EZLN; Marcos; The Smallest Ones 1. Learning to govern

[Dear Readers: The texts in this communiqué are about how the 4 municipios in the region where we work were founded. It explains who Compañero (Compa) Manuel is and how our partner municipio got its name.]

Protected: THEM AND US VII. – The Smallest Ones 1. Learning to govern and to govern each other, in other words, to respect and to respect each other.


VII. – The Smallest Ones 1.

1. – Learning to govern and to govern each other, in other words, to respect and to respect each other.

February 2013.

Note: the notebooks with text, which are part of the support material for the course “Freedom according to the Zapatistas,” are the product of the meetings that the Zapatista support bases from all the zones held to evaluate the organization’s work. Tzotzil, Chol, Tzeltal, Tojolabal, Mam, Zoque and mestizo compañeras and compañeros, coming from the communities in resistance of the 5 caracoles, asked each other questions and responded with answers, exchanged their experiences (that are different according to each zone). They criticized, self-criticized, and evaluated how they have advanced and what there is still to do.  Those meetings were coordinated by our compañero Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés and were taped, transcribed and worked on for the elaboration of the notebooks with text de.

As in these meetings the compas shared with each other their thoughts, their histories, their problems and possible solutions, they are the ones who put the name to this process: the sharing.“

These are some free fragments from the Zapatista sharing:



  We are here to share the experience and one of those, our word as Zapatistas, is that we govern each other; we govern collectively.  How can sharing give us the form of how you govern together collectively?

  The way that we are working is not to be separate from the people.  Just as we always do in questions of speaking about regulations or about plans for activities, for work, the information has to reach the people and the authorities have to be present in the plans, in making the proposals.


  There we are working on some things that we consider as part of the obligations of autonomous government, one is that it is the obligation of the autonomous government to attend to any person that goes to the office for different issues, whether a solution to his issue is given or not, he must be heard.  Whomever, Zapatista or non-Zapatista, that’s how we are working there, always and when he is not a government person or envoy, if that’s what he is, well those are not attended to, he is not attended to there. But if he is not, if he is with some social organization, he is attended to.  We are also working there and always pending that we are complying with the seven principles of “mandar obedeciendo” (govern by obeying) and we think that we must do it like that, it’s like an obligation, so as not to commit the same errors as the instances (agencies) of the bad government and not to keep their same ways, then that which is going to govern us are the seven principles.


  The first Aguascalientes was constructed in Guadalupe Tepeyac and that’s where the first step of our organization and our way of asserting our rights began.  This Aguascalientes we said is a cultural, political, social, economic, ideological center, but with the treason of Ernesto Zedillo, he thought with this dismantlement, that offensive that he made, thought that with that he was going to end the politics of our organization.  But his policy did the reverse because from right there, in that same year of ‘94, it was declared that five more Aguascalientes would be made.



  These municipios said where the headquarters is going to be; then they began to look for names for the municipios, what they are going to call them. Once they have the headquarters, they now began to see what they are going to name the municipios. The first autonomous municipio [1] in La Garrucha (the headquarters) said that it is going to be called Francisco Gómez; the other municipio that is now San Manuel, for which Las Tazas was the headquarters, that one we said was called San Manuel; Taniperlas was called Ricardo Flores Magón; San Salvador, Francisco Villa.  All these were in honor of the compañeros like Francisco Gómez that we all already know, because he is a compañero that gave his life for our cause, and we already talked about the compañero, who died in combat in Ocosingo on January 1, thus it was called Francisco Gómez.  Then San Manuel in honor of Compañero Manuel, who is the founder of our organization.  Ricardo Flores Magón, well we know that he is a historic social struggler. And Francisco Villa, well he is likewise a revolutionary that we all know.  Then that’s how our municipios were formed, that’s how we decided to make the names of all our municipios and the agreements. All were made in a community assembly, in the regional assembly, that’s where all our municipios were named.  Compañeros, it is the few words that I am going to tell you and you are going to pass to other compañeros or compañeras to explain what’s next.



  The principal problems present from the beginning of [inaudible] were the problems of alcoholism. How is that problem now in your zone?

  Look, compañero, in those times, at the beginning of 1994, a little bit after the war well, some entered with fear. The war started, we all crowded together, just as they told us, we got involved and for that we got involved, it can be that it happened like that, the people crowded together.  Some, yes they did it consciously but others for fear, then who did it per se because of fear, are not happy doing the work. What is it that they were doing?  Although we had the order that we should not take a drink, but what happens is that they were drinking covertly.  What is it that we were doing?  We were not punishing, what we were doing, for that we have we have the commission of elders; those are the ones in charge of asking why is he doing that and it was explained to him about the damage he is provoking to himself.  Then those who obey then practically they are going to follow and those who don’t well they fight with each other.  That is the answer.





