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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 22, 2017

EZLN: The Cat-Dog and the Apocalypse

Filed under: CNI, Human rights, Indigenous, San Marcos Aviles, Zapatistas — Tags: , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 10:48 am

 

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EZLN: The Cat-Dog and the Apocalypse

December 29, 2016.

Science fiction.

Remember that: science fiction. You’ll see that, in your coming nightmares, it will help you to not become so distressed, or at least not uselessly distressed.

Perhaps you remember some science fiction movie. Perhaps science fiction set some of you down the path of scientific science.

It didn’t do that for me, perhaps because my favorite science fiction movie is La Nave de los Monstruosi with the unforgettable Eulalio González, known as “el Piporro,” the soundtrack for which has been unjustly excluded from the Oscars, the Golden Globes, and the local and renowned “Clay Pozol Bowl.”ii Perhaps you’ve heard talk of the movie: it’s a “cult” film, according to one of those specialized magazines that nobody reads, not even the people who edit it. If you remember the film and/or you see it, you’ll doubtless understand why I ended up lost in the mountains of the Mexican Southeast and not in the suffocating bureaucratic web that, at least in Mexico, chokes scientific investigation.

You’ll also cheer the fact that that movie is my point of reference for science fiction, instead of 2001: A Space Odyssey by Kubrick, or Alien by Ridley Scott (with Lieutenant Ripley breaking with Charlton Heston’s blueprint of the macho survivor in “Planet of the Apes”), or Blade Runner, also by Ridley, where the question “Do androids dream of electric sheep?” is the nodal point.

So you should thank Piporro and his “Star of Desire”iii and the robot Tor in love with a jukeboxiv for the fact that that I’m not on their side in this encounter.

Anyway, cinephile philias aside, let’s suppose an average film of the genre: an apocalypse in progress or in the past; all of humanity in danger; first an audacious and intrepid man as the protagonist; then, from the hand of innocuous feminism, a woman, also audacious and intrepid; a group of scientists is convoked to a super secret facility (invariably of course located in the United States); a high-ranking military official explains to them: they must create a plan to save humanity; they do so, but it turns out that in the end, they need an individual hero or heroine who, as the story goes, annuls the collective work and at the last second, with a pair of pliers that appeared inexplicably, cuts the green or blue or white or black or red cable at random, and ta-da, humanity is saved; the group of scientists applauds like crazy; the young man or woman finds true love; the respectable public vacates the theater while the free-loaders check the seats to see if anyone left any half-finished cartons of popcorn, with that delicious and unbeatable taste of sodium benzoate.

The catastrophe has a variety of origins: a meteorite has changed course with the same constancy as a politician making declarations about the gas hikes; or a tornado of sharks; or a planet spinning off its course; or an irritated sun sending one of those igneous tongues out of its orbit; or an illness that comes from outer space, or a spaceship; or a biological weapon that gets out of control and, converted into an odorless gas, transforms whoever has contact with it into a professional politician or maybe into something not quite so horrible.

That, or the apocalypse is already a done deal and a group of survivors wanders without hope, introjecting the exterior barbarity into their individual and collective behavior, while humanity struggles between life and death.

The end can vary but the constant is the group of scientists, be they the ones who caused the disaster or the only hope of salvation, if of course a handsome man or woman appears at the opportune moment.

The film’s conclusion could be open-ended, or it could be a downright “dark beating” (José Alfredo Jiménez had already warned us that “life isn’t worth anything”).

Sure, let’s take as an example any novel, movie or TV series with an apocalyptic or catastrophic theme. Let’s say one with a popular theme: zombies.

A concrete example: the TV series The Walking Dead. For those who aren’t familiar with the plot, it’s simple: due to some unspecified cause, people who die “turn into” zombies; the protagonist wanders, he encounters a group, they establish a hierarchical organization in continual crisis and they try to survive. The series’ success could be due to the fact that it shows characters who, in normal situations, are mediocre or pariahs, and they become heroines and heroes willing to do whatever it takes. Some of them are:

Michonne, a housewife ignored and belittled by her husband and siblings, who becomes a fearsome warrior with a katana (played by the actress and dramaturge Danai Jekesal Gurira and, not to make you jealous, she’s the only one whose real name I give because, in the trunk left by SupMarcos, I found a picture of her in the character of Michonne, dedicated by her own hand to the deceased. Arrrrroz con leche!v).

Daryl, a manipulated pariah transformed into a “tracker” and a fearsome crossbowman. Up until now the symbol of the refusal to submit, resistance and rebellion.

Glenn, a pizza delivery boy turned star explorer. The handyman and “thousand lives” of the series, until Rickman returned to the comic.

Maggie, a young woman whom the zombie apocalypse saves from the monotonous life on a farm and converts her into a leader, despite being pregnant.

Carol, an abused wife transformed into a female version of Rambo, but smart.

Carl, an adolescent who behind his eyepatch hides a serial killer, as Negan well deduced.

Eugene, a nerd who symbolized science and eventually goes from being a pathological liar to becoming useful to the group.

Father Gabriel, the self-serving, opportunistic religious leader who reconverts himself and becomes necessary.

Tara and Aaron, the lesbian woman and the gay man who ensure the political correctness of the plot.

Rosita, my preferred wet dream, the Latina who combines passion, skill and courage.

Morgan, the survivor in “shaolin monk” mode.

Sasha, the woman who changes from the classic romantic role to that of realistic survivor.

And in the upper part of the hierarchy, the battered symbol of order, Rick, an ex-sheriff’s deputy who barely hides the fascist inclinations of any police officer.

I don’t know what season you’re on. Since the fifth one I stopped watching because the law caught up with the movie guy who used to send me the “alternative” editions and now who knows where he is (which is a shame, because he had promised me up to season 10, though not even Kirkman knows if there will be 10 seasons). But with what I’ve been able to watch, I understand the reason for its success.

It’s not hard to follow the plot, anyway: it’s enough to look at the spoilers that filter through on the respective Twitter hashtags.

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A few moons ago, I asked a compañera what would have happened if Rick, or any member of the group, had known ahead of time that what was going to happen would happen. I choose the police officer as my example because it seems that he is the only one whose survival is guaranteed, at least in the comic of the same name.

Would Rick have prepared himself? Would he have constructed a bunker and stockpiled in it food, medicines, fuel, weapons and ammunition, and the complete works of George Romero?vi

Or would he perhaps have tried to stop the disaster?

The compañera, Zapatista to the end, answered me with the same question: what did I think Rick Grimes would have done?

I didn’t hesitate to answer her: nothing. Even knowing what was going to happen, neither Rick nor any of the characters would have done anything.

And there’s a simple reason for that: despite all the evidence, they would have kept thinking, up until the very last minute, that nothing bad was going to happen, that it wasn’t such a big deal, that someone somewhere would have the solution, that order would be re-established, that there would be someone to obey and someone to boss around, that, in any case, the tragedy would happen to other people, somewhere else, geographically distant or distant in terms of their social position.

