dorset chiapas solidarity

January 28, 2017

Learning to govern ourselves

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

 

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Learning to govern ourselves

 

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By: Gustavo Esteva

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Monday, January 16, 2017

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

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

Posted by Dorset Chiapas Solidarity

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October 31, 2016

Talking to each other

Filed under: Zapatista — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 11:24 am

 

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Talking to each other

 

cni-ezln15The CNI and the EZLN have been talking to each other a lot.

 

By: Gustavo Esteva

In the midst of war, as part of the general campaign of dispossession, they have also taken from us the word, the words. And that’s how they want to bury Tlatlaya or Ayotzinapa or make the No win in Colombia.

Words are doors and windows of our perception; the words that we use depend on our experience in the world. And it’s that which is immediately threatened and it affects our ability to speak… and to know what happens. Instead of being an autonomous form of relationship, language is being converted into a device for isolation and an instrument of manipulation and control.

The field of language is as rich and varied as nature… but the war that is unleashed against it makes linguistic diversity decline. Government and the market completely destroy languages, eliminate them and annul the vernacular and creativity of language; they are the promoters of the global unification projected by capital, which organizes the current war and can condemn us to blindness and silence. Some 5,000 languages still exist in the world. One hundred of them are distributed in 95 percent of the global population, the rest, the immense majority, in the other 5 percent. Of the living languages, 30 percent are spoken in Asia and Africa, 20 percent in the Pacific Region, 16 percent on the American continent; only one percent is spoken in Europe, 67 languages. One of those living languages dies every week; a civilization dies with it, a way of being and thinking.

Amoeba-words have invaded us. But maybe we shouldn’t associate this innocent transparent little animal, with fuzzy contours, with the verbal monstrosities that we suffer. The term “plastic words” is preferable, as the German linguist Uwe Porksen proposes. He has listed and characterized them with rigour. According to him, they are “the master key of daily life;” easily accessible, “they infiltrate entire fields of reality and re-order their own likeness.” They are words like identity, development, communication, information, solution, energy, or resource. They have an aura. Their definition has been lost or is entirely imprecise, but they are full connotations, generally positive. They are often born in the common language, emigrate to scientific dominion and are returned to their place of origin with enormous colonizing … and destructive force.

“Development” is one of those words. It means almost anything, from building skyscrapers to installing latrines, the same as drilling oil wells that look for water. It’s a concept with monumental emptiness… that has dominated public discussion for more than half a century. In these years, it has been used systematically for packing all the works and actions that dispossess the peoples of their lands, their waters, their territories, and for disqualifying those who resist them: they are retrogrades, opponents of development and progress.

“Energy” is the same. It’s seldom used with its vernacular meaning, which still appears in dictionaries, when one says that someone is very energetic for alluding to a vigorous and active person. The word is used daily for referring to themes like the cost of gasoline or renewable energy. If anyone asks us what energy is we’ll vacillate a little and confess technical ignorance, confident that the specialists will be able to give a good definition. When they inform us that it’s the mass multiplied by the square of the speed of light we are perplexed; we’re not talking about that. Helmholtz and others used its vernacular meaning for their investigations and when the word returned to daily language it produced a vacuum. We tell each other nothing by using them, but operate as signs of a sect.

This is not an academic issue. We habitually suffer the consequences of this destruction of language that makes political discourse a faithful expression of Orwell’s neo-language. In his dystopia, peace is war, as Big Brother incessantly repeated. Like Goebbels did for Hitler. Procedure is an indispensable ingredient of the authoritarian exercise: it is its condition of existence. One cannot govern with bayonets; one can govern with words.

In recent days, the promoters of the No in Colombia revealed the refined propaganda techniques that they used to get their proposition. In certain zones, they encouraged indignation; in others, the need for subsidies. In each one they were seeking to induce abstention or rejection. And they attained it.

Procedure has ruled among us for a long time. Tomorrow the Senate is voting on an initiative that destroys the right to strike, but it is called labour justice. An authoritarian dispositive that has nothing to do with education is even named an education reform. Or an enormous lie is presented as “historic truth,” with which they attempt to cover up the Ayotzinapa crimes.

The uses of neo-language in Colombia, for influencing the plebiscite, or what surrounds what is relative to Ayotzinapa, for uncovering the guilty and those responsible in the government and in the Army illustrate well what this operation is about. Against what and who we are fighting… and how language is also territory that we must defend faced with fulfilled threats of dispossession.

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Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Monday, October 10, 20126

http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2016/10/10/opinion/020a2pol

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

Posted by Dorset Chiapas Solidarity

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June 22, 2016

The Battle of Oaxaca

Filed under: Repression, Uncategorized — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 5:53 pm

 

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The Battle of Oaxaca

 

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Gustavo Esteva

La Jornada, 20th June 2016
It isn’t simply another of the many Oaxaca wars. It is part of a much deeper and wider war, which isn’t even contained in the national territory. But the battle being waged in Oaxaca has special significance in that war, in the great war.

It is a long announced battle. In Oaxaca it was known that they were postponing many aspects of the ongoing confrontation until after the elections. It was clear that after the elections the blows, provocations, final assault would worsen. They began preparations everywhere.

On June 14, all Oaxaca was remembering. It was a remembrance against the forgetting: today’s scenario seemed to be a faithful mirror of 10 years ago. We were seeing a rerun of the same movie: the teacher mobilization, the sit-in the zócalo, the marches, the teachers’ demands, a fierce media campaign … And the authorities again betting, as then, on Section 22 getting exhausted; on growing citizen irritation; on the people’s fear of violence and loss of income and jobs.

The June 14 march that arrived at Oaxaca City’s zócalo expressed residual experience. For nearly 10 hours, alongside the teachers in their encampment, many diverse sectors creatively expressed the ways in which today memory inspires action.

The Espacio Civil, Civil Space, is a new arrangement of very different kinds of groups and organizations, who are retaking the experience of 2006 to give it new forms. Their declaration “Ten Years Building New Roads” was formulated in the framework of government violence “to impose the bad so-called education reform” and in the context of “an exemplary teacher and popular resistance to the imminent risk that the black repressive night we lived through on the November 25, 2006, might return.”

Oaxaca’s civil society spoke out with conviction for the necessity of learning from 2006, “not only to close a cycle that left us full of wounds and pains but to open new stages of struggle that we might not make the same mistakes and that we might absorb the positive teachings of the movement.

