dorset chiapas solidarity

March 10, 2017

The transition blossoms, although we may not see it

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



The transition blossoms, although we may not see it


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

By: Raúl Zibechi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Friday, March 3, 2017

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee





January 14, 2017

Zapatismo’s presidential candidacy

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



Zapatismo’s presidential candidacy




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.


Published in Spanish by Viento Sur

November 7, 2016

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

Posted with minor edits by Dorset Chiapas Solidarity



January 9, 2017

The Power of Below

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


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.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Friday, January 6, 2017

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

Posted with minor edits by Dorset Chiapas Solidarity



December 4, 2016

From Uruguay: Pronouncement from Raúl Zibechi

Filed under: Bachajon, Displacement, Repression — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 12:13 pm



From Uruguay: Pronouncement from Raúl Zibechi 

Week of Worldwide action in Solidarity with the ejidatarios of San Sebastián Bachajón, 4th to 10th of December, 2016




Once again they attack us, threaten us and beat us. They try to destroy our resistance, our life.

Once again we resist and continue to build where they destroy.

Once again, as they have done for more than 500 years, they believe they are the owners of the lands and the peoples.

Once again we reclaim and defend the common wealth that is owned by no one but the peoples.

14695551_1800877260127828_8900945864639347493_nThis time it was the compa Domingo Pérez Álvaro who was first threatened first, then beaten and wounded.

We must let them know that when they beat Domingo they beat all of us, and that we will continue moving forwards for Domingo and for his family and for all the compas of the community of San Sebastián Bachajón, who will remain standing for as long as one of them still lives.




Raúl Zibechi (Uruguay)







July 12, 2016

Zibechi: Accumulation by extermination

Filed under: Zapatistas — Tags: , , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 10:56 am



 Zibechi: Accumulation by extermination


tgml-sc-995x498Zapatistas deliver food to the teachers. Photo: Tragameluz



By: Raúl Zibechi

The evolution of war in the last century, in relation to population, offers us clues about the type of society in which we live. Until the First World War the fighting happened between national armies, at the barricades, where big slaughters were produced which inflamed worker consciousness. They affected the population indirectly, because of the massive number of deaths of their sons and brothers. When they affected it directly, most of the time it was as “collateral damage” of the conflict or, occasionally, warnings to weaken the morale of those who were fighting at the front.

The Second World War changed things radically. From the Hamburg and Dresden bombings to the atom bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, passing through the Japanese bombing of Chongqing to the German concentration camps, the objective passed to be the population. There is a before and after of that war and of the concentration camps, as Giorgio Agamben points out, since the camp as well as the “strategic bombing” became paradigms for modern war policy.

It’s not about the appearance of aviation as a central form of combat. On the contrary: aviation became decisive because the objective passes to being the population. Vietnam is another point of inflection. It is the first time that United States deaths are counted by the thousands, with a much greater impact than in previous wars. Starting from there, the air war doubles its importance for avoiding entering into body-to-body combat with the inevitable result of U.S. deaths.

Accumulation by dispossession (open sky mining, mono-crops like soy, and the mega-projects) has a logic similar to that of the current war, not only through the use of herbicides tried in the war against the Vietnamese people, but also for having the same military logic: to clear the population from the field in order to seize the commons. For dispossessing/robbing, it is necessary to take the medium away from that so very disturbed people; it is the reasoning of capital, a logic that is worth as much to the war as to agriculture and mining (

Therefore, it is important to refer to the current model as “the fourth world war,” like the Zapatistas do, since the system behaves that way, including of course allopathic medicine that is inspired in the principles of war. The EZLN’s arguments square with those of Agamben, when he points out that domination of life through violence is the dominant mode of government in current politics, particularly in poor regions of the global south.

The brutal repression of the teachers in Oaxaca shows the existence of a totalitarianism disguised as democracy, which according to Agamben is characterized by “the installation, by means of a state of emergency, of a legal civil war, which permits the physical elimination not only of political adversaries, but rather of entire categories of citizens who for some reason turn out to not be able to integrate into the political system (El Estado de excepción, p. 25). The same author reminds us that since the concentration camps there has been no possible return to classic politics, which was focused on demanding from the State and interaction with the institutions.

How to name a form of accumulation anchored in the destruction and death of a part of humanity? In the logic of capital, accumulation is not a merely economic phenomenon, hence the importance of the Zapatista analysis which places the accent on the concept of war. I want to say that the type of accumulation that capital needs in the current period, cannot but go preceded and accompanied structurally by war against peoples. War and accumulation are synonymous, to such a degree that they subordinate the nation-State to that logic.

The type of State adequate for that class of accumulation/war is the weak point of those who analyze “accumulation by dispossession” or “post-extractivism.” In these analyses, beyond the value they possess, I find several problems to be debated in order to strengthen the resistances.

The first is that it’s not only about economic models. Capitalism is not an economy; it is a system that includes a capitalist economy. In its current stage, the extractive model or accumulation by robbery is not reduced to an economy, but rather to a system that functions (from the institutions to the culture) as a war against the peoples, as a mode of extermination or of accumulation by extermination.

Mexico is the mirror in which we can watch the peoples of Latin America and of the world. The more than 100,000 deaths and the tens of thousands of disappeared are not a deviation from the system, but rather the nucleus of the system. All the parts that make up that system, from justice and the electoral apparatus to medicine and music (to give just a few examples), are functional to extermination. “Our” music and “our” justice (and so with all aspects of life) are part of the resistance to the system. They are broken off or separated from it. They don’t form part of a systemic whole, but rather they now make up “another world.”

