all since the demolition of the states by neoliberalism, in other words by financial capital and the fourth world war underway. It’s certain, however, that power must be taken in order to move towards a non-capitalist world power, but why at the State level, why at an institutional level?

This is one of the essences of the problem and an enormous conceptual difficulty in being able to visualize the transitions that really exist. The second difficulty, tied to the former, is that transitions are not homogenous, and don’t involve all of the social body in the same way. History teaches us that they usually begin on the peripheries of the world-system of each nation, in remote rural areas and in small towns, in the weak links of the system, where they collect force and then expand to the centres of power.

On the other hand, transitions not only are not uniform from the geographic point of view, but also the social, since they are processes guided by human need and not by ideologies. Those who first construct other worlds are usually the peoples that inhabit the basement, Indians, blacks and mestizos; the popular sectors, women and youth are usually the principal protagonists.

I want to give an example of something that is happening right now, since it has a degree of important development and that can hardly be reversed, except with genocide. I refer to the experience of the Unemployed Workers Union (Unión de Trabajadores Desocupados, UTD) in General Mosconi, in northern Argentina. The city has 22,000 inhabitants who worked at the state oil company YPF until its privatization in the 1990s, which left a lot of people unemployed. In those years a strong movement of unemployed workers, known as piqueteros, took off and forced social plans out of successive governments.

During the cycle of piquetero struggles, the UTD was one of the principal referents in the whole country and the other movements enthusiastically followed its memorable roadblocks. The UTD and its leaders enjoyed strong prestige, which carried over to hundreds of cases before the courts because of the roadblocks and other “crimes;” they were the most popular ones in Argentina.

Things changed very quickly. The arrival of Nestor Kirchner to the presidency in 2003, and the retraction of the movements, took the UTD out of the media scenario and away from the -attention of the social militants. News about what’s happening in far-away northern Argentina is as scarce as it is nebulous.

Nevertheless, the UTD took advantage of the social plans (now cut by Macri) to construct a new world. At this time 110 agro-ecological vegetable gardens function, of two hectares each, where an average of 30 people work and produce a large variety of vegetables, besides a chicken coop and pigs in each garden. They have a carpentry workshop that is nourished from the zone’s abundant wood, workshops for soldering, classification of seeds and recycling of plastics in the five large structures the movement has, as one can read in the reporting of Claudia Acuña in the magazine MU (July 2016).

They built nurseries that reproduce native flora with which they supply from the town squares to the woods, those threatened by the dizzying expansion of transgenic soy and woodcutters. They dedicate part of their work to sustaining public spaces in the city and in the surrounding forests, a region where drug trafficking is increasing under state-police protection and complicity.

A simple calculation shows that from 4 to 5 thousand people make their living in relation to the collective work the UTD organizes, which is equivalent to 40 percent of Mosconi’s active population. Those families forged food autonomy, they no longer depend on social plans, and they are aiming from the production of food to the construction of housing, in other words they are reproducing life outside the framework of the system, without relating to capital or depending on the State. In sum, they work with dignity.

cafe-zapatista-de-chiapasZapatista coffee cooperatives produce coffee that is sold in Chiapas, in Mexico and internationally.

It will be said that it is just a local experience. But the gardens and the UTD’s ways of doing things are already expanding to neighbouring Tartagal, which has triple the population. Many thousands of undertakings of this kind in Latin America, because the popular sectors comprehended that the system doesn’t need them or protect them, as happened during the brief years of the welfare states. There is an implicit strategy in this group of new worlds that does not pass through nation-states, but rather through strengthening and expanding each initiative, in sharpening the anti-systemic and anti-patriarchal traits, and in strengthening resistances.

A stroke of maturity of a good part of these new worlds consists of maintaining distance from the political party and state institutions, although they can always demand support and glean resources with one eye set on guaraneeing survival and the other on maintaining independence.

In the long transition underway, impossible to know whether it will be decades or centuries, the new worlds are facing one of the system’s most powerful offensives. What they have achieved up to now permits us to breathe a serene optimism.

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Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Friday, March 3, 2017

http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2017/03/03/opinion/020a1pol

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

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February 28, 2017

Tila Ejido Denounces Attempt to Kidnap President of Commission of Tila Ejido

Filed under: Autonomy, Uncategorized — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 10:39 am

 

 

 Tila Ejido Denounces Attempt to Kidnap President of Commission of Tila Ejido

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On February 6, Tila Ejido published a communiqué denouncing: “a group of inhabitants of the Cantioc community annex organized by members of the green party and the city council attempted to kidnap the President of the Ejidal Commissariat, coming to his house at dawn this Monday, February 6, after midnight to take him in that community another new attempt to provoke a conflict to strike our ejidal autonomy” (sic).

It was previously reported that on January 26, the machinery of a government project was brought into Cantioc community, which is part of the Tila ejido, and they began to work. Because of that, the authorities began to mobilize and found the “agricultural engineer Carlos Domingo Sanchez Martinez who is in charge of these jobs and who is an inhabitant of Cantioc and leader of the Green Ecologist Party who was in his Nissan pickup accompanied by three trucks full of people who were looking after them.” When the engineer and his companions realized that more trucks were coming from the ejido they began to flee, he didn’t manage to escape but his companions did. The engineer was detained for violating the agreement of the general assembly, so he began to argue and accuse the “ejido commissary that he was taken before the ejidal commissary to say his words in front of the assembly.”

To inform him well, they called a new assembly where they shared the agreements they took on May 15 and July 3, 2016, which say “not to enter more of these programmes and projects in the annexes and neighbourhoods, according to their right to self-determination in constitutional articles 1, 2, 27, articles 21, 22, 23, 31, 32,33 of the agrarian law and as a right of indigenous peoples.” After this assembly the engineer signed the Act and “In agreement that they did not process to make any claim against the commissariat that was what they expressed before the assembly and all the assembly members who were present are witnesses.” This is what the Act says and it also says that, “furthermore, if there is a paramilitary threat with the representatives of the annexes, they will also be immediately responsible for all acts that may happen, as we know these green party ecologist people are those who were hooded in the campaigns” (sic).

But instead of honouring his word in front of the assembly, on Sunday, February 5, at night, they tried to kidnap the ejido commissary. As they failed to do so, on Monday, February 6, the engineer and his group organized a demonstration in Yajalon to denounce the alleged kidnapping and physical and psychological assaults by the ejido authorities and falsely saying in their document: “that the commissariat came with ski masks, firearms, sticks and machetes”, and also saying that one of the detainees is in ill health for which they demand economic support and government action against the ejido authorities.

Tila ejido denounces:

FIRST; That by the will of our maximum authority general assembly, it determined that the entrance of all government personnel and their projects is forbidden, more so in secret, so that they will be presented to the seat of the ejido to determine its sanction.

SECOND; We hold the previously mentioned political actors responsible, C. Edgar Leopoldo as the main operator, their leaders the former president of Tila and now local deputy, Sandra Luz Cruz Espinosa, and her husband Limberg Gregorio Gutierrez and the Government of the State that propels them to violence against the ejido and Tila Ejido ejidatarios. It is their paramilitary and criminal way that they use violence, conflicts and confrontations to control the people and govern it and for that reason they want to end our ejido autonomy.

THIRD; As always they try to spread false accusations against the ejido authorities in the official media that are paid to spread their false versions and justify the repression because they were not attacked nor they were mistreated but they are aggressive and for this reason they were stopped and taken to the seat of the ejido to present them before the Assembly for their nonconformity.

FOURTH; That we will continue to build our ejido autonomy and self-government because the assembly so determines that it is the best way to live more quietly without this bad government that repressed and dispossessed us. WE DEMAND that the different levels of government leave us alone to build IN PEACE our self-determination as a Chol people.

 

https://sipazen.wordpress.com/2017/02/26/chiapas-tila-ejido-denounces-attempt-to-kidnap-commissary/

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February 24, 2017

EZLN: What’s Next II. The Urgent and the Important

Filed under: Autonomy, CNI, Displacement, gal, Indigenous, Maize, Marcos, Uncategorized, Zapatistas — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 1:32 pm

 

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EZLN: What’s Next II. The Urgent and the Important

 

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January 3, 2017

I’ve been listening to you. Sometimes when I’m here with you all, sometimes via the CIDECI stream, sometimes via what your Zapatista students mention to me.

I always try to get a grasp on the meaning of your presentations, the path and direction of your words. We have heard brilliant presentations, some didactic, some complex, the majority polemical, but on and about things that can be debated. And we think you should do so, among yourselves. For that discussion, perhaps it would help you to first clarify the confusion that exists between science and technology.

With regard to the rest, we are as surprised as you are. This interest [of the Zapatista students] in science is not something we ordered or imposed, but rather something that was born from inside [of the Zapatista communities].

Twenty-three years ago, when feminism came to demand that we order women’s liberation, we told them that wasn’t something that can be ordered, because it belongs to the compañeras. Freedom is not ordered, it is conquered. Two decades later, what the compañeras have achieved would put to shame those who at that time claimed to be the vanguard of feminism.

It’s the same now. Science is not imposed. It is the product of a process of the peoples, exactly as Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés explained.

I’ve told you that we thought the majority of your presentations were good, but there were some, just a few, that, well I don’t know what to tell you.

One of them said admiring things about me; I listened with attention and waited for the moment when he would say: “everything I have just said is a fraud, I presented it to you so you would see what pseudo-science is and so that you don’t trust the principal of authority; just because someone has a formal education doesn’t mean that what they say is scientific.” But no, that moment never came.

I scrutinized his face to see if he was smiling maliciously, but no. He was sincerely convinced of the barbarities he was presenting, and appreciatively received the applause of his buddies in the crowd and others he had managed to sweet-talk.

When a compañera insurgenta heard that thing about not needing to make babies, that it’s better to adopt because there are a lot 15941338_1341911112495607_3922665712756661550_nof people on the planet already, she said to me: “so that’s how they get rid of people, the Hydra isn’t even necessary, that idea is sufficient. That’s the idea of rich people; even if there are only one or two of them, they are the ones who are in the way and of no use. That idea that was presented tells us there is no need to struggle to make another world, we just need to take contraceptives.”

