Tuesday, October 8, 2013

"Chiapas Against the Grain" 10th Itinerant Program Winter 2013

San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, México.

The independent collective “CHIAPAS AGAINST THE GRAIN” in San Cristóbal de las Casas has once again organized the tenth special winter program based on reflection workshops regarding Language and Culture within the context of different visions and values of space/habitat and their contradictions in the urban/rural spatial configuration under neoliberal policies, as well as the processes of cultural recreation and appropriation within the dynamic of the challenge of constructing new worlds.  Said program seeks, in short, to encourage exchanges of experiences between nationals and internationals about shared and diverse principles and values, using Chiapas’ socio-cultural reality as a reference.  Based on the idea that THOUGHT, LANGUAGE, AND REALITY are an identity that allows us to integrate different forms of communication and interaction, we will participate in different activities from visits to talks and videos as generators of collective reflection.

The program will take place from Wednesday, December 18-22, 2013.  The cost for the week’s activities will be $2,000 pesos for internationals and $1,000 pesos for Latin Americans.  The money is used to support independent cultural spaces in Chiapas.  Those who are interested and wish to receive more information can write to chiapasacontrapelo (at) cronopios.org . Our web site: http://www.chiapas-a-contrapelo.cronopios.org/ . Address:  Josefa Ortíz de Domínguez #34A. Barrio Santa Lucía. Telephone: +52 (678) 116-0806.

DECEMBER 18-22, 2013

Wednesday 18 Thursday 19 Friday 20 Saturday 21 Sunday 22

Registration and Introduction Plenary about reflection by previous day’s teams

Visit to a Rural City
Plenary about reflection by the previous day’s teams Work in teams: “Space and autonomy”

Tour in teams (*) of the “dual city” Work in teams:
Lekil kuxlejal.
A dignified life.
Work in teams: Autonomy and cultural appropriation: "Everything for everyone." Plenary about the reflection in teams.

Reflection in teams about the activity in the “dual city” Video and preparation for the visit to a Rural City Reflection in teams about the visit. Presentations: New worlds: coexistence and conflicts Continuation of the plenary and final evaluation

(*)  “Dual city” is the concept Andrés Aubry used to characterize San Cristóbal de las Casas (Spanish residential center, indigenous periphery)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Invisibilization of Indigenous Hurricane Victims in Guerrero

While the media focuses on the Mexican government’s efforts to evacuate tourists stranded in Acapulco by Hurricane Ingrid and tropical storm Manuel, Guerrero’s indigenous population is abandoned and forgotten.

Alert by Tlachinollan Human Rights Center
Tlapa, de Comonfort, Guerrero. September 18, 2013

The Tlachinollan Human Rights Center denounces that hurricane victims in the Montaña region have been treated as though they were invisible. To date, the government has not taken action to deal with the damages caused by the recent storms in this region.

In Guerrero’s Montaña region, hundreds of communities remain cut off from the outside world, and the number of deaths caused by the storms is still uncertain. The situation that Na’savi and Me’phaa indigenous communities are facing in the municipalities of Malinaltepec, Atlamajalcingo del Monte, Iliatenco, Cochoapa el Grande Metlatonoc, Tlacoapa, Acatepec, and Copanatoyac is urgent; people there are cut off and abandoned. Deaths of children and adults have been reported in Mixtecapa, San Luis Acatlán municipality, due to a mudslide on the hill where the community is located. In the Moyotepec and El Tejocote communities in the Malinaltepec municipality, community authorities have reported over ten deaths. In Tilapa and its annex El Salto in the same municipality, three people were reported dead. In that same municipality there is flooding and damage to hundreds of homes as well as the destruction of crops. In Huehuetepec, Atlamajalcingo del Monte municipality, the Ixtle Hill has begun to slide and residents have left their homes to take refuge in the hills. Likewise, about 70 families face the serious risk that their homes will be buried.

To Tlachinollan, the rains’ impacts in the Montaña are incalculable. In addition to not having an accurate number of deaths, the loss of corn sown by subsistence farmers during this agricultural cycle means that the majority of communities in the region will face an alarming food scarcity in the immediate future. On top of that, homes have been completely destroyed in many communities. In this context, it is urgent to guarantee the human rights to food and dignified housing through emergency actions.

Nevertheless, the state’s response has not arrived to the Montaña region. The traditional community authorities who have arrived on foot to Tlapa have run into public officials’ indifference and discriminatory treatment. There is a total lack of coordination between the three levels of government [municipal, state, and federal], and there is no political representation to quickly deal with victims’ proposals and demands. It is extremely frustrating that the indigenous population that made a great effort to get to Tlapa must return without assuring that the authorities accompany them to their communities to confirm the damages.

On the other hand, Tlachinollan has confirmed that in semi-urban centers such as the municipal seat of Tlapa, the situation is becoming alarming due to the fact that the city is cut off due to the damage to highways that connect it to Chilpancingo, Puebla, and Marquelia. This is already causing a scarcity of gasoline and food, and various neighborhoods remain without telephone service and electricity.

Faced with this situation, the Tlachinollan Human Rights Center laments that the situation of the victims in the Montaña region has not received sufficient attention, neither from the public nor from government agencies, being that the region’s extremely poor suffer the worst consequences of these natural disasters. Once more, the marginalized are also the most forgotten. Therefore, Tlachinollan calls for emergency measures to deal with the situation of victims in the Montaña region and demands that the extraordinary funds that are delivered to Guerrero state authorities incorporate mechanisms of transparency and oversight in order to avoid discretional use for political gain, because such embezzlement is unfortunately frequent in the state.

Finally, the Tlachinollan Human Rights Center calls upon civil society to support the solidarity campaigns that seek to collect food for the people in Guerrero who have been affected by the rains, given that the situation the state faces is critical.

Translated by Kristin Bricker.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

“Practice First, Then Theory:” The Zapatista Little School Shares Lessons Learned During 19 Years of Self-Governance

by Kristin Bricker, Americas Program

The first night of my homestay during the Zapatista Little School, my guardian and her husband asked if their students had any questions. My classmate and I both had experience working with the Zapatistas, so we politely limited ourselves to the safe questions that are generally acceptable when visiting rebel territory: questions about livestock, crops, local swimming holes, and anything else that doesn’t touch on sensitive information about the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN).

My guardian’s husband patiently answered our mundane questions. Then he said, “Look, we entered into clandestinity in 1983, when the organization was just being formed. We walked hours at night to organize other towns, always at night so that the plantation owners wouldn’t get suspicious, and we went into the brush to train. My wife risked her life walking at night to bring bags of tostadas to the camps so that the insurgents would have food to eat during training. Now, do you have any other questions?”

My classmate and I looked at each other, our eyes seeming to say the same thing: “Oh, so that’s how it’s going to be at the Zapatista Little School.” Then our questions began in earnest, and our guardians and their neighbors enthusiastically answered every single one.

Setting the Record Straight

The Zapatistas made the decision to open up their homes to their long-time supporters and teach them about their past, present, errors, victories, and advances for several reasons. During the Little School, Zapatistas repeatedly said that they hoped their supporters could learn from their experiences.

“Self-governance… is possible. If we achieved it with just a few compañeros andcompañeras, why not with thousands or millions?” asked a Zapatista woman from Oventik. “We hope you’ll tell us if our practice, our experience with self-governance is in some way useful for you.”

“Many people think that what we’re doing, our form of governance, is a utopia, a dream,” said another Zapatista in Oventik. “For us Zapatistas, it is a reality because we’ve been doing it… through daily practice over the past 19 years. And that is why we think that if we join together with millions of Mexicans, we can form our own governments.”

Years ago, a Zapatista told me that they often learn more from their mistakes than from their victories. In that spirit, the Little School curriculum includes brutally honest discussions about errors the Zapatistas have committed over the years. For example, the textbooks include a frank discussion about the demise of the Mut Vitz coffee cooperative in 2007. Even though the cooperative’s sudden, unexplained closure was felt throughout the United States and Europe when roasters suddenly found themselves without a source of Zapatista coffee, the Zapatistas had not explained the reasons for Mut Vitz’s downfall until now.

