Originally published in Spanish by the EZLN for the Other Campaign
Translated by irlandesa
[Due to the length, I am translating this document in 10-15 page increments. This is Part 2 of this translation – irl]
Narrative of the First Plenary Session of the Other Campaign
September 17 and 18, 2005
Caracol of La Garrucha
23. José Antonio Yáñez, from the Reflection in Action collective
We believe that the Other Campaign is an opportunity for all of us to see, in practice, what we really are, if we are really democratic and inclusive. In addition to being peaceful and civil, the Other Campaign should be radical, even though this doesn’t necessarily mean carrying out extreme acts. If we call ourselves inclusive and democratic, but we’re not able to present proposals and projects, we run the risk of excluding or being excluded. Insofar as the Other Campaign is radical, it should address the root problems in order to establish a new model of social relationships. In order for the Other Campaign to not be just about dissemination, or propagandizing and the lifting of spirits, it has to be oriented towards real social change. We believe that, as we achieve the ability for analysis and understanding, we will be able to build a program of struggle which is not just anti-establishment. Specifically, if we want this Other Campaign to be different from the one the parties are carrying out, it should go to the fundamental and stress that we are different in practice.
Armando (from the same collective) (The assembly protested and asked him to sit down. He apologized in the name of his collective. He said he hadn’t intended to monopolize the time. He withdrew without speaking.)
24. Julio Muñoz Rubio
UNAM Professor, Faculty of Sciences. There is a risk that this campaign will be a campaign strictly tied to the political. This would be a mistake, because it would lead to limiting the campaign to just one part of the problems of the world, of the country and of the left. I am therefore proposing that the campaign be cultural in nature, which should not be confused with the artistic, because the cultural is much broader. We have the wrong idea about what capitalism is, because it’s thought to be a strictly economic system with political consequences. That is false. Capitalism dominates all aspects of life, in philosophy, the arts, the natural and social sciences, technology. Capitalism is an entire world vision. It is true that it’s a fragmentary, partial and limited conception of the world, but, at the end of the day, it is a vision which must be confronted by another world vision, another global vision, but one which is coherent and integrated. If this campaign doesn’t emphasize all this, it’s going to fall short, because it’s not going to be able to provide an answer for the totality of the forms of domination and of capitalist oppression: the classic capitalist oppression against wage earners, but also the domination and oppression of human beings against nature (including the mistreatment of animals), that of the adult or “mature” against children or adolescents, the heterosexual and monogamous against all other forms of sexuality and affective relations, of the “healthy” against the sick; the “whites” against other populations (not races), of all society against the indigenous cultures, and the urban countercultures being dominated in the arena of ideas, scientific theories and pseudo-scientists who justify all these oppressions. The Other Campaign should question capitalism’s ethical, epistemological and ontological values, especially in Mexico. Their esthetic bosses, their words in the political world and in the media, their dehumanizing, vulgar hedonism contained in various kinds of entertainment. Finally, the Other Campaign should emphasize the way capitalism has inserted in our minds the authoritarian values and principles of its behavior in order to convert us into reproducers of those values in all arenas of daily life. The campaign should, therefore, be “counter-hegemonic”, understanding hegemony as a world vision. That is why the struggle should be against capitalism and for the building of another vision. I am proposing that the Other Campaign declare itself to be “contra-hegemonic.”
25. David Domínguez
What I’m bringing are some proposals for broadening the campaign in the sense of security, because we’re all exposed to dangers by the State’s apparatus of repression. That we should, among ourselves, form self-help groups in order to protect each other. If anything were to happen to anyone, they would be recovered immediately. Also that we would have martial arts classes in order to defend ourselves. They are questions of security. If we don’t think the State has really swinish apparatuses of repression, this isn’t going to grow, and it’s going to fail from the beginning. It’s a proposal I have.
26. Mauricio Villegas
I think this could turn into an act of self-deception if we don’t understand the spirit of the Other Campaign. We say we’re anti-capitalist, but how many products have we decided not to buy from the big companies? We keep on buying, consuming. If we don’t sabotage things, like Gandhi did, we’ll be left with just very general positions. If Marcos and the EZLN want to direct this great movement, we have to sabotage the products of the big companies, promote fair trade in the communities. If we don’t do it, we’re going to come up short, we won’t get anywhere.