 

I’m going to tell you what someone once told me about the time when the world was like an apple, waiting for the bite of original sin.

This man was explaining to me how he made a living. He used the “Boa Constrictor” method, as he called it. He had a helper, and together they would put vaseline into small jars and make labels that read “Balm for Absolutely Everything.” The small print told you that this balm could cure everything from Alzheimers to a broken heart, including along the way polio, typhoid fever, hair loss, evil eye, toothache, foot odour, bad breath, and some other ailments that I don’t remember.

This is what this person would do: stand on a corner and begin to rail against zoos and circuses, that oh the poor little animals, locked up like that. And he would announce: “That is why we are going to show you a boa constrictor, 7 meters long, that we found in the sewer and rescued and now take care of, and right here and now we are going to show it to you, madam, sir, young man, young lady, child, the public in general.”

People would gather around curiously, mostly because the boa constrictor was nowhere in sight, just an old suitcase full of small jars of a balm called “Absolutely Everything.

When he decided there were enough people around, he would turn to his helper and say loudly, “Secretary! Brrrrrinnnnnngg me the boa!” The accomplice would nod and run off to who knows where.

The man would watch his helper move into the distance. Picking at random, he would comment to someone close: “It seems like a lie, but just a few weeks ago that boy couldn’t move, not even with a cane, only in a wheelchair. And just look at him now. It seems like a miracle, but no, that’s not it. What happened was, luckily, I found the scientific formula for a medicine that cured him. Here, I’ll show you.”

Of course, the “innocent” comment that was supposedly aimed at one person was said in such a way for several to hear. The man would then go to the suitcase and take out a jar and tell the first person to whom he had directed the comment: “Look, this is what I was telling you about.” The person would take the jar and read the label while the man would pretend indifference, rearranging the little jars and looking in the direction the assistant had gone and commenting as if to himself, “why is that boy taking so long? I hope the boa constrictor hasn’t escaped on him, because if it has, we’ll see it in the news tomorrow, poor animal, they might cage it or turn it into bags and shoes.”

In the meantime, the innocent person who received the jar would be showing it to the person beside them, commenting on what had happened to the boy who went to get the boa. In a few minutes the jar had been passed through some 10 people, and the man would say then: “Okay now, give the medicine back to the madam, the gentlemen, the young man, young woman,” accordingly, and then to that person would add, “you keep it, as a gift, try it, you’ll see.

Others would then come up asking for their free sample too and the man, apologetically, would explain: “No, I’m sorry, I can’t give them to everyone, it’s a special order from the Secretary of Health. But, not that I think about it, it’s better for you all to have a chance to try it instead of those government scoundrels. Just give me 10 pesos each so I can replace the government order.”

It was enough that 5 or so people would come up for others to join in, and soon he would have around him a decent number of people. The people would comment among themselves what the balm was all about and the man, pretending indifference, would merely charge for each jar while lamenting the delay of his “secretary” and and the cursed boa.

In a matter of minutes, the helper would come back all agitated and worried and whisper something to the man. The man would answer “My god, really? Are you sure?” Then he would quickly pick up the now empty or almost empty suitcase and, addressing the people gathered there, proclaim: “Run! The boa escaped and the police and patrols are on their way.” He and the helper would take off with alarm and as the word of warning spread the people would scatter also.

I asked him how much the cursed medicine cost. He told me he pulled the little jars out of the trash and the vaseline, well that came out to about a peso per jar. So this method earned him some 100 pesos a day, at a time when the minimum wage was 8 pesos a day.

Anyway, I just wanted to say to those who tried to apply that method in this gathering that even if you have an academic degree, we’re not buying your little jars. You’ll have to look for another corner from which to hock your quack commodities.

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Perhaps somebody out there still has the image in mind of the ignorant and naive indigenous, and thought they could tell us they were going to talk about one thing knowing full well that they were going to talk about something else that had nothing to do with science. Hell, it doesn’t even manage to be pseudoscience. I’ve read better developed, more original, and equally false things on social media.

Let me tell you: if you complain that the science departments in academia don’t take seriously what is pure existential nonsense, well, here we don’t either.

If in academia they don’t take your political activism in account, well we don’t either. But I can tell you where they do: on the institutional left. There, yes, you can go and say: I’m a doctorate in who knows what and I’ve participated in this many marches, rallies, and classes, and indeed they will give you some leadership position in something, anything, as advisors or coordinators.

Here, if you came because you know mathematics, then we want to hear you talk about mathematics, even if you don’t know what surplus value or class struggle is, even if you don’t know if “The International” is a song of struggle, an opera, or the name of a corner store. As Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés already told you, science is science, whether you are a partidista [associated with a political party] or a Zapatista.

It’s also not worth your time to come here and fawn over or court us, although I think that does work in academic institutions.

Neither are we interested in being manipulated around skin colour, sexual preference, or religious belief. You either know what you’re talking about or you don’t; it doesn’t matter if you are dark-skinned, white, red, yellow, black, or mixed; it doesn’t matter if you are a man, woman, homosexual, gay, trans, or whatever; it doesn’t matter if you are Catholic, Muslim, atheist, agnostic, Mohammedan, or whatever; if you’re going to do science, then you do science, not religion, philosophy, or the quackery currently trending on social media.

So here we don’t discriminate. Here differences aren’t a demerit, but they aren’t a merit either. With respect to the personal sufferings or dramas you may have, fine, we understand. But you should understand that we are a very poor audience from which to expect pity. With everything you have suffered and continue to suffer, it could not compare with what it has been, and is, to be what we are.

But I understand what’s going on with you, everyone gets off with what they can. However, it doesn’t seem honest to us to come here and lie, saying you came to talk about science and not your existential lashings.

But the compañeros and compañeras are noble and understanding. We invited you to talk to us and we have honoured that; we have listened with respect, which isn’t the same as saying that we have swallowed all your tall tales. We honoured the agreement. Those people did not.

Imagine that this is an assembly in one of the Zapatista communities, and you go up to present one of your projects. You have said you are going talk about biology, medicine, laboratory work, clinical analysis, agroecology, engineering, or pharmaceuticals, and the assembly says, yes, go ahead, these things are urgent. Or you are coming to talk about physics, chemistry, math, volcanology, astronomy, and other sciences, and the assembly says yes, go ahead, these things are important.

But if someone comes who says they are going to tell us that science needs to do postmodern philosophy and take the existential variables of each person into account, well, the assembly is going to listen to you, but they aren’t going to tell you to go ahead. They are going to propose that you infiltrate Skynet and convince Artificial Intelligence to accept your scientific proposal. I’m sure that it would collapse in no time, which would relieve the duality suffered by John Connor, and humanity as a whole would be liberated from the Terminator sequels.

Of course, I recommend that you truly study and realize that you are closer to Aristotle and Ptolemy than to Copernicus, Galileo, and Kepler.

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The Apocalypse According to Defensa Zapatista

The mountains of the Mexican Southeast. Territory in resistance and rebellion. There is an autonomous school. A classroom. There, the education promotora is talking to the Zapatista girls and boys:

Before we leave I’m going to tell you a story. You have to think about it and respond to the question I ask at the end.”

On one of the benches at the back, a little girl stops drawing complicated diagrams in her notebook which, although they appear to be flowcharts, are really diagrams of soccer tactics. At the margin of the lines and arrows one can read “when we fill up the team.” At the little girl’s feet there is a ball, frayed and full of lumps, and on her laps sleeps a kind of cat…or a dog… or something.

It’s not just the little girl, but the whole class that’s hanging on the words of the promotora, who says:

There is a voice that tells us what it sees. It says to realize that the world is going to end once and for all, and that we can see that there are only two men left. The two are standing face to face; they aren’t talking to each other, but you can tell they are very angry. They are the only men left, everyone else has died already. They are the last men on Earth. These two men don’t talk to each other or look at each other, but they are arguing angrily. And they aren’t talking to or looking at each other because they are sending each other messages on their phones. That is, as they say, they are fighting as if their cellphones were weapons, the only ones left because the world is ending. They are scolding each other harshly, as only the two of them can see. One is saying to the other, that is, he is sending him a text message:

It is all your fault because with science you created destruction.” (send)

The other looks at the message on his phone, gets angry and answers:

No, it is your fault because instead of science, you starting saying we should do what the ancient primitives did and not use technologies.” (send)

The first really gets mad now and you can see in his eyes that it’s like he wants to burn up the screen of his phone. He writes:

No, it’s your fault because with your science and technology you created the weapons that killed off everything, including the poor little animals.” (send)

The other looks at the message and you can see in his eyes he’s thinking “you’ll see, you bastard,” and he responds:

No, it’s your fault because you said that we shouldn’t learn science because science is bad because it doesn’t respect Mother Earth and does her harm.” (send)

The other looks with hate at the screen and types out:

No, it’s your fault because you think you know so much with your science and you don’t take the people’s needs into account and you go around with a big head thinking nobody can match you and all that shit you talk.” (send)

The first reads and gets so furious you wouldn’t believe it. He looks at the other and in his eye you can see “you’re going to die, bastard.” So he writes:

No, it’s your fault because you criticized science out of pure laziness, you don’t want to study or learn because it’s clear that you’re just slothful and trifling.” (send)

The two men go on like this for awhile, fighting angrily over their cellphones. They don’t know it, but this is the last day; as soon as night falls, everything is over. But because they were fighting and looking at their cell phones, they didn’t realize when the sun hid itself in the mountains and the land fell dark.”

The education promotora who has used everything she learned in her education preparation courses in order to tell the story, concludes:

Okay, so this is the story the voice has narrated. So, the question you must answer is: “Which of the men survived the end of the world?

The children stay quiet, thinking.

In the first row of the classroom sits Pedrito. He says it’s so that he can pay close attention, but we all know it’s because he’s totally in love with the promotora, but we’re not going to publish that because it’s his secret.

Pedrito raises his hand, asking to be called on.