“Today many people are struggling to defend their territory against mining, windfarms, and for respect of their autonomy and their uses and customs, their culture, for the care of their natural resources, their forests, the water and biodiversity. Today we consider it necessary to further the construction of a common agenda that might unify teachers, neighbourhoods, pueblos, young people, women, adults in fullness, and all those of us who aspire to and are willing to struggle for Oaxaca and a better Mexico.”

At the start of the Day of Reflection 2006-2016Espacio Civil issued a call to strengthen the teachers’ movement and the struggles of neighbourhoods, communities and pueblos to bring down the labour reform disguised as educational reform and the structural reforms and to stop the repression. Only together, it was emphasized, “will we achieve the release of our political prisoners, the safe return of our disappeared, and that a long night of pain and repression against the teachers and neighbourhoods and pueblos of Oaxaca might not be repeated.”

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On that day they began to blockade the roads. In Nochixtlán and on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, the people took to the street to close passage to truckloads of militarized police heading to Oaxaca City. Aircraft began arriving at the Oaxaca Airport. Many thousands of people, from all sectors of society, encouraged and supported the blockades, and they began to weave social solidarity.

Human Rights Groups Issue Communiqué

On Saturday afternoon, the Tepeyac Human Rights Centre of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, and the Network of Community Defenders of the Peoples of Oaxaca issued a communiqué in which they considered absurd and senseless the federal government’s response to social protest. They argued that the escalation of violence exhibits a political class that seeks to perpetuate itself

“in the logic of power and confrontation, rather than promoting opportunities for dialogue that might open channels to this fractured democracy.”

At the same time, they appreciated the wisdom of women and men of the pueblos, groups and emerging groups in

“proposing a creative resistance, pondering the meaning of life and building a just society.”

Oaxaca is burning. There is clear awareness of the moment of danger. Therefore, from every corner, an appeal is sent out today for courage—both the courage that expresses moral outrage shared by a growing number of people and the courage that means valour, integrity and the ability to walk with dignity and clarity in these dark times. The battle has just begun.
Translation by Jane Brundage

 

http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2016/06/20/opinion/021a2pol

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April 28, 2016

Letter from Gustavo Esteva for Juan Vázquez Guzmán of Bachajón

Filed under: Bachajon, Indigenous, Movement for Justice in el Barrio, Zapatista — Tags: , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 5:44 am

 

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Letter from Gustavo Esteva for Juan Vázquez Guzmán of Bachajón

 

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From Oaxaca, Mexico: Letter from the writer and social activist Gustavo Esteva

We do not forget, compañero Juan Vázquez Guzmán. We will never forget.

Every year there are more of us who remember. And there are also more of us who find in your story inspiration to live, that is, to struggle. There are increasingly more of us who turn their indignation over your murder into the energy and strength to move forward.

Thanks to you, compañero, the Bachajón struggle became ours. We are not going to give up. It is the fight back we are giving everywhere against criminal governments and against those who own them, who maintain a war of plunder and aggression against the people and use all means at their disposal to oppress and take away what is ours. It is they who have been destroying Mother Earth, causing damage that can no longer be tolerated.

Your example is spreading, compañero. It is true that your death hurts, and that all murders affect us, all aggression, all the dispossessions that are committed daily. But it is also true that they do not intimidate us. They want to control us by fear, they want to paralyze us with anxiety, they want us to sink in our pain. They have produced the opposite. As it is said, they took away so much that they took away the fear. We are still standing. We are getting better at organising. We’re are interweaving to gather all our struggles together, to circulate among us so that we will be united when the time comes to reconquer all that is ours and to build, as you said, that world in which many worlds fit, a world that dawned with our Zapatista compañeros…

Your death and that of many other compañeros and compañeras does not discourage us. Quite the opposite. Our heart is made strong, it takes courage, it is reinforced in your example, in your life. Because ours is and has always been a struggle for life against the campaign of death waged by governments and capital.

We do not forget, compañero Juan Vázquez Guzmán. We will never forget.

Gustavo Esteva

 

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April 25, 2016

Communiqué from San Sebastián Bachajón about Juan Vázquez Guzmán

 

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Communiqué from San Sebastián Bachajón about Juan Vázquez Guzmán

 

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FROM EJIDO SAN SEBASTIAN BACHAJÓN, ADHERENTS TO THE SIXTH DECLARATION OF THE LACANDON JUNGLE, CHIAPAS, MEXICO, 24 APRIL 2016.

To the Clandestine Indigenous Revolutionary Committee – General Command of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation

To the Good Government Juntas

To the Indigenous National Congress

To the compañer@s adherents to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle in Mexico and the world

To the mass and alternative media

To the Network for Solidarity and against Repression

To Movement for Justice in El Barrio from New York

To national and international human rights defenders

To the people of Mexico and the world 

 

Jmololabex ants winikewtik, icháh spatil a wotanik ta pisilik ta ini ka´kal yuun yotik nokolonkotik ta spasel te snahojibal Juan Vázquez Guzmán ta Bachajón te laj ta milel yuun skoltabel slumal sok te lum k´inal.

Yaj jkabeyexcotik mukul hokolawalik yuun te laj ha jokinonkotik ta spasel in tsakayik yoxebal ahbil yuun te laj ta milel te jmololtik Juan Vázquez.

 

Compañeros and compañeras, today 24th April, 2016, the third annual commemoration of compañero Juan Vázquez Guzmán is being held.

The family of Juan Vázquez Guzmán and the members of the Sexta Ejido San Sebastián Bachajón thank you for your presence and participation through written letters.

We express once again our gratitude to the organizations and social activists for their cooperation, hoping to have the opportunity of your participation again in future gatherings.

 

From New York: Movement for Justice in El Barrio, to the family and compañeros of Juan Vázquez Guzmán.

From England: letter from the Dorset Chiapas Solidarity Group. 3 years after his assassination Juan Vázquez Guzmán lives!  

From Peru: message from the indigenous social activist Hugo Blanco for the commemoration of Juan Vázquez Guzmán. 

From Uruguay: letter from the writer and social activist Raúl Zibechi to the family, friends and compañeros of Juan Vázquez Guzmán.  

From Oaxaca, Mexico: letter from the writer and social activist Gustavo Esteva for the commemoration of Juan Vázquez Guzmán.

 

Receive combative greetings from the family of Juan Vázquez Guzmán and the members of La Sexta Ejido San Sebastián Bachajón.

Land and Freedom

Hasta la Victoria Siempre!

 

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January 6, 2016

Esteva: Disputing politics

Filed under: Uncategorized, Zapatista — Tags: — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 7:28 pm

 

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Esteva: Disputing politics

 

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By: Gustavo Esteva

gustavoesteva@gmail.com

It will be a year of intense political dispute, in the midst of war. But the dispute among the politicians will be irrelevant. What will be important is disputing politics itself, reclaiming it.