In the Little School textbooks, Roque, a former member of the cooperative and current member of the San Juan de la Libertad Autonomous Municipal Council in Oventik, reveals that mismanagement and corruption ultimately lead to Mut Vitz’s demise. The cooperative had hired an outside accountant who, for reasons unknown to the cooperative members, did not accurately declare Mut Vitz’s assets to Mexico’s tax agency, which allowed the government to freeze their bank account. As Mut Vitz underwent an internal audit to determine what money the cooperative had left outside of the frozen account to pay producers who had supplied coffee on credit pending its sale, the Oventik Good Government Council discovered that members of the Mut Vitz board of directors were stealing money from the cooperative. The Council issued an order to arrest the guilty parties and seized some of their assets to replace the money they had stolen.

The Zapatistas also hoped to use the Little School to set the record straight about the state of their movement. They read the news, and they told students that they know the corporate media reports that Zapatismo is a dying movement, that the Zapatistas have turned their guns over to the government, that Subcomandante Marcos died of lung cancer or was fired, that the Comandancia (the Zapatista military leadership) meets secretly with the “bad government” and accepts millions of pesos from it, and that the Zapatistas are closet communists, amongst other baseless claims.

Furthermore, the Zapatistas admit that there have been traitors, compañeroswho left the organization and collaborated with the government. As one European activist said at the end of the Little School, “I think they realized that it had gotten to the point where Mexico’s security agencies knew more about how the Zapatistas’ government works than their own civil society supporters did, so they decided to let us in on what they’ve been up to.”

The Zapatistas’ civilian government is, after all, not clandestine, and non-Zapatista indigenous people routinely use its clinics, justice system, public transportation permits, and other services that they can’t seem to obtain through the Mexican government. Moreover, any non-Zapatista—be it the bad government or another indigenous organization—that wants to develop an infrastructure project that passes through Zapatista territory (roads or electricity, for example) must negotiate with the Zapatistas’ “good government” and therefore understands how it is structured. With the Little School, the Zapatistas have officially and for the record explained exactly how their government works.

Perhaps one of the Little School’s most important benefits for the Zapatistas occurred during its preparation. The Little School’s four textbooks, Autonomous Government part I and II, Women’s Participation in the Autonomous Government, and Autonomous Resistance, as well as the two DVDs that accompany the books, were all created by Zapatistas themselves. The textbooks are the result of Zapatistas from all five caracoles (Zapatista government centers) traveling to regions other than their own to collect testimonies and interview fellow Zapatistas about how they self-govern.

The Zapatistas’ bottom-up approach to government means that while all of the caracoles operate under the same basic principles and towards the same goals, their day-to-day operations sometimes differ drastically. For example, every caracol has a Good Government Board, the maximum governing body in the region. However, each caracol’s Board is structured differently. Many of the Zapatistas’ questions to their compañeros from other caracoles in the interview portion of the textbooks revolved around their experiences and what has worked and what has not.

For example, a Board member from Oventik asked former Board members from Morelia, “Are the twelve members of the [Morelia] Board able to do all of their work? Because in Caracol II [Oventik] there’s 28 of us, and sometimes we feel overwhelmed.” The Morelia Zapatistas’ response was that they, too, are overwhelmed, and they feel the need to restructure the Board, but they have been unable to come up with a better proposal thus far.

Governing from Below

When the Zapatistas rose up in arms in Chiapas on January 1, 1994, they knew they wanted freedom and autonomy. “But we didn’t have a guide or a plan to tell us how to do it,” a Zapatista education promoter explained to me. “For us, it’s practice first, then theory.”

While part of the EZLN drove rich landowners off of their plantations in the Chiapan countryside in the pre-dawn hours of New Year’s day, other contingents took seven major cities around the state. “All that we’ve accomplished was thanks to our weapons that opened up the path that we are walking down today,” explains a Zapatista from Oventik on a Little School DVD. “[Since then] everything that we have achieved, we have achieved without firing a single shot.”

Immediately following the uprising, the Zapatistas implemented autonomous government at the town level. Each town named its local authorities and formed an assembly. “But since we were at war, we kept losing local authorities,” explains Lorena, a health promoter from San Pedro de Michoacán in La Realidad. “There was disorder in the communities.” As a stopgap measure, the EZLN’s military leadership had to step up and fulfill roles that civilian authorities were unable to carry out during the chaos of the war.

The military leadership held consultations with civilian authorities, and together they decided to create autonomous municipalities in order to bring order and civilian governance to the rebel territory. In December 1994, the Zapatistas inaugurated 38 autonomous municipalities comprised of an undisclosed number of towns. Each autonomous municipality had its own municipal council named by the towns, allowing for increased coordination between towns and more formal organization of civilian affairs.

As solidarity activists began to arrive in Zapatista territory to donate money and labor, the EZLN’s command realized that some municipalities were receiving more support than other, more isolated ones. “At [the command’s] urging, the municipal councils met and began to hold assemblies to start to see how each municipality was doing, what support each was receiving, what projects were being carried out,” explains Doroteo, a former member of La Realidad’s Good Government Board.

In 1997, the Zapatistas formalized the assemblies of municipal councils by creating the Association of Autonomous Municipalities, comprised of representatives from each autonomous municipality. “With the association of municipalities, tasks and work in health, education, and commerce were overseen,” recalls Doroteo. “During that time a dry goods warehouse was created… with the idea of [economically] supporting the full-time workers in the [Zapatista] hospital in San José del Río.”

During the creation of the Association of Autonomous Municipalities, the Zapatistas formally redistributed the land they had taken over in the 1994 uprising. Landless Zapatistas left the communities in which they were born to settle on recuperated land they could finally call their own, fulfilling revolutionary hero Emiliano Zapata’s creed, “The land belongs to those who work it.”

In 2003, the Zapatistas inaugurated the third level of their autonomous government, the five Good Government Boards, located in La Realidad, Oventik, La Garrucha, Morelia, and Roberto Barrios. However, the organization of higher levels of government does not mean that the Zapatistas are moving further away from direct democracy through local assemblies. On the contrary, all proposals must be approved by town assemblies.

Proposals can originate in town assemblies and work their way up the different levels of autonomous government if they affect more than just the town in which they originated. The proposals pass through the municipal councils, which then brings approved proposals to the Good Government Council, which then runs them by the command, which then sends the proposals back down through the five Good Government Boards, which send them to the municipal councils, which in turn send the proposals to the people at the town level for consultation and implementation.

The command can also create its own proposals and send them down through the three levels of civilian government to the town assemblies for consultation and approval. Therefore, even though the Good Government Boards are the highest level of the autonomous government, they have no authority to create laws. The Boards are limited to two main roles: to coordinate and promote work in their regions and to enforce and carry out Zapatista laws and mandates that have already been approved by the people.

Because the Zapatistas constructed their government from the bottom up, with people organizing themselves into community assemblies, which in turn organized municipal councils, which in turn organized the five Good Government Boards, everyCaracol is different. All work to implement the Zapatistas’ demands: land, housing, health, education, work, food, justice, democracy, culture, independence, freedom, and peace. However, the Zapatistas’ progress in implementing those demands varies from Caracol to Caracol. Some Caracols, such as La Garrucha, have collective economic projects such as stores or cattle to fund political activities at each of the three levels of government; other Caracols like Oventik only have collective economic projects in some towns.

Likewise, methods and success in implementing the Zapatistas’ Revolutionary Women’s Law varies. Morelia, for example, struggles to find ways to promote women’s participation in the higher levels of autonomous government. However, Morelia is unique amongst the Caracols because its Honor and Justice Commission (the judicial system) has a special plan for dealing with rape that aims to reduce re-victimization and encourage women to report crimes.

Constant Progress

Many have referred to recent Zapatista mobilizations such as their December 21, 2012, silent march and the creation of the Little School as a Zapatista “resurgence.” The Little School left one thing very clear: this is not a resurgence, because the Zapatistas never went away. During the school, students learned about the seemingly endless new cooperatives, the Zapatistas’ experiments in collective governance that are always being fine-tuned, and how donations from supporters were invested in livestock and warehouses so that they would pay dividends that would provide a steady long-term budget for hospitals and clinics.

The Little School’s lesson is clear: if the Zapatistas aren’t talking to the press, don’t commit the error of thinking that they are losing steam or have faded away. They are simply working extremely hard to advance their autonomy, and are too busy to get bogged down in countering the naysayers.

After all, their success is measured in their achievements and not their rhetoric. As one Zapatista man said at the end of a Little School class in Oventik, “We are demonstrating to the bad government that we don’t want it and we don’t need it, and it’s not necessary, for us to provide for ourselves.”