The promotora is about to say, “Let’s see, Pedrito, what do you think,” when from the back of the classroom a little girl’s voice says:

Well that’s easy.”

Everyone, including the promotora, turns to look at the little girl who has stood up and already has her bag over her shoulder with her notebook and pen inside. In her little hands she holds the frayed ball, while the Cat-dog stretches at her feet. The teacher says resignedly:

Okay Defensa Zapatista, tell us what you think.”

The little girl is already moving toward the door of the classroom as she announces:

The answer is easy, because it’s clear that it’s the fucking men’s fault that the world is ending because they’re so terrible with that patriarchality of theirs which is just impossible to believe in anymore. And they didn’t study the fucking Hydra which has been consuming and screwing over the whole planet earth. So there they are, all macho, fighting with their cell phones and their songs about horses and love and then about lost love, I mean why can’t they just decide already.

Anyway, teacher, so that you understand as the women that we are, I’m going to explain the word “patriarchality” which is like where the men rule and they want us women to just be waiting on them hand and foot, and then later they tell us how much they love us and how we have very pretty eyes, as if they were looking at our eyes, no, they’re looking at something else. I don’t know what it is that they’re really looking at because I’m not grown up yet, but that’s what my moms told me the fucking men do. When I grow up, they better not even think about it, I’m going to give them their slaps upside the head and a few kicks if they look at me wrong. So, the “patriarchality means that the fucking men just want us to make them their pozol and then are always pestering us for a kiss. Do you think we’re just going to give them a kiss, just like that? Oh no, I don’t think so, maybe instead of a kiss a knock on the head. And then they think they’re going to convince us with their songs about horses. They’re just so dumb, let’s see if they can find a horse to make them their pozol, what are they going to come up with then, never ever…”

The teacher knows the little girl very well already, so she interrupts:

Okay, Defensa Zapatista, answer the question.”

The little girl is already at the door. As the Cat-dog wags its tail happily at her feet, she responds:

Look, it’s easy. Neither of the two men live; they both die because they were stupid. Clearly it’s the fault of the patriarchality that the world is going to end, but it doesn’t, because it turns out there is someone who lives which is the compañera who is telling the story. Because if it’s not a compañera who tells the story then there’s no story. And the compañera who tells the story carries her little baby on her back in her shawl and is giving what you might call political lessons to the baby, so that the baby learns that we have to support each other as the women that we are.”

The little girl didn’t wait to see what the education promotora would say, and accepting as a given that her answer was correct, ran out of the classroom yelling “Let’s play!” as the Cat-dog and the rest of the class followed her out the door.

The education promotora smiles as she puts away her notebooks and books, one of which reads across the cover, “Twentieth Anniversary Anthology. National Indigenous Congress. Never Again a Mexico Without Us.” Ready to leave, the teacher notices that not all the children have left.

On the front bench sits Pedrito, looking all sad and defeated. The promotora goes over and sits down beside him asking,

What’s wrong Pedrito, why are you sad?”

Pedrito sighs and answers, “Because I didn’t get to answer the question because Defensa Zapatista spoke first.”

Ah,” the teachers says, “don’t worry Pedrito, what was your answer?”

Pedrito explains with a tone of the obvious:

Well I was going to answer that the story doesn’t hold up, because if there are only two men left, arguing over their cell phones, then who is working so that there’s a cell signal? This means that there are others who continue working, that is, that there can’t just be two left. So you see what I’m saying teacher, your story lacks logic, coherence in the argument. So the answer is that the very premise is faulty and for that reason, the conclusion, whatever that may be, is false. This would have been understood if critical thinking was applied to the analysis.” (trust me, that’s how Pedrito talks, if you get to meet him some day you’ll see I’m not making things up).

Pedrito, after finishing talking, returns to his posture of sorrow and sadness.

The education promotora is thinking about what the words “coherence” and “premise” mean, and that this is always the case with Pedrito, that he uses words that challenge even the Comandancia. The promotora isn’t embarrassed to ask Pedrito what those words mean, but she sees that Pedrito is sad so she hugs him and says:

Don’t worry Pedrito, your answer is good, too.”

Pedrito, upon being hugged, turns all shades of red and puts on his “no one has ever hugged me before” face, just like the deceased SupMarcos taught him. Letting himself be loved on, Pedrito thinks that it turned out well after all that Defensa Zapatista answered first, because this was why the promotora was hugging him and from within the embrace, Pedrito understands that no, the world is not going to end, that as long as the embrace lasts the world will keep giving opportunity to life, because that is what life is, an embrace.

Pedrito is reflecting on this when the little girl appears in the doorway and says to him, “Hurry up Pedrito, we have to fill up the team so we can bring a challenge.”

Pedrito separates himself from the embrace of the promotora as if tearing his heart out, but he goes over to the little girl because he is, in addition to a little boy, a Zapatista, and a Zapatista can’t allow the team to be let down on their account. Before leaving the room Pedrito says to the little girl: “But I’m telling you straight-up right now that I’m not playing goalie anymore, put the one-eyed horse on goalie, I want to play forward.”

Defensa Zapatista is not going to let a boy have the last word in this story, so she says:

Forward? Puh-leeze. SupGaleano showed me some videos and now I have a new plan. Now we are going to play according to the science of ‘total soccer’ like those Dutch orange ones. Don’t you know you have to study for that? You do. Both things, science and art. Later I’ll explain it to you. Just as soon as we fill up the team you’ll see, don’t worry, there will be more of us, it might take awhile, but there will be more.”

The little boy and the little girl leave. It is only then that we can see that the little girl has on an orange t-shirt that hangs nearly to her heels and taped on the back are crooked letters that spell “Cruyff”i and below them: “Resistance and Rebellion.”

Off to the side of the pasture waits a motley crew including: a old horse leisurely chewing on a empty tobacco bag; a short man with gray hair shivering despite his coat; and a tall, thin man who stands out for his height and the strange hat he is wearing. He is using his magnifying glass to study with great interest a small strange animal that, at a distance seems to be a dog… or a cat.. or a cat-dog.

Nearby, where the community has been working to deepen the scratches in the wall, anonymous hands have written, below and to the left, a graffiti that is bursting in colour. It reads:

We are the National Indigenous Congress and we are going for everything, and it will be for everyone.”

In a bunker far away, alarms are going off and the earth is trembling. Above, brother John Berger, smiling, has drawn a question in the clouds, for whoever looks high: “Y tú qué?”

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The Urgent and the Important

The story I’m going to tell you is a little bit sad.

It’s sad because it includes the tears of a little Zapatista girl. But despite this, or precisely because of it, I’m going to tell the story because after hearing you speak, present, reflect, and try to respond and teach, I’ve been thinking about what’s next. I don’t know if you all have thought about it. If not, I recommend that you do—think about what’s next.

I’ve imagined that we’re in another time, further ahead. Here goes:

This time, without being announced by a soccer ball rolling in, “Defensa Zapatista” has arrived at my hut. It’s clear that she’s been crying, and a few tears still glow on her cheeks. “Defensa Zapatista” maintains that little girls don’t cry, that that’s for men, and that women are stronger. So I understood why the little girl had come to my hut, where there are only ghosts and silences. Here she is safe, here she can cry without anyone, except me, seeing her. Here she can put her strength away in a box and let feelings fill her gaze and sorrow become liquid.

I didn’t say anything. I acted like I didn’t see her and that I was busy sweeping tobacco and crumpled up papers off the floor around the table.
Finally, she wiped her tears with a red handkerchief, sighed, and cleared her throat in order to ask me:

Hey Sup, do you know what it’s like to have a bad dream?”
“I sure do,” I responded, “bad dreams are called nightmares [pesadillas].”

She looked intrigued and asked, “And what’s the purpose of those quesadillas, why do they exist and who made them? Because they’re beastly.”

They’re called “pesadillas,” not “quesadillas.” Quesadillas are good because they have cheese. Pesadillas aren’t good. But why do you ask?”

I had a really bad dream and I woke up with something like a stomach ache, like something wasn’t okay, something was hurting,” she said.

Tell me about it,” I encouraged her and lit my pipe.

“Well, I dreamed we were in the community assembly and as it turns out the situation is really rough because of the bad system. And a lot of people are coming here and asking to stay in the community because other places have become unliveable, and so the people come here because we Zapatistas did in fact prepare.

But the people are coming from other countries, as far away as goodness knows where.

So there isn’t enough food and the community has to make the land produce more, because as Zapatistas we have to support other peoples of the world because we’re, as they say, compañerismos. So in the assembly they’re looking at how to organize to be able to give food to those brothers and sisters.

So then someone in the assembly says that we have to find more terrain where we can plant.

And then someone else says what about in the pasture where we play soccer, the Petumax flowers are already blooming, like white, but not, sort of gray but not, I think cream-colored or whatever you call that colournn.

And they say the saw the Chene’k Caribe flower too, which is true because I play with those flowers and pretend they’re little baby chicks.

And that they also saw the “Sun” flower which seems like a sunflower, but isn’t.

So then that compañero said that means that the soil is good in the pasture, that we can plant corn and beans there. And then I got, as they say, worried because there in the pasture is where the one-eyed horse lives and where we play soccer. Well, we don’t exactly play because we haven’t completed the team yet, but we practice and we train really hard.

So then the authority asks the assembly if there’s agreement that we’ll plant in the pasture and make a milpa [corn field] there, and if there’s anyone who disagrees they should say their piece so we can figure out what to do.

So then the whole assembly is silent and nobody asks to speak. And I want to talk to say that we shouldn’t plant in the pasture because then we won’t be able to play, or train that is. But I don’t know how I’m going to say it, because I can see that we do need food to support those other sisters and brothers.

And I’m really upset because nobody says anything and I don’t have the thinking to convince the assembly, and I can see in the authority’s eye that they’re about to say that if nobody has any other comments, that they’ll approve the proposal to plant in the pasture.

And there I am, looking for a good thought and I can’t find one, and I get mad that I can’t find the right words and with the anger the tears come out, and it’s not that I’m crying, it’s just the anger of not knowing what to say.