On the surface, attention will be on the politicians. There will be advances of the 2018 presidential contest and elections for governors, municipal authorities and deputies in more than a third of the country. Electoral propaganda will conceal the void. The maximum distribution of the irrelevant will dissimulate the absence of a debate about what’s important, particularly about the ominous perspectives of environmental and social disaster that hover over us. All over the country it will continue becoming evident the distance between the discourse of the political and economic leaders and the real conditions of the population and the country.

In the world of politicians, nobody dares to recognize the state of things. They intensely dispute to win government positions, under the superstition that once in them they will be able to govern… and that they will do it for the common good. They are not able to recognize that they could only win soft jobs and privileges and a marginal influence on what happens, at the price of becoming accomplices of all kinds of corrupt acts and of the destruction of the natural and social life to which all governments are dedicated. It cannot be any other way. In today’s world, all the “governments” have to subordinate themselves to the logic of capitalism… and one cannot govern with capitalism, if by government we understand regular behaviours and events functioning for the common good.

There are many ways of dealing with the capitalist hydra. All the following adjectives fit: cruel, ingenuous, efficient, blind, incompetent, skilful, populist, fascist, xenophobic… But all, because of the very structure of the governments, as much the state apparatus as what continues to be called democracy, are subordinate to the logic of capitalism and therefore to its corrupting and destructive impetus. Few politicians dare to react before anticapitalist postures in the terms of the leader of Podemos, in Spain, who declared last June 25: “May you hold onto the red flag and leave us in peace. I want to win.” And that way he won what he won: the sacred right to complain. His position is not mere cynicism. It’s about a realistic attitude in the electoral game: in order to win it is indispensable to sell your soul, because once above it isn’t possible to hold on to it. It is pure demagogy to maintain that once in the government it will be possible to really be occupied with the common good and to preserve decency and an ethical sense.

Because of that the real dispute is in another place: it is the struggle to justify political activity, drawing away from the stench of the electoral fight and on the other hand occupying ourselves with resisting and constructing: resisting the dominant and destructive horror, more blind and aggressive all the time, and constructing the new world, a world that leaves behind the capitalist mode of production as well as its form of political existence, the “democratic despotism” that prevails in the nation-states and the international institutions.

Resistance and construction of the new, each time more inseparable, in practice demand being busy day after day, tirelessly, in homes, families, communities, collectives and organizations of all kinds, for dismantling capitalist social relations and the political relations that make them possible.

The dominant regime, with its two-faced politics and economics, now organizes a war of unprecedented devastation against life in all its forms. It is not the will of a few politicians or capitalists who enrich themselves from it: it is an inertia in which they themselves are prisoners. Therefore it is useless to pretend that the substitution of some (others) could stop that war. The only way to achieve that is to dismantle its basis for existence through the construction of political and economic autonomy.

The EZLN says well in its January first comunicado that: “a bloody night… extends over the world (…) It’s clear that the worst is coming (…) We must organize ourselves, prepare ourselves to fight, for changing this life, for creating another way of life, another way of governing ourselves, the peoples (…) There is nothing now to trust in capitalism (…) Now only the trust among ourselves remains… Therefore we must unite more, organize ourselves better for constructing our ship, our house, in other words, our autonomy, because it is what is going to save us from the storm that approaches (…) It is the time for reaffirming our conscience of struggle and for committing to continue forward, cost what it may and whatever happens (…) It is not the time to get discouraged or for getting tired, we ought to be firmer in our struggle.”

In the face of what is coming, the temptation to surrender, sell out and give up is great. It has many faces and justifications. There doesn’t seem to be any other option than to adapt to what exists… There is no other way, is said continuously. But there is! And that other plural way, difficult and uncomfortable but valiant and imaginative, that option of resistance and construction, appears each time more as the only form of surviving the general war that is currently unleashed against everything that’s alive and will be intensified this year to unprecedented levels. There is no place for optimism, but we begin the year full of hope. The voice of the EZLN is not marginal or isolated. It finds resonance in the entire world. At the end of the day, we are the majority.

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Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Monday, January 4, 2016

Re-published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

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December 28, 2015

Esteva: It was an atrocious year

Filed under: Indigenous, Uncategorized — Tags: — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 12:11 pm

 

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 Esteva: It was an atrocious year

climate-change

Indigenous peoples protest climate change in Paris.

By: Gustavo Esteva

gustavoesteva@gmail.com

In Mexico, the moral degradation, cynicism and corruption of the political classes became more and more evident, while the combined violence of legal and illegal forces continuously increased. Thus, a structure was consolidated that inside and outside the institutions seeks to subject the population to control and smother resistances and rebellions, inside of an undeclared state of exception.

Something similar, with very different degrees and modalities, occurs in the world. In the face of the political changes in Argentina or Venezuela, the persistent Brazilian political crisis, or events in Greece or France, betrayals, errors or weaknesses of the “lefts” are denounced or it warns about restorations or assaults on power from the “rights.” It characterizes what occurred as a setback of popular forces and a rise of capital, of its state administrators and the social sectors that support them. Trump would confirm this interpretation: millions of Americans support positions that even The New York Times classifies as fascist, at the same time that, in the United States and Europe, social behaviours that clearly have that character multiply. Just as 12 million Germans voted for Hitler in 1932 and 17 million in 1933, the media and other factors would be leading large groups to support governments and politicians of the “right,” even against their own interests. Thus the popular forces would be turned back and the neoliberal constellation would continue winning.

The Paris Agreement can be useful for illustrating what occurs and for trying to explain it. The conference that produced it was the result of the prolonged public demand to confront climate change. What they signed wasn’t good; the governments publicly proclaimed its merits and many applauded it without reservation, but it was rather a deceptive farce. Grain, for example, which represents a very qualified and respected opinion, pointed out that the agreement it not legally binding in the goal of reducing emissions, does not advance de-carbonization, it supports the industrial agricultural model, the generator of 50 percent of the emissions and protects that these will continue by means of actions that supposedly compensate them. The most serious is that, under the excuse of carbon “seizure,” it will now be openly supportive of geo-engineering, which for many is the principal cause of climate change.

