Tag Archives: zapatistas

Women in the Zapatista movement

Note: A belated celebration of International Women’s Day!

-The GJEP Team

March 7, 2014. Source: Schools for Chiapas

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Zapatista support bases under attack: Call for a week of national and international solidarity

By Jessica Davies, February 14, 2014. Source: Upside Down World

Photo: Upside Down World

Photo: Upside Down World

Following recent events in Chiapas, the Network for Solidarity and against Repression has urged “adherents to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle, and every organization, collective, and honest person in Mexico and the world who, from your own places, extend your embrace to the dignified rage of the Zapatistas,”  to participate in the Week of National and International Solidarity, “If they touch the Zapatistas, they touch all of us”, to be held from February 16 to 23, to “denounce the counterinsurgency war” and express that “the Zapatista communities are not alone.”

This call results from great concerns about recent events, denounced by the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Center as: “the Chiapas government’s failure to prevent attacks on the support bases of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) from the 10 de Abril community,” leading to “an imminent possibility of new attacks and an intensification of the violence, which would be a risk to life and personal integrity, in addition to the violations of the right to territory and autonomy of the Zapatista peoples.” Continue reading

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On the 20th Anniversary of the Zapatista Uprising

by Anne Petermann, Executive Director, Global Justice Ecology Project

Twenty years ago today an army of Indigenous Peoples, some using only wooden cut outs as guns, emerged from the jungles of Chiapas, Mexico. They took over municipalities around the Mexican state, including the city of San Cristobal de Las Casas, in defiance of the enactment of NAFTA – the North American Free Trade Agreement.

new_la-realidad_2_card

La Realidad, 1996.  PhotoLangelle.org

The Zapatistas had condemned NAFTA as “a death sentence for the Indigenous Peoples of Mexico” due to many of its unjust provisions, but especially that which eliminated Article 27 of the Mexican Constitution.

Article 27, which guaranteed the rights to communal lands in Mexico was an outcome of the revolution led by Emilano Zapata – after whom the Zapatistas took their name – in the early part of the 20th century.

But in order for NAFTA – the free trade agreement between Canada, the US and Mexico – to be passed, Article 27 had to be eliminated.  The eradication of this hard-won victory was accomplished by Edward Krobaker, the CEO of International Paper.  Why did a multinational paper corporation care about this?  Because most of Mexico’s forests were on ejido (communal) lands, which meant they could not easily be obtained or controlled by multinational corporations such as IP.

According to anthropologist Dr. Ron Nigh,

In June of 1995, the government received a letter from Edward Krobacker, International Paper CEO (now John Dillon), establishing a series of conditions, some requiring changes in Mexico’s forestry law, to “create a more secure legal framework” for IP’s investment.

According to La Jornada, all of Krobaker’s (original) demands were agreed to and new forestry legislation has been prepared. Upon returning from a Wall Street meeting with Henry Kissinger and other top financial celebrities, Zedillo announced the rejection of  proposed legislation that would have implemented the Zapatista accords.

Instead he presented a counterproposal, designed to be unacceptable, which the Zapatistas rejected.

Shortly thereafter, Environmental Minister Carabias announced a large World Bank loan for “forestry,” i.e. commercial plantations.

Earlier that year, in January 1995 – one year after the passage of NAFTA and while the Zapatista uprising was still fresh and garnering support from all corners of the globe – Chase Manhattan Bank sent a memo to the Mexican government about the Zapatistas which was leaked.  This memo, released in January 1995, urged the Mexican government to “eliminate the Zapatistas to demonstrate their effective control of the national territory and of security policy” or risk  a devaluation of the peso and a fleeing of investors.  The portion of the memo dealing with the Zapatistas is below:

CHASE MANHATTAN’S EMERGING MARKETS GROUP MEMO

CHIAPAS

The uprising in the southern state of Chiapas is now one-year old and, apparently, no nearer to resolution. The leader, or spokesman, of the movement, sub-commandante Marcos, remains adamant in his demand that the incumbent PRI governor resign and be replaced by the PRD candidate who, Marcos argues, was deprived of victory by government fraud in the recent election. Marcos continues to lobby for widespread social and economic reform in the state. Incidents continue between the local police and military authorities and those sympathetic to the Zapatista movement, as the insurgency is called, and local peasant groups who are sympathetic to Marcos and his cronies.

