dorset chiapas solidarity

September 3, 2016

The CNI and EZLN Announce the Fifth National Indigenous Congress

Filed under: CNI, Zapatistas — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 8:13 am



The CNI and EZLN Announce the Fifth National Indigenous Congress





Given that:

  1. This October marks 20 years of uninterrupted work by the National Indigenous Congress [CNI], a space of unity, reflection, and organization for the indigenous peoples of Mexico. The National Indigenous Congress has worked for the full reconstitution of our peoples and the construction of a society where all cultures, all colours, and all of the peoples of Mexico fit.
  2. Throughout these years, and with increased strength since the release of the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle by the Zapatista Army for National Liberation, we have forged in word and action our contributions to the struggles of resistance and rebellion throughout the national geography. We not only sustain our decision to continue our existence, but we honour this decision with all our strength and with our fists in the air. We honour it by weaving together profound and collective agreements that can be seen in our care of the earth, in our languages, in our traditions, and in our collective governments in their many different names and forms. The flame of our autonomy lives inside these things, and it illuminates the collective heart of our peoples, barrios, nations, and tribes. These are deep agreements that we work on every day so that each one gives rise to the complex territories that together constitute our autonomy and self-determination.
  3. While we weave life, capitalism designs and lays out over us its own territories of death in every corner of our suffering Mexico. Supposed mining territories, cartel activity by organized crime, agroindustry, political party territories, urban zoning rights, and conservation programs are all imposed on our lands and in none of them—no matter what name they are given by the system or its obedient governments—do the indigenous peoples fit.
  4. The capitalists began and continue to expand a bloody war of conquest to take over what has always been ours. They appear behind any number of masks in this constant war of extermination: the businessman, the politician, the police, the soldier, or the hitman. And as always, the dead, the disappeared, and the imprisoned come from us, as well as the stolen and destroyed lands. Any collective, autonomous, and rebellious hope is persecuted.
  5. We have resisted this capitalist onslaught against our peoples. From the devastation wrought on us we have dreamed and built new worlds. From our grief and mourning for our murdered compañeros we as peoples have recreated new forms of resistance and rebellion that allow us to halt this devastation and walk the only path possible for those below and to the left: to construct and exercise the justice denied us by the powerful who purport to govern us.
  6. It is urgent that we bring our flames of resistance, autonomy, and rebellion together. These flames illuminate every originary people who weave new worlds that are truly from below, where love and the ancestral commitment to our mother—the earth—are born.

We convoke the direct authorities and representatives of the peoples, nations, tribes, barrios, communities, and indigenous organizations in order to celebrate:



To be held October 9-14, in celebration of the twentieth anniversary of the CNI, at the Indigenous Centre for Holistic Training (CIDECI-UNITIERRA) in the city of San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, in Zapatista territory, according to the following schedule:


October 9: Arrival at CIDECI and registration for the authorities, representatives, indigenous delegates, press, and invited guests of the CNI Coordinating Commission.

October 10-11:

Inauguration of the Fifth National Indigenous Congress

Principle themes of discussion:

  • Displacement and repression
  • Our resistances and rebellion
  • State of the CNI
  • Proposals for strengthening the CNI

October 12:

Celebration of the twentieth anniversary of the National Indigenous Congress

October 13:

Plenary session, agreements, and conclusions

Closing of the Fifth CNI

October 14:

Return home

Early registration for indigenous delegates can be made using the CNI email:

Members of the National and International Sixth who want to participate as observers in the sessions of the Fifth CNI should register ahead of time at the email:

The Fifth National Indigenous Congress will have both public sessions (the inauguration and closing) and closed ones. Media that registers with and is approved by the CNI Coordinating Commission will be allowed to cover only the CNI’s public sessions. Media registration will be held October 9 and 10 at the site of the Congress.