And right there I woke up and I came running. And on the way I got even madder because of that stinking bad dream, and who sent it or why they’re doing that.”

As she’s been talking, “Defensa Zapatista’s” face is reproducing her pain and desperation.

I remained quiet, but the little girl kept looking at me as if waiting for what I was going to say.

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Even though I realized that “Defensa Zapatista” hadn’t come to sit on the [psychiatrist’s] divan, nor just to vent, I was looking for the right words. I understood that the girl hadn’t come just to hide, she was also looking for answers, and me, well I’m the Subcomandante of stainless steel, the one who, according to “Defensa Zapatista’s” criteria, has the grave defect of being a man. But nobody’s perfect, and besides, I let the Cat-Dog climb up on the keyboard and ruin the texts, and sometimes I have cookies to share (which, for Defensa Zapatista means that she and her little animal gobble up all the ones I like and the ones I don’t, too, and they just leave me the empty package), and I tell stories where she and her gang get into mischief and come out triumphant.

So I’m presenting with you all with the, as they say, context, so you understand that the girl had not really come to tell me a bad dream, but rather to present me with a problem.

When I had been looking through the trunk of memories that the deceased SupMarcos left in my custody, I remembered having seen something that could be useful. I gestured to “Zapatista Defense” that she should wait and I started looking. Under some drawings that John Berger made when he was in Cideci, I found what I was looking for. The papers were shabby, stained with tobacco and humidity, but the clumsy handwriting of the deceased was still legible.

I picked my pipe back up and lit it. I read almost in silence, only making a few gestures and emitting incomprehensible grunts. The girl watched me in suspense, waiting. The Cat-Dog had left the computer mouse in peace and, its ears perked, remained expectant.

After acting all important for a few minutes, I told her:

There it is, there’s no problem. I’ve found the solution to your nightmare. It turns out that in this writing by the deceased SupMarcos (may baby Jesus keep him in holy glory and may the dear Virgen fill him with blessings) explains that nightmares are problems and that they can be alleviated if you resolve the problem of the nightmare.

Then he says that dreams are the solution to nightmares.

That what you have to do is find the solution and then the good dream comes out.

That way you save a ton of money on psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists and antacids. Okay, that’s not related.

And in this other writing, he says that the problem isn’t just knowing what’s urgent and what’s important.

What’s urgent is what you have to do right now, and what’s important is, for example, what you know you must do.

For example, in the case of the bad dream you’re telling me about, what’s urgent is that the compas have to increase food production; and what’s important is not to lose the space where you play.

In which case it’s a big problem, because if you protect the place to play, well, then they won’t plant there and there will be hunger; and if they plant there, well then there won’t be any more place to play.”

Defensa Zapatista” nodded, convinced of what I was saying to her. I continued:

So the deceased says here that that’s called ‘exclusive options,’ which is to say that you do one thing or the other, but you can’t do both. SupMarcos says that this is almost always false, which is to say that it’s not necessarily one or the other, but rather that something different can be imagined. And he gives the example of the originary peoples, which is to say the indigenous.

He says: ‘For example, the originary peoples, going back centuries, have always done two things at the same time: what’s urgent and what’s necessary. What’s urgent is to survive, which is to say to not die, and what’s important is to live. And they resolve this with resistance and rebellion, which is to say that they resist dying and at the same time they create, with their rebellion, another way of living.’ So he says that whenever possible, it’s necessary to think about creating something else.”

I put down the papers and I turned to “Zapatista Defense”:

So I believe what you can do with the problem of your bad dream is explain to the assembly what’s urgent and what’s important.

Which is to say that both parts have good thought behind them, but if you pick one, well, you’ve screwed the other.

So explain to the assembly that it doesn’t necessarily have to be one thing or the other, but rather that it’s necessary to think of something else, something different but so that both objectives are met.

And then it’s not that the assembly’s problem is getting resolved nor that your problem is getting resolved, but rather that it’s a different problem altogether.

And it’s the new problem that you both have to think about, that is, you and the assembly.”

The whole time the girl had been sitting quietly with her chin in her little hand, paying attention.

Contrary to his usual habits, the Cat-Dog had also been still.

Zapatista Defence” stayed silent, looking fixedly at the floor.

I don’t know much about what happens in the head of a little girl. Of a boy, sure, perhaps because I haven’t matured despite the many kilometres I’ve covered. But girls, whatever their age, continue to be a mystery that perhaps science will one day be able to solve.

Suddenly, “Zapatista Defence” turned to look at the Cat-Dog, and he in turn looked at her.

The mutual glance lasted only a few seconds, and the Cat-Dog began to jump, bark and meow. The girl’s little face lit up and she practically shouted: “Yes, the Cat-Dog!” and she began to jump and dance together with the animal.

I didn’t just put on my confused face, in fact I didn’t understand what all this was about. But, resigned, I waited for ““Zapatista Defence” and the Cat-Dog to calm down, which didn’t happen for several more minutes that seemed eternal to me. Finally the commotion died down and, still excited, the girl explained:

It’s the Cat-Dog, Sup! I have to bring the Cat-Dog to my bad dream and I have to bring him to the assembly and he’s going to help me and so then it’ll be a good dream.

The solution to the problem was right here but I hadn’t studied it.

It’s the Cat-Dog, it’s always been the Cat-Dog.”

I think that my “What?!” face must have been very obvious, because “Defensa Zapatista” felt obliged to clarify:

Look I’ll explain it to you Sup: the Cat-Dog, is he a cat? No. Is he a dog? Not that either. So then he’s neither one thing nor the other, but rather something else, he’s a Cat-Dog. If I show the Cat-Dog to the assembly, obviously they’re going to see that we have to do something else, so both sides can happily be in mutual agreement.”

I couldn’t understand how the assembly was going to make the, as they say, “epistemological leap” from that thing, that is to say the Cat-Dog, to the disjuncture between the pasture for playing soccer or the pasture for planting. But it seems that “Defensa Zapatista” wasn’t worried about that.

The next day, on the way to town, I passed by the pasture. Night was already beginning to fall and the sound of those who were scratching at the wall continued. There was still enough light, because “Zapatista Defence” was on the field, together with a group in which I recognized the old one-eyed horse that accompanies her sometimes, the Cat-Dog, and Pedrito. There were also two men, one short and one tall, whom I didn’t recognize and I assumed that they were from the Sixth and that the girl was trying to incorporate them into her perpetually incomplete team.

The girl saw me from afar and greeted me with an energetic wave of her hand. I returned the greeting, realizing that “Zapatista Defence” had resolved the problem because she laughed and ran from one side to the other, showing the group where they should position themselves in some sort of formation that looked to me to have the shape of a snail.

I continued on my path, remembering the ending to that day of tears, when “Defensa Zapatista,” then smiling and with her face lit-up, said goodbye: “I’m leaving now Sup, I’ve got to go.”

And what are you going to do?” I asked her.

She was already gaining distance when she shouted: “I’m going to dream.”

While I waited for the compañeros and compañeras to whom I had to give a talk, the night arrived with its own steps and sounds.

I thought then that perhaps the deceased SupMarcos would have liked to have been present for “Defensa Zapatista’s” dream to know how she made her argument and what the decision of the assembly was. Or perhaps he was in fact there. Because, at least in these lands, the dead walk around. They laugh and cry with us, they struggle with us, they live with us.

Thank you very much.

From the CIDCI-Unitierra, San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico.

SupGaleano.

Mexico, January 2017.

iHendrik Johannes “Johan” Cruyff, a Dutch professional soccer player and coach famous for promoting the philosophy known as “Total Football.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johan_Cruyff

 

http://enlacezapatista.ezln.org.mx/2017/02/02/que-sigue-ii-lo-urgente-y-lo-importante/

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February 23, 2017

EZLN: What Comes Next I: Then and Now

Filed under: Autonomy, CNI, Uncategorized, Zapatista — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 1:32 pm

 

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EZLN: What Comes Next I: Then and Now

 

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Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés

January 3, 2017

Good evening everyone. We just want to say that this is going to take a while, so now is the moment to leave or take a nap.

So first of all, just like the compañera said who spoke here about Viejo Antonio [Old Antonio], the name says it all, Viejo Antonio.i His time is over. There are some things we might be able to recover from that moment, but now times have changed.

We Zapatistas want to tell you that truly, seriously, we want to learn what real science is. Not the kind that Viejo Antonio employed, which was useful in its time, a time now past. Now it’s different because life now is different. We want to talk to you about what it’s like for the compañeras and compañeros who are here as a commission of delegates, what they’ve confronted through their struggle in resistance, and the fact that even though they’d like to live the way their fathers and mothers did, it doesn’t work for them anymore.

For example, in the Lacandón Jungle when they plant their corn, they know that in three months the kernels should grow, but now the kernels come in earlier. In the highlands, near Oventik, the Caracol Oventik, it used to be that in six months there would be kernels, and now it happens in five. This makes it difficult because before they knew when to plant. They knew when to start, using the old method like Viejo Antonio did, but now that has changed. How did it change, and who changed it? That’s where all this interest comes from. And just like with everything else, we’re not making things up, as Sup Galeano has said these past few days. Because Viejo Antonio did in fact know when the cold would come, when to go get firewood, charcoal, how to be prepared, but this method doesn’t work anymore.

That’s why we started to wonder who could explain this to us, and we’d heard people say that there are scientists, and we wondered what kind of work they do. Could they assist us? Because they say these people study in order to be able to explain, to be able to understand, and then to be able to explain to others if something can be done and what can be done.

Our compañeros and compañeras need these kinds of things, because it turns out that in their 23 years of autonomous governance, many needs have arisen, needs that can no longer be addressed the way Viejo Antonio used to. He was resisting and surviving, but that way doesn’t work anymore. The compañeros and compañeras are constructing something else, and they’re putting it into practice. When they engage in these practices, that’s when they start to discover what’s missing.

