Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Marcos: The First Other Winds [Primera: 1/2]

Originally published in Spanish by the EZLN
Translated by irlandesa

Zapatista Army of National Liberation


February 18-19, 2006

In the name of the Zapatista System of Intergalactic Television, “the only television which is read,” we would like to express our gratitude to this space for the presentation of a special program, sponsored by “Huaraches Yepa, Yepa. The only globalized huarache” and “El Pozol Agrio. A delight for the palate.”

We would like to take the opportunity to report that the channels on which SZTVI is broadcasting are for the exclusive and preferential access by the alternative media, and for all honest and principled persons on any part of Planet Earth. As an alternative to the tiresome (and inefficient) PPV system, the SZTVI is offering the NPPL (No Pay Per View) system as a gesture of courtesy for our compañeros and compañeras.

The following program will be rebroadcast by the banda of below to the left by methods which range from pirate radio to the very sophisticated (and practically impossible to jam) bathroom gossip. With you, the program…


First Part

(Chiapas, Quintana Roo, Yucatán, Campeche)

“We want them to lend wind to our words, that they fly quite high and go very far.”

Words of a Mayan indigenous, spoken in the Other Cancún, in the Other Quintana Roo, in the Other southeast, in the Other Campaign, in the Other Mexico.

Walking over itself, with the excuse of a ski-mask, the Other Campaign started the year by noting, from its first steps, what the response would be from above. The march which joint forces of the Other Campaign held in San Cristóbal de Las Casas on the first day of January of 2006 saw how the street lights went out as they made their way. Almost simultaneously, step by step, the mass media’s microphones, cameras, tape recorders and notebooks were being turned off. The Otra’s first victory: more than indifference, the silence of above reflects fear, much fear. The joint steps of the Otra is not just a challenge to the economic and social system (and to the political class which lives off and with it), it is also another step, the change of pace and direction of those who have, up until now, been on the defensive, resisting, surviving, weaving history so they won’t fall. The Otra is now a step to the offense. And so a sound, which is still small, is rising up from the Mexico of below. And it rises up to then make itself a murmur, next a shout and, finally, movement. With its journey, the Otra has a message for those of above: “Ya basta. No longer. Now we’re going after you.” A shiver runs down the system’s spine: instead of listening to those of above, those of below have chosen to listen to each other.


Above, a traveling stage set. Below, a yet incomplete heart and a growing indignation, seeking way, path, direction and destination.

The stations of the Other Campaign follow each other, one by one, but the indigenous voice is repeated. From the first day, the Other Campaign has demonstrated that it is more, much more, than the EZLN. San Cristobál de Las Casas, Palenque, Chiapa de Corzo, Tuxtla Gutiérrez, the Amate jail, Tonalá, Joaquín Amaro, San Isidro, Huixtla, Ejido Nuevo Villa Flores. Indigenous, most especially indigenous, and, along with them, those who accompany their sorrows and rebellions: non-governmental organizations, groups, collectives, families, individuals who work in the defense of human rights, gender struggle, economic projects, education, culture, defense of the environment, alternative communication, analysis and theoretical debate. Mostly women, mostly young people. There they are, there they always were, even before 1994.

But something has changed: their voice no longer carries just solidarity and support for zapatismo, now it speaks their history, their resistance, their struggle. The “this is what I am” with which the Sixth Declaration of the Selva Lacandona started up is now beginning to recount other histories and to name the other through their own voices. Indigenous organizations and Indian peoples, they are not zapatistas but neither are they anti-zapatistas, are demonstrating that their unfinished business is not just with those who rose up in arms in 1994, but also with the very root of the Mexican nation.

The reappearance of the evangelical indigenous on the outskirts of San Cristóbal de Las Casas put an end to the illusion that the Otra Jovel is mestiza. In Palenque something is emerging which may look like a symptom but is, in reality, a movement that is growing as the Otra moves through the Mexican southeast: resistance against the high costs of electricity and against privatization. The first voices against the onslaught by the government which is attempting to privatize the electrical industry are dark of color and speak indigenous language.

In Chiapa de Corzo and Tuxtla Gutiérrez, new voices appear with their own sound: market tenants, teachers, students, residents, non-indigenous campesinos. The tension line which joins the southeast with the north surfaces in the first steps: David Meza, chiapaneco, who is used as a scapegoat in order to conceal the inefficiency of officials in the feminicide which set up camp in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua. The young man (26) is accused of murdering his cousin, Neyra Azucena Cervantes (19). Through torture he is forced to sign a confession. He or the real murderers (without videos or tape recordings having yet been discovered) are still free and adding more deaths to the list of sorrow in the Mexican north.

The young students point out a truth: education is bad and moving towards privatization, and when they leave there’s no work. Injustice in Chiapas has face and name of indigenous, campesino, teacher, journalist. But also rebel dignity: Section VII of the SNTE of the National Farm Workers Union is contributing not only prisoners, but also mobilizations. In Tonalá, in Joaquín Amaro, in San Isidro and in Huixtla, the civil resistance movement against the high cost of electric energy is appearing once again, but now they know they’re not alone.