The second question is that the state institutions have been formatted by and for the war against the peoples. Therefore it does not make any sense to spend time and energy embedded in them, except for those who believe (through ingenuity or petty interest) that they can govern in favour of those from below. This is perhaps the principal strategic debate that we face in this sombre hour.

In sum, creating and caring for our spaces and protecting each other from above without letting ourselves be seduced by its scenarios becomes the vital question for our movements. We remember that, for Agamben, those secluded in the countryside are people who: “anyone can kill without committing homicide.” This way of seeing the current world better explains the facts of Ayotzinapa and Nochixtlán than speeches about democracy and citizenship, which appeal to the justice of the system.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Friday, July 8, 2016

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

Minor edits for UK audience by Dorset Chiapas Solidarity



July 6, 2016

Zibechi: Communities stand up for life



Zibechi: Communities stand up for life

The National Campaign in Defence of Mother Earth and Territory



dsc0018_550The campfires in Cherán, Michoacán, Mexico.


By: Raúl Zibechi

Dozens of communities in resistance from 17 states of Mexico have started a long campaign that seeks to coordinate struggles, denounce extractivism and offer a space for mutual aid among those who are being attacked by capital and the State.

“The campaign seeks a dialogue and common actions that construct a fabric,” explains Gerardo Meza of the Acapatzingo Housing Community, in Mexico City. “Because the State takes advantage of the lack of information about what happens to the megaprojects it impels against the peoples. Therefore, we seek to construct non-organic organizational spaces for generating identity in the neighbourhoods and to weave a process of autonomy in Mexico City.”

Gerardo refers to the National Campaign in Defence of Mother Earth and Territory that started on April 10 and will culminate on November 20, two dates with deep rebel content in Mexico. The Francisco Villa Popular Organization of the Independent Left participated in it along with 180 organizations from 17 states, grouped into nine regions. A Committee for Mother Earth made up of 40 musicians, actors, religious men and women and professionals supports the campaign, which at each activity united hundreds and thousands of people: from the 1,500 that went to the launch in Mexico City on April 10, to the hundreds who mobilized in support of Xochicuautla, where the community resists the construction of a superhighway in the State of Mexico.

“The spearhead of the extractive model is mining,” Meza reasons, “levelling entire communities, taking territory away from them and destroying their identities.” The campaign places affected communities in a relationship with other affected communities in a direct, horizontal relationship, not mediated by representatives but rather of people to people. Of the campaign signers, 97 communities and barrios have conflicts with extractivist capital and the State, and resist often with very high human costs.

In the Mexican capital, for example, the barrios are being affected by urban infrastructure and communication projects, through the construction of metro lines, inter-urban trains and real estate speculation, one of the most destructive and least analysed facets of the extractive model. We’re able to talk about an “urban extractivism,” which is connected with the general model and in many cases acts to complement the mode of accumulation, since the enormous profits from mono-crops and mining are apt to be invested in urban speculation, which results in the gentrification of the cities and the expulsion of the poorest inhabitants.

From Norte to South: young and brave women

The Campaign reports that the most of the conflicts are produced by the construction of hydroelectric dams and other energy generation projects (34%), followed closely by mining projects (32%). Transportation projects like highways and trains (12%) and urbanization (11%) appear at more distance. The privatization of water embraces 15% of the conflicts, but many mining and energy projects also appropriate the commons, like water, therefore this must be one of the principal motives for the community resistances.

In the north, in the state of Sonora, the Comcáac Nation resists the destruction of 100 kilometres of Pacific littoral, where fisherpeople seek to save their sources of work from the La Peineta mining project. Gabriela Molina, of the Comcáac Territory Defenders organization, assures that half of his peoples’ territory has been conceded to a mining company that seeks to extract iron, copper and silver at sites that are sacred to his nation. “The nation is a place where deer and bighorn sheep reproduce, because of which we don’t want an extractive activity on our territory, which is also very close to the Canal del Infiernillo, where there are plants that we use for our artesanía, like jojoba and elephant tree (torote), and it is thus a site of material spiritual importance for the survival of our people.”

As happens all over the world, mining succeeded in dividing the Comcáac people with promises and a few resources. “Our group is made up of 22 women who organize against mining and we are dedicated to informing the peoples of the Sonora Sierra who are not familiar with what mining is,” Gabriela says. As Comcáac Nation, they are supported with the Traditional Guard, armed self-defence that was born in 1979 for the protection of autonomous territory. The guard is elected by the council of elders and the traditional governor and is composed as much by men as women.

“Until we added ourselves to the campaign our people were invisible,” Gabriela finished; she also denounces hydric extractivism that diverts water for business production and tourist projects in zones her people inhabit.

Since 2008, the town of San José del Progreso, in the state of Oaxaca, has opposed the arrival of a mining company in a campesino population that cultivates corn, beans and garbanzos. According to official data of the Secretariat of the Economy, since the approval of the 1992 Mining Law, Mexico delivered 31,000 concessions on almost 51 million hectares to more than 300 companies that manage around 800 projects. Rosalinda Dionisio, who is a member of the Coordinator of United Peoples of the Ocotlán Valley, suffered an attack when members of the organization were ambushed for opposing the mining Cuzcatlán, a subsidiary of the Canadian Fortuna Silver Mines, which exploits 700 hectares for extracting uranium, gold and silver.