Grain, as well as a good part of the demonstrators present in Paris, emphasized that what’s important is changing the “system,” not the climate. Since we’re talking about that, it doesn’t seem reasonable to ask it of the very same “system,” ensnared as it is in a destructive logic that it cannot stop by itself. As is continuously denounced, it’s killing the hen with the golden eggs and rapidly undermining its own basis for existence. The problem is that its suicidal behaviour increasingly puts at risk the survival of the human species and life on the planet and can only be instrumented with a growing authoritarianism. First, an immense global effort was exerted to hold the conference, and later to make the decisions that are lacking. Does that make sense? Why continue trusting in the superstition that those governments and institutions are going to make decisions contrary to the interests of those who control them, that 1 percent that Occupy Wall Street denounced?

That would be the year’s principal lesson, which we are far from having learned. Awareness is more general all the time that the current predicaments cannot be overcome inside the framework of ideas, policies and practices that they produce; in other words, inside the current “system.” It’s not enough to change policies or modify the ideological composition of those who are in charge of the institutions. Nor is it sufficient to reform them. It’s illusory and superstitious to continue hoping that the “system” will correct itself, with the same or other leaders, as Paris and all the other cases prove. Therefore, we need to withdraw our trust from the same representation regimen and its electoral dispositive. We also need to withdraw from mere social mobilization, if it is only capable of producing the replacement of leaders, as the result of the Arab Spring demonstrated or of inducing marginal changes in the orientation of policies, as is proven everywhere and was proven in Paris.

At this point, the atrocious year allows a crack of hope. It’s underway everywhere, a reorganization from below that step by step transforms resistance into emancipation. The need for the apparatuses of capital and the market is dismantled and for its state administrators and new social relations are forged. Little by little, devices capable of stopping the dominant horror are established, so that the organized people themselves, not their representatives, leaders or delegates, realize the changes that are lacking. It’s not about another superstition or about mere utopias. It begins to be reality.

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Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Monday, December 21, 2015

Re-published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

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December 3, 2015

Gustavo Esteva: Punctuality

Filed under: Zapatista — Tags: — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 6:56 pm

 

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Gustavo Esteva: Punctuality

 

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By: Gustavo Esteva, La Jornada

Punctuality does not have the appearance of being a very revolutionary virtue. On the contrary, it is associated with law and order, with those from above. But it also comes from below.

In modern society we learn from early on to be slaves to the clock. School prepares us for work to control our lives, to put every one of our minutes at the service of capital. And every day this domination through scheduling expands, which revolutionary winds should destroy.

But there is also another kind of punctuality. Those who completed the second level of the Zapatista “little school” would have learned what punctuality from below means, one between compañeros, the kind the Zapatistas learned about 30 years ago. They heard that at times it becomes a matter of survival and that it is indispensable within the organization.

Punctuality between compañeros and compañeras is first of all a sign of respect for others. But it is also and above all an expression of the collective will that is built collectively and is expressed in the time, in the times, along with responsibility, which is another pillar of the organization.

Current day punctuality means something more. We have to come together to confront the storm, to unite ourselves against plunder and aggression, to continually exercise solidarity and to walk hand in hand. We should be on time for the struggle and for change.

In this context, with a similar perspective, this Thursday the 12th begins a series of activities in Cuernavaca from the “Weaving together voices for the common home.” Since a small group of people, collectives and movements created this over a year ago, it has revealed itself as an effort to create harmony between our differences, to explore together the avenues to dialogue. The program is at: tejiendovoces.org.mx

In order to dialogue – according to Machado – listen first; and then, listen. It’s time to listen. It’s not just about hearing each other, but about being open to being transformed by the other. It is not the time for dogmatisms, fundamentalisms, vanguards, or sole truths. It’s time to open ourselves to all the differences and mentalities in order to identify points of convergence and learn together that we have a common home and that only together can we stop those who destroy it, those who rip us apart and separate us, and begin the work of reconstruction.

The Zapatista proposal to construct a world where many worlds fit was unanimously well received when presented 20 years ago. There are, however, significant reasons why nothing more has been done since then. If one takes the idea seriously it quickly becomes clear that we need to completely reconstruct all of our institutions, all of our day-to-day norms, the political ones as well as our own practices and behaviours. We are trapped in a society and ways of acting that have been conceived and configured from the imposition of one culture over others…and from a culture that isn’t ours, one that was imported in order to impose it upon others.

That form of colonization penetrated deeply and now many Mexicans have been moulded in that dominant culture. They understand it as their own. They defend all that it implies. In the current war, the one that they have submitted us to, they associate themselves with the enemy or they collaborate with him.

Recovering our own first of all means to recognize ourselves in our diversity, to know that we are different and that those differences don’t only refer to the cultural distances that exist between indigenous peoples and everyone else. There are also differences within each of the indigenous peoples and within different strata and sectors of mestizo society.

Instead of continuing to try to nullify these differences in a project that homogenizes us in exploitation and scorn, it is about celebrating them, affirming ourselves in them and finding the ways they can coexist in harmony.

The activities that will take place in Cuernavaca, Guadalajara, Oaxaca and Puebla on November 12th to 17th, and that will culminate in Mexico City from the 18th to the 20th, are created by conversations between organizations in the struggle in various parts of the country; diverse collectives and movements, and a distinguished group of intellectuals dedicated to critical thought. An anti-capitalist and anti-patriarchal atmosphere will tend to prevail; some participants hold that capitalism is only the modern form of patriarchy. As experience demonstrates, there is no possibility of harmonious coexistence under that regime. In order to detain the current horror, when this regime has caused unprecedented extremes in violence against nature and the social fabric, the initiative is dedicated to weaving together different voices that are willing to unite in this struggle to build a common home.

It is an invitation to fulfil the date we have with history. The time has arrived. As León Felipe aptly put it, it is not important to arrive before or first, but all of us together and on time. And yes, it is only about that.

gustavoesteva@gmail.com

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Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Translation: Chiapas Support Committee

Monday, November 9, 2015

En español: http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2015/11/09/opinion/030a2pol

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September 6, 2015

The Storm in Oaxaca

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 5:17 pm

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The Storm in Oaxaca

by Chiapas Support Committee

 2006 APPO march in Oaxaca to demand that the governor resign.

2006 APPO march in Oaxaca to demand that the governor resign.

By: Gustavo Esteva

Wounded, offended and humiliated, Oaxaca prepares the response.

Millions of Oaxacans, those who live in Oaxaca or those that have felt in their own flesh the offence to their native soil although they are very far from it, begin to express their dignified rage.