July 2016

For the Full Reconstitution of Our Peoples

Never Again a Mexico Without Us

National Indigenous Congress

Zapatista Army for National Liberation



April 25, 2015

Zapatista Women Explain Things

Filed under: Women, Zapatistas — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 2:03 pm


Zapatista Women Explain Things


Review:Compañeras: Zapatista Women’s Storiesby Hilary Klein (Seven Stories, 2015)

You think you have read everything you need about the Zapatistas, and then something else comes along that is wholly indispensable to fully understanding the Chiapas rebellion. Hilary Klein’s new book Compañeras is the product of the author’s years of work on the ground in Mexico involving the participation of dozens of Zapatista women and is a much needed study focusing on the rebellion from a women’s perspective. It is impeccably researched, narrated in a direct and unpretentious manner, and tells a marvellous story. Compañeras, which presents for the first time in the English language in such a comprehensive manner the voice of grassroots Zapatista women speaking out directly, is unique as a document of women in struggle with a scope reaching far beyond Chiapas.

The genesis of the work began when Klein — a US-born social organizer based in Chiapas for a number of years around the turn of the century — was asked by the Zapatista women with whom she was working to compile a series of women’s testimonies to be circulated within their own rebel villages. Building on this popular project, the Zapatista leadership then suggested that Klein compile a similar book for people beyond Chiapas. The project gathered momentum and after a few years Klein had gathered the testimonies and interviewed dozens of Zapatista women of all ages from around the rebel area. For most of the interviewees, it was their first experience talking ‘on the record’ and thus we are given the privilege of hearing the voices of those rarely heard, but quintessential to the whole narrative.

We learn from these first-hand accounts of just how appalling was the experience of an indigenous woman in the isolated rural backlands of the southeast of Mexico before the 1994 uprising. The women explain the circumstances that led them to joining the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN). Not only were they poor and indigenous, but the women were also positioned at the lowest tier of this marginalized society. A Zapatista called Celina explains:

“I used to think that only men have rights. I just did my work and was completely manipulated. I didn’t know anything. I was always at home and I thought the only thing women were good for was working in the house. When the organization [the EZLN] arrived, we began to wake up. I began to realize that life doesn’t have to be how I was living it. We heard that women can participate too.”

Considering the almost insurmountable challenges facing these women — existing under the triple oppression of class, race and gender — this could so easily have ended up an intersectional tale of caution. But instead it is an inspiring story of hope, accompanied by profound victories along the way.

The Before and After January 1, 1994

Klein focuses in on the period around the time of the uprising, which kicked off spectacularly on New Year’s Day 1994, as “a watershed moment” when “a tremendous amount of change was compressed into a very short period.” With women’s participation in the uprising — a reputed 40 percent of the front-line rebel forces were female — as well as a backbone of tens of thousands of women in the communities, the cause of women advanced exponentially in just a few years before and after the rebellion. Zapatista women explain how it seemed that several generations of change seemed to take place in a condensed time of revolutionary upheaval. From this period the “The Women’s Revolutionary Law” emerged, a document that captured Zapatista women’s demands. Isabel, an insurgent, explains the process that occurred among the indigenous women in opening up this space in their own society. It is worth quoting at length, as her words perfectly capture the dynamic agency of the women themselves in this accelerated process of change:

“We gave women a space to talk, to express their feelings, and how they wanted to change all this: life in the family, with their husbands, with their children. That was where the ideas came from: if things are this bad, we asked ourselves, why not change it? Change men’s ideas as well and find a way, as an organization to turn these ideas into a law. And that is how the Women’s Revolutionary Law was born: talking, venting, analysing. It is not something from outside — it came from our own ideas, our experiences in our families, and communities, with our parents, our husbands, our children.”

The book follows the development of the women’s struggle within and as part of the Zapatista trajectory over the ensuing 20 years. The women tell of the exciting years in which zapatismo flourished (developing regional autonomy, providing a wake-up call for Mexico, inspiring activists globally), as well as reflections on the lean years (the dejection arising from futile peace talks with the government, the failure of the nationwide Zapatista Other Campaign to ignite Mexico from below). Compañeras provides an exceptional array of unique material as well as behind-the-scenes insights, like when Susana recalls how Comandanta Ramona — the most well-known female Zapatista up to her death in 2006, lamented how “it made her sad to see people selling her photograph because, she said, ‘I’m not fighting so they can sell my photo.’”

A theme emerges of women fiercely proud of their organization, the EZLN, but also aware that while “the Zapatista movement has done much to promote women’s rights — as Klein points out — changes do not always come easily, inside or outside the organization.”