The mine is located near the San José del Progreso municipality, one of the three poorest in the state. Although the better part of its six thousand inhabitants reject mining, the mayor supports it and heads a group that attacks members of the Coordinator. In February and March 2012, the activists were attacked, in one case by the municipal police and in another by unknown persons, with a result of two dead and various injured, among them Rosalinda. That was the reaction to the community protests, when tubes were installed to carry water to the mine, diverting it away from the campesinos’ crops.

A monster that is called the State

“With the campaign we seek to speak clearly with other communities, since we must redouble in the face of repression, and be able to inform other peoples about what is happening to us,” Rosalinda explains. “We have a monster State that has hit us very hard, with disappearances, with repression, and therefore we need a network to support each other, based on mutual aid, for confronting the monster that takes life away from us,” says this young and brave woman, survivor of the war against the peoples. She has still not completely recovered her mobility after various surgeries, but she shows an admirable combative spirit.

The resistance of the community of Cherán doesn’t need presentation, because since 2011 it has been an example for peoples who resist the extractive model and the armed groups (state or paramilitary) that promote and protect it. Severiana Fabián, a member of the High Council of the P’urhépecha indigenous community of Cherán, also forms part of the National Campaign in Defence of Mother Earth and Territory. Her community rose up to expel the criminal woodcutters supported by local caciques.

“We fight to defend a commons that is Mother Earth,” explains Severiana. The key to the success of this community is its organization, extensive and profound, which reaches all corners, is open and transparent, solid and convincing. “We are organized by uses and customs (traditional indigenous governing practices) and we have attained that Cherán is calm and secure by the force of our community organization,” says a woman who feels proud of the work accomplished in five years, which she considers an example for Mexicans.

The form of organization, from below to above, begins by the campfires. There are four barrios (neighbourhoods) and in each one there are between 50 and 60 campfires (fogatas), at the rate of one per block. There are 53 campfires in Severiana’s barrio, which speaks of a way of outdoor organization, in which families can participate, from the children to the elderly. Each barrio elects three individuals to the High Council, in which there are currently three women.

Cherán has a population of 20,000 inhabitants and in each one of the 240 campfires installed on each corner there are some one hundred people. “This organization is the key to everything,” exclaims Severiana. The campfires are meeting places among neighbours, spaces where the community is re-created, but they are also organs of power in which collective decisions are made and where the participation of women is decisive.

As the synthesis of these years of struggle, Severiana assures that in Cherán “courage overcame fear.” Maybe it will be the legacy of this community that it can gather and expand the National Campaign in Defence of Mother Earth and Territory.


Originally Published in Spanish by Rebelión

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Re-published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

Minor edits for UK audience by Dorset Chiapas Solidarity




April 27, 2016

Juan Vazquez Guzmán – Letter from Uruguay from Raul Zibechi

Filed under: Bachajon, Movement for Justice in el Barrio — Tags: , , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 5:00 am



Juan Vazquez Guzmán – Letter from Uruguay from Raul Zibechi


3 (1)


From Uruguay: Letter from the writer and social activist Raúl Zibechi

The family, friends and compañer@s of Juan Vasquez Guzman:

Receive a greeting from southern Latin America, full of solidarity and appreciation.

Receive also congratulations for continuing to honour the memory of compa Juan, three years after his death.

Keep on, despite all the difficulties, resisting and challenging the powerful from our collective dignity, it is the only way we have to keep being who we are: peoples who struggle and work for another world where the Juans do not have to give their life for something as basic as life with dignity,

Raúl Zibechi





April 25, 2016

Communiqué from San Sebastián Bachajón about Juan Vázquez Guzmán



Communiqué from San Sebastián Bachajón about Juan Vázquez Guzmán





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!





January 28, 2016

Zibechi: A Left for the 21st Century

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 6:58 am



Zibechi: A Left for the 21st Century 



By: Raúl Zibechi

In the ‘60s and ‘70s, those who joined the militancy often heard a phrase: “Being like Che.” With that, an ethic was synthesized, a conduct, a mode of assuming collective action inspired by the personage which –through giving his life– became the compass for a generation.

“Being like Che” was a motto that didn’t expect militants to follow point-by-point the example of someone who had become an inescapable reference. It was something else; not a model to follow, but rather an ethical inspiration that implied a series of renunciations in the image and resemblance of Che’s life.

Renouncing comforts, material benefits, including the power won in the revolution, being willing to risk your life, they are central values in the heritage that we call “Guevarismo.” For a good while, those were the axes around which a good part of the leftist militancy, at least in Latin America.

That left was defeated in a brief period that we can situate between the State coups of the 1970 and the fall of real socialism, a decade later. It didn’t come out of the big defeats unscathed. Just as the fall of the Paris Commune was a parting of waters, according to Georges Haupt, which led the lefts of that epoch to introduce new themes on their agendas (the party question moved to occupying a central place), the defeats of the Latin American revolutionary movements seem to have produced a fissure in the lefts at the start of the 21stCentury.

It’s still very early to make a complete evaluation of that turn since we are at the beginning of it and without sufficient critical distance and, above all, self-criticism. However, we are able to advance some hypotheses that connect those defeats closely with the current conjuncture we experience.

The first is that we’re not talking about turning back the clock to repeat the old errors, of which there were many. Vanguardism was the most evident, accompanied by a serious volunteerism that impeded our comprehending that the reality we sought to transform was very different from what we thought, which led to underestimating the power of the dominant classes and, above all, to believing that a revolutionary situation existed.