For example, so that you understand what I’m saying, among the compañeras who are Zapatista bases of support entered the struggle 33 years ago, none of them dreamed that their daughter or son would learn how to operate an ultrasound. Now it turns out that their daughter operates one, because many compañeras do. It’s mostly compañeras because they’re the ones who want to see how the baby is doing while it’s growing, that’s why it’s mostly compañeras who do this.

I’m going to tell you about a need and a lack we have encountered, because it was a lack as well as an error, a failure, which we recognize as such. Because the compañeras, compañero, well they’re recovering the good parts of the culture and leaving behind the bad parts.

So there are [health] promotores, as well as midwives, both men and women, in the communities. In one community a compa went to the midwife and the midwife checked the compañera and told her: it seems you’re going to have twins, compañera. And the compa was happy about the twins, but he knew that in the clinic, in the Autonomous Hospital, there’s an ultrasound, and the compa wanted to be sure that they were really going to have twins. So they went to the hospital and had the photograph taken, I’m not sure what you call it. But first the compa says to the compañera who knows how to operate the ultrasound, “the midwife told me it looks like it is twins, so I want to check using the machine to see if it’s true, no?” And so they check and take the photo or whatever it’s called and the compañera tells him, “Yes, it’s twins.” So then the compa is even happier.

So then when it was time for the twins to be born, they went to the government hospital because there was trouble with the birth because the compañera was having a lot of pain. So as an emergency they went to a government hospital in Guadalupe Tepeyac, and they attended to her there and gave her a caesarean. So the compa goes to see his two twins, right? And it turns out there’s just one. So the compañero says, “No, I know that they were twins,” and starts to argue with the hospital director. “No, I know that they’re twins. You’re trying to steal one from me.”

The director says, “No sir, no Zapatista, there’s only one. Let’s not argue here, let’s go to your wife because she saw everything.” So the director and the compa go to the wife and the compa says, “Why are you letting the hospital directors steal one of our babies?” And the compañera says, “No, there really was only one.”

“But how? If the compañera who did the ultrasound told us it was definitely twins and the midwife also told us it was definitely twins?”

So there they are with the compañera saying that there was definitely only one and the compa is saying it has to be two because that’s what the midwife and the health promotora said and the people from the hospital are saying it’s definitely only one.

So then they have to bring in the compañera who did the ultrasound in the Zapatista hospital clinic. The compañera arrives, so there are four different people there now: the compa, the compañera who had the caesarean, the compañera who did the ultrasound, and the directors of the hospital. And they start talking there, and the attending doctor starts explaining that it depends on how the image is taken for the ultrasound, and the compañera who did the work of the ultrasound says, “yes, we did in fact take it from the side.” So then the doctor says, “That’s what happened, because of the reflection it seemed like there were two, because the image wasn’t taken the way it should have been.” Then the compa, the father of the baby, starts to understand that there was a mistake, an error in the way the work was done by the Zapatista health promotora.

So that’s where we learn that we can’t say, this is fucking capitalism’s fault, because this wasn’t about capitalism; we were lacking science. That’s why a failure isn’t just about saying they don’t know, or the people from the hospital robbed us because it’s run by the bad government. We can’t say these things. We recognize that we were lacking something, that we were lacking something as Zapatistas. It’s not that we’re autonomous and that therefore we can’t fail. We failed at science.

So there are a lot of other things like that, and Viejo Antonio didn’t have the opportunity to learn them because his time has passed. But thanks to Viejo Antonio who had a form of resistance and rebellion, [our people] were able to survive at that time.

So for example, the person speaking to you, whose name is Moisés—this Moisés has changed three times. Because if the Moisés in his community was still in his community he wouldn’t be here talking with you, right? And what would this Moisés be like if he was still in his community? Who knows. Not even Moisés himself knows.

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Okay. But then that Moisés that was, is no longer. Then Moisés entered into the clandestine organization, so that Moisés changed again. He was no longer the same Moisés in clandestinity that he had been in his community. Then Moisés went out, learned, and we’re not going to repeat everything here, but he learned the science that we applied in 94. And now after 23 years, the Moisés who was in clandestinity is not the same Moisés who has been in the public light for 23 years because of what he and his compañeros and compañeras did. Right?

So the Moisés of right now, today, January 3, 2017—this Moisés now sees other things. This Moisés sees many things, not what he saw before during the 10 years of clandestinity; things have changed. But we have to study this change scientifically, with science, for the good of the people, in order to love life even more.

So what are we going to do when we realize, with science and scientifically, that something’s not right? What good is it just to say that something’s wrong and then just leave it at that?

So that’s what’s happening to our compañeros and compañeras: they run into these needs, they need this [knowledge] not for the good of a few, but for thousands, or perhaps the millions of us in this country called Mexico. And perhaps this could take wing and fly off to another world, no?

Because today, 23 years later, there are many things the compañeros are putting into practice, and they run into these needs. They need theory and they need practice. We indigenous people do things in practice. That is, it is through practice that we are convinced of something. And when that happens, then we do not tire when we hear the theory. But if it’s all blah, blah, blah, well we get sleepy. But if it’s through practice, then yes, we become focused because we’re seeing how things move and how they work. If we like what we see and think that something will solve many of our needs, then our eyes become sharper than an eagle’s.

So when we engage in practice and see that yes, something does in fact solve our needs, then we begin to ask: if I do it like this could it turn out like that? And if I do it like this what will happen? Could it be that someone could teach us even more? Could they tell us even more about how to do it? Then in that case we need theory, because we were encouraged by what we saw, because we saw that it solved our needs or problems when we saw it in practice.

There is the problem that sometimes it’s really hard for us to present the theory, but we can do it in practice. Perhaps it’s possible to see if there’s an image or something to help understand how things are in practice. Take for example this instance I’m about to tell you about, which our compañeros and compañeras have basically obligated me to keep in my head.

These men and women have their autonomous government, and they’re struggling and struggling for it to be half and half. If there are 40 members of the Junta de Buen Gobierno [Good Government Council], it should be 20 women and 20 men, and if there are 20 members of the Zapatista Autonomous Municipalities in Rebellion, it should be 10 women and 10 men, and so on.

So they do their work according to what they’ve understood of the 7 Principles of Leading by Obeying. They make the word Democracy their own, which means that the people lead and the government obeys. Men and women discuss their own laws, they develop education in the way they think boys and girls should learn, and what the education promotores should learn, according to what their communities need.

So in what some might call primary school, and other Caracoles might call first level, but in any case the compañeros, compañeras, the fathers, the mothers, say: what we want is for our children to learn to read well, to know how to write papacito and mamacita. And they’ve seen how the young people have learned a shitload like that. It’s the same in the area of health too; there are many areas of work like that. There is the work with medicinal plants which continues, and the compas have detected various needs there, because they want to know, they say for example: when the plant is green, or the husk or the root, what substance does it contain? What about when it dries, does it preserve or lose that substance? But that’s where we realize we have our limits, because for that we need science to do a study in a laboratory, and many other things like that.

They have their community radios, and sometimes certain pieces of the machines burn out, so they want to know how to fix that. The other communities want to listen to what is being produced and transmitted, so they want to make the signal reach them, but the signal doesn’t reach. So the radio broadcasters ask, might there be a way to invent something so [the signal] is stronger, so it reaches further?

But their fathers and mothers had never dreamed of this. Moisés in clandestinity had never thought of it. Things changed, and now it turns out that these young men and women—because we’re working with the compañeros—they tell us that this thing or that thing is lacking, and so now Moisés can no longer say… because it’s easy to order people around, to say enough, shut up, go back to work, go check on your cornfield, go… no? But we understand there are needs. So that’s why I’m saying that Moisés isn’t the same as he was in clandestinity, not after 23 years with the communities, with their autonomous government.

Well, for more than a year now we’ve been talking about the capitalist hydra, the monster, along with our compañeros and compañeras in the communities. And this is truly what we’re seeing, it’s like it reared its head when we mentioned it. So the compañeros and compañeras in the communities say that the way we’ll resist is that we must have food and we must have medicine, we need these things to be able to confront this. So that’s where they begin to think seriously about how to make this happen with land that doesn’t produce anymore, no matter how much we work and work and work it, it doesn’t produce anymore. So they’ve heard people talk about boron, magnesium, sulphur, molyb…molybdenum, or something like that, or zinc, or the pH…but they only know that people say that these are things that can help the earth. But how can we know, even if I grab a piece of earth, how can I know what it needs?

So, the compañeros ask: who are the people who study this? Who are the people that say this? This need starts emerging from various places, the desire to learn, to study the earth without harming it.

So, among many other things that they do, the compañeros are identifying needs, seeking [answers]. Before all this, before these needs began to develop more, there were other compañeros who were seeing other needs emerge around how to construct autonomy. For example, a group of compañeros saw that a lot of gasoline was being wasted to generate electricity in the Caracol. So they began to wonder, why does the gasoline make the motor turn and then produce electricity, energy? They said, that just means there has to be a way to turn the motor. So why don’t we adapt, find a different way to start the motor? Like in the case of the water mill, where they grind the sugar cane. It has a water canal and wheels and containers where the water flows into, and that makes the mill turn. So we should look for a way to adapt the motor, or the generator. And they did it, but it was very slow, and they couldn’t get past that point because they didn’t know how to multiply the force… I’m not even sure how you say it. So, where are the people who know the science of how to do this? Because then we wouldn’t need petroleum to be able to make gas, or oil, but rather we could make use of nature itself for this. Well, at least for one part, because the pieces of the motor are metal and plastic and all those things.

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So the compañeros and compañeras really want to learn new things, whenever they can find someone to teach them. But…it’s not like it was before for the young men and women, like in the days of Viejo Antonio. They’re not going to just let things be if their question isn’t answered. They won’t be satisfied if they don’t get the right answer to their question, and worse so if you try to tell them otherwise.

