Capitalism, War and Counterinsurgency in Chiapas II

Sup Marcos speaks during storm in Ixmiquilpan, Hidalgo during the March of the Color of the Earth on February 28, 2001.

Sup Marcos speaks during a storm in Ixmiquilpan, Hidalgo during the March of the Color of the Earth on February 28, 2001. Photo: La Jornada.

By: Gaspar Morquecho

Wars come from afar

Some 18 years ago, in June 1997 –when the Moño Colorado [1] was very popular and Zedillo was governing the country–, the Zapatista rebel chief presented us: “7 pieces to draw, color, cut out and try to arm, together with others, the global puzzle;” in other words, the 7 easy pieces of the global puzzle. The pieces are: 1) the concentration of wealth and the distribution of poverty; 2) the globalization of exploitation; 3) migration, the nomadic nightmare; 4) financial globalization and the globalization of corruption and crime; 5) the legitimate violence of an illegitimate power (?); 6) mega-politics and the dwarves; and 7) the pockets of resistance.

The essay is not misspent. It’s certain that when the guerrilla chief proposes and polishes it, putting pencil to paper, it comes out one of his best. Without a doubt, 7 pieces will have a special place once his selected works are published.

Before moving on to the construction of each of the 7 Pieces, the rebel Subcomandante warned: “Modern globalization, neoliberalism as a world system, should be understood as a new war of conquest of territories. (…) The end of the ‘Cold War’ brought with it a new framework of international relations in which the new fight for those new markets and territories produced a new world war, the Fourth. That obliged, as in all wars, a redefinition of the National States. (…) The global order returned to the old epochs of the conquests of America, Africa and Oceania. One wonders at this modernity that advances backwards, (…). In the world of the Cold Postwar vast territories, riches and, above all, qualified workforce, await a new master…”

To cement the concept of World War IV, the guerrilla, argued: “From the end of World War II to 1992, 149 wars have been unleashed in the world. The result of 23 million deaths leaves no room for doubt about the intensity of this World War III.” About that war “between Capitalism and Socialism,” the Zapatista emphasized its characteristics and to the winner: “World War III demonstrated the goodness of ‘total war’ (everywhere and in all forms) for the winner: capitalism.”

World War IV, the war for markets, arrived accompanied by an arsenal of “financial bombs” which, with their expansive waves, “reorganize and reorder that which attacks and remake it as a piece inside of the puzzle of economic globalization.” World War IV constructs a “megalopolis” in extensive geographies of the Earthly Globe: The European Union, the North American Free Trade Agreement. Other “megalopolises” have emerged in North Africa, in South Africa, in the Near East, in the Black Sea, in the Asian Pacific; “financial bombs explode all over the planet and re-conquer territories.” In that process: “Neoliberalism operates as DESTRUCTION / DEPOBULATION on the one hand, and RECONSTRUCTION / RE-ORDERING on the other, of regions and of nations for opening new markets and modernizing the existing ones.”

If anyone learned the lesson of World War III, it was the leaders of China and Vietnam. They had been witnesses to the “political, economic and social breakup of Eastern Europe and the USSR.” The Asian Giant had inherited the social and productive organization of Mao’s China. That country with enormous territory, resources and labor force, opened its borders to receive the massive arrival of capital. Its economy had extraordinary growth and in different geographies we can read: Made in China. That country was profiled to become the world’s largest economy. For its part, Vietnam, a small socialist country with an historic conflict with China and vulnerable in the region, opted for alliance with the United States and its leaders changed the model of which Uncle Ho dreamed.

It can be important to emphasize that when the Zapatista guerrilla wrote 7 Pieces, “5 billion human beings inhabited Planet Earth.” On it, only 500 million people live with comforts while 4.5 billion suffer poverty and try to survive.” In 2015, more than 7 billion people live on Planet Earth. Capital and poverty continue being concentrated in opposite poles. World War IV continues its course. In order to reach the “re-conquest of territories (…) the financial centers bring forward a triple criminal and brutal strategy: they proliferate ‘regional wars’ and ‘internal conflicts,’ capital follows routes of atypical accumulation, and mobilizes large masses of workers.” (…) “World War IV, with its process of destruction / de-population and reconstruction / reordering, provokes the displacement of millions of people.” In 1995 the number of displaced persons was more than 27 million; in 2005 the number came to 38 million. In 2015, the number of displaced or persons or refugees in the word add up to 60 million. Of course, 99 out of every 100 have access to a mobile telephone.

And why all of the above?

It turns out that 18 years after the 7 Pieces from the Zapatista rebel, the United States, the first economic and military power, stirred the waters of the world markets and in the first days of October headed the creation of the largest trade agreement on the planet: the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The Trade Ministers from 12 nations of the Pacific, Mexico among them, reached an agreement that “would reduce tariffs and establish common standards. With the TPP they propose stimulating trade between the United States, Canada, Mexico, Chile, Peru, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam.