They would think up until the night before that the tragedy was something destined not for them [ellas, ellos, elloas], but for those who survive below… and to the left.

Zombies aside, in the majority of those apocalyptic narratives, there are one or more moments in which someone, invariably the protagonist, when everyone is surrounded by a horde of zombies or the meteorite is a short distance from their heads, or in a similar situation, says, with all the serenity and aplomb, “Everything is going to be all right”.

And it turns out that for this meeting I got stuck with the role of party pooper. So I should tell you what we see: No, it’s not a science fiction movie, but rather reality; and no, everything is not going to be all right, only a few things will be all right if we prepare ourselves ahead of time.

According to our analysis (and until now, we haven’t seen anyone or anything that refutes it; on the contrary, they confirm it), we are already in the middle of a structural crisis that, in colloquial terms, means the reign of criminal violence, natural disasters, runaway shortages and unemployment, scarcity of basic services, collapse of energy infrastructure, migration, hunger, sickness, destruction, death, desperation, anguish, terror, helplessness.

In sum: dehumanization.

The crime is in progress. The biggest, most brutal and cruel crime in the brief history of humanity.

And the criminal is a system willing to go to any lengths: capitalism.

In apocalyptic terms: it’s a fight between humanity and the system, between life and death.

The second option, death—I wouldn’t recommend it.

Actually, don’t die. It’s not in your best interest. Believe me, I know something about that because I’ve died several times.

It’s very boring. Since the entrances to heaven and hell suffer from an annoying bureaucracy (though it’s not as bad as those in the universities and research centers), the wait is worse than an airport or a bus station during holiday season.

Hell’s the same, you have to organize gatherings of the arts, exact and natural sciences, social sciences, originary peoples, and other equally terrible things. They force you to bathe and comb your hair. They inject you and make you to eat squash soup all the time. You have to listen to Peña Nieto and Donald Trump in a never-ending press conference.

Heaven, for its part, is the same, just that there you have to put up with a monotonous chorus of palid angels, and they all give you the runaround if you want to talk to God to complain about the music.

In sum: say no to death and yes to life.

But don’t fool yourselves.

You’re going to have to fight every day, at all hours and everywhere.

In that fight, sooner or later, you’ll realize that only collectively will you have any possibility of triumph.

And even so, you’ll see that you also need the arts and that you need us, too, and others [otros, otras, otroas] like us.

Organize yourselves.

As Zapatistas we are, we’re not only not asking you to abandon your scientific practice, we’re demanding that you continue it and deepen it.

Continue exploring this and other worlds, don’t stop, don’t despair, don’t give up, don’t sell out, don’t give in.

But we’re also asking you to seek out the arts. Even though the contrary might seem to be true, they will “anchor” your scientific task in what you have in common: humanity.

Enjoy dance in any of its forms. Perhaps at the beginning you won’t be able to avoid framing the movements in the laws of physics, but afterwards you’ll feel it, boom.

Go beyond geometry, color theory and neurology and enjoy painting and sculpture.

Resist the temptation to find the scientific logic to that poem, that novel, and let the words discover galaxies for you that only inhabit the arts.

Surrender when faced with the lack of scientific basis to the stories that in theater and film peer into that which is humanly imperfect, unstable, and unpredictable.

And so on with all the arts.

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Now imagine that it’s not your own daily life but rather the arts which are in danger of extinction.

Imagine people, not statistics: men, women, children, elders, with a face, a history, a culture, threatened with annihilation.

See yourselves in those mirrors.

Understand that it’s not about fighting for them or in their place, but rather with them.

See yourselves as we Zapatistas see you.

Science is not your limit, your dead weight, your useless burden, the activity you should carry out in clandestinity or hiding in the closet of the academies and institutes.

Understand what we have already understood: that, as scientists, you all fight for humanity, that is to say, for life.

-*-

Yesterday Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés was explaining to us that the communities are, and have been for decades, our teachers and tutors. That the interest in science is new in Zapatismo. That it’s been incited by the new generations, by the Zapatista youth who want to know more and better how the world works. That out of the organized communities came this newest push that has us here in front of you.

It’s true. But what’s not new in Zapatismo is the struggle for life.

Even in our willingness and plans when faced with death, we were concerned with life from the start.

Those who are older, or who are interested despite not being older, may know about the uprising: the taking of 7 municipal capitals, the bombardments, the clashes with the military forces, the desperation of the government upon seeing that they couldn’t defeat us, the civil uprising that forced them to stop, what’s followed in these almost 23 years.

What you might not know is what I’m going to tell you next:

We prepared ourselves to kill and to die—Subcomandante Insurgente Moises already summarized that for you. So then we had two options in front of us: the country as a whole would be ignited, or we would be annihilated. Imagine our bewilderment when neither the one nor the other took place. But that’s another story for which perhaps there will be another occasion.

Two options, but both had the common denominator of death and destruction. Even though you might not believe it, the first thing we did was prepare ourselves to live.

And I don’t mean those of us who fought in combat, those of us for whom knowledge of the resistance of different materials was useful for taking cover and finding shelter in combat and during bombardments; nor the knowledge that allowed the insurgent health workers to save the lives of dozens of Zapatistas.

I’m talking about the Zapatista bases of support, those to whom, as Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés explained last night, we owe the path, the pace, the direction and the destination as Zapatistas we are, just as we owe to them the interest in the arts, the sciences, and the effort to include us with the workers of the countryside and the cities, the world headquarters of struggle, resistance, and rebellion that’s called “the Sixth.”

Starting a few years prior to that apparently now distant January 1, in the Zapatista communities the so-called “reserve battalions” were formed.

The mission that was given to them was the most important one in the gigantic operation that carried thousands into combat: to survive.

For months they were given instruction. Thousands of boys, girls, women, men and elders trained to protect themselves from bullets and bombs; to gather and retreat in orderly fashion in case the army attacked or bombarded the towns; to place and locate deposits of food, water and medicine that would allow them to survive in the mountains for a long time.

“Do not die” was the only order that they were to follow.

The order that those of us who went to combat had was: “Don’t give up, don’t sell out, don’t give in.”

When we came back to the mountains and we met back up with our communities, we fused the two orders and made them into one alone: “Struggle to build our freedom.”

And we agreed to do so with everyone [todas, todos, todoas].

And we agreed that, if it wasn’t possible to do so in this world, then we would make another world, a bigger one, a better one, one where all the possible worlds fit, the ones that already exist and the ones we still haven’t imagined but that can already be found in the arts and sciences.

Thank you very much.

From CIDECI-Unitierra.

SupGaleano.

Mexico, December 2016.

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From the Notebook of the Cat-Dog.

“What’s Lacking”

I was in my hut, reviewing and analyzing some videos of plays by Maradona and Messi.

Like a premonition, a ball bounced inside. “Defensa Zapatista” arrived behind it, entering without giving notice or asking permission. Behind the girl came the notorious Cat-Dog.