For example, at the end of the Little School in 2013-2014, we had an Assembly to evaluate it. There it came out that one of the students had been saying how great it is that we’re indigenous, that we should never lose our indigenous identity, and therefore… but then that we’re no longer truly indigenous because we wear shoes, that we should stop wearing shoes. We have to touch [the earth] with our skin, with the soles of our feet, that’s how we’ll keep being indigenous. And in the Assembly people were saying that person who said that, we should call him in the rainy season, when there’s lots of mud and sometimes your feet sink 50 or 80 centimeters, and you don’t realize there’s glass or sharp rocks underneath. Let’s see him walk there then. Then they said, and we work in the brush, we’re going to ask him to please take his clothes off and work there naked, let’s see what he thinks then.

I’m telling you this because they don’t let buy this anymore; when these young people are able to understand that what’s being said isn’t going to resolve their needs, they simply say: let’s see, you do it first and then we’ll see.

So this all means—and it has to do with you, brothers, compañeroscompañeras, sisters—as has been said here, as you’re seeing, if you see and understand that things are really rough, well then there’s much work to be done. First, what is it that needs to be done, among you who study science, scientific matters, what needs to be done? And furthermore, the compañeros and compañeras have questions, and they need you to answer them, and answer them scientifically, right? Then there’s also the fact that they want to learn, they want practice. That’s another thing, because that’s the only way the compañeros and compañeras will feel that they are being taught, through practice as to how they might possibly resolve the issues that come up, or things that they need. The only thing is that we have to be careful that it’s not a deceitful trick, that’s what they don’t want. They want to see the results of what they’re told.

In that regard, according to what we’re hearing, although it’s not over yet, we see and feel that with this practice we’re engaging in now we’re making twice the effort. Because for example: I’ve heard you here while you’re participating as scientists—you’re speaking among yourselves, as scientists. And the idea was for you to speak to the compañeras and compañeros. So the compañeros are asking, what are they saying? Because you’re speaking from one scientist to another. And then the delegates try to speak with the participants, but you’re all listening and maybe wanting to debate what another participant is saying, and we’re missing something.

So what we see is that it would be helpful to have another gathering in which you speak to one another, scientists to scientists. You would speak to one another and we want to see how you discuss; we want to hear, in the end, how you reach agreements like in the communities. In the communities, among the peoples, they get into it and then they say, okay, we’re going to let it go because we have an agreement. That’s what they do. So we want to learn, because if not, how are we going to learn how to be scientists?

What we are doing here, which I’ve already told you about, is something of a science. This new government system that the compañeros have, it’s small, but the compañeros are putting science to work in this act, and because of it, this small act, they’ve brought us together here. That is why we’re talking here today, thanks to the science of self-government, thanks to the compañeros.

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So I don’t know how you all will see it, maybe it seems like a long time away to plan for you to come in December, in order to have this meeting where we can see how you debate among yourselves, to see what agreements arise about what to do or how to do it. Also, if you are able, either collectively or individually, we could somehow reach an agreement for you to come here, go to a Caracol, set up your workshop… the only thing is that if you need a laboratory that includes more than an axe and a machete…well, we don’t have laboratories, but if you can bring it you’re welcome to. And there will be no lack of pozolito.ii It might be sour, but there will be plenty. There will be beans, vegetables, and no lack of students with the desire to learn. Above all, to learn in practice, as I told you.

So, this is the problem we’re presenting to you, wondering how you might help the compañeros who need not just medicine and land, but many other things which you’ll see when you come, when you go to the Caracol or Caracoles. There you’ll hear a lot of, “listen, how can we do this, or that, or this other thing.” And you’ll say, “the thing is I’m not a technician, I’m not an engineer, I’m a scientist.” It’s just there are so many things the compas need right now.

So now you have some months to think about it, and then you can send us your word, your thoughts and your plans so that we can see the fruit of what we’re doing here. Then we can also reach an agreement about the next gathering in December. And we’ll see about where, or we’ll ask our compañero here, the Doc, if it can be here, or we’ll think about where else it could be. That’s what we wanted to talk about with you, compañeros, brothers and sisters. Thank you very much.

iEl Viejo Antonio is a character in the early writings of the defunct Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos who plays the role of indigenous teacher and guide for the young insurgent during the early days of clandestine organization.

iiA drink made of ground maize and water.

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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 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.

download

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 15, 2017

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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January 9, 2017

The Power of Below

Filed under: Autonomy, CNI, Indigenous, Zapatistas — Tags: — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 1:34 pm

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The Power of Below

image-3Zapatista women and children listen to discussions at 5th National Indigenous Congress.

By: Raúl Zibechi

It’s unheard of in Latin America for dozens of indigenous peoples and nations to decide to endow themselves with their own government. The recent decision of the 5th National Indigenous Congress (CNI), after consultation and approval by 43 peoples, to create the Indigenous Government Council which proposes to “govern this country,” will have repercussions in the country and the world.

As the communiqué “And it shook!” points out, we are faced with dozens of processes of radical transformation, of resistances and rebellions that “constitute the power of below,” which will now be expressed in the Government Council. Simultaneously, the organism will have an indigenous woman as spokesperson, and she will be an independent candidate in the 2018 elections.

It is the mode that the peoples have found so that “indignation, resistance and rebellion figure on the 2018 electoral ballots.” In that mode they seek to “shake the conscience of the nation,” to “dismantle the power of above and to reconstitute ourselves, no longer just as peoples, but also as a country.” The immediate objective is to stop the war, to create conditions for organizing and collectively overcoming the paralyzing fear that the genocide of above provokes.

In the final part the communiqué emphasizes that perhaps this may be “the last opportunity as original peoples and as Mexican society to peacefully and radically change our own forms of government, making dignity the epicentre of a new world.”

In broad strokes, that’s the proposal and the path for making it a reality. From the distance it calls attention to the fact that the debates since last October had been centred on the question of the indigenous woman spokesperson as a candidate in the 2018 elections, setting aside a fundamental theme that, I believe, is the formation of the Indigenous Government Council. It’s evident that the new political culture that the CNI and the EZLN embody cannot be understood with the blinders of the old culture, centred on media discourses and on elections as almost the only way of doing politics.

That the indigenous peoples of Mexico decide to create a government council seems an issue of the greatest importance. They are peoples and nations that will no longer be governed by anyone else. Millions of men and women establish self-government in a coordinated way, in a single council that represents all of them. It’s a parting of the waters for the indigenous, which will have repercussions throughout all of society, like the January 1, 1994 Uprising had.

Here is where it’s convenient to make some clarifications versus the more absurd interpretations and, my apologies if I’m wrong. The political culture that Zapatismo and the CNI practice consists of promoting the self-government of all the sectors of society: rural and urban, indigenous, campesinos, workers, students, professionals and all the sectors that want to be added. They never sought to govern others; they don’t want to supplant anyone. “Govern obeying” is a form of government for all the oppressed, which each one implements in their own way.

The communiqué clarifies that they do not seek to compete with the professional politicians, because “we are not the same.” No one that is even minimally familiar with Zapatismo throughout these 23 years can imagine that they will be dedicated to counting votes, to getting positions in municipal, state or federal governments. They won’t be dedicated to adding or subtracting electoral acronyms, because they’re on another path.

In times of war against those below, I believe that the question that the CNI and the EZLN raise is how to contribute to the way the most diverse sectors of the country are organized? It’s not about (the CNI and the EZLN) wanting to organize them, that’s the job of each sector. It’s about how to support, how to create the conditions so that it is possible. The indigenous candidacy goes in that direction, not as “vote-getting,” but rather as the possibility of dialogue, so that others may know how they did it.

The creation of the Indigenous Government Council is the sign that if millions of individuals from peoples and nations can do it, self-government is possible; why can’t I do it in my district, in my neighbourhood, wherever it may be? The 1994 Uprising multiplied rebellions; it contributed to the creation of the CNI and of multiple social, political and cultural organizations; something similar can happen now. There is nothing as potent as the example.

This year we celebrate the hundred-year anniversary of the October Revolution. The obsession of the Bolsheviks and of Lenin, which can be corroborated in the marvellous book of John Reed “Ten days that shook the world” (Diez días que estremecieron al mundo), is that everyone would organize into soviets, even those that as of that moment were fighting against them. They even called to the Cossacks, enemies of the revolution, to create their soviets and to send delegates to the congress of all of Russia. “The revolution is not made, but rather is organized,” said Lenin. Independently of what one thinks about the Russian leader, the assertion is the nucleus of any revolutionary struggle.

The transition from indignation and rage to solid and persistent organization is key to any process of profound and radical change. Rage abounds in these times; it lacks organization. Will the 2018 campaign be able to become a leap forward in the organization of the peoples? No one can answer that. But it’s an opportunity for the power of below to be expressed in the most diverse ways, even in electoral events and tickets, because the form is not essential.

Reflecting on the criticisms, which are not few, instead of accusing the CNI and the EZLN of being divisive, they could recognize their enormous flexibility, being capable of entering territory that, as of this moment, had not been probed and, of doing it without flags, while upholding the principles and objectives. The coming months and years will be decisive for delineating the future of the world’s oppressed. It’s probable that in a few years we will evaluate the formation of the Indigenous Government Council as the turn which we were waiting for.

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Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Friday, January 6, 2017

http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2017/01/06/opinion/018a1pol

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

https://chiapas-support.org/2017/01/08/the-power-of-below/

Posted with minor edits by Dorset Chiapas Solidarity

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January 3, 2017

CNI announces an autonomous parallel government for Mexico

Filed under: Autonomy, CNI, Indigenous, Uncategorized, Zapatistas — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 6:08 pm

 

 

CNI announces an autonomous parallel government for Mexico

The EZLN Extends the Consultation to Determine its Presidential Candidate

156048-084555a7f2d8482b0_pf-9169080101_zapatistas_js3-c-702x468-1Zapatistas at anniversary celebration – Photo: Janet Schwartz

 

 

By: Isaín Mandujano

OVENTIK, Chiapas (proceso.com.mx). – Some 3,000 participating delegates of the National Indigenous Congress (Congreso Nacional Indígena, CNI), with support from the Zapatista National Liberation Army (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, EZLN), announced the constitution of an Indigenous Government Council (Consejo de Gobierno Indígena, CGI) as an autonomous parallel government for the country.