Kristin Bricker is a reporter in Mexico. She is a contributor to the CIP Americas Program www.cipamericas.org.

Photos: Santiago Navarro F

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Mexico: Indigenous Oaxacan Political Prisoners Caught in the Drug War Prison Boom

by Kristin Bricker and Santiago Navarro, Upside Down World  

After spending nearly 17 years in the same prison cell just outside of Oaxaca City, seven indigenous Loxicha political prisoners were transferred this month—twice. The transfers, which enraged and frightened their families and supporters, were part of a nationwide shuffle of existing prisoners to fill beds at newly opened facilities that were financed by Mexican and United States drug war money.

The prisoners, Agustín Luna Valencia, Eleuterio Hernández Garcia, Fortino Enriquez Hernández, Justino Hernández José, Abraham Garcia Ramirez, Zacarias Pascual Garcia López, and Alvaro Sebastián Ramirez, are Zapotec indigenous men from Oaxaca’s Loxicha region, one of Oaxaca’s poorest and most marginalized regions.

The seven Loxichas are accused of participating in the August 29, 1996, Popular Revolutionary Army (EPR) uprising in la Crucecita, Oaxaca, in which 11 government agents were killed. The indigenous men say they were tortured into signing hundreds of pages of blank paper that were later filled in with confessions. The Loxichas were convicted of murder (of the federal agents), terrorism, and conspiracy, and they were sentenced to up to 31 years in prison.

This past June 7, the Loxicha prisoners were transferred to the new private medium security federal prison Cefereso #13 in Miahuatlan, Oaxaca, located three hours from the Ixcotel state prison where they spent the past sixteen years. The publicly financed, privately managed prison opened this past March. It is Oaxaca’s first federal prison and Mexico’s first private prison.

In response to increasing prison overpopulation throughout the country, the federal government has promised to transfer federal prisoners out of the state prisons where they are currently incarcerated and into new federal prisons. As part of this reshuffling, the seven Loxichas—all held on federal charges—were transferred to the Miahuatlan prison along with 186 other federal prisoners from state prisons around the country. When prison officials didn’t notify the prisoners’ families about the transfer, this led to fears that the Loxicha political prisoners had been disappeared.

When the Loxichas’ families located them in Miahuatlan’s new private prison, they attempted to visit them there in order to assure that the prisoners were not abused during the transfer. The families were shocked to discover that the prison prohibits face-to-face visits. The prisoners are only allowed 30-minute visits via closed-circuit television. “My father thought that I was calling him from somewhere else,” recounted Erica Sebastián, Alvaro Sebastián Ramirez’s daughter, following a televised visit. “He told me that all of the other prisoners were surprised because we were the first people to visit that prison. That’s how we know that was due to political pressure that we were allowed to see them.”

Contrary to the government’s claims that its new “modern” private prison would “offer clinic services, education, and recreation areas to the prisoners,” as well as “job training” and “dignified facilities,” Erica found her father and the other Loxichas living in “degrading and inhumane” conditions. “They went a whole week without any toilet paper,” complained Erica. “They had to bathe themselves in front of female guards.”

In a press release, the families denounced that the prisoners had gone “13 days without seeing the sun, without leaving their cells, without being able to change their clothes, drinking [dirty] tap water, eating small rations of only beans and a piece of bread, suffering from chronic illnesses and not having access to neither medicine nor medical attention.” The families also discovered that Federal Police abused the inmates during the transfer. “[Federal Police] violently removed them from cell #22 in the Ixcotel prison, they stole their money and valuables, [and] they left them outside exposed to the elements for several hours with their hands tied behind their backs and in uncomfortable positions.”

On June 21, the same day the families held a press conference to denounce the inhumane conditions at the Miahuatlan prison, the government transferred the prisoners yet again—this time, to a maximum security federal prison in Tabasco, which is located over 12 hours from their families in Oaxaca. “The government is mocking us,” commented Erica after learning of the new transfer. “It wants to wear us down.”

During a three-hour face-to-face visit in the Tabasco prison on June 26, Alvaro told his daughter that the conditions there were better than in Miahuatlan’s private prison. “They’re thankful to be out of that place,” reported Erica after leaving the prison. “They aren’t thinking of [the transfer] as retaliation. They think of it as a victory that they were transferred out of Cefereso #13, because whoever gets sent to that prison goes crazy.”
Nonetheless, the families are upset that their loved ones were sent so far away because the trip is prohibitively expensive. The relatives had to beg for donations to cover travel costs for their first visit, and they borrowed a vehicle from the Oaxacan teachers union to get to the prison in Huimanguillo, Tabasco.

The Tabasco and Miahuatlan prisons are two of 12 new federal prisons that are financed in part by funds from the United States government’s Merida Initiative drug war aid package. Under the rubric of “prison reform,” the Merida Initiative aims to increase federal prisons’ capacity from 6,400 to 20,000 prisoners by funding new prisons, training prison guards in the United States, and establishing a corrections academy and canine training facilities in Mexico.

The construction of new prisons has been a priority due to concerns that Mexico’s overburdened, corrupt prison system could not handle the influx of new prisoners that officials hoped the drug war would create. The 12 new prisons constitute a veritable boom for Mexico’s budding industry, bringing the total number of federal prisons up to 25.

Legal Recourses Exhausted

The seven Loxicha prisoners deny that they belonged to the EPR and participated in the uprising. Furthermore, Erica argues that the government’s charges against her father are contradictory and unlawful: “The State accuses my father of participating in a rebellion, but he was judged as a common criminal.”

Erica points out that Article 137 of Mexico’s Federal Penal Code states, “When the crimes of homicide, robbery, kidnapping, looting, and other crimes are committed during a rebellion, the rules of combat apply. The rebels will not be responsible for the homicides nor injuries occasioned by the acts of a combatant…” If the Loxichas were tried and convicted as rebels—as the government claims they are—instead of common criminals, they would have been sentenced to 1-20 years for rebellion instead of thirty years for homicide and terrorism. In other words, they could have possibly already served their sentences instead of living in federal prison alongside some of the drug war’s most ruthless convicts.

The Loxicha prisoners have exhausted their legal options within the Mexican court system. On May 6, 2013, Alvaro Sebastián filed a complaint with the Inter-American Human Rights Commission in the hopes that the Inter-American Human Rights Court will hear his case. Because the Mexican government is legally required to abide by all Inter-American Human Rights Court verdicts, a favorable verdict is his only remaining legal recourse.

However, Sebastián and his supporters, known as the Voice of the Zapotec Xiches Collective, are not idly waiting for the Inter-American Commission to review his case. They believe political pressure from civil society will ultimately free Sebastián and the other Loxicha prisoners.

Sebastián has followed in the footsteps of other high-profile indigenous political prisoners and publicly declared his support for the Zapatistas. During his tour of Mexico in 2006, the Zapatistas’ Subcomandante Marcos appealed to supporters to create a national campaign for the liberation of the country’s political prisoners. Since then, dozens of indigenous political prisoners and their supporters, particularly in the Zapatistas’ home state of Chiapas, have united under the Zapatista banner to agitate for their freedom.

The strategy gives political prisoners access to the Zapatistas’ supporters around the world. The resulting political pressure has forced the government to release dozens of imprisoned Zapatista supporters, including Gloria Arenas and her husband Jacobo Silva Nogales, both former commanders of the Guerrero-based Revolutionary Army of the Insurgente People (ERPI).

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

"Chiapas Against the Grain" 9th Itinerant Program Summer 2013

If you're already planning on coming to Chiapas for the Zapatista events this August, consider extending your trip so that you can participate in this valuable program.

The independent collective “CHIAPAS AGAINST THE GRAIN” in San Cristóbal de las Casas has once again organized the ninth special summer program based on reflection workshops regarding Language and Culture within the context of different visions of space/habitat and the contradictions in the urban/rural spatial configuration under neoliberal policies. Said program seeks, in short, to encourage exchanges of experiences between nationals and internationals about shared and diverse principles and values, using Chiapas’ socio-cultural reality as a reference. Based on the idea that THOUGHT, LANGUAGE, AND REALITY are an identity that allows us to integrate different forms of communication and interaction, we will participate in different activities from visits to talks and videos as generators of collective reflection.