Defensa Zapatista” grabbed the ball and approached to look over my shoulder. I was busy trying to keep the Cat-Dog from eating the computer mouse so I didn’t notice that the girl was watching the videos with great interest.

“Hey Sup”, she said to me, “do you think Maradona and Messi are all that?”

I didn’t answer. From experience I know that Defensa Zapatista’s questions are either rhetorical or she’s not interested in hearing my answer.

She continued:

“But you’re not seeing the issue,” she said, “for as much as they might have of art and science, they both have a serious lack.”

Yes, that’s how she said it: “lack.” There I did interrupt her and I asked, “And just where did you get that word or where did you learn it?”

She responded, indignant: “That very bad Pedrito said it to me. He told me that I couldn’t play football because girls lack technique.”

“I got mad and I gave him a slap upside the head, because I didn’t know what that word meant and what if it’s a bad word. Of course, the very bad Pedrito ran to the education promotora to make a complaint about me and they called me in. I explained to the teacher the national and international situation, as they say, that the situation with the Hydra is really messed up and everything. And since the promotora understood that we have to support each other as the women we are, they didn’t reprimand me, but they sent me to look up what “lack” means. And well, I thought it was a better punishment than if they had sent me to eat squash soup.”

I nodded understandingly as I tried to get the mouse out of the Cat-Dog’s mouth.

“Well anyway, I went to look up what “lack” means on the internet in the office of the Junta de Buen Gobierno [Good Government Council] and I found that it’s a song by the musicians of the struggle, that it’s really happy and that everyone starts dancing and jumping around as if they gotten into an anthill of leafcutter ants. So I went to the education promotoraand I told her that “lack” is a song that goes: “I wake up in the morning and I don’t feel like going to school.” She laughed and told me, “it’s ‘going to work.’” So then I told her that songs are up to each person’s taste and the problems they have. Which is to say I gave her the political explanation, but I don’t think she understood, because she just laughed. And then she sent me back to find out not about the song, but rather to look up what the word means. So I headed back and when I get there I had to wait for the guy who was on duty at the Junta to send out a denunciation. After that I was able to go in and there I saw that “lack” means you’re missing something. So I headed back to the education promotora and told her, and she said that there, now I’d seen that it wasn’t a bad word and she congratulated me. But since Pedrito was there eavesdropping I gave him another slap upside the head for going around saying that I lack technique. And then the promotora said she was going to tell my moms that I was doing that kind of thing, so I came to hide here because I know that nobody comes to see you.”

I took the jab heroically, as I was finally able to snatch the mouse back from the Cat-Dog.

Defensa Zapatista” continued her long-winded speech:

“But don’t worry Sup, before coming in, first I peeked in to make sure you weren’t looking at pictures of naked ladies that, errrr, just to get it over with, Sup, it’s really unbelievable, and anyway I’m not going to make a complaint against you with the collective “The Women We Are,” but I’ll tell you plainly that it’s no good what you’re doing, because it just means you have a lack of moms, that is, like SupMoy says when he gets angry, no tienes madre” [you have no mother].

I’d like to clarify here that it’s not true what “Zapatista Defense” says, what happened is that I was taking a correspondence course on anatomy.

Anyway, before the girl could continue airing my secrets, I asked her why she said that Maradona and Messi were seriously lacking in something.

She was almost in the threshold of the door when she answered:

“Because they’re missing the most important thing: being women.”

-*-

“An Interstellar Trip”

Among the pile of papers and drawings that the late SupMarcos left, I found what I’m going to read to you below. It’s a sort of draft or notes for a script, or something like that, supposedly for a science fiction film. It’s called:

Toward What Does the Gaze Look?

Planet Earth. Some year in the distant future, let’s say 2024. Among the new tourist destinations, now it’s possible to travel to space and go around the world in a satellite adapted “ad hoc” for that purpose. The spaceship is a scale replica of the lunar satellite, with a big window that looks out, during the whole trip, onto Earth. On the other side, let’s say the back, there’s a sort of skylight, about the size of a house window, that always looks out onto the rest of the galaxy. The tourists, of all colors and nationalities, crowd up against the window that looks onto the planet of origin. They take selfies and live-stream the images of the world, “blue like an orange,” to their friends and family. But not all the travelers are on that side. At least four people are in front of the opposite window. They’re forgotten about their respective cameras and they look out in ecstasy at the jumbled collage of celestial bodies: the snaking line of dusty light that is the Milky Way, the twinkling glimmer of stars that might not exist anymore, the frenetic dance of asteroids and planets.

One of the people is an artist; they’re not immobile, in their brain they imagine rhythms, lines and colors, movements, sequences, words, inert or mobile representations; their hands and fingers move involuntarily, their lips mumble incomprehensible words and sounds, their eyes open and close continuously. The arts see what they see and they see what could come to be seen.

Another one of the people is a scientist; their body doesn’t move at all, they look fixedly not at the closest lights and colors but rather at the most distant ones; in their brain they imagine unthought galaxies, inert and living worlds, stars being born, insatiable black holes, interplanetary vessels without flags. The sciences see what they see and they see what could come to be seen.

The third person is indigenous, of short stature, with dark skin and ancestral features. They look at and touch the window. Their mind and body press upon the solid, transparent material. In their brain they imagine the path and the pace, the speed and the rhythm; they imagine a destination that’s constantly changing. The originary peoples see what they see and they see the life that could be created in order to be seen.

The fourth person is Zapatista, of changing color and features. They look through and delicately touch the glass with their hand. They take our their notebook and start writing frenetically. In their brain they begin to make calculations, lists of tasks, jobs to start, they trace maps, they dream. Zapatismo sees what it sees and sees the world that it will be necessary to build so that the arts, sciences, and originary peoples can realize and fulfill what they see with their gaze.

At the end of the trip, while the other travelers acquire their last souvenirs in the “duty free” shops, the artist runs to their studio, or whatever it is, so that others [otros, otras, otroas] can see and feel what they see; the scientist immediately convokes other scientists because there are theories and formulas that need to be proposed, demonstrated, and applied; the indigenous person gets together with their fellow peoples and tells them what they saw in order that, collectively, the gaze can define the path, the pace, the company, the rhythm, the speed and the destination.

The Zapatista person goes to their community and in the community assembly explains and details everything that must be done so that the artist, the scientist, and the indigenous person can travel. The first thing the assembly does is critique the story or the tale or the script or whatever it’s called, because it’s missing the workers of the city and the countryside. It is proposed then that a commission write a letter to the deceased SupMarcos so that he puts the fifth element in the story, that is, the Cat Dog, because it already ate the internet cable and two flash drives belonging to the Tercios Compas, and it spends all its time chasing around the computer mouse, so better that they take it with them; and so that he also adds, as the sixth element, the Sixth, because without the Sixth the story isn’t complete. Having approved this, the assembly proposes, discusses, adds and subtracts, plans the timetables, distributes the tasks, votes to determine general agreement and names the commissions for each task.