Today, they also delineated the profile of the candidate they will propose in the 2018 elections for the presidency of the Republic.

As part of the 23rd anniversary of the EZLN’s armed uprising, in Caracol II at Oventik, the CNI today called: “to all the original peoples throughout the country, to all persons with a good heart to close ranks and go on the offensive,” in this new stage of struggle, to reconstruct ourselves no longer just as a people but also as a nation.

After two days of closed-door sessions, this Sunday January 1, the CNI and the EZLN held an open-door plenary meeting to which the communications media had access. In it they announced the results of the consultation held during October, November and December of 2016 among at least 43 different indigenous peoples throughout the country.

The working group, in which Comandante David was present as the host in this bastion of the EZLN in Los Altos of Chiapas, and with Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés, military commander of the armed group, were half a dozen participating delegates from the CNI who announced the details of how the CGI will be created and how they will present themselves heading towards 2018 with an independent woman candidate.

“Indignation, resistance and rebellion will figure in the 2018 electoral ballots, said the women who read the results of the consultation in that extensive auditorium gathered together in a big wooden structure with a sheet metal roof.

They indicated that some 43 different original peoples from 25 of the country’s states were consulted.

The indigenous agreed to construct paths of resistance in which the struggle will be collective, and above all they proposed eliminating from their communities everything that divides the indigenous peoples, like the political parties and the governmental assistance programmes.

They proposed expanding communication and making it permanent among the peoples throughout the country; in the same way, creating commissions at the community, regional, state and national level.

They indicated that after the consultation during the last three months, the CNI came out strengthened and doubled the number of attendees in its plenary meetings, but that above all they expanded their presence in more communities which participated in the consultation and which were not considered previously.

While they demonstrated the need for respecting the peoples that are not in agreement with this process of struggle that the CNI and the EZLN propose, they recognized that in many communities they were not able to carry out the consultation because of the violent situation that exists or because of the change of authorities in those communities.

The women said that after the two-day closed-door meeting, they agreed to continue the consultation, which will be permanent, as is traditionally done among the original peoples and communities. In addition to this, Afro-Americans and immigrants have not yet been consulted.

As one of the principal agreements, they ratified the creation of an Indigenous Government Council (CGI) as the representative of all the peoples and tribes of this country. This Council, they specified, will be collective; it will not do what occurs to it, but rather what is mandated by all the original peoples represented there.

It was also agreed that this CGI would have as its spokesperson an indigenous woman from the CNI. This same woman will be the candidate in the 2018 elections.

They said that the CGI will be formally constituted next May 18th, and that the spokesperson of that body will be a woman who has permanence in the CNI, who belongs to one of the original peoples of Mexico, who speaks that indigenous language, who must be proposed and legitimized in assembly, who is distinguished as a person who has accompanied the peoples in their struggles.

She will also practice the principles of governing by obeying (mandaobedeciendo,) she will know that making agreements will be by consensus and that those who make up the Council of which she is the spokesperson must be aware that the CNI’s Assembly will be the only one able to take away that position when it is so considered.

The CGI will have several commissions, such as security, finances, communication, culture, a council of elders, health, environment and a commission charged with Mother Earth and territory.

This council, which will govern for all the original peoples of the whole country, was defined as an anti-capitalist collective, from below and from the left, it will respect the decisions of the people and the decisions of the CNI, and above all will have the ability to create alliances with other peoples who are not from the CNI.

They said that the woman candidate will be on the ballot in 2018, but they warned:

“Don’t get confused thinking that we seek to compete with them because we are not the same. We are the collective word of below and to the left.”

They indicated that while the country is submerged in fear and terror, the peoples have created conditions of security and true justice. It is only from below that it is possible to construct autonomy.

They insisted that, faced with this scenario, what is necessary is the creation of the CGI that is being proposed to govern this country, and that for this reason they will promote their own candidate; and they said that this project does not exclude anyone, because all the original peoples of the country will fit in it.

Subcomandante Moisés said that the time for the peoples has come, for all the peoples that are in the countryside and in the city. And he said that what the CNI now proposes is the “¡Ya Basta!” (Enough!) of that hope that others will tell us what to do and how to do it.

He said that it has been sought to deceive the peoples of Mexico “with promises and brazen lies,” and that what the CNI is now proposing is that the peoples themselves will tell themselves what to do.

Moisés outlined fighting for truth and justice, fighting for democracy, but where the people command and the government obeys. He called to fight for freedom. To do this it is necessary to rescue the history of the original peoples who have spent centuries resisting for life.

He said that the EZLN and the CNI already have already known each other for many years.

He confirmed that the EZLN is now and always will be with the CNI on the path that has been proposed.

“We are with you, we are definitely going with the National Indigenous Congress (…) Let them listen to the pain and rage that is in every corner of this country. May the Earth tremble at its core with your step. May they look at you with surprise and admiration, may the peoples of the world admire your decisions and goals. And above all, never mind that they use everything they have against you, that they attack you in every way, don’t surrender, don’t sell out, and don’t give in,” Moisés concluded.

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Originally Published in Spanish by Proceso.com

Sunday, January 1, 2017

http://www.proceso.com.mx/468261/amplia-el-ezln-consulta-para-definir-a-su-candidata-presidencial

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

https://chiapas-support.org/2017/01/02/cni-announces-an-autonomous-parallel-government-for-mexico/

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January 1, 2017

The Zapatistas Are Building the World We Ask For

Filed under: Autonomy, Indigenous, Zapatistas — Tags: , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 11:55 am

 

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The Zapatistas Are Building the World We Ask For

By: Ann Deslandes

zapatista_women_arrive-jpg_1718483346Zapatista women arrive at an information session. | Photo: Ann Deslandes

Published 31 December 2016

The Zapatista experiment in resisting without bullets and instead building the world we ask for – an experiment conducted under erasure, in conditions no university laboratory would authorize.

“If we had spent those 23 years exchanging gunshots,” says Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation in an evening address to the many gathered for “The Zapatistas and ConSciences for Humanity” encounter currently taking place in San Cristóbal de Las Casas, “would we have been able to build this?”

The Subcomandante was referring to the flourishing infrastructures of self-organized Zapatista life, lived by thousands of rebel Indigenous people in the Lacandon jungle of Chiapas, Mexico. The Zapatista movement today celebrates the 23rd anniversary of its uprising in San Cristóbal on Jan. 1, 1994, the day the North American Free Trade Agreement went into effect. In the 23 years that have followed the Zapatistas are organized by small communities known as caracoles and have built autonomous hospitals, schools, health clinics, security, transport, and communications operations.

The Zapatista “command” of which Subcomandante Moisés is a member had, as the Subcomandante was recounting in his address, begun shortly after the uprising to consider “another way of fighting” the system of neoliberal economics and bad government that currently has humanity in its grip, with Indigenous peoples of the world being squeezed the hardest. That is, they began to explore a resistance to this death grip that did not rely on weapons and violence and in which only guerrillas played a role. The leaders of the movement began to speak with the “compañer@s*” of the Indigenous communities that comprise it about alternatives to fighting the war against them. The alternative, they discovered, was to include all the rebel Indigenous who struggle — the women, the children, the older people — all together building the just and rational world being fought for “from below” while continuing to face the threat of extermination by the state and capital. As such, the Zapatistas decided they would stop using their weapons against their aggressors and develop a system of self-government, completely autonomous from the state and capital.

The answer to Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés’ question is no, of course, and in fidelity to Zapatista methodology, it is met by another question: “and would we have met each other?” Here, he is talking to the nearly 100 scientists (from the fields of mathematics, engineering, volcanology, epigenetics, cosmology, biotechnology, to name but a few) who accepted the Zapatistas’ invitation to travel to San Cristóbal for this “encuentro” to present their work and respond to questions from the 100 Zapatista women selected by their communities to bring the knowledge of professional scientists to the task of building a good and just world, against neoliberalism and for humanity. This task is described for the purposes of this encuentro as “building a big house where many worlds fit.”

On this evening, Subcomandante Moisés is telling us about the journey of the Zapatistas with the arts and sciences, with an emphasis on the sciences, as this is what we are gathered to discuss. Before the uprising and the fruits of self-government, he tells us, the rebel Indigenous did not have a lot of space to make art or to contemplate the teachings of science. Ancestral and customary teachings were the primary way of knowing the world. Since autonomy has been consolidated over the past eight to nine years, new windows on the world are sought. This is marked by the questions of Defensa Zapatista, a girl of maybe 8 or 9 years old, and other young Zapatistas as they grow in their education and begin to ask questions of their elders – like, “why is that flower the colour … , why does it have that shape, why does it smell? … I do not want to be told that Mother Earth with her wisdom made the flower or that God did, or whatever. I want to know what the scientific answer is.”

As such, this encuentro, “The Zapatistas and ConSciences for Humanity,” is attended by compañer@s from Zapatista communities who will be taking this knowledge back to tens of thousands of Indigenous people in many languages. It is also attended by the practitioners of professional science they have invited; by eschucas (listeners/ears) from all over Mexico and the world; and by the independent press of Latin America.

While we gather, the National Indigenous Congress is also in session, working on political strategy for Indigenous advancement in Mexico. For example, the Congress has been consulting on whether their people will name an Indigenous Governing Council to govern our country of Mexico.

In describing the movement of scientific knowledge through Zapatista communities, Subcomandante Moisés illustrates one of the many alternative worlds that Zapatista life shows us: one where, to paraphrase Subcomandante Galeano, science does not arrive with a sword as it did and continues to do under colonialism. Neither does it arrive as the “pseudoscience” of “good vibes” — New Age therapies and the like, which consigns ancestral and customary knowledge to an inferior past. Instead, knowledge is built together, as time and space makes it possible, and on the terms of the originary peoples of the earth.

companerxs_listening_to_a_session1-jpg_1085591094

In the sessions to date, Zapatista compañer@s have been addressed on the subjects of the frustrations and falsity of academia and of state-sponsored funding for scientific practice; the question of who scientific practice serves and can serve; the practice of science with social movements, such as in agroecology; the utility of science and scientists for building the world where many worlds fit; the relationship between knowledges labelled customary and scientific; the potential and applications of artificial intelligence; which is not to mention the presentations on biohacking, astronomy, the workings of the human heart, the manifestations and prevention of coffee rust, the workings of mathematics, geometry, epigenetics and cosmology, and myriad others not mentioned here. Compañer@s have also participated in workshops on robotics, on the practice of science as a profession, and on fossils and the earth’s past. The questions that Zapatista compañer@s brought to the encuentro were outlined in the beginning by Subcomandante Galeano and are 120 in number. They include:

– Do GMO foods damage the earth and humans? What about processed foods, microwaves, pesticides?