The program will take place from Monday, July 29 to August 2, 2013 (*). The cost for the week’s activities will be $2,000 pesos for internationals and $1,000 pesos for Latin Americans. The money is used to support independent cultural spaces in Chiapas. Those who are interested and wish to receive more information can write to chiapasacontrapelo (at) cronopios.org . Our web site: www.chiapas-a-contrapelo.cronopios.org/es . Address: 16 de Septiembre #28.

JULY 29 TO AUGUST 2, 2013

Monday 29 Tuesday 30 Wednesday 31 Thursday 1 Friday 2

Registration and Introduction Plenary about reflection by previous day’s teams

Visit to a Rural City
Plenary about reflection by the previous day’s teams Work in teams: “Space and autonomy”

Tour in teams (*) of the “dual city” (**) Work in teams:
Lekil kuxlejal. Good life.
Work in teams: Autonomy and the 7 Zapatista principles Plenary about the reflection in teams.

Reflection in teams about the activity in the “dual city” Video and preparation for the visit to a Rural City Reflection in teams about the visit. Talk about Chiapas’ political and social situation. Continuation of the plenary and final evaluation

(*) There will be three teams: Spanish, Tsotsil, and Tseltal
(**) “Dual city” is the concept Andrés Aubry used to characterize San Cristóbal de las Casas (Spanish residential center, indigenous periphery)

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Constructing a community police in the town of Álvaro Obregón, Oaxaca

Strengthening the Struggle to Defend Territory on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec 

Published on February 11, 2013 in Isthmus of Tehuantepec, Juchitán

by Daniel Arellano Chávez, Proyecto Ambulante
translation by El Enemigo Común

March in Álvaro Obregón. February 10, 2013
March in Álvaro Obregón. February 10, 2013
Today, February 10, 2013 is certainly a watershed in the struggle for the defense of the land and territory on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. After the successful resistance against the repression ordered by Oaxaca state governor Gabino Cué to shield Mareña Renovables, the peoples of the Isthmus are at a decisive moment in their struggle to defend their territory. The Assembly held today and the sizeable march in Álvaro Obregón has provided the ideal setting for announcing townspeople’s decisions, expelling false political leaders and their political parties, and beginning the construction of a Community Police.
At the old General Charis military quarters, the scene of the historic resistance of February 2, men and women from San Dionisio del Mar, San Mateo del Mar, Xadani, Emiliano Zapata, San Blas Atempa, Unión Hidalgo, and Juchitán, among other communities, came together in the morning to ratify their total rejection of the wind projects in the region and demand the immediate expulsion of Mareña Renovables from the territories of the Isthmus.

The Assembly and march come on the heels of the desperate, venomous statements made by Gabino Cué Monteagudo last February 6, when he said: “They’re just tiny groups of people who spend their time drinking, attacking the police, and holding up social projects that the company is committed to implementing for the benefit of the community.”

The decisive actions taken by community people are a clear demonstration of the resistance against the advance of transnationals in regional towns.

The Community Assembly of Álvaro Obregón states: “In the full exercise of our right to self-determination and autonomy as Binnizá indigenous people of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, and in view of the violations of our territorial rights by the state government and corporations, we have resolved that as of tomorrow we will begin to organize the first detachment of our Binni Guia’pa’ Guidxi’ (community police) in defense of the land and territory; it will be made up of people from our communities.” During the march, this decision was underscored with signs, banners and chants demanding the exit of all repressive forces, making it clear that no kind of state or federal police is welcome and that access to the Mexican Army and Navy will be blocked.

Upcoming resistance actions are proposed for February 13 in San Dionisio del Mar, and a call is being sent out for national and international solidarity and for the participation of indigenous peoples of the region and the country to cover the Humanitarian Caravan and Solidarity Cavalcade with Guidxi’ro Resistance that will be held on Sunday February 17, setting out from different points to then converge in Álvaro Obregón. Plans also call for shoring up the collection of provisions and supplies at Radio Totopo in Juchitán, and the Universidad de la Tierra in Colonia Reforma, City of Oaxaca.

Heading up today’s march was a large group of boys and girls, followed by dozens of women, then hundreds of men, women, young people, elders, Zapotecs and Ikjots, chanting with all their might: “Zapata lives! The struggle continues!”, “Mareña Renovables out now!”, and a message that could presage the future of the governor of Oaxaca, “Gabino Cué, out now!”

So this is the way resistance is being strengthened from within. Now it’s time for the peoples of Oaxaca, the country and the world to show their heartfelt support for the righteous people of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec.

Source in Spanish: Proyecto Ambulante

Spanish language video:


Subcomandante Marcos Introduces the new Subcomandante Moises in Them and Us VI: The Gazes 5

Them and Us 

VI.   The Gaze 5.

5.- To gaze into the night in which we are.

(From the new moon to the crescent moon)

Subcomandantes Insurgentes Marcos (sitting) and
Moisés (standing).
Many moons ago: under a new moon, brand new, just barely peeking out, barely enough to make shadows below…

We-are-he arrives. Without needing to consult or check notes, his words begin to draw an image of the gazes of those who rule here, and those whom they obey. When he finishes, we look.

The message from the people is clear, short, simple, blunt. As orders should be.

We, male and female soldiers, don’t say anything, we only look, we think: “This is very big. This doesn’t just belong to us anymore, nor just to the Zapatistas. It doesn’t even belong just to this corner of these lands. It belongs to many corners, in all worlds.”

We must care for it,” we-are-all [feminine] say, and we know what it is that we are talking about, but we are also talking about we-are-he.

It will turn out well… but we have to be prepared for it to turn out badly, that is our way in any case,” says we-are-all [masculine].

So then, we have to prepare it,” we-are-all [feminine] say to ourselves, “take care of it, make it grow.”

Yes,” we-are-all [masculine] respond to ourselves.

We must speak with our dead. They will show us the time and the place,” we-are-all [feminine] say to ourselves.

We gaze at our dead, below, we listen to them. We take them this tiny stone. We lay it at the foot of their house. They look at it. We watch them looking at it. They look at us and they take our gaze far, far away, beyond where the calendars and the geographies reach. We see what their gaze shows us. We are silent.

We return, we look at each other, we talk to each other.

We have to prepare far ahead, prepare each step, prepare each eye, prepare each ear… it will take time.”

We will have to do something so that they don’t see us, and later something so that they do.”

In any case they don’t see us, or they see only what they think they see.”

But yes, we will have to do something… It is my turn.”

We-are-he will take care of what corresponds to the peoples. We-are-all will look out for things, gently, quietly, hushed, as is our way.”
 A few moons ago, it was raining…

Already? We thought they would need more time.”

Well yes, but, that’s the way it is.

Okay then, think carefully about what we are going to ask: Do they want others to turn and look at them?”

“They do, they feel strong, they are strong. They say that this belongs to everyone, and to no one. They are ready, they say.”

“But, you realize that not only those who are like us will see those who are like us, but that the Bosses from various places who hate and persecute what we are, will also see?

“Yes, we have taken that into account, we know. It is our turn, your turn.”

“Okay then, then it is only a matter of deciding the place and the time.”

“Here,” a hand gestures to the calendar and the geography.

“The gaze that we provoke will no longer be one of pity, of shame, of compassion, of charity, of hand-outs. There will be happiness for those who are like us, but rage and hate from the Bosses. They will attack us with everything they have.”

“Yes, I told them. But they gazed at each other, and this is what they said: ‘We want to see those who we are, to see ourselves with those who we are, even though neither we nor they know that they are what we are. We want them to see us. We are ready for the Bosses, ready, and waiting.”

“When, where then?” Calendars and maps are spread out on the table.

“At night, when winter awakens.”


“In your heart.”

“Is everything ready?”

“Everything is ready, yes.”


Everyone went about their tasks.  We just shook hands.  Nothing more was necessary.

A few nights ago, the moon sleepless and fading…

They are ready, that which we look at The next part will be for other gazes. It’s your turn, we say to we-are-he.

“I’m ready, willing,” says we-are-he.

We-are-all concurs in silence, as is our way.


“When our dead speak.”


“In their heart.”
February 2013.  Night.  Crescent moon.  The hand that we are writes:

“Compañeroas, compañeras y compañeros of the Sixth:

We want to introduce you to one of the many we-are-he that we are, our compañero Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés.  He guards our door and through his word the we that we are speaks. We ask you to listen to him, that is, that you look at him and thus see us. (…)”

(To be continued…)

From whatever corner of whatever world.

Planet Earth.
February 2013.