Before the assembly is adjourned and everyone goes to start the tasks assigned to them, a little girl asks to have the floor.Without coming up to the front, standing almost at the back of the communal house, the girl strains to raise her voice and says: “I propose that on the list of things to take, that they include a soccer ball and a whole lot of pozol.” The rest of the assembly laughs uproariously. SubMoy, who’s sitting on the panel that’s coordinating the meeting, calls for order. Having achieved silence, SubMoy asks the girl what her name is. The girl responds, “My name is Defensa Zapatista,” and she puts on her best “you’ll never get past me, not even if you’re aliens” face. SubMoy then asks Defensa Zapatista why she is proposing this.

The girl climbs up on a wooden bench and argues: “The ball is because if they aren’t going to be able to play, then it’s pointless to go there where they want go. And the whole lot of pozol is to give them strength so they don’t faint along the journey. And also so that way out there, far away, where the other worlds are, they don’t forget where they came from”.

The little girl’s proposal is approved by popular acclaim. SubMoy is about to adjourn the meeting when “Defensa Zapatista” raises her little hand asking again for the floor. It is conceded to her. As the girl speaks, in one arm she holds a soccer ball and in the other hugs a small animal to her. It seems to be a dog… or a cat, or a cat-dog: “I just want to say that we haven’t filled out the team yet, but don’t worry, soon there are going to be more of us, sometimes it takes a while, but soon there are going to be more.”

I testify.

Woof-meow.

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i “La Nave de los Monstruos” (1960) or “The Ship of the Monsters,” a Mexican science fiction comedy film.

iiPozol de Barro,” prize to be awarded by the EZLN to the winning team in a 2005 soccer (football) competition between the Zapatista team and the FC Internationale de Milán.

iii Musical number by Piporro that appears in “La Nave de los Monstruos.”

iv Tor the robot and his jukebox lover are characters in the film.

v Literally “rice with milk,” a sweet rice dessert, but in this context an exclamation after a suggestive comment or as a general exclamation of excitement, as in “Yeehaw” or “Woohoo”

vi Director of cult classics Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead among many other horror films.

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February 17, 2017

EZLN: The Walls Above, The Cracks Below (And To The Left)

Filed under: CNI, gal, Indigenous, Uncategorized, Zapatistas — Tags: , , , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 10:50 am

 

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EZLN: The Walls Above, The Cracks Below (And To The Left)

 

 

maxresdefault-csub-702x468February 2017

The Storm On Our Path

For us, as Zapatista originary peoples, the storm—the war—has been going on for centuries. It arrived to our lands with the lies of the dominant civilization and religion. At that time, the sword and the cross bled our people dry.

Over time, the sword was modernized and the cross was dethroned by the religion of capital, but it continued to demand our blood as an offering to the new god: money.

We resisted, we always resist. Our rebellions were displaced by the dispute between various forces for Power. Those forces, always from above, demanded that we struggle and die to serve them. They demanded obedience and submission under the guise of liberating us. Like those who said and say they fight, they came and come to rule. There were supposed independences and false revolutions, those past and those to come.

Since then, those above have taken turns and continue to take turns in order to govern, badly, or aspire to do so. In past and present calendars, their proposal continues to be the same: that we offer our blood, while they lead or pretend to lead.

Before and now, they forget those of us who do not forget.

And always, yesterday and today, the woman is below, even in the collective that we were and are.

But as the calendars went by, they not only brought pain and death to our people. Upon expanding its dominion, Power created new brotherly and sisterly bonds in tragedy.

We saw then the worker and the peasant become one with our pain, lying under the four wheels of the mortal carriage of Capital.

As Power advanced in its path through time, those below grew increasingly more, broadening the base over which Power is and has Power. We saw that we were joined then by teachers, students, artisans, small business people, professionals, and the etceteras with different names but identical sorrows.

But that wasn’t enough. Power is an exclusive space, discriminatory and selective. Thus different kinds of difference were also openly persecuted. By colour, race, creed, and sexual preference, they were expelled from the promised land and given hell as a permanent residence.

Next came young people, children, and elders. Power thus converted the calendars one holds into cause for persecution. Everyone below is guilty: for being a woman, for being a child, for being a young person, for being an adult, for being an elder, for being human.

But, upon expanding exploitation, displacement, repression, and discrimination, Power also expanded resistance… and rebellion.

We saw then and now the raised heads of many [muchas, muchos, muchoas]. All different, but similar in their rage and refusal.

Power knows that it is what it is only when wielded over those who work. It needs them.

It responded and responds to every rebellion by buying or fooling a few and imprisoning or murdering many. It is not afraid of their demands; it is their example that terrifies it.

Still it was not enough. Having dominated nations, the Power of Capital sought to put all of humanity under its heavy yoke.

Even that wasn’t enough. Capital now attempts to manage nature, to dominate, domesticate, and exploit her. That is, to destroy her.

The destructive advance of Capital, always through war, demolished the first fiefdoms and kingdoms. Upon their ruins it raised nations.

Later it devastated nations and upon their ruins erected a new global order: the market.

The entire world became a big warehouse for commodities. Everything can be bought and sold: water, wind, land, plants and animals, governments, knowledge, fun, desire, love, hate, people.

But it is not only commodities that are exchanged in the great market of Capital. “Economic freedom” is a mere illusion that simulates mutual agreement between those who buy and sell. In reality, the market is based on dispossession and exploitation. The exchange then is one of impunity. Justice is transformed into a grotesque caricature and upon its scale, money always weighs more than truth. The stability of this tragedy called Capitalism depends on repression and disrespect.

But that wasn’t enough either. It is not possible to dominate the world if one does not dominate ideas. Religious imposition was intensified and reached the arts and sciences. Philosophies and beliefs emerged and emerge like passing fashions. The sciences and the arts ceased to be something distinctively human and instead were placed on a shelf in the global supermarket.

Knowledge became private property, as did recreation and pleasure.

Capital thus consolidated itself as a giant shredder, using not only humanity in its entirety as raw material for commodity production, but also knowledge, art, and…nature.

The destruction of the planet, the millions of displaced, the rise in crime, unemployment, poverty, the weakness of governments and the wars to come are not products of the excesses of Capital, or of a mistaken detour of a system that promised order, progress, peace, and prosperity.

No, all of these tragedies are the essence of the system.

It feeds on them; it grows at their cost.

Destruction and death are the fuel for the great machine of Capital.

Attempts to “rationalize” or “humanize” its functioning were, are, and will be futile. Irrationality and inhumanity are its key parts. There is no possible repair. There wasn’t before, and there is no way now to mitigate its criminal path.

The only way to stop this machine is to destroy it.

In the current world war, the dispute is between the system and humanity. That is why the anticapitalist struggle is a struggle for humanity.

Those who still try to “repair” or “save” the system are really proposing to us a mass global suicide, like a posthumous sacrifice to Power.