But vanguardism didn’t cede easily. It is solidly rooted in the culture of the lefts and although it was defeated in its guerrilla version, it seems to have mutated and remains alive as much in the so-called social movements as in the parties that pretend to know what the population wants without the need to listen to it. A large part of the governments and progressive leaders are good examples of the perseverance of a vanguardism without a proclaimed vanguard.

The second has a relationship to the method, armed struggle. The fact that the generation of the 60s and 70s had committed gross errors in the use and abuse of violence is not saying that we have to throw everything out. We remember that at least in Uruguay it was thought that: “action generates conscience,” thus granting an almost magical ability to the armed vanguard to generate action in the masses only with its activity, as if the people could act by mechanical reflexes without the need for organizing and preparing themselves.

The armed organizations also committed indefensible atrocities, using violence not only against their enemies, but often also against their own people and also against those compañeros who presented political differences with their organization. The assassinations of Roque Dalton and Comandanta Ana María, in El Salvador, are two of the gravest deeds inside the rebel camp.

However, that doesn’t mean that we don’t have to defend ourselves. We must not go to the opposite extreme of trusting in the system’s armed forces (as the Vice President of Bolivia points out), or stripping the repressive forces of their class character. The examples of the EZLN, of the Mapuche people of Chile, of the Indigenous Nasa Guard in Colombia and of the Amazonian Indigenous of Bagua in Peru demonstrate that it’s necessary and possible to organize collective community defence.

The third question is the most political and also ethical. Within the legacy of Che and within the practice of that generation, power occupies a central place, something that we cannot deny, nor should we. But the conquest of power was for the benefit of the people; never, never for one’s own benefit, not even for the group or party that took state power.

There is an open discussion about this theme, in view of the negative balance of the exercise of power by the Soviet and Chinese parties, among others. But beyond the errors and horrors committed by the revolutionary powers in the 20th Century, even beyond whether or not it’s appropriate to take State power in order to change the world, it’s necessary to remember power was considered a means for transforming society, never an end in itself.

There’s a lot of cloth to cut about this issue, in view of the brutal corruption encrusted in some progressive governments and parties (particularly in Brazil and Venezuela), questions that few now dare to deny.

The left that we need for the 21st Century cannot help but have present the history of past revolutionary struggles. It’s necessary to incorporate that motto “being like Che,” but without falling into vanguardism. A good update of that spirit can be: “everything for everyone, nothing for us.” The same thing can be said of the “to govern obeying,” which seems like an important antidote to vanguardism.

There is something fundamental that it would not be good to let escape. The type of militants that the 21st Century left needs must be modelled by the “will to sacrifice” (Benjamin). It is evident that the phrase sounds fatal in the current period, but we cannot obtain anything without doing away with that tremendous fantasy that it’s possible to change the world voting every five years [or four] and consuming the rest of the time.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Friday, January 22, 2016

Re-published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee







January 11, 2016

Zibechi: the Movements facing the end of the democracies

Filed under: Autonomy, Uncategorized, Women, Zapatista — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 4:37 pm



Zibechi: the Movements facing the end of the democracies



By: Raúl Zibechi

In his first article of 2016, the winner of the Nobel Prize for Economics, Paul Krugman, analyses the consequences of the domination of the oligarchy of money in his country’s political system. Under the title “Privileges, pathology and power” (The New York Times, January 1, 2016), he maintains that: “the rich are, on average, less likely to show empathy, with respect to the norms and laws, and even more likely to be unfaithful, than those who occupy the lower rungs on the economic scale.”

It’s not just about a social and cultural condition, even less about a spiritual tendency. He centres his analysis on the answer to a key question: “What happens to a nation that grants greater political power all the time to the super rich?”

The answer is decorated with examples. Half of the contributions to all candidates in the first part of the 2016 electoral campaign come from less than 200 wealthy families. Those kinds of families have children whose behaviour Krugman classifies as “spoiled egomaniacs,” whose best example is the candidate who marches at the front of the Republican gang, Donald Trump. In his opinion, he would have been “a blowhard and a bully” in any place he occupies, because “his billions permit him to evade the controls that impede the majority of people from releasing their narcissistic tendencies.”

Another example: Sheldon Adelson, is a magnate of Las Vegas games of chance, accused of links to organized crime and the business of prostitution. To block his court proceedings, he bought Nevada’s largest newspaper, displaced the print version, told the reporters to start monitoring all activity of three judges of the court in charge of his case and allegedly started to “publish negative reports about the judges.” The multi-millionaire Adelson started to play an important role inside the Republican Party from his Las Vegas bastion, which he uses as an electoral platform.

Krugman talks about an oligarchy that has taken possession of politics. It can be said that this is nothing new and that there are only a few analysts who agree with that judgment. Paul Craig Roberts, former assistant secretary of the Treasury in the Ronald Reagan government, maintains that the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 provoked an explosion of arrogance in the United States elites that carried the neo-conservatives to control of the country’s foreign and domestic policy. The repeal of internal financial regulation and the tendency to lead the world towards nuclear war at the international level are some of the most ominous consequences of this systemic turn.