While Zedillo is committed to a diplomatic and political solution th the stand-off in Chiapas, it is difficult to imagine that the current environment will yield a peaceful solution. Moreover, to the degree that the monetary crisis limits the resources available to the government for social and economic reforms, it may prove difficult to win popular support for the Zedillo administration’s plans for Chiapas. More relevant, Marcos and his supporters may decide to embarrass the government with an increase in local violence and force the administration to cede to Zapatista demands and accept an embarrassing political defeat. The alternative is a military offensive to defeat the insurgency which would create an international outcry over the use of violence and the suppression of indigenous rights.

While Chiapas, in our opinion, does not pose a fundamental threat to Mexican political stability, it is perceived to be so by many in the investment community. The government will need to eliminate the Zapatistas to demonstrate their effective control of the national territory and of security policy.

Orin Langelle, Board Chair of GJEP, who was then the Co-Coordinator of Native Forest Network Eastern North America (NFN ENA) attended the Chase Manhattan Board meeting that year and read the memo out loud to the stock holders.

What many do not know about the Zapatista struggle, is that it is and was a struggle for the land.  For autonomous Indigenous control over their territories.  NFN ENA put out a video about this aspect of the Zapatista struggle after we were asked to help expose the ecological threats to Chiapas which the Zapatistas were trying to stop–including illegal logging, oil drilling and hydroelectric dams.  The video includes interviews from the first North American Encuentro in the Zapatista stronghold of La Realidad in the summer of 1996.  The video is called “Lacandona: The Zapatistas and Rainforest of Chiapas, Mexico.”

A clip of the video can be viewed here:

Despite massive pressure from governments, multinationals and major banks, twenty years later, the Zapatistas are still organizing.  Maybe you thought they had disappeared, but they have not.  They are just busily doing the work of daily life.  They have their own autonomous form of government, their own schools, and they maintain their rejection of any type of support from the Mexican government.

Today, as social movements around the world continue to resist unjust “free” trade agreements such as the TPP (TransPacific Partnership), the Zapatistas continue to be an inspiration to me and I hope to many others as well.

To view Orin Langelle’s photo exhibit of 15 years of photographs from Chiapas, click here.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Change, Hydroelectric dams, Illegal logging, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, Oil, Posts from Anne Petermann, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration, Victory!

Notes on “Freedom according to the Zapatistas”

By Gilberto López y Rivas, 23 September, 2013. Source: Chiapas Support Committee

Photo: Chiapas Support Committee

Photo: Chiapas Support Committee

It was a privilege to attend the first grade course “Freedom according to the Zapatistas” as a student, which was paralleled in various territories of the autonomous governments, as well as in the Indigenous Center of Integral Capacity Building –Unitierra, in San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, from August 12 to 17.

Because of its multiple political, strategic, programmatic and tactical meanings in the current tragedy of a country devastated by the government of national treason and its corporate-repressor associates (including organized crime), the course imparted by Indigenous peoples from the different ethnicities that make up the autonomous Zapatista governments constitutes an urgent call to the national conscience, to men and women with dignity and integrity to organize, resist and struggle for a better world where those that govern obey the peoples, departing from the seven principles: 1. Serve and don’t self-serve, 2. Represent and don’t supplant, 3. Construct and don’t destroy, 4. Obey and don’t order, 5. Propose and don’t impose, 6. Convince and don’t conquer, 7. Go down and not up, and based on the maximum ethic that reigns in the EZLN: “Everything for everyone, for us, nothing,” that is, the opposite poll of conduct with which the Mexican political class acts. Continue reading

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The art of constructing a new world: freedom according to the Zapatistas

By Raúl Zibechi, August 29, 2013. Source: Companero Manuel

Zapatista Women

Zapatista Women


Ever since the media stopped paying attention to it, many believe that the Zapatista Rebellion no longer exists. In silence, far from the lights and cameras, they have deepened the features of their autonomous construction to the point that now one can talk about a different society, governed by rules, codes and laws different from those of the dominant world.