– When a baby is born and only its heart beats – it lives but the body is green, dead, and not moving, we put the baby in a container of hot water with the placenta, and without cutting the umbilical cord the baby starts to recover while the placenta distintegrates. What is the scientific explanation for this? What relation does the moon have to the movement of the earth; what is the scientific explanation?

– What produces pre-eclampsia and eclampsia? How can we prevent a pregnant woman from getting it?

– What is the best way to teach science to children?

– What do you think about how women are exploited, manipulated, marginalized, tortured, discriminated against by colour, and used as objects?

– What is the scientific explanation for why insurgents start to fall asleep when political talk takes place?

As Subcomandante Moisés reports, in the 23 years since the uprising, in the following years of building autonomy under “an offensive cease-fire” instead of “exchanging gunshots,” children are going to school and asking questions. All decisions are made collectively under the sign of “everything for everyone and nothing for ourselves,” and the will of the collectives is carried out by the Zapatista government, where “the people give the orders and the government obeys,” not the other way around. Hospital care is provided to communities throughout the Lacandon jungle, to Zapatista and non-Zapatista alike. “And,” Subcomandante Moisés observes, since then “we do not have so many shot dead, wounded, tortured, or disappeared.” Now, the Zapatistas want “science for life” — a science that flourishes against the sword, the bullet, and the “good vibes” of the bourgeoisie.

The Zapatista experiment in resisting without bullets and instead building the world we ask for – an experiment conducted under erasure, in conditions no university laboratory would authorise, is working, and invites the curiosity, wonder and knowledge-making of all who struggle for justice in a dark world.

*compañer@ is a signification of compañero used in Zapatista texts to include all genders.

Ann Deslandes is a writer and researcher currently based in Mexico City. Read her other writing at xterrafirma.net/writing and tweet her at @Ann_dLandes.

 

Posted by Dorset Chiapas Solidarity

http://www.telesurtv.net/english/opinion/The-Zapatistas-Are-Building-The-World-We-Ask-For-20161231-0012.html

 

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December 29, 2016

What’s a town living in freedom like? The first anniversary of autonomy in Tila

Filed under: Autonomy, Indigenous — Tags: — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 5:38 pm

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What’s a town living in freedom like? The first anniversary of autonomy in Tila 

 

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by Alejandro Reyes,

Zapatista Radio Collective

The first hints of the sunrise appear behind the silhouette of the church on the top of the hill, and the semi-darkness of dawn is punctuated by hundreds of tiny lights. Community leaders, accompanied by about 40 people, then come into the room where we sleep. They light candles on the altar and sing songs of gratitude to the Lord of Tila for this year of autonomy and ask for wisdom, judgment, standards to face the difficulties to come. Copal smoke fills the room and the voices of dozens of people speaking Chol recall ejido Tila’s long struggle for its land and freedom.

It is December 16, 2016, and on a day like this, exactly one year ago, the ejido residents, tired of the injustice of the so-called Mexican “justice” system, turned a near century-long fight into reality. Three months earlier, on 16 September 2015, thousands of residents marched from the ejido house to the central plaza in the town of Tila. There they placed a ladder up the facade of the town hall building and several people went up to the balconies. They hung a banner remembering the disappeared people from Ayotzinapa. They demanded the town hall authorities leave the area and an end to police and paramilitary harassment. From the balcony, the ejido Tila authorities gave the shout of Independence. And below, thousands of indignant voices repeated over and over: “If there is no solution, there will be demolition!”

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Three months later, on 16 December 2015, the chant became real. The ejido residents, fed up with decades of abuse and the inaction of the Mexican State, decided to expel the people from the town hall themselves. Since the mid-twentieth century, the town hall had illegally positioned themselves in the ejido’s territory, and their expulsion meant the ejido recovered 130 hectares that the municipal government had been trying to take from them. The town hall, which had done so much damage for so long, was destroyed. The big clock on the top of the facade was broken to bits, and so stopped “Kaxlán” (white people or Mexican mestizo) time, a time that had been imposed by Mexican authorities, a time of institutional dispossession and violence. And so began another time, an indigenous Chol time, the time of freedom. Tila’s miracle had come true.

It’s true that in Tila miracles happen, after all thousands of people don’t come here each year in pilgrimage for nothing. But Tila’s miracles don’t fall from the sky, they are made with blood, sweat and tears … and also lots of joy. The miracle of autonomy has been meticulous and tenacious work. After pushing out the town hall, the ejido residents organised themselves according to their practices and customs, and then began carrying out all the necessary activities to administer their 5,405 hectare territory. With contributions from the ejido Tila residents, they bought a truck and organised groups to collect the rubbish. They established a community-watch group, and organised all the neighbourhoods and outlying areas to ensure the community’s security. They developed a system of autonomous justice and began to resolve the numerous cases that under the authority of town hall had remained unpunished. They organised festivals, the ejido assembly became the highest authority, and delinquency, once ignored by official complicity, drastically decreased.

One year after this miracle of autonomy, another miracle took place: on 15 December, the radio station “the Miracle of Tila” began to broadcast “from some place in the ejido Tila”. On the radios at home, and from the village’s public announcement system, the ejido’s story of struggle was heard. Stories about the actions of a handful of opponents who had been doing their best to destroy the community’s autonomy, all so they could reclaim their town hall privileges like access to illicit funds, dirty business, and impunity. Girls and boys, young women and men, old women and men came to give their accounts. Messages via facebook and whatsapp arrived from people excited about the community’s new beginning. Songs of solidarity and greetings from groups that had come for the celebration were also heard.

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Celebrations began around 11 in the morning with an address from the ejido commission and other traditional authorities in the central plaza, in front of the demolished town hall. Two delegates from the National Indigenous Congress (NIC) also took part. They had travelled from Campeche and Oaxaca/Veracruz. There they explained again the proposal of the NIC and the EZLN to establish an Indigenous Government Council at a national level whose voice and face will be an indigenous woman running as an independent candidate in the next presidential elections. This proposal resonated in the hearts of the ejido residents because as the NIC delegate explained “Here the earth has already shaken because the indigenous people are the ones who govern”.

The odyssey of the chol people from Tila and their struggle for autonomy over their territory begins in the 1920s, when their grandparents traveled again and again to Tuxtla Gutierrez, then a four or five days journey along footpaths, carrying their pozole and tostadas (fried Mexican tortillas), to request the legalization of their lands as an ejido. These are lands that they had been working as farm labourers for decades for foreign, German landowners who usurped the ancestral lands of the Chol people. This odyssey was told through a theatre piece recounting the tireless effort of the grandparents from 1922 to 1959.

Finally a Presidential Resolution was issued recognising the 5,405 hectares of Ejido Tila. It is impossible to express the importance of this document for the Chol ejido residents of Tila. Land is life, and the document expresses the decades of struggle, the pain, the suffering, the abuses, but also the perseverance, the tenacious effort they made to obtain official recognition of what rightly belongs to them.

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But in the mid-twentieth century the municipal government transformed from an indigenous Chol town council, which ruled using traditional practices and customs, to a regime of political parties. The Town Hall has ever since been trying to strip the ejido residents of 130 hectares where the town of Tila is located. In addition to initiating the collection of land taxes and appropriating goods and services that the ejido assembly had previously administered, the town hall also served as a coordinating body for paramilitary groups, especially the extremely violent “Peace and Justice”, as part of the counterinsurgency war after the 1994 Zapatista uprising.

“Things are not as they should be,” explain two women in front of a miniature model of the destroyed town hall building. “Because when the local government functions, there is justice. And there was no justice here, I personally experienced this situation of injustice. If we don’t have money, they will not fix your problem. So for me, I like that this building was torn down, it didn’t serve us at all. We did what we did to this building because it represented total rubbish, and no one working there had a clear conscience”.

Right after that, some young people came to set fire to the model town hall building. “This is our message that those who want to bring the town hall authorities back to ejido Tila. If they come back, the same thing will happen again” said the ejido residents. Then as the model burned, a fire cracker hidden in the model exploded.

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During the time when the ejido was governed by town hall, local customs were not respected. Town hall, with a marketing mentality, dressed up the local Chol traditions as some kind of folklore and introduced festivals that had nothing to do with the local culture. In today’s celebration, the ejido residents reclaim their traditions with a carnival spectacle where the “negrito” and “marucha” do battle with the little bulls and tigers. The performance caused great laughter amongst the audience, who recognised the in the story their own battle in defense of their land and territory.

There were also many happy moments of dancing with people of all ages – girls and boys, and elders, both women and men.  A mariachi band played some songs including a particularly joyous interpretation of the Zapatista anthem. A child with an extraordinary voice sang “The Blue Backpack”, and space was made for the ejido residents to share their thoughts on the celebration. A judge from the ejido’s justice system, an important step in asserting autonomy and justice, presented a very detailed report on crime and punishment during this first year of self-government.

Finally the day finished with a ceremony handing over the baton of government to the autonomous authorities. This ceremony, full of symbolism and great importance, was for the people who throughout this year have become a living example for Mexico and many parts of the world. They have demonstrated that the people can govern themselves, that it is possible to plot other roads with justice and dignity in the midst of a storm.

And of course the dance party, which lasted until late at night, a collective celebration so deserved by a community who never give up fighting.

Translated by the UK Zapatista Translation Service

http://radiozapatista.org/?p=19609

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