For the popular movements, the problem does not consist only in establishing that up there above they have lost direction, since they don’t have either contact with society or the least bit of interest in that society’s survival. Only money interests them, the non-stop accumulation of wealth, even at the price of the destruction of life. Our problem is what to do with an electoral system that has been converted into the political system’s only public rite that really exists. Although the majorities know that the elections are rigged, that fraud is systematic (before, during and after the emission of the vote), that although they get to elect the lesser of the evils (if one exists) nothing fundamental is going to change, there are many below that still believe their best path is to improve the current situation.

I think that the recent comunicado of the EZLN, on January 1, gives us some clues about how to get out of this trap that the hegemonic political culture leads us into. The text that Subcomandante Moisés read in Oventic emphasizes that the standard of living of the Zapatista communities is far superior to what they had 22 years ago, when the open rebellion started, and better than that of the communities linked to the government. “Selling out to the bad government not only did not resolve their needs, but rather added more horrors. Where before there was hunger and poverty, now hunger and poverty continue, but there is also despair.”

While the party members have been converted “into groups of beggars that don’t work, they just wait for the next government welfare programme,” the Zapatistas are not only known for using the paliacate but because they know how to work the land and take care of their culture, because they study and they also respect women, for their dignity. The Zapatistas have “the clean and lofty view,” they consider the autonomous government as a service and govern collectively.

The Zapatistas don’t expect solutions to come from above; for 22 years, the comunicado says, “we have continued to construct another way of life” that includes self-government. I believe the key is here. Even the most renowned members of the system, like Krugman, recognize that everything is rotten up there above. We know that and it is good to remember it.

But we still lack the construction of that other way of living: being capable of governing ourselves. Above all, we still lack the belief that we are capable of doing it and, therefore, starting to do it. The new political culture won’t come from books or from declarations: it emerges from collective work with others.


Originally Published in Spanish by Desinformemonos

January 4, 2016

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee



October 8, 2015

Fanon has become topical again

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 2:10 pm


Fanon has become topical again

by Raúl Zibechi

Translation by Chiapas Support Committee

Frantz Fanon

Frantz Fanon

Frantz Fanon’s thinking has returned. Five decades after his death, his books are being read again in universities and in spaces of the organized popular sectors. Some of his central reflections enlighten aspects of the new realities and they contribute to the comprehension of capitalism in this stage of blood and pain for those below.

The re-publication of some of his works like Black Skin, White Masks (published in Spanish by Akal, 2009), with commentary from de Immanuel Wallerstein, Samir Amin, Judith Butler, Lewis R. Gordon, Ramón Grosfoguel, Nelson Maldonado-Torres, Sylvia Wynter and Walter Mignolo, has contributed to the spreading of his thinking, as well as periodic re-publications of his principal work, The Wretched of the Earthwith a prologue by Jean Paul Sartre. The republication of his book Sociology of a revolution, published in 1966 by Grove Press would also be important.

However, the renewed interest in Fanon goes way beyond his books and writings. I believe we’re dealing with an epochal interest, in the double sense of the current period that our societies are crossing through and the birth of powerful anti-systemic movements championed by diverse peoples from below. I want to say that we are seeing a political interest more than academic or literary curiosity.

In my opinion, there are five reasons that explain the currency of Fanon.

The first is that capitalism in its current stage, centred on accumulation by dispossession (or the fourth world war), produces some aspects of colonial domination. The occupation of territorial enclaves by the multi-national corporations and the occasional but important military occupation by the imperialisms of various countries with the excuse of the war against terrorism, are two of those aspects.

There are others that it is at least necessary to mention. The population has been converted into a military objective, either for its control or eventual elimination, since it is an “obstacle” to accumulation by dispossession. The war on women, converted into new spoils of the conquest of territories, is another aspect of the new colonialism, as well the growing militarization of popular neighbourhoods on the peripheries of the big cities.

To the extent that capitalism accumulates by robbing the wealth of entire peoples, it permits us to say that we are facing neo-colonialism although, strictly, we’re dealing with the decadence phase of the system that no longer aspires to integrate the dominated classes, but simply, to watch them and exterminate them if they resist.

The second is that it is more evident all the time that current society is divided, as Grosfoguel says based on Fanon, into two zones: the zone of being, where the rights of persons are respected and where violence is exceptional, and the zone of non-being, where violence is the rule. Fanon’s thinking helps us reflect about this reality that places so much distance between XXI Century capitalism with that of the Welfare State.

The third is the criticism that Fanon makes of the world’s left-of-centre parties, in the sense that their forms of work are directed exclusively at a working class elite, setting aside the different bellows that in Marxism are disposed of as belonging to the lumpenproletariat. To the contrary, Fanon deposits in the common people of below his greatest hope as possible subjects of their self-emancipation, or emancipación a secas.

In fourth place, Fanon was not an intellectual or an academic, but rather he put his knowledge at the service of a people in struggle like the Algerians, whose cause he served until the day he died. This figure of the thinker-militant, or as he likes to call himself the professional who was unconditionally committed to those from below, is an extraordinary contribution to the struggle of the popular sectors.

In this sense, it’s worth emphasizing the critique of Euro-centrism of the left, of the pretension of the mechanical transfer of proposals and analysis born in the world of being to that of the non-being. The birth of Indian, Black and popular feminisms on our continent is a sample of the limitations of that first (and fundamental) European feminism that, nevertheless, needed to be reinvented among the women of the colour of the earth, based on their own traditions and realities, among them the centrality of the family in the Latin American feminine world.