We suffer, like all Mexicans, the reign of impunity. Its spectacular symbol was El Chapo’s escape, with which the treatment that certain criminals receive was given national and international publicity. The most cynical version of that tonic is the formal exoneration of Peña and Videgaray for their acquisitions of the Casa Blanca and other properties. Its most atrocious expression is without a doubt having set free two of the intellectual authors of the murder of teacher Galeano in La Realidad, on May 2, 2014. “Impunity without concessions,” Magdalena Gómez says, commenting on this operation, which makes up part of a well-known series that includes Tlataya, Tanhuato, Apatzingán and Ayotzinapa… The plague was manifested punctually in Oaxaca when Gabino Cué extended a certificate of impunity to Ulises Ruiz, while the Truth Commission had still not finished the work of examining his crimes. At the same time, he took away from its members the tutelary protection that they require to carry out their tasks.

The undeclared state of emergency forms part of the offense that is imposed on the country. This use of the law to establish illegality characterizes the creation of the “new Ieepo,” which abandons 30 years of formal commitments and annuls well-constituted rights. It’s the same tonic as new laws on indigenous matters that they just promulgated. They represent a clear setback with respect to what the Indian peoples had obtained in the course of recent decades; among other things, it implies kidnapping their ability to govern autonomously. This process, by which they dismantle step by step, as much by social groups as by geographic groups, all the elements of the state of law, will soon be extended to special economic zones, with which the federal government now threatens Chiapas, Guerrero and Oaxaca.

These zones are not a state within the state, as has been said. They are areas in which the state’s formal design is abandoned and no more rights and freedoms remain than those of private property, of capital; in other words, they are areas in which it is shown without veils, in view of everyone, the real nature of the political regime of the Nation-State, which outside of them is dissimulated under the facade of representative democracy. What these zones represent requires careful analysis. It is an outrage even graver than the mining concessions and other forms of dispossession.

Every day it becomes more evident that the teachers were a circumstantial and deceitful pretext for bringing 15,000 militarized police to Oaxaca. It is viewed that their presence is owed rather to the need of preventing and in this case impeding the resistance of the peoples, who defend their territory and their life in the face of all the dispossessions that they are suffering.

Our principal challenge consists in transforming the discontent, more general all the time, and the dignified rage that spreads into wide circles of Oaxacan society in an effective form of organized resistance. And the even greater challenge is to convert that resistance into a capacity for transformation.

It has been stimulating to verify the rapid circulation of whispering. In small groups, even of three friends in a cafe, in broader meetings, in assemblies, in forums, under the most varied circumstances, we have set to analysing the situation and preparing for what follows. We quickly reached a consensus about the gravity of the situation. The rage that an accumulation of offences and arbitrary acts provokes in us was demonstrated without reserve. Necessary venting is produced, in the intimacy that is affirmed in the community fabrics. It awakens the sociological and political imagination to conceive forms of response. And, the indispensable articulation to organize the resistance is frequently produced. Collective declarations that define the taking of a position already circulate.

Facing the militarized occupation of Oaxaca and as the governor, the state Congress and the federal government renounce civilized ways of governing, the people get support from deposits of accumulated experience, particularly that of 2006, for organizing actions that permit transcending circumstance. We already know, even through very recent experiences, that it’s not enough to say no, we are opposed to the dispossession, to the militarization and to everything that we don’t want. In order to give backbone to the resistance and to give it meaning we need to express it as the construction of an alternative. We’re doing that, imagining it and trying to give it a reality.

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Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Translation: Chiapas Support Committee

Monday, August 31, 2015

http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2015/08/31/opinion/021a2pol

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July 21, 2015

Fed Up

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 6:01 pm

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Fed Up

   "Auditorio Guelaguetza en Oaxaca"


 
“Auditorio Guelaguetza en Oaxaca”

Gustavo Esteva

La Jornada, 29th July, 2015

A few days ago, Francisco Toledo* declared: “I am sick and tired of what is happening in Oaxaca.”

So, with artistic precision, Toledo expressed the energy circulating in Oaxaca. Once again making the rounds is the Zapatistas’ cry “Enough!” [¡Ya basta!] Once again we say with Javier Sicilia, “We are up totally fed up!” [¡Estamos hasta la madre!]

Today the symbolic, historical and environmental value of Cerro del Fortín** mobilizes us. The mindless corruption of one of the hotel owners settled in at the Fort mobilizes us. The Secretary of Tourism in the state government pushed for construction of a large convention centre next to his hotel, an obvious conflict of interest. But the convention centre can also cause enormous environmental and social damage.

Toledo himself demonstrated the outrageous injustice of assigning to the centre more money than to health services, when there are children born in hospital courtyards and doctors who are on strike because the lack of medicines prevents them from doing their work. But we are not fighting the idea of ​​building a convention centre, although one already exists some 100 metres from the project and another two kilometres [1.2 miles] away. We are fighting against the idea of ​​doing it in the Fort and with so much waste. We have already presented three options for better sites that are much cheaper and more efficient than the one on the Hill, with its geological risks and environmental damage.

We are mobilized by a long series of outrages. The centre was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

We are fed up with the corruption and incompetence of the authorities and with politics as the mere business of a few. Again and again we have demonstrated that we know better than the government officials what should and should not be done.

We are fed up with their authoritarianism, their blindness and deafness to what people say and do. They ignored us when we tried to prevent the construction of a Chedraui store that destroyed an urban forest of enormous value; when we presented options to an absurd traffic circle; when we defended many battered areas, such as the hill of San Felipe; when we demanded dismantling the ridiculous cover that Ulises Ruiz put atop the Guelaguetza open-air amphitheatre … It has not been possible to make the authorities listen to the clamour of society.

Today we started the campaign—“What happened to my rights?”—protesting the close-mindedness of the [Oaxaca state] Congress and their bosses in Government [Secretariat of Government Relations, SEGOB] faced with a deep and extensive consultation on indigenous rights. **** We no longer believe in the word [given by those] from above [de arriba].We are tired of cynicism. The centre violates all local and federal regulations … but from the governor on down they continue declaring that it meets all requirements. While the country is falling apart and poverty is rife, the only thing we hear from the government is that we are in the best of all possible worlds.

We do not feel reassured by the announcement of a public consultation on the centre, which the government officials who promised it cannot organize, and which showed the deceitful nature of the ‘law of participation’ that they promote. The popular Guelaguetza*** was born as an alternative to an official performance for foreigners that marginalizes us.

It is true that after twelve atrocious years of [former Oaxaca governors] José Murat and Ulises Ruiz, the arrival of Gabino Cué raised hopes in various sectors. Now they are the first to declare frustration and disappointment. Definitely, we are fed up with all the political classes for their corruption, for their incompetence, for their authoritarianism. It wasn’t a stupid thing for Toledo to say that the consultation would make sense if it could include the recall of the governor and the mayor [of Oaxaca City].