27. Alejandro Cruz, of the OIDHO
He belongs to Indian Organizations for Human Rights in Oaxaca. A question came up at a meeting with his peoples: How should this meeting be dealt with? After discussing it, they concluded they had to listen to other thoughts. How to respond to ideological confrontation, and how can it be resolved? The solution would be to deal more with the practical, organizing without going so much into the ideological. Placing more emphasis on how to engage in the practical before theorizing. He is willing to share his experiences in struggle against repression. That is why his concrete proposal is to create unity. They are worried because many compañeros are going to come to the meetings, but accords have to be created. We have to change the way of doing politics, create processes of accord and unity. He cited: “A cause doesn’t triumph because of its justice, but because of the strength and work of its followers.”
28. Cihuatl Arroyo
Greetings, and I hope everyone listens (Reads a poem)
“Here we are the forgotten ones even by ourselves…”
“Even here it is all the same.”
“I wish it were something else.”
“I hope the women speak a lot. There, with you in the other, on the left side of the heart…”
“Is it true that you are here? That your encouraging voice is full of love for the land”
“I hope your voice will be a call for attention, but not for a López, Sánchez…the adversary is called consumerism and indifference.”
“Let us move forward with the work which awaits us every day.”
29. Claudia López, from the Promotora
While we reach agreement, we have to look for what unifies us, what makes us brothers. Our thoughts unite us, our identity, the mother, those thoughts that are born from these lands. We are lost when we look for people to fight with, and nonetheless we should join together because of the land. Of what use is victory if, when it comes, we’re going to be dressed in Nikes and we forget our identity? My proposal is to center ourselves in what identifies us as Mexicans, to reclaim the identity and those values which we share.
30. Cecilio Pérez Hernández, from CNPI
They have a proposal-invitation: to come to San Felipe, Ecatepec. Proposes fighting for the defense of the lands and for rejecting government programs; that throughout the country education be redirected to the education of the indigenous peoples and that ancestral values be taken into consideration when learning history. That the free determination of the peoples be respected.
31. Francisco Reyes
Only National Front of Active Workers, Retirees and Pensioners of the IMSS. We believe that the Sixth Declaration of the Selva Lacandona is, right now, the best expression of the struggle of the workers of the countryside and the city, of the oppressed and exploited sectors. In the past, other efforts attempted to unify the struggles, and they lost their opportunity (like the front against privatization of the Electricity Industry). They lost by playing the election game, and their strength was reduced until it reached the point of extinction. They became institutionalized. The Sexta concurs with everyone’s desire to not engage in scattered struggles. The Sexta should form the organizations for the anti-capitalist left that we will be building. We should gather strengths in order to make a qualitative leap that will tell us that we are prepared for something wonderful. Everyone who should be here isn’t, but they will join together along the way. Meanwhile, the responsibility of those of us who are here is to care for each other, everyone from their movement, so that the Other Campaign is successful.
32. Enrique Guerrero, of the Friends of Puerto Rico committee
We have a proposal for the Sexta: That it explicitly include Puerto Rico’s struggle for independence and against US colonialism and imperialism (We’re bringing a gift, an independence flag from Puerto Rico).
33. Pietro Ameglio, of the Gandhi collective Pensar en Voz Alta [Thinking Out Loud]
The nature of the Sexta is primarily political, nationally and internationally, and they believe that the key aspect is educational. The Other Campaign is educational in nature, we cannot let that remain implicit. Knowledge must be constructed. The Other Campaign is going to allow there to be a map of autonomías and of social struggles in the countries. We have to create a shared knowledge of how to struggle better, to create a tactical and strategic plan for civil, peaceful struggle. The EZLN established three guidelines: listening, opting for moral strength and trusting in civil organization. All of this is summarized in our proposal which states the educational nature of study-action in the Other Campaign.