Although this brief recapitulation leaves out various important aspects of Fanon’s work, like his reflections on the violence of the oppressed, it seems necessary to me to emphasize an additional aspect, which I believe is central to current critical thought. It questions the reasons why the black man desires to lighten his skin, the reasons the black woman desires to be blonde or get a partner as white as possible. The dominated, Fanon says, the persecuted, don’t just seek to recuperate the hacienda appropriated by the master, but rather want the master’s place. It’s evident that, after the failure of the Russian and Chinese revolutions, this consideration must occupy a central place in the anti-capitalist struggle.

I do not share the place that Fanon grants to the violence of those from below in this process of converting themselves into the subjects of their lives, in their liberation from oppression. Violence is necessary, but is not the solution, as Wallerstein reflects in his commentary on Black skin, white masks.

I think that we must deepen this debate. What to do to not reproduce the history in which the oppressed repeat in one way or another the oppression of which they were victims. The way I see it, we’re dealing with creating something new, a new world or new realities, which are not traced and copied from the world of those above, and which may be sufficiently powerful to make the central place that the oppressor, the master or the boss occupies disappear from the collective imaginary. I continue to believe that the experience of the EZLN support bases is an example in this direction.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Translation: Chiapas Support Committee/Comité de Apoyo a Chiapas

Friday, September 4, 2015

En español:



September 1, 2015

Decolonizing critical thought and rebellions II

Filed under: Indigenous, Zapatistas — Tags: , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 6:07 am


Decolonizing critical thought and rebellions II

Buen Vivir

Translated by Chiapas Support Committee

By: Gilberto López y Rivas/II

The construction of another world in Latin America, according to Raúl Zibechi, is being carried out by means of organizations not state-centric nor hierarchical, which at times don’t even have permanent leadership teams and, as a consequence, tend to overcome bureaucracy, a traditional, elemental and very old form of domination. Women and youth play a new role in these new “modes of doing.”

In a first time criticism of the progressive governments, Zibechi identifies that, despite differences, all the processes have in common the continuity of the extractive model, either open sky mining, hydrocarbons or mono-crops. “In all the cases it’s about the production of commodities, the mode that neoliberalism assumes today in the region,” as well as the expansion of social policies that seek to neutralize the movements and buffer or impede conflict. “The map of the progressive governments and those of the left would have to establish a difference between those countries in which social action made the political system enter into crisis, like Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador, and those like Brazil and Uruguay, where stability has predominated, Argentina being in an intermediate situation.”

Upon questioning the principal dangers and benefits that the arrival in government of the progressive parties implies, Zibechi makes a remark, in my judgment transcendent, and starting from three scenarios: “The interstate relationships, in other words, the question of the governments, the relationship between movements and states, that is to say, the question of emancipation and the relationship between development and living well (buen vivir) [1], that is, post-development. If we look at the state question, the existence of the progressive governments is very positive, because within them is at play the relationship with the United States and with the big multinationals of the north, the crisis of imperialist domination that these governments accentuate. But, if we observe the question of emancipation or development, these governments have represented a step back. The problem is that there are social and political forces that cannot have any horizon other than being government, which converts them into administrators of the State.”

In the specificity of Latin America, Zibechi emphasizes that on the one hand “we have an official society, hegemonic, with a colonial heritage, with its institutions, its ways of doing things, its justice and all that. On the other hand, there is another society that has property in the remote rural areas and is organized into communities and also in the expanded urban peripheries. This other society has other ways and forms of organizing, has its own justice, its own forms of production and an organization for making decisions parallel to or at the margin of the established one.”

Our author maintains that indigenous practice questions various aspects of western revolutionary conceptions and denounces that only the State-centric can be theorized, coinciding with authors like Leopoldo Marmora, who in the middle of the 1980s made note of the Eurocentric roots of Marxism in the treatment of the national question and in the concept of “peoples without history.” “There are various themes that the Indian movement puts on the table. The first is their conception of time, the present-past relationship. The second is the idea of social change or revolution, the Pachakutik… The third is related to rationalism and to the relation between means and ends, which involves the ideas of strategy and tactics, as well as the question of program and of plan.”

In all these themes and processes, the role of the intellectual is important. Zibechi rejects being defined as an intellectual, even in the terms in which Lenin and even Gramsci plated them, and he prefers being called an activist/militant and thinker/educator, which in any case doesn’t stop him from being intellectual. He maintains, aptly, that many of the ideas of those who work in the movements are the patrimony of many people. “If people are at the centre of the movement, then the intellectual tends to be one more in the movement… therefore the intellectuals must also be in movement and move away from that place of being at the top of the people.”

Zibechi considers that the autonomic anti-systemic movements started a new era of social struggles or classes that is in its first phases. This new era is one of the self-construction of a world, with the necessity of passing over the taking of state power, and concentrating on the territories where these new worlds are being constructed. The most evident case is that of the Zapatista Caracoles, where forms of supra-communitarian power have been constructed, like the Good Government Juntas each of which unites hundreds of communities (although the federalism in Kurdistan also shows an unpublished experience in this conflictive region of the world). The Zapatista experience –Zibechi asserts– is a historic achievement that had never existed before in the struggles of those below, except for the 69 days that the Paris Commune lasted and the brief time of the Soviets before the Stalinist state reconstruction.

The reappearance of the EZLN, according to Zibechi, “combines historic positions (among which one would have to emphasize the rejection of the electoral scenario and the construction of homogenous and centralized organizations) with new developments that imply a different relationship with its support bases outside of Chiapas and, above all, a novel mode of intervention in popular sectors, consistent with demonstrating what they have been capable of constructing which, in reality, is teaching a distinctive and different path for transforming the world.”