Capitalism reiterated its strength and capacity for strategic planning. Its engineers worked at least 5 years on the design and construction of the TPP. The countries involved took two years so that their respective Congresses may approve it or not. It’ very likely that the impact of the recent financial bombs and the fall of oil prices that unhinged economies in the entire world in 2015, may have created the best of scenarios so that the TPP would come to fruition.

Mexico and Chiapas in the World War IV theatre of operations

The FTA was signed with Carlos Salinas. With Salinas-Peña Nieto, Mexico participates in the TPP. Chronologically, in 2014 Salinas-Peña Nieto strengthened the Pacific Alliance in which it participates with Peru and Chile. In September 2015, Peña Nieto announced the creation of Special Economic Zones that he later located in the port of Lázaro Cárdenas on the border of Michoacán and Guerrero; in Oaxaca, one of the states where the Inter-Oceanic Industrial Corridor is constructed; and in Puerto Madero, Chiapas. On October 5, in Atlanta, it was all consummated. A dozen ministers from the Pacific nations reached the trade agreement.

The president of the United States, Barack Obama, reacted immediately and expressed: “We won’t let countries like China write las rules of the global economy.” A message to the rest of its allies: Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa, in other words, to the BRICS trade block. In Mexico, Salinas-Peña Nieto celebrated the conclusion of the TPP negotiations, by classifying it as a “vanguard agreement” with which Mexico strengthens its trade integration with the world and reiterated the promise of the last three decades: “The Trans-Pacific Partnership will translate into greater opportunities for investment and well-paid employment for Mexicans.”

The other wars in Mexico and Chiapas

A little more than three decades have passed since the governments of Mexico have brought the national economy to navigate in the turbulent waters of World War IV. Independence and Sovereignty are what least remain. If the privatization process started with Miguel de la Madrid and Carlos Salinas, deregulation of the economy and the end of agrarian distribution with Zedillo, Fox and Calderón delivered part of the country to the mining companies. Obeying the Yankees, Calderón established the “drug war” that has left a result of more than 100,000 dead, more than 20,000 disappeared, thousands of orphans and very probably more than a million displaced. The war continues with Salinas-Peña Nieto; a war that covers at least 80% of the Mexican geography and that continues filling thousands of Mexican families with grief or in mourning clothes.

In Chiapas, the counterinsurgency war against the Zapatista peoples and communities followed the violent peace before 1994. The armed forces have occupied the territory. The federal government has responded to each one of their peaceful political and civilian initiatives with a provocation and maintains certain kinds of “internal conflicts:” agrarian policies in different regions of the state; with mining companies in the border zone; wind projects, environmental projects, because of discrimination and because of violations of human rights and of the rights of indigenous peoples.

In the course of the war, Salinas-Peña Nieto’s visits to Chiapas have been frequent: In February 2013, in Las Margaritas he launched the Crusade against Hunger. On February 13, 2014, he inaugurated the Palenque International Airport and re-launched the San Cristóbal-Palenque Superhighway project. The Zapatista Galeano was murdered in May. That crime postponed the EZLN’s programmed events for one year. On July 8, in Catazajá, he broached the theme of immigration. With Pérez Molina, president of Guatemala, he put into effect the Secure Pass program. On August 8, in San Juan Chamula, he affirmed that with the structural reforms Mexico would have a better platform to grow economically. On December 2 in Cintalapa, he celebrated the start of his third year of government and promised 1.8 billion pesos more to Oaxaca, Chiapas and Guerrero.

On March 11, the Secretary of National Defense announced the construction of a new military barracks in Chicomuselo, Chiapas. On March 24, 2015, Salinas-Peña Nieto announced that they would begin actions in Chiapas for the development of Southern Mexico and put into effect a program to impel employment. On August 11, International Indigenous Peoples Day, he announces that communities of Chiapas will enter into the Special Economic Zones Program to create more jobs and generate productive investment in them. On August 29, the Chiapas government released two of the Tojolabal Indians implicated in the death of the Zapatista Galeano. On September 29, 2015, Salinas-Peña Nieto announced in Tapachula, Chiapas, the creation of Special Economic Zones in the indigenous communities of Chiapas with investment from private capital: “We must move from welfare, which has been insufficient and has only permitted us to mitigate poverty, to what we really seek, which is inclusive growth.” In that way, the capitalist plus is added to the expense for social control.

Without a doubt, the Salinas-Peña Nieto War is directed at the “recuperation of lost spaces.” The autonomy of the indigenous Zapatista peoples in Chiapas is another of their military-political objectives. It’s about crushing the “pockets of resistance.” Nevertheless, the plans for the War Front on the Southern Border are the greatest threat in the region.


[1]. El Moño Colorado translates into English as The Red Topknot – It’s the name of a song that was very popular in the early days of the EZLN and played over and over again at the 1st Gathering Against Neoliberalism and For Humanity in 1996.


Originally Published in Spanish by Pozol Colectivo

Translation: Chiapas Support Committee

Thursday, October 8, 2015

En español:









One Comment on “Capitalism, War and Counterinsurgency in Chiapas II

  1. Pingback: Chiapas Support Committee BRIEF NEWS UPDATE | Blog of Zapatista Support Group Wellington, Aotearoa/New Zealand

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