34. Sister Edith Hernández González
Brothers, sisters, my proposal is that the Other Campaign have the following characteristics:
1. That it be fully revolutionary. That all of us here break with our concepts of compañeros and families and see ourselves as a family. That we leave aside egoism, we have to listen to each other.
2. That we enter into a profound process of spiritual, personal, family and social transformation. We need to be born again, like Jesus said to Nicodemus.
3. To become aware of the fact that we ourselves have to become aware, to reorganize ourselves in this Other Campaign. We are going to become subjects of change, to be really anti-capitalist.
4. The Bible says that one does not have to follow the currents of the world.
5. That during the trip those who are going to go out in order to train ourselves, we should hold our meeting, see how we are going to do it and see what was accomplished. Then reorganize what comes next.
35. Alejandro Castillo
I think that, in the building of the Other Campaign, there are many aspects which can be developed from the cultural identity of the peoples. Recover the teachings of the Indian peoples. We have to present the discussion quite well, and the way the relationship with other peoples is presented, a dialogue with the world. We have to have a true debate through multiple points of view, from positivism, the dialectical, theological and from a neo-positivism.
36. Victor Guzmán, of Xi Nich
What stands out is that the indigenous peoples who talk about the characteristics of the Other Campaign are for a multicultural country, where all the recognized peoples of this country fit, and it should be oriented towards accompanying the struggle of the indigenous peoples in all corners of the country, for recognition, for the autonomías and the territories. They are struggling for the reconstitution of the peoples and for autonomía. The Other Campaign should be for the reconstitution of the country.
37. Martha Figueroa
A concrete proposal for the Other Campaign: the women’s organizations are not going to apologize. As women, we make up more than half the population, and we are mothers of the other half. As part of these others who think and feel differently, we came to propose that agreements are reached for this campaign in which equality of gender, class, ethnicity, differences and self-determination are expressed in all the struggles. We hope that these equalities will be considered to be irreplaceable principles for this campaign. That we who are different, women, indigenous, who have another political form of expressing ourselves, will have a place that will be guaranteed in an egalitarian manner. This is our unwavering principle. This vision of culture - which is the collective as being sometimes above the individual - means it must be guaranteed that all visions are part of which the Other Campaign is built. It should be a transversal vision. Forms of affect which are a political position. We do not want little separate houses. There are specific forms for each of our participations. This identity is made manifest every time we participate as young people, as indigenous. Participating in the campaign in all places is part of our identity and of this struggle which we want to continue engaging in.
38. Javier Fernández
I would suggest that, as this initiative is disseminated, the discussion should not be centered just around the political class, but directly on capital, that is the issue. We have to deal with the issue of capital and attack it. The other campaigns, those of the political parties, don’t want to affect capital. We have to accustom them to the fact that it is going to change. On the other hand, I sense that there’s not much emphasis on what has been presented, especially in the manner of linking with social struggles. There’s the case, for example, of the IMSS pensioners. We should seek the proper means of linking ourselves with everyone and of participating in and strengthening other struggles.
39. Beatriz Baños, of the Colectivo Homo Sapienz [Homo Sapiens Collective]
Came out in favor of the Other Campaign stating that it is of the left and anti-capitalist, that alternatives be proposed for fighting capitalism. It has to be extended throughout the world.
40. Mariana Mora
I have a concrete proposal about how to build an anti-capitalist struggle for the transformation of the nation. We have been fighting for eleven years for the recognition of indigenous rights and culture. It was never a separate point. It was always a central point for the transformation of the nation. We have listened to Comandantas Esther and Ramona over these last few weeks, who have also talked about the right of women to participate as a focal point of the struggle. We have heard about the right to different forms of love, but also of speaking, understanding the idiom, not just of the peoples, but also as forms of communication, for example, as young people do it. That is why the issue of respect for differences is a focal point, a principle which has to be part of the characteristics of the Other Campaign. My concrete proposal is that the Other Campaign include that it is against discrimination against indigenous peoples, against sexism, against homophobia and in favor of a Mexico where many Mexicos fit.