P.S. THAT GIVES NOTICE AND HINTS: The next text, which will appear on the Enlace Zapatista webpage on February 14, the day the we the Zapatistas honor and greet our dead, is principally for our compañeros, compañeras y compañeroas of the Sixth. The complete text can only be read with a password (for which we have given various hints and should be easy to guess) which has already been sent via email wherever we could send it. If you haven’t received it and you can’t figure out the hint (you can find it by reading closely this text and the previous one, “Gaze and Communicate”), you can send an email to the webpage and you will get a response with the password. As we have explained before, the independent media are free to publish, or not, the complete text according to their own autonomous and libertarian considerations. The same goes for whatever compañera, compañero y compañeroa of the Sixth wherever they are. We have no other aim but to let you know that it is you to whom we are talking, and also, importantly, those to whom you decide to extend our gaze.


“B Side Players” from San Diego, Califas, with the track “Nuestras Demandas (our demands).  “B Side Players” is composed of Karlos “Solrak” Paez – voice, guitar; Damián DeRobbio – bass; Luis “El General” Cuenca – percussion and voice; Victor Tapia – Congas and percussion; Reagan Branch – Sax; Emmanuel Alarcon – guitar, cuatro puertorriqueño, and voice; Aldo Perretta – charango, tres cubano, jarana veracruzana, ronrroco, cuatro venezolano, kena, zampoña; Russ Gonzales – tenor sax; Mike Benge – Trombone; Michael Cannon – drums; Camilo Moreno – congas and percussion; Jamal Siurano – alto sax; Kevin Nolan – trombone and trumpet; Andy Krier – keyboard; Omar Lopez – base.


From Galicia, Spain, the track “EZLN” from the group “Dakidarría,” composed by: Gabri (guitar and lead vocals); Simón: (guitar and vocals); Toñete: (trombone); David: (base and vocals); Juaki: (trumpet and vocals); Anxo: (baritone sax); Charli: (keyboard); Jorge Guerra: (drum set)


A very special version of the Himno Zapatista” (Zapatista Hymn) music and voices from “Flor del Fango.”  The musical group “Flor del Fango” was composed of: Marucha Castillo – vocals: Napo Romero – vocals, guitar, charango and quena; Alejandro Marassi – bass, vocals, choir and guitarrón; Danie Jamer “el peligroso” – flamenco, folk, and electric guitars and cuatro; Sven Pohlhammer – electric, sinte, and electric acoustic guitars, Cavaquinho y Mandolina; Philippe Teboul “Garbancito” – vocals, drum set, percussion, choir; Patrick Lemarchand – drum set and percussion; Martín Longan – conductor.

Translated from the original Spanish by El Kilombo Intergaláctico, edited by Kristin Bricker.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Them and Us VI: The Gazes 4 by Subcomandante Marcos

Them and Us

VI.- The Gazes 4.

4.- Look and communicate.

I'm going to tell you something very secret, but don't go around telling it… or do, you decide.

During the first days of our uprising, after the ceasefire, there was a lot of commotion regarding the eezee-elen.  It was, of course, all of the media paraphernalia that the right tends to use to impose silence and blood.  Some of the arguments that were used back then are the same ones as now, which demonstrates how outdated the right is and how antiquated its thinking is.  But that is not a topic for now, and neither is the topic of the press.

But well, now I will tell you that at that time people were starting to say that the EZLN was the first 21th century guerrilla organization (yes, us, who still used sticks to sow the land, who had only heard rumors about yokes and oxen--no offense---, and who only knew about tractors from photographs); that supmarcos was a cybernetic guerrilla who, from the Lacandón Jungle, launched into cyberspace the Zapatista proclamations that would turn the world upside down; and that he had satellite communications in order to coordinate subversive actions that would be carried out all over the world.

Yes, that's what they were saying, but… compas, in the days leading up to the uprising, the "Zapatista cybernetic power" that we had was one of those computers that used those big old floppy disks and it had a DOS version -1.0 operating system.  We learned to use it with one of those old tutorials, I don't know if they still exist, that told you what key you should push and there was a voice that said in a Madrid accent, "Very good!"; and if you messed up it told you, "Very bad, idiot, try again!"  In addition to playing Pacman, we also used it for the "First Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle," which we reproduced on one on those old dot matrix printers, which made more noise than a machine gun.  The paper came on a roll and it jammed all the time, but it had carbon paper, and we managed to print off about two copies every couple of hours.  We made a shit-ton of copies, about 100, I think.  They were divided up amongst the five commanding groups that would, hours later, take seven municipal seats in the southeastern Mexican state of Chiapas.  In San Cristóbal de Las Casas, which was the one I was supposed to take, once the plaza had fallen to our forces, we used masking tape to hang up the 15 copies that were ours.  Yes, I know that that doesn't add up, that there should have been five, but who knows where the missing five ended up.

Well, when we pulled out of San Cristóbal, in the pre-dawn hours of January 2, 1994, the wet fog that covered our withdrawal unstuck the proclamations from the cold walls of the magnificent colonial city, and some floated around the streets.

Years later someone told me that anonymous hands had snatched some and that they were kept carefully guarded.

Then came the Cathedral Dialogues.  At that time I had one of those portable lightweight computers (it weighed six kilos without the battery), "Scrap" brand, 128 ram, and I mean 128 kb of ram, 10 mb hard drive, I mean, it could save e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g, and a really fast processor that, when you turned it on, you could go prepare your coffee, come back, and you could still re-heat your coffee, 7 times 7, before being able to start to write.  A fantastic machine.  In the mountains, to make it work we would use a power inverter connected to a car battery.  Later, our Zapatista Department of Advanced Technology designed a contraption that would make the computer run off of D batteries, but it weighed more than the computer and, I suspect, had something to do with the PC expiring with a sudden flash, yes, very flashy, and a plume of smoke that kept the mosquitos away for the next three days.  The satellite telephone that the Sup used to communicate with "international terrorism?"  A walkie-talkie with a maximum range of 400 meters on flat land (there should be some photos still around of the "cybernetic guerrilla", ha!)  So internet?  In February 1995, when the federal military was pursuing us (and not for an interview), the portable PC was tossed into the first stream that we forded, and the communiques from that era were made on a manual typewriter that the ejidal commissioner from one of the towns that protected us loaned to us.

That was the powerful high technology equipment that we the "21st century cybernetic guerrillas" possessed at that time.

I'm really sorry if, in addition to my battered ego, I am destroying some illusions that some might have had, but that's how it was, exactly as I am telling you now.

Finally, afterwards we learned that…

A young student in Texas, USA, perhaps a "nerd" (as you would call him), made a web page and he called it only "ezln."  That was the EZLN's first web page.  And this compa began to "upload" there all of the communiques and letters that were being published in the written press.  People from other parts of the world, who learned of the uprising from photos, images, and video recordings, or from news articles, looked there for our word.

We never met that compa.  Or maybe we did.

Maybe one time he came down to Zapatista lands, just like any other.  If he did come, he never said: "I'm the one who made the EZLN's page."  Nor: "Thanks to me people all over the world know about you."  And certainly not, "I've come so that you might thank me and pay me homage."

He could have done it, and the thanks would have been few, but he never did.

And maybe you don't know, but sometimes there are people like that.  Good people who do things without asking for anything in return, without payment, "without a commotion," as we say, we the Zapatistas.

And then the world kept on spinning.  Some compas came who did know about computation, and other pages were created and we are how we are now.  That is, with a damn server that doesn't run like it should, not even when we sing and dance "the colored monkey" to a cumbia-corrido-ranchera-norteña-tropical-ska-rap-punk-rock-ballad-popular rhythm.

Also without creating a commotion, we thank that compa; may the firstest gods and/or the higher being in which he believes or doubts or disbelieves bless him.

We don't know what became of that compa.  Perhaps he is an Anonymous.  Perhaps he's still surfing the web, searching for a noble cause to support.  Perhaps he's disregarded due to his appearance, perhaps he's different, perhaps his neighbors, his co-workers or classmates look at him suspiciously.

Or perhaps he's a normal person, one of the millions who walk in the world without anyone recording what they do, without anyone watching them.

And perhaps he manages to read what I'm telling you, and he reads what we write you  now:

"Compa, now there's schools here where before only ignorance grew; there's food, but not very dignified, where at the tables hunger was the only daily guest; there's relief where the only medicine for pain was death.  I don't know if you were expecting it.  Perhaps you knew.  Perhaps you saw something of the future in those words that you relaunched out into cyberspace.  Or perhaps not, perhaps you just did it because you felt that it was your duty.  And duty, we Zapatistas know a lot about it, it is the only slavery that is embraced under our own free will.