It doesn’t make us feel any better that the case of Oaxaca is not the exception, but the rule. We are also fed up that El Chapo Guzmán and Ulises Ruiz are free, despite their countless crimes, while Nestora Salgado, Mario Luna, Oaxaca’s political prisoners—many our comrades—remain behind bars.

We are fed up that the country continues to be handed over to private capital while the gross, open plunder of our lands, our waters, our means of subsistence intensifies.

We are sick and tired of the mining concessions, of the megaprojects, of the ridiculous [public] works, while we are overwhelmed by the economic disaster to which the government contributes daily.

It saddens us to see that some of our fellows close their eyes to this situation—not daring to face it with courage, dignity and organization—and comply with the illusion of replacement [through elections], feeding the fantasy that it might be enough to replace some government officials or political parties in order to get out of the abyss into which we have fallen and cope with the disaster.

In getting ourselves ready to fight as much as might be necessary to defend what is ours, we go over our long experience, what we’ve learned from recent mistakes, what we have experienced in our organization and in our longstanding ability to govern ourselves. We will know what to do when the time comes.

Translated by Jane Brundage

http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2015/07/20/opinion/017a2pol/?partner=rss

*Francisco Benjamín López Toledo, painter, sculptor and graphic artist, was born July 17, 1940, in Juchitán, Oaxaca, of Zapotec parents.
**Cerro del Fortín [Hill of the Fort]: In 1495, before the arrival of the Spaniards, Aztecs invaders established a military garrison on the hill. The invaders cut down part of the forests of gourds, pine, oak, madrone and cazahuates to build both the fort and, at the foot of the hill, a settlement for soldiers’ families. It is said that there was a sacred place where water gushed from a stone. Given its cultural and natural significance, in 2004 the Cerro del Fortín was declared a natural protected area, a state park under the administration of the State Institute of Ecology. The park’s ​​87 hectares [215 acres] help replenish aquifers, absorb air pollutants and regulate temperature and humidity. Its location at the edge of Oaxaca City makes it ideal for walking and exercise. Currently, the Hill has 95 plant species and is home to some 80 bird species. For about 25 years, various reforestation measures have been taken; today the reforested areas make up about 45% of the total area. Wikipedia.

 

***The Guelaguetza, or Los lunes del cerro (Mondays on the Hill) is an annual indigenous cultural event that takes place in July in the city of Oaxaca, in an amphitheatre on El Fortin Hill, and in nearby villages. The celebration centres on traditional dancing in costume and includes parades complete with indigenous bands, native food and artisanal crafts. Each costume (traje) and dance usually has a local indigenous historical and cultural meaning. The celebration is now an important tourist attraction, but it also retains deep cultural significance for the state’s original peoples and is important for the continuing survival of their cultures. Oaxaca has a large indigenous population, well over 50 percent of the population, compared to 20 percent for Mexico as a whole.

 

****The UN’s International Labor Organization (ILO) Agreement 169 establishes the right of indigenous peoples and tribes to “prior, free and informed” consultation regarding decisions that can affect them, i.e., land uses such as megaprojects (dams, highways, energy installations), tourist projects, etc.

In a message to Mexico Voices, Gustavo Esteva wrote this clarification for our readers: “According to the law that they [Oaxaca state Congress] passed: 1) neither the governor nor the mayor, who promised the consultation, can order or organize it; only the [state] Congress can do it, which means that they made a promise they cannot keep; [moreover,] 2) the law that they did pass permits neither consultation in cases like this one, nor regarding other matters that should be in an authentic law of popular participation.”

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July 7, 2015

Zapatistas Celebrate 10th Anniversary of Sixth Declaration of Lacandon Jungle

Filed under: La Sexta, Zapatista — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 6:47 pm

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Zapatistas Celebrate 10th Anniversary of Sixth Declaration of Lacandon Jungle 

Our Anniversary

Gustavo Esteva

La Jornada, 6th July, 2015

imagesIt is the tenth anniversary of the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle (La Sexta.) In June 2005, the Zapatista leadership and the EZLN General Command unveiled what had been done so far, how they saw Mexico and the world, and what they intended to do: “Call on those who are like us and join them, everywhere they live and struggle.”

The Declaration recounted how and why on January 1, 1994, they took up arms; why they met with civil society when it asked them to dialogue and reach agreement, which they did by the agreements that were achieved; how the government and political parties did not comply [with the San Andrés Accords], and how the Zapatistas began to make their own the sorrow of all the people with whom they entered into relationship.

The Declaration described internal transformations in the Zapatista communities, improvement in their material conditions of life and their learning to govern themselves. It examined how they resisted all the attacks and, in spite of everything, made progress. It announced the decision once again to take another risk: “Perhaps united with other social sectors with the same problems as ourselves, it will be possible to get what we need and deserve.”

The Zapatistas rigorously analysed the capitalist operation in the era of neoliberal globalization, based “on the exploitation, plunder, contempt and repression of those who don’t stand up for themselves” throughout the entire world. They also examined how people everywhere are struggling against that.

Likewise, they analysed how Mexico was. How the forces of capitalism are destroying the country. How government officials, politicians and judges are its employees or accomplices—the same as with drug trafficking and crime—and how many people are also struggling against all that.

lucha, trabajo y resistenciaThe Declaration endorsed the commitments of the EZLN and announced that it would expand its relations of respect and mutual support with persons and organizations in the worldwide struggle against neoliberalism and for humanity. In Mexico they would continue fighting for the original peoples and for all the exploited and dispossessed in order to build a national programme of struggle and to practice another way of doing politics. With the participation of everyone, they would participate in the social and political process that might lead to a new Constitution “that would recognize the rights and liberties of the people and defend the weak against the powerful.”

An EZLN delegation would tour the country to enter into alliances with those who share all these convictions and the decision to resist and struggle.

As usual, the Zapatistas kept their word. They did what they said they were going to do, which was, as usual, full of ups and downs. In Oventic, one month before the Tenth Anniversary of La Sexta, they convened a tribute to Don Luis Villoro and the teacher Galeano, and held a seminar in San Cristóbal to analyse again each of the items in it (La Sexta.)

unknownMany people and organizations, from Mexico and around the world, responded to their call. They listened carefully to the Zapatistas, who updated the status of their situation, their progress and difficulties, and their decision to continue the struggle. The seminar allowed a recounting of all kinds of disasters and difficulties, and a joint reflection on the gravity of the situation—where in Mexico and throughout the world, we are in a situation that is in itself intolerable but that is probably going to get worse.