From his six-year old height, Carlos Manuel hugs his father’s waist as if he would never let go. He looks at the roof and smiles. Julián, his father, attempts to get loose. The child gives in but remains together with the father. Irma, his eight-year old sister, observes from a corner of the kitchen where her mother, Esther, works over the fire turning the corn tortillas that continue being the principal food of rural families.

The other three children, including the eldest, Francisco, 16, observe the scene that is repeated during the meals as if it were a ritual. The kitchen is the place for talks that scatter as slow as the smoke that rises above the zinc roofs. The words are as frugal and flavorful as the food: beans, corn, coffee, bananas and some vegetable, all grown without chemicals, harvested and prepared by hand. Bred in the open field, the chicken has a different flavor, like all the food in this Tojolabal community. Continue reading

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Freedom according to the Zapatistas: The launch of the escuelita

By Andalusia Knoll, 27 August, 2013. Source: Upside Down World

Photo: Andalusia Knoll

Photo: Andalusia Knoll

“The only thing that you need, objectively, to attend the zapatistas’ little school is Disinclination to talk or to judge, Willingness to listen and watch and a well-disposed heart.” – Comunicado VOTÁN II. The Guardians. Subcomandante Marcos

From August 12-16 the zapatistas opened the doors to their caracoles, communities and hearts to 1630 students enrolled in the first grade of “the escuelita (the little school): freedom according to the zapatistas.”

The escuelita didn’t have formal classrooms with a rigid schedule and teachers imparting their knowledge. Instead it featured immersion based learning, grounded in the daily tasks of constructing autonomy. This included grinding corn, weeding onion crops, collecting firewood, and washing your clothes in the river.

All students in the escuelita were received at the CIDECI, an autonomous indigenous learning center based in San Cristobal de las Casas. From there, each student was assigned to one of the five caracoles: La Realidad, Oventic, Morelia, Roberto Barrios and La Garrucha which are the centers of the “Juntas de Buen Gobierno”, which loosely translates to The Good Government reunions. Continue reading

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EZLN communiqué: Military airplanes over the five caracoles

August 15, 2013. Source: El Enemigo Común

Transcription from Audio:

Zapatista Commandante Tacho in La Realidad, Chiapas, Mexico. photo: Langelle/GJEP

Zapatista Commandante Tacho in La Realidad, Chiapas, Mexico. photo: Langelle/GJEP

Compañeros, Compañeras, Good day. We always make our appearance in urgent situations. Allow me to read this communiqué that we are issuing at this time. It says:

August 14th, 2013, mid-morning.

Communiqué from the Indigenous Revolutionary Clandestine Committee – General Command of the Zapatista Army for National Liberation, Mexico.

To the people of Mexico:
To the people of the World:
To the Sixth:
To the students of the Zapatista Little School across the world:

Compañeros and Compañeras:

We are notifying you that on August 12th and 13th 2013, during the night, military planes were doing flyovers over the zones of the five Zapatista caracoles, the places where they are teaching the course “Freedom According to the Zapatistas.”

Maybe, serving their masters, the Mexican soldiers are spying for the US government, or, the North American planes are doing the work of spying directly. Or maybe the soldiers want to see what is taught in the Zapatista communities that they have attacked so much, but have been unable to destroy.

We say to the government of Peña Nieto, that if your soldiers want to learn in the little school, they should ask to be invited. We won’t, however, invite them. But then they can use the pretext that they are spying because we didn’t invite them. That’s all.

Democracy, Liberty, JusticeFrom San Cristóbal de las CasasChiapas, MexicoFor the Indigenous Revolutionary Clandestine Committee – General Command of the Zapatista Army for National Liberation, Mexico.

Comandante Tacho

México, August 2013

Thank you compañeros. That’s all.

Okay…well, continue studying compañeros, you’ve heard the communiqué.

That’s all, Thank you.