41. Faustino Santiago, of the Only National Front of Active Workers, Retirees and Pensioners of the IMSS
We aren’t for the government’s politics, a politics of handouts which have done much damage to our culture. It is difficult, but not impossible, to destroy this system. We reaffirm our support of the Sexta. A very important goal of this train that is the Other Campaign is that we will be going very far. Some will want to get off at the next stop. But we don’t. We are going much further.
42. Reinaldo Beltrán, of the Che Guevara Collective
They are in agreement with declaring the Sexta anti-hierarchical and anti-capitalist. Given that the Other Campaign will be fighting capitalism, there has to be a program for linking different economic programs, through the creation of self managing economic programs in different communities and to create networks of production and consumption. They said the Other Campaign should assume the basic infrastructure for the other economic program. They proposed that the only flag that the members of the Sexta should carry is Comandanta Ramona’s embroidery piece.
43. Virginia Ortega
I’m from the Popular Defense Committee of the Valley of Mexico. We are here because of the interest we have had in this struggle over the last eleven years. The Sexta is ours. We have supported it, we are participating and we issued a communiqué to all our bases to be with us. We are holding assemblies in order to release the communiqués from this important place. We have come in order to join and to tell Marcos that he is not alone. He can count on our associations in the DF. We will continue holding assemblies and adding more people for a new country, a patria we have forgotten. Our country has always been large, combative, well-informed. We will continue being committed to giving our people all the information about everyplace we are. The Other Campaign is, for us, information. The people are not ignorant, it’s a lack of information. We have to exercise the right to do, say and state. We are doing so. That is going to be the Other Campaign’s success.
44. Martha Patricia Ortiz
We are saying our small word from the village of Tetelzingo, Morelos. Greetings from those in Tetelzingo who have joined with the Sexta. We want a new world without exclusion, where the poor listen to the poor and believe in their word. We are ratifying our support of the Sexta. That is why we are here. Saludos.
45. Mayan Peninsular Forum of Quintana Roo
They summarized some affirmative characteristics and proposed some additions. They proposed that the Other Campaign be representative, democratic, plural, popular and responsive to the needs of the people, establishing democratic procedures for decision making. In addition it should establish conditions for a more just society, promote the development of liberty and enforce universal rights. They proposed that this campaign doesn’t just turn into a place for crowds, instead it should establish itself as organized social classes. Another aspect is to transform from dominant and working class and install democracy and a socialized system in order to make the indigenous and the citizens compatible in their constitution. Form a multicultural Nation State which recognizes equality and differences.
46. Gregorio Miranda
Revolutionary Left Force of the People. Ratifying the Sexta and the point [agenda point under discussion], we are proposing that it state that the Other Campaign is the accumulation of the resistance and of the rebellion of hundreds of years and of thousands of Mexicans who have said basta to capitalism. That it is the response of thousands of Mexicans in response to the great election banquet which is trying to maintain this system. Today we are coming out as Mexicans for national liberation. A Mexico and a new world is possible.
47. Alan Tapia
Ciudad Juárez is the laboratory of our future. Forty years of the capitalist economic model has resulted in very serious problems, among them, and importantly, the feminicides and the maquiladora industry, which is predatory and exploitative. We have managed to raise the issue of the murders of the women on the national and international level, but they have not been solved. The murders of the women are classist. We propose that solving and ending the murders be put on the same level as the defense of energy, that is, that it not be a local demand, but rather a demand of all of us who are participating in the Other Campaign. What is happening in Juárez is what happens to a city when it counts only on international capital and it rejects community work and society’s work.
48. Sergio Rodríguez Arona, from the Citizens Collective Front of Southern Baja California
The Sexta proposes building from below and for below in order to destroy neoliberalism, which doesn’t have only to do with marches, but also with the resistance we see in our tables and homes. He proposed that we all build an Economic Development Program in order to confront the neoliberal program. The ejido no longer exists in BCS [Southern Baja California], everything is privatized and in foreign hands. The PRI and the PAN have handed over sovereignty. They want help in forming the economic development program.
49. Compañero Édgar, from the Women and Men for Equality Organization in Tepito
I am telling you that we embrace the Sixth Declaration, and we support the Other Campaign. We are proposing that a vote of confidence be given to the EZLN and in that way conclude the debate.