Zapatista women are very careful about sharing their concerns they may have with outsiders, explains Klein, “understandably, they feel protective of their organization.” Nevertheless, Compañeras has space for protagonists to express their criticism of the movement. In a key section, one (ex-) compañera criticizes the attitude of men she encountered within the EZLN.

“Most men are not willing to see a woman surpass him. He is afraid of a woman giving him orders, afraid of a woman who is smarter than him. And even at the highest levels, they’re not willing to …”. Such sentiments seems to permeate the experience of Zapatista women as their deep loyalty to the EZLN, explains Klein, “brushes up against their frustration with a commitment to equality that has yet to be fulfilled and a vision of liberation that has has yet to be realized.”

Balanced with such misgivings, other compañeras talk of remarkable transformations. A group of Zapatista women give voice collectively during a regional women’s gathering in the rebel zone in 2001: “Thanks to the organization, we have opened our eyes and opened our heart. […] Thanks to the organization, we have found compañerismo and unity. We have also found respect between men and women. Our struggle is our liberation, because it gave us courage to participate and defend our rights […] Today there is hope and freedom in our lives.”

What Is Left Unsaid

We owe Hilary Klein our gratitude for the service of bringing the word of the compañeras to an English-speaking audience. Her selfless endeavour, the years traversing the arduous territory of Chiapas, interviewing, transcribing, translating and writing drafts — ten years labour of love — have allowed the flower of the word to be shared with us. Here is something that is not apparent in Compañeras but can be detected between the lines: the fun that accompanies Hilary Klein as she is embraced into the everyday life of the indigenous communities. A work, then, informed by joy and laughter amongst the compañeras.


December 17, 2014

Zapatistas Invite Ayotzinapa Parents to Festival of Resistance

Filed under: Zapatista — Tags: , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 6:06 am



Zapatistas Invite Ayotzinapa Parents to Festival of Resistance

Zapatistas march in support of the disappeared Ayotzinapa students.

Zapatistas march in support of the disappeared Ayotzinapa students. | Photo: Dorset Chiapas Solidarity
Published 16 December 2014
The Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) invited the parents of the 43 disappeared Ayotzinapa students to the forthcoming World Festival of Resistance and Rebellion against Capitalism.

The Zapatistas released a communique stating that group believes it is so important for everyone to hear the voices of the families of the disappeared Ayotzinapa teacher training college students that they are ceding their own space in the Festival to allow for their participation.

The long text says that the purpose of the invitation is to “listen to the family members and comrades of the disappeared and murdered students ofAyotzinapa. These are the voices that have touched the hearts of millions of people in Mexico and the world ….These are the voices that have expressed the pain and the rage, the voices that have denounced the crime and named the criminal .… The importance of these voices is recognized both by the government, that tries to delegitimize them, and by the vultures that try to bend them.”

The Zapatistas asked the family members to name a delegation of 10 women and 10 men to take their place in the Festival as guests of honor.

They also asked the National Indigenous Congress (CNI) and other organizers to arrange food, lodging and transportation for the parents participating in the festival.

Some of the communities participating in the festival include the comuninities Ñatho de San Francisco Xochicuautla y Huitzizilpan that are resisting the imposition of a superhighway through their lands; the Nahuas de San Pedro Tlanixco, who are defending their springs and streams; the Yaquis of Sonora, who are resisting the imposition of an aqueduct that community members fear will rob them of their water; the Wixaritari, whose traditional pilgrimage route is threatened by mining interests; and the Purepechas of Cheran, Michoacan, whose lands are coveted by big lumber interests.

In the long communique, the Zapatistas also criticized the criminalization of the marches for justice for the disappeared Ayotzinapa students and of the youth and student protesters involved.

The World Festival of Resistance and Rebellion against Capitalism will be held from Dec. 21-Jan. 3, beginning in the Mexican state of Xochicuatla and ending in Oventic, Chiapas.


March 13, 2014

From Kyoto, Japan, an activity in solidarity with the Zapatistas held on 2 March 2014

Filed under: Zapatista — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 7:10 am


From Kyoto, Japan, an activity in solidarity with the Zapatistas held on 2 March 2014

In Kyoto, Japan, Students from the Escuelita Zapatista held an activitiy in solidarity with the Zapatistas on 2 March 2014. Here are some photos taken by a Korean compañero who also participated in the activity.


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