We learned.  And I'm not talking about learning the importance of communication or of knowing the ways of the sciences and techniques of information technology.  For example, aside from Durito, none of us has been able to solve the challenge of making a tweet communique.  Faced with 140 characters, I'm not only useless, falling and refalling back on the commas, (the parentheses), the dots… and my life is passing me by and I lack characters.  I think it is improbable that I could one day do it.  Durito, for example, has proposed a communique that stays within the tweet limit and says:

123456789 123456789 123456789 123456789 123456789 123456789 123456789 123456789 123456789 123456789 123456789 123456789 123456789 1234567890

But the problem is that the code to decipher the message occupies the equivalent of the 7 volumes of the "The Differences" encyclopedia, which all of humanity has been writing ever since its regretful walk over earth began, and whose editing has been vetted by the Power.

No.  What we learned is that there are people out there, far away or close, whom we don't know, who perhaps doesn't know us, who are compas.  And it's not because they have participated in a support march, have visited a Zapatista community, wear a red bandana around their neck, or have signed a printout, a registration sheet, a membership card, or whatever it's called.

It's because the Zapatistas know that just as there are many worlds that inhabit the world, there are also many forms, ways, times, and places to struggle against the beast, without requesting or expecting anything in return.

We send you a hug, compa, wherever you are.  I am sure that you can answer the question that one asks him or herself when s/he begins to walk: "Will it be worth it?"

Perhaps later you find out that in a community or in a base, a Zapatista computer lab is called "he," just like that, in lowercase.  And perhaps you find out later that if one of the invited people ran into the lab, stopped in front of the sign, and asked who was that "he," we responded: "we don't know, but he does."

Ok then.  Cheers, and yes, it was worth it, I think.

From etc. etc.

We Zapatistas from the eezee-elen dot com dot org dot net or dot whatever it's called."


And all of that is relevant because perhaps you all have realized that we place a lot of trust in the free and/or independent media, or whatever it's called, and in the people, groups, collectives, organizations that have their own ways of communicating.  People, groups, collectives, organizations that have their web pages, their blogs, or whatever they're called, who give a place for our word and now, the music and images that accompany it.  And people or groups who perhaps don't even have a computer, but even if it's just chatting, or with a flier, or a broadsheet, or graffiti or a notebook or public transportation, or in a play, a video, a homework assignment, a song, a dance, a poem, a painting, a book, a letter, they look at the letters that our collective heart sketches.

If they don't belong to us, if they're not an organic part of ourselves, if we don't give them orders, if we don't command them, if they're autonomous, independent, free (which means that they command themselves) or whatever it's called, why do they do it then?

Perhaps because they think that information is everyone's right, and that everyone has the responsibility of what they do or undo with that information.  Perhaps because they are in solidarity and they have the commitment to support in that way whoever also struggles, even if it's with other methods.  Perhaps because they feel the duty to do it. 

Or perhaps because of all of that and more.

They will know.  And surely they have it there written, on their website, their blog, in their declaration of principles, on their flier, in their song, on their wall, in their notebook, in their heart.

That is, I'm talking about those who communicate and with others they communicate that which they feel in our hearts, that is, they listen.  From who looks at us and looks at themselves thinking about us and they turn into a bridge and then they discover that those words that they write, sing, repeat, transform are not the Zapatistas', that they never were, that they're yours, everyone's and no one's, and that they are part of one score that who knows where it's at, and then you discover or confirm that when you look at us looking at ourselves looking at you, you are touching and talking about something bigger for which there still isn't an alphabet, and that isn't in that way belonging to a group, collective, organization, sect, religion, or whatever it's called, but rather that you are understanding that the step towards humanity is now called "rebellion."

Perhaps, before you click on your decision to put our word on your spaces, you'll ask yourselves, "Will it be worth it?"  Perhaps you ask yourselves if you wouldn't be contributing to Marcos being on a European beach, enjoying the wonderful climate of these calendars in those geographies.  Perhaps you ask yourselves if you wouldn't be serving an invention of "the beast" to fool people and simulate rebellion.  Perhaps you respond to yourselves that the answer to that question of "Will it be worth it?" lies with us, the Zapatistas, and that by clicking on the computer, the spray can, the pencil, the guitar, the CD, the camera, you're committing us to respond "yes."  And then you click on "upload" or "publish" or "load" or the first chord or the first step-color-verse, or whatever it's called.

And perhaps you don't know, even though I think it's obvious, but you're really cutting us a "break" as they say around here.  And I'm not saying that because our page "goes down" sometimes, as if it were in a mosh pit and when it dove off the stage there weren't any comradely hand to relieve the fall that, if it is on cement, will keep hurting without its calendar or geography mattering.  I point that out because on the other side of our word there are many people who don't agree and they say so; there's even more who don't agree and don't even bother to say so; there are a few who do agree and who say so; and there's a few more of those few who do agree and don't say so; and there's the great immense majority, who don't even know about it.  It's those last ones who we want to talk to, that is, look at, that is, listen to.


Compas, thank you.  We know.  But we're sure that even if we didn't know, you know.  And that is precisely what we the Zapatistas believe is what all this about changing the world is all about.

(To be continued…)

From any corner of any world.

Planet Earth.
February 2013.

P.S.- Yes, perhaps there is, in the letter to him, a clue to the next password.

P.S. THAT UNNECESSARILY CLARIFIES.- We don't have a Twitter or Facebook account, nor an email, nor a phone number, nor a post office box.  Those that appear on the web site are those of the site, and these compas support us and send us what they receive, just as they send out what we send them.  Moreover, we're against copyright, so anyone can have their Twitter, their Facebook, or whatever it's called, and use our names, although, of course, they are not us nor do they represent us.  But, according to what they've told me, most of them clarify that they are not who they supposedly are.  And the truth is that we have a lot of fun imagining the quantity of derision and insults (which aren't minty*) they've received and will receive, originally directed at the eezee-elen and/or whom it may concern.


Listen to and watch the videos that accompany this text.

From Japan, the song and dance "Ya Basta" [Enough] by Pepe Hasegawa.  It was presumably presented in the prefecture of Nagano, Japan, in 2010.  The truth is that I don't know exactly what the lyrics say, I just hope that they're not insults that aren't minty.*


From Sweden, ska with the group Ska'n'ska, from Stockholm.  The song is called "Ya Basta" and it appears on their album "Gunshot Fanfare."


From Sicily, Italy, the band Skaramanzia with the song "Para no olividar" [To not forget], part of their album "La lucha sigue" [The struggle goes on].


From France.- "Ya Basta - EZLN" with the band Ska Oi.  From the album "Lucha y fiesta" [Struggle and party]. 

Translated from the original Spanish by Kristin Bricker.

Translator's Note:  
* A play on words that only makes sense in Spanish.  "Mentada" is insult, but it also sort of sounds like "menta," which means mint.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Them and Us Part VI: The Gazes Part 3: Some Other Gazes by Subcomandante Marcos

Them and Us

VI. The Gazes 3.

3.- Some other gazes.

one: A dream in that gaze.

Photo: Moysés Zúñiga,
It's a street, a milpa, a factory, a mine shaft, a forest, a school, a department store, an office, a plaza, a market, a city, a field, a country, a continent, a world.

The Ruler is seriously wounded, the machine broken, the beast exhausted, the savage locked up.

The changes in name and flags didn't work at all, the beatings, the prisons, the cemeteries, the money flowing through corruption's thousand arteries, the "reality shows," the religious celebrations, the paid newspaper articles[1], the cybernetic exorcisms.

The Ruler calls for his last overseer.  He murmurs something into his ear.  The overseer goes out to confront the masses.

He says, asks, demands, requires:

"We want to speak with the man…"

Doubt crosses his face, the majority of those who are confronting him are women.

He corrects himself:

"We want to speak with the woman…"

He doubts himself again, there's more than a few "others" who are confronting him.

He corrects himself again:

"We want to speak with whomever is in charge."

From amongst the silence an elderly person and a child step forward, they stand in front of the overseer and, with an innocent and wise voice, they say:

"Here everyone is in charge."

The overseer shudders, and the Ruler's voice during his last scream shudders.