In San Cristóbal, La Sexta was endorsed in its current form as a planetary network of resistances and rebellions that connect people, groups, organizations and initiatives in Mexico and around the world. It is a network that needs to be activated to confront the storm that is upon us.

In his outstanding speech on the last day of the seminar, Jerome Baschet recalled that on May 2, in Oventic, Mariano, son of the teacher Galeano to whom tribute was beng paid, said that his father had left him three families: those of blood, the EZLN and La Sexta.

sextaPerhaps, Baschet said, it is time to go beyond what La Sexta has been up to now. To go beyond by knitting ties and affinities that include more than just the adherents such that, together, we might make our strength more visible in order to confront the capitalist hydra.

The tenth anniversary of La Sexta is truly the time for resistance and struggle, for applying ourselves clearly to the emergency actions and initiatives called for by these times. And to put forward this great family that teacher Galeano bequeathed to his son in the face of the threats, dangers and harassment that we have today.

Translated by Jane Brundage

http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2015/07/06/opinion/027a1pol

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May 12, 2015

Seedbed

Filed under: Zapatista — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 7:08 pm

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Seedbed

Gustavo (on the right) at the seminar.

Gustavo (on the right) at the seminar.

Gustavo Esteva

La Jornada, 11th May 2015

On Saturday, at the closing ceremony marking the end of the seminar Critical Thinking Against the Capitalist Hydra, the news arrived: they were repressing our comrades in San Quintín. In the most unfortunate way, what we had been discussing was confirmed. As Subcomandante Moisés pointed out, this tells us that we may not have the time we thought we had. That the storm is intensifying and attacks us. That we are one with the pain. That although we are not yet healed of Ayotzinapa—we are still waiting for our 43—and now this arrives. And that this demands of us, if we learned anything in the seedbed [the seminar], an immediate reaction in order to find out how to alert each other, how to care for each other, how to weave our stories together.

I believe that no one’s pen or word trembled when it came to characterizing the horror. We were charged with emotion, but also with analytical and historical rigour. We were able to show, starkly, not only the many heads of the hydra, but also how cutting them off multiplies them. It also became clear that, despite many brilliant, solid analyses, there is still much more [to be done]: we are just getting started. But at least it was possible to till the theoretical and practical ground for sowing the seeds of knowledge that we learned; thus, to cultivate them in the way of each nursery found in each place where it might be possible to grow these seeds of knowledge.

The immediate task was clear. Upon returning home, without irresponsible haste, but with a sense of urgency, we have to multiply the seedbeds. Those who have groups, assemblies, spaces for reflection, autonomous ways of thinking and acting, we must share in them what we learned. It might be in order to venture onto innovative paths that were opened or to travel once again, with renewed eyes, those paths that we have already travelled a thousand times. Those who lack these spaces need to create them, even though it might only be with one or two close friends.

One of the most important themes of the seedbed was finding timely agreement regarding the gravity of the current moment. From various stances across a broad spectrum in which important differences became apparent, we recognized the immense dangers that weigh upon us—a we that is already entirely inclusive: no one escapes.

Yes, it was fascinating. But the truth is that the encounter has made us anxious. What are we to do in the face of this circumstance that is so overwhelming, so threatening, so immediately catastrophic? It is a condition that leaves no room for optimism and scarcely for hope. Again and again, we asked ourselves the old question, because we knew that the old answers no longer work. But still they weigh us down: when one radically gives in, the imagination is paralyzed.

11165146_271593779677663_7503979393930442923_n

We didn’t get an answer. We heard a lot. That is the nature of today’s resistances and rebellions. They don’t consist solely in opposing something in order to resist aggression from whichever of the hydra’s heads. To many of those who participated in the seedbed, it was clear that the only effective way to act is to multiply the nos—the radical rejection of what pursues and oppresses us; yet in the same operation to multiply the yeses—the various ways of constructing the new world. I believe that many of us also learned a core lesson: not to cling to a stance or belief about what can be better.

Again and again, in the oft-repeated words of Subcomandante Moisés, the Zapatistas took away the desire and the ability to idealize ourselves and also made us see that we shouldn’t imitate ourselves. It was necessary to practice an almost surgical operation. The excitement of being in Zapatista territory, the mark that the escuelita left on many participants, the feats of the last thirty years, the vitality of an initiative that seems to be the most radical and important in the world, and even the very fact that the Zapatistas called us to this seedbed with its traditional sense of political opportunity—all this taken together leads to losing a sense of reality. Although it was feasible and sensible to replicate this experience as is, in everyone’s place, we no longer have the time that we once had.

Of the many challenges that we carry, one of the most difficult is how to share these reflections—and even the sense of urgency—with peers and siblings who seem distracted, who neither perceive nor feel the gravity of the current situation, who still harbour hopes that things will soon return to normal and who, therefore, still cling to their habitual ways. How do we find the simplest words that allow sharing without offending … in ways that open other minds and hearts to this dawning awareness that we need to join together?

We are carrying many loads on our shoulders. But they are shoulders renewed and full of courage. We can walk and even jog with this new weight.

Translated by Jane Brundage

http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2015/05/11/index.php?section=opinion&article=017a2pol&partner=rss

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April 13, 2015

Insanity

Filed under: Autonomy — Tags: — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 7:29 pm

 

 

Insanity

Gustavo Esteva
La Jornada, 13th April, 2015
esteva-223x137

It is healthy to discuss the electoral issue throughout the entire country. A minority are preparing to participate, or not, in the exercise without reflecting on it. On the rise, however, is the number of those who wonder seriously, perhaps as never before, whether it makes sense to vote.

We are in a disastrous condition. Half of Mexican families cannot leave their houses at night or let their children play in the street. We live in fear. The number of dead, kidnapped, disappeared, attacked or assaulted are on the rise, as are the unemployed and people living below the poverty line. Education, health and transport services are in open decline. Freedoms are routinely canceled and rights regularly violated. One village after another is forced to put up stiff resistance, because the lands they won with a revolution [Mexican Revolution, 1910-1917] are threatened. One-half of Mexico’s territory has been handed over to private corporations, and the government conspires with them to evict their rightful owners. Environmental destruction deepens and causes irreversible damage.

