By Jack Balkwill for Dissident Voice. There have been many victories and we need to celebrate them. Among the victories was stopping the northern portion of the KXL pipeline, various new laws in 24 states to prevent police violence and an increase inprosecutions of police who commit violence, and the increase in wages across the country and winning the critically important battle for net neutrality. These were people-powered victories that showed when we act together we have the power to defeat corporate interests. Another ongoing series of victories is seeing local people, who have not been involved in activism, working along with experienced, often young, energy activists, taking on big energy companies in an aggressive way. This is a victory.
By Hilary Klein for Tele Sur – The anniversary of the EZLN’s uprising is a chance to reflect on the Zapatista movement’s achievements and lessons that are still relevant today. Jan. 1 marks the 22nd anniversary of the Zapatista uprising and more than 30 years since the formation of the Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional (Zapatista Army of National Liberation, EZLN). On January 1, 1994, the EZLN captured the world’s imagination when it rose up to demand justice and democracy for the indigenous peasants of southern Mexico.
By EZLN for Enlaze Zapatista – Good evening, good day compañeras and compañeros, today we are here to celebrate the 22nd anniversary of the beginning of the war against oblivion. For more than 500 years we have endured the war that the powerful from different nations, languages, colors, and beliefs have made against us in order to annihilate us. They wanted to kill us, be it through killing our bodies or killing our ideas. But we resist. As original peoples, as guardians of Mother Earth, we resist.
By The Zapatistas – The Zapatistas On the Elections: Organize Elections Divide the People, Have them Fighting Against Each Other, When they Produce the Same Bad Governments. The Truth is “no one will solve their problems for them, but that instead we have to solve them ourselves, as organized collectives.” We understand that there are those who think that it is possible to change the system by voting in elections. We say that’s a difficult spot because it is the same Ruler that organises the elections, who decides who the candidates are, who says how, when, and where to vote, who announces who wins, and who says whether the election was legal or not.
By CNI and EZLN in Enlace Zapatista – Given the violent events perpetrated against the indigenous community of Santa María Ostula on July 19, 2015, by a large commando made up of members of the Federal Preventative Police, the Secretary of National Defense, and the Secretary of the Navy in which Ostula community police commander Cemeí Verdía Zepeda was detained, in which federal soldiers murdered, WITH A BULLET TO THE FACE, THE 12-YEAR-OLD CHILD EDILBERTO REYES GARCÍA, and in which the following people were injured: the child Yeimi Nataly Pineda Reyes, 6-years-old; Edith Balbino Vera; Delfino Antonio Alejo Ramos, 17-years-old; Horacio Valladares Manuel, 32-years-old; José Nicodemos Macías Zambrano, 21-years-old; and Melesio Cristino Dirzio, 60-years-old… WE DENOUNCE: The criminal behavior of the above listed military and police bodies and their complicity with organized crime, in this case the Knights Templar, enacted in order to escalate the war of conquest that has been waged for years now against the Nahua indigenous community of Santa María Ostula.
Volumes have been written about the Mayan indigenous Zapatista social movement of Chiapas, Mexico since they made their first public appearance on January 1, 1994. There have been detailed histories, political analysis, academic theorization, movement studies, activist ethnographies, non-fiction novels, attempts at cultural and symbolic translation, etc. The movement’s primary spokesman, the prolific Subcomandante Marcos, has also contributed numerous communiqués, satires, children’s stories, erotica, pop culture commentary, political and philosophical ruminations. However, until now, we were missing the direct voices of women from the communities themselves. Hilary Klein’s Compañeras: Zapatista Women’s Stories(Seven Stories Press) reveals their perspectives as contemporary indigenous women who are active subjects together with men in shared processes of change and liberation.
Some 2,600 people from 48 countries (2,050 from Mexico and 550 from other countries) gathered for the first Worldwide Festival of Resistances Against Capitalism. The festival took place all over Mexico and the majority of participants travelled together in a mass caravan of buses (not without mechanical problems and police interference) to the different regions to share and listen stories and strategies of resistance, to strengthen their cultures of resistance, and to build lasting networks locally, regionally, nationally, and globally. Thanks to the excellent organizing by EZLN and CNI the impacts of the festival will reverberate amongst the participants and their resistance communities for years to come. During the festival of resistance we learned about the inevitable horrors of ongoing capitalism, the destruction of remaining ecosystems, the continued genocide of indigenous peoples, about global state violence against people. We also learned that people everywhere are fighting back, even when it means putting our lives on the line. One of the most common responses to speakers was a chant from the crowd that they are not alone. That we are all in this together and are fighting the same fight. And, as the relatives of the Ayotzinapa massacred say, we cannot sleep until we defeat these evils. ¡La Lucha Sigue! The Fight Goes On!
This month, the Zapatistas are organizing a major international meeting in Chiapas: the World Festival of Resistance and Rebellion Against Capitalism. They don’t say “how are you?” Instead, they prefer to ask “what does your heart say?” If you are well, you respond “jun ko’on” (my heart is united). If not, you have to respond that your heart is in pieces (“chkat ko’on“). And you have to be honest. The verb “to struggle” does not exist in their language. Instead, they use the phrase “to form the word.” If one wants to understand the Zapatista struggle, it is important that first you understand their language. They are the tsotsiles Zapatistas of the Los Altos region and the Caracol II of Oventik, and they are getting ready to host the first World Festival of Resistance and Rebellion against Capitalism.