The gaze wakes up.  "Weird dream," is said.  And, without the geography or the calendar mattering, life, struggle, resistance goes on.

S/he only remembers a few words from the odd dream:

"Here everyone is in charge."

two: Other gaze from another calendar and another geography.

(fragment of a letter received in the eezeelen military headquarters, no date)

"Greetings, Compas.


My opinion is that everything was really fucking cool.  But I do not deny that all of this is in retrospective.  It would be very easy to say that I perfectly understood the silence and nothing surprised me.  False, I also became impatient with the silence (of course that has nothing to do with what is said about how before the Zapatistas weren't speaking, I did read all of the denouncements).[2]  The issue is that when seen with the advantage of what has already happened, and what is happening, well, of course the conclusion is logical: we are in the middle of a more daring initiative, at least since the Zapatistas' insurrection.  And this has to do with everything, not just with the national situation but also with the international situation, I believe.

Let me tell you what I understood about something which, it seemed to me, was the most significant moment of the [December 21, 2012] action.  Of course there are many things: the organization, the militant strength, the show of force, the presence of young people and women, etc.  But what really impressed me the most was that they were carrying some boards and that when they arrived at the plazas they made some stages.  According to what was said about what went on, many private media outlets, and some of the independent ones, speculated about the arrival of the Zapatista leaders.  They didn't realize that the Zapatista leaders were already there.  They were the people who got up onto the stage and said, without speaking, here we are, this is who we are and this is who we will be.

Those who should have been on the stage were there.  Nobody has noticed, I think, that moment and, nonetheless, I think, there it is, in a nutshell, the profound significance of a new way of doing politics.  That which breaks with all that is old, the only truly new, the only thing that is worth having [illegible in the original] "XXI century."

The plebeian and freedom-loving soul of those timely moments in history, has been built here without theoretical grandstanding.  Rather, with a practical burying.  It has been there for too many years to be just a fancy.  It is already a long and solid historical social process in the terrain of self-organization.

At the end they picked up their stage, turned it once again into boards, and we should all be a little ashamed and be more modest and simple and recognize that something unexpected and new is in front of our eyes and that we should look, shut up, listen, and learn.

Hugs all around.  I hope that you're alright, all things considered.

El Chueco [Crooked]"

three: "Instructions for what to do in the case… that they look at you"

If someone looks at him, looks at her, and you realize that…

He doesn't look at you as if you were transparent.

He doesn't want to convince you yes or no.

He doesn't want to co-opt you.

He doesn't want to recruit you.

He doesn't want to give you orders.

He doesn't want to judge you-condemn you-absolve you.

He doesn't want to use you.

He doesn't want to tell you what you can or can't do.

He doesn't want to give you advice, recommendations, orders.

He doesn't want to reproach you because you don't know, or because you do know.

He doesn't look down on you.

He doesn't want to tell you what you should or shouldn't do.

He doesn't want to buy your old car, your face, your body, your future, your dignity, your free will.

He doesn't want to sell you anything...
(a time share, a 4D LCD television, a super-ultra-hyper-modern machine with an instant crisis button (warning: don't confuse it with the ejection button, because the warranty doesn't include amnesia due to ridiculous media stunts), a political party that changes its ideology as the wind blows, a life insurance policy, an encyclopedia, a VIP entrance to the performance or the revolution or whatever heaven is fashionable right now, furniture in small installments, a cell phone plan, an exclusive membership, a future given as a gift from the generous leader, the excuse to give up, sell out, throw in the towel, a new ideological paradigm, etc.).

First.- Rule out if it was a degenerate man or woman.  You  can be as dirty, ugly, bad, rude, as you want, but, whatever it is, you have this sexy and horny touch that comes from working really hard; and that "that" can awaken anyone's most carnal passions.  Mmm… well, yes, a little hairstyling wouldn't be too much.  If it wasn't a degenerate man or woman, don't lose heart, the world is round and it spins, and see below (this list, understand).

Second.- Are you sure that he is looking at you?  Couldn't it be that deodorant ad that was behind you (you, understand)?  Or could it be that he's thinking (him, the one that's looking at you, understand): "I think that's how I look when I don't comb my hair"?  If you have ruled that out, continue.

Third.- Doesn't he look like a cop looking to complete the payment that he has to report to his superior?  If yes, run, there's still time to not lose the cost of the ticket.  If not, go on to the next point.

Fourth.- Return his gaze, fiercely.  A gaze that's a mix of anger, stomach ache, annoyance, and the "look" of a serial killer will work.  No, that makes you look like a constipated bear cub.  Try again.  Ok, passable, but keep practicing.  Now, he doesn't flee terrified?  He doesn't divert his gaze?  He doesn't get closer to you exclaiming, "uncle juancho!  I didn't recognize you!  But with that gesture…"?  No?  Ok, continue.

Fifth.-Repeat the first, second, third, and fourth steps.  There could be problems with our system (which, of course, is made in China).  If you come back to this point again, go on to the next one:

Sixth.- There's a high probability that you have run into someone from the Sixth.  We don't know if we should congratulate you or send you our sympathies.  In any case, what follows that gaze is your decision and your responsibility.

fourth: A gaze at a Zapatista post.

(calendar and geography not specified)

SupMarcos: "You have to hurry because time is running out."

The female health insurgent: "Hey, Sup, time isn't running out, people are running out.  Time comes from far away and follows its path allll the way over there, where we can't look at it.  And we are like little pieces of time, that is, time can't march on without us.  We are what makes time march on, and when we come to an end along comes another and s/he pushes time along for another bit, until it arrives at where it needs to arrive, but we're not going to look where it arrives but rather others are going to see if gets there alright or if suddenly it couldn't summon up enough strength to arrive and it has to be pushed again, until it arrives."


The female infantry captain: "And why did it take you so long?"

The female health insurgent: "It's that I was chatting about politics with the Sup, I was helping him to explain well that it's important to look far away, to where neither time nor gazes can reach us."

The female infantry captain: "Uh-huh, and then?"

The female health insurgent: He punished me because I didn't hurry the work and he sent me to the clinic.


fifth: Extract of the "Notes to gaze upon winter."


And yes, all of them got up on the stage with their fists held high.  But they didn't look very well.  They didn't look at the gaze of those men and women.  They didn't look at when they were crossing up [on the stage], they turned their gaze down below and they saw their tens of thousands of compañeros.  That is, they looked at themselves.  Up there they didn't look at us looking at us.  Up there they didn't understand, nor will they understand anything.

six: Put your gaze here (or your insults, even if they aren't minty).[3]


(To be continued…)

From any corner of any world.


Planet Earth.

Mexico, February 2013.


Listen to and watch the videos that accompany this text.

Daniel Viglietti and Mario Benedetti to a "duet" interpretation of the song "La Llamarada" and Benedetti's poem "Pregón."  Concert in Montevideo, Uruguay, Latin America, Planet Earth.  At the beginning, Daniel takes a moment to recognize all of those who are not on the stage but who make it possible that Daniel and Mario are.  Almost at the end, you can hear Mario Benedetti singing, singing to himself, singing to us, and without the calendar and geography mattering, and vice versa.


Amparanoia plays "Somos Viento."  At one point, Amparo Sánchez says "Ik´otik," which in tzeltal means "we are the wind ("somos viento)."


Amparo Ochoa, whose voice still reverberates through our mountains, singing "Quien tiene la voz (Who Has the Voice)" by Gabino Palomares.

Translated from the original Spanish by Kristin Bricker.

Translator's Notes:
  1. Some Mexican newspapers run articles that someone (often a branch of the government) pays for.  In the case of La Jornada, the only thing that sets the "paid insertions" apart from genuine news articles is that a "paid insertion" headline is in italics.
  2. Referring to the fact that while most media outlets report that the Zapatistas are breaking some sort of silence, they really haven't been silent.  They've been sending out a steady stream of denouncements against the government and antagonistic organizations.
  3. Play on words that only makes sense in Spanish.  "Mentada" is insult, but it also sort of sounds like "menta," which means mint.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Them and Us Part VI: Gazes, Second Part: Gazing and Listening From/Towards Below by Subcomandante Marcos

Them and Us

VI.-The Gazes 2.

2.-Gaze and listen from/towards below.

Can we still choose towards where and from where to look?

Can we, for example, choose between looking at those who work at the supermarket chain store, ream out the workers for being complicit in the electoral fraud[1], and publicly ridicule the orange uniforms the employees are forced to wear, or look at the employee who, after cashing out…?