And throughout the coast of Chiapas one can see the combined work of officials and companies in the destruction of nature. Work is now a luxury which you have to pay for, and poverty is a crime. Criticism is growing against the political class and the PRD as a renamed PRI, its corruption improved and magnified. Water is in short supply here, schools don’t even have chalkboards and Fox’s messages about “educational excellence” sound like a bad joke. Old people are protesting against being treated like non-recyclable products. All along the coast, the sierra is an open wound which is far from being healed. Going up, we arrive at the Nuevo Villa Flores ejido and the Otra’s most combative event, with the OCEZ-UNOPII as host.

Half-way along, a blow to the heart forces the silence with which we grieve those in the struggle whom we love. Comandanta Ramona has gone, leaving a multi-colored piece of embroidery as zapatista proposal for the Otra throughout the country. In the mountains of the Mexican southeast we zapatistas tear off a piece of the clothing we’re wearing and, with this sorrowful tatter on our left shoulder, we name the one who we now miss beyond all measure.

Meanwhile, as the Otra’s journey progresses, the state government is moving the stage set of “Everything is calm in Chiapas,” but just for the consumption of those who have accepted the ley mordaza. For the photograph: equipment working on the highway. For the shadow: the scandal of the “disappearance” of the funds and aid earmarked for victims of the storms. The government of Chiapas - when it can find time from its work as real estate consultant and public image advisor to the “king of denim” (and emperor of pederasty and child pornography) - is persecuting and imprisoning dissidents and journalists, and, in addition, is building monuments in praise of themselves and of Fox. The Otra’s journey is forcing them to redouble…their publicity expenditures.

Too late. It does not matter if they close their eyes and ears up above, below they have listened and seen. Now a wind lifts up and, from below and to the left, heads towards…


Above, a country of hoteliers. Below, Chan Santa Cruz speaks once again.

Chetumal, Carrillo Puerto, Playa del Carmen, Cancún. Names which refer to tourist destinations, to large hotel companies and to natural disasters. But the history of below recounts that the latter have been brought about by pro-business governments. The privatization of large stretches of land and water were achieved through underhanded laws, seizures of ejidal and communal lands and through the destruction of nature. The campesino voice denounces seizure of lands and privatization of beaches with Procede as spearhead. In Majahual, while the North American government is building a wall on the northern border, another is being raised by foreign companies in order to prevent access to a beach. The countryside no longer suffers from government inattention under these skies. Now it has an exceptional commitment, but in order to conquer-destroy it: high interest rates, low prices for what is produced, turning ejiditarios and comuneros into small landowners under Procede. The result is indebtedness, attachment or buying and selling. And where before there was farming land, now there is, or will be, a shopping or tourism center, a residential area or an airport.

Adding insult to injury: After Hurricane Wilma, wasn’t the priority of Fox’s PAN government to bring aid to the big hotel owners instead of to the humble people? Fear of the Otra up above distributed blankets to the Maya of Nicolás Bravo so they wouldn’t go to the meetings, while lumber is being looted by big companies with government permits, and the selva is being destroyed with legal backing.

But nature and history have their guardians. Individually or in organizations, the defense of nature and of heritage supports their strongholds throughout Quintana Roo. Men and women are meeting, analyzing, discussing, agreeing to not remain silent or immobilized. They are thus undertaking a two-fold struggle: one for the legal defense of nature and of history, and the other for creating awareness among the people of below and to the left. Hand in hand with these efforts, another artistic and cultural work is on the march, running up against the tackiness of Fox’s cultural programs and seeking other ears, other gazes, below.

In a corner of the corner that is the Mexican southeast, then appears the indigenous voice of the Union of Defense of the Mayan Race and of the Collective of Isla Mujeres. The dark word of the most small is the one which has best summarized the purpose of the first stage of the Otra: lending wind to word, that it might fly high, that it might go far. The faltering initial steps of the alternative media in the Karavan now have, from these distances, their own pace and firm definition: so that the ear can exist and increase, the word of the other is necessary. The direction of the other cameras and microphones have thus been reoriented, and, with these other men and women, now beginning to fly high are the voices of farmers, fishermen, construction workers, artisans, street vendors, indigenous, campesinos without land, residents, students, teachers, workers, researchers, men, women, young people, especially women and young people.

But, in addition to voices, whispers and shouts, the Otra hears silences. Here, in the Mayan lands of Quintana Roo, Chan Santa Cruz is taking back up the message of the chiapaneco mountains, echoing and so repeating: “May all the guardians of the land, the mother, awaken. May the watchkeepers awaken. May they awaken from the night of sorrow. The hour has come.”

The wind then takes on new force, and, with the voice of the other as engine and fuel, reaches…

(Tomorrow, Yucatán and Campeche, as this first part continues.)

From the Other Tlaxcala,

Sup Marcos