50. Beatriz Torres
That the Other Campaign not be an alliance just with humanity, but rather a man/nature alliance. That we pay attention to the environment and know how to listen to it. It’s not only the neoliberals who could do away with it.
51. Rodrigo Ibarra
Who are the ones who didn’t come? Those who didn’t have the money, but there are also many others who didn’t come, those who are resigned to sorrow, those who have been blinded by hunger, those who don’t move because despair has left them in oblivion. Are they not our brothers? Are we willing to build all of them a new world? This campaign is a very otherly hurricane which is born from our mouths and our hearts. It will not be stopped until it carries fertile water to the deserts. When it arrives, we will all be there, and the caracol will be called Mexico. Strength is on the path and in the link with the dream. Proposes that we see it without forgetting that it is path, creative process, and that we are defining the first steps.
52. Sergio Santiago Cruz
From the Martín Lancero Popular Defense Committee, of Cosoleacaque, Veracruz. As we already stated on August 20 in Dolores Hidalgo, we join in with the Sexta. We are waiting for you in the southeastern region of Veracruz. Seven compañeros are willing to give their lives in order to protect Sub Marcos. They have written in their own hand their complete commitment. During your next visit, even though you are going to listen and not speak, we are asking that, when they speak and tell you about all their problems and all their struggles and everything the government is doing to them, you tell them what they are going through is pure neoliberalism, savage capitalism. We are proposing to everyone that we be more of a people. That we learn to feel what the people feel. We are delivering our document of commitment to the EZLN and a document we delivered to the government about the problems we have with the CFE about a dam.
53. Yoyo, from Jerusalén
We want a cultural, spiritual and environmental revolution. If we don’t take these issues into account in the Other Campaign, we will be forgetting the most important. We are proposing to reform the use of the word anti-capitalist. We are for an alternative democracy. It is inconsistent to attack capital if we continue consuming products. We are all accomplices of capitalism as consumers. We can speak of alternatives through sustainability. The foundation of these alternatives is the organic, autonomous self-sustaining communities. We are proposing that the Other Campaign reevaluate its methodology and, instead of traveling through the cities where the foci of capital are located, go by horseback through the rural communities.
54. Enlace Civil
They wanted to add characteristics: that the Other Campaign take into account all the aspects of dignified life. That it be exemplary and self-critical, that it favor mutual ethics over ideologies, that it be a joint place of collective conscience and that it express itself against discrimination.
55. Jorge Salinas, from the zapatista telephone workers collective
We in the collective are very happy to be in this community after eleven years of a successful movement by civil society which was able to bring help here. It’s worth remembering. Towards a program of struggle is one of the aspects of this first point. We are making a very concrete proposal. In 1990, Carlos Salinas de Gortari awarded the telephone company to Carlos Slim. Today Peje has awarded him the historical center because he has the telephone industry in his hands. This great popular group should take the struggle for recovering the telephone industry into their own hands, once again into the hands of the nation. Take it away from that swine Carlos Slim and the pro-management unions. If the telephone industry were returned to the hands of the nation, the wealth could be used for the nation’s demands.
56. Gregorio Pérez Núñez, from Matías Romero
Fraternal greetings. We can’t be beating each other up. It’s said we’re looking for unity, that’s why we can’t be enemies between brothers. If we want a new country, we have to work shoulder to shoulder in order to be successful. If we want a new country, we have to build a new program.
57. Juan Trujillo, Political Science student at UNAM
The Other Campaign has to put emphasis on the artistic-cultural. During the Sixth Committee’s trip, the cultural organizations will be not only a weapon, but also a means of judgment against capitalist forms. Theoretical-philosophical discussion centers can be organized now in order to achieve unity for constructing the utopia of a better life and for creating a solid movement. They proposed developing political consciousness and achieving legitimacy. We need to recover the pre-Hispanic vision, the Other is a metaphor which is looking for results not in one year, but over several years. In order to understand it, we need to recover cyclical time, the land. Solidarity with Latin America has to be the general nature of the Sexta and the Other Campaign, perhaps not in the short and mid term, but using words, performances, art, etc., in order to link the struggles.