Election propaganda and grocery
gift cards.

/The cashier goes and takes off her orange apron, grumbling with anger over how they reamed her out for being complicit in the fraud that brought ignorance and frivolousness to Power.  She, a woman, young or mature or mother or single or divorced or widow or single mother or expecting or without children or whatever, who goes to work at 7 in the morning and leaves at 4 in the afternoon, of course, if there isn't overtime, and not counting the time between home and work and back again, and after giving school or work the "work-suitable-for-her-sex-that-can-be-completed-with-a-little-bit-of-flirtation," she read in one of the magazines that are next to the register one day when there weren't many customers.  To her, whom those are supposedly going to save, it's nothing more than a question of a vote and done, ta-da, happiness.  "Do you really think the owners wear an orange apron?" she irritatedly murmurs.  She fixes herself up a bit from the purposeful untidiness with which she goes to work so that the manager doesn't bother her.  She leaves.  Outside her partner is waiting.  They embrace, kiss, touch each other with their gazes, they walk.  They enter a cyber cafe or whatever you call it.  10 pesos per hour, 5 pesos for a half-hour.../

"Half hour," they say, mentally calculating the budget-time-from-the-metro-bus-walk.

"Spot me some money, Roco, don't be a jerk," he says.

"Ok, but come by on payday, because if not, the owner will be all over me and you'll be the one who will be spotting me money."

"Ok, but it'll be when you get a cell phone, dude, because I'm working at a car wash."

"Well, wash it, dude," says Roco.

The three of them laugh.

"7," says Roco.

"Ok, look for it," she says.

He goes to enter a number.

"No," she says, "look for when it all began."

They navigate.  They get to where there are just over 131.[2]  They play the video.

"They're bourgeois," he says.

"Settle down, revolutionary vanguard.  You've got something wrong with your head if you judge people by their appearances.  Just because I have light skin they call me güerita and bourgeois, and they don't see that I live paycheck-to-paycheck.  It's important to see each person's history and what they do, dummy," she says, smacking him upside the head.

They keep watching.

They watch, they shut up, they listen.

"So they told Peña Nieto all that to his face… they're brave, yes, it's obvious they've got balls," he says.

"Or ovaries, idiot," and another smack from her for him.

"Watch out, my queen, I'm going to accuse you of inter-familial violence."

"It would be gender violence, idiot," and another smack.

They finish watching the video.

Him: "So that's how things start, with a few people who aren't afraid."

Her: "Or they are afraid, but they get it under control."

"Half an hour!" Roco yells at them.

"Yes, let's watch it."

She goes smiling.

"And now what are you laughing about?"

"Nothing, I was remembering," she gets closer to him, "what you said about 'inter-familial.'  Do you mean that you want us to be a family?"

He doesn't miss a beat:

"That's right, my queen, later is late, we're already getting there, but without so many smacks, kisses instead, and more below and to the left."

"Hey, don't talk dirty to me, dude!" another smack.  "And enough of 'my queen,' aren't we against fucking monarchy?"

Him, before the strong smack: "Well, yes my… plebeian."

She laughs, him too.  After a couple of steps, she says:

"And do you think the Zapatistas will invite us?"

"Of course, Vins is my buddy and he said that he's tight with sockface because he let him win at Mortal Kombat, on the little machines, so all we have to do is say that we're friends with Vins and done," he argues enthusiastically.

"And do you think I'll be able to bring my mom?  She's already pretty old…"

"Of course, speaking of witches, if I'm lucky my future mother-in-law will get stuck in the mud," he ducks his head expecting a smack that doesn't come.

Her, angry now:

"And what the hell are the Zapatistas going to give us if they're so far away?  Do you really think they're going to give me a raise, make people respect me, make it so fucking men don't look at my butt on the street, and that the fucking boss stops looking for excuses to touch me?  Are they going to give me money so I can make rent, so I can buy clothing for my daughter, my son?  Are they going to lower the price of sugar, beans, rice, oil?  Are they going to put food on my table?  Will they stand up to the cop that comes around everyday to bother and demand money from the people in the neighborhood who sell pirated discs saying that it's so they don't report them to Mr. or Mrs. Sony…?"

"It's not 'pirate,' it's 'alternative production,' my quee….my plebeian.  And don't get all huffy with me because we're in the same boat."

But she's already on a roll, so no one can stop her:

"And you, are they going to give you back your job at the plant, where you were qualified as a who-the-hell-knows-what?  Are they going to validate your classes, the training courses, and all that so that the asshole of a boss takes the company to I don't know where, and the union and the strike, everything that you did, to later end up washing cars?  Or like your brother, El Chompis, whose work they took away and they disappeared the company so that he can't defend himself and the government with its same old babble that it's to improve service and world class and blah blah blah and did they really lower the rates, no, they're more expensive, and the fucking lights go out all the time[3] and fucking Calderón goes to shamelessly teach classes to gringos[4], who are the masters of all this shit.  And my Dad, may he rest in peace, who went to work on the other side [of the US-Mexico border], not to do the tourist thing, but to make money, dough, moolah, to take care of us when we were younger and there crossing the line the migra came down on him as if he were a terrorist and not an honorable worker and they didn't even give us his body and that fucking Obama, it seems as though his heart is the color of the dollar."

"Damn, stop your car and pull over, my plebeian."

"It's just that every time I think about it I get mad, working so much so that in the end those above keep everything, the only thing that's left to privatize is laughter, although I doubt they'd privatize that, because there's not much, but tears, yes, there's an abundance of those and they get rich… richer.  And then you come along with your stuff about the Zapatistas here and Zapatistas there, and below and to the left and the eighth…"

"The Sixth, not the eighth," he interrupts.

"Whatever, those dudes are far away and they speak Spanish worse than you."

"Hey, hey, don't be mean."

She wipes away her tears and murmurs: "Fucking rain, it ruined my esteelauder, and I'd fixed myself up all nice for you."

"Boyeeeee, I like you even better with nothing on."

They laugh.

Her, very serious: "Ok now, let's see, tell me, are those Zapatistas going to save us?"

"No, my plebeian, they aren't going to save us.  That and other things we have to do for ourselves."

"Well then?"

"Ah, well, they're going to teach us."

"What are they going to teach us?"

"That we're not alone."

She remains silent for a moment.  Then:

"Nor alone[4], dummy,"another smack.

The collective van looks like it's going to explode with people.  We'll see if the next one has room.

It's cold, it's raining.  They embrace each other more, not so that they don't get wet, but rather so they get wet together.

Far away someone is waiting, there's always someone who is waiting.  And while he waits, with an old pencil case and an old and shabby notebook, he keeps track of the gazes from below that are seen in a window.

(To be continued...)

From any corner of any world.

Planet Earth.
January 2013.

"The Nobodies," based on the text of the same name by Eduardo Galeano.  Played by La Gran Orquesta Republicana, a ska-fusion band, Mallorca, Spanish State.  Members: Javier Vegas, Nacho Vegas: sax.  Nestor Casas: trumpet.  Didac Buscató: trombone.  Juan Antonio Molina: electric guitar.  Xema Bestard: bass.  José Luis García: drums.


Liliana Daunes narrates a very other story called "Always and Never Against Sometimes."  Greetings to the Chiapas Solidarity Network, which struggles and resists right here in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Latin America, Planet Earth.


"Minimum Wage," by Oscar Chávez and Los Morales.

Translated from the original Spanish by Kristin Bricker.

Translator's Notes:
  1. Enrique Peña Nieto allegedly bought votes with grocery store gift cards with the full knowledge of the supermarket chain in question. 
  2. Refers to the #YoSoy132 movement against Enrique Peña Nieto, sparked when 131 university students organized a protest against his visit to their campus. 
  3. Refers to former President Felipe Calderón busting the Mexican Electrical Workers Union (SME).
  4. Calderón teaches at Harvard now.
  5. Many Spanish speakers have noted the sexism they argue is inherent in the need to feminize and masculinize nouns and adjectives.  The Zapatistas in particular look for ways to use more inclusive language, and this exchanges makes reference to that.  When the boyfriend says that the Zapatistas will teach us "That we're not alone" he says "Que no estamos solos," using the masculine form of alone (solos), which, according to the rules is what one does in mixed company.  So his girlfriend responds, "Ni solas," saying that women are also not alone.