In the system there is no solution.

Neither horror, condemnation, nor resignation are sufficient, nor is the hope that the worst has passed and things can only get better.

No. What is certain is that things will get worse.

For these reasons, in addition to what each of us can add from our particular calendars and geographies, we must resist, rebel, say “no,” struggle, organize.

That is why we must raise the wind from below with resistance and rebellion, with organization.

Only then will we be able to survive. Only then will it be possible to live.

And only then, as we said 25 years ago, will we be able to see that….

When the storm calms, when the rain and fire leave the earth in peace once again, the world will no longer be the world, but something better.”

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The War and the Walls Outside and Inside

Provoked by the greed of big money, the intention above is to make those suffering the current nightmare pay for it. Borders are no longer just lines drawn on maps and customs checkpoints, but walls of armies and police, of cement and brick, of laws and persecution. In the world above, the hunting of human beings increases and is celebrated with clandestine competitions: whoever expels, incarcerates, confines, and murders the most wins.

As we have been saying for more than 20 years, neoliberal globalization did not bring about a global village, but rather the fragmentation and dissolution of the so-called “Nation-States.” Then and now we called this process by the name that best describes it: “world war” (the fourth, according to us).

The only thing that was globalized was the market, and with it, war.

For those who operate the machines and bring the land to life, borders continue to exist and continue to be what they always have been: prisons.

Two decades ago, our assertion of this reality provoked mocking smiles from the international intelligentsia, tied to its old and expired dogmas.

Those same people today stutter in the face of a frantic reality, or they recommend old recipes, or they move on to a currently trendy idea that, through complex theoretical elaboration, hides the only truth at hand: they haven’t the slightest idea what is happening, nor what is coming, nor what brought on the current nightmare.

They lament this. The thinking from above had promised them a world without borders, and the result was instead a planet crammed with chauvinist trenches.

The world was not transformed into a gigantic metropolis without borders, but rather a great sea writhing in an unprecedented storm. In that sea, millions of displaced (who are grouped together by the media paintbrush as “migrants”) flail in small boats, waiting to be rescued by the gigantic ship of big Capital.

Not only will it not rescue them, but big Capital is the principal cause of the storm that threatens the existence of humanity in its entirety.

Under the awkward disguise of fascist nationalism, the most retrograde dark times return, claiming privileges and attentions. Tired of governing from the shadows, big Capital dismantles the lies of “citizenship” and “equality” before the law and the market.

The flag of “freedom, equality, and fraternity” with which capitalism adorned its conversion into the dominant world system is merely a dirty rag, tossed in the garbage bin of history from above.

Finally the system unmasks itself and shows its true face and vocation. “War Always, War Everywhere,” reads the name on the proud ship that navigates through a sea of blood and shit. It is money and not artificial intelligence that fights humanity in the decisive battle: that of survival.

No one is safe. Not the naive national capitalist who dreamed of the bonanza that was offered by open global markets, nor the conservative middle class surviving between the dream of being powerful and the reality of being the flock for the shepherd in turn.

Then there are the working classes of the city and countryside who increasingly find themselves in even more difficult conditions, if that were possible.

And, to round out the apocalyptic image, the millions of displaced and migrants piling up at the borders that have suddenly become as real as the walls that governments and criminals raise with every step.

In the global geography of the mass media and the social networks, the displaced, nomadic ghosts without name or face, are merely a statistic that identifies their location.

The calendar? Just one day after the promise of the end of history, of the solemn declaration of the supremacy of a system that was to have guaranteed wellbeing to those who worked for it, of victory over the “communist enemy” who sought to restrict freedom, impose dictatorships and create poverty, of the promised eternity that would annul all genealogies. The same calendar that announced just yesterday that world history was only getting started. And it turns out that no, it was all nothing more than a prelude to the most frightening nightmare.

Capitalism as a world system is collapsing, and the great captains, now desperate, can no longer figure out where to go. That’s why they are withdrawing into the lairs from which they came.

They offer the impossible: local salvation against global catastrophe. And this rubbish sells well among a middle class that is blurring into those from below in terms of its income, but which aspires to make up for its unmet economic needs with authentications of race, creed, color and sex. Salvation from above is Anglo-Saxon, white, religious, and masculine.

Now, those who lived on the crumbs that fell from the tables of big capital watch desperately as walls are erected against them, too. And the worst part is that they intend to head the opposition to this warlike policy. Here we see the intellectual right making contrary gestures and attempting timid and ridiculous protests. Because, no: globalization was not the triumph of freedom. It was and is the current age of tyranny and slavery.

Nations are not Nations anymore, although their respective governments might not have noticed it yet. Their flags and emblems are threadbare and discolored. Destroyed by globalization from above, sick with the parasite of Capital and with corruption as their only sign of identity, the national governments try with inept haste to protect themselves and attempt the impossible reconstruction of what they once were.

In the airtight compartments created by their walls and customs checkpoints, the system drugs the middle sectors of society with the opium of a reactionary, nostalgic nationalism, with xenophobia, racism, sexism, and homophobia as a plan for salvation.

Borders multiply within every territory. Not just the ones that are drawn on maps; also, and above all, the ones that are erected by corruption and crime turned into government.

The postmodern bonanza was nothing but a balloon inflated by finance capital. And then reality came to pop it: millions of people displaced by the great war fill the land and waterways, they pile up in customs and begin making cracks in the walls already raised and the ones still to be built. Encouraged before by big Capital, fundamentalisms find fertile ground for their proposals for unification: “from terror will be born a single way of thinking: ours.” After being nourished with dollars, the beast that is terrorism threatens the house of its creator.

It’s the same thing in the United States as in Western Europe or neo-czarist Russian; the beast writhes and tries to protect itself. It extols then (and not only then) the crudest stupidity and ignorance, and, in its government figureheads, synthesizes its proposal: “Let’s go back to the past.”

But no, America will not be great againNever again. Nor will the whole system in its entirety. It doesn’t matter what those above do. The system has already arrived at the point of no return.

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Against Capital and its Walls: All the Cracks.

The international offensive of Capital against racial and national differences, in promoting the construction of cultural and legal walls as well as those of cement and steel, seeks to shrink the planet even further. In this way they are trying to create a world where the only ones who fit are those above who are equal amongst themselves.

It may sound ridiculous, but this is how it is: to face the storm, the system is not looking for roofs to protect itself, but rather walls behind which to hide.

This new period of Capital’s war against Humanity must be faced, yes, with organized resistance and rebellion, but also with solidarity and support for those whose lives, freedoms, and goods are being attacked.

For this reason:

Whereas the system is incapable of stopping the destruction.

Whereas below and to the left there must be no room for conformity and resignation.

Whereas it is time to organize to struggle and to say “NO” to the nightmare they impose on us from above.

THE SIXTH COMMISSION OF THE EZLN AND THE ZAPATISTA BASES OF SUPPORT CONVOKE:

I- A global campaign:

In the face of Capital’s walls: resistance, rebellion, solidarity, and support from below and to the left.