The list of evils is endless. They are becoming increasingly serious. We cannot go on like this. Is it possible to drive the needed change either by voting or abstaining? Seemingly, neither a radical discrediting of the group in power by means of adverse votes nor an [electoral] boycott will make a difference, since a massive and overwhelming electoral victory may turn out to be insignificant in the face of the disaster. Changing the partisan composition of some governmental agencies and delegitimizing the political leaders would not have a major impact on the situation. Actually, no election result would be relevant … except for those who want to grab a piece of the political pie.
The level of incompetence and corruption of the current government is almost unbeatable. But it wouln’t be enough to remove them and put in others, even if the new ones were angels of goodness, honesty and competence, which we certainly do not see among the candidates. Changing the people and even the policies isn’t sufficient. We need to replace the same institutions and the economic and political regimen to which they relate, and this cannot be done from above through social engineering. Neither voting for them or throwing them out will work.

Substantive discussion is dodged by arguing that not voting strengthens the Party of the Institutional Revolutionary [PRI], or that this “strategic” foxhole of the political struggle shouldn’t be abandoned and that there are “reliable” candidates or parties, or that voting is an inalienable right and duty and new devices will prevent fraud … They are fragile arguments. The fact that a party is increasing its level of acceptance by dirty tricks [Green Ecology Party] that violate the rules of the game well illustrates the nature of an election day that will have the same vices as always. Voting will not remedy the evils we suffer. But neither will not voting, as was proved six years ago, when two-thirds of Mexicans didn’t go to the polls.

We are not responsible for what has happened and is happening. But we must accept our responsibility for letting this degradation occur. We cannot continue delegating the remedy to others, because the remedy necessarily involves each one of us. It is about, nothing more or less, rebuilding our torn and partially destroyed society, recovering what is left of the country, creating a new truly democratic social order in which democracy is not reduced to a marketing circus organized by the governing minority for its own reproduction in order that the one-percent might perpetuate itself in power.
There are no universal recipes for what we need to do. In each person’s arena, with the organization appropriate to our various circumstances, we must get to work. There are places where it seems possible to put us in control of our lives and organize effective resistance. In others, we will have to settle for less. In all cases, our imagination and our courage will be needed.

Instead of our actions being irrelevant, it’s about making irrelevant the politicians and their system of domination, [it’s about] dismantling the need for all state apparatuses and private corporations.

One definition of insanity is expecting a different result to be produced by performing the same action. We have voted and not voted with the same unsatisfactory results. Why expect that now might be different?
Not voting can express an effective rejection of the political classes and reflect a clear awareness of the situation. But we must not allow abstention to be confused with apathy or indifference. This stance will make sense when taken by organizations capable of confronting in a dignified manner the perfect storm in which we find ourselves. This is not a question of single individuals voting or not voting depending on the mood of the day. It is about groups, collectives, communities and organizations, large and small, who have decided to struggle, because only then can they live and express their attitude in an organized way.
Translated by Jane Brundage
http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2015/04/13/index.php?section=opinion&article=020a2pol&partner=rss
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February 17, 2015

Time for Hope

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 7:28 pm

 

Time for Hope

 By: Gustavo Esteva

panther-painting

The disappearance of a loved one is one of the worst evils that someone can suffer. It isn’t just the uncertainty that it provokes. It’s wondering every day if it won’t be happening to him what happened to many that have appeared, whose cadavers showed signs of savage and atrocious torture before being murdered. How to avoid desperation? How to confront serenely the mystery of evil, this overwhelming evil that pursues us?

In the last two years in Mexico one person disappears every two hours. Every two hours! We now have tens of thousands of families in that drama. There are many others whose loved ones were savagely murdered and millions of displaced. One third of the population has felt obliged to live outside of the country.

The family members of the Ayotzinapa students have permitted us to live together with them the drama that is profoundly moving and to experience at their side a form of response that isn’t sunk in desperation. They woke up millions, inside and outside the country. With surprising spirits, with as much courage as imagination, they don’t leave anyone at peace. They don’t want those that were asleep to go back to sleep, to return to indifference, to occupy oblivion, or those above to wash their hands.

Even the United Nations, with its hands and tongue tied by the structure and rules that define the organism, has had to react. The UN Committee against Enforced Disappearances not only just recognized formally that state of things. It has also criticized the Mexican government for the impunity that prevails in the face of those daily crimes and for not attributing the priority that is required to the search for the disappeared. It required investigating “all the state agents and organs that could have been involved, as well as exhausting all the lines of investigation.” The committee formulated a recommendation crucial to remembering the responsibility of the high commanders of those that commit the crimes.

A combination of blindness and cynicism persists in those who occupy the business of governing and in their friends and accomplices. Indifference, apathy or fear also persists in many people. Likewise, fervent adhesion to some charismatic leader and his cohorts persists, on the part of those that still believe that he could stop the horror first, and later follow the progressive path of other Latin American leaders. Although the discontent is more general all the time, even among the sponsors and beneficiaries of the current government, many don’t know what to do, others don’t consider the paths that don’t pass through the electoral exercise realistic, and still others are disposed to changing everything… so that nothing changes: may all those responsible for our drama be replaced; may they present sharp blows to the leaders and may there be a great clamor, but all that inside of the framework in effect, within the nation-State, representative democracy, the economic society, development, capitalism… They believe that it’s too illusory or dangerous to attempt anything else.

At the same time, the citizen mobilization expands and gathers strength and organic form. On February 5 two parallel initiatives got underway that on the path will be able to interlace for diverse longings. The agreement in their diagnosis of the current political crisis is impressive, although important differences are appreciated in the reaches and styles of their proposals. The two illustrate, each in its own way, the desire and capacity of giving organic form to the generalized discontent, to the resistance, to rebellion and to a transforming impetus. Instead of paralysis and desperation, the national drama is generating lucid brave and organized reactions.

One more of those initiatives will take form today, upon a multifaceted commission of university students, activists and members of the National Indigenous Congress being in installed in Cuernavaca. It proposes contributing to dialogue and agreement among the diverse cultures that we are. Its members are convinced that there will be no justice, peace and security in the country while the social order is not constructed on diversity. It’s about giving concrete meaning and efficacy to the idea that the Zapatistas formulated 20 years ago: we must construct a world in which many world fit.

The current effervescence has already permeated all social layers and even reaches the most isolated corners of the country. Our demons were let loose a long time ago and created this unsupportable state of things in which we are submerged. Now, the forces that will be able to conquer them have been set in motion, by serenely advancing in the national reconstruction. The genie escaped from the bottle and it will not be possible to put it back in. Thus, the hope of giving full reality to our emancipation is nourished every day.

gustavoesteva@gmail.com

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Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Translation: Chiapas Support Committee

Monday, February 16, 2015

http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2015/02/16/opinion/021a2pol

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