  Compañeros and compañeras, good afternoon to everyone.  I come from a village that is called ____, which belongs to the municipio of Francisco Villa.  I come to represent the Good Government Junta. My position was Consejo (council member), in the year 2006 to 2009.  I am going to explain how the cause of our position that we all have was. It’s not up to me to explain where we started in 1994. I am going to tell a little about how we began after 1994.  Before, in 91, 92, what was the reason for the armed uprising?  It’s because of the domination, the marginalization and the humiliation, because of the injustices and the rules or laws of the bad governments and of the exploiter landowners.  And so before, our parents and grandparents, they were not taken into account, they were suffering and so we didn’t have land to work for the maintenance of our children.  That’s why the Zapatista peoples began to organize where they said “ya basta (enough) of so much humiliation.”  Then they rose up in arms. It wasn’t important to them to walk at night, or the hunger.

  That’s how we were forming and we live organized, united, yes we could and we are going to be able to do more. After the uprising that we made happened, we saw how we are going to advance to form our autonomous authorities in each municipio.  Because of that we are here all meeting to talk and share how it was that our autonomous governments began function. Why do I explain to you a little bit about that theme?  It’s because what I think is that from there we were starting and advancing to where we are right now. In the theme that we are going to start to see, the word is up to compañero ___. He is going to explain as of today how we are working in our municipios and in the Good Government Junta. It is all of my word, compañeros.

  Compañeros, that’s how the other compa talked, now Compañero _____ is going to try to explain to us, because he was the founder of our autonomous government in our Caracol III, over there in La Garrucha, the first authorities were the ones that founded. Now they are going to share how they worked, how they were, how they started and how we are as of now.



  As it was passed to me to make some comments to you, more or less one month after the beginning of our functions, there with an organization called the CIOAC [of PRD affiliation], they kidnapped a compañero and a truck and we felt obliged to denounce it and we did not have any idea of how to make a denunciation. Members of the Good Government Junta and the municipal councils had to give our word, one or two words, to make that denunciation, as a team, each one was giving his word and so we were making it up that like that and that’s how we were forming, that’s how we made up a denunciation, but we got it out. And therefore we made one a secretary, we made one a cook, we made one a sweeper, because we had to clean our office and all our work area. We did not especially have anyone who does those chores and so we continue doing it as of this date.






  That’s how we were working and that’s how we arrived as of 2003, with the formation of the Good Government Juntas.  We arrived in the Good Government Juntas, because in that zone, by saying it that way, well we didn’t know no if that directive of the association of municipios would one day be the authorities and would be the government. But in 2003, when the Good Government Juntas happened, the people and the association of municipios decide that those eight compañeros, members of the Directive of the Association of Municipios, should pass to being the authorities of the Good Government Junta.  And those eight compañeros then are the ones that take the position on the Good Government Junta, in the first period of the Good Government Junta, which was from 2003 to 2006.

  That’s how it happened then, under the same conditions, the Good Government Junta didn’t have an adequate place.  Days before the Good Government Juntas became public well the peoples constructed, urgently, a place for the Good Government Junta, as well as a place for each one of the autonomous municipios, in the center of the Caracol.  They were constructed with the materials that the peoples had at that time, used wood, used metal roofs and that’s how it began. The construction was done and they were constructed in less than a week.  That’s how it started, their offices were ready, August 2003 arrives and they are made public. The peoples meet after the publication, proud of having formed one more instance of government in autonomy.  And in a fiesta, in a big celebration they formally install the new autonomous government, then delivering the office, with the materials that they had.

 Well we were able to say that it was un chingo (a whole lot), but the town delivered a table and two chairs to the Good Government Junta, that was their material, and a place well a little smaller than this space where we are now, that’s how the conditions were.  Days later, someone over there donated a little machine of the oldest kind and with that we started to work.  We received an empty space and that’s how we started, they were presenting initiatives for work and we were beginning, fixing up the space.



  In the work also, as you see in the zone where we work, different ways of being exist, different ways of dressing, different colors, different beliefs, different ways of speaking, and in the work the compañero and compañera is also respected, independently of how he or she is.  The only thing that interests us is the will and ability to work and then all that (difference) is not important to us whatever it may be.



(It will continue…)

I attest.

From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast,

Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos.

Mexico, February 2013.

1. Municipio – We did not translate the Spanish word into English. The literal translation is municipality. In Zapatista territory, the autonomous municipios are like rural counties.

Translation: Chiapas Support Committee

Listen and watch the videos that accompany this text:



“Caracol Power” from Lengualerta/Cuyo, music Taxi Gang.  Video of Pazyarte (Peace and Art), images of the Zapatista Caracol of Oventik, Chiapas. In minute 2:42 they ask a 2 international compas what they learned.  They answer: “to share”


Zach de La Rocha, vocalist of Rage Against the Machine, explains the interest of capital for annihilating Zapatismo (with a small intervention of Noam Chomsky).  Zach has been in Zapatista communities, like one more, without boasting of being who he has been and is.  He knew how to gaze at us; we learned how to gaze at him. Background music: the song “People of the Sun.”


The cut “Song to the Rebellion,” from the group SKA-P, with the letter included.  This cut is part of their new disc “99%,” which will come out next month in March 2013, courtesy of Marquitos Spoil.  Oh, there is no reason for giving them. All right! Get ready to bust a move!


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