In our author’s judgment, the Zapatista discourse recuperates the tradition of anticolonial resistance defended by Frantz Fanon, who emphasizes the existence of “two zones,” that of the oppressor and that of the oppressed, “those of above and those of below.” At the same time, Zibechi distinguished Zapatismo from other movements starting with integral autonomy, which leads them to reject aid and social policies from the government; the construction of organs of power on three levels, different from the forms of State power, inspired in the community; being a movement of youth and of women, and being consequently anti-capitalist.

[1] Buen Vivir – (Good living or living well, in English) is rooted in the cosmovision (or worldview) of the Quechua peoples of the Andes, sumak kawsay –or buen vivir, in Spanish– describes a way of doing things that is community-centric, ecologically balanced and culturally sensitive. In the concept of buen vivir, the individual lives in harmony with community, nature and culture.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Translation: Chiapas Support Committee

Friday, August 28, 2015

En español:



August 17, 2015

Decolonizing critical thought and rebellions

Filed under: Zapatistas — Tags: , , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 5:05 pm


Decolonizing critical thought and rebellions


By: Gilberto López y Rivas /I

Raúl Zibechi’s most recent book, Decolonizing critical thought and rebellions, autonomies and emancipations in the era of progressivism,recently published in our country (Mexico) by Bajo Tierra Ediciones(2015), constitutes a solid and profound contribution to the debate about ideas within the ambit of resistances and the anti-capitalist autonomic processes, as well as a large-scale critique of the progressivisms of the so-called institutionalized lefts, considered by the author as even a “new form of domination.”

It is divided into four sections preceded by an introduction: 1) Societies in movement, 2) Movements in the progressive era, 3) Progressivisms as new forms of domination, and 4) Below and to the left. The work is founded on the author’s experiential knowledge of important anti-systemic movements in Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Peru, Venezuela, Uruguay and, especially, in Mexico, starting with the Zibechi’s coexistence with the process of the Maya peoples grouped together in the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN).

The introduction is key to comprehending the extensive 375-page text, and it begins with the impactful and little known story about the massacre of at least 200 Algerians and the arrest of another thousand in Paris in October 1961, as well as about the cost in human life and those tortured in the war for liberation, which according to reports from the National Liberation Front (Frente de Liberación Nacional), “of a total of between 9 and 10 million inhabitants, one million Algerians died, while another million were tortured.” Zibechi points out that there was never any punishment for murdering Algerians and that this is the climate in which Frantz Fanon reflected, considered as the “zone of non-being (…) where the humanity of those beings is violated day after day, hour after hour. The present state of Fanon’s thinking is recovered upon questioning hegemonic critical theory, in other words, Soviet Marxism of the 1950s and 1960s, and for thinking and practicing resistance and revolution from the physical and spiritual place of the oppressed: “there where a good part of humanity lives in situations of indescribable oppression, aggravated by the re-colonization that the neoliberal model supposes.” Zibechi maintains that a strategy continues being necessary that attacks the “inferiority complex” suffered by the colonized, and he asks: “Of what use is the revolution if the triumphant people are limited to reproducing the colonial order, a society of dominators and dominated? Because of that, broaching the question of subjectivity is a strategic political issue of the first order, without which the dominated repeat the old history: occupying the material and symbolic place of the colonizer, thus reproducing the system that it fights.” Criticizing the liberating role that Fanon attributes to violence, upon “elevating the people to the place of leader,” the necessity of bringing up the problem of subjectivity as a political priority is revisited, “thus breaking with the centrality of the economy and with the exclusive role conceded to the conquest of power and to the recuperation of the means of production and of change through the theory of revolution.”

Starting with these ideas, Zibechi develops aspects that he considers central, and that are certainly present in the texts that make up the volume: autonomy and dignity, power, reproduction and family, community or vanguard, identity, collective production of knowledge and the creation of a new world. He points out that those that live in the “zone of non-being” cannot be autonomous in an oppressive society, since violence is daily life and society doesn’t recognize them as human beings. Therefore, the colonized (Fanon), those below (Zapatistas), must create safe spaces to which the powerful cannot accede. At the same time, the autonomies of the indigenous peoples, campesinos and mestizos must be integral; that is, approach all aspects of life, from food production to justice and power. The dominated cannot appeal to State justice, but must create their institutions. In this way, the processes of change cannot be ordered around the current states. Autonomous processes are founded on democratic powers, not state (powers), and are anti-colonial because they destroy the subordinate relationships of race, gender, generation, inherited wisdom and power, constructing other new ones in which differences co-exist without any one of them being imposed.

The movements of the “zone of non-being” are counted in families. The fundamental political step is the passage from reproduction in the family home to collective reproduction in the movements, modifying the immobility of the dominated society, renewing their blood and their spirit (Fanon). Reproduction is where the society of those below can make “an effort on their own behalf.”