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The Zapatistas’ first school opens for session

By Marta Molina, 12 August 2013. Source: Waging Nonviolence

Yesterday, 1,700 students from around the world enrolled in the first Zapatistas school, held at the University of the People’s Land of Chiapas. (WNV/Moysés Zúñiga Santiago)

Yesterday, 1,700 students from around the world enrolled in the first Zapatistas school, held at the University of the People’s Land of Chiapas. (WNV/Moysés Zúñiga Santiago)

Last December, tens of thousands of indigenous Zapatistas mobilized, peacefully and in complete silence, to occupy five municipal government office buildings in the state of Chiapas, Mexico. That same day, which coincided with the end of one cycle on the Maya calendar, Zapatistas released a communiqué, asking, “Did you hear it?”

It appears that the answer was yes, because this week thousands of people from around the world are descending on Chiapas for the Zapatistas’ first organizing school, called la escuelita de libertad, which means the little school of liberty. Originally the group allotted for only 500 students. But so many people wished to enroll that they opened an additional 1,200 slots for the weeklong school, which begins on August 12.

Just as the Zapatistas have, for two decades, rejected hierarchical systems, theescuelita will also eschew traditional teaching models. Instead, it will be an open space for the community to learn together.

“There isn’t one teacher,” wrote Subcomandante Marcos, the spokesperson for the Zapatista movement. “Rather, it is the collective that teaches, that shows, that forms, and in it and through it the person learns, and also teaches.” Continue reading

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Solidarity from Chiapas with California prisoners hunger strike

August 2, 2013. Source: El Enemigo Común

pelican-bay_rashid-johnsonFrom the United States, the heart of the empire that imposes its laws on the entire planet, thousands of voices of the most scorned and forgotten people are now being raised to show millions of men and women what dignity really is.

San Cristóbal de Las Casas, July 30, 2013

The 30,000 prisoners who have launched a hunger strike in the prisons of California in the United States are our brothers and sisters. All these men and women who refuse to be silent, who are right to rebel, who defend their dignity by defying a powerful government to which the European governments have bowed down, deserve the respect and admiration of the whole world.

The United States is a country where freedom is reserved for the rich and well-to-do classes, big businessmen, financiers, and the political class. They are free to earn as much money as possible through the business of war and prison after having caused people to become obsessed with the danger of terrorism and criminality.
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It begins with respect: The meaning of living well for the Tseltal and Tsotsil Mayans of Chiapas

Note: Jeff Conant is the former Communications Director for Global Justice Ecology Project.

-The GJEP Team

By Jeff Conant, July 30, 2013. Source: Intercontinental Cry

A dialogue with Pedro Hernández Luna and Miguel Sanchez Alvarez concerning el lekil kuxlejal, June 29, 2013

Throughout the Americas and the world, the name of Chiapas, Mexico, has become synonymous with struggles for indigenous resistance. From the First Indigenous Congress held in San Cristóbal de las Casas in 1974 to the 1994 uprising in which the Zapatista Army of National Liberation launched a struggle for land and liberty that would change the political geography of Mexico and shake loose historical memory across the continent and around the world, to the 2001 March for Indigenous Dignity in which thousands descended on Mexico City to demand that the congress of the nation amend the constitution to include a Law of Indigenous Rights and Culture, Chiapas has been at the vibrant heart of the construction of new forms of indigenous struggle and territorial autonomy.

One set of beliefs, generally translated as el buen vivir, or living well, is at the heart of indigenous resistance. A similar concept, the Quechua notion of sumak causay, gained a certain recognition among climate justice activists following the Cochabamba People’s Summit on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth convened by President Evo Morales of Bolivia in 2009. Assumak causay was brought to the awareness of the non-indigenous by Andean social movements a few years ago, now in Chiapas a generation of autocthonous scholars is bringing to light – theorizing, they would say – the local understanding of buen vivir: a concept articulated in Tseltal and Tsotsil as el lek’il kuxlejal.

I first encountered el lekil kuxlejal in 2009 in a book by scholar Antonio Paoli called Education, Autonomy, and lekil kuxlejal. Paoli resists a simple definition of lekil kuxlejal in favor of giving its socio-linguistic context amidst related concepts such as k’inal, (meaning environment, including both ecosystem and mind) and the broader slamalil k’inal, a tranquility of mind on which the state of lekil kuxlejal depends. “lekil kuxlejal, or buen vivir,” Paoli writes, “is not a utopia, because it is not a non-existent dream. No, lekil kuxlejal has been degraded but not extinguished, and it is possible to recover it.”
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