With the objective of calling for organization and global resistance in the face of the aggressiveness of big money and its respective overseers on the planet, which already terrorize millions of people all around the world:

We are calling for people to organize themselves in autonomy to resist and rebel against persecutions, detentions, and deportations. If someone has to go, let it be them, those above. Every human being has the right to a free and dignified existence in the place that they deem best, and has the right to fight to stay there. Resisting detentions, displacements, and expulsions is an obligation, just as it is an obligation to support those who are rebelling against those arbitrary actions REGARDLESS OF BORDERS.

It is necessary to let all those people know that they are not alone, that their pain and rage are seen even from a distance, that their resistance is not only welcomed, it is also supported, even with our limited possibilities.

It is necessary to get organized. It is necessary to resist. It is necessary to say “NO” to persecutions, expulsions, prisons, walls, borders. And it is necessary to say “NO” to the national bad governments that are and have been accomplices to that policy of terror, destruction and death. Solutions will not come from above, because that’s where the problems were born.

For this reason we are calling on the Sixth in its entirety to organize itself, according to its times, ways, and geographies, to support activities for and by those who are resisting and rebelling against expulsions. This may be by supporting their return to their homes, by creating “sanctuaries” or supporting the ones that already exist, through legal advice and support, with money, through the arts and sciences, through festivals and mobilizations, through commercial and media boycotts, in cyberspace, wherever and however possible. In all the spaces we move through it is our duty to support and be in solidarity with each other.

The time has come to create solidarity committees with the criminalized and persecuted of humanity. Today more than ever before, their house is also our house.

As the Zapatistas we are, our strength is small and, although our calendar is wide and deep, our geography is limited.

For this reason, and to support those who are resisting detentions and deportations, over the last several weeks the Sixth Commission of the EZLN has begun contacting individuals, groups, collectives and organizations around the world that are adherents to the Sixth, to figure out how to send them a small bit of assistance that may serve as a base to launch or continue all kinds of activities and actions in favour of the persecuted.

To start, we will send them works of art created by indigenous Zapatistas for last year’s CompArte, as well as organic coffee produced by the indigenous Zapatista communities in the mountains of the Mexican Southeast. This is so that, through their sale, they can undertake artistic and cultural activities that will concretize support and solidarity with migrants and displaced people who, all over the world, are seeing their lives, freedoms, and goods threatened by xenophobic campaigns promoted by the world’s governments and the far-right.

That’s just for now. We will be thinking of new forms of support and solidarity. The Zapatista women, men, children and elders will not leave them on their own.

II- We also invite all of the Sixth and anyone who is interested to the seminar of critical reflection, “THE WALLS OF CAPITAL, THE CRACKS OF THE LEFT,” to be celebrated April 12-15, 2017, at the CIDECI-UniTierra facilities in San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico. Participants include:

Don Pablo González Casanova.

María de Jesús Patricio Martínez (CNI).

Paulina Fernández C.

Alicia Castellanos.

Magdalena Gómez.

Gilberto López y Rivas.

Luis Hernández Navarro.

Carlos Aguirre Rojas.

Arturo Anguiano.

Sergio Rodríguez Lascano.

Christian Chávez (CNI).

Carlos González (CNI).

Sixth Commission of the EZLN.

We will provide more details soon.

III- We convoke all artists for the second edition of “CompArte for Humanity” with the theme: “Against Capital and its Walls: All of the Arts” to be celebrated around the world and in cyberspace. The “real” part will take place between July 23-29, 2017, in the caracol of Oventik and at the CIDECI-UniTierra. The virtual edition will be August 1-12, 2017, on the web. We will provide more details soon.

IV- We also ask that you be on the lookout for the activities to be convoked by the National Indigenous Congress as part of its process of formation of the Indigenous Council of Government.

V- We convoke the scientists of the world to the second edition of “ConCiencias for Humanity” with the theme: “The Sciences Against the Wall,” to be celebrated December 26-30, 2017, at CIDECI-UniTierra, San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico and in cyberspace. We will provide more details soon.

That’s not all. It is necessary to resist, it is necessary to rebel, it is necessary to struggle, it is necessary to get organized.

From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast.

Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés.

Subcomandante Insurgente Galeano.

Mexico, February 14 (the day of our dead), 2017.

 

 

http://enlacezapatista.ezln.org.mx/2017/02/14/los-muros-arriba-las-grietas-abajo-y-a-la-izquierda/

 

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January 26, 2017

Zapatismo, conscious science and the purpose of the rainbow

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

 

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Zapatismo, conscious science and the purpose of the rainbow

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Colectivo Radio Zapatista

 

Translated by the UK Zapatista Translation Service

 

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

 

 

 

January 25, 2017

Thoughts on ConCiencias

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

 

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Thoughts on ConCiencias

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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Final evaluation by the Zapatista bases and the comandancia

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

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Escuchas (Photo courtesy of MIC, XochiTlanezi)

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Alumn@s (Photo courtesy of MIC, XochiTlanezi)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Ruby Zajac

UK Zapatista Translation Service

Photos author’s own unless otherwise stated.

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January 20, 2017

Who dares to say it is a bad fight?

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

 

CNI & EZLN at “The Zapatistas and ConSciences For Humanity

Who dares to say it is a bad fight?

 

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By: Magdalena Gómez

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

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

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

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Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

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

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

 

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January 19, 2017

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

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

 

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

 

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Enlace Zapatista version

ZAPATISTA ARMY OF NATIONAL LIBERATION

MEXICO.

JANUARY 1, 2017

Sisters and brothers of the National Indigenous Congress:

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

Peoples of Mexico and the world:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now, misfortune finds everyone.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Their causes are just, undeniably so.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But those efforts will not succeed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The struggle of the National Indigenous Congress is no game.

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

And that means that:

They want respect for human rights.

They want the release of all political prisoners.

They want all disappeared people to be given back alive.

They want justice for those who have been murdered.

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

They want support for peasants and respect for mother earth.

They want dignified housing for all those from below.

They want sufficient food for all those who are defenceless.

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

They want complete and free medical care for all workers.

They want free, secular, scientific education.

They want land to belong to those who work it.

They want the factories to belong to the workers.

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

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

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

They want the countryside to belong to the campesinos.

They want the city to belong to its inhabitants.

They want the territory to belong to the originary peoples.

They want autonomy.

They want self-organization.

They want respect for all forms of life.

They want the arts and sciences.

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

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

That is what they’re after.

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

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

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

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

So all we have to say to you is:

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

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

May these Mexican soils be astonished.

May the skies look upon you with surprise and admiration.

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

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

 

FREEDOM!

JUSTICE!

DEMOCRACY!

From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast.

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

 

Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés

Mexico, January 2017

 

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

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A Few First Questions for the Sciences and their ConSciences

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

 

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A Few First Questions for the Sciences and their ConSciences

 

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December 26, 2016

Scientists [Científicas and Científicos]:

Compas of the Sixth:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We want scientific study, not just technical study.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For example, we prepared questions.