58. Jorge Huerta
From the Native Art collective. We’re in agreement with what the EZLN has presented, but we’re proposing that the organizations make real the statement that we are broad and plural. When we propose a boycott, they tell us it’s out of context. As for the professor of the Science faculty, the struggle has to embrace all aspects. We should say what kind of products we’re going to boycott. These struggles aren’t out of context. The problem of pre-Hispanic history has to be addressed in depth. There is the problem of identity. If we are engaged in a national struggle, we have to make clear what the uses and customs are that we should be defending. The indigenous are fighting for their uses and customs to be respected, because they’re clear as to what they are. But we, as mestizos, should fight for uses and customs which bring us closer to the land. Consuming nopal, consuming beans and the products which bring us closer to our national identity, class, which make us more like other struggles. To make clear which are the products which bring us close to capitalism and we have to eradicate. Make a list of the uses, customs and products that we’re proposing should be rejected because they belong to the culture imposed by capitalism, as well as promoting a list of uses, customs and products which help us create an alternative economy and helps us rescue and create a national and class identity (products which bring us closer to our land), as well as rescuing our pre-Hispanic history.
59. Martha Mendoza (in defense of animals)
We are proposing that in the Other Campaign the changing of the patriarchal mental structure be promoted, as well as sensitizing the heart so that as human beings we respect non-human beings. Since we are against the system doing violence to us, we, as non-violent human beings should not abuse non-human beings and their habitats. If we achieve that, we will be better quality and conscientious beings with our goal of creating a world where many worlds fit.
60. Óscar Chávez
Comes from Anarcopunk Space, reporting on the situation of the prisoners in Guadalajara: the two compañeros who were talked about yesterday have not been able to leave, since their case is continuing. In addition, there are 31 other prisoners. There has been one year and four months of repression, resulting in 12 people sentenced, one free and four guilty minors. Their concrete proposal is that the Other Campaign be in solidarity with the prisoners. Networks must be created for freedom for political, indigenous, worker and student prisoners. Down with prison walls.
61. Eva Macossay, from the Popular Culture Movement of Yucatan
We have to be humble and a little self-critical. It’s fairly obvious how much we’re lacking in terms of organization. If the zapatistas and indigenous organizations have taught us anything, it’s that capacity for organization. Reach an agreement, but not just that. Also, do it, not just say it. We don’t need the microphone for expressing solidarity and recounting our histories, because that is built with our struggles. Use it for proposing and building. Proposal: that we be consistent with our words about getting rid of conventional methods (westernized). That the Other Campaign not forget about an issue that’s fundamental: racism and discrimination (subtle levels, psychological). You’re not going to get rid of five centuries of racist culture in a flash. We have to make an effort at introspection in search of that little racist we all carry inside ourselves so we can see how it manifests itself in our daily lives. We have to look for and discuss experiences in order to try and explain this phenomenon in the present. I propose that we especially work on this with the children, racism in schools (in formal education, but also in informal education), because they are the ones who can have the road half done. That the Other Campaign work with children and young people, orient them ideologically and educate them on justice and solidarity.
62. Hermenegildo Aguilera, from Nezahualcóyotl
Greetings to those with whom we’re sharing this dialogue. We want to tell you that we join in with this program. It is part of our ideology to support popular movements and be in solidarity with them. The popular movements are those which are fighting for their rights and recognition. We have followed your struggle, and we respect it. The EZLN has the stature to call on us for a struggle for a better Mexico. It is calling on us to struggle for a place for the left, strengthening the resistance. The Other Campaign is necessary in order to question the practices of the political class.
63. The compañera E. González
Her concern – being from Oaxaca – is the safety of the Sup when he goes out for his trip. We need to pick that responsibility back up and decide who is going to enter in a serious manner. We have to be more open and sure about what we’re going to do. There is very great repression in Oaxaca with the new government.
[Translator’s note: You will see the voice move between first and third person, which is how these narratives were compiled: the nature of taking minutes – irl]