Fanon also continues in his denunciation of the elitism of the lefts, including the notion of a party that he considers “imported from the metropolis.” His rejection of an organization centered on the most conscious elites and organized on the basis of their ability to negotiate and become imbedded in the state apparatus. They have no need to destroy it, since they hope for a place in the system’s shadow. Zibechi emphasizes that Zapatismo, to the contrary, proposes to organize the entirety of the people. The EZLN inverted the colonial logic of the lefts, by placing itself at the service of the communities; that is, “from a revolutionary vanguard to governing by obeying; from the taking of Power of those above to the creation of power in those below; from professional politics to daily politics; from the leaders to the peoples” (sub Marcos). Zapatismo travels this path of decolonizing critical thinking, Zibechi maintains, revitalizing traditions of a community character, and starting from their wisdom, they teach that a revolutionary theory separated from reality and placed on top of it (reality) is not necessary for constructing a new world.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Translation: Chiapas Support Committee

Friday, August 14, 2015

En español:



August 8, 2015

The New Great Transformation

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 4:22 pm


The New Great Transformation

The colours of Zapatismo

The colours of Zapatismo

By: Raúl Zibechi

One of the few advantages of big crises is that they help us to pull back the curtain behind which the system conceals and dissimulates its modes of oppressing. In this sense the crisis that Greece is experiencing can be a source of learning. For this I propose that we draw inspiration from the long path Karl Polanyi travelled when writing La gran transformación. To comprehend the rise of Nazism and Fascism he went back to the origins of economic liberalism, situated in the England of David Ricardo.

Free market capitalism, unregulated markets, disarticulated social relations and destroyed communities subjecting individuals, torn from their peoples, to hunger and humiliation. The enclosure of the countryside –the start of this process– was a revolution of the rich against the poor, Polanyi says. After the Hundred Years Peace the disintegration of the global economy was produced and “totalitarian dictatorships replaced the liberal State in numerous countries” (La Piqueta, 1997, p. 62).

The transformation that we are experiencing in recent decades has been analysed as the hegemony of accumulation by dispossession, as David Harvey points out in The New Imperialism (Oxford University Press, 2003). One must look for the roots of this process, following the steps of Immanuel Wallerstein and Giovanni Arrighi, in the workers’ struggles of the 1960s (and 1970s in Latin America), which disarticulated manufacturing discipline, thereby neutralizing Fordism-Taylorism, one of the bases of the welfare states. The dominant class decided to pass from the hegemony of accumulation by expanded reproduction to domination by means of accumulation by plunder.

Nevertheless, the concept of accumulation by dispossession doesn’t stop at the type of State suited for this stage. The political regimen for imposing the theft/plunder cannot be the same as in the period in which it bet on the integration of workers as citizens. This is, to my way of seeing, the nucleus of the lessons of the Greek crisis (and of the crisis in various Latin American processes).

We are facing the end of a period. A new great systemic transformation includes at least three transcendent changes, which must have their correlation in the adjustment of tactics and strategies of the anti-systemic movements.

The first one has already been mentioned: the end of the welfare state. Even in Latin America Latin in the second post-war period we experienced a relative industrial development, the awarding of rights to the working class and their progressive and incomplete insertion as citizens. The de-industrialization and financing of economies, on the back of the Washington Consensus, buried that development.

The second transformation is the end of national sovereignty. Important decisions, economic as well as political, are now being made in areas outside the control of the nation states. The recent “negotiation” between the Greek government and the Euro-group clearly shows the end of sovereignty. It is true that many rulers, of both the right and the left, are shipwrecked between the lack of scruples and the lack of a project. But it is no less true that the scope of action for the Nation-State is minimal, if it exists at all.

The third is the end of the democracies, tightly linked to the end of national sovereignty. They don’t want to talk about this. Maybe because so many live from the crumbs of public ofice. But it is one nucleus of our problems. When the one percent has kidnapped popular will and the 62 percent is subjected to the 1 percent; when this happens time and again in different countries, it’s because something doesn’t work. And, that something that doesn’t work is called democracy.

Believing in democracy, which is not synonymous with going to elections, is a grave strategic error. Believing in democracy is disarming our class powers (read as workers, poor women, Indians, blacks and mestizos, popular sectors and landless campesinos, residents of the peripheries, in the end, all those of below). Without those powers, the so-called “democratic rights” are worthless.

Democracy functions by disarming our powers, and at this point it is necessary to raise several considerations.

One. Democracy is not the opposite of dictatorship. We’re living in the dictatorship of financial capital, of small groups that no one elected (like the troika) which impose economic policies against the majorities, among other things because those who reach government are bought off or threatened with death, as Paul Craig Roberts reminds us: “It’s very possible that the Greeks know that they cannot declare a suspension of payments and leave, because they will be murdered if they do so. That has surely been made very clear to them” ( He knows what he says, because he comes from above.

Two. Ever since the bourgeoisie learned to manage the desire and will of the population by means of marketing, imposing the consumption of absurd and unnecessary merchandise, democracy has been subject to the techniques of the market. Popular will never manages to be expressed in state institutions, in the terms and codes used by the popular classes in their space-times, but rather is measured and sifted until it is neutralized.

Three. Class powers have been codified into laws. It is not the same to meet, publish pamphlets or create mutual societies based on their own strengths and avoiding repression, as it is to let the states regulate and discipline those ways of doing things by means of subsidies. Repression is often the first step to obtaining “legalization.”

Now the problem is ours. We can continue, as we have up to now, putting everything into elections, into marches and actions, into regulated strikes, and things like that. None of this is ruled out as a matter of principle. The problem is in constructing a strategy centred on those tools, regulated by those from above. “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house,” wrote the black feminist Audre Lorde.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Translation: Chiapas Support Committee

Edited for English audience: Dorset Chiapas Solidarity

Friday, July 24, 2015

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