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-*-

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

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

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

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

-*-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And our gaze is neither hopeful, nor not hopeful,

Our gaze is simply asking:

And what about you? What are you doing?

 

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

Mexico, December 26, 2016

 

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

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“The flower is to blame”

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

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“The flower is to blame”

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December 27, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

.- February does not have 30 days.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-*-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-*-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-*-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“The flower is to blame.”

Thank you very much.

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

SupGaleano.

December 27, 2016.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“The flower is to blame.”

I can vouch for that.

Bark-meow.

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

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January 15, 2017

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

The National Indigenous Congress and the EZLN demand:

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

January 2017

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

NATIONAL INDIGENOUS CONGRESS
ZAPATISTA ARMY OF NATIONAL LIBERATION

 

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

 

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

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Zapatistas and Indigenous Mexicans Create Parallel Government for Indigenous Autonomy

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

 

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Zapatistas and Indigenous Mexicans Create Parallel Government for Indigenous Autonomy

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The CGI’s Proposed Structure

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

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

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

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

Remembering the EZLN Uprising

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Crisis and State Repression: Some Winds of the Storm

Filed under: Repression, Uncategorized, Zapatistas — Tags: , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 11:38 am

 

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Crisis and State Repression: Some Winds of the Storm

 

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Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas. Pozol. January 10th. It is simpler than it seems. In Mexico as in the rest of the world, above all divisions and social differences, there is one division that determines many others: the division between the rich and poor, exploiter and exploited. Here there are two different climates, the climate of above and the climate of below.

In the climate of below, today there are mobilizations against the rise in gasoline prices that in general increase the cost of life. In the climate of above, the political class continues its path of incompetence, delinquency, corruption, violence and impunity. It shows its insensitivity and its lack of interest toward the people, on the contrary, making evident its mockery and disdain for those of below. Where those of above see a game and a business, the paid media turn the protests into a source of entertainment, producing a mockery of those that do not conform. News is a commodity that is sold at a high price. The repression is thus refuted and the real causes of social discontent are obscured. In this mess, there is no lack of politicians from all across the political spectrum whom attentive, calculate the best moment to adhere to and channel, administer and sell the rage that surges from below. In this chaos, those of above win, while the ones that always lose are those of below.

In this tumult that is destructive to those of below, and is sold by those of above, in the popular protests as in the repression from the state, we believe there are at least two necessary points to be analysed. 1. That which corresponds to the circumstances of protest/ repression. 2. That which digs a little deeper giving origin and substance to today’s circumstances. By the latter we mean the heart of the problem: capitalism and its logic of accumulation.

The structural reforms, or the legislation of national plunder on part of the political-business class, have been widely questioned by social movements who have warned the rest of society that the violent imposition of these reforms will affect the whole of the working class. Although state violence is a constant, until now the violence toward ordinary people has not been so evident, nor has a popular rejection been so widely demonstrated.

Throughout the country, protests have taken place in a peaceful manner. Mobilizations in Baja California, Durango, Sinaloa, Sonora, Nuevo León, Campeche, Chiapas, Mexico City, just to mention a few. The wide range of these protests give an idea of the extent of the discontent toward state policies that increasingly affect the lives of the working class. The response by the government to these peaceful protests has been violent repression. According to official numbers of the Secretary of Government, 1500 people have been detained. This omits the at least two people assassinated by the police in Ixmiquilpan, Hidalgo, as part of this wave of repression. Peoples of cities and regions of the country previously unrelated to popular mobilizations have intimately felt the police brutality, information censoring, and governmental cynicism that now affects them. Before it was only a far off reality and barely visible in those geographies.

The militarization of the country was commonplace for the subversive movements principally of the south and southeast of the country. Since Felipe Calderón’s supposed “war on drugs”, that militarization has advanced to other territories in what has always been a war against the Mexican people.

In Zapatista territories, as well as in the rebellious Indigenous territories across Mexico who organize against government crime, police-military and paramilitary repression and harassment are experienced daily. For social organizations, unions and collectives who protest against the government, this repression, surveillance, persecution and death on the part of the State isn’t new. However, it is new for those peoples who today rebel against the rise in fuel prices. The violent repression, the campaign of misinformation and discrediting, along with the death that the State orchestrated against the teachers movement in 2016 for protesting against the imposition of the so-called “education reform” now acquires another dimension for the bulk of the population.

The popular mobilizations are suffering state repression and are now also being called vandals and violent, in the same way the government and media named teachers and civil society that joined earlier protests.

To give a better idea, the report of human rights violations in “Operation Oaxaca” on June 19th, documented racism, police brutality and assassination with the use of high powered weapons against the civilians of Nochixtlan, Oaxaca. This included those not involved in the protests. Today, once again, government violence has resurfaced though now on a larger scale. The rulers have unmasked themselves showing their true character—as police that care for the interests of big business. Many that before had nothing to do with protest, now are victims of criminalization that the state carries out against popular mobilizations. The governmental-police violence that now covers the geographies of Ixmiquilpan or Rosarito, for example, adds to the long history of repression of popular mobilization.

And it is here that we must be precise in regards to the situation. This situation is seen solely as a problem of the insatiable greed and the disproportionate cynicism of a political and business class that does not have the slightest modesty in showing its criminal face against the necessities of the people. However this understanding is nothing but the surface of a much larger problem: the general crisis of a system of social, economic, and political organization that through its violence is demonstrating its own decadence.

For many years, Zapatismo has stressed the crisis of capitalism, above all for its effects on Indigenous peoples. However, the storm, like the EZLN has named this historical moment, is not limited to Indigenous peoples but threatens all of the working class, all of those of below.

The territorial dispossession that rural communities suffer at the hands of big capital through megaprojects that plunder the land, water and forest—as was done 500 years ago by the other colonial powers—is also being experienced in urban centres through dispossession of marginalized neighbourhoods. This is done in the attempt to convert these neighbourhoods into new zones of the elite for those of above. This dispossession is coupled with the rising unemployment and growing precarity of labour conditions while the privileged still conserve the increasingly scarce jobs. In both spaces, urban and rural, the increase in poverty and the growing exclusion of a grand sector of the population is now more evident than ever. Just as we are experiencing the effects of the energy reform, so too will we experience the other structural reforms.

The crisis of big capital observed in the contemporary moment is only overcome momentarily through the plundering of ancestral lands, through the denial of the human rights of the working class with the fictitious revitalization of these sources of profit. This dispossession is legalized through the imposition of structural reforms that plunder what little is left in the republic.

If a few years ago the warnings of Zapatismo were only perceptible to the most invisible of society, that is to say to the Indigenous peoples, now the war is being lived in the streets by those who had not thought the effects (with all their violence) would reach them. For those who still have hope in political parties and local bosses to overcome this crisis, that hope makes less and less sense every day.

