Originally published in Spanish by La Jornada
Translated by irlandesa
Saturday, August 12, 2006.
Those of Below
Gloria Muñoz Ramírez
Three Years of the JBG
La Realidad, Chiapas.
On August 9, unnoticed by the press, but in zapatista territory, the work of the good government juntas was celebrated, but not with dances or ceremonies. They were created in 2003 in order to consolidate a process which got underway in December of 1994 with the creation of 38 autonomous and rebel municipalities.
The red alert that was agreed more than three months ago in solidarity with the 27 prisoners of San Salvador Atenco and of the Other Campaign did not bring the autonomías to a standstill, although it did put off contacts with the outside and some of the towns’ projects, their way of endorsing their support of those whom they consider to be their compañeros.
The “Madre de los caracoles del mar in nuestros sueños” caracol, better known as the caracol of La Realidad, remains closed, with large banners on the main doors, on which can be read “Closed for red alert”. Here, no contacts or visits are possible. The junta is not here, but it emerged that the turnover of positions is being prepared, that is, the delivery of a clear accounting to the peoples and to the new members of what will be the second good government junta in this region.
A journey through the cañada of the Euseba River, the banks of the Jataté River and the road from Margaritas to San Quintín allowed us to see the ongoing work of the San José del Río hospital, of the Santa Rosa clinic, of the schools in San José, Guadalupe Tepeyac and La Realidad, among others.
The people, say the zapatistas, are the ones who have learned the most from this entire process. “They have learned to give orders to the officials, to manage their education, their health and other needs. It’s been difficult, because there are a lot of things that have to be organized, but that’s what we’re doing.”
Autonomía will follow its path. The peoples continue to think that “this is beginning”, because, as they say here: “We aren’t taking autonomy from a model, but we’re building it, we’re making it and putting it together, looking for its components. We don’t even know what it’s going to look like later. But what is certain is that we’re not what we were like three years ago, much less before the war.”
It takes work to be a zapatista. It is not easy to work in the field or the coffee plantation, in the tasks of health and of education, in the building of a road, in the marketing process, in the building of schools, clinics and training centers; in the work as community and municipal police; in the political assemblies in the village or in the region. And, in addition, “not swallowing or taking anything from the government.”
“This, says Miguel, “we’re all proud of. It’s our work. It’s just not easy, but that’s why we’re zapatistas.”
(The zapatistas have become stronger in the face of death and the persecution ordered by the government. The same thing will happen in Oaxaca and Atenco. It’s incredible, as a man in Oaxaca told this newspaper, “that compañeros have to die for that group to exist.”)