Zapatistas: Revolt and solidarity crash the borders

The signs of war on the horizon are clear. War has the same smell as fear; and now it exudes its stench in our land.

Rebellious Subcommander Marcos, December 2007

If the signs of war were evident in December 2007, attacks in recent months show that war breaks out continuously on a daily basis. Some of its signs are communities’ violent evacuations and population displacements, armed attacks by the army, police and paramilitary groups, assassinations, arson and destruction of houses and crops, arrests and rapes. The message is clear: Anyone who resists is about to be exterminated. Orchestrators of this dirty war are political and economic power; governments (both state and federal, from the right-wing National Action party to the left-wing Democratic Revolution and Labor Party), as well as Mexican tycoons, and multinational companies. The Plan Puebla-Panamá, in conjunction with Plan Colombia, aimed to the military and economic control of Central and South America by USA, Europe, and the Capital. ‘Frozen’ for a long time, it is renewed as ‘Project Mesoamérica.’

The USA, the main instigator of the latter project, has already invested large funds for military equipment of its strategic partner, Mexico (always under the pretext of war against drug cartels). Hence the ecotourism projects, the building of major highways, the exploitation of Chiapas subsoil and natural resources, the so-called ‘modernization’ of agriculture (that is, import of GM seeds), the creation of six new areas for maquiladoras (i.e. assembly plants, whose benefits are guaranteed by the use of cheap labor), the absolute military domination, the suppression and eradication of all forms of resistance, together with deterrence of migration to the USA. At the same time, projects of ‘financial support’ to the poor indigenous communities are promoted, under the condition that they refuse their right to communal land (ejido) and receive private property titles, with option for sale and creation of new ‘villages-models’ which, of course, will be also working as support bases for the army since they are located at strategic points. The dictatorship of the ruling National Action party, with the complicity of all parliamentary parties, is turning the region into a militarized zone.

Still dominates the wind from above… On military level, the project has been undertaken to implement by the army and security forces, which cooperate with the paramilitary groups operating in Chiapas. Maybe the names of these groups have changed over the last 16 years, but their goals (the war against guerrillas), their structure, funders, trainers and leaders (current and former members of political parties, army and police commanders) remain the same. The leftist Sabines government, in order to make paramilitary action more effective, has proceeded the sale of areas – reclaimed by the Zapatistas – to members of these groups, also granting them the right to economic exploitation. The selected areas have a strong tourist interest, therefore can yield big profits. In this context, during the first months of 2010, Zapatistas communities and villages involved in the ‘Other Campaign’ have suffered many attacks.

On 20 January 2010, members of the paramilitary OPDDIC occupied by weapons an area belonging to the Zapatistas, the community Achav Bowl, which has been a target of the government and paramilitary forces since 2007. On 6 February, the EZLN support bases proceeded to recapture. During these clashes, many Zapatistas comrades were injured (including one minor), as well as 28 paramilitary men (one dead) while the Zapatistas trapped five of them who were later handed over to government officials. ‘Other Campaign’ neighboring communities were also attacked (like San Sebastian Bajajón). On 22 January, army and police forces, in cooperation with state and federal governments’ officials, evacuated the San Pedro Laguna area, Montes Azules.

On 28 February, members of the paramilitary ‘Army of God’ – which has close ties with the government and is responsible for the murder of Aurelio Diaz Hernandez (July 2009) – launched a double armed attack against inhabitants of the ejido Michitón, who have been struggling for months against the construction of a long highway linking the major tourist cities of San Cristobal and Palenque. The paramilitaries abducted and tortured inhabitants; while comrades tried to free them, three paramilitary men were injured, among others, while several were detained. The battle ended with the exchange of hostages, but strong police forces reached the area.

On 3 March, the Garucha Council of Good Government denounces OPDDIC’s decision to displace support bases of Santo Domingo community. According to their text, the Zapatistas were warned to evacuate the area until 20 March; if not, OPDDIC would attack ‘armed even with bombs.’ On 8 March, paramilitaries of Peña Limonar ejido cut electricity and water from EZLN support bases while destroying and stealing building materials. On 15 March, nearly 200 armed OPDDICs, including the murderers of two members of the autonomous authorities (who remain to impunity since 2002, and had taken refuge in Peña Limonar), reached Amaytic community and threatened to dislocate Zapatistas, and settle killers there.

On 23 March, federal police arrested and tortured a resident-member of the ‘Other Campaign’ in Michitón, accusing him of human trafficking; the community assembly cut off the main road and held five government officials, obtaining his release. On 24 March, OPDDICs abducted, tortured and threatened to kill two women, members of the ‘Other Campaign’ in Jotola ejido. They also kidnapped two children who manage to escape, while another 18 inhabitants were forced to leave their homes. Media of all political stripes play an important role in this constant state of war – from the centre-right PAN and PRI to the leftist and alleged pro-zapatista newspapers, like La Jornada. In November 2009, this newspaper reproduced information that came directly from government offices; it published an article on the alleged agreement for institutional recognition of Zapatista autonomous authorities between the five Councils of Good Government and Chiapas government. The five Councils denied the incident, and denounced not only the government’s aspirations but also the mass media which operate as agents of Authority. Part of their proclamation was: ‘Brothers and sisters of Mexico and the world, we ask you not to trust the lies of the three capitalistic powers in Mexico. We, the Zapatistas, are here where we shall remain and get to the end.’  And the wind is reaching from below…The bad governments of municipalities, the state and the federation, and their boss – neoliberalism – believe they are powerful due to money. But they stamble on all of us, Zapatistas men and women; we have the power of dignity like each person in the world, which cannot be sold nor delivered, or succumb, but makes the fight continue to the end.’

The Zapatistas don’t surrender, despite the endless war they endure. They keep resisting through the strengthening of their autonomy and their determination to live as they choose, with direct democracy and freedom, where ‘we’ of the suppressed is building another world here and now – not in a distant future – struggling against the System, State and Authority. For over 16 years, four federal governments and six state governments have spent billions trying to stop or eliminate the Zapatistas; but in vain. The Zapatistas live independently and dignified, and strengthen the autonomous structures of everyday life. They give priority to alternative education, health, production, justice and communication. They have organized alternative schools, health centres and hospitals, cooperatives, product distribution centres, soup kitchens, community radio, music groups, dance and theatre. The building of autonomy – the most tangible and significant achievement of the Zapatistas – projects worldwide one of the most substantial and life-giving self-organization experiences of the global libertarian movement: the possibility of developing self-organizing social relations, and the creative ability of resistance.

As part of the manifold global social war against all forms of exploitation, domination, tutelage, and the decomposition of human, against political and economic power, hierarchical institutions and mechanisms of control and repression of the media, we walk hand in hand with Zapatistas struggle for life in freedom, justice, dignity and self-management.



Comrades from the anarchist/ anti-authoritarian/ libertarian milieu of Greece