Thus, price increases, unemployment, migration, precarity of employment, dispossession, repression, and poverty are not passing but permanent effects of the imposition of the structural reforms for capital readjustment to continue its insatiable pathway of accumulation at all costs. What now seem to be more a crisis of the cycles of capital are nothing but the most obvious winds of the storm, without precedent in history, that batters humanity.

And the storm will rise in power. There is no reason to continue to believe that this crisis will be overcome and that it is only a matter of time. Neither will it yield to eventual changes in the members that direct the chaos. None of the political parties have signalled the truthful origin of the crisis. Not one politician has attacked, not even in discourse, the major interests of big business, let alone the logic of capital. For the pathway that they have signalled to us from above, not only will the storm continue, but it will also be accentuated unless organization and resistance against capital comes from below. For example, like the Indigenous peoples have shown, organizing the discontent and constructing new forms of social relations and governance.

In the midst of these ominous times that those of above have produced against the people, and against the disaster that the policies of above have provoked upon those of below and the natural world, it seems to already be the time for those of below. That is, already, the hour of the people.

http://www.pozol.org/?p=14428

https://palabrasrebeldes.wordpress.com/2017/01/14/crisis-and-state-repression-some-winds-of-the-storm/

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January 14, 2017

Zapatismo’s presidential candidacy

Filed under: CNI, Indigenous, Zapatistas — Tags: , , , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 10:22 am

 

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Zapatismo’s presidential candidacy

 

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By: Raúl Zibechi

The decision of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) and the National Indigenous Congress (CNI,) to submit the possibility of presenting an indigenous woman as a candidate for the presidency in the 2018 elections to its support bases and communities all over Mexico, provoked the most diverse reactions but left no one indifferent. In the days following the diffusion of the comunicado “May the earth tremble at its core” (October 14), there were those who maintained that it is an attempt to divide the left and therefore favour the right, while others assured that they set aside their principles by entering into the electoral path.

Days later another comunicado appeared, signed only by Subcomandante Insurgente Galeano, arguing with some detractors without naming them. Beyond the polemics and interpretations, it is convenient to read the comunicado attentively to comprehend the objectives of the movement.

What is being proposed with the candidacy is: “to initiate a consultation in each one of our towns to dismantle from below the power that those above impose on us and that offers us a panorama of death, violence, dispossession and destruction.” Some lines later, they clarify that: “our struggle is not for power, we don’t seek it; but rather we will call on the original peoples and on civil society to organize in order to stop this destruction, to get stronger in our resistances and rebellions, in other words in the defence of the of life of every person, every family, collective, community or barrio. We make a call to construct peace and justice, reweaving ourselves from below, from where we are what we are.

The indigenous woman candidate to the presidency, assuming the communities approve it, will be the spokesperson for “an indigenous government council” that will bring the word of all to society’s corners for the purpose “of constructing a new nation by and for all, of strengthening the power from below and to the anti-capitalist left.

These words spell out the principal objectives of the candidacy that the Zapatistas promote.

The first disposes of a reading of the Mexican reality, which can be extended to the current state of the world. In the last eight years the war on drugs, declared by ex-president Felipe Calderón (2006-2012), cost 120,000 deaths and 30,000 disappeared in full democracy. Something unusual in Latin America, where genocides like the one in Mexico have happened under regimes that are not proclaimed democratic.

They are also convinced that: “the offensive against the peoples will not stop but rather they seek to make it grow until having finished off the last trace of what we are as peoples of the countryside and the city.” As they had already expressed during the “Critical Thought versus the Capitalist Hydra” gathering, in May 2015, they observe that a storm is battering against the peoples. This proposal of an electoral candidacy is produced within that framework. It is only fitting to add that the dominant Mexican classes like those in a good part of the world, are divided, confronted and for the moment in conflict with each other, which increases the system’s decomposition and the violence against the peoples.

The second question to take into account is that neither the Zapatistas nor the CNI enter into the electoral path. They do not propose presenting candidates for deputies, senators, mayors or governors; only a candidate to the presidency. This point is crucial. The voting results are not what’s important, but rather something else, which is what they seek to explain in their communiqués.

The key is what they understand about the “power of below” with which they seek to dismantle the power of above. They enumerate: “their own communications media, self-defence community police, assemblies and popular councils, cooperatives, the exercise and defence of traditional medicine, the exercise and defence of traditional and ecological agriculture, proper rituals and ceremonies to pay Mother Earth and to continue walking with her and on her, the planting and defence of native seeds, forums, publicity campaigns and cultural political activities (…) That is the power of below that has kept us alive.

It is to that society or counter-society that the electoral candidacy is directed; in order to make it stronger, more visible for others from below and, if not misinterpreted, to contribute others getting organized. The interventions of Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés in the 2015 gathering were a permanent, repetitive, call to organize, “organization for construction and to free oneself from the capitalist system.” But also for confronting what Galeano defined as the catastrophe/storm that is coming over the peoples.

A necessary clarification: the Zapatistas and the Indigenous Congress do not seek to organize the others. Each social sector must organize itself as it wishes and is able. They only seek to help, contribute to what is possible for that organization, but without substituting anyone. That is a question of principles. An intervention of Moisés at the closing of the “CompArte” Festival, on July 29 of this year in Oventik, makes it very clear:

There are those who think that we should come out and go fight for the teachers. If one thinks like that, then you have not understood anything. Because that means I expect that someone will come and fight for me. The Zapatistas don’t ask anyone to come to fight for us. Each struggle is unique, and we must mutually support, but not take away the place of each fight. The one who struggles has the right to decide what path to take and with whom to walk. If others interfere, then it’s no longer support, but rather it’s supplanting. Support is respect and not direction or command.

The third reflection is related to a problem that has always occupied all revolutionary processes and that could be summed up in a question: how to relate and work with other movements and organizations that don’t agree with our objectives and have their own modes of work, but suffer similar oppressions?

Based on an investigation of the Spanish-American University of Puebla, Víctor Toledo estimates that in just five Mexican states there are “more than a thousand new projects,” which include from the Zapatista Caracoles to indigenous organic coffee cooperatives and many cases of community self-management (La Jornada, September 13, 2016). All over Latin America, and in the world, are tens of thousands of initiatives that include millions of people that are making resistance to neoliberalism and capitalism possible.

That non-capitalist and anti-capitalist world exists, although dispersed, like islands and archipelagos. It’s not about inventing it, but rather about empowering it. Or, as the comunicado says, constructing the new world “from below,” which according to the dictionary is at once spinning and shaking or buzzing, a synonym of “retemblar,” as the Mexican national anthem says. If those of us below tremble, we shake each other and provoke a political tsunami capable of breaking the bank of the dominant classes. That seems to be the principal message of the indigenous candidacy for the presidency.

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Published in Spanish by Viento Sur

November 7, 2016

http://vientosur.info/spip.php?article11883

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

Posted with minor edits by Dorset Chiapas Solidarity

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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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