Saturday, August 9, 2014 – Invitation to the Worldwide Festival of Resistances and Rebellions “We came to share our feelings and pains that this neoliberal system has given us, but not just that. We also came to share valiant knowledge, experiences of struggle and of organization. Challenges in the face of the capitalist invaders and neoliberals that have caused us so much damage.” (EZLN, August de 2014) The peoples, tribes and nations have agreed in this assembly to hold together with you the “First Worldwide Festival of Resistances and Rebellions against Capitalism” with the slogan of “WHERE THOSE FROM ABOBE DESTROY THOSE FROM BELOW RECONSTRUCT.”
Some ten thousand members of the bases of the Zapatista Army for National Liberation marched briskly through San Cristobal de las Casas on October 8. They gathered on the outskirts of the city, under a blue sky stained with clouds that threateend rain and then walked in long, orderly lines toward the central plaza of the city. The long river of Zapatistas moved fluidly and silently; the only sound was the steps of their shoes and boots. They carried signs that read “Your rage is ours”, “Your pain is our pain” and “You are not alone”. The message was for the students of Ayotzinapa, Guerrero and for the families that found out that on on Sept. 26-27 their sons were killed or kidnapped as they traveled by bus, at the hands of municipal police in complicity with the drug trafficking organization Guerreros Unidos. Two weeks from the attacks there are 6 dead and 43 disappeared.
Before arriving at Oventic, I hadn’t realized how much I’d hoped to find answers: answers about the systems of colonization and neoliberalism; about how they operate within me and the work I do; about how to build alternatives to them personally, locally, and in solidarity. While conversations I had delved into all of this, one of the most central answers shared was that of questions, and of the importance of continuing to act with a commitment to reflection. Zapatista communications in no way claim perfection, or a goal of being a token answer to the world’s struggles; instead, they speak to a dedication to learning while doing, to thinking while trying, to walking while asking questions.In preparing to continue our action this fall, we can both reflect on what we’ve done so far and ask new questions of our work – from those focused on the next steps for our fight against the TPP to those that connect our resistance with taking on corporate power and injustice at large. (One recent example of walking with questions comes from our allies at United Students for Fair Trade, who undertook a Movement Connection Project to reflect on their own hopes for building student power as part of larger resistance to unjust trade.)
Nearly a decade ago, while en route from the United Kingdom to the Zapatista communities of Chiapas, Mexico, I had the privilege of meeting the late John Ross. I arrived late afternoon at the Hotel Isabel in Mexico City, which he continued to call “home.” A New York-born activist, radical thinker, studious reader and poet of the beat generation, Ross was well equipped to offer incisive commentary on a movement that was radicalizing everything we thought we knew about political thought and practice. Ross had captured wonderfully the importance of the Zapatistas in the titles of his dedicated books that take us on an inspiring journey from The War Against Oblivion to Making Another World Possible. As we sat discussing the dignity of Zapatistas into the early hours of the morning, John spent considerable time explaining how they had broken new ground by moving away from the capture of state power; how their politics demanded a new temporality that didn’t comply to the efficiency of neoliberal markets; how they understood their plight in terms of global systems of oppression of which the nation state had become a mere proxy; how they realized that new political imaginaries require a new vocabulary, which, moving beyond the sad militancy of theory, speaks in a more poetic style; and how their commitment to autonomy radicalized both their sense of spatiality and political agency in ways that we were still yet to fully comprehend.
The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) might just push people on both sides of the Atlantic over the edge. The ideology of “free trade” reminds me of my ex-girlfriend telling me not to make promises I cannot keep. From Adam Smith to Bill Clinton, elites have contended that “free trade” means less war and more jobs. To be more precise, “free trade” is freedom. In its most recent history, its promise of growth and prosperity has remained unfulfilled, however. Economic growth remains sluggish despite trade barriers being at an all-time low. While I continued to make promises, world leaders continue trying to stretch the boundaries of the possible once again. The latest promise of free trade comes in form of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), a free trade zone stretching from the Baltic Sea to the Hawaiian Islands. Just as my girlfriend grew discontented with my promises and broke up with me, peoples across the globe have grown outright hostile to free trade. TTIP might just push people on both sides of the Atlantic over the edge.
Subcomandante Marcos, the spokesman for the Zapatistas (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, or EZLN), has announced that his rebel persona no longer exists. He had gone from being a “spokesman to a distraction,” he said last week. His persona, he said, fed an easy and cheap media narrative. It turned a social revolution into a cartoon for the mass media. It allowed the commercial press and the outside world to ignore traditional community leaders and indigenous commanders and wrap a movement around a fictitious personality. His persona, he said, trivialized a movement. And so this persona is no more. “The entire system, but above all its media, plays the game of creating celebrities who it later destroys if they don’t yield to its designs,” Marcos declared. The Zapatistas form the most important resistance movement of the last two decades. They are a visible counterweight to the despoiling and rape of the planet and the subjugation of the poor by global capitalism. And they have repeatedly reinvented themselves—as Marcos has now done—to survive.